The Settlers of Catan

The Settlers of Catan is a board game, played by 6 people, introduced to me a number of months ago. Since then it has popped up in three other groups of friends.

The basic idea is you are sharing an island or collection of islands with the other players, and racing to build a civilization of a certain size first. The rules are quite straight forward, but like a good game, the play is complex enough to provide for many interesting variations. I like board games and this game has been a lot of fun to play so far.

So here's my question to you; have you heard of this game before, have you played this game, and would you be interested in trying it out?


The Zen of Tagging

Originally uploaded by slightly-less-random.
There was a point, not so long ago, that I had great difficulty tagging pictures with the handles of the people in them.

Strange, isn't it?

The rationale is simple enough. I'd always like to present people at their best; so therefore, only tag the very best pictures of them.

There are two problems with this.

1) Sometimes the value is simply the pictures existance and not the composition, expressions, etc. So tag with names even if the picture kind of sucks, so that we can go back and remember the way things were. The number and time of photos is also significant.

2) It is sort of arrogant for me to think that I know how to cast someone in the best light. If I've decided to post a photo with someone in it (and also decided not to delete it) then I might as well tag it so it can be found later.

So now the decision is simple. Always tag with handles, if the photo is posted, and I can recognize the person in the photo.

Does this line up with how you feel about it? (This applies to everyone, not just flickr people).


My Wheelhouse

Originally uploaded by slightly-less-random.
There seemed to be a moment yesterday when I distinctly began to feel like myself. I woke up this morning feeling certain that my body and my self had re-connected, finally.

Now I've been walking around all day (spending most of it hanging out with a friend of mine) thinking about these shiny controls as the relationship between my mind and body. Somehow it feels nice to think that my switches and buttons are chromed and attached to a sea-worthy vessel.


The Dentist

I almost feel like myself again, instead of this crazy stranger that took over my body for the last week.

An important part of any serious quit-smoking strategy is to see the dentist and get your teeth cleaned after quitting.

Ow. No food/water for an hour.

The Gallery, Ideas and Art


Even more confusing?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery. Every time I go I enjoy the experience and yesterday was no exception. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I'm considering going back again today. The works of Brian Jungen are fascinating, but it was a painting of Takao Tanabe that caused me to bolt up out of bed around 5 am, open my image editor, and start working on one of my photos.

The painting in question is a colourful arrangement of abstract shapes, mounted in the corner of a room. The shapes and colours are somehow interesting (gotta love that abstract quality!) but it was the mounting of the painting that hit me as I slept. I'm not sure I've ever seen a painting mounted in the corner like that.

Now I've ripped one of my less favourite photos from its frame and mounted it in a corner, and I must say I like it better that way. I just wish it was about 5 times bigger.


The Week in Review

Well it has been a week since I quit smoking, drinking, and generally taken the first shaky steps to clean up my life from the mess it has become.

Here's some of the things I've done this week:
- Started blogging more.
- Cried. Called someone, and cried some more.
- Connected with some new friends.
- Tried to re-connect with some old friends.
- Took lots of photos.
- Lied, and then admitted it.
- Helped a friend with a problem.
- Made dinner for two, and served it to my closest, most trusted friend.
- Called family in the middle of the night.
- Cried at work.
- Started reading a new book, and then stopped.
- Made an anti-suicide pact.
- Posted photos of dead flowers, and then the sun.
- Lost my temper, several times.
- Made some self-portraits.
- Was annoying as hell.
- Visited vice friends, but didn't take part in the vice.
- Walked, but not as much as before.
- Played board games, Go and Risk.
- Loved life.
- Held my head in my hands and wept.
- Had the support of an almost uncountable number of beautiful people.

It's been one hell of a week.

Enjoy it

Today, a friend of mine gave me some excellent advice. I think that he may not have thought much of his comment at the time, but to me it really struck a chord, it was something I really needed to hear. I was telling him how I've been riding a rollercoaster of emotions over the last week, really not feeling like myself at all, and his response was simply this:

Enjoy the highs.

Way to go Hendrik, that was totally it.


Portraiture & the Music Man

Music Man
Originally uploaded by slightly-less-random.
Ok, so I was out with the vandigicam gang and we came across this guy, walking along the sidewalk with a friend of his. He was obviously a musician, he has a flying V guitar over his shoulder, and a presence that just cannot be denied.

So I begged him for his photograph. Yes, begged him. This shows to me that I've learned about 10% of what it takes to take great portraits. I at least have an interesting subject and the will to engage, and that's got to count for something.

With careful attention and practice, I think that in 2 or 3 years I'll be able to take portraits that really pop.

I look forward to the day when I can let the less experienced photographer take the less perfect portraits. In the meantime, I'll enjoy engaging interesting people with every bit of skill that I can muster.


A Beautiful Day

Originally uploaded by slightly-less-random.
I'm sitting at my desk, looking outside. The sun has just come out.

To anyone lucky enough to have the day off today; I hope it's a good day, better than the last. Get out there and make the most of it!


Tony 0001

Tony 0001
Originally uploaded by slightly-less-random.
There are three parts to this blog entry.

First, this is very strange time for me to be blogging. 2am used to find me fast asleep, since I have relied on a kind of depressant drug to put me to sleep for quite some time. The problems with this drug are several; at the very least, it impairs memory and sharpness, and it reduces motivation. I've stopped using that drug, for better or worse, and must find healthier ways of satisfying the needs that caused me to become so attached to it in the first place. I also quit smoking cigarettes at the same time. Both compounds change how you sleep and thus, both change how you sleep while you recover from their use. I should expect this to last for 2 weeks or so, by which time I'll have replaced my kettle and started making regular use of night-time teas.

On to part two. This photograph is the first out of a camera that a friend of mine turned me on to. Kellogg's air-dropped these cameras into our supermarkets last year, and they are now turning up all over the place.

These cameras have some interesting capabilities; they require no batteries, they were mass produced by a company aiming to protect its brand, and it appears to be designed by a camera designer that knows how to make small, durable, plastic cameras. The cameras are extremely simple and so I can understand everything happening inside of it. Perhaps the best part of all is the brand being protected are a collection of characters we all know. They have a kind of fundamental appeal that has been honed for decades, and I for one am fully willing to make use of these characters. To put it bluntly, they are disarming.

As I develop my photographic eye, it becomes more important to learn the deep connections between abstract concepts such as lighting and concrete concepts such as shutter speed. I believe that by working with very limited cameras such as these, I can better appreciate a scene's lighting and that light's effect on film. This is pretty fundamental stuff.

It is kind of thrilling to also know that I could translate this knowledge to my main shooter, the Contax, which has a 1/50th all-manual shutter that one can choose to use instead of the electronic shutter. Very handy, as the Contax tends to kill batteries prematurely.

Finally, the third part. This photograph shows one of my work spaces, a table for working with small machines along with some of the tools you might expect. The tools were being used on another camera, which was responsible for the creation of the workspace in the first place. A work space says a lot about a person, and I'd like to see more work spaces!