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Photographic possibilities leapt to the fore the other night, with the surprise donation of £100 from a friend, toward a used Nikon 1.7x teleconverter. As and when I can finally lay my paws on one, that'll help boost the quality of my current bunpics back to their former level. ^_^ By any chance, is there someone out there willing to make up the other half of that cost? I've verified the TC-17E II plays very well with the Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S - it's an excellent lens, and adding that TC barely loses quality, though at the cost of that much light, bringing the maximum aperture down from f/4 to f/6.8. If you'd like to see even better bunpics in the future, give it consideration. ^_^

On that note, I will say I'm absolutely amazed to be listed by Flickr Explore - never until recently, then three times in June! As you might imagine, that causes something of a bump in views - the one below, Very down to earth resulted in July 1's count reaching 1,889 for the day. =:D

Back in 2005, I linked to a transcoding of a ten minute BBC wildlife short, The Rabbits of Skomer. Does anyone have a copy? I might still have the original file, but it doesn't seem to be in the DVD-R archive, likely placing it in the misty days of CD-Rs.

It's an ad, but well worth a look: a Nikon TV spot, two minutes long. It does a rather good job of exploring the wonderment of photography, from the everyday to the exotic. If you need reminding of the wonders of life, you could do much worse than enjoy this. (Any ideas where this is airing, or did?)

If you enjoyed Tiny Toon Adventures, and particularly, Animaniacs, you'll want to check this set of interviews out - essentially an hour long, just split into three segments. Don't be put off by the rather cheesy opening to the first part - here, we get to hear from some of the voice actors and producers about just what it was like to work on the show, their influences, and more, without the usual restrictions of having to push some book or movie.

Last month, I noticed one of my favorite electronic music producers was, quite uncharacteristically, offering a small tour. Even without seeing what was in store, I leapt on a ticket as soon as it was announced. And thus it was that on June 17 2011, I did see Amon Tobin's ISAM. It's better to see what it's all about rather than try to translate such a visceral experience to words. ^_^; (One benefit of living in the provinces - not seeing the harsh reality of £4 pints. Eep!)

Beforehand, a quick hour or two at the V&A, an establishment I've almost completely failed to make acquaintance with hitherto. Of course, in that little time, one can but see a single floor, but a wealth of beauty and history nonetheless. Of course, it also reminded me just what a pain museums tend to be, as far as photography goes - so much glass for reflections everywhere, often quite close to the subject, and thus difficult to isolate through depth of field. Lighting is usually harsh point sources, though I suppose that does make those reflections potentially removable in post-processing, if it's a shot worth the attention.

Still, that didn't prevent some reasonable shots, such as this of George Rennie's (1802-1860) Cupid Kindling the Torch of Hymen, of which the museum notes: "Cupid, the winged god of love, here blows in the torch held by Hymen, the god of marriage, perhaps signifying the igniting of his passion. This classical subject was typical of Rennie's work. He studied under Bertel Thorvaldsen in Rome in the 1820s, and was much influenced by the Danish sculptor's style, which echoed the sculpture of ancient Greece."

I'd known of the iTunes Festival 2011 for a few weeks, but I hadn't noticed they're also streaming every gig live in HD, through iTunes, and the iTunes Festival 2011 app. (I've applied for tickets to Moby and Duran Duran - a long shot, but it's free to try) Well worth a look! Seasick Pete was absolutely kicking ass on Saturday.

Peeps in London & environs and Sussex might want to amble along to the Brighton Mini Maker Faire on Sep 3, 10am-5pm, in the Brighton Dome. Perhaps you've got something you'd like to show off? A trailer for the event can be found here.

Not to reinforce stereotypes, but straight after watching the wonderful vote in the NY Senate approving marriage equality, I headed back to episode 8 of My Little Pony, "Look Before You Sleep". I'm only now, finally, catching up on most of the episodes, and I'm growing to enjoy it further - Lauren Faust quite deliberately crafted a show that'd appeal to the "core", but also much more widely, and succeeded superbly. So cool to see the nifty Applejack and Rainbow Dash 'suits at AC!

On that note, the Governor has immediately signed the law, meaning equal marriage will be legal in New York from July 24, with state offices opening on Sunday to offer their services on the first possible day. ^_^

Photography! Yes, sorry. =:) If you're photographically inclined, whether wielding a camera, or simply enjoying the world around us, you might like to try 500px. It's free, and without ads, seemingly relying on folks paying for accounts if they find the service useful. It's attractively laid out, and the standard of work exhibited tends to be quite high, making for more of a challenge. Anyway, if you do go poking around, my few offerings can be found over here. It's a site worth exploring, and with quite commendable support - you can reasonably expect a real, useful reply within an hour, if not minutes. (See, Rodvik.. it can be done!)

There's one person in particular I'm thinking of who might enjoy this MMO relee pointed out: Husky Express. Whether it's actually out or not is anybody's guess, however - but the trailer is as cute as you'd expect. ^_^

The video for Liam Lynch's "Fresh Electric" is a gorgeous homage to classic Doctor Who - an adventure in three minutes, and surprisingly authentic!

Thought I'd make mention of rather a good UK map application, imaginately titled UK Map, available for iOS (all devices) and Android, for the princely sum of £7. It includes 1:100k maps of the entire region in the download, but the fun begins when you want higher detail - just select a region with a swipe, and it'll inform you how big a download that'll be, at just 1:25k, or 1:25k & 1:10k as well. Quite a reasonable way of going about it, as you're looking at around 1GB for just the Greater London area - the entire dataset for all the UK would be a rather hefty download.

The attractive thing is that as the main mapping data is from the Ordnance Survey, it's quite close to OS maps in its level of detail. Google Maps is fine if you're only looking at roads, but once you're out in the countryside and tromping around the fields, Google's data is pretty much useless. Here, you get to see individual house locations, topographic contours, and rights of way, in 2D or 3D. They do offer one or two caveats, notably that the trails come from OpenStreetMap, and thus can't be considered authoritative, versus OS, but a very occasional omission is acceptable, I'd say.

A quick look at some of the final testing of the new Beijing-Shanghai high speed rail connection, cutting the travel time in half, for a 1490km journey, to five hours. Fairly speedy. ^_^ Of course, not everyone is happy: "One-way train ticket prices will cost 410-1,750 yuan ($63-$270) subject to further adjustments, vice rail minister Hu Yadong said this month, compared with about 1,300 yuan for a flight. In response, airlines have slashed some prices by up to 65 percent to below the cost of the cheapest high-speed rail ticket."

On a whim, I decided to try making a cassoulet, having tried rather a pleasant example a year or so back, at the Flying Fish. And.. well, yes, it worked. =:9 I started off by soaking the beans I'd be using: a combination of rosecoco and blackeyed beans. (No special reasons - those happened to be available in the supermarket, and cheap. Normally, I'd use tinned, but they only seemed to have butter beans, which seemed a bit of a bland choice) The next day, they received a two hour simmering to cook them - looking around, it didn't seem recommended to try cooking them in the slow cooker.

Into the slow cooker went: first, a few parsnips and sundried tomatoes, for additional flavor, then a nice slab of pork belly - a cheap cut, perfectly suited to prolonged slow cooking. Finally, the pan of beans, and enough dirt cheap cider to soak everything, plus some initial seasonings - garlic, pepper, some French mustard, and a dash of salt. Left that all for about six hours, added some lemon thyme and rosemary I'd picked up in the afternoon, and left that for another hour or so, finally stirring it all up to help flake apart the meat and deliberately burst some of the beans, to help thicken the sauce.

Rather than fuss around with more vegetable preparations, I thought I'd take a cue from the aforementioned inspiration, and just put it with a bit of a fresh M&S baguette (best of the UK chains for a baguette - still not really authentic, but very good nonetheless) and unsalted butter. I do have photos, but.. as you might expect of such an amorphous dish, it's decidedly not photogenic. =:D

Finally, as pyat noticed: the trailer for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, finally on the big screen, starring folks like Gary Oldman, John Hurt, and Benedict Cumberbatch. No explosions. No gravelly voice. Just atmosphere so thick you can swim in it.

Butter beans are traditional for cassoulet, as far as I can recall.
Zrath-Smiley is in no way related to George Smiley. :D

I suspected as much, but I thought I'd try some more interesting beans - even if that did entail the rather tedious process of soaking them overnight, then a couple hours simmering, before being added to the meat.

Turned out so very well, though, and really quite straightforward. Definitely something I'll be playing around with in the future, though the cooker's next task will be taking care of a nice little bit of brisket, sold off for about 20% of normal price. =:9 Not quite sure what to do with it, though - maybe some tomatoes to begin with, just for initial cooking, but I'd like to aim for something smoky, such as smoked paprika, or chipotle. Perhaps something cheap in the red wine line, too - or perhaps something entirely different, like a bottle of Nigerian Guinness? (A bit heftier than most variants, at 7.2%, I think)

What, you've never aspired to be a dashing, mysterious secret agent? ^_^
Despite looking awesome, apparently Husky Express bombed in Korea and the port was cancelled and so was the original. ;.;

But we still have videos of lolis and puppies on the YouTubes.
Aww! Damn, that's a real pity! Going by that trailer, I might even have been tempted.. hmm. Fancy trying your paw at bringing it into SL? ^_^

(With the benefit we can be furry in either role =:)
Naw I don't really do anything in SL anymore. XD
Aww.. that's terribly sad. A death without dying..
It's not that I can't come back, I just don't. I still have SL on my system, I just don't enjoy it anymore.
Oooh, good to know that Strongbow is good for something other than cleansing the insides?
Urgh, Strongbow! I'm always "impressed" by the way they can somehow start with the same ingredients as, say, Dunkerton's Black Fox, and yet wind up with something only reminiscent of apples. Probably a good part of it's just the lax food regulations involved - apparently, there wasn't even a minimum requirement (in the UK, at least) for the percentage of apple juice involved! Now, it's a whopping 30%.. =:P

When you're next in the UK, if you really want to try the worst, I recommend White Lightning. Again, supposedly it's a cider, yet they've succeeded in almost totally eliminating any lingering flavors, or indeed, even any colors, for something around 7% and seemingly engineered to induce *ahem* bodily reaction.

Needless to say, it's a favorite with chavs..
That is a fantastic photo at the top, and I don't just say that because I'm biased! =;)
Thanks! It's a wonderful feeling, seeing something dramatic like that happen, hoping the shot caught a particularly fun moment, and that the focus was accurate (shooting along such a distance, it doesn't take much of an aiming inaccuracy for the autofocus to be looking at a point several feet off).

Who can possibly deny the beauty of those ears, or those adorably fuzzy feet? ^_^
Great photo!
Thanks! ^_^ Even when I don't come back from rabbiteering with any especially memorable shots, it's still a relaxing activity, simply looking on at their lives, always so highly observant. (Sometimes, of course, a bit too observant - the group I now look on at don't seem overly accustomed to humans, and will often tend to make themselves scarce on the first sighting, depending on which field)
I think you emailed me about Husky Express more than a year ago! I've kept an eye on the site ever since, just in case an English version appears...
Ha! Ye gods, you're right:

Relee just posted word of this Korean production - haven't checked it out yet, but it seemed potentially of interest. ^_^


- sent on May 1 2009.

I bow in deference to your awe-inspiring powers of memory. =:D

I do wish it had come about! But relee notes above it apparently didn't do well enough. =:P I wonder how well something like that could work in SL, though..