Monday, September 21, 2009

Back in Toronto

After spending four months working in California, my internship is finished and I'm back in Toronto. Perhaps nothing more of interest will be happening for a while, but here's a collection pictures from my frequent visits to San Francisco.

A painted heart at Union Square paints the city in an interesting light. There's the flying cable car, historic streetcars, Muni buses and Muni trains among a city of little blue bears.

A tap dancer gives a little performance at the Powell street cable car roundabout.

A drum man nearby performs on empty buckets and water jugs.

A cable car ascends a steep hill against a backdrop of tangled overhead wires, with Chinatown and the Bay Bridge visible in the back.

No tour of the cable car is complete without a peek at the fantastic engine house, which is open to the public, free of admission, to show off the machinery driving the cables.

The golden gate bridge pokes into the fog on a very chilly day in May. We all know what the rest of the bridge looks like, so nothing else to see here...

Exploring some caves near the ruined Sutro Baths.

A historic streetcar runs along the Embarcadero down to Fisherman's Wharf...

Where a giant sign welcomes visitors from all over the world to overpriced lunches, cameras, and souvenirs.

Along the marina, a great number of private boat owners peddle tours of the Bay, and sea lions occasionally swim in to poach at the fish that fall from fishing boats.

Even the McDonald's is so fancily decorated.

The sidewalk is lined with a healthy mix of energetic busker shows with huge crowds and the homeless who implore passers-by for a quarter. At this latter category, passing tourists are often heard to say "that's not so impressive..."

The annual Pride Parade is quite the singular affair. A huge crowd watches a huge parade with enthusiasm.

And it's the only time of year when certain types of people can do certain things without being charged for assault. (It gets a lot more crazy than this...)

And so, without turning this into an overly lengthy gallery, these are my main impressions of San Francisco. There are many more photos if you simply click on any of the ones above and navigate the full albums.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summary of Taiwan

I've been working on this on and off for a while. A slightly outdated computer means I can hardly do editing without crashes every few minutes, so I've given up on any further refinements for now.

For those technically inclined or curious, the time lapse clips are made with a Canon XSi hooked up to a Ti-89 programmed as a intervalometer, with frames reduced to about 4MP and combined in Quicktime. The fireworks are shot with a Sony HDR-TG1 in AVCHD. 3D compositing is done in After Effects, music is royalty-free, and final editing is with Premiere.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Six hens and a new baby goat

It's been a full month since I've returned to this side of the Pacific. I miss the abundance of street food and the generally festive atmosphere in Taiwan, but it's also somewhat relaxing to be living in the American suburbs. Work is only 8 miles away from home, and I carpool with coworkers every day, so it looks like I've escaped the normal symptoms of urban sprawl.

Photos of the latest "family reunion" in San Francisco can be found here, although I won't point any out in particular. It's not that San Francisco isn't interesting - but it's an hour's train ride away, and I've yet to catch it on a perfectly sunny and photo-worthy day. So here are some pictures of my recent visit to the "ranch" in Dallas - 6 new hens and a new baby goat.

As the story goes, no one was even aware of her mother's pregnancy until she was already running around the lawn. We thought all three adult goats were siblings... but then again, they're just goats.

The chickens are perfectly capable of sharing the grazing grounds with the goats. It was not always so - a lone rooster annoyed the goats enough that they prefer to avoid his presence, but since he became our dinner, there's been nothing but peace.

They all live a rather care-free life. The chickens spend the day pecking at gravel and insects between their meals of corn, and the goats graze at the lawn and occasionally climb a fence to eat some leaves.

As long as they continue to churn out a half dozen eggs a day, they're at no risk of suffering the same fate as their useless male companion. The fridge is already packed with perhaps one or two hundred of their eggs.

Since my last visit, the billies have each grown a tuft of a beard, and their horns have noticeably spiraled a half turn.

Once in a while, the chickens grow anxious as they sense predators nearby. Though not caught on film, one or more coyote certainly frequent the area. But their fear of humans, and perhaps of the goats, have kept the hens safe thus far.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Last vacation in Taiwan

How do I know it's the last vacation in Taiwan? Because I'm going to the company's California office in the next week or two. It looks like I'll escape the unbearable heat of the tropical summer for some less harsh sunlight in San Francisco for the rest of this gig (until end of August). A change of scenery would be quite nice.

And about the vacation... it seems like such a long time ago. Jermaine's already put up a whole wad of pictures online, and I'm too lazy to put up a set of my own (which would mostly be the same thing anyway). Check them out at the links below:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Neglected blog!

Wow... two months since the last post.

I always think it's exceedingly strange when blogs are abandoned without any sign of redirect or goodbye. There are plenty of these on the internet - the last post usually says something like "I'll post again soon!". I'll hopefully not let this website become of that, but I guess after 5 months of routine there's very little news interesting enough to post.

But the past two weeks have been a very relaxing vacation - time off work and touring around the island. So over the next little while, perhaps I'll dole out some new, interesting pictures in portion sized chunks. In the mean time, I have a lot of work to catch up on!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

2 weeks of fireworks

Ok, I just got my computer back. Turns out a faulty graphics card was covered by an extended warranty policy, so I didn't have to pay the estimated $1000 required for a total motherboard replacement.

Anyway, since Chinese New Year three weeks ago until just tonight, there has been nightly fireworks shows down by the Kaohsiung harbour. Really, I have never heard of or thought possible nightly 7-minute fireworks shows for three whole weeks! Although frankly after seeing it 8 times from 8 different parts of the city it does get a little bit boring. In any case, the city's really gone all out to promote itself in preparation for the 2009 World Games.

A view from slightly up the Love River. Across the river are displays of colourful lanterns from the Lantern festival, and floating in the river are images of Kaohsiung's two World Games mascots.

Start of show, Feb 13, on the Love River.

Feb 5, on the Love River.

Feb 5, on the Love River.

The 85 Building at night, after a fireworks show.

A group of young people were setting up this display with glo-sticks by the docks. It was a bit too late for me to stick around and see what happens when the birthday girl actually shows up.

Feb 7, from across the harbour. What's quite amazing is the number of perfect spots from which the fireworks could be seen.

Feb 9, from docks near my apartment.

Feb 9, again. Going to see the fireworks so many times allowed me to try a lot of different settings on my camera. As it turns out, taking these pictures is no simple matter.

85 Building, again. The park in which this was taken was a recent construction that turned an old industrial site into a nice urban park, where a railroad has been converted into a bike path with the original railway crossing guards for artistic effect. The sculpture in this picture is made from 6 shipping containers welded together.

Feb 10, from Cijin Island Lighthouse. The lighthouse is situated high up a hill with a panoramic view of the entire city and harbour.

Cijin Island houses.

Cijin Island, and the city in the background.

Wide angle view of the entire Kaohsiung Harbour from the Cijin Lighthouse.

Feb 14, from Cijin Lighthouse.

Feb 13, once again from the bank of the Love River.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Big aspirations

Lately I'm finding that it's getting harder to convey the full range of stuff I want to share on this here blog, so I'm on to creating a new personal website where I don't have to jump through hoops to get the features I want. While I get up to speed with this new project, I probably won't be paying too much attention to this blog anymore. But hang tight - in a couple of months I promise it's going to be good.

In the mean time, some pictures from beautiful Kenting, when I visited about a month ago with my coworkers Alice and Kitty. It's something like the vacation spot for all of Taiwan, a must-see place on a visit to Taiwan.

Kitty leans on the rock next to a sign that says "Danger! Do not approach!" Fierce winds from the Pacific Ocean rush over the cliff edges, making it impossible to stand still unassisted. It's a nice view, at least!

A group of young people ask us to take their picture above the cliffs overlooking the ocean.

It's a bit dangerous to be standing right on the cliff's edge. The powerful wind blowing inland means one must lean into it in order to stand still. He's in for quite a bit of trouble if the wind should suddenly stop or reverse direction.

Numerous plaques like this one line the edge of the cliff, warning people not to approach.

The constant wind has blown sand from the beach below all the way up the cliff and onto the road (far left). We left this spot with fine grains of sand between our teeth.

Lunch at a little shack off the main road.

A man fishes on the coast off the highway. I can't imagine there being many fish this close to shore, but he's probably more interested in relaxing than in catching a meal.

A small bunker stood on the coastal cliff. The gun port overlooks a popular beach and hotel, while the inside is covered with sand and trash.

A view to the south. To the left is the Pacific Ocean, and to the right is the South China Sea. Apparently the large rock to the east is quite a popular attraction, where lots of people pull over to take pictures.

Hundreds of people crowd a cliff-side platform to view the sunset. I had arrived too late to find a spot with a view, but the more interesting subject is how much crowding people were willing to endure for a sight seen daily from any of Taiwan's major cities.