Friday, November 26, 2010

Where the A-list Play


Elle MacPherson holidaying here...

Where the A-list play
The far [sic] northern beaches are a summer holiday haven for world-weary celebs

This was the title+subtitle in an article in the Manly Daily monthly insert MyPittwater a few days ago. These 'reports' come 
out every year, just before the summer begins - I guess to get us excited about the celebs we can bump into when doing our 
shopping, but I guess also about correctly highlighting the special environment we enjoy here at Sydney's Pittwater 

I can't resist listing some of the celebs myself:

Late Christopher Reeve, AC/DC, the Olsen sisters, George Lucas, Sarah Ferguson, Robin WIlliams, Neil Young, Billy 
Connolly, Pamela Stevenson, Elle MacPherson, John Cleese, Nicole Kidman, Beyonce.

So it IS true: you can bump into anybody at Avalon when doing your shopping (as we do there - shopping I mean).

But I guess the more important for the tabloids is to report on (i.e. gossip) is the cost of these celeb's 'holiday rental', which I 
must say is astronomical: to secure the most glamorous holiday shack, you must come up with $45,000 a week (for the 
Kalua at Palm Beach). Elle MacPherson only paid the weekly charge of $35,000 for her hideaway at Karala, Palm Beach.

Locals at Palm Beach... (photo by me).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fresh Zucchinis for the Summer Months


We'll be self sufficient with zucchinis for seven months:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The 'Travesty' of Manly Daily/Warringah Mall Photo Competition


I've noticed a proliferation of photo competitions on the net. Usually they ask your 'best' Holiday - Moment - Travel - Reflections etc. images to enter to be in the running to win all these prizes. In Australia the prizes tend to be DSLRs of various kinds. Often the competitions are set up so that the organiser gets to gain e-mail addresses of the participants and general public voting for the 'best' image, if the competition is judged by the 'public'.

I've submitted a few of my works to some of them (they make it so easy to take part: you just upload your image, size often restricted to less than 2MB, and off you go). I just went through an excruciating process of the Manly Daily Warringah Mall Northern Beaches photo competition. Here's the story:

First of all, upon trying to upload one's image, your whole computer freezes for some 5-10 minutes. Also, if you wanted to see your uploaded entry, or any other submitted entries, the same thing: to see the tiny thumbnails in a filmstrip format you get, you had to wait the excruciating same time. Once your browser works again, you can scroll horizontally to see the small images of the most recent entries. If you want to see what's in a particular image, you click on the thumbnail, and get a slightly larger jpg to view, which fails to show any details. Well, you've worked your *** out getting every single pixel right, and then you see your photo reduced to a 500x700 approximation of the original - doh.

Then, after the deadline for submissions, I get this automatically generated e-mail to all participants from a JP, from the 'Manly Daily Team':

Thankyou for your entry in The Manly Daily-Warringah Mall 2011 Community Calendar Competition, which you entitled: Bilgola Plateau
 To determine the photos to appear in the Calendar (and the winner of the Canon 500D SLR) the photos are now available for public voting on The Manly Daily website. The voting is open until Sunday November 7.
 To give yourself the best chance of winning be sure to let your family and friends know to vote for you. As there are a large number of entries we would suggest the following to make the process as easy as possible:
Find your picture in the gallery,
Copy and paste it into an email
Send the email asking for their vote with this link:
 The response has been huge so giving your friends a description of where in the gallery your photo appears will help them a lot. Also, make sure you make it clear to them that they can only vote once.

Well, they had to specify how to find any photos because nobody would try to go through all of these apparently 1300 entries by scrolling the entire filmscript and enlarging all of them to find the best. To make the thing even more difficult, it seems they had to create two separate sets of files because they failed to accommodate the large number (for them) entries.

I replied to JP:

I think this message is quite unfair: I don't have any 'family and friends' that I would bother with trying to make them vote for me. My photos are to be judged by their merits!

Here's his reply:

The images to appear in the calendar were always going to be determined by public vote.
 The photos are not only up online but are also on display at Warringah Mall where passers-by can vote at their leisure – anyone can vote for you and so your photos will be judged for their merits, however, an email to any family and friends was just a suggestion that may give your photos a better chance.

Well, I wasn't happy with this reply, so I responded with this.

I understand (or guess) your system became stuck by the unprecedented number of entries to the competition (I'm sure you know the performance of your website regarding to this competition has been excruciating), but it doesn't justify the organiser to promote unethical ways to have more people to vote. Any objection to my view doesn't stand a chance from a moral point of view!

No reply, but I went to see the entries at the Mall. Imagine the scene: 1300 printed photos on display - small postcard size, mass hanging, the lowest ones staring at your toes, the highest ones you had to look up to, but there weren't anybody looking at them during my time there anyway. What a mayhem, to say the least! 

The winner, as shown on Manly Daily Website, and in the paper (a cropped version of the original, I understand).

Well, finally Manly Daily announced the winner (just one, not the other 11 selected for the calendar). Apparently the most votes were given to an image of a cockatoo (or which there were numerous entries, but this particular one was YELLOW!). This is not to put down the image, which was by a young Canadian graphic designer specialising in Photoshop. This is to criticise the organiser for failing to get things right: failing to promote skill ('this is a promotion based on skill' stated in their 'terms and conditions'), failing to provide proper technical support for the submissions and for viewing the entries on-line, and failing to present them in equal terms and proper quality for the passers-by at Warringah Mall.

Here's one of my entries (featuring WHITE cockatoos). I'm not saying this is a better photo,
but I'm sure it's more interesting: a flock of cockatoos raiding my lemon and lime crops!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Almost Summer...


It's November, so here in Sydney it's Jacaranda Time.  A view from our 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Our Bugs' Life - Biting Jumping Spider


I was lucky today to spot this beautiful shiny black spider on the wall of our living 
room. I don't recall seeing the species before, and it took me awhile to identify it. 
It's a 'Biting Jumping Spider', Opisthoncus mordas. It does jump, as I discovered.

The information below is from website

Shiny black or dark brown, with a with line on the middle of its abdomen. The first pair of legs are strong and spiny. Usually 
found on the leaves and bark of trees. Quite likely to bite if handled or trapped in clothing and may then produce local pain; 
not considered capable of causing serious injury or skin ulceration.

This is one of the many salticid species that can be found anywhere on trees or in green vegetation because of its great 
mobility. The spider is generally black.

Like most Salticids, a very bold and mobile spider which will swivel to observe you as you are observing it. Attractive, large, 
and with an outgoing personality. A very charming spider. 

A spider with a very similar appearance is Sandalodes albobarbatus and several other salticid species have a similar body 

These spiders are quite bold and can be found hunting on shrubs during daylight. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Poor Bennie, post-surgery


Here's Bennie still feeling off-colour (and off a lot of his hair) after yesterday's marathon 3.5 hour ear/nose surgery (which went well)...

Our Bugs' Life - A Tiny Yellow Spider


A good camouflage on this tiny yellow spider on a potted plant on the deck: the 
cactus will soon be covered in yellow flowers (see the last photo):

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Too Hot to Blog


It's a hot late spring Sunday afternoon in Sydney, so I just selected a couple 
random photos from my album...

A frog in the swimming pool skim box


Yesterday I blogged (here) about a local man, Allan Baillie, who was sucked into 
a drain pipe at Bilgola Beach rockpool.

It reminded me of how a frog had got stuck in our swimming pool skim box. We 
saved it into a jar, and released it in a safe spot in the back garden.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Mosaic Me


The Mosaic Man!

Trouble in Paradise


A witness to the dangers lurking at our idyllic Bilgola Beach Rockpool.

Allan Baillie, Photograph Braden Fastier, Manly Daily

Author sucked out through drain pipe at Bilgola pool
Alan Bailey of Clareville shows his injuries after being sucked through the drain at the Bilgola Rock Pool on Monday. 
AWARD-WINNING author Allan Baillie thought he was going to die when he was sucked through the outlet pipe of 
Bilgola rock pool.
A moment later he had been spat out of the pipe, dumped on the sand and his brain was coming to grips with the 
fact he was breathing.
He was badly cut, bruised and would soon slip into mild shock but all that mattered was that he was still alive.
Now the Clareville resident can laugh about his near-death experience and the wisecracks that are starting to come 
his way - about becoming unplugged, of going down the drain and being used as a human pipe-cleaner.
Mr Baillie, 67, and his wife Agnes were swimming in the Bilgola rock pool about 4pm on Monday when council 
workers opened the valve to drain the pool so they could clean it.
The first Mr Baillie knew of the workers’ presence was when one started gesturing to him.
Not knowing what the man meant, Mr Baillie swam closer, only to be sucked underwater and through the outlet 
Mr Baillie sustained cuts and bruises to his right shoulder, his back, both arms, both knees and his right foot from 
the jagged shells he was scraped against as he was dragged through the pipe.
“The pull from the pipe was incredibly strong,” he said.
“I was sucked down feet first.
“For one moment I thought I was going to die, then I was spat out the other side.
“I was happy about that because I knew I was alive.”
Two Pittwater lifeguards rushed to Mr Baillie’s aid.
“They were really nice and very efficient,” he said. “Then I slid into mild shock - it’s the first time I’ve ever had that 
feeling - and I just wanted to lie down.
“All the colours I could see started to fade, like they were bleached.”

Mr Baillie has won numerous awards for his children’s books, including the 2010 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 
Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature for Krakatoa Lighthouse.

Here's my imaginary version of the events based on my old photos of Bilgola 
Beach Rockpool:

“All the colours I could see started to fade, like they were bleached.”

Taylor Swift's Hair


These images caught my eye in the last two Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend Magazine editions. The first one was on the cover of 30th of October issue (photo by Pete Mariner/Retna), and the second one was in the 6th of November issue (by Tim Flach).

Taylor the Human

And the Puli

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holiday in Finland Week 4 - Fine Dining in Helsinki


The restaurant: Juuri. The verdict: Watch out Noma! Kiitos Pirjo.

This is the final post regarding to our holiday in Finland, summer 2010. We had the best of times, at the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, catching up with the relatives and friends, seeing the Finnish summer at its best - and enjoying in general the finest things in life!

Books by Ridou Ridou