That One Time We Were Ramsay Street

My street isn’t anything like those on TV – we don’t get together every other week to do a BBQ. We don’t share a perpetually connected backyard where anyone could waltz in and have a cuppa. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t even know who my neighbors are, and I’ve lived on this street for almost a decade.

The thing is, we’re not the other end of the spectrum either. Apart from some unpleasantness a few months back concerning some idiots down the street, a carton of eggs and my front porch, we all leave each other well alone. If we pass each other, we would nod, or pretend it didn’t happen. I suppose, of course, that everyone had the same thoughts I did: What will it take for the street to get together?

Then, one morning a couple weeks back, there were sirens. I crawled out of bed, in time to see billowing smoke rising from the roof of a house three doors down. A quick glance around, and sure enough, the entire street population was also billowing from their houses, rubbernecking at the site of what could very well turn out to be a massive tragedy. Some of us (myself included), started patting our hair consciously, in case TV crews turned up.

Fortunately, I guess, no one turned up but two fire trucks and a couple of police cars. Turns out (and this is just whispers passed from one lips to another) that the tenants had left something on in the kitchen, and it in turn burned half the house down. The people were all out, thankfully, so all the only hurt was on the wallet.

So, several weeks on, the chicken wire fencing is still up, and the workmen have been doing their job to fix up this house. But even as they clear away the burnt out wall, I realized that the wall between neighbors still hasn’t come down. We’d all stood there, gaping at the smoke, mutually coughing at the fumes, and acting like this was a blow on us all, but no one had asked for each other’s name. We recognize the model and make of the cars, but if we had to connect a face to those, much less a name, we’d be at a loss.

Is it even possible to be as neighborly as the houses on Ramsay Street? Is there even a point? Surely, people know when something is wrong, and will do something, right?

Except no one would notice if an elderly couple hadn’t surfaced for a few days. No one would see bruises covering someone’s arms when they go out. Aren’t these the things that neighbors should watch out for?

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I could not get the permission from the builders to walk inside the location (beyond the chicken fence), and I definitely didn’t want to do something illegal like sneak in after hours.

The QR code will work perfectly with a decent scanner. I used the Barcode scanner Android app, but you Apple people out there should be able to find one just as good.

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The Proverbial Sunrise

[Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been – Relient K]

I’ll be posting at least 2 Things on my other (serious) blog very soon.

Today, I was supposed to go with some friends to visit the grave of a beautiful friend taken way too early from a world that needs more love like hers. Unfortunately, I made the selfish mistake of leaving both my assignment and immune system unattended, and now I’m sick and (as you can see in the previous post) still forced to cram out something academic.

The other week, I posted here the results of my photography assignment. I don’t know how obvious it was, but the one of the stove was atrocious. My original plan was doing something else (below), but there was no time for it.

So here is what it could have been.

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Alex.

Catalyst – Photography Assignment

The following are my 5 photos for submission for Media Objects photography assignment, and the 500-word reflection. I will also be sending the 5 photos to you (my tutors) in a separate email, in case WordPress compresses the photos.

Water

Water

Earth

Earth

Sun

Sun

Love

Love

Heat

Heat

I approached the given theme ‘catalyst’ by reflecting my interpretation of it. For me, catalyst is first and foremost changes in chemistry. This led to me to think about growth and decay – the life cycle of a plant. However, as the project called for still images, and I had a limit of five, I could not do time-lapse – not did I have the time to do so.

I thought about the aspects that affect plants – namely the four elements. I altered ‘air’ to ‘sun’, because sunlight is key in a plant’s growth. For the 5th photo, I borrowed Captain Planet logic, and went with ‘heart’, or rather ‘love’. That is, the loving enjoyment of the fruits of labor – eating. Digestion is also a chemical catalyst.

Water and Earth are simple too approach but hard to execute. At different ends of the spectrum, water and earth respectively are ever moving, and completely stationary.

To capture the fluidity of water, I had to use high shutter speeds to capture the droplets to prevent blur. My main focus as a new photographer was composition and lighting, and I am very proud of this photo as the best of my series, because of the lighting of the water droplets.

I chose to capture a sprout in the soil in order to create a dynamic narrative to a still subject. This was done with a shallow depth of field in order to focus on the sprout. The same idea was behind ‘love’, by focusing on the details of the food items. Weber influenced the composition of these two photos when he said that “the most important part of any picture is a clearly recognized center of (picture) interest” (38), which is why I placed both focal items about one-third away from the edge of frame (86).

Sunlight is difficult for me to capture on camera, due to the fickle nature of light. I opted to show light through shadows instead. I am not happy with the clutter that I left in the photo, and should have removed some items to create a less noisy photo, but composition wise, I chose Weber’s suggestion to use lines as strong compositional guides (68), and used the shadows heavily to lead the eye to the focal point.

Perhaps the worst photo of the lot is ‘fire’, or ‘heat’. The lighting conditions were poor, I did not choose good camera settings for the photo, and the planning wasn’t done, meaning the photo looks amateur. I am quite pleased with how the steam wraps around the handle of the spatula.

Overall, I am happy with 3/5 photos, which I deem to be satisfactory as this was my first time taking photos while putting creative and technical considerations into practise. On my friends’ behest, I shot entirely in a 50mm prime lens in order to force myself to think of composition and positioning more, and I very much appreciate the difference in mindset this makes. On my next project including photography, I will be focusing more on lighting as well as staging a good photo.

References

Weber, Ernst A. Vision, composition and photography. Berlin; New York: de Gruyter, 1980. Pg 36-39; 44-45; 58-59; 68-69; 86-87)

I can’t wait to fall in love with you

[Summer Love – Justin Timberlake]

So I am aware that I haven’t written much for a while. Mostly, life has been pretty routine – I meet up with Mela, I go to work, I have some shifts that are terrible, some that are fun. Mela and I have had a few small arguments but nothing close to a fight. I’ve gotten her Christmas presents and she’s gotten me some as well.

As you can imagine, last night was NYE 2011. Putting aside the “oh my God it was only, like, yesterday that I went to the city for NYE 2010”, I was pretty excited because we’d gotten a hotel room together in the city. Awkwardly, the room was right next to my work, the very place where I can’t be seen because I was “home sick”, so I spent a lot of time cowering behind Mela when we passed my work in case the managers were about.

We met up at Glen, as usual, and took the train up. There was still time before check-in, so we had lunch at this Vietnamese place, except I felt like fried rice, so of course I ordered a Pad Thai Fried Rice at a Vietnamese Pho restaurant. After eating our fill, we took the tram down to our hotel room, checked in, got all excited at the prospect of a night together in a decent for how much we paid hotel room. But not 10 minutes into our honeymoon beyond the threshold mania did Brendan call for me to pick him up from downstairs. There was a bit of a whinge on Mela’s behalf who, understandably, seeing as we hadn’t seen each other properly in a few days, wanted some time alone first. But I got Brendan, and we hung out in the hotel room for a bit watching TV until we went to Coles at Melb Central to get some snacks because I remembered being hungry the year prior. Took almost an hour to decide what alcohol to buy and ending up buying a tiny bottle of butterscotch schnapps which I will say now, sucked. We passed by Dani and Ben eating crepes outside of Harajuku crepes, thus seeing a 2nd year of accidentally coming across Dani in the city on NYE. We went back to the room and watched Man Vs Wild until Brendan had to go see his friends. So then Mela finally had her time alone with me.

At around 7:50, 8, we headed off to go have dinner with Jen in Richmond, seeing as it was also her birthday that we were counting down to. We went to Pacific House on Victoria Street, and since we arrived late, they ordered already. It was fine, because the food was amazing. Once again, we ate our fill and with bulging stomachs hugged Jen goodbye to catch up with my uni group in the city.

Caught up with Jacky who was standing waving his arms in the middle of Swanston Street looking for us, and we went to Gin Palace (a small bar just off Lt Collins) for a bit. Jacky brought along an entourage of our lunch group, including Clare whom I haven’t seen in what felt like forever. We didn’t stay in the bar for long, seeing as it was already 30 minutes to midnight. We went back to Fed Square, and on the way, Mela, Little Sam and I lost the rest of the group. After a good quarter of an hour desperately pushing through crowds and trying to get calls to go through, I finally got through to Clare, who told us where they were. Running like mad people and hurting, I am sure, numerous merry-makers, we managed to run from Fed Square, through the crowd and down to Southbank opposite the Langham in around 5 minutes, arriving to where the group was a mere 2 minutes before midnight.

Missed the countdown, as we always do on Southbank because we don’t have speakers there, but we knew that we’d ushered in the new (and final?) year when the fireworks flew into the night sky. We watched in awe as this year’s (which was much better than last year’s) fireworks lit up the Melbourne skyline, and then we watched in amusement and some degree of horror as the top of the Art Building spire caught on fire, sending massive flaming debris down.

Mela and I trudged back to our hotel room, somehow managing to get there before 1am. We had our showers, then snuggled up in bed with the schnapps which were quickly abandoned. We ate some bread and ham that we bought, even though she was still full. We hugged a lot and told each other many sweet things before feeling fatigue pull its veil over our eyes by 2, and going to sleep.

Sleep was a bit difficult, for me at least, because it was quite warm, but it was nice to be able to cuddle the one you love at any given time during the night. We woke up and had some more cuddles and sleepy talking before her phone went off to let us know that we had to get ready for check-out. Quick packing up, a few moments of Ben 10 on TV, and we said goodbye to our first hotel room together.

The day was already heating up monstrously, and we ate congee at the same restaurant as I had last year with Annie, Anna, Josh and Julia. Then we took the Cranbourne back to Oakleigh, and said a long and sad goodbye as we took our respective buses. But the goodbye wasn’t for long, because I can feel that 2012 is going to be the year where I don’t (and really shouldn’t) feel like I am alone at any time.

Alex.

Papa I Know You’re Gonna Be Upset

[Papa Don’t Preach – Glee Cast (Dianna Agron), Original by Madonna]

…You’re gonna be upset if I’d burned down my mom’s bed.

Read my 365 for day 16, and you’ll see how close I came to being killed.

To cut a long story short: I played with matches near my mother’s bed. AHH!

I’m an idiot.

Alex.

P.S. Net uncapped, and so I put work aside for Glee. This is a bad trend.

A Girl Like You Is Impossible To Find

[Fall For You – Secondhand Serenade]

This is Day 3 of Sorrento.

Alright, so my feet were in pretty bad shape, so Spanna, Tiff and I decided not to go out anywhere. We had pancakes and fruit salad for breakfast. Spanna cut the melons, and left a very thick layer of crunchy skin on it, so everyone sounded like they were breaking their jaw. After breakfast, we fired up the Korean version of Hana Yori Dango, and we literally sat there for the entire day eating and watching Korean guys, making remarks like “OMG SHE’S SUCH A BITCH!” whenever the lead girl was a bitch towards the curly haired guy (who, by the way, Vania called dibs on), or screaming, “HE’S SO CUTE!” whenever Ji Hoo (or Hanazawa Rui, in the Jap version) smiled. That, actually, was only done by Tiff.

We ate shit loads. We had a huge box of junk food on top of all the other supplies, like bread and meat etc, so Julia and Bel urged us to pig out, as we couldn’t and wouldn’t take all that stuff back. So, for the whole day, we watched HYD and ate and ate and ate. Jen was unfortunately given a pack of chips, from which she ate and ate and ate. She couldn’t stop!

Then, at around lunchtime, we hear a car horn outside. I  look through the blinds and who do I see but SonJ! She got driven up by her mate Dan, and it was a surprise! Forgetting the immense pain on my feet, I ran out to give her a hug. She came in, and then after a while went to the beach with Bel and Julia to join April, Jen and Lily who were there already (alright so not all 12 of us are reclusive losers). We kept watching HYD.

Then later on nearing dinner time, Bel, SonJ and Jen wanted to watch Sweeney Todd. So we put that on, and seeing as I’ve seen it already, I went to the kitchen where Shar- and Suse were just sitting around. They had a candle lit, and Suse was using a charred skewer to write stuff on the paper towel. I had an idea to write “LET ME OUT” in creepy handwriting with the charred skewer, so I was letting the skewer burn in the candle, then using the embers to write the words. Unfortunately I got as far as “LET ME OU” before I forgot to blow out the small flame on the skewer, and so when it was held to the paper towel the entire thing caught on fire! Shar- had some lemon-lime bitters and I swear she was going to through the slightly alcoholic drink onto the fire, so I quickly grabbed the towel, ran to the sink and slammed the tap on.

For the next ten minutes we continued burning small bits of paper towel in the sink. Come on! It was bloody fun. It also smelled quite bad. And we left a small char mark in the sink which we maintain is “sauce stain”.

Then Bel started preparing dinner, making pizzas! I went into the lounge room to watch Get Smart (because I haven’t seen it 3 times already). Then around the end of it I went into the kitchen were a small drinking party had started. Watched Tiff try to do a tequila shot. She actually spat some of it back out, but that was because she dumb enough to hold it on her mouth and not swallow.

Ah I just got distracted by Spanna’s upload of photos.

Anyway that night we played “I Never”, but with actual alcohol this time. Sure I targeted April. She held her booze fine. I got a bit tipsy (found it hard to walk like a normal person). We started watching The Grudge but that sucked, so instead we changed to watch One Missed Call Final but without English subtitles. We made up dialogue, which probably had nothing to do or everything to do with the movie. Went to sleep at around 1 in April’s bunk. Halfway through the night, she flipped over, squished my cheeks, patted my face, then I realized she was still asleep. I don’t know what she was doing. She snored. It was funny.

I suppose I’ll write Day 4 in here as well seeing as it was mostly just packing. Jen got bitten by a mozzie on one eyelid. Like. One eyelid. It was hugely swollen. She got bitten everywhere else too. Packed, went to the bus stop, and took the bus trip back. It wasn’t as long, and I went on MSN and etc on my phone, so it passed the time. Trained back to Richmond from Frankston, and then went home. The moment I sat down in front of the computer, I swear any motor mechanism in my body just stopped.

Well, that was Sorrento! Partied, rested, burned, walked, laughed, sang, screamed, and ate. God did we eat.

Alex.