Thursday, June 29, 2006

Photo theme of the day: green, microprinted banknotes and documents

Image file sizes are large (~65kb each) due to the microprint details. 56k users please exercise patience.

All images are 100% crops with no image enhancements.

HK$50 banknote

Academic transcript
The University of Melbourne

RM5 banknote

US$1 banknote

IELTS results transcript

The following are outliers:

AU$20 banknote
I did not have a green (AU$100) banknote with me

Entry stamp, Hong Kong Immigration
Malaysian Passport
Unlike cars, the passport does not come with optional colour schemes

If you have a question, I probably have the answer:
Yes, I have currency of various states in my wallet. Lets see...

1 x AU$10
1 x AU$20
2 x HK$ 50
1 x MYR 1
2 x MYR 5
1 x MYR 50
1 x US$ 1


Wednesday, June 28, 2006


A dodgy narration in Chinese, heavily inspired by the wuxia author Jin Yong (金庸).
Half-baked, almost direct English translation available below.







陈一维止手,抬起头来,答道:“我是喜欢玩刀的。” 说完了就继续切辣椒。




A recently sharpened knife rested diagonally on a cutting board, its cutting edge glinting in the bright lights.

The knife handler started working, the knife edge sliding back and forth along the chopping board. His left hand held a bright red chilli, which he advanced slowly under the blade.

The fast moving knife cut through the chilli, slicing it into little circular rings. Having finished with the first chilli, he reached for another chilli to be decimated in the same manner.

This highly skilled knife-player is Lao Chen, a student without a master, who picked up his cutting skills from experience and analysis. His father could sharpen blades like no other, his mother appreciates sharp knives; both used knives carefully, properly.

After slicing through several chillies, he became adapted to the motions, and started to cut faster and slice thinner. The chilli slivers were cut with accuracy, all of them no more than 1mm thick, the knife only stopping when the stem was reached.

A passing colleague saw his knife skills. With a start, she stopped to observe and exclaimed, “Wow, your cutting is really amazing!”

Lao Chen paused to look at the colleague and explained, “I like to play with knives….” He then resumed slicing

The colleague asked, “Oh…no one taught you this?” Without looking up, he shook his head gently and said, “No.”

She watched for a moment, before turning around to the manager, “Boss, boss! Come see this.” The manager, who was eating his dinner, raised his eyes, asking, “See what?” “Come see him cut chillies, its amazing,” she replied.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Experimental results on the Panasonic DMC-FZ30’s macro focal distance and magnification factor throughout its zoom range


Summary of results
Experimental data gathering procedures
Data processing
Data accuracy
Other sources of errors
Conclusions and recommendations


The Panasonic DMC-FZ30 is a 'prosumer' digital still camera with a 'superzoom' lens assembly capable of 12x optical zoom.

The minimum distance required to achieve focus of the subject changes with focal length (zoom) in an extremely non-linear fashion. This experiment attempts to illustrate this non-linear behaviour.

The aim of this project is to help reduce barrel distortion while taking macro photographs. In the case of the FZ30, barrel distortion is a serious issue at the widest zoom.

Summary of results:

The following graph shows the minimum distance required to achieve focus at various focal lengths (35mm equivalent).

The distance measured is the distance from the subject to the front the lens barrel.

The focal length can be converted to optical zoom by dividing the length by 35, such that 35mm is 1x zoom and 420mm is 12x zoom. However, this is unnecessary since the camera’s zoom controls are calibrated to 35mm equivalent.

The following graph shows the maximum magnification factor at various focal lengths, again scaled for 35mm format.

Actual magnification factor correlates the size of the image on the film/sensor and the size of the subject. Hence, if the image of a 25mm subject appears as a 5mm image on film, the magnification factor is 5/25, or 0.20.

Here, the magnification factor is scaled to 35mm, so that an image that spans half the frame is treated as 18mm, not half of 7.417mm (the actual sensor width).

Experimental data gathering procedures:

The subject, an AU$20 note, is pasted on a vertical surface and illuminated with a halogen lamp.

A tape measure is laid out along the floor, with its zero point directly below the subject.

The camera is mounted on a tripod, and the tripod’s central column used as a reference point from which distances are measured.

The camera is positioned so that its lens barrel is just touching the subject. The central column’s position along the tape measure is then measured. This is the zero-point measurement, and subsequent data will be adjusted to reflect the fact that the measured distance is not the distance from the subject to the lens.

The camera is set to its minimum focal length (35mm), and its position along the tape measure adjusted back and forth until its minimum focal distance is found. The distance along the tape is recorded. The approximate (35mm equiv.) focal length as indicated on the lens barrel is recorded.

The camera’s focal length is changed incrementally, and the new minimum focal distances and focal lengths recorded.

Camera removed from tripod to shoot this scene

Data processing:

For a more precise approximation of the camera’s focal length (zoom), the image files’ details were checked by selecting ‘properties’, ‘summary’, ‘advanced’, ‘focal length’. This focal length is given in integers with no decimal places.

To obtain the magnification factor, a standard length on the subject must be known. The horizontal distance of the base of the ‘2’ was measured, and found to be exactly 12mm.

The distance (in pixels) of the corresponding length scale on each image was measured using Adobe Photoshop’s measure tool.

The ratio of the distance to the width of the frame was then multiplied by 35mm to achieve the image size that a 35mm film would see if the same image was to be produced on film.

Data accuracy:

Distance measurements: +/- 3mm; <5%
Focal length (35 mm equiv. as estimated on camera): +/- 5mm; <10%
Focal length (actual, as displayed on computer): +/- 0.5mm; <7%
Standard length of the subject, actual distance: +/- 0.2mm; <2%
Standard length of the subject, measured from images: +/- 3 pix; <2%

Other sources of error:

The camera’s auto focus algorithm exhibited slight inconsistencies when performing at the performance limits of the lenses, particularly at the far end of the focal lengths greater than 190mm (6x zoom). Occasionally, what appears to be an unsuccessful focus can be rectified by moving the camera backwards by about 3mm, focusing, then advancing the camera forward to its original position and auto focusing again. The outlier at 330 mm is probably due to this problem.

Conclusion and recommendations:

The magnification factor has two distinct peaks at 35mm and about 115mm. At 35mm, the magnification factor is approximately 0.62 (scaled to 35mm film), and at 115mm, the magnification factor is slightly over 0.40.

Barrel distortion is a serious concern in the range of about 35 to 45mm, and if a magnification factor of 0.6 is not required, the best magnification would occur at 115mm, with faithful geometric representation.

The following images show the results at various focal lengths. Compare the amount of distortion found in the 2nd and 3rd images (38mm and 113mm).

Focal length: 35mm (1.0x)
Magnification factor: 0.62

Focal length: 38mm (1.1x)
Magnification factor: 0.37

Focal length: 113mm (3.2x)
Magnification factor: 0.37

Focal length: 420mm (12x)
Magnification factor: 0.22

In light of the above results, I would suggest that one works in the 115mm focal length unless there is a real need for the 0.62 magnification factor.

If a high magnification, low resolution shot is required, I recomend shooting the same scene using 115mm on high resolution, then cropping the image to get the desired framing. This would give excellent geometric reproduction since 115mm causes little barrel distortion, and the centre of the frame suffers even less from distortions.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Photography: tea, milk and coffee

I was making my tea when I recalled one of ob!ique’s photo series which showed various stages of milk diffusing in a cup of tea.

I found a vessel with a nice, narrow spout from which to pour my milk. Interestingly enough, a long narrow spout produces a flow that barely disturbs the bulk of the tea. The flow was fast and laminar, the cross section too small. As a result, the milk went straight to the bottom of the cup, swirled around a little and settled into a diffused layer of milked tea with a stratum of transparent, un-milked tea at the top.

My interest in pouring piqued, I drank the tea, washed the cup, wiped it dry, polished it with my lens cloth and topped up the pouring vessel with another batch of milk.

Click here for Deviant Art entry

I went looking for some dark liquid to drip onto the white surface. Soy sauce came to mind, but instant coffee concentrate (2 teaspoons of granules with a small amount of hot water) saved the day.

An Unanswered Question

Produced by dripping concentrated coffee into the cup of slowly swirling milk.

Some prose by Shyan Yih in the comments...

Leaves leave its essence, its aroma
Mother's milk, full of nutrition
Beans been pressed, triggers the mind
Flowing, flowing, flowing
What have we done to preserve nature's goodness?
Shyan Yih, 2006


And here is an old friend from before I had my own digital camera. I had to remind myself not to depress the shutter button just to hear the mirror slap, the shutter click and the film advance motor whirr- film costs money.

Olympus iS-1000


Friday, June 23, 2006

"Climb Dance" and "Rendezvous" - two very good alternatives to "Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift" trailers

I read reports that the film Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift is a somewhat plotless, action packed flick. If the drift action is good, I would not mind forking out a bit of money to watch it on the big screen.

A look at the trailers available convinced me otherwise. I’ll openly admit it, I’m extremely critical when it comes to movies, which is why I rarely ever watch anything.

Anyway, here are two much more satisfying ways to spend a few minutes than watching crappy trailers.


"Climb Dance" is a multiple award winning short film by starring Finnish rally driver Ari Vatanen. This is re
al footage of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, a time trail competition event held in Colorado, USA. Watch out for the hairpin turn where the car’s rear overhang literally overhangs the cliff edge (3.51). Ari’s control of the wheel is particularly impressive between the times 3.35 and 3.48. If only they had thought to include a pedal cam...

If you cannot load this video click on this link to go to YouTube’s page.

Another magnificent short film is "C'était un rendez-vous" (English title "Rendezvous"), an 8-minute blitz through Paris in a Ferrari 275 GTB at dawn. In this film, you can feel your pulse quicken as the driver snakes through traffic, dark and narrow alleys and makes abrupt turns.

It is said that at one particularly risky intersection, an arrangement was set up using walkie-talkies such that if there was traffic, a sentry will inform the driver to abort. Everything went smoothly to the end, where they discovered that the walkie-talkies were in fact not working.

If you cannot load this video click on this link to go to YouTube’s page.

And finally, here is something completely daft: the Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 (by the way, it’s an Xbox game) trailer that was released in the E3. Seriously pointless eye candy for heterosexual boys and homosexual girls, this video appears to be a technological showcase of Microsoft’s might.

Observe the amount of detail gone into solving the differential equations of motion (of breasts) and the video rendering quality. Beyond that, there is probably not much of significance. But the differential equations of motion...

Credit goes to Jun Ian for highlighting the existence of this video.

If you cannot load this video click on this link to go to YouTube’s page.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

You know what would be fun? To go lepak somewhere bright and moderately sunny with the cousins and the aunts.

Armed with a simple Nikon FM2, a 50mm prime lens and several reels of ISO 100 film. Nothing complicated: no zoom, no white balance, no motors, and no batteries even.

The women cluster around, chattering cheerfully, an occasional upwelling of laughter erupting forth.

With a click of the shutter speed knob and a minor twist of the aperture control ring around the lens, the exposure is set, an operation that feels so natural that one wonders if it was something greater than engineers that designed the FM2.

The men huddle in a group discussing the latest developments in social-political-economics scene, and sometimes, football.

The camera’s shutter release is a purely functional protrusion with a hole in the middle to attach the cable release, not a curved shiny button engineered by the aesthetics department. Depress the silky smooth mechanism, and the spring loaded shutter pings open and close- a strange twanging sound of a discharging spring rarely heard in the world of digital cameras.

The young ones scatter around, the boys running around and the girls not being entirely girly too.

Pulling on the film advance lever is feels like cocking a gun. Through the aluminium lever, one feels the frame of film being pulled out of the projection screen as an unexposed frame takes its place. The action of pulling on the lever winds up the spring that drives the shutter mechanism, the stroke ending with a click as the final ratchet engages and the lever is free to snap back to its original position.


A week ago, there was this questionnaire with the theme of Four floating around. Here is an excerpt:

Four jobs I would stink at:
Cosmetics salesperson
Bikini waxer
Upper secondary mathematics teacher (I’m sure I’d step way out of the curriculum and mess everyone’s impressionable brains up)
Pianist at the London Philharmonic Orchestra

Four pretend nicknames I’m making up for myself:
The Dodgy Calligrapher
Double Clutch Wei
Fluffy the Dragon
Rosebud *cringe*

Four movies I have watched over and over:
Not really over and over, but these are the closest
Spirited Away
I Am Curious
Titanic (joking; I can’t think of any other)

Four alcoholic beverages I’ve enjoyed on offshore vacations:
The only alcoholic drink I like is coffee with a bit of Baileys Irish Cream

Four places I would rather be right now:
Anywhere with the cousins
Anywhere with the Malats
Europe, with a lot of sufficient money

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

No English translation below; don't bother scrolling.







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Monday, June 19, 2006

Photography: a stained mug and iris macros.

Self similarity at all scales

A pattern left behind by the receding surface of my drink.

Click here for large size image

"Is that a fractal in there?"
the lamp asked the mug.
"Don't look, you pervert!" the mug shrinked back, feeling violated.

Click here for large size image

This is my right eye. Say hello!


Amazing stuff. I'd do this more often if not for the fact that I have to shine a bright light at my eye while taking the photograph. I've got a headache now.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Disgusting photograph

For those of you who came because of that attractive title, the aforementioned photograph is accessible via the link at the bottom.

For everyone else, here are some previously unpublished images from my “portfolio”. (Cue hand gesture indicating “ ” )

It's Paradise Because I'm Not There

Click here for large size image
Pulau Perhentian, Malaysia

Ocean View

Click here for large size image
The Great Ocean Road, Australia

2 + 3 = 5

Now, for that promised photograph. It’s an unsettling close up shot of nasal discharge on a sheet of tissue paper. It’s yellow-brown, speckled with dried blood, and very very gooey. You have been warned.

Image via this link

I hope you were not eating your breakfast/ lunch.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Encounter with an idiot

One of the perks of taking public transport is the opportunity to getting close to the scum-eaters of the local society.

On my way back from work today, the tram's seats were about a third occupied, so there were plenty of spaces. I sat at an empty row’s aisle seat, and promptly got lost in thought about the air-temperature moderating effect of rainfall. In the window seat across the aisle was a Japanese-looking lady staring absently into the murky blackness outside.

Some minutes into the journey, a man dressed in sports attire boarded the tram. With a hooded shirt, tracksuit and white running shoes, he emitted the aura of a chav.

He walked down the aisle, not to be given away in a marriage ceremony, but on the lookout for a seat. The Japanese-looking lady remained in deep thought; I was reading a message on my phone. When he reached our row, he reached to the seat next to the lady, and picked up the corner of the coat draped over half the seat, and folded it up back into her space without so much as an ‘excuse me’. That done, he sat himself on the aisle seat that he had forcibly cleared, while the row behind remained completely unoccupied.

The lady gave him at him with a look of annoyance, folded her jacket on her lap and returned to her thoughts. The chav leaned across the narrow aisle, tapped my on my shoulder to get my attention. He reeked of uselessness, a general sensation that this character probably exhibits antisocial behaviour. He also stank.

He was quite annoying; I ignored him. When it was impossible to do so, I gave him what I thought to be evil stares. He’d stare back with his version of evil stare.

Once he banged on a plastic partition sheet, and when I looked up he was gesturing with a finger pointing up/ outside or something. Strange language, definitely not HTML. I gave him the condescending stare again, and he returned with his gaze.

Near the city centre, he came to me and mumbled unintelligible. I inferred it to be along the lines of “since we don’t like each other, there’s a tram stop coming up.” He then waited at one of the doors.

“A voice from behind me, nearby, asked softly, “Are you all right?” It had a diluted Indian accent.
“Yes, I’m fine. Thanks.”
“Was he trying to be a jackass?”
“Oh, very much so. You meet all sorts of characters on public transport.”
“You shouldn’t have taken his shit. Could ask him to go away or something. I’d have beaten him up if I knew he was bugging you earlier.”
“Yeah, that’s true.”

Annoying chav alighted at the next stop and disappeared into the murkiness of night time Melbourne.

That little encounter had me thinking, if I had to shed that non-confrontational approach and run a tosser into the ground, will I be able to do it?

When I arrived at my stop, I turned around and thanked the man behind man for his concern. He and his female companion were getting off at the same stop. It was the first time I took a close look at them, and I would guess they hail from the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent, being fairer in complexion and all.

I think Yvy would find that man quite fetching. Not that I’m a connoisseur of men, Indian or otherwise. The girl was quite pretty though.

Anyway, he had a more confrontational approach and recommended that no one should tolerate this kind of shit form anyone.
“Beat him up if he doesn’t stop [after you tell him off]; the cops would understand.”

That little discussion had me rethinking my strategy of general non-confrontation. In more populated locations, I could probably push that non-confrontationist back a little. But in quiet places, it’s best to play it safe. After all, if you don’t run a tosser into the ground, you run the risk of getting ploughed into the ground, with no one around to help.

On the matter of running tossers into the ground, I should polish up that back thrust of mine in case non-confrontation fails. No point having a one-shot-kill weapon when that one shot misses.

Yes, the momentum transfer of a back thrust is that fantastic. You get linear and angular momentum all dissipated in the impact- fantastic stuff.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Some questions do not have answers

A cloud of question marks materialise from the humid, rain sodden air, question marks of varying sizes, some pink in colour, others, turquoise. Some are bold, some are italicised, and some are underlined. They buzz and swarm, a dense mass of swirling open-ended questions, occasional tiny flashes of light detonating within the cloud as the bigger questions are raised.

Questions zing about within the cloud, colliding, fragmenting and fusing with one another. Collective, they hum gently with a frenetic energy, like rapidly spinning flywheels riding on near-perfect oil bearings.

The cloud is telepathic. As each magenta, lavender, indigo or ultramarine flash of light illuminate the cloud, I feel, I see the questions being created. The mass of smaller questions are not well resolved, and only serve to throw an uneasy backdrop of uncertainty on my mental state. The larger questions are easily discernable, from important questions like “How will quantum-gravity be formulated?” to less worrying matters like “I wonder if she read the screenplays?” to downright trivial issues to the tone of “When can I afford my own Lotus Elise?”

The universe around the cloud of questions march forward in time, but as Einstein discovered, not necessarily in lock-step. As the previously unknown future becomes history, questions get answered and eliminated.


When you blog about work, and a colleague finds out about your blog, it is potential bad news. It’s even more amusing if the colleague in question happens to be…

I should shut up already. In fact, I’m pondering if I should censor those screenplays, despite the fact that the goat has bolted the pen. Damage control, I call it. One goat lost is bad enough; let’s not lose the whole herd of 5 million goats. Where then, will the world get its supply of goat’s milk cheese?


Coincidentally, Some questions do not have answers is a blog by a certain Evelyn who loves baking and chocolates, among other things.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Photography: Lindt chocolates

Inspired by Sean's judicious use of black here, I decided to give the black background a try.


is finding Lindt chocolates on sale at 38% discount.

Click here for large size image
Click here for Deviant Art entry

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Joke of the day: Guantanamo suicides an act of 'warfare'

Earlier today on the BBC:
Guantanamo Bay suicides an act of war.

Later, the headline changed as the article was updated:
Guantanamo suicides a 'PR move'

It's a joke.

News coverage for this incident: BBC, CNN, Fox

Compared to CNN and Fox News (the notorious one), the BBC headlines are full of absurdities. Is the BBC stupid, or are they highlighting the funniest parts of the story?

CNN asserts that "asymmetrical warfare" is defined as "a conflict in which a much weaker opponent uses unorthodox or surprise tactics to attack the weak points of the much stronger opponent."

In my opinion, asymetrical warfare is a natural occurance. A conflict is a condition where one party attempts to defeat the opposition. If the objective is to defeat the opponent, then it would be unwise to go against the opponents strongest weapons, where defeat is certain. That course of action is suicide, not warfare.

Interestingly, try to define (un)orthordox.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Digital macro pencil calligraphy

Edited 11 June 2006: English translation added below.



印上方格的纸有20×30 个格子。

今天写了差不多 20×30×5.5 = 3300 个字了




Feeling a little restless this afternoon, I picked a few simple characters to work on my non-existent calligraphy skills. Little did I know, even a simple character like那 can be hideously difficult to perfect. I wrote it hundreds of times, and I’m still not satisfied.

That’s right, hundreds of times. To be precise, it’s about 1100 times.

Each printed sheet has 20×30 squares.

I wrote approximately 20×30×5.5 = 3300 words today.

This 那 is surprisingly challenging to write beautifully. To write it legibly is easy, but to raise the standard from legible to beautiful, that is not easy. But then, I could be using the wrong tools- I should use a brush, not a pencil.

I should get a brush…

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Friday, June 09, 2006


两天前,小李飞刀发了一封电邮过来,问那“romantic saga”的刷本何时才有下一部。










[ 余先生说话有上海口音,听不惯的人总是听不清楚。而且说话说得很快,句子在脑里还没造完就开始讲了,造成有些是听起来如口吃。]

余先生:你,你和[ 她 ]怎么了?


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Thursday, June 08, 2006



以上两词是用铅笔在纸上写,之后用 Photoshop 调整颜色。不错吧。


A few days ago, I started paying attention to my script, and realised that they have been ugly all these years. Much has improved since I started analysing to the strokes.

The above characters were written with a pencil on paper, and adjusted with Photoshop. Not bad, eh?

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Let me show off some mathematical creativity...

Alif suggested I blog this, and I shall humour him.

Yesterday, he presented me with an interesting question:
A car braking from an initial velocity of 60km/h requires 20m to come to a complete stop. What is the braking distance if the initial velocity is increased to 120km/h, assuming the stopping power remains the same?

Here’s the one of the ways one can go about solving the problem:
Initial kinetic energy is half of the product of mass and the square of velocity, 0.5 * m * v^2
Energy dissipated by friction is displacement multiplied by force, s * F.
Since all initial kinetic energy is dissipated, the equations can be combined to form
0.5 * m * v^2 = s * F.
0.5 * m * v ^ 2 / F = s

Since the brake force and mass remain constant, it is clear that braking distance scales with the square of initial velocity. Hence, doubling the initial velocity quadruples the stopping distance.

Here’s the cooler solution (mine, naturally):
Plot the graph of velocity against time. The area bounded by the curve is the stopping distance. The slope, which is the deceleration, is the same regardless of initial velocity.

Thus the size of the triangular area bounded by the curve can be scaled be adjusting the initial velocity. The area scales with the square of the edge length, so doubling the initial velocity (edge length) quadruples the stopping distance (area).

Look, no equations!

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Response to Chow Kon Yeow's post "Should civil servants be awarded titles higher than the Prime Minister and Ministers?"

Since I could not leave a comment on this blog without registering first, I'll just dump my views here.

Response to Chow Kon Yeow's post "Should civil servants be awarded titles higher than the Prime Minister and Ministers?" dated 05/06/06.

My understanding of the award is that it is given as a recognition of service to the country, not a conferment of power and influence.

If that is the case, then junior servants who have served the country should be recognised. And, just because a person is a Minister does not nessecarily imply that he/she is going to serve the country more than a junior government servant.

And since this award is merely a recognition of service, ministers need not worry about their director generals having a cooler title than the minister. It is not about the Tan Sri DG upstaging the untitled Minister.

By the way, who are these ministers who complained about having highly recognised DG's?


Thumbelina: secret admirer or stalker?

Continued from
section n: Vladimir the wanker
section n + 1: The fish and Freyja
section n + 2: Thumbelina's departure
section n + 2: With the Godfather's Aid

A brief summary of previous sections:
Thumbelina was kidnapped by a toad who thought she would make a suitable bride for her son Vladimir. Vladimir fell in love the moment he saw Thumbelina, and immediately decided to take her as his bride. She refused, resulting in her temporary imprisonment on a floating lily pad while Vladimir made preparations for the wedding.

Desperate to escape from Vladimir, Thumbelina sought the help of some fish. After some delay, they help nibbled through the lily pad’s stem. Freyja the butterfly was sent for, who would tow the lily pad and Thumbelina to safety. Freyja was tethered to the leaf, who then pulled it along the water.

Meanwhile, Vladimir had set up a meeting with his friends to seek help in organising his wedding. When he arrived at the meeting place, he realised that word has spread and there were more acquaintances present than expected.

While Vladimir made merry with his friends, Thumbelina moved further downstream with the help of Freyja.

When Vladimir finally returned to the stream with his friends, he was devastated to find that Thumbelina had disappeared. The incident appeared to be part of a well planned operation.

With no one else to turn to, Vladimir approached Pafnuty Chebyschev for help in locating his bride. In exchange, he would help store Pafnuty’s illegal commodities in times of trouble.

section n + 4: Secret Admirer or Stalker?

“Look, there in the middle of the stream! Is that the tiny human we have been asked to look out for?” asked Eta Carina the praying mantis.
“Yes, looks like the one. But why is the butterfly involved in the kidnapping? I thought the butterflies are non-aligned,” replied Praesepe, the other praying mantis.
“Beats me.” A non-committal wave of the antennae.
“We’re supposed to rescue the human though. Orders from the big guy.”
“Really? Are you sure God asked us to do it?”
“No you idiot! I was referring to Mr Chebyschev.”

Motionlessly, E. Carina and Praesepe observed the blue butterfly towing a floating lily pad, in which was sat the tiniest human they ever saw. With each strained down-stroke of the Lepidoptera’s shimmering wings, the tow line between its thorax and the lily pad pulled taut, the pad carving a deep, rippling bow wave into the water surface.

Praesepe waved his antennae at E. Carina, “You go back to tell Mr Chebyschev we have found the human. I’ll follow her progress.”

Back upstream at the toad colony, word reached Pafnuty Chebyschev that the tiny human may not have been kidnapped from Vladimir after all. Vladimir had kidnapped the human in the first place, and the human was merely escaping from Vladimir. Still, this bit of news would not make any difference to Pafnuty’s decision to help Vladimir retrieve the human- he was a businessman and a gangster, not an upholder of moral principles.

On the opposite bank, slightly downstream of the praying mantises, a mayfly by the name of Josef watched the progress of the butterfly and Thumbelina with great curiosity. The blue butterfly was magnificent, but what really held onto Josef’s attention was the little person being ferried along by the butterfly. Granted, a pint-sized human was rare, but if he saw a pint-sized human walking alone among the shrubs he would not have given it a second thought.

But this human was different. For sure it was not astoundingly beautiful- Josef’s sister had some friends who model for the Mayfly Monthly Fashion Times, and the human was nowhere close to those models in terms of sheer physical beauty. Despite her ordinary appearances, she must have done something remarkable to manage to hitch a ride with ride with a butterfly- rare, regal creatures known through the forest as noble, stately, neutral and morally conscious beings.

Josef watched the girl carefully, and saw that despite her unremarkable appearance, she was beautiful. Her eyes, which were not compound eyes, had a certain liveliness to them as they darted about inefficiently to take in the environment, glinting from an occasional ray of light reflected from the shimmering water surface. Despite not having a pair of slender antennae, she had long, smooth yellowish fibres growing on her head. She chatted animatedly with the butterfly in front of her, her fore limbs gesticulating and her face contorting into various expressions despite the fact that the butterfly could not see her. Occasionally, she laughed, a soft, tinkling sound carried over the water, a sound that reminded Josef of the pleasant bleating goats.

In the short span of minutes, the girl’s appearance grew on Josef. After the butterfly and the girl drifted past Josef, he edged back inland away from the river, flew quickly in the downstream direction, and crept back to the riverbank to watch them again.

* Lepidoptera: (entomology) an order of insects comprising the butterflies and moths


Life or Death?

Life or Death?

Click here for large size image
Click here for Deviant Art entry


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Your typical Estonian superstar rock band

Vanilla Ninja is an underappreciated band (outside of Central Europe) despite gaining cult popularity in their native Estonia and surrounding countries.

It’s the only band that I publicly admit to listening to, and the only artists that I plug shamelessly, mostly due to their underdog status in many parts of the world.

Since YouTube does not have videos of my favourite tracks, since I do not know of any free audio hosting service, and since YouTube does not accept audio files, I had to run the mp3 file through Windows Movie Maker with a few images to stitch them into a video.

The Band That Never Existed from the album Love is War (2006):

Other videos on YouTube

MP3 albums can be uploaded to a free file-sharing service, but only if demand justifies the effort.


Grass from a culvert is just as green

Grass from a culvert is just as green

It looks much better in large size (~83kB)