Monday, July 31, 2006

My first (mostly) gay party

A faint but persistent buzzing breeched my sensory fortress, rousing me from my sleep to a drowsy stupor. I reached to the phone, turned off the alarm clock and went back to sleep.


***


A ringing noise pierced into my skull, carrying my straight into the realm of the conscious. Someone was calling.

I picked up the phone, confident I can articulate myself clearly enough as not to betray any trace of sleep. “Hello,” I answer the infernal ringing device. I sounded extremely drowsy.

“We’re on the way to the city.”

“When do you think you’ll reach there?” I asked, hoping against all hope that they would need as long as possible.

“Half an hour,” the caller replied. Shit.

I scramble about to wash up and get dressed. I even decided to forgo the coffee.


***


A fellow waiter had recently moved house, and arranged to have a housewarming party, to which his fellow front-end staff at the restaurant were also invited.

The objective for us rendezvousing in the city was to purchase a housewarming gift for him. For me, it was also extremely convenient as it allowed me to avoid entering a house full of strangers alone. Thus I had jumped at the suggestion of “let’s go together,” the keyword being ‘together’ because it explicitly rules out the concept of ‘alone’.

It so happens that this colleague is homosexual, so in fact I would be entering a house full of homosexual male strangers.

Not to be homophobic, but I am uncomfortable when surrounded with things that I am not familiar with. Worse still when the things in question are people and not mechanical parts.


***


When I finally met Muira and Tracy, they had already purchased the coffee machine, which was conveniently packed in an impressive large box. Good, that would sufficiently impress the recipient.

We made our way to the house with no troubles. The host greeted us warmly with a big smile, and made appropriately happy and gleeful noises when presented with the impressively boxed but not gift-wrapped present. This being a housewarming party, the welcome included a quick tour of the house.

We arrived at the kitchen to dump some of our things in a corner. A little knot of middle aged men were in there chatting. The host asked if we wanted any drinks.

As the host was filling up three glasses with water, I was told that some of the men were looking at me. As it would later be recounted to Tracy’s friends, the moment we breezed into the kitchen, n pairs of eyes swivelled in our direction, completely ignoring the girls to glance at me.

I started to feel slightly out of place; and was formulating plans to avoid further uncomfortable glances. I decided to stick to Tracy and Muira, and maybe even single-handedly conjure-up a boyfriend-girlfriend kind of appearance just to tell the universe that I am heterosexual. But what the hell is the boyfriend-girlfriend look?

And if that question could be answered, the problem was not resolved. Just because another girl is engaged doesn’t mean other heterosexual men will not sneak glances at her, out of curiosity or whatever. I had a similar problem.

So my plan was doomed to failure on both fronts. I stuck close to them anyway, and probably ended up looking like an antisocial, homophobic, clingy idiot.


***


Seated close to us was an Australian man in his early to mid twenties. We were talking quite freely in Mandarin.

“That man across me is quite cute,” Muira remarked.
“Yes,” Tracy concurred.
“I wonder if he’s that type…”
“I have an idea!”

2 pairs of eyes looked at me. It did not feel like a very good idea to me.

“Where are you all from?” the young man piped up.
Oh shit he speaks Mandarin!

Later, an autopsy revealed that he might have heard the remark about cute, but the homosexual reference was probably too subtle for him to catch.


***


After an hour of feeling out of place, we left, citing work commitments. Which was partially true- Muira and I had to work the dinner shift, which was not to start for another 90 minutes.

So we took refuge at Tracy’s friends’ house which was conveniently located a very short distance away.





So here I am. Having a few homosexual colleagues sure opens your eyes a bit more. And you get interesting stories to tell your parents, siblings and cousins. Oh, and to blog.


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Saturday, July 29, 2006

剧本,第五部

Non-rigorous English translation available below.

序幕
第一幕
第二幕
第三幕


第四幕

(A)
人物:Vivian,陈一维
场景:某餐厅里
语文:普通话

(晚还早,餐馆里只有两桌的客人。陈一维在bar里的洗碗盆边洗杯子。)

(厨房的双门打开,Vivian出现。她在角落停了一会,仔细地观察工作时间表。之后顺手拿起了自己的杯子,喝了两小口的茶,再把杯子放下。)

Vivian:(转向陈一维)阿Tan,你是喜欢男的或是喜欢女的?
陈一维:(马上抬起头望着Vivian,停止洗杯)哈?当然是女的啦!
Vivian:哦。。。
陈一维:你为什么又会问到这点?
Vivian:没有啦,因为这边很多男人都是喜欢男的嘛。。。
陈一维:哎,虽然是多选择,但是(厨房里的铃响了一声,Vivian转身准备进厨房拿菜,一面听陈一维的那句,一面向厨房走)我的internal structure就是喜欢女的。
(Vivian开了门,呆在中间。陈一维说完,她就消失如厨房。)

(送出客人的菜时忙了一会,几分钟后才可继续谈。)

陈一维:你为什么刚才会那么干脆地问我那个问题的?
Vivian:不然你要我怎么样问你?
陈一维:啊,也是的。只是没想到有人会问这种那么personal的东西。。。
Vivian:(手拿了桌布准备察桌)但是这边很多gay的男人。你也应该知道吧。。。
陈一维:啊,对。
Vivian:(从bar里拿了察桌的一块布)除了你和余先生,男的全都是gay的。
陈一维:(把手伸到架里拿匙叉和纸巾)是咯,我以前SMS给我的妈妈说这边很多这种人时,她立刻打个电话过来问。我跟她说没有东西的啦。
Vivian:哈哈。

(Vivian走向空桌,陈一维跟在后。她把桌察干净了,就离开。陈一维把纸巾和匙叉摆在桌上。)


(B)

人物:张小姐,陈一维
场景:某咖啡店里
语文:普通话

(张小姐和陈一维坐在一张小圆桌前。桌上摆着一本书,两杯咖啡,一部手机和一个提包。)

陈一维:昨晚Vivian问我喜欢男的或喜欢女的。
张小姐:哈,真的?我没听到的?
陈一维:那时你不在,你好像上了楼上或在厨房里。
张小姐:哦,那你怎么回答?
陈一维:我说,当然是喜欢男的啦!
陈一维:我的样子很gay吗?。。。
张小姐:(急着插了嘴)你等下。你刚才说什么?
陈一维:哦,我说,我的样子很gay吗?
张小姐:(把手指转了半圈,表示‘退回去’)不是,再前一句。
陈一维:哪一句?啊,我说我是。。。哦,我跟你讲错了。但是我跟Vivian说的是对的。
张小姐:我给你吓了一跳。。。

(第四幕终)


***


Act 4

(A)

Characters: Vivian, Yee Wei
Scene: a restaurant
Language: Chinese/ Mandarin

(It was still early, and only two tables were occupied by customers. Yee Wei washes glasses in the bar’s sink.)

(The kitchen’s double doors open, and Vivian appears. She stops at a corner for a while, scrutinising the shift timetable. She picks up her glass, takes two sips of tea, and puts the glass down.)

Vivian: (faces Yee Wei) Tan, do you like guys or girls?
Yee Wei: (raises his head to look at Vivian, stops washing glasses) Huh? Of course I like girls!
Vivian: Oh…
Yee Wei: Why do you ask?
Vivian: Nothing; a lot of guys here prefer males…
Yee Wei: Aih, there may be more choices for me, but (a bell rings in the kitchen, Vivian turns towards the kitchen, listening to Yee Wei speak while making her way to the kitchen) my internal structure is such that I like females.

(Vivian opens the kitchen doors, and waits at the doorway. When Yee Wei finishes speaking, she disappears into the kitchen.)
(They busy over the delivery of dishes for some minutes, before resuming their conversation.)

Yee Wei: Why did you ask that question so bluntly?
Vivian: And how else should I ask?
Yee Wei: Yes, very true…
Vivian: Apart from you and Mr Yu, the guys here are all gay.
Yee Wei: (reaches into a rack to get some cutlery and napkins) Yea, when I texted my mother telling her that many people here are of this sort, she immediately phoned me. I had to reassure her it’s ok.
Vivian: Haha.

(Vivian moves towards an empty table, Yee Wei follows behind. She wipes the tabletop clean, and departs. Yee Wei arranges the napkins and cutlery on the table.)


(B)

Characters: Tracy, Yee Wei
Language: Chinese/ Mandarin

Yee Wei: Yesterday, Vivian asked me if I like guys or girls.
Tracy: Oh, really? I did not hear that.
Yee Wei: You were not there; I think you were upstairs or in the kitchen.
Tracy: Oh… so how did you reply?
Yee Wei: I said, of course I like guyss!
Yee Wei: Do I really look that gay?...
Tracy: (interrupts hastily) Wait, what did you say?
Yee Wei: Ah, I asked if I really look that gay.
Tracy: (twirls index finger in the air drawing semicircles, indicating ‘one step back’) No, before that.
Yee Wei: Which sentence? Ah, I said I perfe… Oh, I made a mistake. But I told Vivian the correct details.
Tracy: Ah, that gave me a shock…

(End Act 4)





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Friday, July 28, 2006

My camera has turned into a microscope

Warning: highly detailed images, please exercise patience.
Notice: there are several typographical errors on the images. It is best to ignore all 0.20 markings.


After some optical black magic with the aid of Adrian and Diana's Canon 28-80mm EF lenses, I have been able to turn my Panasonic FZ30 into a microscope capable of resolving details about 760 nm per pixel.

Interestingly, the wavelength of red light is 700 nm, and I can see minor diffraction effects due to the wave nature of propagating light.

Right, let's get to the photographs...



Click here for large size image
The scale is corresponds to a length of 1.0 mm, subdivided into 0.5 mm and 0.2 mm sections.

This is an image of a polymer RM 5 banknote. It is part of the Petronas Twin Towers, where the diagonal line on the left is the bottom of the right supporting-strut of the sky bridge connecting the towers.



The scale is corresponds to a length of 0.1 mm, subdivided into 20 μm (micrometres, microns) sections.

Zooming in to the full sized photo (100% crop), one can actually see the thickness variations on the black-ink film.


The next image is of the holographic strip on a paper RM 50 banknote. The holographic strip includes patterns that look like 4 little squares arranged around the corners of a slightly larger square.



Click here for large size image
The scale is corresponds to a length of 1.0 mm, subdivided into 0.1 mm sections.


The subsequent image is a slight close-up of a corner of those little squares. One can see that the zigzagging band of light around the square array is caused by what appears to be a groove carved into the metallic surface.




There is a typo on the image- the first number on the scale should read 0.1 mm, not 0.2 mm.


The following image is a 100% crop of the full-sized photo. Note the surface textures on the ‘flat’ regions of the holographic surface.



The scale is corresponds to a length of 0.1 mm, subdivided into 10 μm (micrometres, microns) sections.



This is a photograph of the freshly sharpened cutting edge of a kitchen knife.



Click here for large size image



At maximum magnification, the diffraction effects of light are visible, particularly at the knife’s edge. Faint diffraction patterns are visible against the dark background.



A thinly sliced cross section of bak choy (白菜,a vegetable)stem. The visible granular structure appears to be composed of individual cells, although that suspicion cannot be confirmed.



Click here for large size image


This is a 100% crop of the previous image. If the individual particles are indeed cells, then I would suggest that the voids within each cell are the vacuoles (air pocket present in certain plant cells).



Click here for large size image


Put a ruler up to your monitor to measure how long the 0.1 mm sections appears on your monitor. On mine, it is a surprisingly convenient 40 mm, yielding a magnification of 400x. Better than most optical microscopes, I’ll say.






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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

That morbidly curious (八卦)individual who has heard passing remarks of colleagues can now attach a face to those abstract labels that previously fly unhindered through space. All other individuals please scroll down, or point your cursor at that fetching little red button at the top right corner.




Click here for large size image

Muira(胡小姐), Jonathan, Jeff, Sam
Gregory, Ms Lim(林小姐), Shawna, Tracy(张小姐), Polly, Steven
Tony(大厨师), Sandra, The Manager(老板), Mr. Yu(余先生), Uncle(大叔)


You people who know more than the rest of the world, don't reveal more than you should in the comments ok? I will not hesitate to delete compromising remarks.

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Midnight camwhore

This an excerpt from Koryo (a Taekwando pattern), with the dramatic double side-kicks and mid-sequence stance changes.



If you cannot see this flash object, click here to go to YouTube's page.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Photographs- sunset in the park

Took a quarter-day long walk with Diana and Jean at the botanical gardens on Saturday. The result was a lot of photographs, most of which were rubbish. Thank goodness for digital cameras.

I have also devised a method to give my Panasonic FZ-30 magnification on par with optical microscpoes -340x. Yes, that's three hundred and fourty times magnification, giving me images 0.75 microns per pixel. But that's a story for another day...





Tourists in the sunset

Click here for large size image






Eels are fascinating
The uglier the better

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Indifferent Apathy
For best results, start them young

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Diana & Jean






Sunsets are fascinating too
Jean






(Yin)

Click here for large size image







(Yang)

Click here for large size image



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Friday, July 21, 2006

Frightful memories of our art teacher, Mrs Lim

I was chatting with Yuan Harng about mathematical history, contour integrals and creative software when we fell headlong into that same old pit of reminiscence – secondary school days.

Yuan Harng: I was thinking of getting Corel draw, and learn to do animations.
I've always like art.

Yee Wei: Except the art teacher, haha. Bitch.

Haha... I still remember the whole fiasco like it was yesterday.

Same here. I still wonder, why did I make a fuss.
Should have taken a walk every Monday afternoon. Not like that subject is the most important one or anything.

Yeah...the effects who have been rather inconsequential.

I guess it was just a rather major deviation from norm, and that feels not right.

Actually...in that sense, it would have been not much different since I was deviating from the norm very much already.

No, for me. At that time it felt quite serious.
OMG I’m sent out of ze class when the whole school is in their classes.

Yes, you were rather upright... although the talent of mischief was latent and to be tapped.


***


The mind reels back to the early months of 1998, a convenient datum for many events in this writer’s life.

Our class had weekly art lessons every Monday. It happened that these 2 periods were right at the end of the school day, and we had to go to the Art Room for lessons. Thus we would pack up our belongings and troop over to the Art Room, a disordered mass of blue, white and green uniforms strolling noisily through meandering corridors and zigzagging stairways.

There was usually a general air of cheerfulness during art lessons, a sort of holiday mood that seem to permeate the hot sticky afternoon air. This general upbeat mood was not due to the art teacher, but because we had packed our bags and were mentally prepared to finish school and head for home. Its akin to the last two days of school before the Chinese New Year break.

The art teacher was a particularly grouchy woman, surnamed Lim. Her oval face and high forehead was accentuated by her hairstyle- pulled back tightly and tied into a tight little bun behind her head. Angular, almost triangular glasses completed the stereotypical comic book image of a bad tempered, middle-aged woman. In my memory, she was perpetually in a blouse and skirt combination, the colours of both always seemingly add up to an insubstantial brown.

While not built as solidly as a weight lifter, Mrs. Lim compensated by wearing blouses with discreet shoulder pads. Those pads fitted on her shoulders reasonably well, which gave her an impression of having wide shoulders and a stoutly built barrel chest, assumptions firmly contradicted by her normally proportioned but slightly flabby limbs.

I do not remember much about the art lessons themselves, except for a few inconsequential memories of a friend having drawn a severely misshapen caricature of me as a dickhead, in a boxing ring fighting it out with an enormous condom. Apparently, it was meant to be a comic strip advertisement for Durex. But because it was slapped together rather hastily and half heartedly, done between bouts of muffled laughter and chatting, Mrs Lim could not figure any of it out. It was probably a good thing; otherwise she would have probably given us trouble for such a decidedly un-avant-garde piece of graphite on paper drawing.


To be continued...


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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

This came from ob!ique-

A challenge to my readers, if you comment on this post:

1. I'll respond with something random about you.
2. I'll challenge you to try something.
3. I'll pick a colour that I associate with you
4. I'll tell you something I like about you.
5. I'll tell you my first/clearest memory of you.
6. I'll tell you what animal you remind me of.
7. I'll ask you something I've always wanted to ask you.
8. If I do this for you, you must post this on your blog.

To answer her question (part 7):
I don’t think amazing is the right word, but they came from a tiny bit of mathematical analysis and extensive trail and error.


***


I’ve not been writing much these days; I have been preoccupied with:

Work
I’m still a part-time waiter. The hours are not bad, but the money can be better. At least I don’t get many wankers in the restaurant.


Mathematics
I went ahead with my decision to buy Penrose’s ‘Road to Reality: A complete guide to the laws of the universe’. I was getting stuck with contour integrals, unable to proceed satisfactorily for about 2 days. Then an old hand at contour integrals came online on MSN (after an absence for about 8 months) and cleared things up nicely.

But perhaps I am just being stupid- that question is clearly marked "in my undergraduate days, we used to have to proof things like […]. Do this if you have the necessary skills." I have only just grazed the surface of contour integrals, so it was a long shot. I still have not solved that problem.

I guess I should move on to the next chapter (Riemann Surfaces) instead.


Taking photographs
No elaboration needed.


Job applications
It’s starting to get worrying. Anyone needs to buy/ hire/ rent/ lease a mechanical engineer/ writer/ analyst?


Chinese language skills
I’m still learning, although not as intensely as when I started. I recently got hold of a magazine from China. The content is a lot like Reader’s Digest- a bit girly and slightly trivial but with good vocabulary development opportunities.



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Still Life Photographs & Night Skyline





Shattered Goblet

Click here for large size image





This is not Hong Kong

Click here for large size image






Star Destroyers
(in Ob!ique's colour)

Click here for large size image
Click here for more information about Star Destroyers
Click here for more information about Ob!ique




On another note, I've been getting lots of traffic these days from Google. The keyword that popped up most is 'horse penis'. 75% of people who came via search engines used that search string.

I'm sure you are curious. Here is that page.



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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Night panoramic photography in Melbourne; complex number magic

This is going to be a mass of photographs, and tiny bit of mathematics.

On Thursday, Diana mentioned that Docklands is a promising venue for night photography. Said the bridge in that vicinity is beautiful. So I took a walk.

This is the aforementioned bridge.



Click here for large size image.



I then walked out on the old pier towards the central supports of the bridge. It was a long walk.



This was on one of the bridge's support columns, above deck level, shot with full telephoto on a tripod.





Click here for large size image.
The view back to where I snapped the first photo.





Click here for large size image.
I have no idea what this structure is, but it appears to be part of the old port’s infrastructure.
Note the new port across the harbour.





Click here for large size image
Parts of the pier were removed, leaving the supports exposed. Suitably sized condomettes were capped over the columns, presumably to prevent idiots from dancing on them. Also to prevent rainwater from stagnating at the top of the columns and rotting through the structures.





Huge cranes used to roll majestically over these tracks, presumably.





Docklands Panorama

Click here for large size image.
A 7-frame panoramic image spanning 90 degrees (horizontally). Measuring 3330 x 600 pixels and weighing 196 KB, it is large. Be patient, and remember to scroll sideways.





Water Feature

Click here for large size image.
Bali memorial, Melbourne.




And now, the mathematics:

Assumed knowledge: elementary knowledge of complex number manipulation

I always had trouble remembering the trigonometric identities for sin(a + b) and cos(a + b). Fret no more, Roger Penrose has pointed out a very nifty derivation using complex numbers.

Using the modulus and argument (some engineers may say magnitude and phase) notation, a complex number can be written as such:



To obtain the trigonometric identities, expand the following complex number using the above expression.



Do it, and be awed.





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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Melbourne bloggers' meet report

To my knowledge, Diana does not publish images of herself online. As such, photos will be suitably blurred until consent is given.


Met with Diana, Pamela, Ted (Yvy’s fiancée), Wuching and Yvy today. Due to the absurd queue length at the original venue, we moved around and settled into a less crowded restaurant.




Count those babies!

1, 2, 3... n.



The food arrived... and five cameras were whipped out. I think Ted was extremely embarrassed. In my defence, I did not take pictures of the food; I took photos of people taking pictures of their food.



Wuching & Yvy.



Diana: Which school were you from again? Taman SEA is it?
Myself: No, I was from Sultan Abdul Samad, but went to Methodist College for a while.
Oh… I know a few Samad people from my tuition class in SS2.
Which tuition centre?
Molly Chan’s.
Oh, I used to go to that woman too. But that was before she opened the shop and was still doing it in her house.

Interesting revelations...

We might even have been in the same class...
Maybe not. You’re not 1983 right?

She WAS born in '83.




Diana & Pamela





Wuching




Yvy & Ted
By Diana





Diana had fun with Yvy's sticky date pudding and my camera.
Yvy did not have fun with the pudding- it was too sweet.



Pamela is taller than pictures in her blog may suggest. Or maybe it was her footwear.

See how grainy and shaky the photos are? The restaurant should have better lighting for camwhoring and such. A few water-cooled, 15 kW xenon arc lamps with white diffusers scattered overhead would be ideal.



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Melbourne bloggers' meet

Scroll down for the latest post


Yvy is in Melbourne, and has arranged a little meeting.

Date: Thursday, 13th July 2006
Time: 7.30 pm
Venue: Papa Gino's Pizza Restaurant, 221 Lygon Street, Carlton (near the intersection of Grattan and Lygon streets).

They do not take reservations, so we'll just go there and see how things work out.

It would be great if you attend as well, to quote the cliche, "the more the merrier!" (note the exclamation mark)

A confirmation of attendance (in my comments box or to Yvy's email address) would be nice. Failing that, you can turn up unannounced- this post will be kept updated and continuously pushed to the top until the said meeting is done with.

Confirmed attendees:
Diana
Metria
Pamela
Wuching
Yvy
Myself


I'll need to wriggle my way out of work for this.
I must.
Yay, I changed my shifts!


Updates history:

00.28 11/7 : Added Metria to list
14.44 11/7 : Added myself to list
23.17 11/7 : Added Pamela to list
15.35 12/7 : Added rendezvous time and location details; subtracted Metria from list

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Celebrity physicists

I used to think that I’m immune to the hype that fame brings. I never did, still do not, and probably will not ever, bother about which celebrity couple is getting married this month.

And who cares what their children’s names will be? Turns out that quite a lot of people do care, if the racks of tabloids in supermarkets are any indication.

Fame may not dazzle me to permanent blindness, but I’m not completely immune either.


On a trip to the university’s physics library, I saw a compilation volume of Chandrasekhar’s publications. That’s the Chandrasekhar who gave us the Chandrasekhar Limit, and the Chandra x-ray orbiting telescope is named after this same man.

“Wow, they have Chandrasekhar here!” was what ran through my mind that instant. In the end, I did not take it because most, if not all, the material was well beyond my comprehension.

What I did take, however, was a book on cosmic fractals “with an introduction by Benoît Mandelbrot.” Like Chandrasekhar, Mandelbrot is a household name (if stellar evolution and the Mandelbrot Set are what one talks about over dinner). As a cosmic fractal book, it sucked; I got drawn in by the Mandelbrot hype-up. Sounds like Star Wars II, doesn’t it? (I did not watch that. Really!)

Feynman’s lectures on quantum electrodynamics thrilled me, and I happily loaned his autobiography. It did not suck; in fact, it was quite an entertaining read.

All this started in 1999 when I borrowed a copy of ‘A Brief History of Time’ by Hawking, that physicist in a motorised chair who has appeared in several episodes of The Simpsons. It was an amazing introduction to modern physics. Imagine how exciting light cones (past and future) and black holes are compared to the elementary collision mechanics we did in school.

That particular book was acquired from Yuan Harng, who loaned it from Shyan Yih, who took it from his father’s collection. Along the way, the book got tattered badly, and Shyan Yih thought he’d rather not return that mess to his father. I passed it to someone else after reading it twice.

Hopefully, that little blue book is still circulating, inspiring people. Hopefully, it’s not in too bad a condition.


I’m currently contemplating the purchase (not loan, mind you) of ‘The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe’ by Roger Penrose. AU$50 for over a thousand pages of intense mathematics and physics seems like a better way to spend money than watching 5 movies at the cinema or investing in a flash unit for the camera.




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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Chocolate truffles; absurd food photography; preposterous macro photography

Note: a more apt title should read 'fugly food photography'.


Today’s post would be an agglomeration of three slightly different topics.

The most important bit first- chocolate truffles. Chocolate truffles are those delightfully delicious spheres of soft chocolate that sell at heart-breakingly expensive prices. Inspired by Evelyn, I Googled for some chocolate truffle recipes, and the simple ones are really easy to make.

To summarise:
Melt dark cooking chocolate into hot mixture of whipping cream, flavouring and butter, stir until smooth, chill until firm, shape into balls and dredge through cocoa powder.

See, only one sentence.

Anyway, the finished product was FANTASTIC.

The engineer in me is already contemplating a dual-compound variant in the future, with a preposterously soft centre in a shell of acceptably soft chocolate. Not surprisingly, it involves various cooling procedures during manufacture.

My cousin May demanded that I show her some images of the finished product. I agreed, only because she is my cousin and I like her.



Which brings us to the second part- absurd food photography. Chocolate truffles are not easy to photograph; they are mere fuzzy brown balls with no distinguishing features. A bit of colour was needed to perk things up.

In the end, circumstances forced me to use the following:
Pink flowers (no other colours nearby)
Pink flower petals (from the same flowers)
Lemon rind from wedges
Narrow strips of lemon rind
Narrow strips cut from celery leaves




Click here for large size image


The instant I scattered the petals I realised that the colours were gay. Not trying to be homophobic, but even May said, "so gay man!" Followed by, "gosh, this is totally gay!" Well, at least it matches my current colour scheme.


Shut up about the colours already, I know.
Note that lemon rind on white is very yellow.



And now, to show off my knife’s sharpness, my ability to use a sharp knife, and the camera’s optics.

The following images are successive crops of the same image of a thinly pared lemon skin.


This is the original image, resized to fit.
Thats a metric ruler with cm and mm units.



This is a closer view of the centre of the original image.



This is the full sized view, with edges chopped to fit this space.
On my monitor (1024 x 768 pixels, 15 inch diagonal), this image is a 43 times magnification of the subject. Not exactly a microscope, but too far away either.



The following images are of a thinly sliced cross section from the narrow tip of a stalk of celery.








Like I said, thin.






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描写文:乘电车记

电车转着弯时,轮子与铁道交擦,发出咿咿呀呀的吵声。

转进了车站,三扇车门齐开,外面只间黑暗。若干乘客下了车,在漆黑的夜景中消失了。

不久后,灯闪笛响警告了一会,自动门闭了起来。电车准备再出发了。

突然,车厢里大部分的灯灭了,而空调机也停止行动。明亮的车厢变成阴暗而平静的环境,乘客默默地注意情况。

车顶的电器嗒嗒响了几声,车里又有电流了。日光灯闪了闪着起,空调器又继续嗡嗡地吹风。乘客见了,安心地各自发呆,阅读,听音乐或玩手机。

电车开动了不超几寸,又出现问题。车灯再灭,紧急刹车猛然活激起来,暴烈地把车停住。

这重复了五六次,车厢时明时暗,动住不决,乘客开始不耐烦了。一个十五六岁的少年骂了几句粗话,催着电车快动。


***


写这篇文章的目的是为了把自己的语文水准提高。如果发现有任何的错误、语病等,请读者指教。谢谢。


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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Tactless colleague; a camera that can see details 7 microns across

Some people have this remarkable ability of being able to offend large tracts of the human population without having to expend any effort.

Yesterday at work, one of the cooks cut an orange and left it at the waiter’s station for us floor staff to eat at our leisure. Three of us were happily biting into the juicy fruit, sucking occasionally during the bite to prevent the juices from dripping, when one of the waiters asked, “these oranges were not used in prayers were they?”

The restaurant has an altar in the kitchen.

Without giving anyone an opportunity to say “I don’t know,” he explained, “If it has been used for prayer then I cannot eat it.”

Ah, he’s a probably Christian, Jew or Muslim. One god mah.

We shrugged, still engrossed in making sure none of the orange juice dripped onto the floor.

“It’s unclean,” he continued. Two pairs of eyes immediately snapped to stare at him, the eyelids gradually narrowing into slits, eyebrows furrowing in disapproval. The expressions lasted an instant, before evaporating in a puff as diplomacy and politeness displaced the sha qi(杀气).

Frankly, that last statement was completely unnecessary. Everyone would understand if you believe in your religion, but most people find it offensive when you put down other religions.


***


On a different note, I found out how to make full use of that close-up lens I got 3 months ago. Bolt it onto the camera (duh...) and wind the lens all the way to full telephoto. It can only focus at objects about 15 cm away from the camera, in a very narrow range of about 3 cm - it is difficult to use. But once it’s got right, the results are startling.

Imagine a magnification factor of 1.56, when the best factor without the close-up lens was an already magnificent 0.62. That’s 2.5 times more magnification, but at the cost of preposterous chromatic aberration and defocusing away from the centre of the image. That is the price, a fair price I’d say, to pay for a piece of optics that cost me a mere AU$5.

Still, the set up reveals details that the naked eye would never see, such as the following microprint on the HK$50 note.


This is a 100% crop. Even the printing imperfections are visible (red smears).
Imagine that, visible printing imperfections on a banknote!


The previous image shows the highlighted region below (blue rectangle on the centre '50').



At this level of magnification, 2.3 cm worth of a ruler would span the entire frame. Since the frame is 3264 pixels across, it would mean that there are 136 pixels per mm, or 0.0074 mm per pixel.

A more fantastic way of putting it is,
My camera can resolve details of 7 microns.

The manufactured world is mostly flat/ homogeneous at scales smaller than the intended application; tomorrow, I’m going to dissect some plants for some supermacro shots.

Watch this space!





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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Photography theme: Transport and Communications Infrastructure

[warning: moderately large file sizes, please exercise patience]


First, the Lords of the Skies, Players in the Electromagnetic Spectra:



Reciever

Click here for large size image






Widescreen TV

Click here for large size image.
Title refers to the 16:9 aspect ratio of the image






Transciever

Click here for large size image



The next lot: transport by rail



Power to the Trains!

Overhead power lines that feed the trains- the lower line is the one which transmit power; the upper one is the supporting cable.
Note the wonders a polarising filter can do to the sky's colour intensity






A train disgorging its contents

Click here for large size image



And on the streets... :



Streetlight Doublet






This is Not Bondage

Click here for large size image

This was taken at a traffic junction where two tram routes crossed. Each tram route has 2 tracks for opposing directions; each track has an overhead power line. Overhead power lines are suspended by cables strung across the road. There were also electric and telephone lines.




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