Sunday, 30 June 2013

Carnival 2013 (2)

Here are some pictures from yesterday's carnival. The carnival began at 2:00pm and lasted until about 6:00.

There was a parade that snaked its way through the town and this bunch of balloons was at the front. I recognise Buzz Lightyear, SpongeBob SquarePants, Hello Kitty, Dora the Explorer, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Micky and Minnie Mouse in that mess.

Somebody dressed up as Tin Woodman from The Wizard of Oz. Normally I've seen this character portrayed with a smile!

This is the "Cowboys and Indians" float; at first this float bothered me because I thought it was something mocking American Indians, but I later learnt that it was supposed to represent harmony between cowboys and Indians.

I thought that this year's parade was smaller than last year's; my brother thought they were the same length but I recall more floats.

Another balloon, this time it's a unicorn with purple hair.

These are the targets for the archery stand; my brother was going to try the archery out but for some reason he changed his mind. I've only tried archery once and that was back in Patterson, California.

Two flags above the candy stand. While British flags were a common sight, I was surprised to see an American flag present. The couple running the stand didn't appear to be American, but then again, they could have lived over there as I once did!

One of the two ice cream vans present; this was the bigger of the two. My brother bought himself and me ice cream before I left; I had a double-caramel bar!

A closing shot, taken around 5:30. Most people had left by this time and the park was in the process of being cleaned up for daily use again; I left after I took this picture. I hope the carnival will return again next year.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Carnival 2013

My brother and I attended our town's annual carnival. I have taken some pictures of the occasion and will write a full post about it tomorrow. For now, here is a picture of the candies I bought at one of the stands there:

I've eaten flying saucers before but I'm looking forward to trying the marshmallows! The gummies were nice.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Bloggers Blog Party - week #5

We have now arrived at the final week of Stephanie's Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party; here is my contribution:

Saturday, 22nd June: This day was incredibly windy, as can be seen by these trees blowing about. I thought it was going to rain while I was out on my walk but fortunately for me it didn't: I wasn't wearing any rain-proof clothing.

Sunday, 23rd June: I was looking through some items in my room and found this old, homemade chessboard, which my mother, brother and I created it years ago using colour pens and part of a cereal box; it's impressive that an item such as this has lasted. Believe it or not, we have played chess on this board before.

Monday, 24th June: This is the rose back from June 5th in week #2; while it is still covered with blackspot, it is fighting its affliction and had produced this flower, which has blossomed further since I took this picture. Mum's trimming has definitely done the plant some good.

Tuesday, 25th June: It occurred to me that I had not posted pictures of British coins here. From left: a penny (1 pence), a 5 pence coin, 10 pence, 20 pence, 1 pound (100 pence) and a two pound coin. Note how The Queen is on the obverse side of each coin. Not pictured are the 2 and 50 pence coins; I didn't have a 50 pence on me and as I rarely use the 2 pence coins, I forgot to include one! Sorry about that; I'll make up for this in a future post.

Wednesday, 26th June: This drink is apple juice mixed with a cranberry, pomegranate and raspberry fizz; it was a pleasant beverage after a hot walk. Mum also had a fizz, but she drank it with coconut and pineapple juice rather than apple. I would like to state, however, that there was no alcohol in either drink...they were merely fizzy.

Thursday, 27th June: This is the inflow pipe to the moorhens' pond. I've lived in this town for nearly two years and have walked past the pond dozens of times, and yet I had never noticed this inflow pipe until yesterday. The water had to come from somewhere, didn't it? The rain alone can't sustain the pond year-round.

Friday, 28th June: My camera and my phone. It feels appropriate to include a picture each of them for the final day of the party; it's these two devices that currently produce the vast majority of my photography. Granted, I've used my brother's camera, too, but he doesn't want his camera pictured here. Oh, and I know that I need to clean my main camera's lens!

While the party has now officially ended, I am seriously considering continuing with it, albeit at a monthly pace rather than each week. It has been an honour to participate in the Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party and I thank Stephanie for thinking of me and inviting me. Stephanie's final post for the party is here.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

On Julia Gillard's removal

Yesterday, the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, was removed as the head of her political party, which also required her to resign from her position as prime minister. The person who defeated her was Kevin Rudd, who was also her predecessor. Gillard is Australia first female prime minster.

I am disappointed that Gillard's party voted to remove her; Gillard was one of the few female current heads of government of a major nation, and I think that losing such an important woman leader is a step backwards; for her time as the Prime Minister of Australia to end in this manner is disgraceful. She was not afforded the chance to face Australia's upcoming general election, as the men before her did in their respective elections.

Gillard has been a victim of misogyny throughout her premiership. An astounding three leadership elections were held against her and in recent weeks, she was insulted on a menu at a fundraiser for the opposition party and she was subject to homophobic abuse about her partner; her removal as party leader and subsequent resignation as prime minister were poorly timed

I'm not an expert on Australian politics, but from my foreign perspective, I didn't think Gillard was a bad prime minister at all. She seemed decent on the world stage and a couple of times when I watched her debate her opponents I thought she performed well.

Gillard has stated that she will not stand in the upcoming election and will retire from politics when this term ends; it's a shame. I do wish Gillard and Australia the best, and I hope that their next female prime minister will be strong and will have a longer period as head of government than Gillard did.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Pigeons on the fence

Mum spotted these two pigeons on the fence this evening; I took these pictures through a window:

They were grooming while I was photographing; I ensured I took a picture of them simultaneously cleaning themselves. I love that second image! My brother was unsure as to whether or not these two pigeons were a breeding pair.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

A trio of roses

I successfully photographed this trio of roses from our front yard this afternoon; a white rose, a pink rose and a red rose:

The red rose looks similar to the rose contained in this previous post because they are both from the same plant; it is not an image from last year that I've recycled for now!

Monday, 24 June 2013

The cloudy supermoon

I took some pictures of the "supermoon" last night:

The Moon's features are not distinguishable in either shot and it's not obvious that this is the supermoon; nevertheless, I can assure you that it is the supermoon...the Moon was larger than normal last night. I am pleased about how well the clouds turned out; they covered the Moon an hour or so later.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

"West End Girls" - West End Girls

For today's post, this is "West End Girls" by West End Girls, a Pet Shop Boys tribute band from Sweden:

The song by West End Girls is a cover of the Pet Shop Boys' debut single "West End Girls, which was originally released in 1984. Being a tribute band, the West End Girls cover Pet Shop Boys songs in their work, with their album Goes Petshopping consisting exclusively of Pet Shop Boys tracks. I'm a fan of the Pet Shop Boys (my parents are, too) and I think the covers that West End Girls have done are fine pieces of music; I hope they do more.

I found out about West End Girls a few years ago when I watched the documentary Pet Shop Boys: A Life in Pop, where they were briefly mentioned. I have posted about the Pet Shops Boys before, most notably in this post and this one.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The small dog

When out on a walk this afternoon, I heard and saw somebody, who had a dog, talking to a person on the opposite side of the road. While I didn't recognise the first person, the second was someone I often see when I go out for a walk, and he almost always has his two small dogs with him; I said hello as I was about to pass him.

Then, one of his two dogs barked and attempted to pull away from the leash; before the man managed to secure the leash, the dog had already caught me off-guard by running between my legs, catching me in the leash until I quickly pulled myself from it. At first I thought the dog had gone for me, but it was actually going for the dog on the other side; the dog it barked at didn't give much of a response.

The man had to stop both his dogs from breaking away, as his other dog was reacting to the actions of its companion; he then apologised to me after they had calmed down but I wasn't bothered or upset by what happened: I hadn't been hurt and small dogs are often more aggressive and territorial towards other dogs. Anyway, it sounds funny to say that you got charged by a small dog!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Bloggers Blog Party - week #4

My fourth post towards Stephanie's Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party. This week was an easier week for photography than the previous:

Saturday, 15th June: This is the box for my Dad's new phone; this is the first "new" phone that Dad has ever had, rather than a second-hand or unboxed-but-two-years-old-model handset. He has been delighted with his new phone, which I am pleased about since I'm the one the recommended the model he purchased!

Sunday, 16th June: The bare patch of dirt in the park was once home to a bench; I was shocked to see that the bench had disappeared! The bench was damaged and it's possible that's the reason why it was removed, but as of yet the bench has not been replaced.

Monday, 17th June: I took this close-up shot of a tiny snail using Dad's new phone. I did not get the phone too close, though: I doubt the snail would have appreciated having a handset shoved in its face and Dad would not have been impressed with snail slime on his new phone!

Tuesday, 18th June: This is a red poppy; it was taken by my brother rather than me, although I was present when he took the picture. Red poppies are significant in the United Kingdom because they are the symbol of the end of World War I and remembering the soldiers who have died in wars.

Wednesday, 19th June: These are stinging nettles. Nettles have stung me three times in the past two weeks...and the last time they stung me was back in 2010; direct contact with the skin on the leaves will cause a mildly painful but deeply itchy feeling. As with poison oak in the United States, nettles should be avoided, but there is a plethora of them around here at the moment!

Thursday, 20th June: One of Mum's ornamental eggs. Mum was going to get rid of her ornamental egg set for the sake of saving space in our house; however, this baffled Dad and he suggested they be kept, as he liked them. Mum didn't object and thus, the eggs were saved. I like the eggs, too, and I'm glad we haven't dumped them.

Friday, 21st June: This is a school sign; we live close to a school zone and it's common to see children walking back home each weekday afternoon. Cars occupy both sides of the main road while the children are leaving school but not for long.

This was a fun week! Stephanie's post is here.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

On Miley Cyrus and celebrity role models

Before I say anything else, I don't think that celebrities should be treated as role models for children unless they are particularly exceptional. I read the following article yesterday about the "worst celebrity role models" according to a poll of over 2,400 parents; the top female worst celebrity role model cited in the poll was Miley Cyrus:

I don't disagree with the inclusion of most of the people on either list (in fact, some are role models in how not to behave), but I'm baffled as to why Cyrus is regarded as the worst role model in the female category and as to why she attracts a significant amount of hatred in general. Granted, I wouldn't regard her as a positive role model, but I wouldn't label her as the worst either and I don't think she deserves the negative coverage.

The best reason that comes to mind is that because of her former role as "Hannah Montana/Miley Stewart", people expect her to be permanently playing that character even though the series ended in January 2011, with its filming having been completed over six months prior; until her song "Can't Be Tamed" was released in mid-2010, Cyrus had an "innocent" image and I think that some people are still holding her to that standard. I have noticed an increase in negativity towards Cyrus ever since she cut her hair last year; the last time I checked, having a change in hairstyle is not proof that someone is going/has gone off the rails. I'd go as far as to say that many of the comments I read about Cyrus, which are often deeply misogynistic in nature, are worse than anything she has done so far.

While Cyrus has sexualized her image since the end of Hannah Montana, everything should be put into perspective: as of this writing, Cyrus has never been arrested and therefore has a clean criminal record; she is not constantly entering and leaving rehab, she has not been involved in any violent altercations, has not engaged in frequent "Twitter wars" with other celebrities and has been in a relationship with one person for the past three years. I can name celebrities who have run into problems but Cyrus is not one of them.

Rather than attack someone such as Cyrus — who wasn't going to remain a child forever and would ultimately outgrow her Hannah Montana persona — for being a "poor role model", parents should be there for their children and talk to them more rather than rely on celebrities for guidance; in all fairness, the aforementioned article did say that the 58% of the parents in the poll agree that celebrities shouldn't be treated as role models. After all, even though celebrities are in the public eye, they are, at the end of the day, still people and they are not perfect; they shouldn't be considered role models unless they have led a life worthy of inspiring others

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The standing moorhen

The moorhens again; there are two adult moorhens in this picture but that's not the fascinating part. Look closely:

The moorhen in the centre of the image is standing on the water. I didn't realise until later that I had photographed the moorhen in that position; I had to ask someone else to double-check the picture in case I wasn't looking at it properly! It's rare to see a bird do this, at least in my experience anyway.

This is a shrunk-down version of the picture; if you can't tell whether or not the moorhen is standing I'll be happy to e-mail a larger copy to anyone who asks or re-upload the image here.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Daisy and iris

When my brother and I tested the camera on Dad's new phone yesterday, we photographed a variety of flowers; my brother took the following two images:

This is a daisy. Daisies are dirt-common here at the moment but we still wanted to photograph at least one of them; besides, this one made a great test for the camera!

This is an iris down by the lilypad pond. My brother thought it was an orchid but I remember seeing irises similar to this one back in Oregon.

Monday, 17 June 2013

The two horses

My brother and I went out for a walk together today; Dad wanted us to do some tests with his new phone and one such test involved trying out the camera. My brother took this picture of two (hungry) horses.

These horses rarely come to the fence; it's as though they knew we had a new camera to test! Seriously though, these two were after food, not an equipment check.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Father's Day 2013

Father's Day was a quiet day for us, as it usually is; Dad isn't a fan of the the day but he appreciates the sentiment, nonetheless. My brother and I had made Dad a card each and Mum had bought one. Dad wanted to do a barbecue this afternoon but the weather was unpredictable; instead, he and Mum cooked all the meat for the barbecue in the oven. He also spent the weekend testing out his new phone, a device that he is pleased with. He had a good day!

On another note, Father's Day occurs on the same day in both the United Kingdom and the United States; no dual-celebration is needed here!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

On the result of the 2013 Iranian presidential election

A few hours ago, Iranian cleric and diplomat Hassan Rouhani was declared the winner of Iran's presidential election; he achieved over 50% of the vote against six other candidates and avoided a run-off.

I'm not an expert on Iranian politics; in fact, I had not even heard of Rouhani until a few days ago. For the most part, I had paid little attention to the Iranian election because I had read that all the candidates were conservatives, with the only anticipated change at the presidential level being the person rather than the policies, however, from what I've read recently, Rouhani was labelled as a moderate and was endorsed by the reformists/Greens and former Iranian presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami (both of whom I have heard about); he was also the head of Iran's nuclear negotiating team but resigned in 2005 after the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

I hope that Rouhani will be a major improvement over outgoing president Ahmadinejad. For the past eight years under Ahmadinejad's administration, Iran has seen reversals in policies implemented by reformist presidents, a tarnished national image from Ahmadinejad's rhetoric, worsened relations with other countries and its economy has been devastated by international sanctions over the nuclear programme, with millions of ordinary Iranians suffering as a result. Two of Rouhani's promises include improving relations with the West rather than continuing a confrontational approach, and working to have the sanctions repealed.

I congratulate the Iranian people for electing a moderate president. Again, my knowledge of Rouhani is limited, but even if he is only half of what the media is describing him as then he'll make a better president than his immediate predecessor; however, Iranians chose a moderate over the conservatives and hardliners, and I doubt they would tolerate Rouhani changing his positions once he is inaugurated. Iran needs a calmer head of government and I'm sure that the world is relieved that another Ahmadinejad has not been elected.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Bloggers Blog Party - week #3

I have had a tough week for photography for my third post towards Stephanie's Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party; it has not been a particularly exciting week and the weather didn't help me on some of the days. I had to force a few of these pictures:

Saturday, 8th June: This day was the second gardening Saturday in a row; I photographed this bumblebee on a Santa Barbara ceanothus. While this plant's flowers are beautiful, it is an import; it's native to, as its name suggests, Santa Barbara, California.

Sunday, 9th June: I was disappointed at seeing garbage in the moorhens' pond; there are plenty of places to throw junk away yet some people are still too lazy and would rather litter, even if it damages nature. Sadly, the park has litter scattered all over it and so does our town; this problem is not limited to our town, but even so, it's one I thought would be addressed by now.

Monday, 10th June: This is a toy of one of those aliens from the Toy Story series. Years ago, they used to be packaged in kid's meals at certain fast food chains, although I obtained this one for free years ago at a yard sale (it was about to be thrown away along with several other toys that hadn't sold). Obviously, I'm too old for toys such as this one, but I don't want to throw this alien in the garbage and instead I keep him stored away. Sorry about the slightly slanted picture.

Tuesday, 11th June: This is a fritata cooking; it was made from eggs (obviously!), leftover ham, two leeks, a few other vegetables and Moroccan seasoning. The fritata was an excellent way to turn leftovers into a new meal and was delicious.

Wednesday, 12th June: I spotted this smashed up Apple product on the ground when out on a walk; evidently somebody was either dissatisfied or tired of what item this used to be. There were more pieces of the device spread around.

Thursday, 13th June: Rain on the street outside our house; we had expected rain on this day but no one thought we would get a sudden five-minute-long deluge! The rain passed over our neighbourhood as quickly as it had arrived.

Friday, 14th June: Sorry, it's another food-related picture but one that is certainly worthwhile: these are the result of Mum's first attempt at homemade vegetable burgers. To give a superficial description of the preparation, Mum mixed all the vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, broccoli, onions and peppers) in her blender under they became a mushy mess, placed the contents in a large bowl, added six eggs, added breadcrumbs and then mixed it all until the mixture could hold itself together. To say that the burgers were tasty would be an understatement! Mum also made some fish burgers, using a similar method to the vegetable burgers.

I might have had a difficult week for photographs but it has not dampened my enthusiasm to continue! As of this writing, Stephanie's post for this week can be found here.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The dandelions

Last weekend, I photographed these dandelions:

There has been a proliferation of dandelions this year and they are usually the first plants to completely grow back whenever I cut the grass; even so, I'm not fond of mowing them down! I've always liked dandelions.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

"Show Me Love" - Robyn

I only have time for a short post tonight and so I'm going with a song; this is "Show Me Love" by Robyn:

The song was a hit in the late-nineties, although I heard it occasionally from 2005-2010 on the Open House Party and The Back in the Day Café back on KIFS (107.5 Kiss FM) in Oregon; The Back in the Day Café was the radio program where I heard the song the most and whenever I listened to that show I would hope the song would play.

Robyn's "Show Me Love" is often confused with "Show Me Love" by Robin S., for fairly obvious reasons; however, the two songs are not related and Robin S'. song was released in 1993.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Derbyshire's "Blue Lagoon"

I've already mentioned this elsewhere today but I thought it would be worthwhile covering it here, too. Yesterday, I read this article on the BBC about a Derbyshire quarry commonly known as the "Blue Lagoon":

It's disappointing that the quarry has had to be dyed black to ward off people from swimming in it. From what I've heard, the area is well-signed to inform people that the Blue Lagoon is toxic and should not be approached, let alone swam in. The water might have appeared beautiful but as we all know, all because something is beautiful does not automatically make it beneficial to you.

Monday, 10 June 2013

The silicone case

When I got my new phone near the end of last year I bought a gel case for it; while gel cases are smooth, glossy and nice to look at, they are sensitive to fingerprints and, worse yet, they becomes slippery if your hands are sweaty or otherwise slightly damp. I recently decided to get a tyre tread silicone case and I am satisfied with my new accessory: the silicone is not slippery when my hands are sweaty and the tyre tread-like engraving on the back further enhances the grip.

My previous phone had a silicone case; it wasn't tyre tread but it was a better case than the gel case was. I recently felt that silicone case again (it's Dad's phone now) and remembered how effective it was against sweat during last year's summer; as such, I had another look at silicone cases and I'm glad I did!

My brother also now has a silicone case and Dad is going to get one for his next phone, too; both of them have/want tyre tread types like mine. I had been considering a flip case but what I have is superior to them; I'm not keen on magnetic fields near my phone and most flip cases use a magnet to close.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Moorhens again

I went down to see the moorhen and her chick again; however, rather than there being just those two, there are five moorhens living in the pond: two adults and three chicks. I managed to take a better picture of one of the adults:

The other adult and the three chicks had already disappeared into the reeds. I tried to be quiet as to not disturb the moorhens but they have strong senses and are usually gone before I'm even close to the water (this was taken on my main camera's maximum zoom).

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Columbine and daylily

I wanted to post a couple more of my brother's recent photographs; here is one of a columbine and another of a daylily, both of which are in our backyard:

I love the close-up shots my brother's camera can take; the colours are deep. It's an excellent device for flower photography. I'm glad he lets me use some of his pictures here!

Friday, 7 June 2013

Bloggers Blog Party - week #2

My second post for my participation in Stephanie's Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party; I had anticipated having a difficult time obtaining photographs for this week's post but I performed much better than I expected:

Saturday, 1st June: We went outside to do some gardening on this day; I noticed this plant growing in a bucket. The dirt came from when we washed a root ball in the bucket a few months ago and the water is from the rain. I'm impressed with how this plant, which is a weed, has grown despite the scant amount of dirt compared to all that water. See all those roots?

Sunday, 2nd June: We ended up spending part of the day messing around with the SD card for my phone. For the past three weeks, my SD card has been faltering; despite attempts to fix the problem, the issues persist. Apparently, it's a known problem that high-capacity SD card sometimes fail; I will have to replace the card, which is annoying for both the inconvenience and because this card cost me £15.

Monday, 3rd June: I went outside in the late afternoon to try to get a picture of the starling nest on our roof; instead, I took this picture of a blackbird singing. I managed to take a few shots of him before he flew away. I'm amazed I managed to get a picture of him with his beak open! I am delighted with this capture; I think it's an excellent photograph.

Tuesday, 4th June: Perhaps the oddest picture for this week is of a pair of my socks. The 4th of June was the first day this year when it was warm enough for me to leave my socks off whenever I was in the house; I still had to wear socks while out, obviously, but indoors...I could have them off! This image symbolises (to me) the change in weather from the extended winter into — hopefully — spring/summer.

Wednesday, 5th June: Two of the rose bushes in our backyard are afflicted with blackspot, a fungus caused by dampness and humidity. This bush's leaves were covered with it but Mum cut away the majority of the infected leaves; the other bush's affliction was minor. Mum reckoned that the bush with the heavier infection is old.

Thursday, 6th June: When I took my main camera with me on my walk on this day to get a picture of the moorhens, I didn't expect to take a picture of this banner on the railing for a crossing island on the main road through our town! Whoever Wendy is, she turned 40 yesterday; I hope she appreciated the gesture and wasn't bothered about her age being advertised!

Friday, 7th June: My brother, mother and I sorted out some of our belongings that are still being stored in the garage. We discovered that some of the boxes stacked at the bottom and located near the wall had become damp and mouldy, just as this one had; a few books inside the boxes had been ruined but the books we lost weren't important. We were lucky that some of our more precious books were unaffected.

Here is Stephanie's post for this week. Now looking forward to week #3!