Day 304 – Wander with a camera

A quick trip to Kirstenbosch Gardens (we’re members now, don’t you know?) this morning with a camera (50mm prime lens only) in hand yielded some decent exercise and a few nice pics, not least this Common Garden Orbweb Spider (Agriope australis), which was much better camouflaged than you might imagine.

Not sure what the thicker woven threads top left and bottom left are, but it was quite an impressive construction for a relatively small spider.

And how about a bit of Erica densifolia to brighten your day?

Because of… well… you know what, a lot of outdoor spaces (basically those without controlled entrance) are out of bounds at the moment and even Kirstenbosch is only open 9-6, leading to huge, mostly socially-distanced queues outside the gates when we arrived. And then the frustrating stupidity of the official at the entrance with his mask under his nose, touching everyone’s hands while taking their temperature, but telling us all to behave safely.

Still, once you’re in, and past the muppets, you can lose yourself nicely for a while.
This was an hour or so well-spent.

Day 303 – Goodbye productivity (part 2)

I first tried Geoguessr back in 2013, but I’ve decided to give it another go now.

Here it is: Geoguessr

Yes, things have changed and you have to pay for it (due to Google charging Geoguessr for using their API, apparently), but it’s still good value with a free trial option and a month to month membership plan.

And in turn, they’ve added some extra games and options, including a Battle Royale, in which you compete against 9 other players from all over the world to see who can identify a country simply from a single Google StreetView shot.

It’s good, harmless, educational fun. And you get to see ice cream tricycles like this one, close to the border in Bangladesh*.

Yeah – you’re not going to miss his arrival, are you?

I now know much more about road markings, signage, internet suffixes, latitude-specific flora, international dialling codes and vehicle number-plates than I have have before (or ever will ever need to again).

And I still mix up Canada and Finland. Always.

 

 

* This is a bit of a bittersweet one for me, as I guessed that it was in India. 20 damn km out. Grr.

Day 302 – Calm down, Henry!

I got an email from Flickr yesterday.

My Flickr is here, btw, and desperately needs some new additions. But that’s not important right now.

The email in question was the announcement of the winners of the Your Best Shot competition from last year – an opportunity for the photographers in the community to share… well… their Best Shot from 2020 in an effort to win prizes, fame and fortune.

But mainly prizes.

I didn’t enter this time around so as to give someone else a chance to win.
Same as every year.

I was actually a little disappointed with the overall standard of the winning entries, but it (quite literally) isn’t for me to judge, and so well done to those whose images were selected.

One thing I did like was “the photographer’s words” bit under each photograph, describing why or how they took it and what they were aiming for. It’s cool to have a bit of a story and some context while you’re looking at the image. For example:

“This bottle kept floating into my shots… and I decided to make it my subject matter. It’s very tough to see what you are capturing when the sun is shining hard, the waves are lapping, you are treading water, and you have a snorkel mask on. The phone has a plastic case on it (all giving off reflections making it hard to see properly), so I was pleased when I got back to the beach and reviewed the images that a couple of them were just what I had hoped for.”

That’s for this one, by the way.

Or, for Inside and Outside, this:

The photo was shot on my trip to Kathmandu, shortly before the Covid crisis made these kind of trips difficult or not possible at all. On a walk in the old city of Kathmandu… a man appeared and stopped some meters away, unfolding his newspaper and (possibly) reading what is going on in Nepal and the rest of the world.

Lovely.

But then I scrolled down to Morning Fog Over Copenhagen:

[screenshot]
and there was this:

As I impatiently listen to the coffee machines gurgle, a hazy somber morning observes me through the old windows of my apartment building. With my trusted bike on my shoulder, I head for the stairs. As I pull the door open, it’s clear that my windows made no illusions. My neighborhood’s Covid-infused streets are shrouded in a fog so thick it turns every light source around me into beautiful living organisms. I mount my bike, and a green light appears ahead. As it pulls me into the unknown known of my hometown, I reach for my camera.

[Puts away thesaurus; closes adjectives dot com webpage; hands in Year 6 English homework assignment]

Alright, Shakespeare. Take it easy. This is the literary equivalent of #RBOSS. No need!

Look, I’m not saying that I could do any better in Danish (and I’m not saying that for very obvious reasons), but Jesus, Henry: please just stick to the photos in future.

More ‘togging, less blogging?

Incidentally, I think his photostream has some wonderful pictures. But their descriptions are thankfully much less verbose.

Day 301 – Taking stock

Yes, this was meant to happen yesterday, but then a family emergency happened yesterday and so this didn’t. Still, on the plus side, we now have another day of data to look at.

Yesterday marked 300 days of lockdown in South Africa. Varying degrees of lockdown – from literally staying inside your house 24/7 to going out and doing most anything you wanted as long as it wasn’t between 12-4am – sure, but still a lockdown in some form or other.

So where are we now?

Well, that kind of depends on with when you choose to compare our current situation.

(Dr Ridhwaan Suliman’s twitter stream is a great local Covid data resource.)

Compared with 10 days ago: Great.
Compared with 10 weeks ago: Not so good.
Compared with 10 months ago: Also not so good, but, that was just before the first wave was on the way, and it was all very unavoidable, so probably not a very fair comparison.

Since lockdown began, we’ve lost lives, we’ve lost jobs, we’ve lost livelihoods, we’ve lost (what was left of) the economy and – in many cases – we’ve lost hope.

Given the time and the effort and the sacrifices, and notwithstanding that viruses are going to do virus things, it’s not a pretty picture.

Our often dysfunctional, often corrupt government has addressed the pandemic in a haphazard, illogical manner – not that I’m saying there was any given “right” way of doing things – and if news reports are to be believed (I know, I know) it has now also completely messed up sourcing even close to adequate vaccines for the country through its incompetence, which is unforgivable.

Our population has been asked, then coerced and then forced to adhere to simple steps to reduce the transmission of the virus.

The good news is that we seem to have now passed the beak of the second wave, and the positivity rate (not a perfect marker, but the best we have) is dropping off sharply. I’m hopeful that we can now begin to open up again, as was promised in Ramaphosa’s speech a couple of weeks ago, and again attempt to approach some sort of normality.

Some lifting of the alcohol ban would certainly assist the liquor and hospitality sector.
On that note, please read this from Jacques Rousseau. Lovely stuff.

The kids are already back at school, doing alternate days to keep the in-class numbers down (and then online learning on their off days), because they can, given that there has been no official gazetting of school closures (and probably/possibly won’t be, according to this), but they’d love to get back full time as soon as possible. That routine makes a huge difference.

Basically, as a country we continue – somehow – to teeter on the very edge of disaster. The tape that’s been holding everything together for years now is very much losing its sticking power and it does really seem like there’s not much to look forward to, despite those decreasing numbers.

Let’s see what the next couple of week brings.
Maybe I can write a more optimistic post if there turns out to be a bit more optimistic news.