Archive for August, 2008
The title of this post may attract googlers with a passing interest in photography. It is also a warning to the more regular readership that this is not the usual banter, and the photos contained here do not include any pit babes, although there are some pussies.
Within ten minutes of arrival my eBay purchase was joined to a camera and test shots taken. At F2, where the depth of field is minimal, the shots were blurred where they should have been sharp, and I was sad when I should have been happy. Luckily, the Canon 1D includes a facility to dial in compensation, and after a couple of hours of taking shots of a test chart, I had adjusted the focus and all was well. But it’s annoying that Canon’s QC does not ensure that every “professional” lens that leaves the factory is perfectly calibrated.
Went out yesterday to take some test shots and the overall impression is one of excellent contrast, bokeh, colours and sharpness. There is very little degradation shooting at F2, and at this focal length, F2 is great for separating subjects from background. Here, I can separate out the face from the circular background:
And using F2 with this shot blurs out the adjacent statues very nicely:
Whereas, here is the same shot at F6.3 where everything becomes a little muddled:
Tried some portraits. Will need some work to discover what settings give me the best depth of field, but looks like it will be a good portrait lens.
This lens has a reputation as being a “must have”. After a day of ownership, I already feel I would not want to be without it.
Living and working in Bangkok was an exhausting process. I had a job which demanded long hours, and a commute in the Bangkok traffic which made the day even longer. Then of course I had to find time for a social life.
She who must be obeyed is firmly of the opinion that I was a playboy during my time in Bangkok. I am firmly of the opinion that I was just enjoying one of the most vibrant cities on the planet as best I could. In truth, I didn’t go out much during the week, too bloody tired. Instead I would sit at my computer and pursue young ladies via the internet. I corresponded with many, chatted on-line with a few, met up with a handful, had a relationship with less than a handful, and married one of them.
It was fun, if a little scary, to meet up with someone you had only previously met on-line; but I suspect that, quite rightly, they were even more wary. But without exception, everyone I met was interesting and worthy of at least a dinner and some conversation, which is probably more than some of them felt about me. Most of them were Thai ladies, although I did fly to Taipei one weekend to have dinner with a Taiwanese doctor. But that’s another story.
My confidant throughout these interesting times was a Thai guy who worked in the same company. He was also in the midst of relationship issues and we shared common interests in techie hobbies, photography, computers, drinking beer and hanging out. We would meet up at weekends and sit in locations noted for their Thai babe observational opportunities. Over a coffee or a beer we would admire the passing talent and do nothing at all about pursuing our temporary objects of desire.
Although he is now working in Malaysia, he has remained my best friend in Thailand and we stay in touch almost daily. Although my personal life is now resolved, his remains in turmoil and last I heard he was engaged to one lady, being pursued by a previous girlfriend and pining after one that got away. Updates, fuelled by alcohol are required; and he is coming to stay for the weekend so we can catch up and go take some photos.
According to she who must be obeyed, he is my “dude”, and who am I to argue. So the dude descends on us this evening, expect a lack of posts tomorrow.
As the number of visitors to Pattaya Days grows, there are an increasing number of people who stumble across this site by mistake, and leave quickly without closing the door behind them.
Somewhere in St. Louis (I have the ip address for the purpose of blackmail), there is a worried man (or a frustrated woman) who went to Ask.com and enquired about “shrinking of the penis.” Ask.com cleverly broadened the shrinking issue to the wider problem area of the genitals and arrived here.
Needless to say, Mr. Vanishing Dick stayed for a total of zero seconds before scuttling off to other sites which could probably sell him some ointment for the problem.
Pattaya Days. If it shrivels, we’ll write about it.
She who must be obeyed wants to buy me something special for my upcoming birthday. A Lotus Exige is a little beyond her budget (and mine), so we agree upon a nice new lens for my camera. Although she protests she can afford it, this is also beyond her budget, so we agree on a cost sharing arrangement and the deal is done.
Next to source the lens. My usual shop in Bangkok says they don’t have it, and it is so popular that they get very few available. My usual shop in Pattaya says they don’t have it, but could order it for delivery in 45 days. This would still mean that it arrives before my birthday (she who must be obeyed likes to plan early), but I want it NOW (no way is she going to hide it away and wrap it so I can open it on the “big day”).
So I turn to eBay and more than one shop in Hongkong is happy to sell me the lens from stock. Price including Fedex courier is 4,000 baht less than the shop in Pattaya is quoting, and with a creative valuation from customs, the tax should be minimal.
So on Wednesday evening I place the order. On Thursday lunchtime (yesteday), the parcel is picked up by Fedex and when I wake up this morning the tracking tells me it has arrived in Thailand and has cleared customs. I call Fedex who tell me the tax is 425 baht, the seller has obviously heeded my request for a low valuation on the customs form by declaring the lens “basically worthless.”
(Sorry about the title, but it does attract the punters).
When I first came to Thailand it was hard to find a home improvement store. The poor Thais had the family hammer, and the rich Thais employed the poor Thais to use their family hammer for whatever handyman jobs were required (the results were not always impressive). But the emergence of a Thai middle class, with their own homes and a need to fix things without calling in the man with the hammer, meant that various stores with the word “home” in the title started to appear.
Now we have Home Pro and Home Mart and Home Works and Home Ophobia (although the latter has an irrational fear of displaying big tools). These are OK for most supplies, but if you are looking for serious tools, and we all need them sometimes, then you have to make the pilgrimage to True Value on Sukhumvit road.
True Value is somewhat of a misnomer, True Extortion might be more appropriate. This shop specialises in imported goods, mainly from America, and it is not cheap. This may explain why I have never seen more than two other customers in the shop when I have visited; and usually, like today, I am the sole browser.
But if you want a tool that will actually work rather than collapsing at the first sign of a job, this is the place to come. I was looking for something in particular. After the near-tragedy of the dropped lens, I had not been able to unscrew the broken filter ring. I could take into Canon in Bangkok and leave it with them for a week or so, but surely this is something I could manage myself with the right tool?
After twenty minutes wandering around the aisles, during which time I was tempted by a number of impressive machines, few of which I understood and none of which I would ever use, I selected a circular wrench device with a wallet-punishing price tag and strolled to the cashier. Of course, in a shop devoid of customers apart from me, the cashier had gone for a lie-down somewhere and had to be woken from her slumbers. But the guard gave me a nice salute on the way out and assorted staff waved goodbye; I expect my visit had been the high point of the day, which would not make for a good day for anyone.
Back home, I mount the lens on a camera, strap my big tool to the filter housing, and heave. Nothing.
I sit on the camera body and jam my leg against the wall for more purchase, and heave. Nothing. The tool grips OK, but it appears that the body of the lens is willing to explode before it will let go of the filter housing.
The new tool goes in the box with all the other fancy tools that have been used once, usually without success, and then discarded. The lens awaits a trip to Bangkok. Still, the purchase did justify me writing “big tools” in the post title, which is bound to be good for the viewing figures.
There are a number of Thai television channels. For the none-Thai speaker they are useless. For a Thai speaker they are brain numbing; abysmal quiz/comedy shows and dramatic soaps all of which seem to contain the same (bad) actors and actresses and have identical plots which involve women acting badly (in every sense) and screaming at people.
Thankfully, she who must be obeyed does not watch much Thai TV, other than the news on occasions. Provided I am prepared to keep her supplied with a regular flow of movies and TV programs via torrents, she doesn’t bother with Thai TV at all. Last night we watched “Miss Pettigrew lives for a day”, a pleasant enough period comedy, followed by a UK TV program called “Super Botox me”, where a 40 year old female reporter went to the USA with the objective of seeing how much she could spend on Botox and similar treatments. The answer was about $10,000, a world of pain and a lot of blood. I had my eyes closed for much of it, and judging from the squeaks coming from the person sat next to me, she will not be thinking of cosmetic surgery any time soon.
When my movie downloads can’t keep up and there is nothing but screaming women on Thai TV, we have a back-up in the form of a cable service from UBC. More channels than I can count, and almost all of them crap. I watch the news on BBC occasionally, the Formula One races usually, otherwise there is more entertainment to be had from my computer. She who must be obeyed has a liking for “E Entertainment News” which dedicates itself to reporting on celebrities, most of whom are celebrities based on the fact they have made themselves famous, not because they have any particular artistic skills. When the celebrity news is a little light, or has been repeated just one too many times, she goes channel surfing and will settle on some junk for five minutes, concentrating furiously, before moving on to the next mind numbing channel filler.
Tonight I want for a crucial umbala and came back to find her watching what appeared to be a team of midgets racing a camel round a track. What are you watching, I asked? A team of midgets racing a camel round a track, was the reply. The obvious next question would be “why?”, but it should be directed at the people who make this stuff and put it on the air in the name of entertainment. But she watched it intently to the end and then switched across to a breathless commentator who was describing the colour of the latest coat belonging to Paris Hilton’s dog.
In other news, the World Bank has issued a new estimate, that 1.4 billion people now live in poverty (although it doesn’t say what percentage of that has been caused by World Bank policies), and sixty children were killed by a coalition air strike in Afghanistan. But, more importantly, the midgets beat the camel, and the dog coat is pink.
An exciting, if depressing, day in the history of Thailand. PAD demonstrators on the streets of Bangkok, occupying television stations, blocking roads into Bangkok and generally causing havoc. Their objective is the overthrow of the government, although what they offer instead is not clear. All we do know is that, whoever is in power will be looting the coffers and the ordinary Thai in the countryside will be ignored. There is the chance of another coup, which will be my chance to rush up to Bangkok and take some photos of tanks, something I neglected to do last time.
Probably not the best of times to recommend property investment, but I did check out a couple of projects today. The first has been featured before. It’s a development from the same company that is making such amazing progress with the Ocean 1 tower.
It’s changed colour! Yes, the four or five workers on the site have been busy with pots of paint for the last couple of months and some of the building is now painted. Unfortunately they do not appear to have made any progress on constructing the interior of the condo which looks the same as it did nine months ago.
I went into the sales office and enquired about availability. The sales girl showed me a chart which indicated they had sold eight units. I observed that they had not sold very many. She explained that the chart was out of date so I selected several other units at random and they were all still available. I don’t think there is any problem with choice.
The construction is going very slowly, I observed.
Problems with the contractor
They went bankrupt
But you haven’t replaced them?
So when will the building be finished?
No, next year
Tell you what, I will buy a unit. If the building is finished by February 2009 I will give you an extra million baht. If it is not finished, you give me a million baht discount. Deal?
No. But look at the lovely view from the higher floors
Which will disappear if someone builds a condo on the prime piece of land lying empty right in front of this building
The Marraka Residence attracts because it is being built to “high European standards.” To be honest, I have not been to any European country which offers the same standard of breeze block construction.
It really is most appealing and I urge you to slap down a deposit immediately.
My wife received a late birthday present and card yesterday. The card was inscribed “Happy Birthday to She Who Must Be Obeyed.” The giver is obviously a reader of this site.
She knows that I call her this in my writing, and she occasionally takes a look at what I have written. But the card made her realise that other people actually read it, and that “she who must be obeyed” has a little life of it’s own, out in the wide wide world of web.
For some reason, this has made her very proud and I find her giggling at odd moments and muttering “I am she who must be obeyed.” I have a fear for a future where the giggled mutterings become Margaret Thatcher style thunderings. “I AM SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED. DO THE WASHING-UP, SLAVE BOY.”
Perhaps I need to change her name to “She who must obey and not tell me where to park my car.” Any other suggestions?
In the ongoing war (not really a war, more of battle. Not even a battle, would be stretching it to call it an argument. Perhaps just a withering glance) to dominate the Country Bubbles chart on this site, Francois has waded in on behalf of the French and placed a link on the French people who love Pattaya site, or more precisely: Forum Francophone des amoureux de Pattaya.
Francois writes “Un blog génial pour ceux qui peuvent lire l’anglais. C’est un expat rosbiff qui raconte sa vie à Pattaya avec beaucoup d’humour. Fortement recommandé.” Fortunately my schoolboy French could work out what that means, merci beaucoup Francois. And I love being called an expat rosbiff! Never realised that rosbiff was the French slang for the English, much more attractive than the Australian offering of whingeing pom, or that gentle Scottish term of endearment; fucking English bastard (hello Liverpool!).
What with all the wars over the past few hundred years, the English and the French are meant to hate each other. Personally I am rather envious of the French. Great food and wine, good weather and elegant women with skin the colour of olives and the sort of nose shape that I find positively erotic. The only thing that annoys me is that bloody game called boules. We used to camp in France every summer and would be woken at dawn every morning by gangs of old men who would roam the campsite playing boules, shouting loudly and spitting on the nearest tent (or perhaps just the nearest tent occupied by rosbiff). Francois, if you could eliminate boules you would make an expat rosbiff very happy.
Sadly, I suspect that many of the visitors to Le Forum Francophone des amoureux de Pattaya are already living in Thailand. There were many links from the Le Forum yesterday, but France’s ball is a little deflated right now. So if you could all just pop back to France, log in and visit and then come back again. Please bring me back some wine, goat’s milk cheese and someone with olive skin and one of those noses. Merci.
Continuing a sporty weekend in Pattaya, we headed out to the Six Hour Pattaya Enduro race today, where teams of riders took it in turns to fill their orifices with dust as they pounded round a dirt track for, as the name suggests, six hours.
Fun to watch and photograph, but I have no idea who won. Possibly an Iranian team.