Happy New Year

Happy new year everyone, I hope 2015 year brings you all the things you wish for and for some of you, the things you deserve!

2015 is a science fiction year. When I was a kid, I read any science fiction story I could lay my hands on and a lot of them talked about the 21st Century (Gerry Anderson’s company, the one that brought us the original and best Thunderbirds, was called 21st Century TV). We have now passed George Orwell’s 1984, we are about half way through Wells’ “Shape of Things to Come” and we’ve passed two of the Arthur C Clarke Space Odyssey novels. We have devices that fit in the hand and connect us with all the knowledge of the world (although you still have to know how to access it). The only thing we haven’t got right yet is the interface to that device.

Of course, we also have people who claim to be experts in making the most of this device and its ability to communicate with the world. The world has filled up with experts, gurus, leaders in their field, and there are so many fields. There are so many of them that 2015 is likely to become the year of the expert expert and the guru guru. Who knows where we’ll be by 2016, but a speaker at a recent conference I attended said that the people who claim to be experts are undermining the professions to which they associate themselves¬†because no one can know everything in enough detail to make that claim.

This time last year I was talking about exercise and I was in the last few days of training for my climb of Kilimanjaro. On 26 January, I made it to the top of Kibo – 5895m – and what a fantastic experience that was. But since then I’ve let the training go a little and although I now have a Rufus to keep me active, it’s not quite the same. And since, for he second year running, I have not given up chocolate, I suspect there is more of me than this time last year, particularly around my middle.

My photography stats

I ‘only’ took 12720 photographs in 2014. That’s almost 4000 down on the year before. I suspect (I hope) it’s because I’ve been a little more discerning and taken my time over each picture rather than machine gunning the views. That said, I took 1775 images on the Kilimanjaro trip alone. But almost a third of those were RAW copies so they don’t count!

Apparently, the photos in my catalogue for this year have been taken on 22 different kinds of camera, although some of those will be other people’s and some are HDR or panoramic images processed on the PC and designated as some unknown camera. Once again, 30% of the images have been taken with one camera – a Nikon D7100 – and 67% of those were taken with the excellent Tamron 18-270mm lens.

Understandably, given the trek, January was my most productive month with 2236 photos taken. I must have taken it easy while recovering in February when I took only 321 images. Looking at them, it was a month of bad weather so I guess I have an excuse. Most of the photos  from February were of huge waves crashing in at Bracelet Bay.

I took 399 macro shots, mostly with a Tamron 90mm macro lens. I think most of those pictures were of spiders in the garden!

All the best for the next 365 days!

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Notes from the coffee shop

I’ve been working on something today that hits several of my tick boxes and which I thoroughly enjoyed doing. It left me with a big smile on my face. But I’m not allowed to talk about that so instead here are a few random thoughts as I sit my my local coffee shop, part of a large chain of such places.

Coffee shops sprang up after the bean was introduced to Britain. The first coffee house was opened in Oxford in 1652, and one was opened in London in the same year. Many of these venues became very popular places for people to meet, talk and later debate. They must have been lively and loud and their significance is illustrated by the fact that Charles II tried to have them shut down.

Gradually, the clientele polarised until particular establishments attracted particular customers; the usual lines were around politics and trade. The insurers Lloyds of London famously started in a coffee house run by a John Lloyd. In the late 17th Century, the London Stock Exchange grew out of a coffee house run by one ‘Jonathan’. Coffee houses attracted a range of classes and one of their draws was that lack of that class distinction. But eventually and perhaps inevitably, the upper classes were loured away to private establishments that quickly became the clubs seen today in London.

In the 19th and early 20th Centuries, coffee houses became the gathering place for artists and writers. These days you will find a range of social types and occupations frequenting the chain coffee shops that have appeared everywhere. I’m writing this in my favourite local establishment and so far, in the 30 minutes I’ve been here, there have been students, parents, office workers, shoppers, lovers, singletons, bloggers and kids. The coffee ship tradition of a meeting place for all continues to this day.

It’s grown dark while I’ve been here, and the drizzly rain continues to fall. In a few minutes I have to venture out and shop in this. The caffeine is fortifying me against the moment I have to leave the comfy environment. While I put off the inevitable, I’ve been people watching.

A pair of young mothers with babies in push chairs have just popped in for a swift latte. It was consumed at an expresso rate before their little ones started to grizzle. A group of four people stared longingly at the comfy chair I’m occupying, as if I’d take pity and move to a wooden chair as comfortable as the ones we used in school.

Two old guys have just wandered in, matching walking sticks in matching right hands. I didn’t catch whether they had flat caps, but they probably did. A kid, possibly 9 or 10, has just run in and out several times He’s dressed in a red football strip and acts as if he’s been on caffeine all day. Another child, just walking, is pushing the boundaries of it’s new found mobility. It made a break for freedom out through the door and off towards the three flights of stairs. It’s mother, trained to react in milliseconds, caught it before harm could be done.

In the far corner, diagonally opposite me, another loner sits typing away at her laptop. We may well both be blogging and a little part of me wonders if she’s describing me now, as I am her. I like that thought. An older woman, coat done up against the cold that she sees through the window, is sat connecting with the world on her smart phone. That’s how things have changed, I guess. We all connect in some way.

If I wanted to, I could probably make contact with the other internet users in this coffee shop just by typing instructions into my laptop. One day that will be okay but for now, even though we are firmly in the 21st Century with technology, we are stuck in the late 19th when it comes to interpersonal communication.

Welcome to the future, Dave

Just a quicky to test out a post from my phone. I indulged in a gorgeous new smart phone today. I’ve resisted for a while now whilst secretly coveting them from afar.

After a delivery experience that wasn’t the best, I finally plugged into the PC (you need a PC or you can’t sync) and minutes later I was up and running.

I have to admit it’s a very stylish piece of kit. Even the packaging is gorgeous and sexy. And it works just like you expect it to.

Will I ever be able to put it down?