Wednesday, March 18, 2009

First Pictures

The weather here in the flatlands is fantastic - more like a summer's day than a spring day.  The thermometer at the front of the house is indicating 15C, with so much sunshine I have had to lower the blind in my study so that i can see the computer screen. So I have been for a wander around the garden with my camera stuck to a tripod to have a first play with it.  

The tripod is very useful as I put a 70-200mm lens on the camera - the whole lot weighs too much  to be comfortable with my shoulder at the moment. Although I have not really explored the advantages at least I could try it out.  I am looking forward to using it for evening shots with long-exposures. 

Anyway here are two pictures. This one shows a bee just coming in to land - the fine weather has brought the bees out. Not the best of photographs since the bee is not really in focus - but not bad for an opportunistic shot.  I will have a play a colour-popping it so that the bee and the two flowers stand out in colour with the rest in grainy black and white.


The advantage of a longish lens is that it has a small depth of focus - which means that things closer or farther from the point you focus on are blurry. This can help to bring the attention on the object of the picture and blur out the rest. as you can see form the previous picture it has meant that the bee is slightly blurry and the colour of the brown leaves still attracts the eye.

In this picture the flower is reasonably brought to the eyes attention, but is slightly over-exposed so is brighter than it should be - I will play with the camera and get used to it and hopefully learn how to compensate so I get the pictures I want.

Here is the bee picture colour-popped using my Graphics tablet.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Three Weeks (on my wagon and I'm still rolling along!)

Sorry - not a lot to Blog about - resting is hard work! Actually boredom is a good sign - I think that it shows that my body is getting over the battering and wants to get on again.  I've got loads more flexibility in my arm movements - although I still get discomfort in my shoulder, normally at the start and end of the day. 

One of the problems of having time on my hands is that I have been able to research and purchase some new gadgets.  Because of the challenge of holding my new camera to my eye to take pictures I have bought a tripod. Actually you have two bits to buy, the actual tripod and then the head that you mount the camera on.  The head allows the camera to be moved around but also includes a spirit level to ensure that the picture taken is level.  Getting level pictures is quite hard for me, especially if I am using my small Sony camera.  Mind you both Photoshop Elements and Picasa make it easy to get things level again.  (They are the two programs I use for reviewing and editing my pictures.)  In the end I went to - which has a load of info including videos on various subjects including choosing and using tripods.  I got a Manfrotto tripod and head in the end.

I have also bought myself a Graphics Pad (Wacom Bamboo fun - medium) so that I can use a pen when editing pictures.  In my past I used to design silicon chips - in the early days it was a job that involved, amongst other things, drawing a lot of shapes on a computer so I have used pretty much most types of mouse/pen interface. The pen makes it easier to be more precise when trying to tweak things.  One other bonus is that I can also use it to "write"  instead of type. An advantage when one arm is not working so well. Here is an attempt at a self-portrait.  No not drawn from memory - one feature that is pretty neat is that you can load up and then trace over a picture.  So I created this for use as an Email signature - only I use it at a slightly smaller size.

We have had a few postal deliveries recently. I use Amazon as the main website for my Internet shopping - their delivery tends to be the best in my experience. In this case the delivery company driver, who had seen me in my sling commented to my wife on his third visit in three days that it'll be a cheaper  when my shoulder has mended and I've got something to keep me occupied.

I have also been watching a TV series called Scrapheap Challenge - in fact two complete series were available on - 30-odd programs.  Essentially two teams are given the challenge of building a machine in 10 hours - the challenge being that they are based in a Scrapyard and have to source the bits for the machine from the scrapyard.  The two machines are then subject to a competitive test.  The machines range from snowmobiles through to human-powered rail vehicles.  For a geek like me it was a great way to pass the time - but had me wondering whether I should get myself some welding kit.  As a student I attended a course in Sheffield where I was taught to weld - it was great fun, we used all sorts of kit.  In the end common sense prevailed and instead I bought the book one of the presenters had written about the series.  

Yes I bought it via the Amazon website - although it was out of print and I bought one second hand from an "affiliate?" - the book cost 1p the post and packing £2.75 - I guess that the supplier then ends up paying less to Amazon that way - it does seem slightly odd though.  The book was a good read though.

One other bit of good luck - yes I am doing far too much web-browsing - I won a mobile broadband dongle in a competition.  You had to answer a simple question and 1000 lucky contestants then won a dongle - I know probably a way of getting more people using their services but hey it was free.

One final "rant".  If you check out the following webline - it reports on a day the local police spent in Histon (where I was knocked off my bicycle) checking for driving offences.  It turns out that they caught 180 drivers including 71 not wearing seat-belts and 41 using mobile phones whilst driving.  I had not realised what a hotbed of vehicular misdemeanours  Histon was - yet it is quite a small place. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Collar Bone Update

Well it is two weeks since I was knocked off my bicycle and as I am supposed to be resting to allow my broken collar bone to heal there is not a lot to report except for an update on my shoulder.  

The good news is I am now able to put on my socks using two hands - so I have reverted to wearing socks every day.  I know it sounds pathetic really, but each day is measured by the improvements.  I also managed to help my wife with the weekly shopping at the local supermarket.  We went on a Friday morning hoping that it would not be too busy.  I wore my sling both to rest my shoulder and to act as a warning flag.  I wonder whether I should have covered the sling in fluorescent yellow - not that it helped when I was cycling on my bicycle.  At the start it was not too bad pushing the trolley one handed - however it seems that Friday morning is also pensioner shopping day along with a bunch of Tesco shoppers. (They pick up the shopping for Internet shoppers). I discovered that you've got to keep out of the way of the pensioners - they take no prisoners and view a younger person with a sling with contempt. You can almost hear them thinking payback time for you laddy. Hum the Bones Doctor didn't mention paranoia as one of the symptoms did he?

Actually I have a theory that our society is becoming more self-centred.  People focus on their own needs and do not consider the other person.  You can see this on the roads - fewer drivers seem to bother indicating, drivers also resent losing time on the roads because of congestion. I still see lots of drivers using the phone when driving.  In fact I have been shouted at by car drivers when cycling telling me (rudely) to get on the cycle path and out of their way.  I am not sure how they square this - perhaps they pay road tax (er but so do I and probably more than most - even though I don't drive too often) Perhaps they believe that the faster vehicles should have priority - hum perhaps that means I should get precedence in my soft-top sports car.  Of course it is all nonsense - but believe me many drivers genuinely feel that they should have priority over bicycles. 

You also see similar behaviour on the trains - there is much more reluctance to give up a seat to someone in need - especially on the commuter trains from Cambridge to London.  In fact when I was commuting one day a week into London there was a couple who though nothing of pushing through to the doors as the train came into the station to claim their "rightful seats".

So given the lapse in consideration that is now shown for others it is hardly surprising that a Pensioner who, as they were growing up had to show others respect to others now having arrived at an age when they could expect a little respect, feel cheated and unwilling to allow some poor sod with a busted shoulder to pass by without.  Yes I did get one or two hits - mind you I gave them a wide berth after that!

Still back to the shoulder - last week the swelling has reduced and I can prod the area - but I was worried that it felt as if there was too much bone on the joint for it to get back into shape.  Also it has ached more (that bit of extra bone perhaps) - not enough to get me back onto the painkillers but enough that sitting and or lying in my bed has been uncomfortable.  It now seems as if the "extra bone" fits slightly better - the discomfort is somewhat less.  I am also getting pains at the end of the shoulder something my daughter's friend (horse-riding accident/broken collarbone at the beginning of January) did warn me about. So perhaps despite my age things are following a reasonable healing pattern.

So far I have not really hand the chance to try out my new camera it is just a bit too heavy to lift up to my eye and I can't face the idea of wearing it slung around my neck at the moment. Perhaps next week!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

YaNP - Yet Another non-post - the healing continues

After I was knocked off my bicycle time has changed for me. As the treatment for a broken collar bone (clavicle) is one of rest and wait and see my life has changed from one of trying to fit what I want to get done into the day to one of expanding the few things I do into the day.

Each day I still find that my healing seems to make noticeable progress, the body is pretty good at coming back from problems. However as the pain gets less and the ability to move my arm gets better I find myself coming up more and more against what I can't do. Dressing is slow but straightforward, except for my socks. I can put them on, but it takes time and so far I have only put them on twice since the accident, once for my hospital appointment, the second time because I thought I ought to. As mentioned in the last post I also walk to the local paper shop I do get a few odd looks as I wear sandals (no shoes laces) - going sockless in the winter is perhaps a trifle eccentric. My head itched and I automatically went to scratch it - the pain quickly reminded me that I would have to use the other hand, not a problem but you look slightly odd - try it sometime.

With time on my hands one thing that I do wonder about is exactly how is the bone doing and will it come together properly. At the moment the bruise around the break is huge, but the area is much less tender and I can prod it. I can feel that one side of the break is standing higher than the other. SO the question in my mind is does this matter, will it need to move back to a better alignment or will it just "glue" itself together as it is. I have been warned that it will be a bit lumpy - how lumpy is lumpy? Since the good side also feels slightly lumpy then I am not worried about lumps - as long as the bone is good for cycling again.

One other problem I have, sorry I did not mean this to be a moan, is that I am not sleeping very well or rather I wake in the morning feeling slightly headachy. I think that this means either I am not sleeping too well or that my body is washing out the bruise toxins (and there are plenty of those). Finding a comfortable position to sleep in is certainly tricky and so is moving to any other position. However I do not feel that I am waking too often in the night and after a bit of fresh air on the morning I do feel better. I must start doing a bit of walking, both for exercise and to ward off putting on too much wait. The other thing I have discovered about elastic time is that there seem to be lots more mealtimes in the day, breakfast, elevenses, lunch, mid afternoon tea and coffee, tea and supper. At this rate I will have to get a heavy duty bicycle to carry me when I am back cycling.

One bit of good news - the camera I bought to replace the one that was liberated in Vietnam is finally due to arrive this week - only three months after ordering it. It was in short supply and then a problem between my bank and the supplier seems to have delayed it even further. The first time supplies came in they tried to get payment from my credit card but the bank stalled because of fraud concerns. I then had to go round the loop getting the payment unblocked and letting the supplier know. Unfortunately the few hours delay meant that all the stock was shipped elsewhere and I had to wait for another delivery. So the Supplier did not claim payment, then after two weeks the authorisation lapsed. SO the next time stock was in they got refused by my bank again - concerns of fraud, again. So it looked as if I would once again miss out. This time although I could not phone the supplier I did use there IM facilities (Instant Messaging). It failed first time but the second time I got through and someone pushed the order through for me - a good job too as they only had one remaining camera in stock.

All being well I will be able to post a few photographs later in the week, assuming I can hold it up and take pictures with a dodgy arm.