Although both my parents could paint and draw, I can't. My father was an excellent artist.
That doesn't mean I don't have the sense of composition - I just cannot draw. So occasionally I do things in Photoshop as an alternative. It has been several months since I did anything, but tonight I did an image of myself in pastels. I rather like it.
Over the years I have tended to photograph scenes, still life and architecture but less often take pictures of animals. Animals are hard. It's not just about getting the technicals right, it is about catching them head on rather than a retreating rear. It is even better if they are doing something interesting. The picture above isn't magazine quality. It was taken on a little portable camera and isn't quite as sharp as I might like, but for once I did catch the right view of the stag, head on and roaring in rut.
I am struggling with an updated gravatar. I needed one as the other was a couple of years old. (Gravatars are picture shown against your personal comments on many blogs etc.)
I swapped to this one, but my friend Andrea doesn't like it and says I am a bit too serious is it - which is a fair criticism of it.
That was a trial snap taken by a young photographer I know - I will write about her in due course. I was persauded to swap to this one instead:
It sort of looks OK, but in a tiny size it looks a bit washed out. I guess neither is perfect.
I don't often upload my photos so for a change here is a wild rabbit I shot this afternoon in Bushey Park. I had a travelcard for the week and today was a spare day (as much as any day is spare at present) so I decided to use the card and go to Bushey Park to try out the new camera. This is one of the shots. He was sat as peacefully as can be under the edge of some greenery and didn't seem to mind me taking his picture.
Didn't help that I downsized from a three bedroom house with garage and garden to a two bedroom suburban flat. Where does the contents of the garage go - things like tools? So it's taken a major chuck out.
Good feeling though.
Next the lounge ...
It will only be one of course, but I would rather drink one with a strong taste than the dishwater which passes as weak bitters.
Somebody recently introduced me to Round the Horne and I am glad they did. Traditional British (English) radio comedy. The highlight for me is Kenneth Williams - there is a sketch called Rentachap which is great. There is some Round the Horne material on YouTube if you want to try it out.
I've not forgotten about this blog but have been busy with other things. I had a technical paper to right which hadn't been planned for in my schedule.
Other than that I have been working away at Egyptolgical, our new free online magazine about Ancient Egypt. It has been a huge amount of work. We soft-launched several weeks ago and are planning to publish the first edition within a month or so. Many of the articles are in good shape, but a few need some reshaping and the process is taking longer than we had hoped.
Alongside that I am reworking the code, trying to streamline it and strip out some of the unnecessary stuff and then add in more functionality. We have done the initial design for our photo library, for instance, and I need to code that up.
That's not eating up all the time though. This week I went to see Jools Holland in concert. We love him live. This time the special guest was Sandie Shaw which was a surprise, I don't think I ever expected to hear her live. And at nearly 65 her voice hasn't aged very much at all - maybe not quite so sprightly but still fairly clear.
Rather than embed one of the classics, here is Sandie Shaw with the Smiths singing their classic Hand in Glove.
I am worried I am getting old because I am not listening to much new music. I am trying. I treated myself to a couple of new CDs today. Katy Perry is modern - although the credibility factor is very low. I made up for it with me other choice - Mott the Hoople. That is certainly not modern, but then the credibility factor is high. I just need to find modern music I like with a high credibility factor!
(Schh! I do also have my fair share of old music with a low credibility factor.)
I have spent pretty much all of the past ten days writing about Egypt, either on News from the Valley of the Kings or on the new Egyptological Looting Database 2011 which I created as a response to the emergency. It has been a difficult time for the antiquities of ancient Egypt and sadly it looks as though some important and beautiful tombs might have been stripped of their decoration. It could have been so much worse though had the ordinary people not joined forced to protect sites and even the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
I struggle with the American reaction to the uprising. It isn't what I see in all the reports I have read, in the blogs of protestors I have followed and in the various posts on FaceBook. I see nothing of Islamic fundamentalism. Rather moderation in everything seems to be the wish. The Coptic church celebrated mass in Tahrir Square on Sunday with the full support of a mainly Muslim crowd. In Luxor, the Mosques were urging their congregations to protect local Coptic churches. In the recent past Egypt has been marred by religous tension, but the uprising has been noteworthy for religious tolerance.
It's not just religion. The Vancouver Sun carried this article about how women have found an increasing voice for our gender in Tahrir Square.
Far from Islamic fundamentalism, Egypt looks as though it could become something wonderful: a moderate, secular and democratic Islamic country. In all the chaos and human tragedy, there is a phoenix of great hope. Writing about ancient Egypt has been hugely stressful, but the hope of how Egypt could develop has been the bright light in the dark.
It's always sad when somebody is murdered, but recently there seems to have been a disproportionate number of recent brides. So very, very sad.