Okay, time to talk about what’s been going on for the past couple of months. There have been big changes in my life and possibly bigger changes to come. Mostly negative, with that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel seeming very far away.
Are you following me on Instagram yet? I’m there as SpikeHK8. I’m posting more often there now, and lots of stuff that never makes it to here. I’ve got 248 followers on Instagram, as opposed to over 4,200 on Twitter. (I’ve just added the Instagram icon/link to the “Follow Me” box on the upper right.)
Who should I be following? When you look at what’s in my Instagram feed, the pictures seem to be mostly food and Filipinas in bikinis. The discovery feature on Instagram is mostly useless – it seems like most of the recommendations that I get are for Facebook friends (no surprise) who have accounts but haven’t posted anything. Sometimes I even get recommendations to follow accounts that I’m already following!
I have this love/hate relationship with Instagram because they try to force you to use it on a mobile device – and by that I mean that it is much more feature-rich when viewing on a phone than on a browser on a desktop or laptop. Lots of features are non-existent on the desktop, not the least of which is the ability to post photos.
Which kills me because the photos that I most want to share are photos that I’ve taken with my “real” camera and processed on the desktop. So far I have just two work-arounds for this – the sane option is to transfer the photos to my phone when I sync; the insane option is to post them to Facebook, bring up the Facebook app on my phone, go to the photo, save it to my phone, and then post to Instagram.
There’s gotta be a better way! But I have yet to find it.
I’ve found options in the Google web store that make it easier to save Instagram photos to your computer (I just right-click, select view source, find the direct URL for the photo, open that up in a tab, right-click and save as).
As for why I’m on Instagram, there are a couple of reasons, one of them sane, one of them not so much.
The sane reason is that I like to get my stuff seen as widely as possible. I’m not trying to earn a living from photography or social media, I harbor no illusions about doing so, but I like to get my stuff seen and get some feedback.
The stupid reason is that one day I was at BGC High Street and went to the Nike store. There was a huge line inside of people picking up the latest Jordans they’d pre-ordered. They looked cool but I was told they were all sold out. Outside, there were people sitting there putting on their new Jordans. I asked one guy how he knew about it in advance so that he could pre-order. “Instagram.” Not Facebook, not Twitter, Instagram.
So I figured I needed to get on there and as long as I’m there, might as well post stuff too. So, if you’re on Instagram, please think about following me … and leave me some comment somewhere about some of the accounts you follow. Thanks!
My buddies in the band Subculture played a Sepultura tribute show at B-Side and I tagged along, quite happy that I would finally have a chance to shoot a band with my Fujifilm X-T2. When I arrived there, I saw the bands were setting up to play in an area that had zero lighting – just the ambient lighting from the surrounding bars and the almost-full moon above. But I was there, I had the camera with me, I bit my lip and got on with it. Everything was shot with the Fujifilm XF 23mm F2.0 lens, most shots were at ISO 10,000.
Part One – Manila Taxi Drivers Suck
Saturday night I wanted to go out and find some bands to shoot with my new camera. I was talking to an American friend and he said he’d come with if we went to the Hard Rock. Since drinking would be involved, we both left our cars at home and took a Grab over to Makati.
We got to the Hard Rock waaaayyyyy too early. It was 7:30, there was practically no one else there, they told us the bands don’t start till after 9:30. We sat in the bar and had dinner and then it was 8:00 and still time to kill so we went for a walk – Cafe Havana where we had some drinks and admired the view, then Spicy Fingers, and then back to Hard Rock. It was boring cover band night, I kept hoping for something better, but by the time the band on stage decided to torture us with Toto, I said it was time to leave.
I went to SM Mega Mall on a Saturday night, which is an indication of how much of a masochist I must be. 30 minutes to drive there, 30 minutes waiting to get into the parking lot. But I figured I could find almost everything I was looking for in one place and I had nothing else to do, ergo ….
First order of business – buy a surge protector. I made the dumb mistake of checking The Wirecutter for recommendations first. Dumb because of course I already knew in advance that whatever they’d be recommending wouldn’t be available here – here being the relatively large Cyber Mall on the 4th floor of Mega Mall. And I was right! Their number one choice – Tripp Lite – no one ever heard of it. Their number two choice, a specific model from Belkin that sells for all of US$31 (gasp!) on Amazon apparently is too expensive for this market.
One shop I went into had a cheaper Belkin, just one model, two pieces on the rack. Another shop had several different Belkins and a couple of models from a company called Silvertec.
My experience can be summed up by this exchange:
Him: Good evening. Can I help you?
Me: Yes, I’m looking for a surge protector.
Me: A surge protector.
Him: For what?
Me: (?????) For my computer.
Him: Oh. How many inches?
Me: That’s a rather personal question, isn’t it?
Me: Thank you!
Dinner at Mighty Quinn’s. Brisket, dirty rice, cole slaw and three kinds of pickles including pickled jalapenos. No complaints.
Then I figured I’d hit a movie (Logan) and had two hours to kill before the next showing. Walked around. Looked in a bunch of shops. Almost bought a new pair of prescription glasses but decided to hold off a couple of weeks.
Went outside for a smoke. Walked past Gerry’s Grill. There’s a family of 10 dining outside there. And here’s what “outside” looks like when you’re eating outside of this branch of Gerry’s Grill (red arrow):
Yeah, you’re sitting in a tunnel, with about 10 FX vans and 20 taxis parked there, all revving their engines to keep their air cons going, not to mention standstill traffic in both directions. People are sitting there eating? Inhaling a solid wall of CO2 along with their food? And then this family is finished, they get up to leave, the kid who couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 stands up and deliberately spits on the ground – hocks up a huge loogie on the ground right where he was sitting and right next to another table where people are sitting. He couldn’t even be bothered to walk the 2 feet over to the curb to spit into the street. No one says a word. No one. Not one word.
Anyway, eventually it was movie time. Logan. It’s the third weekend it’s playing here, it has plenty of competition (Beauty and the Beast, King Kong Skull Island, Power Rangers something or other), it’s still playing in one of the bigger rooms in the multiplex – an 800 or 1,000 seater. No Imax, no 3D, no reserved seating, so tickets just US$5. Cannot complain about that.
And even though it’s currently rated an 8.5 at IMDb and gets a 92% at Rotten Tomatoes, I thought it was good (and definitely different enough from the rest of the X-Men films, which have grown quite tiresome in many ways, not the least of which the way in which they waste talented actors) but not great by any means. I guess I got more of a kick out of seeing Stephen Merchant (Ricky Gervais’s possibly more talented and definitely taller frequent collaborator) buried under tons of make-up, not to mention Richard E. Grant and Eriq LaSalle. And it was good to see Hugh Jackman without the stupid hair do and facial hair.
And now I’m home and, well, that’s about it!
(Actually Friday night was better. I was introduced to a group of local tattoo artists, spoke to them about maybe shooting in their shops at some point, started thinking about my next tattoo and flashed on this melting clock from Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory:
Or maybe Dali’s The Melting Watch, if I wanna get really ambitious about it:
Perhaps draped over my right shoulder (and yeah, I know, doing it there will hurt like a motherfucker, but it seems like a logical place for it) so pass the tequila and let’s get it on … maybe.)
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks and I’ve been meaning to write an update but I’ve just been that busy. I was in Hong Kong for 8 days and meant to write something about that but the time has eluded me. Also the company I work for has been bought and it’s not immediately clear what that means for my future.
Anyway, last month, I was a little bit late in paying bills – sheer laziness, no other reason. I paid my monthly PLDT bill a couple of days after the due date. But here’s the thing – it was due on a Thursday, I paid it on Saturday, the payment registered on their system on Monday, and then they still cut my service on Tuesday because essentially their systems are so fucking shitmongous that they couldn’t cross-process the information on time.
I never really took any vacation last year. At least not the “going to a resort” or “going to a great city” kind. I took off a week when my mother first came to Manila in March – and then bookended the year by taking off a week in December to deal with her death. I’m taking off all of next week, and while I’d rather be spending that time in Bangkok or Penang or Vietnam, I’ll be in Hong Kong (for reasons that I won’t go into). It will at least function as a vacation – I won’t be going into the office, I’ll be staying at a nicer hotel than the one my company puts me in for business trips, I’ll see lots of friends and eat lots of good food … and I’ll buy a new camera.
So I’m expecting a pretty good week. And as a result this week feels as if it’s taking forever. How can it only be Wednesday when every morning I wake up convinced that it’s Friday?
Probably no one gives a shit about this other than me, but I’m excited enough to post that after a year, I have found one of my two missing rings.
Almost exactly a year ago, I returned from a Hong Kong trip and couldn’t find this ring or my Keith Richards skull ring. (That post remains one of the top ten most popular posts on this site.)
It is 5:39 AM as I start writing this post. I’ve been up since 3 AM. There are several reasons for this.
I’ve started taking a medication called Champix, which is supposed to help one quit smoking by somehow reducing the, um, enjoyment one gets from a cigarette and from nicotine. Actually I’d started taking it in November but went off it when my mother died. I’d felt it starting to work and always intended to give it another try and started with it again last week. One of the common side effects is insomnia, which I’ve got. Another is very vivid dreams, which I’ve got. One rare side effect apparently is suicidal thoughts, which so far I don’t have.
I need distractions. I’m so horrified by the events in the U.S. during the past ten days but I don’t know what to say about them, what to add to the discussion. I need distractions.
Friends from Hong Kong (American husband, Filipino wife) have a house in Angeles. We drove up there for the weekend. The drive itself is quite okay – well it’s roughly 60 miles but takes almost 2-1/2 hours if you drive straight through. The NLEX highway has plenty of American-style rest stops – the larger ones not only have gas stations but also have 15 or 20 fast food chains. The ones on the drive south also feature outlet stores from Nike, Adidas and others, crafts shops, even a shop selling ATV’s.