Thursday, July 31, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's joint winners are Woman In A Window with Why I’m A Superhero and Suldog with Uncle Roy’s Mustache. The other contenders were Lee with Radio Plays; Que Sarah, Sarah with God’s Servants; In The Gutter with Letter To My Daughter For Her Wedding; Life As I Know It with What They Don’t Tell You About Crackbook; Mama Geek with Perhaps I Gave Birth To Rambo; River Poet with Forget A Sign, Here’s Your Spoon and Travelling But Not In Love with This Isn’t Where I’m Supposed To Be. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

You can nominate a post too. Just leave a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

Jughead and Betty
Were great with confetti
But Archie and Veronica
Won encores on a harmonica

Tom And Cherry

Despite The Frost, The Blooms Are Appearing

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

The power of Nature never ceases to amaze me. We've had heavy frost every morning, with the lawns looking as if someone's spray-painted them white. We've had ice on the cars every morning. But the cherry and quince trees that began budding three weeks ago are now starting to open coyly into tiny pink starbursts. It's almost as if the branches are covered with minuscule pieces of pink popcorn.

The golden wattle is in full bloom as well, a sure reminder that there is just over a month to go until spring. And the days are getting longer, too. Every evening the sun sets about a minute later and the long evening shadows have a certain golden glow to them.

And if you look carefully at the frame below, you'll see raindrops on the gently curved branches. To a land hit hard by drought, there can be no greater blessing.

Don’t Bother Giving 'Em A Dressing-Down

Do They Dry-Clean Their Birthday Suits?

About 50 New York diners - whose motto is "no hot soup" - meet regularly for meals where they strip off. Diners are served by regular restaurant staff - forced by city laws to keep their clothes on. "We've never had a restaurant say no to us, and the waiters think nothing of it," said organiser John Ordover.

FOOTNOTE: No dress code.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's joint winners are Rose Creek Cottage with My Mother’s Smile; Merisi with Summer In The City and Cowgirl with Life On A Small Isle. The other top contenders were East Gwillimbury WOW! with Monarchs Rule; Golightly with Earthquake; Corsicana Daily Photo with FOD or Not; Kathryn with Wise Decision; I’m Being Held Hostage with Getting Back On The Horse and Dishing With Debbie with Don’t Make Me Squirt You. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

You can nominate a post too. Just leave a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

While lions have their pride
Elephants take you for a ride
But a llama could be calmer
For a farmer who seeks karma

All Fired Up

Join The Barbie Queue

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

When an Aussie invites you round for a barbie, they’re not talking Mattel products. They’re talking barbecues.

We don’t just fire them up in summer, you know. We use them all the year round and let me tell you there is nothing more interesting than standing beside the warmth of a four-burner on a freezing winter evening.

I have my own apron. I have my own recipes. I have my own way to sear and slow-cook succulent steaks. Friends and family have been known to give me barbecue tools for my birthday. I even have a silver-topped, velvet-lined attaché case with more implements than a heart surgeon could possibly use in the course of performing a triple bypass.

Our first barbecue made its appearance, amid much excitement, in 1993. I put a lot of mileage on it. And I mean, a lot of mileage. Midway through, I gave it a new coat of paint and generally spruced it up. But because it sat in our back yard, it was subject to the vagaries of the harsh Australian weather.

So last year, Mrs Authorblog asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Immediately, like Saul on the road to Damascus, I had a vision. My vision was a 300mm lens for my camera. Mrs Authorblog got that steely look in her eye. She said she thought I needed a new barbecue.

See, that’s my weak point. I never throw anything out until it collapses in a heap. Until then, it is regarded by me as entirely serviceable. My old barbecue was functioning perfectly. I did not want a new one. I didn’t even need a new one. But in my heart of hearts, I knew the 1993 model was well past its use-by date.

So my wife found me the absolute Rolls-Royce of barbecues. We paid for it and then asked when they could assemble it and deliver it. Slight problem. They didn’t assemble. And they didn’t deliver.

The pressure was squarely on me. I drove the (big) Authorblogmobile round to the store’s loading bay. I’ve got a huge boot, but it just wasn’t wide enough for the new purchase. We tried getting it into the back seat, where there was more than enough cubic metreage to fit it in, but the doors wouldn’t open wide enough.

I had no option but to hire a trailer and stick the load in there. But Mrs Authorblog was in charge of the Crisis Management Taskforce. Her eagle eye had detected the fact that her car needed to be driven to the store.

Why would that be, I asked.

"Because," she replied, "the doors on my imported car open wider than the doors on the Authorblogmobile."

I’ll just cut a long story short to say she was right. There was no levering required. The doors opened beckoningly and the barbecue was patted neatly into the back seat.

So far, so good. The Crisis Management Taskforce was in fine fettle. But who was going to assemble this hulking mammoth?

That’s why our good friend Louis, the resident Good Samaritan, appeared. He gave up a whole Sunday afternoon, rocking up with more gear than the Six Million Dollar Man. He studied the manual, he put out the parts, he sorted the washers and he put aside the nuts - myself included.

Then he put the whole darn thing together in much the same manner that they build Boeings in Seattle. Swiftly.

Me? I finally plucked up enough courage to do one simple, give-it-to-the-village-idiot task. Louis asked me to put the handles on the doors to the storage compartment. It took me half an hour. And one handle (I kid you not) was upside down.

For the home of ABC Wednesday, go to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.

Dry Humour

Why Use Pool Towels? Photograph 'Em Instead

Sheraton Langkawi, July 2008. Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Rein Storm

Who’s A Beast Of Bourbon, Then?

A man from Newcastle in New South Wales will face court after police found him riding under the influence, allegedly falling from the saddle of a horse while holding a half-empty bottle of bourbon. Officers said he had failed to give way to a bus on a roundabout, while riding without holding the reins.

FOOTNOTE: Mid-sight cowboy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's joint winers are Jennifer Harvey with That Is The Question and O’Ceallaigh and the Quill with Of Old Bicycles, Massachusetts Mud Season, And The Absence of Cool. The other contenders were Silver Apples Of The Moon with I Can Has...Haggis? Scottish Festival - Part I; Hilary with Flowers, Insects and the Warmth of the Sun; RiverPoet with What I Want is for You to Have What You Need;Pat with Flatiron; Pea Green Boat with Mama Mia; Quilldancer with Rearranging; Woman In A Window with The Lazarus Effect And Country Rambling; The Blankie Chronicles with Its About … Time; Megan with Tropical Storm Eli. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

About twelve hours ago, someone in Philadelphia became the 100,000th visitor to this blog. And I recently notched up 155,000 page views, too. Hand on heart, my thanks to all of you for your support.

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

Avoid clutter
On your coastline
But spread that butter
On your toastline

Blank Stair

Never Be Intimidated By A Blank Piece Of Paper

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

When diXymiss, who writes the blog ineXplicable, challenged me to photograph a blank piece of paper, I immediately went through two or three visual options and thought I would experiment with each of them this weekend.

Then I thought I would take the challenge one step further, for the benefit of writers, artists and anyone with a creative instinct, irrespective of age or geographical location.

I was going to shoot a single sheet of standard white A4 paper when I spotted some of the coloured A4 paper that one of the Authorbloglets was using recently. There was red, there was yellow, there was blue. That's when I decided to take a sheet of the blue paper and stick it on the tray of my HP Photosmart 8230 printer, because I thought the hue would be a perfect match for the colour of the printer.

As I did so, I noticed that the bright winter sunlight was streaming through the windows of my study, throwing a beautiful gradation across the paper. Lucky choice, huh!

I write this in the hope that it might inspire some of you, who in turn will use your experience and your knowledge to guide and mould the aspirations of others, somewhere in the world.

After all, creativity is a two-stage process. First we need to recognise creativity. Next we need to nurture it. Having been blessed throughout my earliest years by people who did precisely that for me, I guess it is now my turn to pass on my thoughts.

How do you look at a blank sheet of paper?

I reckon there are two types of people. The first category are those who are nervous of the challenge presented by a blank piece of paper. And the second category are those who relish the prospect of imprinting their own creative instinct on the paper.

For the benefit of those readers who don’t know me too well, I paint, I sketch, I write and I take photographs. I rub my hands with glee when I see a blank piece of paper.

As a career journalist, I often get asked the question: "What is the most difficult thing to write?" For a tough question, it has a surprisingly easy answer. The most difficult thing to write is an opening sentence. Once you have that in place, everything else will follow.

The opening sentence of my first novel, Vegemite Vindaloo, is a modern twist on one of the most famous lines of Australian poetry. Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson wrote "There was movement at the station" as the opening of his wonderful bush ballad The Man From Snowy River. I humbly borrowed it from him and applied it to a contemporary railway station instead.

The opening sentence of my forthcoming novel, Muskoka Maharani, is a pun on a famous quote from Mark Twain. (Nope, I’m not going to tell you what it is, because the novel hasn’t been released yet - but I’m not stopping you from guessing!)

Whether you’re writing a blogpost, working on a novel, creating a sketch or forming a painting, you follow the same process as a builder. Each of those is an ancient art. Each of those is an ancient craft. Each of those is a separate challenge. But just remember this - if your foundation is strong enough, the rest of the structure takes care of itself.

This week I had a long conversation with a very gifted blogger, one of my many friends around the world who is writing a book. She had a major problem. It wasn’t writer’s block. It wasn’t that she had run out of inspiration. But her confidence had been rattled by a well-meaning assessment from someone else. So she went out and bought some how-to-write-novels books and told me she would finish reading them before she resumed writing.

I had some simple advice for her. I told her to mulch the books in one of her many immaculate garden beds.

Why would I tell her something like that? Not because I don’t trust how-to books. Don’t get me wrong. They’re always a valuable resource. But I knew that she didn’t need to be told how to write. You see, I’ve read enough of her writing over the past year to know that she is a wonderful writer.

I didn’t want her to try and write a novel from a contrived point of view, or from someone else’s point of view. Instead, I wanted her to follow her own instincts.

Spontaneity is a great gift for any creative person. And this friend of mine is so good that she doesn’t need to be told how to project her story.

In short, there is only one person who can tell your story/ paint your picture/ take your photograph. One person alone. And that’s you.

Trust your creative instinct. Put your first mark on a blank sheet of paper. You’ll be surprised at how wonderful an experience it is.

Write with freedom. Write with honesty. But most of all, write with joy.

The Proof Of The Pudding

Is In The Secret, Not In The Eating

Chefs at the Sharrow Bay Hotel in Cumbria, England, are reportedly being asked to sign a contract forbidding them to divulge the ingredients of the hotel’s famous Sticky Toffee Pudding. The recipe has been a closely-guarded secret since restaurateur Francis Coulson created it more than 30 years ago, but a recent attempt to leak a film of it being made onto YouTube has led the hotel to take drastic action.

FOOTNOTE: Toffee grapple.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's joint winners are Misty Dawn with Rant About Depression and Les Becker with So Long And Thanks For All The Fish. The other top contenders were Shrinky with Did I Tell You About The Time; Bag Lady's Blather with Growing Into Loss; Daryl with Nawlins Revisited; Carver with Photo Hunt: Hanging; Blue with A Lazy Summer Afternoon; Thoughts From Miller Manor with Happy Birthday Dad; Camikaos with Only Once and Misty Dawn (again) with Camera Critters 16. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

You can nominate a post too. Just leave a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

Always chortle
On your portal
A burst of laughter
Buoys any crafter

Hard-Boiled Customers

But They're Coming Out Of Their Shell

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

There's this highly plausible theory that my camera is simply another limb of mine, hot-wired to my brain. One warm tropical night in Kuala Lumpur a few days ago, we were in bustling Chinatwon when I spotted this sight at a pavement food stall.

I reckon it wasn't just the eggs that caught my attention. Not even the speckled shells. Not even the carton. But I was immediately drawn to the metal implement, which I can only guess is used to produce a fried egg in a perfect circle. Or maybe, given its size, it's used to produce not one but two fried eggs in perfect symmetry.

And speaking of symmetry, Australian egg cartons simply have round indentations for the eggs. This is the first time I've seen hexagonal indentations in egg cartons.

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to a question I have pondered since my college days. How do psychoanalysts prefer their eggs - boiled or Freud?

(The Odd Shots concept came from Katney. Say "G'day" to her.)

Butt Of The Joke

Things Are Going From Bed To Worse

A Lancashire grandfather has his buttocks insured for a million pounds (about $2 million). Graham Butterfield is the official ``bed bouncer’’ for Silentnight in Barnoldswick and his duties include bouncing on beds and giving feedback on softness, textures and fillings. His reports help decide which beds go on the market.

FOOTNOTE: Silentnight, ole night.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Weekend Wandering

Please answer today's question on your own blog, any time until next weekend. Just link to this blog (or to this post) so I can follow the progress of the discussion.

The question is: What do you want most out of life?

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

While cruising up the Irrawaddy
You have to drink your steaming toddy
But please ensure you do stay sober
Especially between May and October

Enter The Dragon

Creature Comforts Are Airborne

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

What do you do when you're suddenly confronted by a fire-breathing dragon? Don't panic. Don't retreat. Don't call for the emergency services.

Grab your camera. Fire off the first shot to blind the marauding, fierce critter.

Then work out the best way to capture the sight of the dragon's wingspan.

I encountered this fella in a shop in Langkawi, Malaysia, earlier this month. But before I reached for my camera, I first asked the lady in charge of the shop if I could take photographs. She immediately gave me permission and nodded when I asked her if the dragon was really a kite.

I'd like to build a kite like that one day. But I think my plans are up in the air.

Check out the rules at Camera Critters or go to Misty Dawn.

The Sunday Roast

There's A Haunting Quality To Her Writing

This week's interview is with Kathryn,
who writes the blog Crystal Jigsaw.

The first of the standard questions. Why do you blog?

Blogging has opened up a new world of fascinating opportunity to me; it has given me a confidence to express the story of my life to a world of unseen faces. I began blogging in May 2007 and since then have had the pleasure of ‘meeting’ many people through their own interesting and heartwarming tales.

It is quite common knowledge to those who know me personally that I am rather unsociable and tend to stay within my own perimeters, however, through blogging, I have been able to release a part of me that I did not know existed. Blogging has helped me find friends, it gives me a sense of joy amongst everyday living.

What's the story behind your blog name?

The first part of my name derives from a beautiful crystal which hangs in my office window. I have the pleasure of watching it each day as it rotates in the sunlight, a magnificent prism dancing upon each wall in rainbow colours. Whilst creating my blog I glanced at the crystal as it guided me towards the name I should choose. The second part is simply a story of my life up until I moved to the farm in 2001; a Jigsaw puzzle is how my life has always been.

My father passed in July 2001 and left me with the last piece of my life’s jigsaw. That piece I held in my hand until May last year when I was finally able to fit it into place. Having moved here five weeks after my dad’s passing, finding the man of my dreams and having to sacrifice my freedom for almost six years while living with my particularly difficult father-in-law, I was more than ready to complete my Jigsaw.

What is the best thing about being a blogger?

So far I can confidently say that "meeting" people from around the world has been the X-factor of joining the blogging community. Reading about people’s lives, some only a few miles away yet others thousands of miles across the ocean, brings together a wealth of personalities, hopes and dreams. There is so much support and friendship and being a blogger has given me both.

What key advice would you give to a newbie blogger?

It is most definitely beneficial for a new blogger to have a browse around many different blogs. The easiest way to do this is by finding one you enjoy, reading their comments and clicking on some or all of the comments’ names. From there, a door will open up a world of variety and fascination. By leaving a comment on different blogs, you are inviting that blogger to visit your own blog and hopefully enjoy it.

It is also a good idea to link the blogs on your own blog site in which you enjoy to follow. This creates a good feeling between the community, encouraging other bloggers to join you on the journey of your life.

Most of blogging is about common sense; it is not a good idea to cause offence or ill-feeling to those you care about; write as little or as much as you like, including pictures if possible; never forget to read other blogs, this shows your interest in other people; leaving a comment is not always necessary, however, it does get you noticed; being disagreeable or pedantic can sometimes cause your door to temporarily close, unless the blog you are reading is open to criticism or discussion. As you keep blogging, reading and commenting, you will get to know people and they will you.

What is the most significant blog post you've ever read?

I have read many blogs which I have spent hours afterwards thinking about. As my daughter is autistic I find it very useful to read blogs written by other parents in my situation. However, there is one blog which I can never help but shed a tear over, whether it be happy tears or sad. I have epilepsy which I think is well controlled but it always touches my heart when I read about a child who also suffers with this brain abnormality.

My blogging friend, Marla Bates, has a beautiful daughter who has both autism and epilepsy. The child is considerably strong and lives with illness almost every day of her life. The way her parents cope is tremendous, having to watch their amazing child suffer in the way she so obviously does. Marla updates her blog most days with stories of how her daughter has got through the current day. Sometimes she does well. Other times it pains me to read about her anguish.

Marla’s daughter brings home to me just how incredibly special we all are; each and every one of us. We each have problems to deal with, however big or small, yet there is always someone less fortunate in the world.

What is the most significant blog post you've ever written?

I have written many posts in which I could say were significant as each post I have written has been individual and true. I love writing about my beautiful daughter but have recently learnt that openness can sometimes be mistaken for offensiveness and hurt. Some of the most enjoyable posts I write, in my own opinion, are of a paranormal nature.

I am fortunate enough to experience life beyond our own earth plane and happily share some of my experiences in my blog. Having frequently been visited by my beloved father I find it pleasurable to write about him from his "side of the fence" of which he has always enjoyed encouraging me to do. A more recent post I wrote concerning my dad is called Long Ago Tears. It tells the short story of how he enticed me downstairs after I had gone to bed in order for him to impress a wonderful memory upon me from many years back.

Back in 1991, after finding light at the end of a very dark tunnel, my dad was prepared to turn his life around in order to help me get back on my feet. His cries rang out that night as he sat beside me on the sofa, wiping away my tears. The reason for that particular visit was to let me know that he will always guide me. At the time, I was in the process of making a very important decision concerning my daughter’s academic welfare.

I have fictionalized "Long Ago Tears" and included its context in my novel which is about a year in the life of a medium.

Today's Sunday Roast with Kathryn is the 27th in a weekly series of interviews with bloggers from around the world.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

Explain why donkey
Sounds like shonky
But why monkey
Rhymes with funky

The Lone Star Estate

Hang Around For A Unique Midday Sight

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

One of the great things about a clear night in winter (yup, we’re in mid-winter here in Australia) is that after you’ve got the ice off your car and remembered that your garden hose is frozen solid - you’ll enjoy the benefits of a clear blue sky all day long.

Just before we flew to Malaysia three weeks ago, I was walking around the Southbank area at lunchtime when I spotted this beautiful star, suspended above the carousel near the river. I have no idea why the star was up there, and because I didn’t think it would be there for very long, I pulled out my camera and tried to frame a clear shot of the star against the crisp winter sky.

It was a long way above my head - and that’s saying a lot, because I’m well over six foot. But as I stood there, craning my neck, I was trying to work out what the star was made of. It was obviously fairly light material, because even though it was a large star, it was blowing at a sharp angle.

I noticed that the star even had a bit of sheen on it, which was emphasized at a certain range of angles, as the breeze took it into the path of the sun’s rays. Luckily I had the 70-300mm lens with me, so it was perfect to capture the striking colours above me.

That’s why I always carry a camera with me. You never know when you’ll spot a large star in the sky - in broad daylight!

Visit TNChick, the creator of Photo Hunt.

The Last Straw

Welcome To The Beet Generation

Norfolk farmer Marlon Brooks was struggling to come up with a fearsome enough scarecrow until he created one that looks like singer Amy Winehouse. He says it's scaring off the pigeons that kept attacking his sugar beet. The scarecrow has her trademark beehive and tattoos, and Farmer Brooks reckons the real Amy should win another award - for services to the farming industry.

FOOTNOTE: Scare grow.

Friday, July 25, 2008

All There, In Black And White

My Turn To Make A Move

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

These shots were taken on the island of Langkawi, Malaysia, during our recent holiday. I noticed these four men playing draughts (or checkers, as some of you know it) and I walked over and asked if I could take a photograph.

They nodded, happy to give me permission, so I hit the trigger immediately. I chose a horizontal frame, wide open to include their surroundings as well as their clothing and the relaxed manner in which they were concentrating on the game.

Then, just as the rest of the Authorblog clan climbed into a taxi, I walked in the opposite direction, to thank the men for their kindness. They asked me where I was from and as I replied, I noticed one of them had his hand hovering over the board, in preparation for a strategic move.

In mid-sentence, I lifted the camera again, quickly adjusted the focal length and shot this frame.

Only at this stage did I realise that the men were not playing on a conventional board. Look closely at this and the next shot (below) and tell me if you see the extent of their creativity. There is dark green tape (probably electrical tape, because it is fairly thick and wide) marking the boundary of their makeshift "board" on the white table.

Now look closely and you’ll see that the black and white squares are all painted uniformly onto the surface of the table.

It was only as I sat down to write this post that I realised I’ve never seen four people play a game of draughts/checkers before. I can only assume that there were two alternative explanations. Either they were playing in teams of two; or they were playing one-on-one, with the other two waiting to play the next game.

And what of the Authorblog clan, waiting for me in the taxi? They were not stressed. They know I always like to follow a trail when I have a camera in my hand.

And in this case, the trail led me to a memorable sight - I’ve never been invited to witness such a unique board meeting.

Visit Mama Geek and Cecily, creators of Photo Story Friday.

Post Of The Day

Today's winner is one of the most powerful posts I’ve read – there are many reasons to visit Dan Mega with Untitled. The other top contenders are Casdok with C’s World; Crystal Jigsaw with One Extreme To Another; Jules Stones with What Did I Order; Atomic Zebra7 with I Is For Idiots; Lee with It's Raining, It's Pouring ...; Ramblings Around Texas with Amberwings; Louise with I.Want.Homemade.Salsa.; Swearing Mother with Lord Snooty; Colleen with Sister Conversations; The Lehners In France with Highs, Lows And Hard Landings; Lori with Glorious and Tink with Highway To Heaven. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

You can nominate a post too. Just leave a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

When Jack and Jill
Went up the mountain
They derived a thrill
From the marble fountain

Departure From The Norm

Final Farewell To The Tropical Sun

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

This series of photographs was taken at the departure lounge of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (or KLIA, as it is known) shortly after we checked in for our flight home to Australia last week. As we entered the departure lounge, we were treated to the sight of the sun sinking towards a blanket of low cloud, but I knew I had at least twenty minutes before the sinking sun took on the colour I was looking for.

Checking in was a very swift process and after I had watched our suitcases go through, I wondered if I had enough time to duck outside the terminal building to photograph the sun against the distinctive sail-like construction of the airport roof.

Instead, as I began to walk towards an exit, I realised that the best angle was actually a few feet away from where I was standing - inside the terminal and looking through the giant windows. The graceful contour of an internal archway was just perfectly located, giving me some strong and unusual silhouettes and allowing me to frame an unusual series of shots.

My first instinct was to shoot the scene horizontally (above) before trying a vertical frame (below) to capture not just the glowing sun and the silhouettes, but also the shimmer of the sunset reflected on the glistening floor of the terminal. It was a clean, functional shot, but I still wanted something extra and I wondered if I should try and get an airline emblem or a departure sign into the frame.

As I looked around quickly, knowing I only had about a minute of two of sunset left, I could see a passanger walking away from me. Swiftly, lest he could change direction, I framed the final shot before he walked out of my line of vision.

Most times, you frame a shot because there is no one in it to obscure your line of vision. This time, I framed it specifically to include the traveller’s strong silhouette.

For other participants in Dot’s concept, go to Sky Watch HQ.

Cross Purposes

If It Please Your Worship

A Chicago estate agent has converted his home into a church, placing a cross on it and saving himself $80,000 in taxes. The man said he converted his $3 million home into the Armenian Church of Lake Bluff so his disabled wife and daughter did not have to travel to worship. He said he started his own congregation a year ago after receiving a pastor's degree from a religious internet site.

FOOTNOTE: Church and rescue.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's joint winners are Maggie May with The Concert and Lee with Growing Into Loss. The other top contenders were Holly with Sunday at Starbucks; Kimberly with Sabbath Day Reflections; I Wright with Clogging The Toilet: A Success Story; The Glamorous Life with I Dream Big; Chewy with Watery Butterfly; Sandy Carlson with Weekend Wandering; Dot with Odd Shot Monday; Bart with Kids’ Shows and Bob T Bear with Anuther New Frend - And A New Desk Too. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

You can nominate a post too. Just leave a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

I say darby
You say derby
But who put a carby
In the purple Furby?

Glow In The Dark

Soft Colours On A Tropical Evening

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Sometimes a photographer just gets lucky. Last week, I was walking down a main street near Kuala Lumpur’s bustling Chinatown precinct, in search of a camera store where I could buy a spare memory card. My timing could not have been better, because there was a brief tinge of delicate pink in the darkening sky.

As I looked around for the best vantage points against which I could shoot the sunset scene, I spotted these buildings further up the street, to my left. I knew if I spent a couple of minutes walking over to photograph the buildings front-on, I would miss the last vestiges of colour from the sunset.

I walked quickly across Petaling Street and got as far to the edge of the pavement as I possibly could - without toppling over into the busy traffic - to hit the shutter on this one.

Ice Age

More Than Just A Cold Shoulder

An Austrian man is demanding substantial damages after he was blasted off the toilet when huge hailstones started shooting out of it. Martin Bierbauer said: "Hailstones the size of golf balls started exploding out of the toilet like it was a popcorn machine." He ran down the stairs and said the hailstones followed him.

FOOTNOTE: Hail wary.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's winner is Epijunky with For Naomi. The other top contenders were Medic61 with Bleed - Everyone's Doing It; AnniforsciA with In Which Nursing Homes Are Worse Than Death; Katherine with A Long Life Well Lived; Dishing With Debbie with Father Knows Best;
Merisi with Monday Morning; Kalyan with City Of Joy; Anna with Chasing Bumblebees In The Clover Wonderland; Big Blue Barn West with Cid Goes Home; Susie with Livin' With Boo; Polona with Tidying Up; Jenn with Set Of Three and Lana Gramlich with Contest Semi-Finals. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

You can nominate a post too. Just leave a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

Invited to the Palace
By the Queen and Alice?
Take the feather boa
On the royal tour

Apollo XI: A Giant Leap For Us All

So, Where On Earth Is Neil Armstrong?

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Did I ever tell you my Neil Armstrong story? No? Well, stick around because this could be as good a time as any to share it.

About three years ago, I used to drive past a memorabilia store in suburban Melbourne. On the footpath outside the store, there was always a selection of life-size figures. There was a chef, complete with an impressive waxed moustache and his toque, the white chef’s hat. There was even a medieval knight, in a suit of armour. There was a fisherman, holding a huge marlin.

I marvelled at the collection and how beautifully they were crafted. Things would change, new figures would be added and sometimes the old ones would disappear, obviously sold.

So one day, early in 2005, when the figure of a NASA astronaut, appeared with the others on the footpath, I just had to find out some details. So instead of driving past as I always did, I parked my car and actually went into the store. The manager was more than happy to have a yarn with me and told me that the figures were made of fibreglass and that they sold for an average price of about $1500.

I had to ask the obvious question. How was it I always saw the figures on the footpath, with no visible sign of security. He just chuckled. He said the figures were always brought into the shop before closing time. And he revealed there was one figure that was never, ever, under any circumstances, placed on the footpath.

It was a figure of Michael Jordan. Given his status as a sporting legend, it was considered too precious to leave out in the open. The manager then pointed to a storefront across the road. It was another branch of their business, where a range of figures including John McEnroe, complete with wooden racket and headband, stood arrayed above a balcony.

With a smile on his face, the manager told me there had been "a few" attempts to steal the figures. He said on one occasion, the would-be thieves had rocked up in a cherry picker to try and remove at least one figure - before being thwarted.

He was more than happy for me to photograph the fibreglass figures. So I went outside and enjoyed the rare opportunity to shoot a Neil Armstrong lookalike.

It was really interesting, because the quality of the fibreglass visor was so good that I was able to get a good shot of the street, reflected in its dark surface.

And I did promise you more than one Neil Armstrong story, didn’t I? I was in primary school when Apollo XI captured our collective sensibilities. During the mission, my Dad happened to hear an announcement on Voice of America and he told me that there was a chance of getting a large official NASA colour photograph of the three astronauts.

All I had to do was write to a particular address and now as I look back on the event, I cannot remember if it was NASA I had to write to, or whether it was Voice of America. Anyway, I was so excited that I sat down and wrote the letter immediately. I did realise, even at that early age, that the odds did not favour me.

It was probably a month later, when I came home from school, that a beige A4-sized envelope was waiting for me. Inside was the photograph I had coveted, of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. To me, they were more than just the three Apollo astronauts.

They were the embodiment of the spirit that I have always carried through life - that all things are possible, even the most ambitious of dreams.

For the home of ABC Wednesday, go to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.

Up, Up And Away

Fill 'Er Up And Clean The Windscreen, Will Ya?

Various shades of grey in the open canopy of an F/A-18 Hornet.

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Para Trouper

Hoping For A Fall Collection

A skydiver in upstate New York is hoping someone will find his lost prosthetic leg. Scott Listemann has printed up posters asking anyone who finds his leg to call him. He figures it's in a wooded area and hopes that it will be more visible this fall, when trees shed their leaves.

FOOTNOTE: Out on a limb.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's joint winners are Kathryn with An Explanation, Jeff B with Unhappy Anniversary and Kimmy with Happy Birthday My Sweet Angel. The other top contenders were Mielikki with I Am A Sparkling Mermaid; Russell with Red Baron Lives; Maggie's Mind with Safety First; Jennifer H with The Cowboy Way; Millennium Housewife with California Dreaming; Sandi McBride with Digby And The Chittlins; San Merideth with When There’s A Will, There’s A Wall; Babooshka with Free Biker Bible, Anyone?; Carolyn with The One Where You Make Stuff All Blurry On Purpose and Corey with When A Good Cause Gives Me The Push I Need. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

You can nominate a post too. Just leave a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

If you perchance
Ride the Tour de France
You’ll need a padded seat
To achieve the feat

Friends, Romans, Lens Me Your Ears

Test Your Eyesight With These Two Shots

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

This post is a direct result of a challenge from British blogger Imac. He recently threw down the gauntlet when he challenged me to take an unusual photograph of a camera lens. It was just before I flew out to Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur with my family and as soon as I saw his comment, I planned to photograph the famous Petronas Twin Towers reflected in a lens.

How? The simplest way. I always have at least two Sigma lenses with me, an 18-125mm lens and a 70-300mm lens. I figured the best way to do it was to have one of the Authorbloglets point the 300mm lens at the twin towers and for me to use the other lens to photograph the reflection of the towers. It would have been a simple but effective shot.

So there we were, on our way to the towers, when I spotted this unusual sight, a roadside collage comprising several small hexagonal mirrors of different colours. As usual, I trailed the rest of the family by several metres, because I kept stopping to take photographs. As soon as I saw this, I knew it would be perfect for Imac’s challenge.

If you haven’t been able to spot the reflection of my own lens in the photo above, take a look at the shot below and see how quickly you can pick it among the beautiful kaleidoscope of colours.

Incidentally, this sequence of challenges began when Crazy Cath said I’d probably be able to take an artistic shot of a bowl of peas and Maggie May echoed her words before I posted my response, called The Nobel Peas Prize. Immediately afterwards, the Texan blogger Rhea challenged me to photograph garbage (literally) and my response to that was Trash Talk.

I know what you’re thinking. You have a challenge for me, right? Leave a comment and let me know what you want me to shoot….

Gem Beam

Diamonds In The Rough

A Staten Island jeweller has retrieved her $20,000 three-carat diamond earrings back after she, her husband and city sanitation employees sorted through a smelly heap of garbage. The studs were in a small jar of cleaning solution, which a worker at the couple's jewellery store had accidentally thrown away.

FOOTNOTE: Carat stew.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's joint winners are Jo Beaufoix with Imaginary Friend and Atomic Zebra7 with G Is For Graduation. The other top contenders were Suldog with A Day In The Life; Shrinky with Life's Too Short; Gone Back South with In Her Own Time; Old Tom Wigley with Unsuitable For Motor Vehicles; Abraham Lincoln with Tiger Swallowtail; Susie with Photostory Friday and Boo Radley; Moments From Suburbia with Bedroom Moment; Ramblings Around Texas with Giraffe Legs; Notes, Words and Stuff with Enough Whining And Dining and Sally's Chateau with LOL. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

You can nominate a post too. Just leave a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

If the word suite
Is pronounced sweet
Should Fleet Street
Be spelled ``Fluite Struite’’?

Stormy Petrol

No Need To Contemplate Running On Empty

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

This was the very first shot I took as we walked out of our hotel in Kuala Lumpur, where we spent four days on our way back after soaking up the beach culture of beautiful Langkawi. We were walking from our hotel to the monorail station when I spotted this sign at a service station - or what most of you would call a gas station.

Wit the skyrocketing price of fuel, I thought this would be perfect for today's theme. I guess the ad hoarding was extolling the virtues of a particular brand of fuel - but it was such an unusual depiction that I simply had to take the shot.

In retrospect, I wish I'd taken a horizontal frame as well, to give you some perspective of size, but from memory this sign was about four metres (about twelve feet) high. The yellow flowers just give the scene a touch of natural beauty and the figure of the attendant was very realistic.

I hope the petrol company gets plenty of mileage (pun unintended) out of its ad campaign. Or maybe they'll just find it hard to gauge.

(The Odd Shots concept came from Katney. Say "G'day" to her.)

Open The Pod Bay Door, Hal

In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream For Joy

A French flight attendant, Mathilde Epron, has won a flight to the edge of space after picking up a KitKat wrapper from a bin. The wrapper contained a winning code for a competition to fly into sub-orbital space on board a new Rocketplane spacecraft. She initially threw the wrapper in the bin but later returned to discover the winning code.

FOOTNOTE: Earther Kit.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekend Wandering

Please answer today's question on your own blog, any time until next weekend. Just link to this blog (or to this post) so I can follow the progress of the discussion.

The question is: Do you have an item of clothing that you haven't worn for more than a year?

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

You must take your Hawker Harrier
To the village farrier
If the takeoffs and landings

Fang Club

How Does This Character Tip The, Er, Scales?

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

While we were in Malaysia, I suddenly spotted this slender snake on a wooden handrail. It was early in the morning, so maybe he decided to do a bit of foraging before the temperature climbed higher as the sun rose.

This bloke was quite long. I wasn't thinking measurements (I was thinking "Get the camera ready and frame the shot before he slithers away") but I reckon he would have been just under six feet or about 1.8 metres in length.

Luckily the light was good, so I was able to walk past him and take the first shot, with the light across his body and interesting tones across the wooden handrail, as well as the dappled effect of the ocean and the rock on the right.

Then I decided to get a bit closer to take the second shot, to try and capture the light and shadow falling across the colours of his scales. It's really interesting to see how much lighter his underbelly is than the rest of his body - and to see that he had his head raised.

Macro? Er, maybe not. Especially when you consider I didn't know what sort of snake he was. I went off for breakfast - and I suspect he did as well!

If there were two of them, I might have mistaken them for a pair of windscreen vipers.

Check out the rules at Camera Critters or go to Misty Dawn.