Monday, March 31, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today we have a tie for first place: Maggie May with Where Have You Gone, Sally? and Jenera Healy with Weekend Wandering. The other posts that made an impression were Shrinky's Is It Just Me? Crazy Cath's Faith; John-Michael's Passing Clouds; Nap Warden's Rookie Mistake; Crystal Jigsaw with It Takes Two ; Will Think 4 Wine with Teaching Math in Florida; Archie's Archive with What Is Your Battle Cry? and Sandy Carlson with Wiffle Ball. Also, Katney's Kaboodle has listed the essential ingredients of a good blog, so check out Why Do You Click?

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. You can nominate more than one post. And yes, you can even nominate your own work. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

When Brylcreem was forced to issue a disclaimer
On the vertical hair of Michael Richards's Kramer
No shock waves hit the set of Seinfeld
But the action caused a legal minefeld.

Crate Expectations

The Load Less Travelled

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

One of the things that gives me a lot of pleasure is looking beyond what some people consider a "mundane" scene - and finding an arresting image. Everyone feels the urge to photograph a great sunset or a stunning sunrise, but look beyond the obvious and you'll always find something to photograph. As most of you know, one of my cardinal rules is: If you look twice at something, you simply have to photograph it.

The sight of these wooden fork lift pallets near the open gate of a Malvern business was not something the Impressionists would have painted, for sure. But I just thought if I used my long lens and composed a tight frame, it would turn out just right. What do you reckon?

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


Yep, I Had My Head In The Clouds

The response I received to the post Seeing The Light was very interesting. Several of the comments on the post - as well as a series of emails I received - asked how the photographs were taken. Well, as I mentioned earlier, I've been testing a couple of little Pentax cameras over the past fortnight. The shots of the Ray-Bans against a cloudy sky were taken with a Pentax Optio S10 - an ultra-compact, very slim camera that packs a lot of punch - 10 megapixels, no less.

Maybe it's my background in newspaper and magazine design/ layout, because I "saw" the image in my head before I started taking the shots. Often, that's half the battle when it comes to creativity. But because I knew precisely what I wanted, it was just a question of hitting the trigger.

In answer to your queries, I held the Ray-Bans aloft in my left hand and I had the camera in my right hand. When you think about it, that's a really interesting scenario, because it's not often that the camera and the object being photographed are actually up in the air and therefore subject to a certain degree of human unsteadiness.

I shot about 24 frames, then reviewed each of them on my computer so I could check the overall clarity. I wanted one image to show the clouds through the lenses of Ray-Bans and a second image along the same lines, except that I wanted the details of the glasses (gold frames and the little plastic nose pieces) in sharp focus.

Photography - like any branch of art - can be as complicated as you make it, or as simple as you make it. Simplicity gets my vote - every time.

Sunday, March 30, 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's the most important thing you've ever lost?

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

I drove upon a bridge unmade
Never aghast, never afraid
They told me it was made of suede
But blow me down, it swayed and swayed.

The Sunday Roast

Time To Crave This Blogger's Attention

This week's interview is with Craver,
who writes the blog Craver VII.

The first of the standard weekly questions: Why do you blog?

Can I tell you how I reacted when I first heard about blogging? I was repulsed by the notion of an egomaniac going on and on about himself and then expecting other people to read it.

I like to think of blogging this way. Imagine that the editor of a widely circulated magazine wanted to publish your articles ... anything you want to say, anytime you feel like talking. You can use your own photos, stock images, or stick with plain text if you like. Blogger fulfills that fantasy, plus it adds a social dimension. Now I’m hooked.

What’s the story behind your blog name?

It’s an anagram of my real name. (It’s easy to figure out, but please don’t use my real name on the internet.) Initially, a computerized jumbling of the letters offered “Rev Vicar I,” but that was way too pompous, so I kept searching.

I chose “Craver VII,” because there are a number of things that I am passionate about. The seven things I “crave” are listed at the header of my page. Hence, "Craver" and Roman numeral seven.

What is the best thing about being a blogger?

Between the money and the fame, it’s hard to say. Plus, it’s a good outlet for this hypocritical egomaniac (see question #1). I like shrinking the globe (see photograph above) by engaging in continuing dialogue with people from different parts of the planet. It might be another person who believes the same things I do, or someone whose world view is very, very different. There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from connecting with people.

As a bonus, occasionally, I get to say something that strikes someone as funny or profound. People have emailed me to ask that I pray for or with them. That is a great privilege that I do not take lightly.

What key advice would you give to a newbie blogger?

Grace and truth. That is to say, maintain civility; try not to judge people's intentions, and be honest. It’s very easy to say something that you wish you hadn’t. Cyberspace doesn’t filter out the pain and consequences of poisonous verbiage. And be careful that you don’t compromise integrity and respect by trying to fool your readers.

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

I literally wept when Charity Singleton announced that she had cancer. As a result, I began praying regularly for her.

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

I don’t know. Seriously. On the one hand, a glib, perfunctory scribble might get an amazing response, but when I work hard to pen something moving, the whole world goes on vacation from blogging. A friend told me this weekend that he liked treacher-ice. Brief and light. Yeah, I like stuff like that. For something more profound, how about Fervent and focused?

Today's Sunday Roast with Craver VII is the ninth in a weekly series of interviews with bloggers from around the world.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tall Story

Eureka, I Think I've Got It

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

As a proud photographer, a proud Melburnian and a proud Australian, it is my very great pleasure to be able to share a unique subject with you today, in response to the Photo Hunt theme of "High". Our very own Eureka Tower here at Southbank, beside the Yarra River in Melbourne, is the tallest apartment building in the world. How tall? Make that 300 meters tall, comprising 92 storeys, with the amazing Skydeck established as a major tourist attraction.

This first shot (above) was taken with a little Pentax Optio 33LF, back in June 2005. I was walking down Flinders Street, early on a Saturday morning. I started shooting a city-based sequence long before dawn and by the time I got to this spot, the sun was just starting to cast a glow through heavy cloud in the east. To the west, the cloud was fragmented and the sky was a delicate range of colours.

I shot this from the northern pavement of Flinders Street. As you can see, construction of Eureka Tower was still in progress. To the right is the silhouette of the famous dome of Flinders Street Station and to the left is the perimeter wall of Federation Square, built to commemorate the centenary of Federation, which took place in 1901. The perimeter wall, interestingly enough, brings a touch of parallax to the scene. And yes, that's a bird in flight above the brown building to the right of Eureka.

This shot (above) was taken when heavy fog blanketed Melbourne in July 2007 - which is slap-bang in the middle of our winter. I shot two frames that morning, one horizontal and one vertical. The horizontal shot is a striking image, but I felt then (as I still do) that this vertical frame is more compelling.

To the left is the IBM building, to the right is the Langham Hotel, formerly the Sheraton. And disappearing into the thick fog is Eureka, the tallest symbol of the city I live in. There is something that is "just right" about this image, for which I was bent like a wannabe contortionist. This, and all the other photographs in this sequence, were taken with my Pentax K100D.

I shot this image (above) last October, just after five o'clock in the morning, on Sturt Street in south Melbourne. The colours of the sky were just right for this sort of skyline shot. And then I had a stroke of luck. The floodlights on the angular sculpture in the foreground are normally a range of pink and orange. But they suddenly turned yellow, probably in a final sequence before shutdown as dawn approached. I published a vertical frame from this series of shots the day I took them, but this horizontal frame captures more nuances of all-round colour and perspective. Yes, the colours are natural - and no, none of these images have been edited, cropped or digitally enhanced. That ain't my style.

This shot (above) was taken in mid-2007. I was walking towards Southbank and shot this on a whim, without even breaking stride. Why? Because it just seemed a fitting way to capture the solitary splendour of the towering landmark.

This shot was taken (and published on this blog) in September 2006, from the footbridge conecting Southbank to the northern side of the city. I was actually shooting Princes Bridge across the water when I noticed a billiant patch of blue sky above Eureka Tower. I shot this frame exactly where I stood, using the metal arch of the footbridge as a natural prop.

Remember the famous motorcycle sequence in the Nicolas Cage movie "Ghost Rider"? That scene was shot on the same arch in this photograph. I shot this using a versatile 18-125mm Sigma lens. The focal length of this shot was a mid-range 58mm.

This final shot (above) in the sequence was taken about a month ago, the first day I was experimenting with my new 70-300mm Sigma lens. It was lunchtime on a warm Melbourne afternoon and this was one of the first frames I shot using the full focal length of 300mm. The top of the gigantic apartment building seemed so close that I felt I could almost touch it.

And if you're wondering, yes, Eureka Tower will turn off all lights for Earth Hour later today. That's not a tall story.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's major award (cue the drum roll, maestro) goes to Akelamalu with the post My Oath. And the other posts that were in contention were The Egel Nest with Let’s Do The Time Warp; Carletta's Shadows in Sunshine, Reflections in Raindrops; Expat Mum with Fer Crying Out Loud - Poppet; Jennifer H with The Love Affair Is Over …. ; Kimberly's Part-Time Blogger; Leslie with Spring Break’s Over; Josie with I’m So Excited and San Merideth with Making Art, Making Do.

But you can still nominate any post that you think is worthy of attention. Just post a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. You can nominate more than one post. And yes, you can even nominate your own work. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

Cor, It’s Better Than A Fly-Past, Innit?

Bikini Isn’t (Yet) Part Of The RAF Uniform

It ain't about recruitment. The Royal Air Force is celebrating its 90th anniversary - with a "show-stopping" diamante-encrusted bikini, part of the RAF Collection's spring range. The RAF hopes sales of the bikini, which features diamante roundels, will soar (no, that’s their pun, not mine). To see the bikini being modelled, go to Ananova.

FOOTNOTE: Bikini a toll.

Seeing The Light

I Can See Everything, Thanks To My Ray-Bans

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

I learnt a lot in my years as a tennis writer. Having dreamed about Wimbledon as a child, I never could have imagined that I would one day sit at Centre Court, covering the tournament as a fully accredited journalist. My first Wimbledon was in 1981, when John McEnroe finally dethroned Bjorn Borg and my last Wimbledon was in 1987, when Pat Cash thwarted Ivan Lendl in the men's singles final.

Like I said, I learnt a lot. I even learnt about road safety.

How so? Because I learnt how Ray-Bans can actually help you when you're on a dark desert highway (did I just say that?) or on a highway in really bad visibility or in appalling weather conditions.

How on earth did I learn this at Wimbledon? Simply by being observant. Even though the tournament is held in the European summer, characterised by the long evenings, there is often rain and cloud and the light can get rather murky, especially in the late afternoon. The first year I covered Wimbledon, I noticed that the linespeople really had to concentrate on their task even harder in cloudy conditions. But a few years later, I noticed that they all sported Ray-Bans, in bright sunshine and in overcast weather alike.

Curious, I asked why this change had taken place. From memory, I was told that it was official policy of the All-England Club. All linespeople were issued with Ray-Bans and they would wear them at all times. I was told that the quality of the Ray-Ban lenses would actually enhance the clarity of vision in bad light. A crucial white line on the fading grass of the hallowed courts would look clearer through the lenses than with the naked eye.

So the next time I was on a highway in bad weather - returning from Niagara to Toronto, I tried the experiment and immediately I could see the logic. Ever since then, I have always had a pair of Ray-Bans in my car.

So today, as I sat down to write a post for Sky Watch Friday, I uploaded some great sunset photos that I took recently. Then I thought about some of the comments and emails from people who had read my ABC Wednesday post J Is For Journey, in which I mentioned that I had donned my Ray-Bans ("sunnies", as we call them here in Australia) when I drove home from Sydney to Melbourne this week.

And at that point, I decided to scrap the post with pictures of the beautiful colours and the striking hues across the sky, in order to share this road safety hint that I learnt during my career as a tennis writer.

Maybe you have a great road safety tip that you would like to share .... even if you didn't learn it at Wimbledon.

Pier Pressure

An Appetite For Art

H'es ready to face the music. Former British radio DJ Mike Read, 57, has turned artist - creating a $9,000 picture of Brighton's West Pier - out of liquorice. Titled "Choc Art", it contains more than 20 pictures made of sweets including the liquorice pier and a Brighton rock concert made from - naturally enough - Brighton rock. He has also incorporated his love of music with versions of famous album covers such as The Beatles' "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Abbey Road".

All things Brighton beautiful, all features great and small.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's gold trophy goes to Swearing Mother with Getting a Man In. The other notable posts of the day were Sandi McBride's Taking A Stand; Shrinky with Cabin Fever; Suldog with And Today's Grumpiest City Is ...; The Diva's Thoughts with Way To Come Out; Nicole P with Our Trip To Washington DC; Miss Sniz with The Giggles; Mary with The Definition of a Family; Lime's What A Sucker; Skinny Little Blonde with Save It For Another Day and Helena's J Is For Joy.

But you can still nominate any post that you think is worthy of attention. Just post a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. You can nominate more than one post. And yes, you can even nominate your own work. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

Bridle Waltz

Hospital Visitor Was A Real Beast

Roy Rogers would have called this a Trigger factor. Wilcox Memorial Hospital in Hawaii has reviewed its rules on pets after a man took a horse up in a lift to cheer up a sick relative. Man and beast were stopped by security guards only after reaching the third floor. The patient was allowed to see them and a hospital spokeswoman said there was a visitation policy for dogs and cats, but not for horses.

FOOTNOTE: Horse shoo.

J Is For Journey

Rain Clouds Bring Hope For The Outback

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

You might not grasp the significance of the first photograph in this series that I shot yesterday, but those are rain clouds on the horizon. Rain clouds? Yep, real rain. And believe me when I tell you that's a big deal in this country.

Here in Melbourne, where I live, we've just had the hottest start to autumn in almost a century. A week ago, we were sweltering in unseasonal temperatures of 100+ degrees Fahrenheit. Our lawn, seemingly resistant to every hot dry spell of weather that we've ever had, finally started to succumb. The emerald green sheen disappeared, slowly but inexorably replaced by widening dun patches that were the colour and consistency of hay.

Then we drove to Sydney for Easter (yes, that's why you haven't heard from me in a week) and as we hit the outskirts of Sydney, we could see the difference. They've had lots of rain while we've been parched. Their paddocks were green, as far as the eye could see. As we got into the city, we could see green grass - a rarity in Victoria, our home state.

Then, as we prepared to drive home to Melbourne yesterday, the clouds began to gather as we packed for the journey of almost 1000 kilometres. We were still on the M5 motorway out of Sydney when the rain started and, for what seemed like the first time in months, I actually had to switch on my windscreen wipers. The horizon got darker over the hills we would have to traverse, and I knew the driving conditions were soon going to get a lot tougher.

Before midday, the weather was was so challenging that it was like driving in the gathering gloom of dusk. Not only was I driving with my lights on, I also resorted to a wonderful safety protocol I learnt in England more than twenty years ago. Because the visibility was nearing the critical grey-out stage, I put on my Ray-Bans. If you've never used high-quality dark glasses in smog or bad light, try it and you'll see what I mean. Their lenses bring a touch of definition to a scene that would otherwise be just an undistinguishable meld of various hues of grey.

But I knew that there was a section of the Hume Highway where extensive roadworks were being carried out. I realised I would not have the comfort and security of a dual carriageway all the way home. Sure enough, just as the weather deteriorated further and the rain came down in sheets of torrential fury, I encountered one of those stretches of winding highway where I had oncoming traffic for several kilometres.

The rain was drumming down, turning the soft shoulder into a red river. I could not pull off the highway, because it just wasn't safe to do so. With a long stream of traffic behind me, I dropped my speed from 110 kilometres an hour to 100, then to 90 and then to 80 and finally to 70. But I had no one in front of me; no one's tail lights to follow through the midday gloom.

For about ten kilometres, I had another problem to contend with. The rain was sheeting down with such intensity that it was starting to pool on the highway. I realised that I would soon encounter the problem of aquaplaning, where my own wheels would throw up a wall of water that would threaten my own steering, even for a millisecond or two. Sure enough, this happened about a minute later, and continued for an agonisingly long stretch.

The other problem I had was that every time a truck or a semi-trailer went past me in the opposite direction, it would almost always obliterate my windscreen with its own inevitable wake. At the same time, the murk degenerated to the point where I could barely see the lights of oncoming traffic.

Another critical factor came into the safety equation at this point. Would the creeks beside the highway burst their banks? And if they did, would I be able to see the danger in time?

I've driven more than half a million kilometres in my time, much of it on highways and freeways. And I can say, hand on heart, that I have never driven in conditions as tough as I did yesterday. But after about 45 minutes of being severely tested by the weather, things started to improve - slightly.

By the time we got to Holbrook, just after 2pm, I no longer needed to drive with my headlights on. We sat down to order lunch at the Submarine Cafe and the owner, a familiar friend from many of our interstate drives to Canberra and Sydney, came over to take our order.

Relieved to have come safely through the dangerous weather, I greeted her warmly, asking, "Did the bad weather hit you as well?"

I had (inadvertently) revealed what a city slicker I am.

Bless her. She could have chided me. But she just smiled. "Bad weather," she echoed, looking happily at the storm clouds. "Bad weather? No, here in the bush we reckon any rain is good weather."

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

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's major prize goes to Lin with As The Road Turns. The other posts that caught my attention were Lee's Strength Comes in Many Forms; Beachy's Cape Cod Cupboard with Shop Update; Maggie May's How Strong is my Faith; Camikaos with When There's Nothing Else; Quilly's Pacific Paradise with Need A Shave?; Ibeati All Rightee Then; Cowgirl's Easter Without The Eggs and Moosekahl with the inspirational Roll Away The Stone.

But you can still nominate any post that you think is worthy of attention. Just post a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. The post needs to be recent, published in the last 48 hours. You can nominate more than one post. And yes, you can even nominate your own work. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

Was It The Cat In The Hat?

Where's Dr Seuss When You Really Need Him?

A US driver was stopped on suspicion of being a terrorist after his radioactive cat was mistaken for a bomb. Anti-terror cops using specialist radiation detectors on motorway traffic flagged down the man. But a search of his car revealed only a cat that had undergone radiotherapy for cancer three days earlier.

FOOTNOTE: Felines, nothing more than felines.

Grey Expectations

Looking Under A Bridge Is A Riveting View

Under the disused Sandridge rail bridge, Melbourne.

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Going Dutch

Airport? That's Not An Airport

The captain of a KLM flight took his passengers on a 1,200-mile detour after refusing to land at a new airport in India because he had never heard of it. The pilot reportedly claimed he knew nothing about Hyderabad's new Rajiv Gandhi International airport, but airport officials insisted all airlines had been notified of it opening on March 14. However, a report in the Times of India revealed a number of pilots had complained their flight computers did not recognise the new airport.

FOOTNOTE: Wild goof chase.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Post Of The Day

For a few days, I've handed this segment over to you, my faithful readers. You (yes, you) can nominate any post that you think is worthy of attention. All you need to do is post a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. The post needs to be recent, published in the last 48 hours. You can nominate more than one post. And yes, you can even nominate your own work. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

The Bucket Lift

Where's Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman?

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

I took this shot in December, during my five-day visit to India. It was taken, like so many others during that journey, with my Pentax pointing out of the open window of a four-wheel drive. In case you’re wondering, no, I wasn’t driving; I was just a passenger! We were on our way from New Delhi to Dehra Dun, a journey of several hours, and I kept the camera around my neck all the time, so I would be ready to shoot any scene that caught my fancy.

Steel buckets are pretty much a standard part of Indian life, in the city as well as the rural areas. Even now, I can still conjure up the distinctive clanking sound of the bucket rim being placed on a floor and then, a split second later, of the sound of the steel handle being dropped and striking the top.

We were passing through one of the many little towns on the highway when I saw this sight. In hindsight, it’s interesting to look carefully at the framing of this shot. Even if I’d been on foot, I don’t think I could have composed the shot any better.

Will You Have Fries With That?

What Happened To Checks And Balances?

Police in three western Pennsylvania towns are looking for a man who pretends to be a basketball coach and scams McDonald's restaurants out of food and money using bad checks. Police say the man drives up in a school-type bus and enters the restaurants ordering about $50 of food for his "team". The man then pays with a $150 check that appears to be from a school district and takes his food and his change, in cash. The stores learned they were scammed when the checks bounced.

FOOTNOTE: Just a ball-park figure.

Parking Space Invader

Coming Home To Roost

State troopers are used to chasing motorists they suspect of drunken driving but say this one came right to them. Staff noticed someone pull into the Washington State Patrol parking lot west of town and watched as the person backed into an unauthorized space and sat tight with the headlights on. After about 15 minutes, a trooper arrested the man in the driver's seat, for investigation of drunken driving. "How often do the drunks come to you?" a trooper asked.

FOOTNOTE: Under the affluence of incohol.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Post Of The Day

For a few days, I've handed this segment over to you, my faithful readers. You (yes, you) can nominate any post that you think is worthy of attention. All you need to do is post a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. The post needs to be recent, published in the last 48 hours. You can nominate more than one post. And yes, you can even nominate your own work. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

Cash-22 Situation

Money Makes The World Go Round

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

This was the money shot, in more ways than one. It’s one of the photographs I took during my highway journey from New Delhi to Dehra Dun in December. However, hindsight is a wonderful factor. Let me explain. When I took the shot, the four-wheel-drive was travelling fairly quickly through a little town and I thought these were garlands hanging outside a little shanty shop.

It was only the next day, when I backed up the shots onto my laptop, that I realised the significance of the image. Yes, they are garlands, with sparkly golden tinsel by which to hang them, but take a closer look. Examine the image below - which is simply a cropped version of the original photograph - and you might be able to discern that the garlands are made from crisp, new currency notes.

When I posted the first images during my India trip, some readers asked how I managed to keep the camera steady and shoot from the open window of a moving vehicle. I simply improvised. I held the camera in my right hand and supported it in my left hand, trying to use the left hand as a sort of fluid tripod, rather than a metal, rigid tripod. Worked fine, most of the time!

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

Sunday, March 23, 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: How strong is your faith?

The Sunday Roast

Chronicler Of A Life In Many Hues

This week's interview is with Mushy,
who writes the blog
Mushy's Moochings.

The first of the standard weekly questions: Why do you blog?

There was a sincere effort, in the beginning, to document my life and the things I remembered, was told, and experienced. I always loved it when my parents and family members sat around and retold old stories of how I acted on occasion, or things that happened years before I was born. I was afraid I would someday forget those stories, and wanted so badly to tell my grandchildren about them.

However, like all grandchildren, they are young and too busy to listen to Papaw discuss the past. Heck, they won’t even watch black and white movies, so why should I expect them to listen to stories from a “black and white” time! I had written several pieces ten or fifteen years early, mostly the really funny things, and kept finding them stuffed in closets under other old papers on the top shelf. I was afraid these would be lost to the ravages of time, so those were the first things I posted. Even though they were out of sequence chronologically, they made for a few quick posts in the beginning.

However, no one was reading my blog in those days, so I later reposted them in the general time frame they occurred. After I built some readership, I realized that I should start at the beginning and so I rearranged my priorities in posting. After reaching the Vietnam era, I then knew that I was about to run out of memories, at least those I could post without hurting feelings, so the “blook” idea hit me. I had already self-published a fictional piece with, so I proceeded to post everything I wanted in my “autobiography” and it is now published and sitting on my computer desk. I feel as though a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

I will now continue to write about my past, refining and detailing some episodes, but I will also continue to chronicle my expanded family’s daily life. They enjoy life so much and are a joy to me…they have a lot to say as well.

What's the story behind your blog name?

“Mushy’s Moochings” seemed only fitting in the beginning. It was about Mushy, a nickname I picked up from a rather large-breasted girl my junior year in high school. I liked her a lot and fooled myself into thinking I had a shot. Turned out she was leading me along to make the boyfriend that just dumped her jealous. One evening there was a bunch of us walking through a neighborhood on Halloween when she suddenly blurted out “Mushy” after I had said something nice to her. The crowd overheard and “Mushy” was born!

I tried for years to live that name down, hoping for something a little more masculine, but it never happened. Even today I’m greeted locally with a rousing “Mushy” from across a parking lot or sales floor! The blog helped me realize that being Mushy was not a bad thing. It’s been great being “Mushy” and I realize that I am a one of a kind! What is the best thing about being a blogger? Friendship and fellowship has to be the best perks in blogging. Like I posted once, it’s the new CB radio of our times!

My blogroll is full of friends, not just “reads!” I have met so many of them and love to spend time finding out about their lives and what makes them “them” and how all the stories tie in to their blog title. Of course, there is satisfaction in creating something in which you can be proud. The “writer” in all of us needs an outlet even if it’s just blogging to a few select friends across the world. Their feedback, through comments and emails, makes it all worth the time we spend sitting in front of the computer.

What key advice would you give to a newbie blogger?

Write about something close to your heart, something you’re passionate about, and something you enjoy more than anything else in the world. Share your heart and wear it out there on your “cyber” sleeve. You will be comforted, supported, encouraged, and even loved! One warning - do not let blogging replace your family, friends, and life! Just document the life you have on the blog…control the blog, don’t let it control you! What is the most significant blog post you've ever read? Wow, this is the hardest question of all! There is nothing profound or life changing that I remember reading right now, though it will probably hit me after I send this.

Suffice it to say that finding and first commenting on Fat Hairy Bastard's blog the first time, in August of 2006, was the beginning of a great friendship. Back in those days, Jeff was prone to posting crude jokes and pictures of fat naked girls! However, his blog has matured into many posts about family, friends, loves, food, outdoor interests, and others with a thought provoking take on world history. Jeff is important to me…hell, he’s a brother to me!

Meeting Ruby, the wonderful elderly lady that Les Becker writes about, was important to me as well. Les can write and does a wonderful job of making Ruby’s past life live once again. Les can take a story from anyone and hold you spellbound until she’s finishing telling the tale. I’m also drawn to Lin's daily adventures on a desert ranch. Her words even give more color to the landscape surrounding her world, and I long to visit that world and explore it and her mind. I also long to blow up one of those nearby oil wells!

One of the best writers I was drawn to was Carol Cooper. And, David, you have done wonders for a lot of us. You began by posting the “blog of the week”, and now you do a similar service by posting “post of the day”! You have even attempted to teach us how to blog and how to plan and arrange our writing, but we continue to fall short of your expertise and praise. However, I do find myself thinking, “I wonder what David will think of this one!”

How could I leave without saying a line or two about Rebecca, My Goddess! She is standing in that short photo line along with Ruby, who detests photos of herself. We may never know what she looks like, but we know what she wants to look like…a frumpy old married woman, with sixteen kids living paycheck to paycheck, in a trailer in Pennsylvania! I seriously doubt it; she does have us guys all by the “cajonies” and keeps us straight about everything we encounter in our daily lives!

The Goddess has been with me from the beginning, and I appreciate her guidance and counseling.

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

I’d like to think that I have not written that post yet. I’d like to think that tomorrow I will write something so profound, so touching, that I will cry writing it, and world will be a much better place. Ain’t gonna happen! I have already cried writing a post about My Dad, my My Step-Dad, Lacy, the best damn dog ever, and about Leaving Vietnam!

There is a post on the horizon, distant I hope, that I’m dreading and it will probably concern my brother-in-law Ron. I have already alluded to the fact that our happy number will someday be fewer, in a post called One Less Set Of Feet!

Thank you David for this opportunity to analyze “why I blog”, I think I needed it. We often need to sit down and contemplate the reasons we do anything. Even though there are a lot of bloggers in the world, blogging is still only special to a select few of us. Therefore, we need to understand why we do it.

Today's Sunday Roast with Mushy is the eighth in a weekly series of interviews with bloggers from around the world.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Post Of The Day

For a few days, I've handed this segment over to you, my faithful readers. You (yes, you) can nominate any post that you think is worthy of attention. All you need to do is post a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. The post needs to be recent, published in the last 48 hours. You can nominate more than one post. And yes, you can even nominate your own work. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

Remorse Code

These Figures Are Music To My Ears

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

There is no remorse like buyer remorse. Hmmmm, yep. But having pondered that profound statement, I think I can take it one step further. There is no remorse like buyer remorse when you are overseas and your suitcases are filled to capacity and you know that every item you buy is going to add an obscene amount to what you will shortly have to hand over to the airline in overweight charges.

With today's Photo Hunt theme being "Metal", this episode bears tellling. So there we were, the whole Authorblog family, in Bangkok at the tail end of a six-week holiday. First we had shopped well but not wisely in Hong Kong, then we had shopped well but not wisely in three cities in India, and now we had a week in Thailand before returning home.

The suitcases were splitting at the seams. The order was out, in triplicate. No shopping in Thailand. But we bought a few things on the first day. And we bought a few things on the second day. And we .... oh, you get the general idea, don't you?

On the second last day, I made superb use of my scientific background. I got all the Thai purchases and stashed them all together, the better to calculate the cubic capacity of the extra - yes, extra - suitcase we had no option but to buy. Let's just say it was a large suitcase.

Then the order went out again, this time in deadly earnest. No more shopping.

On our second-last day, we walked into this bric-a-brac shop. Big Mistake. BIG Mistake. So we bought a reclining Buddha, some big (but very light) masks, a beautiful carved wooden mirror and some other odds and sods. Finally we saw these three figures of traditional Thai musicians in full regalia. They weren't very big - not quite 15 centimetres. So we agreed to buy three. And then I realised how incredibly heavy the metal was. Each figure, despite being so compact, was about two pounds or almost a kilogram.

In for a penny, in for a pound - literally. Or maybe that should be "in for a baht, in for a pound". We bought the figures and took them back to our hotel. Next day, it was my solemn duty to wheel the trolley laden with more suitcases than a rock band towards the airline counter, whistling nonchalantly to create the impression that they were light as a feather.

Let's cut a long story short. The woman at the Cathay Pacific counter just gave us our boarding cards, didn't ask if we were part of a travelling circus - and didn't charge us overweight either. After the episode of the three Thai musicians, yes, that was music to my ears.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Post Of The Day

For a few days, starting today, I'm handing this segment over to you, my faithful readers. You (yes, you) can nominate any post that you think is worthy of attention. All you need to do is post a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. The post needs to be recent, published in the last 48 hours. Yes, you can nominate more than one post. And yes, you can even nominate your own work. Righty-o, then, it's over to you ....

The Lazy And The Tramp

Don't Air Your Dirty Laundry Here

A laundrette in England has moved a tramp in - to act as overnight security. The homeless man, 50, keeps vigil in the shop in Crawley, West Sussex, after a window was broken last month. Owner Daniel Capstick refuses to have it mended, after claiming the council broke it. He said: "You get yobs hanging about outside, so Barry gives us a bit of security."

FOOTNOTE: Synchronise your washes.

Last Splash Of Dusk Colour

There’s No Such Thing As A Mundane Sunset

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

We're just recovering from the hottest March fortnight in about a century. Normally the last of the paint-blistering heat starts to recede by the end of February. Sometimes the first week of March can produce the odd hot day or two, but generally the nights bring very cool relief from about mid-February onwards.

This year, though, everything's been drastically different. Not only have we had no rain, we've had an extraordinarily long spell of days where the mercury has hovered between 35-40 Celsius, which is far too close to topping 100 Fahrenheit for my comfort. Then on Tuesday evening came the long-awaited cool change that the Weather Bureau had predicted.

Just before dusk the breeze swung around to the south and the gentle caress of cooler air embraced this parched city. Around sunset I was playing tennis, as I do every evening, when I kept monitoring the sky for photo opportunities. Nix. Nada. Zilch. Just overcast conditions. Don't get me wrong, I was happy to see the impenetrable cloud cover, because it had brought cooler conditions.

Then, I saw the first hint of wispy, delicate pink in the east. Yes, the east. Then very rapidly over the next five or six minutes, a long but slender patch of sky in the west, where the sun had long since set, began to produce every conceivable colour.

Over the next four of five minutes, my tennis racquet lay abandoned. Instead, I had my camera strap around my neck, trying to capture the dramatic colours being daubed swiftly across the sky. No sooner did I nod and say to myself that I had the definitive shot of the evening's sunset than a new shade or colour appeared in the sky.

As you can see from the last shot in this series, the vibrant orange, mauve and red were quickly and seamlessly eroded. And I just stood there, fascinated, as the colours you would normally associate with a lava flow down the side of a volcano just vanished, to be replaced by delicate pastel shades.

I used whatever silhouettes I had at my disposal to try and give you an idea of the sheer power of Nature's display. I consider myself fairly well versed on cloud and weather conditions and what sort of light will bring me great pictures. But this was one occasion where I had made up my mind there would be nothing to photograph, other than varying shades of grey.

Just goes to show, we should never under-estimate the great power of Mother Nature.

Change Gang

Paid Back In Their Own Coin

Shops in the Chinese city of Kunming say they are so short of coins that they have to get change from beggars. Retailers complain that banks don't provide enough coins to maintain their businesses. And it seems even the beggars are make money on the deal, charging 105 yuan for 100 yuan in coins. The city's Wal-Mart is even giving small presents to people who give them 20 yuan coins in change.

FOOTNOTE: Beggar my neighbour.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Post Of The Day

Let's give it up for San Merideth, with the post Blossom. And the other contenders were Jennifer H with The Reading; Mrs Nesbitt with an inspirational tale about children from a disadvantaged school on the post ABC Wednesday; House of Lime with Answers Go Marching Two By Two; Casdok with Homeschooling; Hilary's Mobile Warming; Cowgirl's Never Look a Gift Horse In The Mouth – Shoot The SOB!; DarylE with Consistent; John-Michael with The Rear-View Mirror Couple and Kathryn with Flattery Will Get You Everywhere. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

From tomorrow, you too can nominate posts for this segment.
(Yes, you!) Watch this space for details.

Heaven Scent

Don’t Look Down Your Nose At This Bloke

A French wine maker has insured his nose for almost $8 million. The unique policy was created for Ilja Gort, the Dutch owner of Chateau de la Garde in Bordeaux, to cover the potential loss of his nose and sense of smell. Jonathan Thomas, lead underwriter at Watkins Syndicate who co-insured the policy with Allianz Nederland had the last word: "This certainly is an insurance policy not to be sniffed at."

FOOTNOTE: Olfactory worker.

I Is For Imax

Free-Dimensional View of Montreal

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Two years ago, I was fortunate enough to do a photographic assignment for the Canadian Tourism Commission and I got to travel to Quebec City, Montreal and several places in Muskoka. This shot of the Imax cinema was taken on my last night in Montreal.

I did a lot of walking on that trip, especially in Quebec City and Montreal. As far as possible, I did not want to worry about a rental car. Why? First of all, I wanted to be able to concentrate entirely on the photography and I wanted to be able to stop on any street at any time and take as many shots as necessary.

Had I been driving, I would not have been able to focus entirely on the sights and I would have been more worried about finding a parking spot.

It was a balmy evening and I could have put my feet up in my hotel, the beautiful Queen Elizabeth, where members of royalty and heads of state have stayed. But I just wanted to soak up as much of the city as I could, so I had dinner, put on my stout hiking boots (so wisely chosen by Mrs Authorblog) and headed out again.

I was using a Canon EOS 3000, shooting film, but I also had digital technology slung over my shoulder as well. I took this shot with a little Pentax Optio 33 LF. I was literally standing on the pavement outside the theatre and I didn't just want to take a stand-and-deliver shot, so I composed this frame, for a "different" view. Looking back at my Montreal folder now, it's interesting to see I only shot one image of the Imax theatre. No, it's not arrogance - I think I was just satisfied that I had an unusual angle.

The vertical and horizontal neon strips worked perfectly, a great foil against the darkness. But I was also lucky that a street light was in just the right spot, so by shooting upwards (and without a tripod) I was able to use its glow to give character to what would otherwise have been a relatively bare corner of the frame.

If you take a close look at the street light, you'll actually see the reflection of its soft glow across the ridged metal surface of the pole as well. It's a value-added extra that just gives a little more dimension to an image that is basically a very simple shot. As I always say to budding photographers - don't always shoot the first view that comes into your mind, try and see if there are minor add-ons that could enhance the quality of the scene you're trying to capture.

A number of my work colleagues have used my photographs as the background on their computers. One of them, a sport-crazy bloke, has had this shot on his PC ever since I came back from Canada. Why? Because his name's Max - and he reckons I partially obscured the "I" in the Imax sign for his benefit.

Now that's really a case of taking it to the Max.

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

The Milk Of Human Kindness

The Cow Jumped Over The, Er, Water Bed

Yes, it's true - happy cows produce more milk. That's why Geauga County farmer Bill Timmons has put 200 waterbeds in his barn - for the herd. He spent nearly $40,000 doing it, too. But he says daily milk production jumped more than 20 per cent after just two weeks of the cows relaxing in their new beds. He's one of the first northeast Ohio farmers to invest in the bedding, a trend that began in the United States about ten years ago.

FOOTNOTE: Turn the udder chic.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's winner is Leendalu with What Not To Wear - Toilet Paper Edition. Among the other posts that caught my eye were Jennifer H with A Day In Sedona; Mama Geek's Altitude is Everything; Seamus with It's Here; Sandi McBride's If There Are No Ambulances of Helicopters ...; Nicole P with Good Karma?; Mushy's First Kill; Jeff B with Comment Story: Nuckin Futz; Kimberly's The McMahon Meme; Holly with Anatomy of Love; Camikaos with Family – It’s Relative and Jamie Dawn with St Paddy’s Day, Arkansas Style. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

From Good Friday, you too can nominate posts for this segment. (Yes, you!) Watch this space for details.

Surgeon Fails To Crack The Case

Would The Queen Call This An Annus Horribilis?

A German pensioner is suing a hospital after she checked in for an operation on her leg – but was given a new anus instead. The clinic in Hochfranken, Bavaria, has suspended the surgical team after they apparently mixed up the notes for two patients. The woman complainant was expecting an operation on her leg, while another patient, suffering from incontinence, was scheduled for surgery on her sphincter. The pensioner , who still needs to have the leg surgery, is looking for another hospital to perform the operation.


Precision Time

The Best Balcony View On The Island

Singapore, December 2007. Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON