Saturday, August 18, 2007

The naming of cats

The naming of cats is a difficult matter, It isn't just one of your holiday games; You may think at first I'm mad as a hatter When I tell you a cat must have three different names.
Damana recently asked me about how I named my cats. So here's the history of cats in the Keaveny household:
  • Dusty, our first cat. Actually, Emily chose Dusty, both the cat and the name, when she went to the Cat's Protection League and bought her for a tin of cat food. Emily and I moved in shortly afterwards into our first home together in Roehampton in south-west London, starting out with a few sticks of furniture and a mostly grey Domestic Short-Hair kitten. Dusty was not neutered when we got her, and she soon attracted the attention of every tomcat in the area. So it didn't take too long for her to produce kittens, four of them in our bed, one Sunday morning. Ew the mess...
  • Jack - kitten #1 and Emily's favourite, we identified this kitten as a boy. Later examination by the vet pointed that he was actually a she, so we just pretend that her full name is Jacqueline. At the age of about 6, Jack disappeared a few months after we moved from Roehampton to Worcester Park, a few miles down the road from Roehampton, and we never saw her again.
  • Claws - kitten #2 and my favourite, I originally wanted to call him Greebo, after Nanny Ogg's foul tomcat, not that I thought that he would grow up to be foul-natured (and Dusty was foul-natured enough for two Greebos). Unfortunately, like Jack, our ability to sex a kitten accurately was limited, so he also became a she, and I gave her the name Claudia, which reduced to Claws. Sadly, she died suddenly a few months before her 2nd birthday.
  • We named kittens #3 and #4 Charlie and Susie, but we gave them away before we had the opportunity to find out whether our luck in identifying gender identification had improved.
  • Jasmine - a few months after Claws died, we went to the RSPCA to find another cat in need of a home. Jasmine made it very clear that she was the one for us - she put her front legs around Emily's neck and just purred. Emily named her after a cat she'd had when she was younger, a dark tortoiseshell named Jasmine.
  • With the disappearance of Jack, we were once more down to two cats, which made the house feel a little empty. So off to the RSPCA again, this time in search of two more. We settled on a brother/sister pair of kittens, both DSHs again, one black/white boy and another ginger/white tortie girl. Unfortunately, the male kitten died before he could come home with us, but we were told that there was a similar male kitten left behind when the rest of his siblings were sold, so we took him. Lauren named the girl Amy, and in a display of dazzling literary knowledge, we named the boy Laurie.
  • Moving to Australia proved rather expensive when transporting cats, at about $2500 per animal, so we knew we were going to have to say some sad farewells. Dusty went to live with Cheryl, while Laurie and Amy went to live with Emily's parents for a while, and then on to Emily's sister Polly. About 9 months after settling in Sydney, we decided that it was time to get another cat, so we stopped by several local vets who were advertising kittens, but in the end settled for Coco, our first longhaired cat.
And that about completes the set. Of course, the story isn't over yet, as Emily as designs on being a cat breeder, so I'm sure there'll be a lot more cats passing through our doors. Jasmine is now 9 years old, so passing out of middle age into her senior years, while Coco is a fair bit younger.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Travel Photography

I spent pretty much all of this Saturday roaming around Sydney with Sydney Photographic Workshops, doing their Travel & Documentary Workshop. I thought that seeing as we'll be going to Japan on holiday this coming spring, somewhere that Emily and I have long wanted to visit, that I should make an effort to come back with some decent photographs, conveying something more than just, "Here's my in front of a temple. Here's me in front of another temple". Of course, those who know me would realise that it's more, "Here's Lauren in front of a temple. Here's Lauren in front of another temple"! The weather was great for the day, probably the first hint of spring on its way, with perfect clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid-20s. We did various kinds of photography at several locations around Sydney, starting with portrait work down at the fish markets (many thanks to Dallas, Troy and Neil for modelling for us aboard the Tribal Warrior). We then headed round the bay to Blackwattle Bay to work on various techniques on the old incinerator site, which is now a mix of public space and townhousing. After lunch we headed south to La Perouse, for some more compositional work, on both an old World War 2 listening post, and above the cliffs themselves. We also had a small treat in the form of the air rescue helicopter taking for a sortie of some description (training? medical emergency?), and then returning a while later; I got pretty close to it on takeoff, and the downdraft (and noise!) they create even more 20 yards out is pretty impressive. Finally, with the sun dipping down towards the horizon, we crossed over the peninsula to Yarra Bay, first to catch the sun going down over Port Botany, and then to be entertained by the lovely fire-twirling Annabelle. My thanks to Daniel, Ben and Wendy for all they showed us; I think it's a testimony to their teaching abilities that a) roughly half of all the photos I took were worth keeping (at least 50% up on my usual success rate), and b) post-processing took me less than half a day to do them all - usually the source material isn't that good so it needs a fair amount of work done on the computer to bring out the best in the photos. By getting the photos right first time, I save time later on! If you're into digital photography, and want to improve your game from being just a happy snapper, then give these guys a call.

Friday, August 10, 2007

How mice work

A big thank you to Damana for emailing me a demonstration of how a computer mouse actually works. Through the magic of modern technology, we can now zoom really close into the screen and see how that little cursor zips around. Monday may only a few days away, but now I have something to really smile about. In the meantime, the British banking system will give me plenty to frown about - trying to get reasonable chunks of money from account A in country B to account C in country D ought not be that hard in the 21st Century. At the current rate of progress, I might as well have sent my mail in a packet ship, and it would still get there sooner.