December 08, 2006

kitchen is operational!

Yes! I can cook!!! Last week the crogi guy came around to istall my gas hob. For those who don't know what corgi is, it is a national organisation that monitors and controls the correct installation of anything related to gas. Considering the risks involved in gas, ENgland wanted to make sure that gas applications are installed by those who are qualified. So if you use a corgi registered engineer, not only are you ensured that all goes by the building regulations, but also will the guy perform to a minimum set standard, which means you get quality for your money.
The guy that installed my gas hob was a nice guy. Seemed to know his stuff and was generally friendly. I can recommend him.
And after less than an hour my gas hob was operational. I installed the oven myself, as well as some cabinets.
This time I managed to upload some pics of the construction of my kitchen...

Original state of the kitchen.

After removing the old tiles, rewiring and plastering.

Finished plastering and painting the kitchen.

The floor is tiled and sockets are fitted.

Erected some cabinets.

Gas hob fitted on the solid oak wood work top, which was oiled with Danish oil.

Done! Oven and hob fitted, cabinets fitted. Kitchen is operational!

Steffen: look at the worktop. Solid oak from Ikea, oiled with Danish oil! What do you mean dark?!? Dark my ass! Listen to your brother!

November 18, 2006

...and some more DIY...

Well, it seems like all I do is work sleep and do DIY...
I've been doing lots of work on my house, and I finally seem some light at the end of the tunnel. Well, for my kitchen anyway.
Monday I need to call a gas engineer to fit piping for gas and connect my gas hob. Tomorrow I will re-fit some electrical sockets and connector boxes in the kitchen, and hopefully I can also fit the work top.
Earlier in the week I bought a solid wooden oak work top from Ikea (really cheap those guys!!!). I have been oiling it, and although I am not quite finished yet, I did manage to get about 3 layers on it so far (on the bottom. two on the top side). one more coat on the bottom tomorrow and then at the end of the day I can install my work top as well (^_^)
once the gas hob is fitted, I can put the oven and the fridge in teh kitchen and it is done!!! Well, except for the extractor fan, but that will come in due time.
So basically, if I get my kitchen operational next weekend (hopefully), I can concentrate on the bedrooms. Luckily they don't need that much work. I need to replace the broken floor boards and after that I need to sand the floor, paint the walls and wax the floor. Laborous but should take much less time than the kitchen. Maybe I can even get the bedrooms ready by x-mas! that would be great because then i can get the living room cleared up and empty, and I can perhaps spend some time in the holidays to restore the fireplace and pt down a new floor. Ideally I can do that before the holiday as well, but lts face it, that is just not realistic.

October 23, 2006

house plans

thanks guys...
there is really a lot I need to do on my house and when you look at the total picture it can become pretty depressing! Especially when you start thinking building regulations (and you know some of the house is not up to spec).
Well, basically the extension of the house is not really up to spec, but I cannot change that unless I spend another 10k GBP or so, so for the moment I decided to live with it and just make the best of it. I had to rewire some of the kitchen electrics, and I still need to finish that. Hopefully I can finish that tomorrow, and then finish plastering the wall (finally!!!). Once I finished plastering, I need to go over it again with sanding filler of some sort, so I can smooth the whole wall. After that seal it with some PVA/water mixture, and then I can finally paint it (by then it is weekend). So far I think I spend some 300 GBP on DIY materials alone (so no tools etc). I hope one coat of paint will be enough because the plaster needs to dry for 3 days (making it thursday), then the sealer takes one day (on friday) so saturday painting, and hopefully that is just one coat. On sunday start tiling the floor if things go my way, otherwise a second coat of paint and start tiling on monday evening. Hopefully by the weekend after that (2 weeks from now) I can start placing cabinets in the kitchen. Only base cabinets so not too hard. I also hope the wiring for the cooker is in good shape. I need to check that before I hardwire the oven in. The circuit breaker continuously popped each time I flipped it back on. However, I think this was because of a burned out socket box. I took it off, and it was blackened on the live connection, and the earth lead also broke off. The socket was not rated for the cooker so I think it just burned through. Maybe it couldn't cope with the electrical load. However, it also contained a resident called Reggie the 3rd, my 8 legged friend of several cm's in diameter. Anyway, I am surprised he survived there, especially with a short circuiting socket!!! Well, now Reggie has left the building and so did the dodgy socket. SO fingers crossed.
I am also working on one of the bedrooms. My friend (and now also neighbour) convinced me to restore the fireplace in that room (every room has a fireplace that has been sealed by the previous owner) and to restore the floor. This isn't too difficult. I need to replace a few floor boards, and then sand the whole thing and wax it. Will look good, and with a good fireplace front, it will be even better. ALthough I won't decorate the room english style I have to say, because I really don't like that, I prefer oriental style. Howevre, a wooden floor and fireplace is not too bad, as longas I keep itsimple. Plus those features will increase the value of my house with some 10k! (and cost me only a couple of 100 GBP).
The second bedroom will get the same treatment. The ground floor I will put a bamboo floor on. I told Chris he could get lost with his original floor, even if it is in good condition! My house, my floor, my design. One thing though, downstairs I will do the same as Chris if posisble: there are two fireplaces downstair. One I will keep as fireplace (after removing the gas heater in one of them), the other I will put a wood burner in. Those wood burners are very efficient as they make the house really warm, and cheap fuel (wood). Together with the bamboo floor and my chinese scrolls etc it will look lovely!!! can't wait to finish it!!!

October 21, 2006


some of you may wonder why I haven't been very active online the last month or so. Well, that is partly because of work, but mostly because I moved house. And now I have to both live in my new house as well as fix it up! I have no kitchen, and all the rooms need a lot of work! The worst is the kitchen, but fixing the floor in my bedrooms is a close second, followed by the window sill I need to make (and imagine that the wall is 135 years old, so it is as straight as the tower of pisa!)
Today I couldn't do much. I wanted to do the window sill but I need more wood. First I need wood to mount the sill on, then I can place the wood internal to the window sill, then I can work off the gaps on the outer sides. Its a nightmare job... I can't continue the wok in the kitchen because the plaster needs to dry, which will take about a week from now. SO friday I will put a layer of plaster sealer, then saturday I can paint the kitchen, and on sunday I can tile the kitchen. Then every evening I might be able to install one kitchen unit, so in 2 weeks from now, realistically, I will have my kitchen ready (but not the extractor fan).
Anyway, I will keep you guys posted on the progress of my house...

September 04, 2006

time time time

More has happened...

I'm still working on buying my house. My rather "brilliant" mortgage lender decided to value my house including the garage that was supposed to come with the house. However, I made an offer excluding the garage so they should have left it out of the valuation. Then I got to hear I would get the garage anyway, which brought joy to my life. That joy was short lived when I found out that the reason why I get it is because there are no owner papers of the garage (well, no deeds anyway). So that was pretty much a dead bird... Now my solicitor told me the mortgage lender had to agree with the current situation (no garage). Honestly they should have done so before. Now they waisted a lot of time and money unnecessarily. If the sale falls through due to the inaptness of the mortgage company I will claim back the costs I had because of them wrongly valuating the house. Well, not only will I claim back those costs, I will also claim back the potential profit I could have made on the house (but then again, if I could have made the profit they would not have withdrawn the mortgage offer).
As with everything in this fcuked up country I have to wait.... AGAIN!
Well, as long as I can move in on the 15th, because I need the time to create a kitchen (well, half a kitchen anyway). If it is later it will have to be delayed until after I come back from holiday. I do not want to buy a house the day before I go on holiday and have EVERYTHING to sort out. So the 15th is my deadline, and otherwise it will be the 15th of october.

That leads me to the third part: holiday... God I need one!!!!
I'm planning to go to Taiwan again. Not to see Tina though, not this time.
Will see some others though... I look forward to some time to relax. 3 weeks left...

Ah, recently MSN works so shite that I am thinking of blowing up microsoft and all that is related to it!!! Let Apple dominate the market for a while (read: forever!).

In 3 weeks minus a few days my good friend Chris is getting married. I'm looking forward to attending their wedding. I'd love to make some pics of them!
I will very much enjoy that actually.

Ok, enough for now. I'm pissed off, so will go out and beat up some gabbers or something...

May 29, 2006

Finally an update!

Yes, it's been a while, but here is another update, finally!

A lot has happened since my last update. My superiours want to promote me in the next few months or so.
Mean time I am also looking to buy a house. Yep, my first step into the world of mortgages!

I've recently Acquired a Canon EOS 5D. I hope I'll be able to use it soon-ishly... Though with buying a house there will be few trips abroad I think.

Today I decided to print some photos I made during the last few times I went to Taiwan (I still have some stuff to write about those trips). A few months back I got myself an Epson R1800. from reviews I could see too little difference between the R1800 and R2400, although the extra grey cartridge would make the prints a bit closer to spot on I guess. Well, at least I won't have to switch cartridges when I decide to print on Matt paper, as the R1800 has a photo black and a matt black permanently installed.
The first prints I made a month or two ago, were just slightly off. I just couldn't get them right. People suggested to buy a calibrator for my monitor (iMac G5 LCD screen). I almost did, until today... After making some pretty brilliant prints, I decided to try one cross process print again. It is a photo of the peace park in Taipei just before dusk. It looks pretty surreal in cross processing. Teh frist time I had a green colour cast, although it was fairly close to the screen. This tiem I tried again, thinking I can always give one away. To my surprice after not having used the printer a week or 6-8, the print turned out to be spot on compared to the screen!!! I was overjoyed! So that saved me another 150 GBP worth of calibration tools... (I KNEW my eye sight wasn't that bad yet...)
Anyway, I have included some of the photos I printed for you guys to enjoy. Pay attention to the cross processed pics, I'm quite proud of those, even if I say so myself...

Taxi speeding by on the nightly streets of Taipei...

Taipei story house...

Bus in Taipei

Gate on Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall square at dusk.

Palm trees in Taipei

Black & White roof top on Green Island

Black & White Lantern on the coast of Taiwan

Mud pool...

That's all for now folks...

April 02, 2006


Things are going well recently. When I say "well" ofcourse I actually mean "not disastrous...".
Soon I will have my hasselblad body (YES, finally!!!).
And more over: I am planning to leave England (but hush hush, my boss is not allowed to know yet). I've had enough of the place. It just isn't for me...
It's a shame really because the work is actually quite good. I mean, where else in the world do you get the opportunity to develop the newest aircraft, besides Boeing that is...?
I managed to get hold of an Epson R1800 printer. I'm still working out how to get good prints out of it though. A friend of mine, Jeff, send me some special Japan exclusive print paper. One type is Epson Crispia, which (so far) is only available in Japan, but I heard rumours that the same paper will be released here in the UK soon (only 1,5 year late, like usual with any products to be released in the UK, if they are released at all... One other reason to leave this not-only-god- forsaken place). He also send me some Fujifilm super photo grade print paper. A hefty 320gsm paper, with glossy coating. sweeeet....
Actually it turns out the Crispia is giving way better results on the R1800 (although I do have some finger troubles when it comes to color management), but I will tell all about that later.
Jeff also send me some Fujifilm Fortia SP 120 roll film! The stuff is absolutely wonderful!!! I tried some last year and I love it! Time for Fuji to release it in Europe as well!!! I stocked up for the stuff because it is getting harder to get in Japan as well.

My older 2100 printer will be converted to B&W using the Lyson Daylight Darkroom kit for my Mac. I'm keen to see results on that, but it may be a while before I can print because I have to put the printer on the other side of the room (they're both A3+ printers and pretty big. Can't put both on my nightstand...)

This summer I'll be getting my hands on an Epson V750 flatbed/film scanner. I've read some pretty darn good reviews of the V700, so I have high hopes for the V750.
All these developments make me want to stick to good'ol film photography (Large Format and Medium Format. I have a good digital for 35mm)

Soon I'll be going on holiday as well. 2 more weeks until I see Tina again in Taiwan. Can't wait! You don't know how much I need a holiday. I thought I would manage after a nice Christmas break, but I'm about to collapse into a bloody pulp !!!(you want to pick me up? Try a spatula!)

My friend Donny and his Wife Taz are in the Caribbean. Don has his diving license (standard diving, I think up to 30m deep, can't recall what the basic license is called). Good for him! I'm sure he'll see some fancy things under water, and I hope to see some great underwater shots!

My mate Chris is getting married this summer, or is it autumn? Anyway, we've all seen this coming for some time now, and I wonder if he is getting nervous...
To be honest I doubt it. He and Berit are nuts about each other and they are a perfect match if there is such a thing. I think "anxious" is a better word for it...

Some carp also keeps happening ofcourse. My headphone died... Why is this bad you think? Well, I can't have voice conversations now with Tina and my friends abroad! That's what's wrong with that!
Also my joystick seemed to have died after a 3 year period of intense use. No, I am not talking about the organic one, I'm talking about one of those devices for the PC! Suddenly yesterday it stopped working. If I would reinsert a new battery (it is wireless) it would light up briefly and then nothing. I think there is a problem with the part that provides the communication with the PC (again, wireless). Else it has held up pretty amazingly good I have to say! Too bad that this stupid wireless feature has given in... Again, why is this bad? Because I can't play with my fcuking flightsim that's what!!!!!

Anyway, time for bed...

February 12, 2006


Memoirs Of A Geisha

One word: Wow...

This evening I saw memoirs of a Geisha, and I was genuinely impressed. Upon the first announcements of memoirs I had high hopes. Those hopes diminished a little when I learned that the film was spoken in English, the main female actors were Chinese and the whole film was in fact a Hollywood production.
Some people told me that the English was poor and sometimes totally ununderstandable.
I can assure you, this is not the case. Maybe it is that I am not a native English speaker, but never did I not follow what was being said, and in fact, I was surprised about the standard of English considering that most actors I know of only non-English spoken films.
Having seen the film now, I can genuinely say I was impressed.
Honestly, I thought Ken was one of the most impressive actors in the film. He played in Last Samurai, where he also performed impressively. I understand that he has a theater background. That probably explains why I get the impression that his charisma is comparable with that of Patrick Steward (most people know him from Star Trek as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard). Patrick also has a theater background and is a very charismatic man, just like Ken. I'll be looking out for some other films featuring him.
I can't wait to get the DVD of memoirs. It'll rank in my top ten!
I won't spoil the surprise for people who are still to see it, so in a month or two I may update this post with what I thought of some of the scenes, as well as the ending. Suffice to say the ending pleased me.

  • Here
  • is the official website of Memoirs. I'd post some images, but I guess you can view them here just as well.


    February 01, 2006

    World of the apple

    Late last year Apple brought out a new program called "Aperture". A new photo editing/management program. It manages photos almost in a classical darkroom method. The User Interface is extremely fancy and smooth, and options are well sorted.


    Not all is perfect in the land of perfection (yes, that's right...). The program has been released way too early. The program is full of bugs and loose ends. It is unstable, incomplete and the requirements are way too high! Also it seems like the program is running too slow (I guess this depends on your point of view). It turns out that the program can be compared with a Beta release of a very promising package. It supports...Well.. Nothing really. Spend 2000+ GBP on an Apple system, and buy this program. Then find out that your graphics card is actually not sufficient, so the program won't even install. And even if you manage to fool it into installing, it won't run if your computer does not meet the specs. You have to know how to fool the program into thinking it CAN run. After some serious searching I managed to get it working on my Mac. However, I did loose some of my faith in Apple due to this program. The program says it runs on iMac G5 1.8 GHz (Amongst others), with at least 1GB RAM (I have 2GB). But... It didn't install or run... My graphics card was not sufficient. What do you mean not sufficient??? I got a bloody iMac G5 1.8 GHz with 2GB RAM,specs say it is sufficient, why can't I run??? Ahh, well, that is because you don't have one of the graphics cards that is listed on the minimum requirements list. Not listed??? So fucking what??? An iMac does not have an interchangeable graphics card. It is integrated into the system. No way you can upgrade that! So why do they list this iMac? Well, I can only think of one reason... daftness... By law you could sew them because this is misleading advertisement. What is worse is that the program doesn't even run or install. Why can't I just make up my own mind? So what if my specs are not sufficient, that's my choice isn't it? Why make the program so that it disables startup and installation when you don't meet the specs? They stated it on paper, that should be the end of it. My choice if I want to run it on a lesser computer.
    That's not all. Then they came out with the announcement that a new standard would come out that would support the newer intel based apples (yes, they can't run the program yet), in march. And customers who bought this program can exchange their discs for a new version, IF THEY PAY 49 US$!!!!! WTF????????
    Well, I think people have been throwing with lawsuits because they now changed their tones. Everyone can download the updates for free. SO most people have calmed down.
    Actually so have I, because I managed to get it running on my iMac, finally...

    So is it really that slow? Well, let me ask you this: DO you have a PC and/or a Mac? If you have a PC, then you know how programs run, especially the latest fanciest programs and games. They don't run smooth. Generally they are over designed for the current hardware platforms. Well, same here. The program runs, and actually reasonably fast. I mean, it is not like photoshop, but it doesn't annoy me (yet). It is a tat slow, but hey, FS2004 on my PC is way slower, and my system is really not that slow! However, I can imagine that professionals would be annoyed with the slowness, especially when they are used to lightning fast reactions in photoshop.

    So what does it do? Well, actually too much to mention. I suggest you just go to Apple's website to check that out. I did have a look at some features. For example, the loupe works better than I expected. Also the amount of adjustments and the type of adjustments is quite good. What is less good is that after I went into preferences and adjusted the background colour, later on I could no longer get into preferences. Also some of the button combinations for the viewer aren't logical. Some button combinations work, but others don't. There doesn't seem to be any logic behind that. It's also missing some RAW file adjustments that I would liked to have seen, like vignetting control and other lens corrections.
    Also it is not possible to drag an image onto the "lightbox" just like that. From this perspective Adobe Lightroom works a lot better.
    Having said that. Adobe lightroom seems to be missing many many functions that Apple Aperture does have! Sure RAW adjustments are much better under Adobe, but for the rest I think you can just do way more with Aperture then with Lightroom. However, Lightroom is still at Beta (and thus freely available), so it still has a lot of opportunities to develop into something powerful.