Rain doubt? No, rained out.
The air was very grey around midday, and needing to go shopping at Carrefour, I scurried off hoping that I could get there and back while downloading Adobe Reader 9 and avoiding any inclement weather. I had been checking my Firefox plugins and hoping that the update would fix problems I’ve had viewing pdf documents, which I’ve been unable to do unless Acrobat is running at the same time. I wonder whether it has something to do with Acrobat 8, which seems to take precedence over Adobe Reader.
I’d just got to the checkout in Carrefour when I heard a rumble which I thought might be the result of some activity upstairs, but when I got to the entrance to Baoli, it was already clear that it was pissing down and another thunderstorm was passing over the city. (See picture for yesterday’s downpour.) I did have my umbrella with me, but without my full regalia (viz., my North Face raincoat and leaky over-trousers), it would’ve been suicide to venture out. Instead, I took a turn around Baoli to while away the time.
There’s not much to say about Baoli that I haven’t said before. It is a mall full of pretentious shops. It has no bookshops; it has no music shops; it has no electronics shops, which I’d expect to find in any self-respecting mall. Even Harbour City in Hong Kong, which is in many ways the same thing writ large, has these kinds of shops beside the expensive clothing shops.
I eventually ended up looking out of the window above one of the entrance where a dragonfly suddenly alighted on the strings of lights in front of the window as it sought somewhere to shelter from the rain. I took a picture of it with my phone, but the dragonfly was within the camera’s shortest focal length and the image was blurred. It was not as interesting a specimen as the red dragonfly I once snapped.
Outside, I watched a woman selling umbrella to hapless cits who had forgotten theirs. She seemed to be reasonably successful, but I did wonder whether people who declined her offer were thinking of all the umbrellas which they already owned, and their reluctance to add to that bloated collection. The seller was nothing new. It seems that any time it rains in China, umbrellas and people selling them will appear out of nowhere as if they were hiding in the bushes waiting for this very opportunity.
Eventually, I decided to go and have lunch at Ajisen in the hope that while I was eating, the rain would subside or depart. It did subside, a bit, but my dash home was also accompanied by thunder (the Chinese weather gods were very flatulent today) and lightning. There was a little surface flooding on the way home, but not much.
Pictures, but not at an exhibition.
Our second picture in this entry is the sky early this evening probably not long after the sun had set behind 惠山. The thick, formless grey cloud had broken up enough to give the sky some character. As I remarked to Linda earlier, it wouldn’t surprise me when I look out of the window later this evening for the sky to be clear as it was last night and for the past few nights. I’ve even been able to see a star or two, and I think Saturn has been visible; not to mention the moon.
Now that I’m thinking about buying a new digital camera, I’ve been putting my present model, a Sony DSC-H5 through its paces. It’s been quirky to say the least. As I’ve said before, it makes pictures brighter than the scene actually is, and trying to get a picture which looks like what you see yourself is not easy. In fact, a picture I took out of the window last night was so processed (extreme settings, mind you) that you could see the redness of the tiles on the wall of the building in the final shot.
But I’ve also found that it has problems focusing. I tried a macro shot of some fake flowers in my flat, but when I took the picture, it was clear that the camera had focused on the wall behind and to the side of the flower. In a zoomed shot from the window last night I was trying to get the silhouette of a building behind which there was a green floodlight. I can only assume that the camera had insufficient information to find something on which to focus because the shot was blurred no matter what I tried.
Macro shots seem to reveal another side of this quirkiness. In AP mode, a low f. stop results in little depth of field, as I’d expect, but something in the mid range seemed to get pictures where the middle of the shot was in focus and the foreground and background blurred.
I’ve been trying all manner of menu options to see what effect they have as well. Low ISO numbers are better than high ones. I ought to know that, but it’s something I’d long since forgotten. The specialised settings such as twilight, portrait, etc. are all a bit of a waste of time as far as I can see.
Does this take me a step closer to buying a new camera? We’ll see.
Middle-aged man’s fantasies.
When I was young, I used to note when my Dad was suffering from middle-aged man’s fantasies. How his aged breast will swell with paternal pride to know that I’ve inherited such delusions. I’ve been playing a lot of Need for Speed: Most Wanted this summer, and decided that of all the cars in the game, I prefer the Porsches (except the Carrera GT, which is in the wrong game, I think). Oh, I know I fancied the Lamborghini Gallardo and the Murciélago, and I desired the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (a twitchy tank which can turn on a sixpence), and I was generally uninterested in the Ford GT or the Corvette, but I found myself preferring the Porsches.
That took me to the Porsche website (UK) where they have a Flash-based tool which allows you to create your own Porsche. Thus in the spirit of being a middle-aged fantasist, I present my garage of Porsches.
||The Porsche Boxter S. Actually, I could probably buy one of these.
||The Porsche Cayman S. I might just be able to con, sorry, persuade the bank to give me a loan to buy one of these.
||The Porsche 911 Carrera S. I have a pair of sunglasses, which I probably bought about quarter of a century ago, to go with this car. I started middle age early. Bloody expensive. The car in NFS: Most Wanted absolutely purrs like a Rolls Royce Merlin. (If you’ve ever heard a Spitfire, you’ll know what I mean.)
||The Porsche 911 GT3 RS. The car Bruce sniffed at as part of Julia Donald’s dowry. This starts at about £107,000. Not in NFS: Most Wanted.
||The Porsche 911 Turbo S. About £127,000 to start with. My favourite car in NFS: Most Wanted. Amazing acceleration, and fully modded in the game, the car can hit around 387kmh.
Anyway, I’ll show you my Porsches in NFS: Most Wanted tomorrow. Let the middle-aged fantasies continue – but not all at once.