• I got to stroke a penguin

    I got to stroke a penguin 🐧

    Last weekend I got to meet the penguins at London Zoo, and I loved it.

    I’ve been a fan of the penguin for quite a few years and decided that I’d like to get a bit closer to them. So Richard bought me a meet the penguins experience for Christmas. And, as luck would have it, they had availability for me to go and see them on my birthday. So I spent an hour or so of my birthday with penguins. Amazing!

    I still struggle with the concept of my birthday a little. I have no living parents, the people who put the ‘birth’ into ‘birthday’ are no longer with me, and I find that a challenge. I still don’t feel able to celebrate the day, but I can acknowledge it, and the last couple of years have been good.

    Close up penguin face

    Penguins make me feel happy and joyful. Watching these little Humbolt penguins being fed and zip around their pool looking for fish to eat was delightful. They’re so graceful underwater, and so comedic out of it. Just being able to see them was special. But then being able to step behind the gates and into the enclosure and spend time in a safe space with them - there is an area that we were allowed into where the penguins expect humans to be - and get to stroke them was incredible. I didn’t know to expect them to feel like, but the one I spent the most time stroking had soft downy feathers on his chest and was very sleek and smooth. And he responded well to strokes as well - he closed his eyes and looked like he was enjoying it too.

    Me and the penguins

    Happy and joyful feel like good feelings to have on my birthday. And so I class this as an excellent and enjoyable way to spend the day. Thanks Richard!


  • What is work?

    Last week I caught myself saying ‘I’m not working at the moment’ in response to somebody’s question, and that made me wonder about what I think that I am doing. Yes, I’m still at home most days. Yes, I’m still trying to be gentle with myself, and I’m still recovering from burnout. Yes, I’m still not going to an office or earning a salary. But is that what work is, or what it should be? I’m not sure. So, I looked up the dictionary definition as I thought the word itself might help direct me.

    Define work

    I find it interesting that there is no mention of exchange for money in those definitions. And yet that’s one of the pertinent points in my head. I may need to do some reframing.

    I listened to the blinkist summary of Do the Work, and it helpfully breaks work down into three options:
    - work as a job (i.e. for money)
    - work as a career (i.e. for progression)
    - work as a calling (i.e. for vocation)

    I feel like I’ve been caught up in the second of these for some years. I’ve been progressing through the standard career paths available to software developers - developer, senior developer, team leader etc. But, until I started seeing Hayley for coaching, I’d never really given much thought to anything outside of this with any seriousness.

    Having uncovered my purpose I know that kindness defines my framework for all things. What that means for work as job, career or calling I don’t know yet. But I do know that I want to, and indeed have to, measure opportunities against that matrix. But does that mean that everything related to furthering that purpose - be it research, be it helping others, be it showing kindness - counts as ‘work’? I’m not sure. It takes a bit of the joy away. And that’s not ideal. So, I’ve got some further pondering to do here.

    I’ve also been thinking about some of the words relating to work, and what they mean to me. Employed, Self-employed, Unemployed, Retired. Not in any legal sense, but in a looser, more wordy sense. And at the moment I think I’m somewhere between Retired and Self-employed. Self-employed because I’m self-funding. I’m owning my own time and, to some extent, the focus of my attention. So I’m employing and allowing myself the space to follow up on thoughts and topics as they come to light. And retired because, at least at the moment, I’m not following a career path. I’m not progressing in a traditional direction. I’m exploring.

    So, next time somebody asks ‘Are you working again yet?’ I think the answer might be ‘What do you mean by working?’


  • Olympus TG 5 first impressions

    I’ve bought myself a new compact camera. It is the first new camera I’ve got in a couple of years. And the first compact camera in probably about a decade.

    Dandelion with iPhone

    I’ve recently been enjoying taking macro photos. I’ve been using my phone with a snap on macro lens attachment, but the results have been pretty pleasing (see above for an example). I’ve been enjoying taking these and seeing the world from a different perspective, and so I thought it’d be nice to have a camera with inbuilt capabilities to take such photos. I could have bought a macro lens/adaptor for my d7000, but I know I won’t carry it around with me. Whereas with a compact camera there’s a far better chance.

    So I had a look at a review site and rather liked the sound of the TG 5. The review says

    when switched to the macro mode the lens can focus from a minimum distance of 1 cm

    which sounds rather good. It’s also a rugged camera, being

    waterproof, dustproof, crushproof, shock and freeze proof

    I’m hoping not to test the freeze or crush parts of this, but waterproof and dustproof will prove handy. I tend to take a lot of photos when I’m out walking the dog. She’s a terrier and so there is often exposure to both water and dust!

    Olympus TG 5

    My new toy arrived this morning. The first things I did were fire off a couple of test shots, get it to speak to my phone/iPad via wifi, and then leave it to charge.

    These are my first-day notes detailing the things I’ve found tricky to work out with the hope they help someone else or refresh my memory when I’ve got more used to it.

    Stop the infernal beeping

    The first thing I had to work out was how to turn the focusing beep sound off. The manual is very thin regarding what the settings all do, so I had to have a hunt around the menu options. I finally found it hiding under the cog menu, in setting B2, with the image that looks a bit like a remote control. It came set at level 3, which was loud enough to make the dog twitch everytime I tried to focus on her. I’ve set it to level 0 so that it is silent.

    The other thing that took me a while to work out was how to get the wifi working. There is a button labelled MENU. It turns out that if you hold that button down for about 3 seconds, it’ll turn the wifi on and allow you to connect your phone to it.

    When initially fiddling with settings I managed to change the picture format so that I was storing RAW and Large/Fine images - but I didn’t know how I’d done it. It turns out that I needed to press OK and scroll to the picture size/quality icon and choose from the provided list.

    The final confusion of the day was when I spotted that the images appearing on my phone/tablet weren’t the same size as those in the camera and stored on the card. It turns out that there is a cheeky little setting in the Olympus Share application which has Resize set to 2048 x 1536. I’ve chosen No Resizing for either photos or videos. As I want to do most of my editing/reviewing on my iPad, it makes little sense for those images to be reduced in size on transfer.

    As with all new photographic equipment, it’ll take a few outings to get used to it and to work out what my favourite settings are. But the first impressions are favourable. It feels comfortable in my hand, it is a decent weight, and it seems to do a reasonable job of macro photography

    Daisy Daisy

    and of course, I had to take a photo of the West Pier West Pier

    and Brighton Pier. Brighton Pier

    I feel there must be a photography law somewhere that states that as a Brighton dweller when you buy a new camera, you must take photos of both piers in the first 24 hours of ownership.


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