Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Zen and the art of Frankenbike maintenance

Yesterday was entertaining. After dicking around with my computer for a bit, I went for an explore of the town on my bike. Unlike the other places in Hungary I've seen, Veszprém has hills. Nothing like Brisbane or San Francisco, but still there are hills. This does make bike riding a little more of an effort, but it means when I get to the top of a hill, I can survey the land around, get a good idea of how the town is laid out and have a fast ride down to the next place. I rode up to what I thought was the castle hill, only to see it about 1km away. I re-explored the hill where Szu and I had met the Mormons on the first day, and took a few photos of the cool clouds which had settled over the town. Then checked out the castle and had a look around some of the old parts. I walked past the house where Szu said an old punker guy had lived since the 90s, but since the 2000, he had gone a bit mad and had become a hermit. For the last 6 years he preferred to shout random insults in various language out his window at passes by, but in the last year had preferred to do it from the confines of his house. I didn't hear anything.

By 4:30pm, the daylight had begun to disappear so I made my way back to the centre to grab some groceries and have something to eat. I found a hotdog stand which made a pretty mean chili hot dog for $2 Aussie, and happily munched away on that while I watched some of my neighbouring eaters devour 2-4 hamburgers a piece. I returned to what I thought was the flat and had a bit of a Marty McFly moment, where I found that my surroundings while familiar, were somewhat different to what I had remembered. I said to myself; "this is the house, but I don't remember that tree being there.. oh well", and promptly walked through the open front door. A girl greeted me at the bottom of her stairs and I assumed this was the mystery third girl who lived in the flat whom I hadn't met yet. "Hi", I say. "You must be the other girl who lives here. I'm Dan, Szu's Australian friend". The young woman just looked at me with an expression of complete confusion, shook her head and said something in Hungarian. I took a quick look around the hallway I was standing in and realised that this was not the house I had been in a few hours earlier. I apologised, exited and went to the next row of flats over and found the correct house.

When Szu got back from her 3 (count them, three!!), job interviews in Budapest, we went along to a BEST meeting, and then to a pub where I met a few of her study buddies, drank beer and ate spiced pigs brains on toast. Tasty stuff. Then we went to another place (Espresso), where a metal night was being held. There was only a small turn out with the highlight being some guy throwing up on the bar and being forcably removed. The idea of going to a karaoke night was floated amongst the group, we were all keen, so we made our way there. I began chatting with one of the guys (Adam), who studies computer science, with an aim to work in programming backend stuff for websites after he graduates. At first, he seemed a little reserved, but the night was young. When we got to the venue, we had a few beers and made some requests. Szu liked the idea of Adam and I doing a duet for Survivor - Eye of the Tiger, and requested it for us. Adam and I put in a sterling performance, and by the end of the night we had both done a few songs between us, with Adam being asked to give back the microphone after stealing it and surreptitiously providing back up vocals on three consecutive songs. Gold.

Now for something completely different:

When I was in Passau, I chatted with a bike shop repair guy about his personal biking pursuits. He said that he had found a constant in his life, where elements of interest were counterbalanced with a degree of technical intricacy. He said that as sports go, neither car racing or running appealed to him, as both had not an even balance between the physical and the technical. He found the balance between the technical maintaining of a bicycle and the physical of bike riding brought his soul much happiness. Deep stuff to chat about over truing one of the rims of my bike trailer, but it was a pleasant day and I think we caught each other in a thoughtful mood. For me, right now my bike is my comfort zone. It's something that I know from home and can relate to easily, making the road from Székesfehérvár to Balatonboglár seem like the road from Norwood to Mawson Lakes, albeit on the opposite side. But this balance the bike guy spoke about I can relate to when talking about photography. I love the technical: light metring, ISO speed, colour balance, shutter speed, aperture, pixel count, buttons, photoshop. And I love the *ahem* art of photography: composition, candid smiles, the story behind, the moment, capturing a person's personality, being able to convey what I've seen without words. It was with great joy that I started to experiment with the custom white balance function on my camera. Having owned my camera for 4 years, I can't believe I haven't used this yet. Something that is a mandatory practice for me when using a video camera, Custom WB is not something I have fooled with on a still camera. After taken many washed out photos of things under failing light, I was desperate. I'm really happy with the results, and here are a couple of examples: WB1 & WB2

I haven't found the balance with working with video yet. The technical of codecs, bit rates and video size is still outweighing the artistic side of actually making videos. Doing the placement at Channel 10 last year got me a little closer, with their fancy equipment doing what I wanted it to do without protest or hesitation. But we work with what we are given, and after discovering a few little tricks in Windows (completely by accident mind you), I'm finding the operating system to be more user friendly than I've previously thought.

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