Monthly Archives: April 2011

Tiana + Molly (Glidetrack demo)

I pur­chased a half-metre Glidetrack Hybrid to get some slow dol­ly shots but with a much, much more portable sys­tem. Smooth hor­i­zon­tal cam­era move­ments can add a bit of depth to any footage, though the effect can’t be used too often.

So I’ve been prac­tic­ing with this new piece of equip­ment for the last month, look­ing for peo­ple to film, and luck­i­ly Tiana is always will­ing to vol­un­teer with one of her off­spring. You can see the Glidetrack shots at 12 sec­onds (the zoom in) and 48 sec­onds (the hor­i­zon­tal track).

It’s an extreme­ly chal­leng­ing piece of equip­ment to use, cer­tain­ly not some­thing con­ducive to can­did shoot­ing. Things like expo­sure, focus, and com­po­si­tion change as you’re mov­ing the cam­era from one end of the rail to the oth­er, and sin­gle mis­take in any one of those aspects will ruin a shot, so all those things gen­er­al­ly need to be care­ful­ly planned. On top of that, sim­ply mov­ing the cam­era smooth­ly takes a lot of prac­tice, as there’s a cer­tain amount of fric­tion in the bear­ings, and you need to bal­ance that with the move­ment speed you’re look­ing for. At only half a metre (the short­est length you can pur­chase), the shots all tend to be slow and lin­ger­ing so you don’t run out of rail.

The per­cent­age of keep­ers isn’t great (I find it takes me about three takes to get it right), but when it works, the effect is very nice.

My other Chinese parents

I called Norm tonight. As an inter­na­tion­al ref­er­ee1, he’s a fix­ture in the Ottawa table ten­nis com­mu­ni­ty, and runs one of the recre­ation­al venues in the city. I’ve been try­ing to get in shape for a big project that’ll have me run­ning around a bunch of cam­era gear, and since I’ve giv­en up on find­ing decent Tai Chi instruc­tion for now, it made sense that I go back to the only car­dio exer­cise that did­n’t bore me out of my mind.

I haven’t been to this club — or played any kind of table ten­nis, for that mat­ter — in about five years. I missed it as much as I miss make­outs, and it’s prob­a­bly been about just as long. The only peo­ple who were still there were Norm and his wife, Virsanna, as well as two hoary old ladies who must be in their 80s but still man­age to keep up with the rest of us, their teal sweat­pants adorably pulled up past their bel­lies.

Continue read­ing “My oth­er Chinese par­ents”…

  1. Basically a lev­el 7 umpire, which is the high­est lev­el, mean­ing he offi­ci­ates the top match­es like the World Championships and Commonwealth Games. []

The Process (or why a tree is not a tree)

Take a leaf off a tree. Is it still a tree? Take a sin­gle twig off a tree. Is it still a tree? Remove an entire branch from a tree. Is it still a tree? Take off half of the branch­es. Is it still a tree? Cut down the whole tree, leav­ing only the stump. Is it still a tree? Many peo­ple would say no, it is no longer a tree, though the roots may still be in the ground. Well, where did the tree go? Removing a leaf, it remains a tree, but not by remov­ing all of the branch­es and the trunk?

In the real world, there aren’t any things as we com­mon­ly think of them. A ‘thing’ as we refer to it is only a noun. A noun is mere­ly an idea, a men­tal con­struct. These ‘things’ exist only in our minds. There is no tree, there is only the idea of a tree.


I’ve been writ­ing here for almost a decade, pour­ing 10 years of my life into this blog. I recent­ly con­sid­ered clean­ing up the con­tent by delet­ing a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of my old entries; I’m not the same per­son as when I wrote them, and I don’t even like who I was back then. Not to men­tion the fact that some are rather embar­rass­ing, like read­ing your old diary in high school when the biggest prob­lem was what peo­ple thought when you wore your uni­form cause you for­got it was a Civvies Day.

The prob­lem I was faced with was decid­ing what should be delet­ed. People aren’t sta­t­ic; they’re process­es, events, evo­lu­tions, made up of cells that con­tin­u­al­ly renew them­selves on a dai­ly basis. At what defin­able point can I say these entries are no longer me? It could be argued that even posts as recent as a few months ago aren’t an accu­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion, though there may still rem­nants of the old me in the habits of my thoughts.

Then I came across this pas­sage in The Tao by Mark Forstater, on the sub­ject of how using human lan­guage to encom­pass and describe a con­cept such as the Tao is log­i­cal­ly sus­pect: “Reality can’t be enclosed and described by words. Symbols aren’t real in the way that a tree is real, and how­ev­er much we may delude our­selves that they are, we’ll even­tu­al­ly find that the word ‘water’ won’t quench our thirst.”

I came to accept that the things I write here have nev­er been and nev­er will be a com­plete reflec­tion of who I am, so I’ve decid­ed to keep all the entries. The ones writ­ten by my old self serve as a reminder of who I was, and at the very least, they tell me where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.

was I more alive then than I am now

I try to sched­ule my time with peo­ple very care­ful­ly; with intro­ver­sion, there’s a del­i­cate bal­ance between iso­la­tion and over-stim­u­la­tion. I always make sure I get a lot of alone time between major events. The only prob­lem is that means I’m alone for too long when plans don’t work out.

On the oth­er end of the spec­trum is the fact that I can nev­er say no to peo­ple if I’m too busy. I’m the one with­out kids, so my sched­ule is a lot more open than most my friends, and I nev­er know when I’ll have anoth­er chance to see them. This is prob­a­bly why I’ve been film­ing for four days straight.

Luckily, this includ­ed a won­der­ful per­for­mance by the inim­itable André Bluteau, whose debut CD is out now, and which you should most def­i­nite­ly pur­chase after lis­ten­ing and sub­se­quent­ly lov­ing.

I added a touch of grad­ing to give the video a bit of creamy 1950s American din­er feel. I’m thor­ough­ly impressed by Apple’s Motion soft­ware, and the pow­er it has to cre­ate object-track­ing text effects. Text can add such a nice­ly sub­tle cin­e­mat­ic touch, though doing 3D trans­for­ma­tions to make words match the plane of a fore­ground object is an exer­cise that will make your eyes bug out.

Andrew Vincent live @ Raw Sugar Cafe

The only thing pre­vent­ing me from mak­ing out with this man was his green hat. Don’t, don’t, don’t cov­er it up.

Also head­lin­ing was Andrew Vincent, who opened his set with Girlfriend’s Dog, a song I first gave to Bronwen when we start­ed dat­ing. It was right before she moved in for the sum­mer, and she had Bear, who was also a Labrador Retriever.

Now I under­stand why I need to much time in between events. After the con­cert, I did­n’t fall asleep until three in the morn­ing, even though I was exhaust­ed. The strug­gle not be shy and intro­vert­ed drains me, but the sim­ple act of being around so many peo­ple leaves me inor­di­nate­ly ener­gized. It’s too much some­times, but I nev­er know what to think of that feel­ing.

Sometimes I wonder if you're bored like me.

Sitting at home on a ran­dom night, caught between the com­fort of your room and the stim­u­la­tion of peo­ple. You once told me I could always call when I said I did­n’t want to be a hyp­ocrite, but I don’t know if that’s true any­more. It’s been a while. I won­der if you ever think about me, and if you do, whether it’s with fond­ness, dis­taste, or indif­fer­ence.

By now you’ve prob­a­bly fig­ured out that I can nev­er be the one to pick up the phone first, which is why it’s hard for me to believe we’ll ever see each oth­er again. I wish there was a way we could just talk, and not have things get com­pli­cat­ed, and not have to wor­ry about you or me or any­thing between us.

Sometimes I think I’m strong enough, but I think of that call and that voice and the burn­ing across my skin, and even­tu­al­ly I real­ize I’m only fool­ing myself. Just mak­ing excus­es to see you again cause I miss you so much. I’m not yet used to the fact that I can’t share these songs, these expe­ri­ences, this hap­pi­ness with you, and it’s left me feel­ing incom­plete.

Even now it feels like there was so much left unsaid. Like my words were always inad­e­quate to the bur­den of my heart cause I was nev­er able to con­vince you of how spe­cial you were and how much I loved you. But time is teach­ing me that you knew, and that noth­ing would ever have been enough.

Not long ago, I real­ized it’s not just you I can’t stop think­ing about, it’s all of my past, from insignif­i­cant instances to major events. If only you weren’t one of the only things worth remem­ber­ing, and I was­n’t try­ing so des­per­ate­ly to for­get.