1. where are you and why?
For the last 5 years I have been living in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Why I'm here is a little more convoluted. After I finished my PhD in Leicester, I decided I had to get as far away from Leicester as humanly possible. I also discovered that science as a career involves long working hours and lots of stress for not very much money, but does have the one advantage of making working abroad relatively easy. I'd originally applied to a few positions in Montreal (because I love that city), and was offered a small amount of cash towards my travel expenses. I tried to offset my travel costs by lining up some extra, "filler" interviews, and that was how I ended up applying to quite a well respected scientist in Vancouver. I figured I could get a greyhound from Montreal. Then I looked at a map. It turns out Canada is slightly bigger than England. Anyway, I liked Vancouver, the fact the research was more focused (on blood disorders, cancer diagnoses and treatments), and the swanky new lab that had just been built, so I opted for here.
2. how did you come to be a moblogger?
I am one of the many mobloggers that was sired by Crickson
. We've been friends since we were 5, and grew up in the same town just outside of London. In 2004 I had just bought my first cameraphone (my trusty Nokia 7610) which was also my first ever digital camera, and I had also just moved out here to Vancouver. Moblogging appealed to the laziness in me; my friends and family back home could see what I was up to without me having to write millions of emails or to keep a written blog up to date. I could also entice people to come visit me by trying to capture the beauty of the city (as it turns out, not that difficult when you're surrounded by mountains and the Pacific ocean). I've won a cameraphone and a trip back to England courtesy of moblog, so obviously I'm a big fan!
3. how did photography come to be important?
I'm not really sure. I was always fascinated by cameras, and joined a (admittedly quite crap) photography club at my school when I was 12. We used to shoot b&w; film and develop/expose our own prints. I shot with my Granddad's old Olympus Trip. I've always liked taking photos on holiday, but owning a cameraphone really opened up the possibilities of taking "life pictures"; i.e. random crap I wouldn't normally bother wasting film over. It was my cameraphone that motivated me to get a point-and-shoot (Panasonic Lumix LX2), and it was that camera that motivated me into getting back into SLRs last year (Canon Rebel XSi/450D). Moblog also had a massive role; I never really shared my pictures until then, and I am constantly learning/adapting styles and concepts that I've seen posted here.
4. books, music, film favourites?
For books Wild Swans (Jung Chang) springs to mind, as does The Golden Spruce (John Vaillant). Then I was a big fan of His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman), and anything by Stephen Donaldson (The Gap series was awesome). Obviously The Life of Pi, and the Harry Potter books are in there too.
Music is tricky; I have quite an eclectic taste. I would say the most listened to albums over the past few years have been Never Never Land/War Stories (UNKLE), Colour the Small One (Sia), OK Computer/The Bends (Radiohead) and The Fragile/With Teeth (Nine Inch Nails).
I'm a massive film fan, and again have quite an eclectic taste here. I loved Amores Perros, Rashomon, Yojimbo, Schindler's List, Fight Club, The Usual Suspects, Shawshank Redemption, Old Boy, Memento, City of God, Akira, Pi, Three Colours Trilogy, Pan's Labyrinth, Devil's Backbone, Casablanca, Nausicaa, Chunking Express, Before Sunset/Sunrise etc.
5. anything you want to say about blogging, twittering, the moblog, our life and times?
I've never really blogged, and have always been amazed at how much people can write about themselves every day. If I were to keep a blog I think it would be unbelievably boring. Twittering is another thing I don't really get, although in the face of the recent media blackout in Iran, I now at least think that it has value as a communications medium. As for moblog, it has changed a lot in the ~5 years since I joined. More social notworking sites have sprung up, so we all have more choice in how we procrastinate. I've been so busy recently that while I still find time to post, I don't comment on other's photos nearly as much as I'd like to. I'm sad about this, and have every intention of making more time to look at some of the cool shots being taken. In terms of our life and times (with respect to photography) I think the game has changed with the advent of affordable DSLRs, as it has meant that rather having to know what you're doing and spending hours adjusting settings to get the "perfect shot", it's now just as easy to fire off hundreds of photos and find a few fantastic images. The craft no longer seems to be how the photo is taken (the technical), more what the photo is of (the artistic). With this in mind, it's the originality of many of the posts on moblog I'm drawn to, and still amazed by.
6. favourite moblog moments, posts.
Well, I've always liked the sense of community in moblog, but I guess that's more general that a particular moment. I'm quite a technical person, and so also appreciate clever photos, the how-the-hell-did-you-do-that photos, and the little things that most people don't notice (like the smiley faced background blur in the self portrait above!). I loved all the jumpy photos a while back, the old Spike post in which everyone revealed how they chose their usernames
, and even the lively 9/11 truth debates on Critical G's moblog. Despite not knowing him well, I also closely followed Alex Saville's moblog
, and as someone who spends all day working on haematological disorders and malignancies, it was a shock to put a human face on the masses of anonymous blood samples that enter our lab. It's sobering to realise that every data point on a survival curve (a standard graph for measuring the effectiveness of treatments) represents the premature loss of life and the pain of family members, especially given that most of these graphs have 10,000+ data points.
7. what do you miss about home? what do you like about Vancouver?
The biggest thing I miss about home is my friends and family. And Jaffa cakes. And the thing I like most about Vancouver is my friends. I can pretty much live anywhere so long as I've got good friends about. I do miss the UK pub culture, but that's offset by the much friendlier, less vomit-ridden streets out here. In terms of the city, I haven't been anywhere that beats Vancouver yet; there's about a week in the Spring where you can spend the morning up on the mountains snowboarding, then the afternoon laying out on the beach. There's nowhere else quite like it. Whenever I get frustrated at work or depressed, a simple bus trip takes me to the foot of a mountain, and a hike (summer) or snowboard (winter) session always cheers me up. Or I can walk to the beach in 15 minutes from my front door. It's also nice to have water pressure (my shower will literally knock me over when turned up to full blast!); it sounds stupid but every time I go back to the UK and get lightly dribbled on in the shower I start missing Canada! It's also nice to never be more than 5 minutes away from an empty park or beach walk. This is also one of the biggest problems though; the city is sparsely populated (by UK standards) and I miss the chaos, the culture and the vibrancy of London.
8. what's been the most fun in the last few months? or generally?
New York in May was great. The start of the year was unbelievably shitty for me, and despite the trip being for work (and having to give two scary lectures), I still had lots of time to catch up with friends I hadn't seen in years. That's always good. It felt like I'd closed the chapter on the first half of the year, and could start rebuilding. By the time I got back to Vancouver I started dating again, felt more positive in general and was being less distant with friends.
9. embarrassing moments?
The last embarrassing moment I had was in Rhode Island with Crickson and Spiderbaby. We were supposed to go to one of their friends houses for a wine and cheese evening, but they weren't entirely sure of the address. When we got to the street we heard loud music and laughter coming from a house, so merrily walked around back and wandered into the living room only to find that we'd gatecrashed a different party. That in itself wasn't great, but this party consisted of ~20 girls passing around dildos. We had somehow gatecrashed a sex toy party! Me and Crickson were both embarrassed, while the occupants were disappointed (relieved?) that we weren't strippers. We didn't stay long enough to find out whether "the butterfly" was really as incredible as they said it was.
10. what is your guilty pleasure?
I have become addicted to Japanese cream puffs
, sold in a chain called Beard Papa's. One of these stores opened in the food court where we normally have lunch and I'm now starting to gain additional chins. I've also become a craigslist junkie recently, and have been buying camera lenses that I really shouldn't be blowing money on. And despite not coming onto moblog as much as I used to, I am still addicted, and my general obsessiveness has meant that I have spent several months going back and tagging and geotagging almost all of my posts (the first 140 pages at least).
Posted by RareAquaticBadger