Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Year

Another year has come and gone, and yet another has taken its place.

I'll not get maudlin on you. Happy new year, all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Facebook's Graffiti. I Win.

A [long] while ago, around the time of the Iranian elections, there was a speed painting contest/submission opportunity/thing on Facebook. Twelve were featured, and to my surprise, twelve are still there, and I am still at the top of the list.

And am now featured on a blog, Cool.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


This story comes from Taiwan (not recent, and not where I live). Or rather, it would have made a good story had I been paying closer attention at the time.

The air is hot and heavy as we traverse the maze-like side streets of Lukang. The buildings are older here, and the only traffic is foot or bicycle. Homes and shops are crowded together, but nevertheless exude an air of cleanliness. Fruit trees are hidden unexpectedly in corners. On the worn steps of a temple squeezed into a dead end are some elderly ladies, smoking and chattering. They give us directions. We continue walking.

Somewhere along the way a thick, pleasant odour wafts out into the street. There are piles and piles of little black coils lying along the outside wall of a shop. What could these be, we wonder. We speculate. Coasters? Curious.

Inside the shop a man is bent over his work. He is making, as it turns out, incense. The man is a master of his trade. He explains his process. The doughy material is pressed from the machine- this is the great black iron beast the younger man is handling- which the shop owner then rolls by hand and coils on a wheel. They are then left out in the sun to harden and cure.

He has been at this a long time, it turns out, since he was young. All the ingredients are natural, he says. He used to gather much of it by hand.
The shop-owner seems delighted explain to us everything, and he works enthusiastically as he does so. But there is also a grim set to his face. Business is not so good now; everything is commercialized these days, and there is competition. The conversation carries on for a little while, then we bid our farewells.

We step out into the street. Inside the shop, the incense-maker turns his attention back to his work.