My Best Mobile Photos — 2018

Back in November [] I finished my original plan to make it though all my mobile photos up to 2017, when I started to really use Lightroom mobile for most of my on-the-phone photography. I said then that I would go on… It’s taken 6 months to get 2018 done. Partly just because the world has opened up again from COVID so there was more going on. But also because there just more photos, I took a lot of photos and videos in 2018 on my iPhone 8 Plus; both in the native app and in Lightroom mobile. I traveled a lot in 2018 is part of the reason – Tokyo three times (twice for work), lots of trips to Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur for work, a trip to London for the summer holidays. Basically there were a lot of photos.

The photos taken with the iOS native app were all unseen, never posted before, like all the photos in the previous entries in this series (actually, that’s not strictly true, some were posted to Facebook but not public). The photos taken in the Lightroom app however, some of them were posted directly to my Flickr account. So it took a bit more work to make sure I was not double posting as there was not record in the Lightroom library if they were posted or not.

But I made it through them finally, and posted quite a number of photos, so here are a few I would call “my best” for having been taken with the mobile phone.

Lets start with Tokyo. I visited several times for work. I had high hopes that we would land the major project we were trying to win and I already had an agreement with my boss to move to Tokyo if we did. It’s still a dream of mine to live in Japan one day, and while I would prefer Kyoto to Tokyo beggars can’t be choosers… and in this case begging didn’t work out. We didn’t win and I didn’t get to move to Japan. I did take a few nice photos though.

On my first trip I was lucky enough to be there at the tail end of the Sakura Blossom season. It was amazing in Tokyo, wondering around and visiting the various spots to see Sakura. Asakusa was beautiful. And crowded:


But where are the Sakura? Ok, ok, ok, here you go. It’s not actually one of my best pictures, but it’s ok, and I do think we must have Sakura in this set.


I visited Japan again a few months later, staying further out in Futako Tamagawa, where I took this shot of the sunset:


And to contrast that I also took a nighttime shot from the top of the Tokyo Tower:


Ok, we are almost done with Japan. I know I’m obsessed. But this shot is from my Holiday with the family in December, taken at teamLab’s Borderless []. this room reminds me of one of Yayoi Kusama’s [] Infinity Mirror Rooms. The lamps slowly cycle through Green, red, orange, blue and purple:


Ok. Let talk about somewhere else. I took a very cool photo in London in June. At the Tate Modern, we were leaving just as the museum was closing after seeing the Picasso exhibit and I took this cool shot, the light and shadows were so strong that it was almost black and white, so I went ahead and made it black and white:


Here’s a random one from Singapore that I like. The fact that you can go the Lego store now and buy individual pieces is cool, but the container of Minifigure heads is a the best:


I also added to my “Looking Up at Lamps” photo collection on Flickr. Some where posted at the time in 2018 but I found a few during the cleanup process that were never posted. I picked two as part of the “best” collection. First this shot of a lamp in a pizza shop in Genting, Malaysia:


Second, this shot of a lamp in a Sushi restaurant in Singapore, with one of the bulbs out:


And I will leave you with this shot of a lotus growing in the pool at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore:


That’s it for 2018. Not sure when I will get to 2019… Probably the last post with many images in it till we get past the era of COVID.


Dysfunction in America

The outsize power wielded by the court in 2022 derives from a political system that struggles to strike compromises. Lining up a majority in the House, 60 votes in the Senate (to override a filibuster) and a presidential signature is too hard. It is easier for politicians to fundraise off controversy rather than solve problems. Time and again on the thorniest questions—carbon-dioxide emissions, gay marriage, guns, abortion—Congress has failed to reflect public opinion.

From How to save the Supreme Court [] published by The Economist, May 7th 2022

How could congress reflect public option? No one who is willing to compromise can get elected, anyone in congress who does compromise is likely to get voted out by rabid extremist voters or big-money donors; no one serves because it’s a duty, politics is a career these days, re-election, not conviction, is the point of every vote. So congress is impotent on any topic that might stir controversy. Delivering to you rabid extremists base that votes in primaries means all or nothing, usually nothing because the 50/50 national split means no one can overcome the filibuster so you can only deliver by subterfuge: stacking the court or governing via presidential decree.

Rather than actually debating, discussing and designing solutions to the problems that plague the US congress is busy with twiddle their thumb no action, all talk softball games like investigating UFOs [].

The system is broken. It’s supposed to be self healing but we seem to have broken that too. We found a way to incentivize our leaders to spend their time demonizing these that disagree with them and running for the extremes. We’ve made democracy in to a zero-sum game; all or nothing, I win you lose, my way or the highway. No more let’s find a solution we can all agree on, rising tides float all boats, compromise for progress.

I’d say it was time to have a top-to-bottom review of the system, some sort of new constitutional convention, or citizens committee, to review and clean up all the cruft that has built up in almost 250 years, to rebalance the system and find a way to make it work better… in fact this would be a great initiative for that upcoming anniversary. But we would just elect the same self-serving, all-or-nothing extremists blow hards and without a shared sense of purpose and people willing to discuss and compromise for the greater good the in-power party would just use the opportunity to fuck the world and get it’s pet desires all-or-nothing style.

Maybe a simple change like ranked choice voting would allow people to be elected who actually reflected the views of the majority or felt they could compromise. But it’s hard to imagine elected officials who know how to game the current system change the rules in any way that might disfavor them.

In short; I don’t see how the people and their elected representatives can fix the problem that plague the US government today, because the people and their elected representatives, are the problem.


Math Dreams

A few weeks ago I came across this graphic on social media sites and in messages a few times:’s Most Common Dreams by Country based on search volume.

I’m not sure I’ve ever had any of these dreams… at least not that I remember… Teeth falling out? What happened to being in school with no cloths on? Never had that dream either, but I thought that was the dream everyone had. Snakes I can understand, snakes are creepy, snake can be dangerous, lots of people are afraid of snakes. Makes sense that people living in South America and Southeast Asia are having dreams, or nightmares about very large snakes.

For myself, I rarely remember dreams more than a few minutes after waking up and even then they are broken and disjointed. I can’t piece them together. They sometimes includes people I know or have known, but things are always all kinds of fucked up. Funny that I remember that but not clearly what was fucked up. One period of my life including people who are anachronistic; walking through doors into unconnected buildings continents away. That kind of thing.

There is, however, one dream that has reoccured many times over the years, though it’s getting less and less as times goes on. I remember this dream, or at least the theme, the details are different each time but the basic story is the same and I aways wake up in a panic. And the disorientation can last a few minutes, sometimes I even have mini flashbacks to the dream in the first hour or so of the morning while I’m going about my morning routine.

The basic plot of my dream is that I have skipped or missed most of the lessons of a college math class and I am going to fail the exam, which I’m rushing to get to class to take because I forgot it was today because I usually skip class because I didn’t do the homework or studying because I skipped the previous class… and so on and so forth.

There is some logic to this dream. I was not strong in math coming out of high school and into college. And the first two years of college I goofed around, a lot. I was not studious, most of the classes I took were basic, general requirements that I didn’t need to put much effort into. And towards the end of my second year I got worse as I started to work more and more at the fish store till I eventually dropped out to work full time. I even audited a couple of classes my last semester, having to come up with good excuses for my teachers to get their permission. It was during that last full semester that I took calculus 1. I passed but didn’t score great. And I promptly forgot everything. I was more focused on fish and coral.

When I went back to school full time, after almost two years and transferring to George Mason to get out of my hometown. I had to start over on math. As an Computer Science major, I was in the engineering school and they had serious math class requirements. Based on my transcript I went directly into Calculus 2 my first semester at Mason. And it quickly became apparent that I knew nothing about calculus.

When I was at Mason I was determined to do well. From the start. And there were a lot of math to come so I had to get my shit in order. It was either audit Calculus 2 and go back to Calculus 1 the next semester or find some other way to dig my way out. Repeating Calc 1 the next semester was going to put me even further behind than I already was having transferred in. As it was I was going to have to take some summer classes to catch up to where I should be as a third year engineering student.

So… I went to the book shop and purchased the companion books to the text book. There were two book; one with worked solutions to all the problems in the textbook (I think it covered the first half of the book only, but given that that textbook —Calculus, 5th Edition by James Stewart, I still have it!— was used for Calc 1, Calc 2, Calc 3 and DiffEq 1 and DiffEq 2 the first half was enough to start with…) and one with extra problems, with solutions, for studying or practice.

I spent night after night over the rest of the semester sitting in the library working my way though every page and problem, starting with chapter 1. Working the examples, homework and extra problems out of the additional book. I made it through all the chapters covered in Calc 1 and then continued on with the chapters covered in Calc 2 until I finally caught up with my class just in time for end-of-semester exams. I passed, in fact I got a good grade, a B I think, somewhere I have my transcript.

I kept it up all the way through Calc 3 and in many other math classes beyond. I managed to keep all my grades up, I graduated with a GPA of 3.8 (transfer credits from my first couple of years don’t count in the official GPA thankfully).

I think it was this first semester of Mason, and how many hours I spent sitting, by myself, struggling to catch up on my math. Racing against the coming exam, that seared into my brain a panic of not being ready for my exam. My mind somehow combined that with the stress, and shame for auditing so many classes, from that last semester before I dropped out back in Charlottesville, too cook up this reoccurring dream —this nightmare— of not being ready, having skipped too many classes and unable to audit the class because it’s too late…

So other people are having nightmares about loosing their teeth or snakes while I awake in a panic about not being ready for my math exam.


Wild Singapore

The other day I was walking to the local coffee shop about 7:30 AM, which has become my routine since lockdowns ended but I amd still working for home, just to get out of the house before the full day of meeting in front of the camera starts. As I walked along the Park Connector (Singapore’s name for it’s extensive, and growing, network of walking/biking paths) that parallels the Sungai Simpang Kiri drainage canal I was lucky enough to see a family of otters playing and hunting fish in the canal:

Otters playing in the Sungai Simpang Kiri drainage canal, between Canberra Drive and Yishun Avenue 2

My older daughter said she saw a single otter here a few months ago; this time I have seen any, and a whole family of them.

Otters have been an increasingly common sight in Singapore over the past decade. Based on several articles online I understand that otters went “extinct” in Singapore in the early 1970’s driven out by pollution and urbanization. Otters were once again spotted in Singapore in 1998 but became a big deal in 2014 when a family moved in to the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio area. Today there are some 10 families living around Singapore, many in densely populated areas and even downtown amid the skyscrapers. Singapore’s policy of greening the city, to achieve Lee Quan Yew’s vision of a “city in a garden” is, apparently, working.

There is a lot of green in Singapore, many streets are lined with trees and bushes and though these are manicured they do provide a home for many small animals. If you keep your eyes open you can spot changing lizards among the flowers. The drainage canal and the green around it is where I see the most wildlife when I’m on my way for a cuppa or to the train stop or out for a walk to get some exercise.

Over the years I have seen a lot of wildlife along the canal. There is a family of parakeets that I see some mornings, a big kingfisher, and lots of other long necked fishing birds hunt in the canal. I’ve even seen an owl at night sitting on the railing by the canal. On several occasions I have seen a large monitor lizard swimming in the canal or walking in the grass along the side of the canal opposite the Park Connector. I once saw a horseshoe crab in the canal.

When I walk at night further along the Park Connector there is a small open field that is filled with the chorus of crocking frogs and buzzing cicadas. So loud you can hear them over the nearby traffic:

It’s one of the benefits of living in Singapore, despite it being one of the most densely packed places on earth and a modern city (or maybe because it’s “modern”) there is a lot of green. There is significant money put into planting and maintaining green spaces. That means they are all groomed spaces, plant trimming along the roads is a major cause of traffic jams on a weekly basis. A few years ago there was a factoid that Singapore spent over $50 million on maintaining the trees and other pants along the roads every year, almost a million dollars a week. But it does make for a much more pleasant city.

Supporting wildlife does occasionally lead to some conflict though. The otters do get some negative press as they have grown to be a larger presence. Also a woman was gored by a wild boar a few years ago in the same park that the otters first became famous in. The boar most likely wandered into the park from the larger central catchment area which is mostly unmanaged jungle in the heart of the island. I’ve only ever seen a boar on Pulau Ubin, one of the small, mostly wild islands around the main island of Singapore.

The central catchment is also famous for it’s long tailed or crab eating macaques. I’ve taken a few photos [] of them.

During the COVID19 lockdowns the people who do this work, foreign workers from China, Thailand and South Asia mostly, were locked away in their dormitories and all work stopped. The suffering of these migrants is another story, but… as far as the green spaces and the wildlife they support the months of no maintenance was a boom time. Plants that are normally trimmed or mowed down every month were left to flourish on their own. In some places along the Park Connectors near my house the foliage grew to such a height that it formed a wall on both sides. grasses and bushes grew over my head, more than 2 meters tall.

Insects and birds took full advantage of the growth. Butterflies and bees became a much more common site. The smell of booming flowers was heavy along many paths. Swarms of caterpillars and millipedes covered the sidewalks in the late summer of 2020; crunching under foot if you were not paying attention.

When the workers did return it was a shock to walk down the Park Connectors again. I had become used to the wall of green that separated me from the roads, blocking more of the light and sound. When the pants were cut, from two meters down to half a meter it was jarring.

Today the plants are cut back regularly once again in most places, but the government seems to have decided to leave some of the medians along the road and less populace areas to grow, allowing the small grasses and wild flowers to boom and support the bees and butterflies which in turn support the birds.

I wish the government would find some way to remove some of the concrete that lines all the waterways in Singapore. Since seemingly every waterway is a concrete lined canal there are no fireflies in Singapore. I heard that 50 years ago they were a regular part of the hot humid nights and I would love to see them again.

Overall Singapore has done a good job. It’s greener than most any city I have ever been to. And even if on going construction leads to many large trees along the roads being cut down there is a concerted effort to provide open and green spaces, and not just in parks, but along the roads and smaller plots of government land. Being able to see green plants and wildlife every day make life in the city much more pleasant.

Featured image includes screenshot of Singapore from [], a photo of the downtown Singapore showing the Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay from Adobe Stock and various icons from Adobe.


Not dead…

I Realized I have not updated since I posted about having COVID19 []. If you only got to know whats going on with me via my blog you might think I got really sick due to the lack of updates. Not that anyone actually reads this regularly, but a theoretical person who only read the blog might think that. It’s been six weeks since I posted the positive ART test. But I got over being sick in about 3 days… though it took 12 days to get a negative test result… as I posted on Facebook on day 12:

On the twelfth day of COVID
My infection finally gave to me
A negative ART 
Twelve days of ART

Even though the protocol here in Singapore is (or was) that you don’t need to test after day 7, you can go out as normal if you are symptom free after that. But I wanted to see how long it took after talking to a lot of colleagues in Singapore and other countries that all said it took a few weeks to get over the cough. And, yeh, it took me about 3 weeks, so even longer than I tested positive I was still coughing when I would talk for very long in meetings and such.

Anyway, I have other things I want to post, I’ve just been too busy. So, hopefully I can get back to a close to weekly posting schedule after my almost 6 weeks hiatus.