The Alien Garden I Found on that Away Mission and a Woopra Review

Workshop Update

Thanks again for all the interest in the HDR Workshop we announced a few days ago.  All sorts of people have come out of the woodwork with great ideas, bonus offerings, and the like.  It’s gonna be awesome.  The available slots go on sale on Friday morning (right after midnight CST.)  From the looks of the first responses for HDR seminar, I think we could get over 100 there!  But, I’m only opening 10-15 slots because I want there to be plenty of one-on-one time.

Woopra Review

I wrote a short Woopra Review and included a video.  What the heck is Woopra?  You should know if you have a blog or website! Cali Lewis from Geekbrief.TV told me about it – so a big thanks to her! (watch her show… she’s a member of the Stuck In Customs Community List!)

Today’s Photo

Okay, here is a great mystery. I know you guys like it when I post a photo and you have to guess where it is. Y’all are so dang smart that you figure it out in just a few hours. This one is harder. I’ll be very impressed if anyone can figure out this humid place. Look at those wonderful trees! Who can believe something so cool is here in Earth…

The Alien Garden I Found on that Away Mission

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The Lost Souls of Malacca

This was a totally new way of dealing with death to me.

Malacca is a small seaside town in southern Malaysia. It has many Chinese residents, a majority of whom are still quite poor. When the family members die, there is usually very little money to give them a grave in a graveyard, so there are a multitude of shrines and temples in which families erect these miniature tombstones, stacked deep in rows. There are thousands and thousands of them. A photo is attached to each one, and most waste away with time. A few solitary ones remain behind.

In other news, there was a recent interview by the Homebody Blogger that I have been meaning to post. It has the over-the-top title of “Master of HDR Photography, Trey Ratcliff”. Well I don’t know about all that (!), but here is a link to the interview for you.

Lost Souls of Malacca

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A Slice of Life in Malaysia (and thanks for the Facebook fan club members breaking 1,000)

I spent a few weekends in the Chinese area of Melaka, which is on the southern coast. After it gets dark outside and you walk down the streets, you can always see little glowing lights coming from inside homes that are crammed together in the streets. There is a general clatter of Chinese voices with the clanking and scraping of dinner being made and shared. One of them had the door slightly ajar with a good mood coming out (picked up by my Jacobson’s Organ), so I craned my neck around inside with a smile to see what was happening. I had my camera in plain sight, and it’s always novel for them to see a whitey in this area of town. I gave an international greeting of “howdy”, and then the international sign of “can I take a photo of your interesting living area”, and then I snapped a single RAW for conversion to HDR later.

There are all kinds of interesting things inside if you look close… like a massive amount of eggs for a small home and also the ever-present Milo, which all Malaysians love and have in ready supply.

I checked the Facebook fan club today, which I should do more, and saw that it had broken 1,000 fans! Thanks everyone – that is cool. I am not sure the best thing to do on there yet; I’d like to occasionally do fun things there, like I do on Twitter, for people that like to see real-time updates or behind-the-scenes activity. If you have any ideas, feel free to start up a discussion thread there on the fan site and I’ll be sure to check in to see what I can do to help out!

A Slice of Life in Malaysia (and thanks for the Facebook Fan club members breaking 1,000 strong!)

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The Bicycle Builders and I added Facebook Comments to the Blog

In reverse order of the titles, some of you might notice that I have added Facebook Comments below, so now you can leave comments with the old style or the new style. I left both systems in place since there are so many good previous comments, and they are not really convertible. The New Facebook comments are pretty cool because they re-use your Facebook info, and it extends that community and network of friends, since all these networks come together nowadays. It took a tiny bit of coding to set myself up as a Facebook Developer, but it wasn’t so tough (I knew that major in Computer Science would come in handy some day!).

There is a very nice community of people that come here to the site! You all are very nice and helpful… you give excellent comments, help one another out, give me advice, and drop all kinds of cool info bombs on the crowd. Thanks for that! I hope this Facebook comment thing can help more people to join the fun.

Anyway, to the photo for the day. This is not the usual, but it was such a cool slice of life, I could not pass it up! I was walking through the streets of Malacca in southern Malaysia, and building after building have all sorts of industry spilling out of them. Many of them are just deep garages where people have holed up to perfect one craft or another. This one was full of thousands of little bicycle parts. I stood out front for a while, watching all of them slowly convert the metallic entropy into bicycles…

The second photo below was taken in a similar fashion, although it was in the backstreets of Bangkok, Thailand.

The Bicycle Builders (and I added Facebook Comments to the blog) (by Stuck in Customs)

Home Sweet Home

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The door in the back alleys of southern Malaysia

Some towns seem to have taken the meme of painting everything in nice colors very seriously.  I wonder how these things get started.  I assume, like other things, a few well-connected neighbors in conspicuous places start painting their homes with interesting colors, and then it spreads on its own.   Anyway, however it starts, I think its cool and I wish stuff was colorful like this everywhere!

The door in the back alleys of southern Malaysia (by Stuck in Customs)

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This is an unexpected visitor

There I was, minding my own business in the part of the temple where I probably was not supposed to be. But sometimes when you are just wandering around, you can meet interesting people. It reminds me of the Douglas Adams book about Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. If you are lost, follow someone that looks like they know where they are going, and you will end up somewhere you probably needed to be anyway.

So here I was in the back halls of the temple and this guy popped onto the scene. He seemed friendly enough. There was not a lot of spoken words, but there was a lot of international wild gesticulation which appeared to indicate that he worked part time at the temple to help clean up. Since we were in a remote part of Malaysia, I don’t think he got to see many white people with devil-blue eyes, and he seemed to enjoy twisting his head this way and that while grunting at me.

After just a short while, we ran out of things to wildly flail our arms about about, and I asked him if I could take a photo. He happily agreed, and started twisting his head again, looking into the camera.

It was a nice experience all around, and a gentle reminder that the most interesting things seem to happen when you are somewhere that you are not supposed to be, talking to someone you probably have no business talking to in the first place.

This is an unexpected visitor

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Waiting for a Blessing

I went into this small Hindu temple to do a bit of exploration. The colors and scents were rich and I did my best to stay out of the way of the blessing cycle. The priest asked me if I wanted a blessing as well, but I said no because I did not want to dilute Vishnu’s awesome power. The priest nodded in agreement, so I must have made some pretty good sense.

Waiting for a Blessing

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The Dragon Gate in Malacca

The little streets of Malacca had all sorts of interesting temples and stores full of antiques and curios. I don’t normally talk about curios in such high regard. Curios in other countries always seem better than curios in your own country. And thus, we end this diatribe on curios.

The Dragon Gate in Malacca

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A Chinese family sitting down for dinner

This was taken in the Chinese area of Malacca along the southern coast of Malaysia. All of the buildings in these streets are lit up with red lights as night falls and families gather for dinner.
A Chinese Family at Dinner

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Thanks at the Buddhist Temple

While walking around the city of Melaka on Saturday afternoon, I was getting lost on purpose through the back streets. I came across a Buddhist sanctuary and temple. As I came around the outer wall, I found this old guy meditating and begging. I gave him a few Malaysian Ringits and he said thank you while I took this quick shot.

He didn’t speak any English but continued to give thanks and bow to me while sitting calmly.

Thanks at the Buddhist Temple

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