Sep 27 2012

Riverside Promenade

Category: Anna's Videos,Kazakhstan,Personal,PicturesChrisM @ 5:50 pm

When I am away in Australia, Irina will be looking after Tim and Anna on her own most of the time, and so wanted to check out what the park-like area near Anna’s playgroup was like. The idea being that whilst Anna is inside, Irina could push Tim around in his pushchair for some fresh air, without having to drive off.
Anna had been there before, so led the way as we discovered what it looked like. It was a bit too sunny to see my phone’s screen, but I decided to test out a new app I installed, and so this is my first attempt at an HDR picture on my phone, taken down by the river Ishim/Esil.

First Time Using An HDR App - The River Ishim (or Esil)

First Time Using An HDR App – The River Ishim (or Esil)


Next time I’ll try and experiment with altering the exposure bracketing manually, and get a feel for what works in certain lighting conditions. The image above obviously has problems in the darker areas, but the sky looks nice at least. I’ll also try and find somewhere with shallow water running over rocks or the like, as though often look really good. I probably shouldn’t expect too much from a phone, but I want to play and see what is possible.
Very near this photo is a statue of Ataturk (check here for Astana.kz ‘s impressive 360 panorama of the same place).



Anyway, it looks as though there are enough paths, benches and views of the river to keep both Irina and Tim occupied, and we may all return the next time our morning is booked up with other commitments. We also spotted the passenger ferry, which we’ve not been on since Anna was tiny, and if the weather holds out, we’ll try and take a trip before I go away.


Sep 19 2012

10 Months On…

Category: Personal,Tim's Photos,Tim's VideosChrisM @ 2:43 am

And Tim has his first haircut!
I had previously offered to trim some of his hair with my clippers, as (like his father) he gets very hot in the summer months, and it was starting to get a little messy in places. However, Irina was a little nervous about this, and wanted his first haircutting experience to be from a professional. Understandable. Anyway, Ira heard of a lady who worked in the Khan Shatyr shopping centre who specialized in cutting small children’s hair, so we popped over to check her out. She has a big toy car for them to sit in, a DVD player with cartoons to distract and, probably most importantly, a lot of patience.
Tim was OK for the first couple of minutes (Anna’s hair dresser said many small children get freaked out and think they are being attacked, so she didn’t cut very small kids’ hair), but then really didn’t like it. We didn’t ask for anything too brutal in terms of length, just a tidy up and enough taken away to keep him cool in bed. Anyway, see the following pictures and video for the result…

(I’ll upload and embed the videos tomorrow, I need some sleep!)


Sep 14 2012

Scooting Around The Park

Category: Anna's Videos,PersonalChrisM @ 12:29 pm

I’ve taken the information and media from a few tweets and condensed them down into one post, as the blog looked very bare with just tweets recently…
We went for a quick walk around the park opposite us (though Anna remembered she had a scooter and so, suitably protected with knee pads etc), we decided to go while the weather was still warm enough. That said, if it dips below 23 degrees here, the playgrounds and park can look quite bare with many people staying at home. Anyway, after slowly getting down the main promenade leading to the green area of the park, Anna wanted to go on a trampoline…

Quick walk in the park before autumn closes everything down. ... on Twitpic

After she had used up her excess energy, and we continued walking through the park, eventually deciding to return to our favourite cafe there. The pepper steak was delicious, their paprika (and ??) covered wedges as superb as ever, and even Tim helped out by having a nap towards the end, leaving us some time to digest our food before making a move home.

Tim Napping At The Cafe

Tim Napping At The Cafe

The menu is in Russian and English (possibly Kazakh too, I can’t recall), they have an outdoor (but with a roof. ummm, no walls, you know what I mean hopefully) seating area, where you can smoke. The service is normally pretty good, though when they get a batch of new staff, it does sometime take a while for them to remember what is on the menu. As standard here in Kazakhstan, blankets are available for those dining who feel the cold, and the prices are pretty reasonable, especially considering the location and quality and selection of food available.


Sep 06 2012

Orwell Spinning In His Grave. Then Giving An Interview

Category: VideosChrisM @ 3:57 pm

Juice Media has finally released another Rap News. This time the topic covered is government surveillance of citizens. Well worth a watch, even if you think my occasional drunken (and often presumed paranoid) monologue-like ramblings on the subject are far fetched :-p


Juice Rap News: Episode 15 – Big Brother is WWWatching You. September 2012 rocks around with some crucial developments in the ongoing struggle over the future of the internet. Will it remain the one open frequency where humanity can bypass filters and barriers; or become the greatest spying machine ever imagined? The future is being decided as we type. Across Oceania, States have been erecting and installing measures to legalise the watching, tracking and storage of data of party-members and proles alike. If they proceed, will this place ever be the same? Join our plucky host Robert Foster as he conducts an incisive analysis of the situation at hand. Joining him are newly appointed Thought Police General at the Pentopticon, Darth O’Brien Baxter, and a surprisingly lucid Terence Winston Moonseed. Once again, in the midst of this Grand Human Experiment, we are forced to ask tough questions about our future. Will it involve a free internet which will continue to revolutionise the way the world communicates with itself? Or is our picture of the future a Boot stamping on this Human InterFace forever?

Do click over to the video’s YouTube page to read more.


Aug 22 2012

Muzak changes to live singing …

Category: Eating Out,Tweets,VideosChrisM @ 8:24 pm

Muzak changes to live singing at tre korana 🙂 http://t.co/h5Hv7nyZ

Muzak changes to live singing at tre korana  :-) on Twitpic

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Aug 11 2012

Saturday Yurt Pictures

Category: Eating Out,Friends,Personal,Pictures,VideosChrisM @ 10:48 pm

On Saturday, Irina’s Mum had her birthday celebration at a yurt near the Kaz Munai Gas building, on top of a restaurant. I’ve compiled the tweets into one post to tidy up the blog once more. I tried out the panorama mode on my phone’s camera, and shot a quick test video as well (I wanted to compare it to the old Touch Pro2’s videos. Igor, Natalya, Losha, Balzhan, Ildar, Dr Natalya, Sveta, Aunty Sasha and the Petropavlovsk side of Irina’s family all attended, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The service was good, and as each party has a yurt to themselves, we were able to keep the air con on for a while to prevent anyone from passing out in the heat 🙂

After a few toasts, those who aren’t playing outside are in this video…

After a few toasts, those who aren't playing outside are... on Twitpic


Aug 10 2012

Evening experiment with TwitPi…

Category: Tweets,VideosChrisM @ 9:13 pm

Evening experiment with TwitPic and video. Not what I’d hoped for, compared to photo in low light conditions. http://t.co/wbkT74JJ

Evening experiment with TwitPic and video. Not what I'd ... on Twitpic

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Jul 19 2012

God Particles And The Dark(er) Side Of Rupert Murdoch

Category: VideosChrisM @ 6:01 pm

I have been meaning to post more from the Juice team for a while. Here are a couple of recent ones.

Higgs Boson


A News Hope (Star Wars/Julian Assange mash up)


Jul 19 2012

Friends And Injuries

Category: Friends,VideosChrisM @ 7:06 am

On Tuesday evening, we invited DanS and Justin over for a meal and a bit of chill out time. With Justin due to escape Kazakhstan very soon, and Lara and the kids (as in the rest of DanS’s family) still away on a holiday, it seemed like a good time to fill up with food, talk, empty the cupboards of beer and drive and just spend a bit of time together without a bar’s sound system making conversation nigh on impossible without BSL 🙂
We decided upon burritos (I discovered that tortillas with food inside, wrapped up, can be called burritos, as not all burritos have a hard shell) as a) I wanted something tasty and b) everyone else is a lot less picky with their food. Given that we could take out pick from home cooked battered chicken, Heinz baked beans, cheese, peppers, chillis, tomatoes and of course a bit of ketchup and mayo, this seemed the easiest way for everyone to have exactly what they wanted for dinner. Justin was working late, so the rest of us ate and drank until it was time for Tim and Anna to be made ready for bed, at which point Justin arrived. Irina kindly fried up some more chicken, and we all sat round the table enjoying more food (and perhaps a little more alcohol 🙂 ).
Once the food was out of the way, the question of entertainment reared it’s head. I suggested the xbox, as it has been gathering dust for months now – Irina isn’t a gamer, and once the kids are in bed most days, if we have spare time, we try to find something we would both like to watch. Anyway, I remembered that the console wasn’t actually turning on last time I checked, so after triple checking all the connecting leads were OK, and then unplugging everything, leaving just power and the HDMI cable, there was still no activity. After applying the engineer’s touch (short sharp shock to the box), it kicked into life. We decided to use the kinect, and to play Kinect Sports after a little driving fun.
You can see a montage of our sessions below – sorry about the low quality, I am sure last year’s clips were better. I’ve cleaned the lenses since just in case. Anyway, first we have Dan and Irina – I can’t remember who won overall. Dan is VERY keen to point out he didn’t lose at the boxing mini game.


Justin and Me – This was a draw, however given that Justin hadn’t ever played this game before, I suspect any subsequent rematches would not end as flatteringly for me. Especially if the javelin game was involved (I never learn it would seem, as I once again pulled some random muscle/ligament type thing in my arm when over-exerting a virtual throw of the javelin, as I did last year)!

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Jul 01 2012

Name That Tune! (Please)

Category: VideosChrisM @ 2:18 pm

Anyone able to tell me (for Irina) what this song is?


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