Steel Giants

Happy new year.

Not sure about you, for me, 2015 was awesome for many reasons, photography being one, but blogging, not as much. Have you noticed that writing takes up so much time? And working takes up so much of that time. Luckily I did some freelance photography and actually got paid for my work in that regard!

As for 2016, I will be writing more regularly – so many ideas, I love that introspective space, but for blogging I’ll be going for short, sharp and punchy, a selected photo and a poem of some description. Maybe a few reviews, maybe some other things. I just want to see how it flows.

The paid photography work I did last year centred around architecture, office interiors and the latest AV technology. All things I’m interested in! I absolutely love Canary Wharf because from an architectural point of view, it’s like another world.

The photo below is a crop of One Canada Square in Canary Wharf.

 

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This was taken April 2015, the day was beautiful and the sky had never been so blue.

The biggest challenge is taking straight shots from the ground with a standard lens. This was tricky and required only minor manipulation to get it exactly straight, but the original on Flickr allows you to zoom right in and peer into each window. I’m guessing that the people are sitting behind the blinds because the sun was so direct and penetrating, but the result is a building that appears to be completely without a living soul in sight… though it would have been poetic if someone had been peering pensively out, somewhere three quarters up.

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I love this shot.

As my daughter flipped through the photos of this day, she observed that some of them made her feel so incredibly small. It is akin to walking among giants.

Steel Giants

Occupied Towering
Bastions of Wealth
Fortress’s Fortunes
Peers across Thames

© Copyright Nicki Ki
All Rights Reserved

Sometimes all it takes is a bit of perspective

A Day in Diepsloot by Nicki Ki
A Day in Diepsloot, a photo by Nicki Ki on Flickr.

Step out of the comfort of your paradigm and see what happens when you try something new, or see something from a completely different point of view.

Perspective Emerges

Diepsloot is home to an estimated 150,000 people, most of whom live in 3mx2m shacks made out of metal, wood, plastic and cardboard, lacking access to the basic services that we probably all take for granted. Running water, sewage containment and refuse removal would be welcomed in this place that started out as a transit camp of people waiting for land to become available and has become a permanent settlement, a town springing up from the makeshift cabins.

Most Diepslootians use paraffin stoves and coal for cooking, and candles for light. Some shacks have electricity and use a prepaid meter, but this is expensive, and so used sparingly. Also with the load balancing (to compensate for the lack of foresight to prepare the electricity grid for wide scale town expansion) this is probably the best way to limit the power consumed in this high density area. City officials estimate that about half the population in the settlement is unemployed.

There are so many settlements like Diepsloot out there and there are horror stories that occur that you would not believe. But amidst the poverty, violence and chaos that arises out of an extreme lack of anything, fuelled by unattainable aspiration continually pumped out by the media wagon, exists a home that is loved by its inhabitants who have collected together as a community against the onslaught of the world at large.

These are the people who have very little more than a makeshift roof over their heads, family, friends, and often too little food to go around… and from these meagre foundations these Diepslootians still manage to live long, and love.

These are the people who the broken promises affected the most adversely, and this is also part of what makes Diepsloot so inspiring. The seeds of a brighter future are already here — once people figure out how to bring it all together they can only grow from strength to strength.

In our day-to-day, we spend way too much time complaining about trivialities and forget that our comfort and luxuries are not a birth right, but a privilege – an accident or a karmic predestiny even, of location and luck.

What happens if it turns out that karma is true, what then? What are we going to do to ensure that the world you’re born into isn’t a lot more like this one, and a lot less like the one we’re desperately holding onto?

The more poverty grows across the globe, the more likely it is that a future incarnation of you could end up in a transit camp that becomes your home, while waiting for the promised land. I often find myself wondering why those with all the resources don’t invest in creating the promised land to which we’ve collectively aspired on an archetypal level?

Truth is none of us are here forever, not everyone is going to heaven or hell, some will continue with their own beliefs and quanta makes it all possible. Is anyone actually prepared to face the future they’re in all likelihood coming back to fix?

Often we complain when we feel that we have too little, or when something isn’t fair, or when we have to push a little harder to get what we really want out of life. Yes, I’m sad that tax credit cuts are going to affect a lot of people, but at the same time where is the entrepreneurial spirit of people to rise up and take back their own personal power that they relinquished when they fell into the arms of the state?

Nothing is stopping anyone really, it’s just not easy and that’s a given. It’s just that people have relied on the help of the state without pushing for fairer wages and now that it’s not going to be as easily accessible, baby bird needs to leave the nest, and seek their fame and fortune in the big wide Britain.

This doesn’t let the state off the hook however. There are iniquities that should not exist and it is good there’s a democratic process in place for people to heave-ho and push back on. But seriously, people need to pull up their socks and apply their wonderful British education that is a thousand times better than anything on offer anywhere in the world, and certainly not in Diepsloot. Be thankful for your schooling, don’t take it for granted. Apply it as best you can.

Is a job in an office with air-conditioning really more secure than a business run out of a tin shack, sprawling out onto a dusty front yard? The rent is higher and if you’re not generating profit, you’re a business cost (aka the first out the door when the client can’t pay). If you are generating profit, you have to do it continually, it can never end or you’re out the door. Whatever line of work you do in fact, if you aren’t passionate about it, it’ll make you unpleasantly stressed.

Cycling is a global thing isn’t it?

Cycling is the one mode of transport that just never gets old. It’s the most genius of all the inventions ever invented. Why doesn’t everyone have a bike? The thing about Diepsloot is, when you see someone riding a fancy, shiny bike, there’s always a possibility that they didn’t buy it, you want to be charitable and sometimes these things get donated… but for a kid in Diepsloot, a bike is something they really need and unless they get given one, they might never learn to ride – it’s true freedom. Maybe we could help heal the world by teaching everyone how to manufacture their own bikes by the millions. Make billions of shared standard bikes available like in Amsterdam, so that it’s just not worth anyone’s while to steal them.

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Running a business doesn’t have to be complicated, or expensive in terms of marketing. Especially when you’re situated on the main drag through a blooming town. What you learn, can never be taken from you and even if you don’t have a formal education with a piece of paper qualifying you for a long term desk job, it doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed – it just means you’re not going to pass a corporate screening test any time soon.

So, what is the definition of success? I’d argue that in many ways, the gents in the picture above are freer than most. They tinker with cars, hang out in the shade and share their varied and sometimes profound philosophies of life. The guy lives in the back and literally only has to roll out of bed to get to work, where everyone comes to him.

Isn’t that most people’s idea of a dream job? 🙂

Sitting at a desk, typing, taking calls all day and getting stressed out by the way your manager eyeballed you in the corridor last week is hardly hard work. If you don’t have to have a serious bath at the end of your day, or buff some thick callouses, it’s really just cushy busy time. In the paradigm of reality creating work for people to do pushing papers around to count everything that happens, this can be stressful. But try explaining that paradigm to the guy who in his paradigm is assigned the practical job of laying poop-pipes to keep it all flowing.

Try to stress less about it.

We talk about first world problems as a joke – a bitter truth – and sure they’re equally valid for the stage of civil progression and worth talking about so that we can all learn more about what we’re all about… And sure there are things that happen that wind us up, increase anxiety and stress levels… But really, when we take a look at the reality of what’s happening elsewhere, maybe remembering that it’s just a paradigm and you can change it, things aren’t as bad as they could be and this is a viable comfort, and there’s absolutely nothing on Earth stopping you from doing anything.

Except you.

Start at figuring out what it is you want to do, and work out from there.

Nicki Ki ©
All Rights Reserved

Dark Twists by Ian Kirby

Looking for something dark and twisted to read for Thanksgiving?
How does this grab you?

Dark Twists – Volume 1: Thin Red Smile / Evil & Chaos Limited / Her Powder Mask

Three self-contained short stories out of a collection of twelve (coming soon), that directly or indirectly link to one another creating an overall story arc bring the best of both worlds of novels and short stories.

PictureSince his wife disappeared under horrifying circumstances in 1998, William Ryan lives as a recluse, driven and scouring every single news source for clues to explain the mystifying circumstances and coincidences surrounding what happened to his wife one fateful night.

Drawn to articles and fictional interpretations of events about the supernatural, the terrifying and the bizarre – searching for the answers to all the questions he’s amassed, he collects them in huge multi coloured dog-eared scrapbooks, annotating them in story form as a desperate reach for closure.

Now, for the first time, he has consented to the publication of the first three tales from this vast and twisted collection. The contents contained notes made by William and presented for contest at the beginning of each story.

1. Thin Red Smile
Drake Winters is recovering from a recent messy break up. But when drawn to a mysterious author at a work event, will he be able to restrain his darkest desires?

2. Evil & Chaos Limited
Just how far will some corporations go to meet their aims? Evan Dale is managing one of the most secretive projects in his company’s history, facing horrifying challenges from above and below. Will Evan succeed before the darkness finally closes in?

3. Her Powder Mask
Once upon a time, Freddie wanted to go to the lake house. Everyone else was afraid, so he went by himself – and what he would discover would change his young life forever.

Despite this being his début, Ian Kirby knows his favourite genre incredibly well. He brings forth characters and situations that are memorably haunting.

Scheduled for release early next week, Dark Twists – Volume 1: Thin Red Smile / Evil & Chaos Limited / Her Powder Mask is available for Kindle pre-order.

Doctor Who: Series 9: Episodes 3 & 4

Spoilers below, please watch before you read… yes, it was worth it in the end.

For the first time in living memory, I fell asleep during a brand new Doctor Who episode, Under the Lake. Fair enough, just moved house and new homes take a while before they smell “normal” and I was tired etc. But it dragged in places. The Doctor and Clara dialogue was a bit flippant, the monotone revelation “oh my gawd it’s a ghost” was unbelievable…

This is more like what I’d have expected as a reaction: http://growld.com/25-perfectly-timed-photos-of-people-being-terrified/

So I embarked on the second episode Before the Flood with vast measures of trepidation… the Doctor dead, behaving like an idiot really… I’d moaned so much to the Captain about how two-parters all the way through is going to be so torturous that I might wait to watch it every fortnight, that I’m sure his ears are evolving the ability to fold in on themselves.

But it was a really good finish to what I thought was a laborious start. Think I’ll press on.

On the plus side of two-parters there’s the characterisation… more time means more words, feelings and thoughts. By the end the characters feel familiar.

The Doctor is tinkering in time, he’s aware of it but doing it anyway. I get a sense that this is part of the cause and effect of altering too much, creating too many ripples. It reminds me of a Tom Baker(?) season — I’ll need to get back to you on which one once I’ve found it — where it all ended up returning back on itself and everything that had happened, had ceased to exist. that’s how I remember it from the perspective of an old memory (30ish years ago). Maybe this is laying pipe for the series arc. Maybe it’s nothing.

The monster was awesomely hideous and the outcome was not without some of the Magician – an archetype which Capaldi brings life to in his portrayal. Clara and the Doctor’s relationship is still interesting to observe, but this series is unburdened by all the foreshadowing at the beginning of the last. It’s difficult for me to say which one was better because overall I loved series 8 – so much so that I really thought about it a lot. It really piqued my interest and I’m not sure that I feel the same intensity for Series 9.

What can I say? It’s lovely, polished and high quality programming from the BBC (No it should never, ever be sold off! Is everyone stark raving insane? It’s a British Institution, belongs to the people of Britain, there’s nothing like it anywhere else on the planet… what next? Suggest selling the Crown Jewels?) Inconceivable! The stories are strong (last night’s episode was a real doozy) and everything is good. I don’t know if there are plotholes (like potholes with a plah)… we’ll have to wait and see.

But I have had a couple of wonderings… if the Doctor is changing time in large and small ways could this help lure Gallifrey back into the right dimension? There is no authority higher than the Doctor when it comes to time. He’s inadvertently given Davros something from the Time Lords – Daleks till the end of time? Wouldn’t these timey-wimey tidal waves create signals for the Time Lords locked in whatever bubble they’re locked into so that they can work their way out again from the inside.

Doctor Who: Series 9: Episode 1 and 2: Definitely SPOILERS Beware

There are definite spoilers below. Don’t read if you don’t want to know what happens. Watch both first. They were excellent and engrossing.

I haven’t felt all that compelled to write much about series 9. Sure I’ve enjoyed it, there are some interesting moments. Love that Missy is the evil companion, she and Clara juxtapose nicely against the doctor. Clara’s got more eyebrows, or different eyebrows… the current trend right now is thicker eyebrows like the luscious Cara Delevigne, so presumably this is the reason for the slight change in make-up.

Missy is a lovely parody… imagine knowing somebody like that? What a handful, yet quite insightful. What her purpose is is probably ultimately evil, but there’ll be some kind of sting in that revelation. Looking forward to it. Will be disappointed if this is an empty premise.

Davros… the backstory to the backstory is just beautiful time lord poetry. He goes even further back in Davros’s timeline than he did before in Genesis of the Daleks, from the position of being so far in the future of his own timeline — if the timeline is linear of course… for all we know, Time Lords live variably.

The music sounds like it should, like nothing else could have improved it. The camera work and effects were really good. The snakes scary and Davros so wonderfully diabolical.

Davros is the enemy we hate to hate and his control is submission and dominance. The snakes came across as phallic to me, the male to male relationship stood out and it created an interesting dynamic. Davros the master was slave to the snake who was held in place by an unknown source of loyalty.

Clara as the Dalek was thought provoking in light of her debut with the previous Doctor as a Dalek in the Dalek nut house.

By saving Davros, the Doctor salvages some of the damage instilling mercy into the core make-up of the Dalek by installing into Davros in the first place. Such a powerful outcome actually.

So yep, loving the new series, looking forward to later.