Week 43.22

I am quickly finding out that owning a cat can be expensive (and this is even before the cat has arrived). So far we have purchased a grooming brush, a more extreme grooming brush for shedding season, a pair of nail clippers, a litter box and accessories, a motorized drinking fountain (TIL cats have evolved to prefer fresh moving water instead of stale water, so a regular drinking bowl will not suffice), an assortment of toys, a cat carrier, a reusable lint roller for our couch and other surfaces, a scratching pad — with still more to come, e.g. an automated feeder, a bed, anti-parasite medication, probiotic supplements, and on and on.

In the name of research I joined a couple of subreddits devoted to cats, and soon found myself sucked into a web of paranoia and anxiety. One poster said their “mental health plummeted after adopting a cat”, not because of any feline misbehavior, but their own neuroses — feeling chained to the cat and a routine of feeding it, playing with it, and cleaning up after it, afraid to leave it alone and feeling guilty whenever they stayed out late. While not feeling as unstable as them yet (there was a mention of crying all the way to the vet’s), I can definitely see myself having a miniature form of that reaction.

Add to that the cornucopia of diseases and mishaps that could threaten the life of our cat, and I’ve just bought myself a whole new world of things to worry about. Many of our house plants are also toxic to cats, and getting rid of them is starting to be a point of domestic disagreement. Cats are cute and companionable, they say, but no one mentions the conflict and debilitating despair.

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We saw local band Sobs play live at the Esplanade on Friday, in an annex theater I didn’t even know existed on the premises, and this being Singapore of course it’s been named “The Annexe” — a word so vile my autocorrect tried twice to stop it happening. It was probably my first standing-only show since the pandemic began, and honestly plus a few more years on account of age.

But oh yes, Sobs were great! They played their new album, Air Guitar, which comes out digitally next Wednesday. The sound was, unfortunately, poor as is usual for the Esplanade: muddy, vocals obscured, keyboards absent; amateur hour. These artists deserve better, and I don’t know when they’ll do something about it. It’s honestly crossed my mind to switch careers to sound engineering and give it a go myself.

I tried taking some photos and video with my iPhone 14 Pro just to challenge it. The photos suffered from the same grainy artifacts around moving objects that I noticed before, where sharp but low-quality images are presumably getting stacked onto long exposure images of higher quality and lower noise. It’s an issue with the Photonic Engine process, probably, and maybe one that can be fixed in an update. I would rather have motion blur than such unevenness, but that’s subjective. The 4K video was surprisingly good: stable, clean, and bright even with the 3x lens.

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I got some nice Twitter feedback from the devs on my Darkroom presets, and shared two more.

CPB: Short for Cross Process (Basic), a replica of the effect you get from the camera app Cross Process, a favorite of mine from the early days of the App Store by Nick Campbell. The app is still available for sale but is under new ownership now. This look is not subtle, with strong vignetting and center brightness, but a lovely blue/yellow bias that I suppose mimics cross-processed film (it’s been so long since I shot film I’ll take their word for it).

Clean Plate: A recipe designed to brighten up food photos and make them look a tad warmer and more appetizing. I use this often, sometimes it’s good enough on its own and sometimes it’s an appetizer.

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There was a new Taylor Swift album this week in Midnights, and boy does it sound great. I’ve enjoyed only a single play through so far, but it struck me as having a very Jack Antonoff-y sound (or is it just the sound of American pop music today?) — if you close your eyes, you can mentally swap Taylor out and it becomes a new Bleachers record.

We saw the first two episodes of The Peripheral on Amazon Prime Video and it’s just about everything I hoped it would be. If you haven’t read the book yet, you may as well just go straight in without knowing anything. One cool thing Amazon’s done here is have a QR code (at least on the TV app) that takes you to a microsite with more info on the show’s characters, key locations, and technologies. A DVD booklet for a streaming generation. I expect it’ll get updated as new episodes come out weekly as well. Don’t read it until you’ve seen it!


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