A very cute Hong Kong resident

Filed in Digital Hunter, Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the DayTags: ,
Cute Squirrel!

I was able to get several good close-up photographs before he/she got nervous and ran away to the next tree over. This is one of the better ones. Is he cute or what?

For a 340x510 version, click here.

A couple of weeks ago before coming to L.A. while completing some chores in and around Causeway Bay, I was waiting in my car at a red traffic light when I suddenly saw something in the trees ahead of me. I immediately backed my car into the striped stopping zone behind me, picked up my camera and raced over to the trees.

In the 19 years that I've lived in Hong Kong, I've only seen these cute animals once, for just one glancing second in a tree near a friend's home in Repulse Bay. That was when I first realised that we have squirrels in Hong Kong. We don't have squirrels in Australia; we have wonderful possums but no squirrels; so getting the chance to photograph one in Hong Kong was a big thing for me.

I should have used a higher ASA speed but the photos turned out ok anyway.

L.A. — First (second) impressions

Filed in L.A. (Sept 2006), Travel

Six days. That's how long I've been here in L.A. It feels like forever. I can hardly remember getting off the plane at LAX and catching the buses to my motel. Did I say buses? Yep. Three to be exact, but I managed to get to the motel for only US$5.50 instead of US$50 or more if I'd caught a taxi. I'm a student here, and I therefore need to keep my expenses as low as I can although I still occasionally spend a little more for better food.

L.A. is not an attractive city to me personally. I much prefer Hong Kong, or Brisbane (Australia), or the beautiful Blue Mountains (Australia). My home in Hong Kong is surrounded by bush and country. My home in Australia is also surrounded by bush and I grew up in the country so it's only natural that I prefer country to the city. For me, the city is an impersonal place where many people live superficial lives, where what you wear and what you drive (and how large your -silicon- breasts are while the rest of your body remains as skinny as possible) identifies who you are rather than the real person within you, and where people compete nonstop to better each other in financial and status terms. It's not a good way to live.

L.A. is also a city where many of its inhabitants have come here hoping to be tomorrow's superstar, the next big TV celebrity, America's next millionaire. The sad fact is that most people fail and resign themselves to 'ordinary' lives here with 'ordinary' jobs, assuming that they can even find good work at all. What a lot of people don't realise is that more than 5000 people come into L.A. every week hoping to be the next big thing. That's a lot of people. Unfortunately, to get any decent chance of succeeding in the entertainment business, it is essential that you have an agent. However, most of the agents are very full; i.e., no vacancies; and unless you're incredibly special, or very sexy, or can get wonderful inside references, there's very little chance of getting an agent. It's therefore near-on impossible to get anywhere in the business here. Does that mean that people shouldn't try? If I didn't say No, I'd be a hypocrite. How could I, someone who flew on a one-way ticket from Australia to Hong Kong with the dream of becoming a Cantonese pop singer, tell others not to try when success is so remote? How could I, someone who has not given up after 19 years in Hong Kong tell others not to try? I couldn't. The truth however is that it's very difficult to succeed in this business and if you're not ready for hardship, then you shouldn't try.

There are many things I don't like about L.A., but here are some of the things I do like about it.

The public transport system is actually pretty good. Armed with a portable computer and omnipotent access to the internet (in my case via T-Mobile at the Starbucks cafes), you can practically get to any place in the city. Simply log in to www.mta.net, specify your from and to locations and voila, MTA tells you how to get there, and all for a maximum of US$3 per day if you buy a Day Pass.

For me, the blue skies are very special. The horizons are usually brown with pollution but the middle sky is almost always blue and clear of clouds. After living in Hong Kong where the sky is more often than not white or yellow-brown, blue skies are a real treat.

The trees here are magnificent. They're old, huge, wise and majestic. They're wonderful to admire and respect. (The Mexican gardeners here do incredible work with the flora. Their tree trimming skills are truly admirable.)

Wildlife is far more limited in this city but I've already been enchanted by the squirrels and the humming birds. I already have a few (good) squirrel photos. I hope to get photos of the humming birds but just like the Sunbirds back home in Hong Kong, they're small, very quick and rarely stay in one place for more than one or two seconds. They're also not as common as I'd like so it may prove very difficult to get good photographs of them. But the way they fly and hover is hypnotising; absolutely amazing.

I'd like to post one or two of my squirrel photos but my 'clamshell' iBook (mine is Lime running OS X 10.4.7 on a 466MHz G3 processor with 320MB of RAM) is far too slow to process my photographs so you'll all have to wait until I get back to Hong Kong to see them. I'd like to get a new MacBook Pro but I'm waiting until Apple upgrades them to use the new Intel Core 2 Duo chips that they're now using in their iMacs. It'd be a shame to buy a MacBook Pro now only to see Apple release new MacBook Pros in two or three weeks for the same price but 15 to 20% faster.

I'd like to upgrade my Canon EOS 350D camera too. The new 400D is a very nice camera but it unfortunately doesn't offer everything I need. I'm particularly in need of a brighter and larger viewfinder. Much of my bird and animal photography requires manual focussing and the small dark viewfinders of the 350D/400D make it very difficult to focus accurately. Happily, the introduction of the 400D means that Canon will upgrade the 5D soon and when that happens, I'll upgrade. With any luck, the 5D will be upgraded around the beginning of 2007.

More later.