Photography Milestone

This evening’s uploads to my Flickr photo stream saw the Woolamaloo Flickr pass the 24, 000 images mark. Since I first purchased a Pro Flickr account back in 2007 I have uploaded 24, 000 photos and videos to my Flickr, and it has taken some 33.7 million views of those images across those years, which to be honest is pretty damned amazing. Quite a milestone – to mark it I thought I would pick out some photos from 2022 so far:

Spring Day In Princes Street Gardens 03
People watching in Princes Street Gardens, folks enjoying a bright, spring day

Lock Life 06
Water pouring over a lock gate on the Forth and Clyde Canal

Smoke Signals
Sudden burst of warm, spring weather, of course some men will cook up a huge cloud of very stinky BBQ smoke to ensure everyone within a hundred yards is enveloped by it! It’s like an inexorable law of nice weather here…

Snoozing Rowboats 01
Evening light creating some lovely reflections of the old rowboats on the Union Canal at Harrison Park and the surrounding area:

Evening Reflections 03

Barefoot
Barefooting it at Porty Beach

Literary Butterfly 02
Came back from getting myself another pint to find the book I was reading had fanned itself out like this and was being illuminated by a burst of spring light coming in the pub window, of course I had to take a pic.

People Watching On Princes Street 02
Juggling a tote bag on Princes Street

Beginning To Bloom 02
The annual spring miracle as the cherry blossoms beging to bloom again

Falkirk Tunnel 06
The Falkirk tunnel for the Forth and Clyde Canal, finished in 1822, running some 630 metres. In an interesting historical aside, two of the navigators – navvies – who excavated this were Irishmen, Burke and Hare – yes, the later, infamous Resurrection Men and Bodysnatchers of Edinburgh’s Old Town…

Shoreline of Infinity March 2022 035
Krow on stage at the welcome return of the Shoreline of Infinity journal’s Event Horizon evenings in the Pleasance Cabaret Bar; as it was March, the month that includes International Women’s Day, the line up of musicians, performers, poets and writers was entirely female.
Shoreline of Infinity March 2022 015

Shoreline of Infinity March 2022 08

Peaceful Pub
Peaceful afternoon drink and read in Cloisters pub

Nothing Beats A Good Cuppa
Nothing quite like a good cuppa! Street photo of chap enjoying a cuppa in a cafe on the Grassmarket

Sunny Seaside Selfie Smiling By The Shore
Smiling seaside selfie by the sea shore (how’s that for alliteration?)

Daffies 01
Daffies!!!!

Holy Corner At Night 02
Holy Corner at night; improvised night shot, just after work so I didn’t have the tripod, made do with sitting camera on timer mode on top of the button box for the pedestrian crossing to steady it.

Paisley Book Festival - Nicola Sturgeon and Kathleen Jamie 01
First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, chairing a talk with the Scottish Makar, Kathleen Jamie, as the Paisley Book Festival in February, and bestselling Scottish author Denise Mina being interviewed at the festival.
Paisley Book Festival - Denise Mina 02

Wet Night In The New Town 07
Dreich night! Pouring rain on a cold, dark, winter night by the Royal Scottish Academy

Winter Day 04
Wee dusting of snow around Holy Corner

Evening Stroll By The Canal 09
Union Canal towpath at night, Fountainbridge

Evening Stroll By The Canal 03
Dusk on a winter’s evening at the Union Canal, viewed from the old, stone bridge at Viewforth

Six Nations Crowd At Haymarket 02
Stewards guiding the huge crowd coming from Murrayfield stadium after the opening Scotland versus England rugby match of the Six Nations.

Haymarket At Night 03
Haymarket at night

Evening Street 01
Shops and cafes at night, Bruntsfield

As ever click the pics to see the larger versions on my Flickr.

Reviews: The Kaiju Preservation Society

The Kaiju Preservation Society,
John Scalzi,
Tor/Macmillan,
Hardback, 272 pages, published March 2022

Jamie (whose gender is never explicitly mentioned) has put up with corporate nonsense and an entitled trust-fund owner of the tech start-up they are working at, to try and get ahead, only to find themselves laid off, right as the Covid nightmare is manifesting and Lockdown beckons. The only job they can find is delivering food during the Lockdown, and in a bitter irony for a company that her former tech company did the software for. Depressing as this is, it does lead to the happy accident of delivering to someone – Tom – who turns out to be someone they vaguely know, a friend of a friend sort of thing. And on hearing of Jamie’s recent employment woes, Tom reveals the animal protection charity he works for has been left short-handed at the last minute and he’d much rather have someone he knows if he can manage it.

Tom can’t tell her the full details, it is all very secretive, but it involves working with “large animals”, Jamie’s work would mostly be grunt work of helping move stuff and help out the science and tech teams, and the remuneration package is superb. Grabbing this offer, Jamie is soon given numerous shots for various diseases – including an early form of the Covid vaccine, not yet out to the public – and bundled off with a team of returning staff and some other new recruits to an airbase in Greenland.

The destination seems puzzling – what large animals are they working with here? But Greenland is just a way-point – from here they take a special portal, one of just a handful secreted around the globe, to, well, Earth. Except this is a parallel Earth, one where giant monsters, the eponymous Kaiju – are the dominant species. It transpires there are indeed numerous parallel worlds to our reality, but this is the only one we’ve been able to access, and only since the Atomic Age: nuclear energy, especially large-scale explosions, thins the walls between the worlds for a while. In fact one 1950s A-bomb test in the Pacific brought over a Kaiju looking for a radioactive snack, only to encounter the US Navy (yes, in this world the inspiration for Godzilla were the stories that leaked of this Kaiju incursion!).

In Scalzi’s world one of the reasons the atomic test ban treaties were agreed by world powers was not just for safety in our world, but to prevent more of these enormous creatures coming through – imagine if one entered our world near a major city. Of course only a few people know the reality behind this – the organisation, a number of senior members of world governments, and a few big corporate heads who also donate to the budget for operations (nice parallel to the billionaires having their rocket-measuring competitions at the moment, and yes these CEOs are just as big a bunch of numpties as you’d expect).

While bad things can and do happen to good people, for the most part this is a joyful romp of a book – it’s laced with a lot of humour (which will not surprise many Scalzi regulars), and the main characters (and even most of the supporting cast) are immensely likeable and indeed, loveable. Actually I came away from this with the sort of warm feelings for the characters as I have from Becky Chambers’s wonderful books, while Scalzi also works in some sound ecological themes and the sheer sense of wonder at such creatures really existing.

In an afterword, Scalzi reveals this was not the book he was originally writing; he was partway through something far darker when Covid hit. Lockdown, then falling ill himself, then a computer failure eating several thousand words of the work in progress, and he realised he just couldn’t finish it. Tor was understanding – it has been a weird two years for everyone – and with the weight of that book lifted from him, the Kaiju story popped into his head, and he wrote it swiftly, offering up instead of that grim, dark tale, something full of wonder and joy and humour. I don’t think I realised how much I needed this book, it left me content and smiling. An utter delight.

This review was originally penned for The Shoreline of Infinity, Scotland’s premiere journal of new science fiction.