Thursday, 29 October 2009


Yum, Yum! ( Will write more later )

Thursday, 22 October 2009

First Week at Work

Well, things have been a bit hectic to put it mildly, hence the lack of blog posts. Also not had the chance yet to get any decent pictures in and around York, so apologies for the pretty bad one above.

That shot was actually taken while Rachel and I were out last Friday celebrating my first Week at work. And it was a very busy week aswell; down to London a few hours after starting at the new place in York, attended meetings (tried to keep up with everything that was being said) out in the evening for drinks and food with everyone, then more meetings before finally travelling back.

This week has been equally manic learning everything I can and trying to get up to speed. I am actually really enjoying myself, everyone is so nice, fun, clever and just fantastic to work with and the job I'm doing is fascinating and I am, hopefully, managing to learn lots of new things.

Still got lots to sort out in my life this and next week including hopefully moving house at the end of the month aswell as other personal stuff. So going to be mad busy for some time to come!

Friday, 9 October 2009

RAW processing on Linux

A technical post for a change (and the last entry for today as I've other things to be getting on with) and one that I hope will help others that may be struggling with the very same problem I faced.

I'd been using RawStudio on Ubuntu Linux for processing the RAW images from my Canon 350D camera. The results were fine and I didn't have any real problems, although I seemed to have to adjust the settings on almost every picture to get them to look right. I assumed that this was just down to what the camera captured and that having to tweak everything was just a natural thing to do.

I tried to use the same programme to handle images from Rachel's 500D camera and it got totally and utterly confused. The colours were completely off and while installing the latest daily snapshot did fix some of the issues it wasn't ideal. That said RawStudio is still a fantastic programme and it's very simple and easy to use.

Instead I found an application called RawTherapee which has proven to be much more successful and handles all the images flawlessly and, be default, appears to 'guess' the correct settings for all the images I've tried so far, both from the 350D and 500D cameras. The only criticism I have is that it's not as intuitive to use and is also complex in to deal with all of the available settings. However, all the available features means that it's incredibly powerful and I've already managed to 'rescue' some images because of it. For example there is a rotate feature which had meant some pictures that looked slightly wonky could be straightened very accurately and now look great.

To be completely fair, after a few sessions of use, I'm now getting use to the interface and I intend to use this for all the image processing from now on. I think I need to get my monitor calibrated at some point as well but that will have to wait until I can borrow something to achieve that (the tools are very expensive to buy apparently and the monitor I have - a Dell 2209WA (bought from Scan) - is meant to be fairly close to the right settings by default anyway.

Here's a screenshot of RawTherapee in action (in-expertly I should add, this is me using it here).


I've obviously been visiting York since that is where Rachel lives and is also the location of the new job. However, I've yet to actually get some pictures of the city, which is rather frustrating since my visits have seemed to coincide with fantastic weather. I should say though that I think the place is absolutely beautiful!

I was sat by the river yesterday, reading my book, and it was just so picturesque and magical that I was really tempted to rush back to the car to grab my camera. Once I move I'm determined to capture pictures of the city and surrounding areas of interest at every opportunity. For the time-being, here is a shot from Fountains Abbey which is a National Trust site not far from York itself.

Get over it

A friend of mine posted on her blog about been dazed and confused following the fact that her wife of many years has moved out of the family home. This was the arrangement they agreed on because of the tension caused by my friend's trans issues and was meant to be an occasion for relief, maybe even joy, at the freedom it bestowed. Instead my friend feels sad and lonely and the impact seems to have been nothing like she expected.

There is a very valuable lesson here: while logic and pragmatism may dictate changes in your life it is impossible to use any reasoning to prevent what you may feel. You can't walk away from a long term relationship without being upset about it, nor can you just turn off caring about someone who you loved and have many happy memories with.

I guess this is something that everyone learns in life sooner or later but it is worth bearing in mind in the case of those thinking of transitioning and the people around them. Someone's need to transition is compelling and may seem to exclude all other thoughts and feelings but that is not the case. Everyone concerned will go through so many emotions and, while there is nothing you can do to prepare for that, you can't dismiss it and claim that "it won't happen to me", it will.

Happy Girl

While I was driving back from York yesterday I was listening to one of the three 'happy songs' CDs that I have in the car - these are mixes of cheerful music that I made to keep me up-beat while on journeys that are long because of distance or delay (I have an equivalent play-list I use on my phone's mp3 player for cycling up big hills).

One of the tracks is Happy Girl by Martina McBride which is fantastic to sing along to and just make yourself feel happier and cheerier. The lyrics do actually apply well to me and it got me thinking that, with everything I have been through over the past few years, I am still very much a happy girl and in fact always have been. I think I've mentioned this on the blog before but it's worth pointing out again.

There are times when I do feel low and there are certainly posts on the blog which sound like I may be upset, angry, bitter, and depressed. My inarticulate writings may not be able to convey my feelings properly and it's quite possible that I come across as more negative, insecure or down-right insane than I actually am. The reality is that I am a positive person. I'm also approachable, open, friendly, and not in the least bit scary or indimidating. In short, I'm just a nice, happy, normal person.

This line of thinking brought me to the idea of stereotypes: I'm constantly surprised and intrigued recently by people who don't conform to my built-in set of expected behaviours from certain groups. I started to come to the conclusion that I shouldn't be basing my amazement at contradications to stereotypes but instead should approach everyone who is interesting from an individual perspective. This seemed akin to the view of "Wen the Eternally Surprised" who is a character in the Terry Pratchett book Thief of Time.

For example, I passed a large, elegant car (something from maybe the 70s that gently suggested 'classic automobile' and hinted that the owner had this from new and had looked after it well) on the motorway driven by an aged, white-haired Indian gentleman, wearing I suit or similar smart attire, and also occupied by several elderly ladies who appeared to be knitting and gossiping. Obviously the contrasts in terms of culture and skin colour, all based on stereotypes, were striking but I think just as individuals all the occupants of that car, and the vehicle itself would be amazingly interesting in their own right.

It also made me consider that the stereotypes concerning transgendered people may also be the background against which those who have not personally encountered anyone of this nature before view my comments. I'm not sure what the general view may be, I'm obviously biased, but certainly for the available documentaries and news stories of 'ordinary' transexuals we could certainly be perceived as complex, pushy, emotional, sensitive, obsessive, glamourous (I wish!), unstable even. I think almost any group portrayed on TV actually comes across like this, which says more about that medium than about the people being viewed through it!

Being trans myself I take a different perspective which I think is the one that, after the initial coverage of the gender stuff, is more amazing: it's everything else about someone that makes them truly interesting. I certainly use to enjoy the friendly curiosity of others concerning my trans nature, it made me feel special in some way, but now I realise that that attention is fleeting and also there are things about me just as there are about others that are much more worthy of discussion.

There are many examples of the other interesting aspects in peoples lives I have friends who, as well as being trans also; have a model railway shop, can sing and play guitar (and publish videos of themselves doing this - they would say they aren't that good, I just think they are brave and that alone is amazing), work as escorts (this may tend to a bad stereotype of trans people but it's nevertheless interesting), have a job as a welder, are financial experts, run restaurants, work in IT ... actually that last one is generally accepted as quite common lol!

The point is, we are all normal human beings, not extreme in any real sense, friendly, approachable, and fascinating ... just like almost everyone else you are likely to meet in the world. So, lets all try and throw away our stereotypes and see that we are all individuals ("Yes, we are all individuals!" ... "I'm not"), and all amazing, intriguing, and fascinating in our own right. There is so much to learn and experience out there, lets concentrate on that.

Botany Bay

With all the excitement about the new job and general manic week of packing and sorting things out, I've not got round to posting pictures from the weekend. There was a night out on Canal St to meet up with friends I've not seen in a long time (including Lucy and her girlfriend H) followed by a trip to Botany Bay to take photographs - it was the closest place that I could think of that had the kind of backgrounds that we wanted.

While writing this I was hoping to find some explanation of why this visitor attraction attraction near Chorley is named after a a bay in New South Wales but there doesn't appear to be anything in the 'about us' section. Oh well, more research.

Anyway, here are just a few of the shots that we got:

Rachel looking very fab and sexy here! I'm taking credit for the boots and skirt though as they are mine - rather annoyingly she looks MUCH better in them than I do!

One problem with dating someone who is good at photography is that the images are very clear, focused, sharp and show every imperfection and blemish! Expect there to be less photos of me in future lol! However, I need to take more photos like this one (on Rachel's 500D camera):

And one final one against a huge pile of rubble. It is quite strange that, while hunting for locations for photographs that it's possible to get excited about such bizarre things: "Wow, a huge pile of rubble ... lets take a picture!". I think I'm picking that up from Rachel and trying to think of my own ideas for what would make an interesting scene. I suspect that the only way to really get good is to learn from all the fantastic photographers out there and practice, practice, practice.

Monday, 5 October 2009

I spoke too soon ....



I can't believe it, I am so unbelievably happy, emotional, .... just crying with joy and emotion (damn hormones!).



Beginning to wonder ...

... whether my naive view that people would consider me on my skills and experience rather than the fact that I'm transgendered and look like some weird, ugly, freak, was just too optimistic.

I've had several rejections after face-to-face interviews now and, while there was only one incident where someone clearly could not hide their shock at seeing me, the lack of any feedback at all, or fairly lack-lustre reasoning, is making me think that I'm at a disadvantage because of my appearance and gender (well the trans nature of it).

While I can understand that companies are sifting through lots of CVs and conducting many interviews, I do think it is extremely rude and unhelpful to not provide any feedback at all, particularly as, in my case, I have travelled a great distance to get to some of the locations (and done it several times). I personally would obviously benefit a great deal from feedback as it has been a long time since I interviewed and my situation then was alot different.

As I said, I do recognise that the bad manners approach of not providing feedback, or even giving someone a definitive "no" and simple reason why they haven't been successful, is something that seems to apply in alot of cases, but I really can't help thinking that there may be that extra reason for me; "Frankly we think you're a weirdo and you'd upset/confuse/frighten too many people here so we don't want to hire you". Sounds extreme but given the number of looks I get from the general populace it's hardly an unsurprising view to suspect.

I'm not asking for special treatment or any amount of positive discrimination here, I'm very much against that as it's simply patronising and self-defeating. But some consideration for what I've gone through over the past few years would be appreciated, as well as allowances made for that fact that my self-confidence has taken a hammering would also be most helpful.

Being trans does not affect my ability to do my job, in some ways quite the contrary. However, I'm beginning to suspect that it does quite significantly affect my ability to get a job in the first place.

[ Update: Two points to make here. The comments above in no way apply to my current employer, and I should also state that one of the companies that I was indirectly criticising were not being rude but simply slow, they have actually returned with feedback. One final point as well; I don't name companies I've had dealings with here, that would be unfair, and I certainly don't publish who I work for! Also see the disclaimer at the top - my opinions here remember ]