From Olympus to the Olympic

I am free at last!

With my final exams over and the summer heat sporadically interrupted by a welcome downpour — so long as I have an umbrella or a raincoat about me, the rains are very welcome — I feel a lot lighter now; a lot less stressed out  — I am Prometheus freed from my chains!

It would have been sublime to say that with the semester through I can once again look at life in rose-colored glasses, but no — this darn April heat — I spend greater amounts of time melting in my seat, being thankful for cool air-conditioning when available, and moving sluggishly about my day. Talk about counter-productive. With the Khmer New Year just a few days away, you can expect to see my productivity meter drop.

Enter ice-creams. Oh, what manna from heaven these are in the heat of summer (except of course, it is nothing like manna. It would’ve rained upon the earth cold, wet blobs of beautifully scooped cream, covering the ground with layers and layers of dried, sticky residues afterwards — yes, you got the picture, I’m sure)! So a friend of mine had highly-recommended an ice-cream shop near where I live and last Sunday, I finally managed to bring myself over and get myself some of their highly-praised ice cream flavors.

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Upon entering the shop I was surprised to meet a familiar face, who professed to be a regular customer there. I immediately felt at ease being there, especially after being introduced to one of the owners of the shop — a cutie! He gave me taste-samples of their ice-creams and I decided upon the Earl Grey and Strawberry flavors. Absolutely delish! He says he made the ice-creams himself — now he’s even cuter! Okay, I’m going to stop there. I don’t want to go on and on about him because chances are I’d end up having a schoolgirl crush on him. Also, I’m going back there again this week and the last thing I want to happen is to find myself, well, shamelessly marveling. I’ll just put it at that. I don’t want to ‘marvel’ too much and then be found out. But before I move on to another subject, I just want to say that after he asked me if the familiar face is a friend of mine, I got one ice cream for free!

Later that afternoon, my friends and I met up at the Olympic Stadium to join the countless of locals exercising in public. Yes, at last, I did it! I used to snicker at these groups of people going about their fitness routines down by the Riverside or Sihanouk Blvd., but I guess it’s location, location, location. When you do it at the Olympic Stadium, it’s a lot more ‘sporty,’ more ‘seemingly-appropriate’ in comparison to the circus sideshow that is in the streets. Of course, I acknowledge that it’s all a matter of seeing — the fact that the Khmer people are interested in fitness (regardless of where they do it) is better than nothing.

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Before my friends arrived, I decided to take out my camera and practice my photography. My long-neglected hobby needed some quality time from me, and that afternoon was a good excuse to do it. I recently bought a second-hand Olympus XZ-1 point-and-shoot camera from a local game developer. I can tell that he doesn’t know much about cameras when he told me that the XZ-1 is a very good camera, better even than my Lumix. Um… I decided not to oppose him. He was clearly trying to sell me the camera, so of course, it was all sales talk. What I like about the XZ-1  is that it is considered to be one of the best point-and-shoot cameras that can optically zoom in to up to 4x and has a nice super macro feature — stuff I can’t do with my GX1 unless I constantly change lenses, which I sometimes don’t want to do depending on the environment. 

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So I tested it out at the Olympic Stadium and although it did deliver some very good photographs depending on the settings, the camera would just go funky on me (if left to it’s own devices). I got so frustrated with it that I missed some very good subjects over the unreliable ‘point-and-shoot’ promise. It has a Low-Light feature on the top dial but that was crap (or maybe I need a tripod for it?). The XZ-1 doesn’t do well with moving targets either, rendering Shutter Priority useless. Program Mode did not only fail to intuitively set exposure compensation for me, but it was giving me funky, negative colors on the OLED. Is that even normal?  OR was I conned into buying a camera needing repairs? iAuto was no better — ’nuff said. Therefore, I resorted to Manual and Aperture Priority a lot (or some of the Art and Scene modes, which I thought were pretty cool).

So, is it indeed the best point-and-shoot camera? …My blooming glutes! There was nothing easily point-and-shoot-y about it when I’m constantly tinkering with the settings. That’s what my GX1 is for. My old Nikon Coolpix P&S did a lot better, in retrospect. But hey, I still like the super macro feature, so that was one of it’s redeeming features.

Prior to the Olympic Stadium stint, I briefly tested it out at the Royal Palace. It was there that I noticed the whacked jobs Program mode and iAuto was giving me. But the Dramatic scene from the Art mode was wonderful.

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Maybe it’s about time I get myself a decent tripod.

Earlier this week, I visited a newly-opened milktea shop along St. 310 — Artease. I had their salted caramel brownie, which didn’t quite do it for me since I’m not a big fa of salt, and had hazelnut milktea with pearls in it, which was okay but maybe hazelnut is not my flavor. I love the turquoise couches though. It is a quiet and relaxing place to pass the time with — to read a book — while it rains.

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