Thursday, November 15, 2018

I got a strange letter today

It was almost hysterical in an amusing way. It starts, above my name and address, in big bold letters (BIG LETTERS!) "Politicians in Ottawa are planning a new GUN BAN!"

As if there was ever an old one.

The letter is from the NFA, Canada's National Firearms Association. I hadn't known there was such a thing, but that's just me.

The phrase I see again and again is "law-abiding gun owners". Funny how you never see that 'law-abiding' part anywhere else. Do you ever see a headline, 'law-abiding homeowners protest property tax increase', or 'law-abiding car owners protest price of gasoline'? No, you do not.

So on with the letter. They say that Prime Minister Trudeau is planning to ban guns, based on a rumour that he asked a Minister to explore "harsh new regulations" regarding firearms ownership and a ban on guns. How do they know this?

They complain that they aren't being told what's being banned. Mainly, probably, because if they're just starting to look at the issue, they haven't got a proposal yet.

They go on to say that I'm like "law-abiding gunners across Canada" which I take exception to. I'm not like them in one important regard, in that I don't own, and have never owned any kind of a firearm. And no, that does not prevent me from having an opinion about firearm regulation.

They add "for many Canadians it's an attack on their very way of life." That's in bold, if you were wondering. Just a little over the top. I found several sources indicating that about 25% of Canadian households have a firearm of any kind. This varies dramatically, with rural and northern households far more likely to have firearms, and urban households less likely.

In more bold letters, they go on to say, "They'll stop at nothing to take our guns away and infringe on your rights." Except there is no right to own a gun in Canada. Like any other property, gun ownership is subject to government regulation. This government regulation is proposed, debated, perhaps amended, and signed into law, (or not) by democratically elected politicians doing their jobs under the scrutiny of the public. Presumably they are acting on behalf of all Canadians, but that's another blog topic for another day.

They do not say it in the letter, but they clearly think that more guns is better, and less oversight is better. The counter argument to that is just south of us. There is no developed country with the level of gun violence and mayhem than in the United States. They are the only country that sees children being shot in school, and do nothing. People going about their business in shopping malls, movie theatres, churches, or just strolling in the open air have been subject to so many mass shooting incidents they blur together. The United States is an effective counter argument to the concept that an armed society is a polite society. Except, wait, there aren't enough guns yet.

In case you were wondering, I will say loud and proud, I do not want to see that happening in Canada. If the price of that means making it more difficult to own a gun, especially automatic or semi-automatic firearms, I don't have a problem.

I was working for a company selling an asset management database when the long guns registry was a thing. We were baffled about the cost over runs and the difficulties involved. So I'm a bit dubious about the efficacy of further regulation around gun ownership and registration. I'd need to take a good look at the existing regulations, and what is being proposed to solve which problems, before coming to a final opinion. I'm also a bit, (a lot!) dubious the government intends to ban guns entirely.

It just reminds me of the hysterics when President Obama was elected. Even when he said out loud in front of God and everybody that his administration had no intention of banning or grabbing guns, the NRA went berserk flogging that fear, and gun sales escalated.

The main point of the letter is to ask me to buy a membership (to protect my rights!) so they can  send a petition to Trudeau "to abandon his (alleged) gun ban, and to show law-abiding gun owners the respect they deserve." That's in bold letters. I'm sure I don't understand why gun owners deserve respect as opposed to those who own any of the other many consumer goods for sale in Canada.

I admit to wondering where they got my name and address from, but I suppose there are any number of places they could have bought it. I also admit to being tempted to organize a balancing petition to the NFA one. A petition that says, go on with whatever you have planned, and we will examine it on the merits, but in the mean time, consider each signature as cancelling out one on the NFA signature.

The thing we are supposed to do is send a letter to our MP, but the problem is that the guy that replaced my MP, Prime Minister Harper, is a conservative shill. His latest blurb is all carbon tax all the time, and how it is ruining Canada and Alberta, and the first thing the UCP will do is remove it, blah blah blah. Except he's a federal guy, and the UCP is provincial. Two different arms of the same idiocy, I guess. The carbon tax is another blog, for another day.

To calm you down, or soothe your giggles at the letter, here's a nice moon shot, peaceful, tranquil, shot Oct 19 with the behemoth lens at 600 mm. No cropping. Maybe I should have put photo of the letter up. Hmmm. Naw, why give them more exposure?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Colour or B and W?

So yesterday I posted a photo I'd taken during my ramble earlier this week. As soon as I saw the scene I liked it.

As I was editing the photo, though, I was a little less happy with it, particularly the sky. During my swim today I had the happy thought of changing it to Black and White to see how it looked.

Like so many things, you'd think it would be simple. But no. Well, actually the process is simple. Within Lightroom alone I have 17 choices of slightly different B&W options, and one click later I'm done. Some of them I can't tell the difference. I got it down to a couple choices and tweaked slightly.

I still don't like the sky. It's kind of ugly, and the shape is bad around the trees. Sometimes when you over edit photos, you get this halo effect around trees and other objects. Just raw the clouds give it a bit of a halo effect, and trying some of the more pushy effects looks gross very quickly. Someone with mad Photoshop skillz could replace the sky and put anything in there, but then it wouldn't be the scene I saw. I think I'll have to go back again and try to catch it with better light.

Here's the black and white version, and the colour below. Which do you prefer, and why?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The rest of the ramble photos

Remembrance Day is usually a quiet time for me. Unlike many Canadians, I don't know of any close relatives that were killed in either of WWI or WWII. My father was still a child at the end of  WWII, and both my grandfathers would have been mid-teens or so at the end of WWI. There was a Lieutenant Arthur James Austen-Cartmell killed in action at Vimy Ridge in June 1916 aged 23. In November that year, his brother Captain Hugh Geoffrey Austen-Cartmell was killed in action in the Somme. At closest they would be cousins of my father's father, and may well be essentially no relation at all.

Still, one need not have relatives killed or wounded in action to appreciate the society we live in, one of peace and freedom, and remember the price in blood that was paid. We keep poppies on our fridge year round as a reminder.

I was out for a photo ramble in Fish Creek that day, hunting for a cover photo for the local community association. I could wish the light was better, but we don't get much choice about that. I've already posted some of the photos I had taken, here. One has been chosen, and here are the others. Once the December issue is published, I'll post that photo here or on my photo blog, if I think of it.

This is Willem, the fat-bike guy I was chatting with.

Bridge 3

Monday, November 12, 2018

What is seen, or rather unseen

I'm such a guy some days, wandering along oblivious to the world. I'm better now that I carry a camera around sometimes. I look for situations that would make a good photograph. Or what *I* think would make a good photograph.

Some sunrises I'm meh. Like this morning. There was some nice colour, and the undersides of the clouds had some interesting texture, but the overall shape? Meh. So I finished making coffee and did not scramble to get dressed.

A couple weeks ago I was working on the novel while sitting in a different chair than I usually do. It was mid afternoon, and I was thinking of getting up to do something. Maybe a walk. Then I noticed the afternoon sun had lit up these dried roses in a way I had never noticed before. These roses have been here for a long time. Many years, quite probably more than a decade. I had never paid any attention to them.

But I jumped up, spilling Curtis out of my lap (and yes, I know the cat judge shall hear of this) to grab the camera. It was actually a tough shot, trying lie down on the floor, shooting up a bit, almost into the light, with the sun coming right into my right eye. Even doing the articulated screen thingie didn't help, since it was right in the sun as well. In the end I took a bunch of different shots with different settings, trying to get the rose framed with a nice background, and capturing at least some of how bright that red was.

One of the main pieces of advice I say to myself these days is to look behind me during a photo ramble. Often. I have been rewarded so often that it's becoming second nature. A followup piece of advice is to make sure you're standing still while in the middle of a river, then turn around. Trying to look while walking on slippery rocks could be an extremely expensive mistake. Camera. Lens. iPhone. Wallet. Bones. Possibility of drowning in 3 inches of water because my head hit a rock and I blacked out for the wrongest 30 seconds of my life. Maybe that one should be first. This is NOT the voice of experience. It's the voice of cheap, and getting more cautious.

It's also the voice of falling down hurts more than it used to. For a while I was using these Repsol flip flops I got on points. They were fine, dry. But wet they were slippery. I should have turned them back in right away. Bad design, and I know better.

A couple weeks ago a woman was coming out of the female locker room, as far to the left as she could be, talking about the sauna, which is a few steps dead ahead and to her left. The problem is the male locker room exit is right there. I was walking along and then there was someone in front of me. I stopped to avoid running into her, and slipped right out of my flip flops, and landed on my left hip and thigh.

As I was going down, I was thinking, 'this is how old people break their hips.' I'd always prided myself on having pretty good balance and spatial awareness, and never thought such a thing would happen to me. One of the pool staff helped me up and offered to get ice. I carried along with my workout, taking it a bit easy, figuring that if I'd broken anything there, I'd know. Unlike that time with my elbow. (see below.)

I kept expecting a huge bruise to come out, and a couple weeks later, nothing has. I'm a bit surprised. My run the next day was a bit short, but it didn't hurt. It's been a bit sore to lie on my left side, but running, swimming, biking, walking, hiking, and kneeling, to say nothing of plank, pushups and squats haven't bothered me.

So I got lucky. I'm walking more carefully now. I'm also thinking about some of the exhilarating downhills I've done on Estela. Many at more than 80 kph, and a couple at more than 90 kph. Now I'm wondering what I was thinking. I can now imagine all too well the results of anything going wrong at high speed.

So the story of the elbow. It just occurred me that I passed the 10 year anniversary of that bike crash. It was a low speed bike crash, certainly less than 10kph. No links, you'll have to go to my blog archive for September 2008 and look for the blog titles with 'OW' in them. No, Susi, you don't want to. You know perfectly well what's there. For the people that are not Susi, and you aren't eating anything, that one has the very best comments ever in this blog, and for good reason. That one blog title is NOT a tease. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Cover hunting

Some of you know that I take photos for my local community association. Several of my photos have made the cover, which is nice. I was asked if I had any nice wintery scenes. Duh!

Except its trickier than it sounds. The cover is an odd size, 174 mm wide (a bit under 7 inches) x a hair under 210 mm (8.25 inches) tall, and there's the masthead and other text info that takes up some space. I almost don't even try to compose for it. I take a big shot, and send them the whole thing. They can crop to suit and place the text where they like. One shot I sent them has a small little red for sale sign low in one corner but it's otherwise nice. People with mad Photoshop skillz can remove it, or even easier, put a word on top of it.

The walk through Fish Creek looking for cover photos was wonderful. I went there while it was still snowing a bit, only to find an amazing number of footprints and bike tire tracks. I chatted with one of the fat bike riders (it's the bike tires that are fat, not the rider) and got some photos of him.

So whichever don't go on the cover will show up here sooner or later.

Here's some that are not in consideration for the cover. The light was erratic; you can see in some shots it's very flat and cloudy, and in others the sun has broken through.

Bridge two is my favourite, any time of year.

Not far from here is a panorama shot that I think has good odds of being the cover.

Shooting just under bridge 3. I like this pattern of rocks, but I'm still working on getting really nice light for it.

Just about the sunniest shot of the day.

This is the fat-bike cyclist I was talking to.

Not the fat-bike cyclist I was talking to.

Not sure why I like fences.

Saturday, November 10, 2018


So much of it! Everywhere! We still have the detour on the detour near the local Safeway, though that looks like it's wrapping up. There are many new stakes along the south side of Anderson road, so we suspect excavation will begin there soon.

These first three are the new ring road. I've no idea what the writing on the stake means, but clearly there is meaning. In the month since I've taken this, there have been no holes dug nearby.

Fish Creek near the TUC (Transportation Utility Corridor, as it is referred to on many signs and drawings), or the Ring Road as most people call it.

This was in the cul-de-sac just behind us. I showed this photo to my buddy that works for BC Work Safe, and the reply was unprintable. You can see he hasn't fastened the safety harness.

This is the 24th St storm drain. That hold is a long way down and is in complete shadow. I was holding the camera over my head to clear the fence, and sort of guessed at the settings. They are pushing this huge drain underneath some other utilities that are under the street. Nothing went boom or whoosh, so I guess they did it right.

More ring road, this is the bridge that will transition 130 Ave to Bullhead Rd. What you see is going to be freeway underneath. They've left room for about twice as many lanes as I thought were going in.

Always fun to watch cranes at work.

Friday, November 9, 2018

So, the retirement thing

It's been a year and 5 months or so since Linda's last day in the office. Three months for me. It's been wonderful, but we're still getting used to it. Every day retired makes it less likely I'll take another office job.

So today, now that I can sleep to whatever hour I like, most days, when am I awake? 4am. Wide awake. At 4:45 I gave up, got up, coffee, breakfast, and beat the rush hour traffic to Repsol. Or so I thought. The rush was in the pool. There are always 100 m of lanes available for the public, and so there was. Except the public was already 11 or 12 deep in them. I recognized some of the swimmers and had no desire to try to keep up. Even the dive tank was full of synchro swimmers.

I hung out in the hot tub a bit, then chatted briefly with my buddy Katie. Once a few lanes in the competition pool opened up I was over there. If I'd had to be in the office, I'd have made do with the full lanes. But as long as I was home by 10, life is good.

It actually turned into a good swim. 50 m backstroke to warm up. 500 m in 9 minutes flat. It's been a long time since I've done that, and I could feel the water feel today, unlike much of the recent months. 400 m backstroke working the core hard on the flip turns. 3x100 in less than 1:45 on 2 minutes. 20 minutes brisk water run. 50 m backstroke, then 200 easy easy watching the guy sharing the lane with me thrashing trying to keep up. It's the little things. I wasn't working as hard for that 9 minute time as I have for times substantially slower. I could get into exactly what I was doing with my hands a fraction of a second after entry, but I already see some of you yawning. Yes, you! Stop it!

 Linda was off to a yoga class, then lunch with a buddy and other stuff. Yesterday was the opening bell at the Millarville market. All who know her, know she conquered and returned home with goodies.

What was I doing? Researching astro lenses. There's a trip to the Southern Hemisphere coming up, and it's likely to be the only time I see those skies. I'll want to get nice night sky photos. Black Friday sales coming up. Just saying.

This photo is from a year ago, and is one of a category called 'no idea why I didn't blog this at the time.' It's clear she was enjoying retirement then, and is enjoying it now.

Speaking of night lenses, here's a night shot from almost a year ago, in the same category.

Some other posts you might enjoy.

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