Monday, September 17, 2018

Macro Monday 29, hair revisted

Some time back I took some macro photos of hair,  here, and here. It wasn't quite as complete as it could be. For one thing, the hair was still attached to the person. This creates obvious limitations on what you can photograph.

All these macro shots were at 5x with my MP-E 65mm macro lens, shot with my T6i which has a crop sensor factor of 1.6. So I don't know what the actual magnification is. All I know is that the hair samples were a small fraction of a mm in diameter, and on screen I'm seeing 5 to 8 mm in diameter. None of the photos are cropped. From the top to bottom you are looking at at about 2 mm of hair length.

Michelle has been excited about macro photos and managed to collect some hair samples. (I'm told nobody was harmed in this process.) Here she is, hard at it, working to focus on a hair in my high tech setup in the basement. She hadn't realized just how sensitive the whole process is, and how just breathing on the camera produces a visible wiggle on screen.

Strand from A

Root from A

Tip from A

Strand from K

Root from K

Tip from K. (this was brutal to capture.)

Root from M, brown

Kinky strand from M, brown

Tip from M, brown. (Again, difficult to capture.)

Root from M, silver

Strand from M, silver

Tip from M, silver. This one was easy, not sure why. Sometimes you get lucky.

Here I am, hard at it selecting and editing the photos. I'm not sure why I have my hands cupped together like I've captured a small animal. Yes, I need to clean off my desk. Later today. First things first.

I have a particular hair project in mind, but the tricky part is coordinating schedules with the people involved.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Towers of veg and manure, a rant

The hens and chicks normally clump really close to the ground in a nice cluster. Then suddenly a giant stalk appears, thrusting upwards. In previous years it's up and then it droops over again fairly quickly. I'm not sure when these first appeared, but it's been several months, I think.

These guys are beside the garage, under the protection of the Dread Alberta Rose. These photos are from a little while ago. If you look carefully at Tuesday's State of Green post, you can see them in the first photo. Last time they had the big bright blossom at the end of the stalk, but I don't remember the other blossoms along the stalk itself.

It will be interesting to see how much longer they will last. As of today (the evening of Sept 12 as I write this, it's getting cold out. It's supposed to rain, and maybe snow. Linda has wrapped up all the plants as best she can, but it won't be nice enough to unwrap them till Friday. Who knows if any of them will still be with us? I suspect this is it for bee season, and I hope they are all tucked away in their hives with lots of food to last till spring.

As of the 16th, it still hasn't been nice enough to unwrap them. I don't think it's actually frosted, but it's been hovering around the zero mark for a while. The towers are still up, perhaps drooping a little more. No idea how the dahlias are doing.

At least we don't have a hurricane bearing down on us. I feel for the poor people in the Carolinas. The rich people can easily go somewhere else. The poor people have a lot fewer choices.

Right now I just have a big orange cat bearing down on me because he thinks it's suppertime. It isn't. His tummy runs fast. Which reminds me, I think some of you missed yesterdays cat panorama.

Another 5K run today, just under 36 minutes.

I finished up Fantasyland yesterday and it's back to the library. It ended up being depressing reading. Just power-mongering politicians pandering to their base by spouting fear, and building the towers of manure even higher. I was hoping at the end there'd be some suggestions about how to get on track, but there wasn't.

So you get mine:

  • Get out and vote for the grownups on the slate, especially the female candidates. Generally that means not voting for the parties much to the right of centre. Note that what used to be moderate right is now considered centre, and the right fringe has moved substantially rightward and become substantially louder.
  • Avoid one issue candidates, they tend to have forceful and probably simplistic opinions on that issue, which closes their minds on alternative opinions. 
  • Non-grownups tend to have an old fashioned view of the world, with simplistic solutions that usually involve scapegoating some identifiable group and pushing them out. Note that it' never them or their buddies. It might be Muslims, or First Nations, or LBGTQ people, but it doesn't matter. They are generating divisions in society, and that's the last thing we need.
  • Encourage grownups to run for office, preferably female ones. Encourage your grownup friends to vote. It's important.
  • Push for a replacement of the first past the post voting system. We need some form of proportional representation, so that a minority of votes (the right 37% of votes is enough) to give one party a majority government. Yes it's possible to have a stable country with such a system. Remember the first rule, vote for the grownups.
  • Reject sloganeering and sound bite policy. Push for details, and the facts to back up those details. Call  out the candidates when they lie. This means doing some research and being prepared. 
  • Beware the candidate that talks about rights for a group, as in parent's rights, or responsible gun owner's rights, or taxpayer rights. This translates to that group getting a free pass on the rights front, and other people getting their rights restricted or removed. It's a tricky issue to balance rights (free speech vs hate speech, or private property vs public good, and many other issues) and we need to openly discuss the choices without demonizing anyone.
  • Most issues are considerably more nuanced than they first appear. It is very possible for reasonable people to disagree, and they should be able to discuss the issues without losing their cool. Anyone trying to tell you an issue is simple, and they have the solution, and is saying so loudly, is trying to hustle you. Hold firmly onto your wallet.

Saturday, September 15, 2018


It's nice being busy. Three photoshoots in as many days. Two for the community association, and one for my buddy Jayne that got mentioned yesterday.

Today was community clean up day, where the City sends some garbage trucks, and a compost truck. A big bin for metal shows up, as does one for e-recycling, and a paper shredder. Paint and tires can be left as well.

There are some mixed feelings about these clean up days. All the paper! The paper shredder guy was going steady. People dumping paper into the bin, and the guy running the controls to dump the bin into the shredder. I have paperwork going back decades that I probably should shred at such an event.

I overheard one couple asking for help getting a biggish TV out of the back of their car. Well, small by the standards of today, I suppose, though only a few years ago it would have been viewed as impossibly big and impossibly thin. Now it can't be given away.

All sorts of stuff shows up at the swap table. Some of it just sat there. I was happy to see 4 bicycles being taken away, though 2 more went into the metal bin. There were a few people hovering, eyeing the stuff as it came in. They made constant trips out to their truck. I'm not sure if they were collecting for a garage sale, or for personal use or what.

As always, the volunteers were champs, helping people get to where they needed to be. When I'm feeling depressed by world news, I need only think about one of these events. Local people helping out their community. If you go to the photo folder (link below) you'll see lots of smiling faces.

I got this selfie out of it.

Yes, it was a misty day out. If you have a mind to, you can go over to my photoblog and look for the WCA page.

Plus a cat panorama, playing with the behemoth lens.

I'm not done. There is a macro photoshoot tomorrow, and I have tentative plans for a really exciting photo shoot last week of the month. Both of them have me quivering!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Snow, again, so soon

It seems like only a few weeks ago that the snow stopped falling. And what the heck, it really only was a few weeks ago. Some photos from late April still had lots of ice in the back.

It was only last night that it started falling again. There I was, doing a photo shoot for Jayne on the occasion of her book launch, and there the snow was, falling.

The more tender plants are wrapped up, but it's been cold enough for long enough that I think almost everything is done for the year. Linda is thinking about what needs to happen to put the garden to bed for the year, and planning for next year already.

Still, there are some nice snowy roses shots, though I don't know what that first one is.

Oh, and you might have seen this one on Facebook already, but this is my buddy Jayne doing a reading from her new mystery novel, When the Flood Falls. Available at Owls Nest Books in Brittannia, or on line at Amazon, and maybe other places too.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Couch to 5K on the happy path!

I had no expectations. In fact, I had every reason to expect a poor run today. Let me list a few of the things. It's zero out, my last run was in the mid 20's. It's windy and probably going to rain or snow soon. My right knee squeaked at me a few times yesterday, starting during the SLOWEST SWIM IN YEARS. (It's amazing I wasn't harpooned and dragged out to be rendered down.) I had a massage yesterday which is lovely, but history says the next run is crap. I'm wearing long pants and a jacket. I'm still getting used to new shoes.

But I'd just seen a video of my buddy Julie explaining something using her cat and a crabapple tree as a prop. I didn't think of it much as I limbered up, dressed, limbered up some more, started walking, then started running. I figured I'd go do my run, ho hum, get on with whatever is next in my busy retired life.

Then I started channeling Julie again, as I turned a corner and started running into the wind. At first I was all, glad I wore a hat and gloves, but this kind of sucks. Then I thought of Julie, out running in the wind (not just the wind, but THE WIND!!!) down in Crows Nest Pass. Plus biking and swimming in it too, during her many years of training for her many Ironman races. (I seem to recall her trying to hire an excavator to modify the little river near her place so there was a channel 50 m long and swimming depth, but maybe I'm mistaken. Maybe there's fishery rules preventing such modification.)

Julie would sneer at such a breeze, if she even noticed it. So I stopped noticing it too, and got on with my run. One of the ways of noticing that it's a nice run is is that you don't notice it. Your body gets in the groove and away you go. I wasn't breathing hard, my legs felt good.

This has been my road to get back to running. Everything has to be at least not cranky to carry on. I don't run for a particular pace or distance. I run as long as my legs are happy and my lungs are keeping up. I'll usually finish that K if things start going crappy, just in case they get it back together again.

So today, other than noticing one shoe was a little looser than I liked, but not so much I wanted to fix it, I was thinking about my novels, and how two of my characters are going to continue to be frustrated. I was thinking about the two photo gigs I have tonight, and the planning to make sure I can do both. That second battery is almost charged.

About 3 K I noticed it all felt good, and thought briefly about my route, and the possibility of doing 5K. Then next thing I noticed my phone was telling me I'd done that 5K, in 35:18, or 7:03/K, nice and relaxed, not breathing hard, legs not bothering me at all, not even one squeak from my knee. Still, one of my rules is to stop before I have to stop, so I stopped, and had a nice walk back to the house.

It's been 5 months since my last nice run. Five months! And about a year since I was regularly having good runs. I'm happy to be back. Now that I've done it, the goal is to get regular doing it, 3x a week, feeling good about it.

Some cheerful happy dahlias to match my mood just now. Especially this one. It's such a cheerful yellow, and the sunshine makes it even more so, though the photo doesn't really do it justice.

These two are not the same dahlia. They were taken several weeks apart. Do you have a preference?

And no, these are not the last of the dahlia shots. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Current book, FANTASYLAND

The current book is called FANTASYLAND How America Went Haywire, A 500 year History, by Kurt Anderson. I'm not quite done, but I've caught up to current events. The book is pretty good, a series of essays on various periods and forms of craziness. It's getting a bit repetitious, but that's because Americans keep falling for the same stupidities.

The short story isn't that America isn't newly crazy, it's been crazy right from the start. Religious whackadoodles of every persuasion and hucksters selling every variant of snake oil they could imagine are just the beginning.

In my own lifetime I see the differences in grownups. When I was a kid, being a grownup was the thing. You could drink, you could drive (and far too many did it in that order) you could stay up late and party with the opposite sex, you could indulge in whatever hobbies you could afford. You were expected to vote, go to church at least some of the time, hold a steady job, provide for your family or stay at home and raise the family (and back then nobody looked down at stay at home moms because that's what many moms did), and generally have at least reasonable answers for tough questions.

It's all come unglued. Back about 20 years I was visiting some friends in California, and chatting with their high school age children. They said of people a little older than me, "they're from the sixties, it's like they don't even know the internet happened." One of those kids had a buddy who was essentially the parent in that house. If he didn't pay the bills or bring food home, it didn't happen. The parents were stoned much of the time. I didn't ask where the money came from. In a harsher time they would be dead. It wasn't so long ago that just being unlucky or being in the wrong place at the wrong time was a fatal mistake. Even the best decisions were barely good enough. One can't make good decisions when stoned.

I was brought up by people that lived through the dirty 30's and the immediate aftermath. It was a brutal time. I remember being a small child grocery shopping with my grandmother. She knew to the penny how much money she had, and knew better than the store clerk what the price of various items was. This, of course, was long before there were bar codes on everything. People made careful, responsible decisions about money and jobs. You had to. The social safety net was your immediate relatives and whatever you might have saved up.

Now I look at the decisions people that appear to be grownups make, and I'm baffled. If you've never seen the People of Walmart, google it and be horrified. People that think what they see on TV is real, and that being just like those people is a worthy goal. People that seriously think the earth isn't a sphere, that vaccines are poison, that the world will end soon, and any number of other equally foolish beliefs. People that think immigrants are uneducated layabouts living on welfare plotting terrorism, but who can none the less steal your job. People that think fat old rich white men make wise decisions about the economy, and have the well being of the average voter in mind.

I could go on. And on and on and on. Even worse, these people don't see the problem. Why can't they believe what they want to believe? Listen to a flat-earther try to explain how evidence of a spherical earth isn't true, and what knots they have to tie themselves into explain how a flat earth works. Now imagine someone so irrational being put in charge of something important, like a major country.

Surprise! We don't have to imagine it. All Canadians have to do is look south. I keep thinking that there has to a be a moment of collective "What was I thinking?" happening, but it hasn't happened yet, and worse, shows no appearance of being about to happen. Right now, Russia owns and operates the President of the USA, along with the collusion of Congress because they're the oligarchs at the top now. Who knows what's next? I'm sure China will want their turn at running it, and will take whatever action seems appropriate. At least it won't be a shooting war; one doesn't burn down the house you own while trying to evict the unruly tenants.

Right now the general public is being distracted by the Trump train wreck. That show is like the tiny portion of the photo below that's actually in focus, a bit of the petals. But there's so much more. The flower looks entirely different if you change your view. The bees are only interested in the centre parts that are producing nectar. The gardener is interested in that blue pot that makes up the blurry background. Then there's all the other flowers in the rest of the garden, to say nothing of the remainder of the city lot.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Documenting the state of green

It isn't easy being green in Calgary.  Today is a lovely day, warm and sunny. I ran in shorts and a tech shirt, 4 K, 28:22 or 7:05 per K, nice and easy, no crankiness. There were BBQ bison burgers for lunch  on the patio. Ice cream and blueberries for dessert.

The dahlias continue to bloom, which makes us and the bees happy. (Did you miss the bees yesterday?) Some of the clematis are still blooming, and a few day lilies, plus one last lily out front. The pansys are still going great, as are the roses.


But but but.

It's getting frosty. There's a chance of snow later this week. That will end the dahlia season for sure. I thought I'd take a few minutes and document the garden as it is. None of these are intended to be artistic or anything, and they aren't even particularly tweaked.

Starting from the front corner of the house, and working around.

The last big lily is there, dead centre, but had to see in this photo.

Look at the background. There's a huge thunderhead building, heading this way. We just don't know what's in it yet.

Dahlia central. We'll try to protect them, but several days about zero is likely going to be too much for them.

Another solitary dahlia.

Some other posts you might enjoy.

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