Saturday, August 31, 2019


I went looking for a photo to illustrate this blog post, and this was the first one I found. It's from almost a year ago. Sunrise of a new day.

I'd mentioned that during a trip to the Spirit Hills winery we stopped in Black Diamond for lunch and a visit to Blue Rocks Gallery. I picked up several books, including this one.

What a great read! I've always been a non-conformist, but I wish I'd read this when I was a teenager. No problem, though, I've been cheerfully walking my own path most of my life. Still doing it now. Working part time in my so-called peak earning years. Getting out of the photographer's tour van to see them all point their lenses at whatever the advertised attraction is, so I go looking in the other direction.

Chris talks a lot about travel and alternative ways of making a living. You might not want to do these things or do them that way, but it's great to read about them and perhaps reconsider some of your own choices. All my readers, of course, are winners, smart, sensible, and good-looking, but there are lots of people that are struggling. They are in a job they hate, they are buried in debt, they feel trapped.

I've talked about the money part in several other rants, so I won't do that today, other than to say stop spending hard earned money on cheap shit you don't need made by slave labour in China. Lets talk about work for a minute.

I was trapped in a job I didn't like for years. The place was interesting, in a slow-paced sort of way, but the shift work involved was killing me. Not kidding. Towards the end I didn't have any appetite. I wasn't sleeping well, but I was always tired. It was to the point my brain wasn't storing memories.  At first I didn't believe it, but then we documented several holes in my memory. The first one was being with some friends at a video store talking about what movie we'd like to rent. (Remember renting video tapes from an actual store?)

I suggested a recently released Bond movie, (It was The Living Daylights, the one with the ride in the cello case down a ski hill.) and my friends looked at me funny. They all said we had seen it together in the theatre not that long ago. I had no memory of it, or any of the related events. Later on I rented the movie and watched it. There wasn't even a trace of, oh yeah now that I see it I remember. It was a completely new experience. I started making plans to get out.

The first step was to give up about $10K in income a year in 1980's money to take a day shift job. From there I started trying to get my head and body working properly again. It took 5 or 6 months to start settling into a regular schedule again. When I started shift work I'd been a night owl. When I settled down again, I was a morning person. One side effect that has haunted me ever since, is that it's really difficult to sleep more than 6 hours at once. Often that's enough, but not always, and sometimes I don't sleep well at all. My advice about shift work is don't. If you are, get out. Do what it takes, but get out. Your life will thank you.

Then I left that employer. If I'd stayed, I could have retired at 55 with full pension. If I was still alive that is; there were several scares with falling asleep at the wheel after night shift. The worst one was stopping to see them launch a balloon from the Anderson LRT station. I fell asleep and woke up about noon. I got home to find a furious and terrified Linda.

Then it was back to school for a while, but there were some adventures along the way and we ran out of money quicker than expected so I had to go back to work. It's all worked out well since then, but that was a major fork in the road and I didn't really see it for what it was. At the time I thought I did, but I was still thinking in terms of getting a job and earning money.

I have often wondered about the paths we take in life, how various people end up on the moon, in the swanky corner office, toiling away in a cubicle, reading National Enquirer on night shift, scrounging for bottles to return for deposit to buy cigarettes and hope that the homeless shelter still has a bed when you get there. What choices did those people make? What choices were forced on them? Or perhaps more importantly, what choices did they accept being forced on them?

Chris talks about people being given choices a and b, and either not being told or not realizing there are choices c, d, and e, and maybe more. It's hard to choose an option you don't know about. That might lead you into making what turn out to be poor choices.

The important thing to remember is that you are not chained to your previous path. You can choose to make the changes necessary to go a different direction. It might not be easy, in fact it probably won't be. The people in your current life might object. (The prison guards will certainly object to you leaving before your term is up.) You might be addicted to drugs like heroin, cocaine, tobacco, coffee, adulation, or attention. You might have to give up some income or shed possessions, or do without things our society thinks are important. (Consider that driving your oversized car to a place where it and you sit in a line to get crappy coffee handed to you through a window, and then become part of the traffic jam on the way to work, is one of those things that society seems to think is important.)

Once upon a long time ago, I was spending some time watching my father lose money in the stock market. I hung around the office and watched a grownup world I didn't much understand. But I still remember a conversation with a nicely dressed man, chatting about the stock market, and earning money, and working jobs. I was old enough to drive, but probably not old enough to vote, and he could have been anywhere from 30 to 60.

I was astonished to hear him say that at the moment I certainly had more money than him. That in fact he was just coming out of declaring bankruptcy and had nothing. I asked did he have a job or what sort of work he was looking for. He said he wanted to be wealthy, but didn't want a job, that wasn't the route. The trick was trading value for money, and knowing what to risk.

A job was trading time for money and there's never enough time in your life. (I didn't understand that then, but I've got it now, which explains the part-time gigs.) He said the main difference between us, aside from our age, was that I didn't know I could become wealthy, and he did because he'd done it, and knew he could do it again. He'd learned a few lessons about hanging onto it that he would apply next time. I never saw him again, and have sometimes wondered what happened to him.

Some of my jobs have been to trade time for money. That shift work one, for example. Other jobs have been providing a deliverable that nobody else handy could supply. I could tell people what needed to happen to fix their data, and either do it, or direct the doing of. I could migrate their data from place to place. I could write custom reports that answered the questions they actually had, as opposed to what was easy for the canned report writer to assume they had.  I could draw them a diagram of some particular business process, and then another diagram of how to make it better, and help them with the transition. I could train people to use software better.

Yes, there were times I was a bit of a loose cannon. There were times I got cranky and refused meetings if they didn't supply an agenda. I've told bosses that not only were they wasting my time, they were wasting the time and resources of everybody in the company they came in contact with. I generally preferred to work by myself with only a loose association to a team. There was one job I wanted and didn't get it because of that attitude about teamwork. I've spent lots of time where I was the bridge between two different teams. Engineers and software developers having trouble understanding one another, and me getting both, imagine that!

After the school adventure it took a few years of humping another time for money job, then things got better. The upside is that I was doing work that was (mostly) interesting to me. The downside is that it was often difficult to explain to recruiters or HR people or the new boss what exactly I did and why it was useful. As a contractor it's smart to assume there will be some time between contracts, and to plan your finances accordingly. As a side note, my shortest transition was over a weekend, and the longest was more than a year. Think about doing without your income for a year, and see what clenches. Our life didn't change significantly.

So if you don't like the path you are on, start working to change it. Nobody else will. In fact, most people will try to keep you there, mostly likely because you changing means they have to change something. If people can kick heroin, you can find a way to a better life. Think about the baggage you are carrying, and decide what you can drop. One of the key questions to ask yourself is who is expecting you to carry the baggage, and who will be upset if you stop? If the answer is your spouse or your children, you probably need to have a serious conversation. If it's anyone else, drop it and carry on.

No, seriously, drop it. Much of our consumer culture is driven by advertising and societal expectations. Screw them. When was the last time buying some trinket gave you long term happiness? You spend HOW MUCH a day because you think it's important to be seen at Starbucks or carrying their branded cup? That thought was planted in your brain by an insidious and ruthless world that wants to keep you stupid and poor.

Start making a list of things that are holding you back from achieving your dreams. Right beside that, start building a plan to get those things out of your life. Then start doing it. Begin with small stuff, things that people won't notice. Get into the habit of examining your assumptions. Constantly ask, does this help me move onto the path I want to be on, or keep me on my current path?

No, you don't get to know if your path will actually take you to where you think you want to go, or lead you somewhere else, or into a bramble filled ravine. You'll learn lots watching for that ravine, but don't obsess about it. You'll learn lots more climbing out of it. Yes it's lonely sometimes, but if you don't want to be walking in cow shit, stop following the herd.

Make a list of the things you actually need to get onto the path you want to be on. You probably think lots of money is a requirement, and you're probably wrong. Chris talks about traveling with little money. There's lots of ways of getting things done without a lot of money. In fact, if you can buy it with money it's probably not going to be terribly valuable to you. It's the things you get with skull sweat, late night planning, tenacity, and other intangibles that you will value.

You will run into gatekeepers everywhere. These people exist to say no. Whatever the question, they will say no. You can spend time and energy forcing them to say yes, or where possible avoid them, and figure out how to get what you want anyways. If you want a piece of paper with fancy writing on it saying you have a degree, you probably need to deal with gatekeepers and bring lots of money. Good luck. I was astonished to find in my early 30's that a university had to have a high school transcript to even think about accepting me as a student. I could not understand why education from a decade and a half ago was relevant, and figured if that and their degree had the same relevance, I could do without. But if you want an actual education, the book gives the high points of how to accomplish that. Few or no gatekeepers, and not a great deal of money in the overall scheme of things.

There are some universal things that will make life better no matter what path you are on. If you aren't doing these, start. Start today, and when I say today, I mean put down the Cheetos and finish the blog, then start.
-Eat better food, and probably less food overall. More plants and less meat, and no meat that comes from one of the big commercial slaughterhouses. (I'm working on the less meat part.) People say buying at the farmer's market, or buying organic or fair trade is too expensive. Bah! This is what is going into your body, and isn't the place to skimp. Real quality, not branded quality like the Trump (so-called) steaks.
-Move your body more. Do something physical every day. Going for a walk for a half hour to an hour every day costs nothing. Watch that much less TV. In fact, give up TV entirely. It's full of terrible messages that probably helped you onto that path you want to get off.
-Move your mind more. Spend that TV time weeding out things keeping you on your path, and finding or creating the things that will help you onto your new path. A library is a curated repository of all human knowledge, complete with people to help you access it. Convert TV time to library time.
-Get more sleep. Don't ever hit the snooze button. Figure out what time you have to get up to do all the things you need to do to get to wherever you need to be a few minutes early. Build in a bit of time to deal with the inevitable cat or toddler recreational vomiting or it's equivalent in driver incompetence. Set your clock for that time and get up then. Get up, get there on time, ready to go. Your new path has a gatekeeper as well, and getting going on time is one of the major ways to prove to the gatekeeper that you are serious. Hint, that gatekeeper is you.
-Say 'no' a lot more. Say no to activities that don't take you towards the path you want. Say no to emotional vampires that drain you, and it doesn't matter if it happens in person or on social media. Say no to being a passive lump eating what you are fed. Yes, this may mean serious conversations with your spouse or children. Every day you wait is another day closer to death.

Even those simple things are going to have people thinking you've gone nuts. Screw them. Have fun!

Peony of the Day
July 16, the promised pink peony in the back yard.

Driftwood of the Day

Friday, August 30, 2019

Flowery Friday 4

Wherein the flowery parade continues. These go from July 5 to 10. First three are Sheep River valley.




5. Linda got some pots for the barren area between our house and the neighbour's.






Peony of the Day
July 16, now we're starting to see some blossoms fading, though the pink peony in the back is still going strong. Patience.

Driftwood of the Day

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Surfacing and pondering

Still catching up on stuff after a busy time, and preparing for the next busy time in Yukon where I expect to get very little sleep. There is much stuff to be gathered and stuffed into a carry on camera bag and a big suitcase. Much stuff. Maybe if I get ambitious I'll lay it all out for a photo.

You'd think in a house full of stuff that I wouldn't need to purchase anything new for this trip, and yet there I was yesterday, purchasing.

The oddest thing was another pair of cargo pants, which are lined. But that's not the unexpected thing. I was pleased to see that, since the nights in Yukon are likely to be cold. But these pants had a UPF rating of 50. The first I noticed was the 50 in big bright print, and I was thinking it was some sort of temperature rating. Then I read more closely. Am I out to lunch here in thinking that the last thing someone would think of while selecting and putting on a pair of lined cargo pants, is the sun protection rating? The similar but unlined pants did not have such a rating. Call me baffled and lets move on.

Look at some experimental photos. Does it tell you what I bought?

A stronger version of the same technique.

A different technique.

Maybe not. Does the hint of a really long shutter speed help? Stay tuned.

Lunch with a dear friend was fun, and afterwards a trip to Tri-it Multisport, my favourite triathlon store to check in after the weekend race. I got stereo SQUEEE from Rose and Richelle and we chatted things over. I'm penciled in for their races next year though the dates aren't set. If you're looking for some fun races next year, their Wild Rose triathlon for women, and the swim run event are as much fun as you can have with your pants on.

I've been pondering the whole social media thing again. One of my buddies had their Netflix account hacked. It was fixed promptly, but none the less it was something to take care of. In the longer term, it's one more thing to consider if you ever change cell phone numbers. You have to remember everywhere you have ever signed up for two factor sign in, and update the phone number.

There are all the Facebook data leaks, many of which can be laid at the feet of the third party developers, but still, Facebook has their own privacy issues. As does everyone else. I've already bailed on Twitter mainly because I don't need any more rage in my life.

Which gets me to Instagram. I realize this is a polarizing topic. Some of the people I follow post prolifically, and it's fun. Some people post a variety of photos on a more periodic basis, and it's nice to scroll through them. I've lately been trying to blog daily and nearly making it (23 days out of 28 in August so far), and at the same time trying to post an at least semi related photo to Instagram. Not as regular there.

Part of the problem for me is that Instagram isn't a particularly good place to post photos. Viewers can't really zoom in, it doesn't like panorama shots, and the resolution isn't especially good. Plus posting photos from a real camera is brutal. I have to edit and export the photos like usual, then air drop it to my phone, and post it to Instagram from there, and putting the hashtags or typing any amount of text is tough. Then again, that isn't really the content that Instagram wants, they seem to want spur of the moment heavily filtered cell phone snapshots. Which isn't me.

It was suggested to me that I should start a Keith Cartmell Race Photo Instagram account, and use it to post the various race photos I take. This is a great suggestion, and is the pondering part of the blog. Who would the audience be? Why would anyone follow such an account? Then again, I know of several dogs (technically their humans, I know) have Instagram accounts that are far more popular than mine. I try not to think about that.

Do you have any thoughts about Instagram in general, or such a race photo account? Feel free to comment, or reply by other social media.

The photos are done using a dark filter over the lens. A 'normal' shutter speed for daylight is typically at least 1/50 of a second and often much faster. These were a second or longer so I have time to intentionally move the camera during the shot.

Peony of the Day (July 16)

Driftwood of the Day

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Up close and far away in Canmore

One of the deals Linda gets with membership in the Horticultural Society is garden tours. People that have poured their heart and soul into their garden open it up to let strangers walk through and look over your work. To say some of these gardens are spectacular is an understatement.

Yet these first two are the view from the back yard of the first garden we visited. Just an ordinary photo of the mountains in nothing special light, and they look great. I'd be seriously distracted if this was my view out the back. I might never take the camera anywhere else.

This one is a little different, taken from the road in front of the last garden we visited, using the big 150-600 lens, but it's actually 6 photos merged together. This is the first time in a while I've done such an image, and I wasn't sure it was going to work. I lost a lot in the cropping because I didn't do the overlapping very well. Plus it's a hazy day so I converted to B&W.

These are all at the first garden we visited, and I'm pretty sure my regular readers know why I took these. You know what not to ask me.

Peony of the Day (July 10)

Driftwood of the Day
I would have liked to get the rock a little further off centre, and get a bit more of the grain, but there was some charring that totally destroyed the mood of the shot.

This is a little further down the same log, still loving the grain, but this shot is a technical failure. I include it only because I know some people really like the grain structure and rock contrast. Please try to overlook the out of focus areas. My bad.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Two cheers!

First, the Cana lily. It's doing well. Red is hard, and I'm not totally happy with how it turns out on screen. Still, considering we didn't think it was going to bloom at all, I'll take it. Thanks for encouraging it!

This one is in the front garden. No idea what colour it will be.

Back to the red one a day later.

And this morning.

Second, my dentist is the best ever. All is well with my teeth after a visit today. One crappy old silver amalgam filling gone. I got that one put in while a teenager so I suppose I can't complain. If you're looking for a dentist in Calgary, ask nice, and I'll give you his contact info. He has at least one of the best hygienists in the city on his team.

Even during a race, there are some times when not much is happening, and I look around for other shots. Such as this calm reflection in Mahogany Lake.

Now that the teeth adventure is over, and I can see that some of you checked out the graphic images, I'm starting to get ready for the Yukon trip. Things are beginning to pile up in the spare bedroom. Curtis has not figured it out yet.

Peony of the Day (July 9)

Driftwood of the Day

Monday, August 26, 2019

Macro Monday 33, another adventure, not icky

I'd been wondering what to blog on a bit of a catch up day. As in, catch up on sleep, get a swim in, tried to pick up an item for the Yukon trip but out of stock, did pick up a library book, finished editing the theatre group kid's show photos, BBQ some steak, and most important, catch up on cat cuddles. I'm way behind to hear Curtis tell the story, and he's made it clear he's rehearsing for a big performance in front of the cat judge.

I was thinking of some of the shots from the Canmore trip, then I made the mistake of trying to pull a chunk of lettuce out from between my teeth. Part of the tooth came with it. Oops. I've got a call in to the best dentist in the world. With any luck he can glue it back into place, or spuck a blob of goop on there and shape it appropriately.

Some of my readers may remember my last adventure with teeth, and Susi, I'm sorry to remind you. But this has been entirely painless so far, and I've every reason to expect the follow up to be equally painless. For those new readers wondering about my last adventure, I'm going to make you work for it. No link. Go back in my blog archive to September 2008. Don't say I didn't warn you.

These are all 5x with the macro lens.

This is actually what it looks like with the 100mm lens. Only a few mm across.

Peony of the Day

Driftwood of the Day

Sunday, August 25, 2019

If this is retirement, I need to go back to work

Not because I'm bored. Certainly not! I've never been so busy in my life, I think. Where to begin? Since Thursday a week ago:

  • 5 nights of Global Fest fireworks show. Fun, except one night of big rain, and another of a snafu trying to get back downtown. Leaving from Marlborough Mall works ever so much better.
  • 2 full days doing photos for a theatre company kids camp. That was an amazing experience!
  • a partial day of photos for the theatre company.
  • 2 evening events for the theatre company, one was a night out at Cirque's Luzia show including a Q&A with some of the performers for the kids, and the kid's own performance on Friday.
  • A morning shooting a swim run race for my amazing buddies Rose and Richelle of Tri-it Multisport. (The racers run a bunch, splash into a lake and swim, get out and run more, swim more, run more, swim and get out onto a dock and jump back in, then do it all twice more, then run to the finish line. Yes, swimming and running in running shoes. You can see the proof in the photos on my race tab on the photo blog. Staying within 10 m of your buddy and some of them are tethered together. It's cheating to use your tether to trip other contestants. Yes, two of the contestants used their tether to have the adorable medals girl do some skipping.)
  • Editing 1300 or so photos from the race, and I'm still in the process of editing about 3400 photos from the theatre company camp. (Did I ever mention my camera with the lens I like to use for these shoots weighs 1.9 kg or 4.2 pounds?)
  • Custom editing some race photos for private sale.
  • Do a cat photo shoot at a dear friend's house while feeding cats as they go camping over the weekend. The people went camping. The cats stayed home to be pampered. (Just in case you were confused.)
  • Fit in a morning swim and a photo ramble with a dear friend.
  • Later today we're planning on going out to Canmore, but we're waiting to see what the weather does.
  • Starting to plan for a week in Yukon, including several days on the Dempster Highway, going north of the Arctic circle. (Can't wait!)
  • Plus all the other stuff in retired life, BBQ lunch or dinner and eating on the patio. Morning coffee. My own regimen of cat cuddling. 
If every week or 10 days was like this, I think I'd have to go back to work just for the more relaxed life. 

We are rooting for the Cana lilies! It was such a late and cold spring they didn't get a good start. Give this one a big round of applause and show the love!

Oh what the heck. The skipping rope photo is too cute for words.

Peony of the Day (July 7)

Driftwood of the Day