Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Goodbye 2019, hello 2020

Another year done. Wow. It went so fast. A year ago we were planning and getting ready to pack for our big trip to New Zealand. That was a 2 month whirlwind. Then home and  a catchup whirlwind while working a short term contract. Then a summer of photography and lawn mowing and BBQ in the back patio. Then Yukon and more photo editing. More photography. A surprise trip to Ontario for a funeral.

And here we are, preparing for another trip to New Zealand, though we don't leave for a while yet. I've no idea what 2020 will bring. I've got several photography related ideas in the works, some people are pitching various proposals to me, and of course, the BBQ will get a workout again. I still want to drape a model in run gear over this log, but now is clearly not the time, unless she is much more intrepid than I imagine.

I know there are lots of people worried about 2020. How climate change will affect them. What our idiot politicians will get up to as they feather their nest and screw us over. Wondering if things will hold together just long enough for them to hit the magic number for retirement. If this will be the year they'll finally sell their house, or buy their dream home. Or get off the street and into any form of housing, with 3 square meals a day in the bargain.

But keep in mind that humans are good at figuring things out, and that of all the smartest people who have ever lived, half are alive right now. Maybe try not to think about scientific progress happening one funeral at time, or that by appearances far more than half of all the stupid people being alive right now too.

2020 for sure will bring some responses to the AMA, since I've had some questions already. More are welcome.

So in the spirit of openness and reading into the situation whatever you wish to, here's three sort of abstracts.

I'd like to convince you those big poles are specialty fishing equipment to guide boats in the marsh leading to the open water, towards the clouds on the horizon.

My eyes did not see that sundog.

Part of the charm of abstracts is that people wonder what it 'really' is. You will have to wonder a long time.

Deadwood of the Day

Sunday, December 29, 2019


There, you see the power of habit? I was sure I was going to take the rest of the year off, thinking about image of the month, and image of the year, and photo plans for the year, and for a proposed private photo shoot. (No, not shooting hot women in skimpy lingerie.)

I am working on all that, and posted 13 of the image of the year finalists onto Neil's workshop page, where some of you have seen them already, so I need not repeat myself. If you haven't seen them, hang tough, they are coming soon in (surprise) image of the year in early January.

Habit is an amazing thing, for good or bad. Blog essentially daily for almost a year and a half, and it's a habit. I suppose there are worse ones to have. I twitched about not blogging yesterday. I nearly did, by accident while working on the previously mentioned drafts.

I don't make New Year's Resolutions, but it is a good time, a good marker to start working on new habits. So rather than resolve to lose weight, make it a habit to go for a walk every day. Not too far or too fast at first. But every day, preferably outside. (If you work downtown, and it's minus WTF, a brisk walk through the +15 counts. Or laps inside a big mall is fine.) Find the time. I am not talking a 6 hour hike. I'm talking 30 to 60 minutes, less to start. Cut out the worst TV show from your TV habit to make the time.

Eat the same, or better yet create the daily habit of adding one piece of fruit to your diet and subtracting one sweet thing. Just start doing it. Apples are awesome and convenient to take to work. Drop the store bought cookie/muffin/doughnut/pastry/whatever that is a congealed chemical stew of preservatives. At the end of the year you will be thinner. Not necessarily lighter, as some women getting into triathlon have learned to their initial dismay, but thinner and stronger.

Get into the habit of not spending money on cheap shit made by slave labour in China to make yourself feel better. You won't. Put that money into your TFSA, and when you top out on that start on your RSP. (Under most conditions, for most people, there are exceptions, consult your independent financial advisor ((and not the effing big bank flack that shills for their overpriced and under returning financial 'products' that are as good for you as that preservative laden cookie)) to find out if you are one of those exceptions.) If you ask nice, and convince me you're serious, I'll give you the name of my advisor. She doesn't mind tire kickers, particularly, especially if they ask good questions along the way, but I'm not going to send her someone unready to take advantage of her expertise.

The upside to not spending money on cheap shit is that you have more of it working for you, rather than for your not-friends the banks. As you stay in the habit, your money will start working for you, rather than for those not-friends and against you. After a while, this gets good.

The downside is that a lifetime of asking yourself, "Do I want to afford this?" and usually saying no) is that it becomes difficult to actually take money out of the RSP when the time comes. You over think buying small luxuries that you can easily afford.

So now I'm going to try to break the habit of blogging every day, rain or shine, and blog somewhat less often, when I have something to say, or a compelling photo to share. Like this one. I was trying to capture exactly how the sun was reflecting off his fur.

Plus a sneak peek at one of my upcoming projects. This is an experiment. No, that's not a mirror image.

Deadwood of the Day

Friday, December 27, 2019

365! Actually 504 but who's counting?

So here I am, achieving my accidental goal. I've blogged an average of once a day for all of 2019, and the year isn't quite done yet. The trip to New Zealand early in the year helped, what with producing so many good photos I was often blogging twice a day, just to not fall so far behind. And sharing photos of a lovely place that many people have not visited, of course.

What's the 504, you ask? The once a day pace average actually started mid August. Over the 4443 day lifetime of the blog there have been 3271 blogs published. That's 1 every 1.358 days, or 1955 minutes and 30 seconds or so. Just so Julie gets her numbers fix.

As I mentioned, I don't think I'm going to continue blogging at this torrid pace. Probably more than weekly, but certainly less often than daily. Somewhere between 52 and 365 blogs in 2020. Hmmm. So if you've been coming here every day with your morning coffee, or your evening tipple, don't be disappointed. Well, I know you will be, but please keep coming back, I love my readers. Or you could subscribe and get it by email. Or watch for me on Facebook, I'm planning to still notify people when I blog. Or make like some of my readers, they wait till they have a bit of time, and read a bunch of blogs in a row, and comment! Thank you so much for the comments! I love getting comments.

I've been wondering what to put in this blog post. The year is wrapping up, but not yet over. I'm writing this the afternoon of Boxing Day, so there are several days left to get out and do things. Maybe capture an image of the month, or even image of the year! It happened last year, on the 28th I was down to Fish Creek and captured the honourable mention of all 2018.

Some bloggers do year end top 10 lists, best book, best movie, best game, whatever. I don't really do those, since I know I didn't see 10 new release movies in 2019. I think Arrival was the last movie I saw in the theatre. Maybe The Secret Life of Pets. Both were 2016 releases. That's what happens when dreck like movies made from comic books fill the theatre. Not that try hard to find new release movies to go to; the theatre is such a dreadful and expensive experience. Movies from the library are free, and our media room is ever so much more comfortable, to say nothing of drinking wine during. I'm not even sure what the most recently released movie that I've seen, is.

Books I've started on again, mostly non-fiction, and mostly photography related. I'd have to keep track better than I do, to be able to do a top 10 list. But that reminds me. The whole publishing industry sucks slough water with rocks big time. The authors that create the works you love, are mostly shy retiring creatures, loving nothing better than to make up worlds in their head, to capture a stunning turn of phrase for you, as they work on a mug of tea or coffee. Now they are being forced into do much of their own publicity, and if there is an activity further from writing than publicity, I can't imagine what it might be. I visited one of my buddies that was doing a book signing in Chapters, and can't really imagine a more soul crushing experience. So if you are browsing and see a book you might like, for the love of literacy just buy it. The author only gets a fraction of the book price, even if it is a self publishing gig, but that fraction might be what puts them over line to be able to write another book. If it turns out you don't like it, sell it to a used book store, or put it in one of those little library boxes you see around, or donate it to your local community centre or assisted living centre.

(Long bridge from blogging frequency.) I will be doing image of the month, and image of the year, but they won't show up till January. I might blog when I get a stunning photo I want to show off, or rant when the mood strikes me, or publish a novel snippet just because. Or maybe because I get off my butt and produce a photo book and want to tell the world. Who knows?

So what to say. That's usually not a problem for me, and this blog is already getting long, but then again, it's a year end blog. A milestone. Or a yearstone, if there is such a thing. Stupid damnyouautocorrect, changed that to headstone. Grrr.

The year was fun. I did a short term work gig that was mostly ok, aside from freezing my ass off in their office and dealing with recalcitrant SAP data that lacked adequate index fields. I had several fun photo gigs, some even paying me an honorarium, which is the sincerest form of flattery.

There was lots of travel. New Zealand, Yukon, Cypress Hills and area. From just about as far south as you can go without going to Antarctica, to just north of the Arctic Circle. Fun! No wonder I've more than 50,000 photos from this year. And why choosing image of the year will be so hard. My only regret was not getting out to the east coast for the fall colours.

I went back and looked at my files. I have tagged 4601 photos as blogged. I'm not sure when I started this. If I believe the photo dates, it was late 2017, but I thought I started early this year. Of course, lots of my blogs I'll go back and pick earlier photos for some reason that seemed like a good idea at the time. I'm trying to wrap my head around inflicting 4600 photos on my faithful readers.

The books are still getting out of hand. Every now and then I bestir myself to add them to the list and move them to the basement. Normally this means zapping the bar code with a reader, and the database looks up the book info for me. Except it didn't. It needed updating. And with a bit of help from their help line, we discovered that one must replace the contents of the master folder, not update. Once that was figured out, it all went well. Except we are running out of book shelf space in the basement. This might be the great project of 2020, going through the books to determine if we are likely to read them again in our lives, and what to do with them if not. Anybody want a mid 80's vintage Encyclopedia Britannica?

That gets me started musing about projects for 2020. I already mentioned a photo book. That seems like a nice way to display photos, and might make a nice gift for certain people. I've talked about the difficulties of choosing photos to get printed and hung on the walls, namely running out of wall space in no time at all. We have thought about getting a big TV display installed in our living room over the stairs, and setting it up to display the edited photos in rotation. I once saw a TV display done up to look exactly like a framed painting, but the cost was outrageous. I'm pretty sure you could buy a TV and pay someone to build a custom frame and it would be much cheaper.

I might blog again this year. I might not. I don't know. If I don't, just remember my seasonal chant.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, HoHoHo, Bah Humbug.

This is what we got after our Christmas Day bus ride, and returned home. Some days they are so impressed with us.

Don't forget the Ask Me Anything. Really anything. It can't possibly be worse that what I might dream up and attribute to you.

Deadwood of the Day

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas to one and all!

I wasn't thinking about blogging today, but we have a brief interlude between our two bits of excitement today. Three if you count opening presents, and four if you count great Sumatran dark (DARK!) coffee.

The new Max Yellow Bus Rapid Transit route between our neighbourhood and downtown fired up a couple days ago. We wanted to ride to see where some of the stops were, and how long it takes to get downtown. Not that getting downtown to work is a thing, but we do have appointments there sometimes, and stuff along the way.

Here is Linda, giddy with excitement at the approaching bus.

It was pretty quick, and there were half a dozen other riders, which was a bit of a surprise. Then again, there was essentially no traffic. I'm guessing that in regular traffic it would be about the same transit time as the LRT and the old 56 route or maybe a bit quicker, though I've a bit more of a walk at the end. The big advantage is not having to think about which LRT station to get off at to avoid seeing the bus zooming off in triumph.

The excitement later is dinner with friends and catching up on their family drama.

Speaking of drama, the AMA (Ask Me Anything) is now open. Limited time offer. Keep those cards and letters coming. I may well make up questions and attribute them as I see fit.

Deadwood of the Day
There was a black and white version of this published some time along the way. I think the tree is smiling at me.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Eve

Another year is almost finished zooming by. Our tradition for the day is to dig out the tree and decorate it, much to the interest and amusement of the cats. We don't know if they remember from year to year, but it seems to be a big deal for them. If I can, I'll get a photo of them in it. No promises.

I was in the pool for a swim today. I'm still not back to my form from a year ago now. My shoulders get tired and my stroke falls apart much sooner than it ever used to, though it's ever so gradually getting better. More gradually than that. There were a couple swim club kids gone slumming in the next lane. Zoom! The swimmer we called One Kick Girl was in the other next lane, churning out her workout. A couple of the regular guys were doing their usual workout, which looks like a series of races. Repsol was pretty empty, which I guess isn't a surprise.

Driving past Chinook mall made me glad I didn't have to go in. I could feel the stress and parking rage from the far lane. In contrast, the library was serene. I picked up a couple books for Linda, and had a nice chat with one of the staff who helped me find the hold. It wasn't where they normally are, still in micro-transit, on a cart within the library.

We drove past the new Costco on the way home from errands yesterday. Technically, we drove on the new ring road, but it's still very much a work in progress. Coming from the south, we are driving north in what will be the southbound lanes. There is a left turn in the middle of nowhere, leading through the remains of a traffic circle, then make a non-obvious left and drive down what will eventually be like a business access road. I think. There were several trucks unloading what looked like big rooftop HVAC units for the Costco. A bit of a dodge'm lane change and we're on the 130 ave bridge. And no, I still don't know about that new pedestrian bridge.

I'm not sure what to show you for a photo today. There's fewer than 60 in my 3 months backlog, but 552 in my one year backlog. Imagine that, if you will, that with all the photos I've shown you (inflicted on you) There are still another 552 from this year that you probably haven't seen. The oldest is a daylight skyline shot that was on Facebook for no reason I can now understand. It isn't very good, but I think I was playing with the new 600 mm lens.

There's only a couple, then I get into New Zealand shots. This is the first one that I think is worth showing you, and only because Linda is in it. Look again.

There were a couple of big panoramas that show the view to the left of this. You can see the actual panoramas here.

That little gazebo is where those panoramas were shot from. There are lots of days I've dreamed of writing or editing in that gazebo, with a faithful staff to bring the appropriate drink for that time of day.

Another view of that gazebo.

I swear I didn't plan those rabbit ears!

Two amazing old cars that made me drool every time I saw them

And I think that's it for the New Zealand photos that have remained unshown for whatever reason. Maybe more from the rest of the year will show up tomorrow or the next day.

I haven't done an AMA for a while. Feel free to Ask Me Anything, in comments, via Facebook, via email, via text. Whatever. You can look through previous years of blogs to see what you might get. It's fun for all involved. Really.

Deadwood of the Day
I don't know if this should have gone with Solstice, or on the first blog of the new year, or what. New life springing from a dead tree. Make of it what you will.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Macro Monday 34, icy experiments

Don't get too excited. These were experimental shots with the macro lens at about 3 or 4x magnification. None are as good as I hoped, but I learned lots. I was till looking for little structures, as opposed to a snowflake. Lots of these reminded me of little ice insects.

One of the main learnings is that I had too much magnification for what I was trying to shoot. The depth of field is so narrow it's hard to get enough of it in focus to be a nice shot. Getting individual snowflakes, though, it might be a thing, provided I get all set up for it. Now it's going to be forever before we get a nice snowflake day.

Breathing is also an issue in cold weather. Why? Because unless you're careful you are breathing out on your camera. It will condense on the camera, fogging up your lens and view screen. A few times I've thought of repurposing a specialty swimming snorkel. It's the kind that goes straight back over my head, meant to teach swimmers to keep their head down and aligned with their spine. It would be a great way of keeping my hot breath off my cold camera. I can only imagine what my neighbours would think.

Still going through images from the rest of the year. Christmas shopping is all done. We were out very first thing, Linda wild eyed and ready to trample, but it turned out not to be necessary. Where we were going was not all that busy, and traffic wasn't bad. I made another trip a bit later to the library, and the mall next door was a madhouse.









Deadwood of the Day

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Going through the unblogged photos

I'm starting to gather my thoughts for several periodic blogs. The year end one. The image of the month. The image of the year. I know you're all burning with eagerness to see these. I'm burning with eagerness to write them.

Yesterday was the last of the Christmas shopping for me, doing some on behalf of a busy group. Traffic was nuts. I'm glad I don't have to go anywhere now. The only going is a new bus route starting up on Monday, the Max Yellow, starting from our neighbourhood to downtown, via MRU and some other destinations, such as, Southland Leisure Centre, Heritage Park, Rockyview Hospital, 2 stops near our massage therapist, and several stops downtown. This would have been good for me when I was working downtown. I'm not sure how much I'll use it now, but we'll ride it just to see. There may be photographs. I know you're shocked.

For those of you keeping track, this will be blog 361 for the year. I'll bet you didn't know that 361 is a semi-prime number, in that it's the square of a prime number, 19. It's right between two nearby prime numbers, if that's any consolation to you, 359 and 367.

Here is a random collection of photos, complete with a bit of a story about them.

More from my photo ramble with Sean the other day. You can look here for more if you missed them. We were looking for sunrise shots, and this is about as good as it got for colour in the clouds.

Sean hard at it.

Banff residents will yawn at this photo. Sorry.
But this got me onto demonyms. Yes, that's a real word.
If people that live in Calgary are Calgarians, and those in Edmonton are Edmontonians, and Vancouver are Canuckleheads, and Halifax are Haligonians, then what on earth are people from Banff called? Banffite? Banffese? Banffan? Comment if you know.

One of the mountain shots along the way.

This is after a bit of an adventure. What we see is nearly the end point of a daily routine. The coffee is about to be poured into mugs for consumption. Except at first I was gently trying to fit the coffee filter plunger into the thermos.

Back in October I was puzzled. There is a pedestrian bridge under construction, and the ramp up to it is wide enough for a 4 lane road. I visited it again the other day, and the pedestrian part is being installed. It's the width you'd expect, about 2 m. So what's with the ramp? I remain puzzled. Yes, the road allowance is really wide too. As near as I can tell, there is room for about 16 lanes of traffic.

Curtis getting up from a nap and going for a stroll.

Deadwood of the Day

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Seeking Stillness

This book leaped off the library shelf into my hands. I have often thought there isn't enough stillness in the world, not enough quiet places for a person to just sit and be. Not be anything, just be. Find the quietness within that defines who and what you are.

I've a certain fascination with photos taken with old cameras, with film, with black and white. Not that I want to do it, particularly, film seems so fussy to get the results you might be looking for.

So Seeking Stillness by Olivier du Tre is a wonderfully contemplative read. Even better, he's a local guy, taking photos of local places. I've been to some of the places he's photographed, and his are better. Much better.

I don't do a lot of black and white, at least not deliberately. Sometimes it's the solution to getting rid of a lot of blue in mountain photos. Sometimes there is no colour and it looks better in black and white. Sometimes it just looks better. It's usually still a second thought for me, though.

Get the book out of the library, or go buy it. In the meantime, enjoy some of my older black and whites. Some may have been blogged before, but that was before I started my tagging system. If it just kills you to see a repeat, drop by to explain your troubles to me and I'll feed you some coffee or wine to help you feel better.

These are from a Neil Zeller workshop trip down to Waterton Park, and from an expedition with Sean up Johnston Canyon a few days later.













Deadwood of the Day
Naturally I had to go find a black and white one.