Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Glow

Us being staid and semi-old, we don't get downtown much other than work. None the less, we had a nice date night downtown going to the various Glow exhibits, displays, or whatever you want to call them. I brought the camera, of course, but am somewhat disappointed in the results.

This is my best shot of the displays, and it doesn't do anything for me. At least it pulsed with music, and though I varied the exposure settings it didn't turn out as I'd hoped.



And this one. It's a boring photo, I admit. Then again, the chandelier is boring too. It's made out of a bazillion plastic chopsticks that don't do anything but sway in the breeze while hanging from a man lift . One of my photo buddies did a much nicer one and I'm jealous.


One was quite clever in theory, but the execution left a bit to be desired. A bunch of old streetlights were laid in the snow in a pattern. By looking in a telescope at a mirror mounted on a building, you could see constellations. Unfortunately, trying to photograph it would be a waste of time.

Another was Christmas lights wrapped around a tree that pulsed in morse code. It was a tree conversation, or so the literature said.

There is another shot of Linda with one of the exhibits, but it's interesting only because Linda's in it, and it isn't what I'd call a good portrait.


That's why the rest of the photos were of buildings, or street art.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Monday, February 20, 2017

The periscope plant

One of the plants living in our back room is an Amarillo. Maybe it's Amarillus. I don't know. I call it the periscope plant. It blooms once in a while.


I got to thinking about it the other day, and dug out the camera. Red is hard to photograph, and the room isn't that bright. It faces north, and I resolved to play with settings and use only natural light. The camera was on the tripod of course, and it took a few shots to dial in the settings. Here's the results. No idea what order blogger will put them in.

I've never been much of a flowers or a garden kind of guy. Yet when I look at these close up shots I am gaining a whole new appreciation for the intricacy and beauty of plants. I hadn't know these blossoms have subtly different textures and colours. This photo still doesn't really do the colour justice.


This is actually an HDR shot to capture both the dark of the centre, and the translucence of the edges of the blossom. It might just a hair too bright, making it look slightly orange rather than red.

This is one of the old blossoms from the last time it bloomed. I happen to think that old tired blossoms are just as beautiful, and even more interesting to photograph, than blossoms at the height of freshness.


One of the leaves. I was fascinated that the colour goes from green to brown along the leaf, rather than from the end inwards.


I just love this transition from bright green to bright red.

In real life, that top centre fuzzy thingie is 6 mm long. I spent a long time trying to get all these in focus, and didn't get it to happen.







Sunday, February 19, 2017

Curtis has such a hard life

Look at these photos. We go through this every time I leave the house. Every single time. Here he is, impatiently waiting for me to open the door so he can go hunt for his hot buttered mouse that he is sure is out there. It's that, or better humans.


There's the handle, right there!

What's taking so long? I'm even trying to help.

Stupid humans. Right here. What's so hard about this?

Then there's the dance of the door opening without him going out. I can't manage that while taking photos. He is a polite and well mannered kitty, as these things go, but if the door is open for more than a few seconds he's going to take that as an invitation.

Every time we take him to the vet, the staff try to cat-nap him, drawing straws to see who can take him home if we don't show up again. They have offered him the position of head cat, but he declined, saying he didn't want to oversee an establishment with so many dogs. He chose us when we dropped into the MEOW foundation, so I suspect he wandered out of someone else's home, possibly in search of better humans. Which is us, but I don't think it would be difficult for him to find other humans that would take him in.

Resting up after a hard day in the life of Curtis.

He had been asleep while I twiddled with the exposure, and by the time I pressed the shutter button, he was awake and asking why I was disturbing him.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A bus driver

Last week a Winnipeg bus driver was assaulted and killed. A government cabinet minister rose in the House of Commons to pay tribute to him, and was laughed and jeered by the opposition Conservative members, because he mentioned that he had once been a bus driver as well.

This is disgusting on several fronts. It shows the mind-set of the Conservative MP's, that they look down on those that do what they consider menial work. That they will seize on anything to mock those opposed to them and their elitist agenda. In spite of their law and order mindset, they don't appear to see assaults as a problem, unless it happens to people they consider important. Like the wealthy.

They pay lip service to "hard working Canadians" but that's only to cover their disdain. There are any number of job titles that are considered menial, done by those hard working Canadians, and most of them are turning cranks that help keep our society going in one way or another. They provide services that we all rely on.

Let's start with bus drivers. "Anyone can drive a bus," they say. "Them and their gold-plated pensions, fire them all, there's lots of people willing to work for half what they make and no pension," they say. Lots of people demonstrate daily they are not capable of safely driving their car, and I wouldn't let them try a bus if it was mine.

Bus drivers often work an even crazier shift than I did, being needed during rush hours, but not between. Transit starts early and ends late. It's not like they can do their job with their eyes half closed, like I might have done a few times.

Here in Calgary transit sometimes runs 24 hours a day. Tens of thousands of people rely on transit to get to work and home again via transit. Imagine how clogged the roads would be if all of them had to drive? Mercedes man from the BRT fracas would be losing his shiz.

So there you are, a smart adult, driving a bus. Now think about the schedule. It's published, and both the customers and transit officials expect it to be kept to the minute, day in and day out. There must be allowances for weather and traffic but I don't know the details. I don't want to know the details, but I'm happy there are people paid to do that.

My days are loosely scheduled at best. The days I don't work I can do what I want, when I want. On work days I get into work when I get there. I can take as long for lunch as I want, and I can leave when I want. I bill by the hour, and there are things I've committed to get done. Bus drivers have that minute by minute schedule, dealing with both wonderful passengers and the abusive ones. I wouldn't want to deal with that.

I was charmed during our visits to Bermuda; one is expected to greet the bus driver upon entering. One kid didn't, and an older woman sent him back to the front to apologize. The drivers often put their name underneath a sign that says, "Your professional driver". They are a vital part of the fabric of daily life. A little more decorum here would be nice.

What about the people that pick up garbage every week? It used to be men throwing bags into a truck, now it's people driving trucks with those remote control arms to dump bins into the truck. Does anyone think that removing garbage isn't an important task?

What about a heavy equipment operator? Have you seen the cab of a belly sander? You've got to drive the truck, operate the plow over a variety of road and weather conditions, and operate the sander mechanism, and deal with whatever paperwork is involved to track what is being done. I wouldn't want to deal with either of those, or many other jobs.

There are any number of jobs done by what used to be called white collar workers, that are utterly essential to society. They are the key to money and services flowing back and forth. Lots of people think they earn too much money and can be easily replaced. They should try it sometime. Even the non-professional level jobs have detailed procedures. Ask Linda about the details of what she does sometime. Get a big cup of coffee because it's going to take a while.

Once upon a time I operated a waste water treatment plant. Some would call that a menial task, but other than the shift work the job itself was interesting. And as essential as any other, unless you like dying of cholera, hepatitis, dysentery, or lots of other diseases from not treating human waste properly.

I'm not going to list other jobs and why they're important.  It would be a long list, and the importance of each should be self evident. Unless apparently, you are a Conservative MP. I suspect those Conservative MP's would consider any job they don't have as menial.

Then there is the on the job behaviour of MP's. No other workplace would tolerate such heckling and demeaning of fellow workers. The elected officials in our government represent us all and have an important task. One might disagree with others, but they should be able to debate each other civilly, using facts and logical arguments. They should show the reason why they are addressed as "the honourable member" from whatever area. When you treat people as though they have no honour, you are really demonstrating you have none.

We live in a world of complicated relationships. When we drive anywhere, we are dependent on the skills and cooperation of every other driver near us on the road. We trust our devices to give us turn by turn directions to a place we've never been before. We rely on published schedules, and believe Mrs Google when she tells us what time that business opens or closes. We trust the people that make our cars and airplanes and a million other manufactured items have done their jobs properly. We trust that the waiter will bring the gluten free bun instead of the one that will make you really sick. We fill out a form on line, including a credit card number, and that kicks off a chain of transactions that results in a product being manufactured in China and shipped to your door via a complex transportation web, usually within a few days.

Consider that person you just dissed in the coffee shop because they have brown skin, or are wearing a turban, or don't speak good English, or are taking too long to make up their minds, or smell different, or aren't dressed well, or WHATEVER, that that person might involved in one of those complex transactions you rely on. Maybe they calibrate complex avionic instruments. Maybe they write the software for your favourite app. Maybe they drive the bus that takes your kid to school, or the taxi that takes you to the airport.

Maybe they are a janitor that keeps your office clean or some other task you think makes them 'beneath' you. There is a photo of then President Obama fist bumping a janitor. If he can, you can smile and say good morning, and grant them the respect due another human being.

Soapbox packed away until next time.

The swim groove is coming back, and my hams and quads are less cranky.

Lastly, another reflection photo from the other day. Yes, this is what I intended.







Friday, February 17, 2017

Sunrise skyline reflection

I was out this morning for a sunrise skyline shoot. There had been quite a bit of dithering and peering at the Photographers Ephemeris trying to choose a suitable spot. The problem is, of course, once you arrive at that spot you are stuck. The magic light doesn't last very long. If you don't think it's going to be right for what you want, and you dash for the alternative place, you are likely to be in transit when the light is spectacular, and it will only last a few minutes. Oops.

There was very little cloud so I wasn't terribly hopeful for great shots, but you never know. At the very least it's good practice. And these turned out better than I expected.

It started with this. A traditional skyline against a darkish sky. I was a little late for a lovely violet sky.


For a few brief moments the purple took over, which was a surprise to me. My eyes could see it, but once on the computer it came up much better, without any colour tweaking. My buddy Susi will like this one.

On the way home after I stopped at the Rideau park bridge, and was rewarded with a nice reflection shot of some of the buildings downtown. I might have to come back here for night and sunrise shots where I can play with the exposure more.

There were a few other locations checked out along the way home, but the light was nothing special.

That was just the start of the day. Later I was in the pool, but there was no swim mojo. I was struggling to make my CSS intervals and I got lane roped. Enough of that. The hot tub felt good on my cranky hams and quads.

Lunch with some buddies in a feel good story. Remember the Penn West contract? My recruiter there called me for a role at Fortis. It would have been a bit of a stretch, but the big problem was that their office is in Airdrie, and I did not want to spend at least 2 hours a day commuting. I did my time commuting on Deerfoot, living in fear of being rear ended as the traffic transitioned from free flowing 100+ KPH to a standstill.

Happily I thought of my buddy Sean, and suggested the recruiter call him. That all went around, the signatures on the appropriate paperwork happened this week, and he starts next week. Yay! He will be better in the role than I would be. Today was a celebratory lunch. My recruiter also brought along a bottle of very nice red wine that I happen to be drinking now. A Chateauneuf de Pape, if you're wondering. Yum!

Then the market, then hosing off the car, then getting buried in a heap of demanding cats for a while.

So all in all, a good day.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Feeling fuller

There's lots going on in my head these days. In between work stuff, the novel and photography ideas are swirling. I'm missing a bit of peace and quiet time, and have been going to bed earlier trying to keep up with recovery.

I found this photo, from a late January walk in Votier's flats in Fish Creek. It's so calm and peaceful, it brings some serenity to my thoughts just looking at it.


I'm not standing in the water, contrary to appearances. There was a convenient ice shelf.

The swim is going well, working on CSS pace. I'll probably have another go tomorrow.

Ran 4 K in 26:30 along the path during lunchtime today. Warm! Shorts and a tech shirt warm.
There's still puddles and icy patches to be careful of, but it's such a joy to be running outside. Less joyful is the cranky hams and quads. It took about 2 K to feel warmed up, and going up the tiny little inclines along the path was hard sledding.

I think I'll go roller them.

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