Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Springtime brutality

Winter is hard on cars. Days, weeks, and sometimes months of minus WTF takes it's toll on us, and cars.  But spring is brutal. Yesterday a pothole ate one of the tires on our car. I got a couple of K, then it started singing the flat tire flop song. Sigh. They couldn't repair it, so that's a new tire.

It's not just the potholes. There's probably a technical term for them, but the alleys are full of slushy holes. Drive into them and you drop to the bottom of the slush. It might be deeper than your car tire. An inch away could be steel hard ice. I'm guessing a tiny chunk of salt fell off a car, which started the melt, and when it gets some sun there's more local melting. The ice softens up as the water spreads out and down.

There's a spot in the alley behind us where there's a a foot of water in the hole, and ice all around. At night a thin, non car supporting skim of ice will form, but don't be deceived. Drive in and you won't drive out. I try to drain the water away, but look what I have to deal with. That ice wall is 4 to 5 inches thick, high, whatever. Bump!

Our neighbour behind us did much of that chipping, and my wrists thank him. It's a minor consolation that there are some nice reflections to be had, provided a willingness to stand in another puddle.

The amaryllis bloom is still developing. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile we are being whipsawed with nice days and cold nights. There might be snow tonight, disguising the slush holes and potholes even more. At least the air isn't hurting my face anymore.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Fading, and swelling again.

Not me. The Amaryllis. It's bloomed, faded, and there are some new blooms coming in. I've never seen them at this stage. I'll have to watch this. If I was a real pro, I'd set up on of my cameras and take a time lapse of it. There'd probably be a cat photobombing happening, which you guys might like.

Here's the nice bloom from last week.

It's now faded and crumpling. In the mean time, it slimed me as I was getting photos of the nearby hibiscus. Good thing the police didn't happen to see my hands. I don't know if they still use the term 'red-handed', but they would've liked to. Readers from last year know that I'm just as interested in fading blooms, as I am in budding, and full blossom. They're all beautiful in their own way.

The poor hibiscus gets chewed by Celina a lot. We are fortunate that the recent bloom is too high for her.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Macro Monday 24, in my cups

I got looking at an object I use very nearly first thing every day. Learning to use a camera has been great practice in looking at things differently.

The first thing is seeing light differently, appreciating the different qualities it has through the day. Next is thinking about what would make a good shot. Maybe the light makes it, and it would be just an ordinary shot even a few minutes later. Or maybe it's just a compelling subject by itself, or maybe you see it in a new way and you know how to create the conditions to shoot it so it's interesting. Then you think about what lens to put on the camera.

I took this object out to the patio while looking things over. It was only when I put it on the ledge that I realized what could be done. It actually took several tries to get that last shot. Then it was down to the basement for the macro lens, amazed at the colour and texture that was coming up.

Doesn't this look a little like a flower garden? These did not need a lot of pushing in Lightroom once the exposure was right.

Here's the object. The harsh morning light really fired up the reflections and colour. The big version of this really pops, but I'm not sure how well that shows up for you. And yes, that's a bit of a selfie. I didn't see that till I edited it.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

For the Celina fans out there

In furry person, Celina is quite a pretty cat. Very elegant and well spoken. Extremely well spoken on many different subjects, as anyone who has met her knows. Photos, however, don't seem to do her justice. The camera doesn't love her the way it loves Curtis. I'm not sure why. She's actually a difficult subject, always turning her head, or giving me the squinty-eyed look when I have the camera in hand.

Often when she snoozes her head is tucked down into her tail, or into the lap she's in, which doesn't make for a good photo. I don't think I've ever seen her snooze on her back like Curtis does. She typically doesn't stroll from place to place, she darts, and it gets her nearly stepped on sometimes.

Lately she's been taking to eating her food really slowly. Curtis bolts his food then comes along to push her away to finish hers. She's such a tiny kitty we don't want to see her miss any meals, so we separate them, or stand there and watch. She will slowly crunch away, looking at hime between bites. Poor Curtis. A few times I've just let them do their thing. I figure if she's hungry she'll eat faster.

Here's 3 recent photos that are a bit better than average for her.

Friday, March 16, 2018

What happens under bridges

Most of us never think about bridges, other than crossing them on the way to where ever we're going. Almost nobody thinks about the underside of them, but sometimes they make for interesting photos.

This is one of the older bridges in Calgary, and the lowest. It's only 2.0 m clearance (6'6"). There are several signs about the lack of overhead, and yet there are still mishaps. On the day I took this, a tall cube van was doing an 11 point turn on one side of it, while drivers going either way waited patiently. That's better than the alternative for all involved. The driver had the grace to give the other drivers an embarrassed wave when he finished. Several people have tried to drive bigger vehicles under there and it worked out about like you'd expect.

There's a famous bridge in Durham county, North Carolina. It's informally called the can opener. Google 11foot8 and prepare to be amused. Thats 3.56 m, so I guess it's just high enough that people think their vehicle will fit. I wonder how many drivers have been fired over the years.

The graffiti is what caught my eye. It's actually fairly far from the path, and the river is lower than the path. I'm just guessing that some kid either scrambled out on the girders and painted with one hand, or they somehow used a ladder.

This was meant to be an arty shot of icy reflections. If there'd been 3 rocks in an artistic triangle I'd have  been a lot happier with it, but I wasn't about to hump 2 more rocks onto the bridge just to drop them.

You can see that same rock off in the distance. This is the pedestrian bridge over the Elbow, between 9th ave and the Bow river. I like the nice clean lines, unlike the cluttered mess of the first bridge. The only difficulty was essentially standing on some homeless person's front porch. There is a bit of an alcove in the bridge structure where someone has been sleeping.

I like that there is space for people to take in the view without getting in the way of people that are just passing through. Looking to the left in this photo is where Elbow joins the Bow. I suspect that there are some nice photos to be had there, if the light is right. The ones I got were blah.

There's lots of bridge construction happening. Closest to home are new bridges over Fish Creek  and the Elbow for the ring road, along with lots of interchange bridges. Crowchild trail is being widened and about time too, that's been a major bottleneck for decades. Macleod trail has a recently completed (I think) double diamond bridge at 162nd, and a new bridge for the ring road.

Construction is supposed to start on 9th Ave over the Elbow going into Inglewood, which is going to be interesting to see how they do it. Unlike the recently opened zoo bridge, they can't close off 9th Ave for two years of construction. Can they? There's some vacant land nearby, maybe they'll build the new bridge there, then one weekend remove the old bridge and lift the new one in place. That would be cool to watch. Let's just hope the engineers do their sums correctly, and it doesn't turn out like that pedestrian bridge over Shaganappi Trail that was 11 cm too short.

It's not really a bridge, but there's lots of work happening on the deck of the Glenmore dam so the bike path is closed for a couple years. It's not really a bridge, but there's a BRT underpass being built at 14 St and 90 Ave.  Those are just the ones I know of off hand, without doing any research. There are probably more, and that's not even talking about road widening and other construction projects.

In the mean time, getting anywhere is going to take longer. For obvious reasons the construction companies restrict access to the building site, and that means lane closures or restrictions. This just sets off the road rage idiots, who feel that it's all happening just to inconvenience them personally. It's probably going to surprise a few distracting driving idiots who think they can do their normal social media thing as they drive and realize too late the lanes have changed. I feel for the people around them.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The less said about that, the better

After the nice swim, let's just skip over Tuesday entirely, shall we, and stretch the skip  till the lovely snooze with the Curtis soundtrack Wednesday afternoon. You don't want to know.

Then Linda was trying a new recipe. It tasted really good, but there are improvements to be made, she says. I managed to catch a moment of the cauliflower pizza prep. Rather than a wheat based crust, it used riced cauliflower. That's the piece that needs some work.

While that was in progress I was out doing a little bit more ice chipping after the snooze, trying to get as much water off the street before it snows more.

Yes, more. They are forecasting 10 to 15 cm of snow today. All the snow so far has been light and fluffy, but this is probably going to be wet and heavy. Good thing I don't have any outside plans for tomorrow. Well, except shoveling. Lots of that.

Here's what it looks like Wednesday evening after a beautiful sunny day.

The alleys are going to be ugly. That's all soft and slushy, and I sure hope it gets cold before it snows.

By contrast, this ice is hard as steel. I could see some subtle yellowish highlights in the ice from the setting sun, but they don't really show up quite the same here.

As of Thursday morning, there is a light fog, ominous clouds, and it's just beginning to snow. Here we go again.

Anybody have any experience with big digital frames? One of my buddies wants to get a print of the white peony, (yay!) and I was thinking of getting one done as well. Linda has a small digital frame, maybe 10" diagonally she kept on her desk at work. We got to thinking a big one might be a nice way to display my good photos. At some point you get into TV territory, and I don't much care what it's called, as long as it can cycle through photos. Suggestions?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

More from a Fish Creek ramble

These are from a walk at the beginning of the month, on a day that looked like spring. However it was playing with us, since it snowed lots more. In the meantime I was happy to tramp through Fish Creek between Bridge 2 and 3, especially since I was wearing traction aides.

They were totally necessary, since the ice on this hillside path was the only stable thing to walk on. I don't know where I'd have gone if a bike appeared. Yes, there were lots of bike track on that path. Right beside the ice was slippery mud, with frozen ground underneath, and a long way down.

I've looked up toward this path many times, wondering where a daring bike trail came from. Now I know. It's wonderful to still be discovering new trails after all this time. No doubt there will be many more over the summer.

Along here might have some nice sunrise or sunset shots.

I doubt this bit of the creek is anywhere near so photogenic now, with the snow melting in the warm days we are swimming in. The roads are a sloppy enchilada, and that's where they've been plowed. There's some pretty fearsome ruts on the rest of the streets.

Remember that one atypical photo from a few days back? Yeah. Today's the day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Who's got wings?

Today (Monday) my feet do, compared to yesterday during the run. I might go out for a interval walk later, one interval being bare dry sidewalks, and the other being wet slippery ice. Should be fun.

There's been a bit more ice chipping to keep things going. The older channel is beginning to look very polished.

Don't drive over this. Just don't.

I like the rilled pattern of snow melting in the patio. The hanging plant will emerge from the snow any hour now.

A rose is emerging from the snow.

Every now and then I like to watch old movies. Really old. Older than that. The path to this one lead from a book about living gracefully, which happened to mention Cary Grant. As you all know, he is one of the classiest and most handsome men ever to act in Hollywood. He makes George Clooney, who is pretty classy, look like a clumsy upstart.

In any case, they mentioned some of his movies, and not like I know them all off by heart, but I've at least heard of most of them. Except one I hadn't, and it's even an airplane movie. Then I saw it in the library, and of course I grabbed it. Only Angels have Wings, from 1939. Yes, 79 years old.

Be honest now, how many of you have seen it? How many of you have even heard of it? Not you, mom, I'm not surprised in the least if you have, but then your timeline is just a little longer than most of my readers.

One of the things I hate about new movies (just one of many) is the interminable credits, before and after the movie.

I took a couple minutes and timed Only Angels have Wings, and counted the credits scenes.
From the Columbia statue, through the stars, the title, also, screen play by, other crew, and directed by Howard Hawks, the start credits take 53 seconds.
From The End, through the players on a short scroll and a tiny bit of legalese, the end credits take 38 seconds.

91 seconds. A minute and a half. For many movies now it takes that long to get through the, presents, in association with, a x production, of a blah blah film, just to get to the title. Don't get me started on end credits. There are days I think the credits list everyone that appeared on the set during filming, including the people delivering sandwiches to the extras.

Did I enjoy enjoy the movie, you ask? Yes I did. It's nice to see old airplanes flying, to see a major star in his prime, working his magic on screen. The special effects are pedestrian today, of course, but that's not why I got it. For their day they were described as excellent. There's a few scenes that last a little too long, but not many, at least by my standards. By those of today's childhood audiences I would imagine it seems impossibly slow. The black and white alone would break their brains, I suspect.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Macro Monday 23, the slow wine revisited

Last week I had a unique experience while opening my upteenhundreth bottle of wine. I told you all about it here. As promised I set up the bottle on my macro camera rig for you. A word about scale. That wine bottle neck is 20 mm in diameter. On my screen the blog version of the last photo shows the neck as 180 mm in diameter, and in light room it's even bigger.

Now you get to see just a part of the wine diamond bridge. By comparing the two photos you can see how tiny that bridge really was. An illustration of how something so small and natural and inadvertent, can slow down such an important process as pouring wine.

This is only about 3x mag, due to limitations of how close I could get the lens to the bridge.

I've already got next week's macro shots done. As a teaser, it's quite a large (by macro scales), extremely important object, so it turns into an abstract when the macro lens looks at it. But the colours and texture!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Is it a re-run?

The Repsol track is flat, probably to within a cm or so, maybe less. Yet my run app thinks I ran up and down 60 m. I wonder what other delusions it has. Like the distance. I went around the track an exact number of laps. The app thinks I went 2.86 K, which is 12.76 laps.

In any case, after a wooden feeling swim, 5x100 in 1:45 on 2, then 500 in (hangs head in shame) 9:45, and this is short course, I put my shoes on and onto the track. 2 laps of walking to warm up more, then alternating walk run laps, then 2 laps of walking to cool down. I don't remember those running shoes being so darned heavy!

Then I was down to join BRBE and Miss Awesome Coachie, as they cored HARD! I didn't. I stretched carefully. My legs feel ok after, a bit tired in the quads, but nothing actually hurts. I suppose that's a good thing after 2 days of chipping ice while balancing on slippery ice.

A few of the steps today felt really good, but much of it felt like a slog. This is the first steps towards running again. I have these dreams it will get easier as it gets warmer and the ice goes away. (Holds hands over ears, Lalalalala, I can't hear you trying to break my bubble.)

Let's see what photo I find here. This chunk of ice is long gone, but there's still lots more, melting.

This bit of tiny waterfall is gone, after I chipped out ice 3 inches thick from the gutter at the bottom of the driveway.

Did I mention I fired up the BBQ today? Bison burgers. Yummy.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The great drain begins

Calgary, how we love your weather. It snowed all February. Feet of it. Then it sort of went sideways for a while. Today was plus 10 C. I'll need to buy more windshield wiper fluid soon. The car is somewhat blue, but mostly an ugly whiteish brown. Bleah.

I had to chip through a foot or so of ice to get this water flowing. It's that or end up with really icy sidewalks.

Still puddles are nice for reflections.

This list of ingredients is entering my life soon. If you know why, then don't call me between Tuesday noon, and Wednesday noon. I'll take your sympathies as read. If you don't know why, treasure your ignorance. And don't call me when I said, or I'll explain it to you in detail, complete with sound effects.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Another of that hazy amazing sunset

I stopped several times to shoot that amazing sunset. Here's another for your delight, and if you missed the first one, it's here. This one is a few minutes later.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Hunting for a road

I have a writer buddy that has asked me to keep an eye and camera lens out for some specific things. Tonight was a an evening to try to get some of what she is looking for. There is a Google photos folder for her to look at.

Along the way I found these. The first few are on the way out of town, looking over the ring road construction. The inversion was pretty bad so you can barely see downtown. I figured that might make for some nice sunset shots, and I was not wrong.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The wine poured so slowly

Every now and then one of my bottles has big wine diamonds on the bottom of the cork, and some of them settle out in the bottle. I've taken some macro photos of them, but they aren't as interesting as I had hoped.

Today, I'm pouring the wine for dinner and wondering why it's not coming out very fast. Maybe, I thought, there was still some cork in there. That happens sometimes. After I poured Linda's glass I took a look. Then I went for the camera. This has never happened before, a bridge of wine diamonds across the neck of the bottle.

I took a bunch of shots, playing with light and camera settings using the 100 mm lens. Which do you like?

I'm not entirely sure how I got that bit of blue in there. I especially like how the blue traces over parts of the wine diamonds.

This a much shorter exposure, same lighting, trying to get closer.

Once I pour all the wine out, I might try the big macro lens.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The dragon spine, revisited

About a year ago I found this great tree in the snow. I walked past it again during my walk in Fish Creek last week. It isn't the first time, there are any number of photos of it in my blog over the last year. This features more the landscape than the tree itself.

I still want to photograph a model there, trail running past it, stretching on it, draped decorously on it in post run sweatiness. In summertime, of course.

There is about another foot of snow there now, but I haven't been again. Maybe later this week. I'm always just a bit twitchy about being the first one to break path on a river. Fish Creek is mostly really shallow, but I happen to know there are at least a few deep spots. I'm pretty sure I don't know where all of them are and would rather not find out the hard way.

The great 4 timing adventure is over. I was house-sitting for a BRBE while she was off on a mission to soak up vitamin D. At first the cats were all, who the heck are you? Then they got a bit more friendly, and by the end I had managed to comb all of them, 2 of them cuddled into my lap, and they were happy to see me when I arrived. But the looks I was getting from Curtis and Celina when I got home again! They knew perfectly well I'd been consorting with other cats.

It was fun watching the 10 mile Tri at Repsol after our swim. I didn't recognize any of the competitors, but it was good to see so many people having fun. For a while I was watching a pair of synchro swimmers doing some dry land visualizations, as they turned and waved their arms; at first I thought they were working on a cheer routine for the swimmers. I am always amazed how athletic they are.

The snow finally stopped and it was sunny today. The water is running in the streets a bit. The storm drains are long out of sight. I'm seriously thinking of renting a tiger torch.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The cats response to all this snow

The snow finally ate one the hanging basket in the front patio.

When Curtis isn't asking out to help me shovel (He says, but I know he partially means he wants to hunt for his hot buttered mouse he knows is out there, and dreams of going after the rabbits, with a side of looking for better humans.) this is what they think of the snow.

And there has been lots of shovelling. I measured 30 cm of snow in the back patio where I haven't shovelled since this batch of snow started falling. The sun has just come out, and the snow is melting on the sidewalk and driveways. It will freeze again tonight, of course.

I dread the grader making another pass, the one that will clear the outside lane of the road by shoving it into our driveways.

When I haven't been shovelling, it's been tax slips and wine and dealing with recreational cat vomit cleanup at an inconvenient time. They scored full points there. At least I wasn't barefoot.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Feeling watched

There I was, on a nice stroll through Fish Creek, when suddenly I got that watched feeling.

I was looking for nice shots between bridge 2 and 3, which is generally pretty photogenic. I turned around to look over the logjam, and there they were. I think it's a mama and a fawn. I strolled the other way to leave them in peace. I got some nice shots but nothing spectacular.

But that watched feeling. I'm getting it more and more, and not from living things. It's our devices. It used to be that on was on, off was off, and a human changed the device from one state to another. Things aren't so clear cut anymore.

Many electronic devices still draw a tiny bit of power even when they are supposedly off. That's the price of having devices turning on instantly, and remembering their state, just to make things easier and faster for the humans. Consider the phone in your pocket. It looks off, but we all know that depending on your settings, it could blink it's lights or make noise to attract your attention to that tweet of world shaking importance. Pick it up to ask it something, and you might get a useful answer.

Ok, so actually turn it right off. Is it really off? No. Plug it in and it's awake enough to know to start charging the battery. It might even talk to the cable and charger, to ask them if they are authorized equipment approved for the task.


Some of our devices have cameras and microphones. If we've set them to be off unless specifically in use, how do we know that they're really off?  I know people that have taped a piece of paper over the camera on their computers.

We've already established your phone knows who you are, and where you are to within a few metres. It also knows what else is there, as in nearby stores. It might know your credit card numbers, and therefore indirectly knows your credit history. Check Facebook or do a Google search, and you're likely to see ads that directly relate to the stores around you.

If the device is smart enough to recognize "Hey Siri" at any random time, what is is doing with all the other noise it "hears"? Is it relating it to the nearby stores to better learn how to recognize speech? Does it related what you say to your in person buddy and text to your other buddy?

And all the apps that use speech to text technology, does it also compare what you said to the corrections you made? Will the phone get smart enough to recognize and correct your speech characteristics? So for example, I have a buddy named Ken. I have never once seen my phone spell it correctly no matter how carefully I pronounce it. There are too many other words that sound similar. And yet, any human would know I was referring to a person by their name, as in "would Ken like to join us for coffee?" I suspect that it won't be long till our phones figure it out too.

I suppose if you really wanted, you could turn your phone off totally, till you needed to use it. You could turn off your electronic devices, then turn off the power bar they are plugged into, and if necessary, unplug the power bar. That would save a little bit on your electricity bill, and be mildly inconvenient. But maybe there is a little tiny battery in there, keeping some parts of the device alive.

Did you know that some TV's can be controlled by gesture? There you are sitting on the couch 10 feet away, waving your hands and having the TV obey you. How nice! Or, wait. That's a camera watching you, waiting for you to gesture. Most of us are just sitting on the couch watching. Maybe we're eating. Maybe we're snuggling our sweetie with varying degrees of intimacy. Maybe we don't feel the need to be fully dressed when watching a movie. Do you really want a camera watching you? Do you really trust that it's off or only "seeing" specific gestures? Is the gesture images being processed on the device, or does the data go to a higher powered computer via the internet?

Or the various cameras in our life. Security and traffic are the best known. Facial recognition software is getting better and better. Walk into a store, or maybe even just past it, and the computer hooked up to the camera recognizes who you are. Maybe it does a Google search on you to see if you might be interested in the products sold by that store.

So there you are, going about your day. The traffic cameras take a photo of your car, or rather more particularly, your license plate. The photo is time and date stamped, as are any photos of you taken by security cameras in public places.

There are any number of apps that track your location to produce a map of where you went, how fast, how many steps you took if walking or running, along with other data if you've enabled it. The phone could be storing that data regardless of you starting the app or not. And that's to say nothing of your browser history, emails, or texts. And you wondered why the American customs officials are so eager to seize your phone and search it.

Right now it would be difficult and time consuming to pull all that together, and the police would probably need a warrant for at least some of it. What about hackers with no compunctions about invading your privacy? Sure, you say, if I'm not breaking the law, what do I have to hide? Hmmm, lets think about that. Which doctors or other therapists do you visit? Or maybe you cheat on your spouse, do you really want someone knowing where you've been? Maybe you're visiting a dodgy tax lawyer. Maybe you've been out to a bar festooned with security cameras; could they track how much you've had to drink, then tie in data from a traffic camera, and the police get an 'anonymous' tip? All in the name of public safety, of course. Or maybe you'd be willing to pay someone to be quiet, who could demonstrate they knew of your various travels.

This is how it starts, public safety. It's for our own good. But when the so called guardians are enforcing morals, rather than laws, it quickly turns into a quagmire. That dodgy tax lawyer might not be doing anything actually unlawful, merely helping someone set up a corporation and it's none of their business that the corporation is being used to evade taxes. Some people think evading taxes is good sport, even using unlawful methods. Or the sex trade, actually paying for sex is legal in Canada, though some frown on it. What if one of those people can snoop through your data?

Privacy gets a lot of lip service, but it's like the weather. Everyone talks about it, but nobody does anything about it. Imagine if all your searches on Google were publicly tied to your name. What if you're a writer specializing in true crime, or murder mysteries, or porn? Back when being gay was both illegal and immoral, spy agencies worried about gay people in important positions being blackmailed over it. Now someone with intemperate opinions about powerful public figures might be in trouble.

Even if we can persuade our elected officials to do something to safeguard our privacy, how will we know that the laws are actually being followed? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

February Image of the Month

As I said earlier, it's been a bit of a blah month for me, but there's still some images I really like. I  think the theme of the month was empty space emphasized by other elements. First the two runners up, then the winner none of you have seen.

This was shot just south of Calgary as I was walking down the road I didn't want to drive down, that I mentioned earlier.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...