Thursday, December 31, 2009

A new year. A new decade.

A blog toast, of sorts.

Here’s to you.

Here’s too all of our friends and family.

Here’s too all of the long-lost friends that we will reacquaint with in the coming years.

Here’s to all of loved ones who are no longer with us. We miss you all, every day.

Here’s to a new year and a new decade. May they bring you everything you’ve ever wanted in life, and more.

And finally, last, but not least… if there’s one thing you need to remember while you’re out partying it up tonight, it’s these eight words:

Keep the party alive – don’t drink and drive.
(because I need you… to read my blog next year) :-)

Play safe.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Week 20 - Christmas Eve


Christmas Eve (20/52)
Originally uploaded by Twister65
Yes, another Christmas tree shot for Project 52.

I took this one on Christmas Eve after my wife and I had finished placing all of the Christmas presents underneath the tree.

I LOVE the shadows being cast on the wall from the lights.

Notice that the lights are deep within the body of the tree? My wife said she saw some show that suggested doing that to give the tree more depth. Looks pretty nice, although I would have liked another string of lights to make it a little brighter.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Week 19 - Colour


Colour (19/52)
Originally uploaded by Twister65
It took me a while, but I finally shot a better photo of our lights. I waited until it wasn't as dark, and put my camera on the tripod for the shot.

This is the first year we put up lights so I wasn't quite sure where they'd all go, or where I'd even be able to put them since we have a rather short stepladder.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Can’t be my genes!

My 14 year-old son has more hair on his top lip than I had at 20. WTF?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Getting paid to promote your music

I read an old article earlier today where Trent Reznor said that Nine Inch Nails won’t be releasing any more tunes to games, like Rock Band.

On more than one occasion in the article, he said music isn’t a game.

“Music isn’t a game, it’s supposed to be an emotional kind of experience.”

“I want it to be an album, a piece of music and not a game.”

Having your music in a game doesn’t make your music a game. It doesn’t take away from the “emotional kind of experience” at all. At least not in my eyes.

It’s a golden opportunity to introduce your music to new ears. Get old ears excited about an upcoming release. And on top of that, I’m sure they get a cut of the $$ made selling the songs as download content for a game like Rock Band.

That’s even better than free publicity. That’s paying publicity.

Since my wife and I got hooked on the Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchises, we’ve been introduced to many new bands and I’ve bought the music as a result. These are sales that probably never would have happened otherwise.

I’m sure there are bands out there that would kill for an opportunity like that.

I think Trent is missed the point. His loss. Hopefully some other band’s gain.

Open message to all celebrity endorsed companies

I don’t buy your product because a celebrity says they use it.

I don’t buy your product because a celebrity is used in your advertising.

I won’t stop buying your product because a celebrity you used to endorse your product is no longer the squeaky clean person you thought they were.

I buy your product because I like it and as long as I continue to like it, I’ll continue to buy it.

-=-

Is a product A better than product B because celebrity A is in the TV commercial?

Is product A suddenly worse than product B because celebrity A has fallen from grace?

Of course not.

If I’m looking for… golf clubs, I might care that Tiger Woods uses a certain brand. That’s a topic that I’m sure he knows a lot about. Is that product suddenly crap because he made bad choices in his personal life?

If I’m looking for razor blades, I could care less that he uses a certain brand. If you want to sell me your brand, show me a guy who can grow a 5 o’clock shadow by 9am and how your product solves that problem.

If you’re using a celebrity to endorse a product that they probably know very little about, I am more inclined to think that you’re hiding something. Maybe your product can’t sell based on its own merits?

That’s how I think.

If more people thought the same way, you could save the millions that you’re spending on celebrity endorsements. Try using real people to sell your product, and maybe you could then make your product even more affordable. Not only that, if the celebrity ever does anything to tarnish their image, you won’t have to back-pedal out of the deal.

Tell me what your product does and why I should buy it. Convince me.

If I believe it, I’ll buy it, and try it. If I like it, I’ll continue to buy it.

I’m curious. Do you buy a certain brand because a celebrity endorses it? Please take a moment and answer the quick yes/no poll at the link.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Follow @DrewFromTV

If you’re on Twitter, you need to follow @DrewFromTV. It’s Drew Carey… from TV. :) For every follower he gets by the end of 2009, he’ll donate $1 to LIVESTRONG in the fight against cancer. The goal is $1 million but he’s about 713,000 short of that goal.

Even if you’re not on Twitter, join and follow just because you can. It’s too easy and can make a difference.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fun with Facebook Indexing

The latest Facebook status trend is amusing. People all over Facebook are posting this in their status:
Facebook will automatically index all your info on Google, which allows everyone to view it. To change this option, go to Settings --> Privacy Settings --> Search --> then UN-CLICK the box that says 'Allow indexing'. Facebook kept this one quiet.
Head on over to The Squid Zone for some good info and handy tips, if you’re the paranoid type.
Now for some fun.
  1. Log into your Facebook account.
  2. At the top-right of your Facebook page, where it says Search, type in allow indexing and hit enter.
  3. On the left, click on Posts by Everyone
  4. Sit back and enjoy the continuous status updates. It’ll refresh on its own.
What makes this more amusing is that all of those status updates are from people you don't know. All people who have their shorts in a knot about keeping their information private or for “friends only”.

Oh the irony.

Come on people. Facebook is a social networking site. If you lock all of you information up, how the hell is anyone you know supposed to find you? If you’re not willing to be a little “social” and do some “networking”, why are you there?

UPDATE: I’m sure this wasn’t there before, but now when you follow those instructions to turn off indexing, you get the following pop-up message:
Worried about search engines? Your information is safe.
There have been misleading rumors recently about Facebook indexing all your information on Google. This is not true. Facebook created public search listings in 2007 to enable people to search for your name and see a link to your Facebook profile. They will still only see a basic set of information.

See? You’ve been indexed since 2007. :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Blog housekeeping (blog keeping?)

I decided to take some control over the categories I use in my blog. For some odd reason, I was using them more like keywords. As a result, it created far too many one-time-use categories.

As I went through them, I sometimes paused to read an older post. One of them is my Bucket List. It’s not exactly a year since I posted it, but I thought it would be cool to update on my progress.

  1. Weigh 200lbs or less (target = summer) – FAIL… I’ll take this one on next.
  2. Quit smokingDONE! Almost a year now.
  3. Visit the UK (where I was born, and where my cousins, aunts, and uncles live) – Still to do.
  4. Visit my Dad's grave site in Louisiana. – Still to do.
  5. Own a Ford Mustang. :D – Still to do.
  6. Visit every province in Canada (6 to go... not including the territories) – Still to do.
  7. Cycle 1000kms in one year (this may not seem like much to some people, but considering I tend to cycle once per weekend, in spring & summer only, that's about 80kms per weekend -- double what I usually ride...) – FAIL… in fact, I hardly cycled at all this past summer.

Week 18 - Brandy


Brandy (18/52)
Originally uploaded by Twister65
We went to Ian's Evergreen Plantation on Saturday morning to cut our own Christmas Tree. This is the second year we've gone there. They have reindeer for the kids to see, and a horse. This is Brandy.

It would have been nice to get a good photo of the reindeer, but they decided to stay at the far corner of their pen. I managed to shoot a few pics, but unfortunately nothing really worth choosing as my weekly photo. You can see a few that I took by clicking on this photo.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The “honour” print system

This has to be one of the funniest things I’ve seen in some time.

I read an article on CBC’s web site this afternoon and thought my wife would be interested in reading it on our drive home from work.

I’m pretty computer savvy and I know how to print stuff from my web browser, but most web sites will provide you with a “print” link so you can print something out, formatted for printing. It’s cleaner and doesn’t waste paper.

CBC’s web site is no exception.

print

I clicked the print link directly above the news article. The window that popped up nearly made me fall off my chair.

charge

What’s this? I’m allowed to print 5 copies for “free” on my own printer. If I want to print 6 or more, I have to pay? Pay to print 6 or more copies on my own printer, using my own ink and paper?

If I choose “File > Print” in Firefox, there is nothing to stop me from printing as many copies as I want. How could they stop me from printing more than 5 copies using their method?

So, I clicked Go> beside the Free Print option.

The news article appeared, formatted for printing (without ads, thanks to AdBlock Plus). Along the top of the formatted web page was this banner:

trust

Not surprising that there was nothing they could do to prevent me from printing 6 or more copies. They were trusting me to print 5 or less.

“ROFLMAO” was invented specifically for times like this.

I had to find out what would happen if I clicked the Instant Print option.

pay

Seriously, CBC, are you that hard up for cash that you have to try to charge people to print a copy of your news article?

Do you really think your readers are dumb enough to willingly pay you for the “honour” of printing it using their own printer?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Week 17 - Our Lights


Our Lights (17/52)
Originally uploaded by Twister65
A pretty sad photo of our Christmas lights this year taken with my cell phone.

This is actually the first year that we put lights up. It started off with two strings along the eaves-trough and around the window. That ended up looking rather pathetic. So we picked up two more strings of lights and I ran them down the drain pike, and along the bottom edge for the house.

I plan to take a better photo and put it up soon.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Making a few bucks… or hoping to

You may have noticed a recent addition to my blog (aside from today’s colour change)

Some of the photos I have posted on here now have “Buy Print – Buy Card – Send E-card” links above them. This comes courtesy of Fotomoto.

Although I am an amateur photographer, I think some of my photos are worthy of selling prints for. I don’t expect to get rich from this, or even make enough to quit my day job, but if I can sell a few here and there, it can help me to upgrade my equipment or buy more photography books. That’s all I’m hoping for.

If you see a photo here that doesn’t have a purchase option that you would like to buy, or if there’s one Flickr photostream that you like, let me know and I’ll put it up here.

By the way, the E-cards are always free. :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Week 16 - Bridal Boutique


Bridal Boutique (16/52)
Originally uploaded by Twister65
Nothing new to post this week, so I picked another out of my collection.

I took this photo of my sister's bridal shop a few weeks ago. This photo is being used in a printed ad in a wedding publication to be given out at bridal shows.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Week 15 - Atrium view


Atrium view (15/52)
Originally uploaded by Twister65
While catching up on work this weekend, I decided to use the opportunity to grab a shot for my project using my cell phone.

This is what it's like in the atrium at Corel Corporation. Every second floor has a catwalk that goes from the elevator side, over the atrium to the other side. This was taken from the 3rd floor catwalk, facing the elevators.

I love this building.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week 14 - Dad


Dad (14/52)
Originally uploaded by Twister65
Ok, I’m cheating on my photo of the week again.

I didn’t take this photo. I scanned it a couple of years ago from one of many that my Mom had in a shoe box.

This is my Dad. He passed away from liver cancer in 1998. Yesterday would have been his 71st Birthday.

May he rest in peace.

Miss you, Dad.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week 13 - Wedding gown


Wedding gown
Originally uploaded by Twister65

We spent a few hours at my sister's new bridal shop on Saturday, snapping photos of some of the dresses she sells to post on her web site. This is one of my favourites.

If you're looking for a bridal gown or a formal dress, she's got really great prices. She she puts it "outlet prices in a boutique setting".

It’s Kimberley Wilson Bridal & Fashion Outlet on Beechwood in the New Edinburgh area.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Week 12 - Got brains?


Got brains? (12/52)
Originally uploaded by Twister65
My wife and I went out to a Halloween party on Friday night and this is how I went. The night was a blur and I can barely remember walking home shortly before 5:00am. :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week 11 - Peonies and yard clean up


Peony (11/52)
Originally uploaded by Twister65
I'm cheating this week. I don't have any new photos from this week to put up, so I'm digging out an old one.

Having said that, there is a reason why I chose this one. Today I raked all the leaves from the front and backyards, and dug up all of the dead plants and flowers. In the process, I decided to split the peony's root into a few smaller roots to plant elsewhere in our flower bed.

I hope they all continue to grow in the spring. Although the flowers don't live very long, they're beautiful and smell really nice.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Week 10 - Patience and a little luck


Patience and a little luck
Originally uploaded by Twister65
We picked up a bird feeder last week and I finally got around to buying a bracket and putting it up yesterday. Almost immediately, the birds arrived.

This afternoon, the squirrels were trying to get at it. At first it was funny to watch them dangling from the pole and the bracket, as the bird feeder kept spinning away out of reach. Persistence paid off for them, and it wasn't long before they were either hanging by the rear legs and grabbing seeds, or sitting perched on top of the feeder. I chased them away countless times before I decided it was time to move the feeder out of reach.

Before doing so, I sat out back with my camera and took a bunch of shots of the chickadees. Patience and a little luck paid off and I got a pretty neat shot.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thanks?

It’s the Canadian Thanksgiving today!

It’s time for family and friends to get together and give thanks for… blah, blah, blah, blah, blah… *yawn*

We give thanks for everything now. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but to do it once  a year really is dumb and unless we’re talking to the people we’re thanking, it’s rather pointless.

Thankful for friends. Thankful for being employed. Thankful for having a roof over our heads. Thankful for our health.

The list goes on.

Are we not thankful for these things any other day of the year? Sure we are. So, why do we feel the need to celebrate being thankful for these things one day of they year?

It’s tradition!”

What a load of crap. Tradition is being thankful for the end of harvest.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you are thankful for friends? Are you thankful that they took pity on you and decided to be your friend? Huh? Give yourself some credit. Perhaps you’re just a likeable person? Thank yourself for that. Or maybe you should thank their parents for having sex.

Stop bitching about your job if you’re thankful for being employed. Thank your boss for not firing your whiny ass, or choosing you when they had to make a choice of who to let go during a layoff. If you don’t like your job enough to bitch about it, go find another one and be thankful that you have a choice.

While we’re at it, stop bitching that it’s a Monday. At least you woke up in the morning.

Thank a doctor for your health. Hell, thank your parents, or whoever raised you.

The point is, don’t wait for one day of the year to sit around a table, stuff your face, and tell other people why you’re thankful. You can sit around and stuff your face any time.

Tell the people who deserve the thanks and don’t wait for the second Monday in October to do it.

Thank YOU for reading.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Week 9 - Mer Bleu Bog


Mer Bleu Boardwalk
Originally uploaded by Twister65
My wife, daughter and I took a drive out to the Mer Bleu Bog for a walk on the boardwalk today. The parking lot was quite full, yet we didn't run across too many people on the actual boardwalk. It was quite cool, and very windy in the open areas of the boardwalk. About 3/4s of the way around the boardwalk look, we smelled a strong cedar aroma. My wife noted that it reminded her of wood shavings that we used for our hamster cage years ago. I love that smell.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A solution to constant MSN Messenger Live disconnects

Windows Live Messenger Mobile

Image via Wikipedia

A couple of weeks ago, I tried to sign onto my personal Messenger account while I was at work. I’ve been doing this for years without any problem.

Not this time.

After a few seconds of being connected online it disconnected me. I could only sign on using an offline status. Online, Busy and Away would all disconnect me within seconds.

I tried my work-related Messenger account and it remained online.

I was stumped. I tried everything I could think of. The same computer, and the same Messenger executable. The only difference was the accounts. I even tried an old account that I no longer use and it also worked fine.

I started to wonder if something changed on our corporate network causing Hotmail messenger accounts to be blocked.

Today, I came across the solution. The solution I found in this thread was as follows:

Have you tried checking your Live group memberships? I had exactly the same problem of Live Messenger 2009 signing in, showing my contacts status then disconnecting - but only when connected to the company network (either directly or through VPN). From suggestions on other forums, I tried using my son's Live ID to sign in with the same result, then I tried using my youngest daughter's Live ID (which I have severely restricted with various bits and pieces) - the connection stayed UP!!!

After looking into this further, I realised that some time ago I had accepted an invitation from my son to join a Live Group he had set up for the family (his younger sister hadn't been able to accept the invitation because of the all the restrictions I had on her account).
I went into the Group options and left the group and Hey Presto! my Messenger now stays connected even within the company network.
Hope this helps someone.

I fixed my messenger problem.

It made sense. About a week before this problem started, I had created a Live Group on Messenger Live. It was the second group I created, the first being created over a year ago. Since I didn’t do anything with this second group, I deleted it and tried going online again. It didn’t work. However, the group still appeared in my Messenger contact list. I shut down Messenger and re-launched it. The group was now gone… and I was able to go online and stay online.

Perhaps something did change on our network, or perhaps it had to do with not having any members in the group I created. Who knows? I’m just happy it’s fixed.

I blogged this with the hope that the solution spreads around to others who are experiencing the same problem.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week 8 – Faces of my children

I discovered the collage feature of Picasa. :)

These are all of my two children, Kyle and Kaitlyn.

Faces of my children

Friday, October 2, 2009

250

I missed a milestone yesterday.

It was day 250 since I quit smoking.

This is the longest I’ve ever gone without a smoke, since I started smoking when I was 18 or 19 years old. I quit many times over the years, and in some cases for a couple of years, but I always cheated now and then and had a smoke or a puff, and then I’d be good again for months.

This time there has been no cheating.

I haven’t had any real craving since I quit, but as each day goes by, my determination to remain a non-smoker continues to get stronger.

I’ve felt that I had this beat within a few weeks of quitting, and I still feel that way.

This week, my wife finally started reading the book that helped me quit: Alan Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking. I hope she sticks with it.

According to my sister, earlier this week my Mom quit smoking. I think she’s doing it cold turkey.

Life. Is. Good.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Week 7 - Rejection

You get three photos to choose from for this weeks Project 52 submission.

I don’t claim to be a fantastic photographer, but I’d like to think that I’m at least pretty good and occasionally take a shot worthy of selling at some point in my future.

Apparently, I still need a lot of work.

A few weeks ago I decided to join a reputable stock photo web site and see if there was any potential to make a few bucks to help support my hobby.

I uploaded a few samples and waited. I waited weeks before they were reviewed. Finally, about a week ago, they were reviewed… and rejected.

Granted, it was my mistake for uploaded three similar images. I don’t know why I did, but I did. Fair enough. I waited the specified time to upload three more samples and did so last night.

I got the rejected message this morning.

I realize I shouldn’t let it bother me. But it does. It does because I searched their web site and found similar photos to what I uploaded. No offence to those photographers, but if theirs got approved I see no reason why mine could not sit among them. Some of them left me scratching my head.

These were the last three that I uploaded. Are they excellent photos? I think they are. I’ve had people tell me they really like them.

Apparently, they’re not worthy. Are they my best work? I dunno. Isn’t that left to the eye of the beholder, or something like that?

They were kind enough to give me 7 days to stew review training materials, resources and articles provided before I can upload 3 more samples (for them to reject?)

*sigh*

I don’t know if I’ll bother. I think I’ll just stick with doing this entirely for the fun of it, and support my hobby when I can afford to do so.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Week 6 - Zzzz...


Zzzz... (6/52)
Originally uploaded by Twister65
This is our cat Sam (Samantha). She's about 16 years-old and we think she's either deaf, or extremely hard of hearing now. Maybe that's somewhat of a good thing because she tends to be easily spooked by noises. Now she can sleep without interruptions -- like when I take her picture. :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Could it be?

As of last night, the status of my Batman: Arkham Asylum game order at BestBuy.ca changed to “In Stock”. However, the web site still indicates that the product is sold out. I checked it again this morning and the status is the same, but the game has yet to be shipped.

I’m having second thoughts about even keeping the game now. Maybe I can sell it for a bit more than I paid for it and buy the overpriced NHL 10. It’ll be factory sealed, after all, and it retails for $69.99. If I could get $55 for it I’d be happy. :)

Update Sept 17: it shipped this evening.
Update Sept 18: it arrived today.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Week 5 - A moment of weakness


A moment of weakness
Originally uploaded by Twister65
I was trying to get a self-portrait that didn't really look like it was posed for. Not an easy task.

And then I wondered if I could show some emotion for the shot, like someone took it during a "moment of weakness" when I appeared to be lost in my thoughts -- sad thoughts. I ended up taking 22 shots, and this was one of the last ones.

I converted it to B&W, darkened the tone a little and blurred the background a little more.

I like it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dany Heatley traded!

Suckahs. :)

OTT_2bkf2l3xyxi5p0cavbj8See, I am just like the sports media spreading bullshit rumours of a so-called trade, without posting facts to back it up. I'm no better and no worse than any of them. And as a bonus, if a trade happens today, I can claim to be the first to announce it. Fuck all the rest of ‘em! :)

Seriously, that's what it boils down to. They all want to be the one to claim the fame about the announcement, so they can drive traffic and revenue on their web site, and/or sell newspapers. They don’t care about posting facts and real stories.

It'll be interesting to see just how many hits my blog gets today as a result of this lame posting. Sorry, if I got your hopes up. I had to do it. Do me a favour, and keep spreading the tweet.

Technorati Tags: ,,,,

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

BestBuy.ca = fail

On August 21st, I read that the new Batman: Arkham Asylum game for the Xbox360 was on sale at Best Buy and Future Shop for $38.83. That's an amazing price for a game that was to hit the shelves a few days later on August 25th.

BestBuy.ca offered free shipping on orders over $39, so I added a Xbox Live 1400 point card to my order and checked off the option to deliver the items separately if necessary.

I got the XBL points card on August 28th.

To date, I am still waiting for the game.

BestBuy.ca has been "Out of stock" or "Sold out" since August 25th. However, the stores continue to get it in stock.

I have sent TWO separate messages to their customer service by filling out the form on their web site, asking why the web store has yet to get any in stock.

To date, I have received ZERO replies. Although, I have received two automated messages informing me of the obvious -- that the item is out of stock.

At one point, I had considered canceling the order, but it seems that I can't even do that. I assume that's because it's part of a split-order, for which half has already been fulfilled with free shipping. I can't even change it to "Store pick-up".

This weekend, they put the game on sale AGAIN for $58.83, and online stock remained "Sold out" the entire time. (it still remains sold out as I type this)

I haven't been billed for the game, so as far as I'm concerned I'll wait until it has been fulfilled, but I'm gearing up to send their head off a snail mail complaint.

I can understand if it's difficult to get any in stock for the stores and the online store, but when the stores can get it in stock but not the online store... there's something wrong with that.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Week 4 - Chateau Laurier


Chateau Laurier (4/52)
Originally uploaded by Twister65
My wife wanted me to drive her to the Byward market so she could pick up some veggies. Parking isn't cheap, so I dropped her off and drove around. I took this shot with my cell phone while I was sitting at traffic lights.

I even brought my camera with me because we were hoping to spot balloons across the river at the Gatineau Balloon Festival. Alas, there were none. Probably all airborne in the morning. I hope there's some this evening. They often fly over where we live.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 222

This has nothing to do with my Project 52, but a friend reminded me today that this is day 222 since I quit smoking. I thought it was worthy of mentioning. :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week 3 - Silver Queen Mica Mine

After a few days camping with friends earlier this week, the photo of the week comes from Murphy's Point Provincial Park. This is an old building that served as an office and sleeping quarters for miners at the Silver Queen Mica Mine.

Silver Queen Mine Office and Sleeping Quarters

I loved the contrasting colour of the wood beneath the windows. If you'd like to see more photos of our camping trip (and surrounding areas of the Silver Queen Mica Mine) click away!
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Week 2 - Remic Rapids Rock Sculptures

I'm not going to have very much time to post a photo tomorrow for "Week 2" because we're going camping with friends for a few days, so here it is a day early!

Last weekend my family and I took a ride through downtown to Remic Rapids. I've often gone there at lunch during the work week to eat and relax. There's no shortage of geese and ducks to take photos of, if that's your thing, but you can also find some pretty cool rock sculpture.

This time, we were fortunate enough to see the man behind these creations: John Ceprano.

Remic Rapids Rock Sculptures (2/52)

This is John working on one of his creations. Click to see a larger version and look the other photos from that day.

There's a printed sign on each sculpture warning not to touch them because they are all balanced. Each winter, the weather "dismantles" them and John rebuilds them the following summer. Some of these rocks are huge. I can't imagine the strength and patience it takes to lift and balance someone these.

I hope you enjoy them all!

You can bet I'll be bringing my camera camping, and I hope to have a bunch of photos to share next week. Until then...
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Week 1 - The Ice Cream Man!

This will be a bit of a repeat for anyone who follows me on Facebook, sorry. :)

Most of my childhood was spent growing up in Saint-Bruno, Quebec. I have many memories of hearing the Ice Cream Man's truck coming down the road. Any kid within earshot of the music would stop what they were doing and run into the house yelling "The ice cream man! The ice cream man! Can I get one?!" Sounds cliche, but that's the truth.

I haven't heard nor seen any ice cream truck in Ottawa since we moved here in 1982. Ice cream vendors on modified bicycles, sure. But even they're pretty scarce these days.

Last Wednesday, our daughter came running into the house yelling "The Ice Cream Man is pulling into our bay! A real ice cream truck!" Could it be?

We all went outside to take a look and sure enough, there he was.

The Ice Cream Man! (1/52)

The music was different and it sounded more digital, than the old bells and chimes, but it did look very much like what I remembered as a kid.

He parked in that location for about 20-25 minutes. The longer he was there, the more people came out to buy and soft ice cream cone, sundae or banana split. Not just the pre-made ice cream bars, or popsicles -- the soft ice cream, with the option of chocolate dipping and nuts!

I remember as a kid, how he would fill the cone and then flip it upside down and dip it into the container of chocolate sauce. How did it not fall out of the cone? I remember a friend re-enacting the procedure with his own ice cream cone, and seeing it fall to the hot pavement.

For some kids, this will be one of the highlights of their summer. The summer that the Ice Cream Man came to their neighbourhood.

FYI, my wife got me one -- chocolate-dipped and covered with nuts. Yum! :)

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Project 52

I talked about a Project 365 two postings ago. If you recall, I said that I didn't think I could commit to posting one photo per day.

While browsing a few photo blogs just now, I read one that decided to do a Project 52. One photo per week.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like they stuck with it and stopped posting back in March. But it did make me think that this might be something that I could do, and stick with. Consider it training wheels for a project 365. :)

So it shall begin, this Sunday. Wish me luck.

On a completely unrelated topic, this is day 200 for me being nicotine-free!

Sunday boredom

I was bored on Sunday and itching to get out of the house and look for something -- anything -- to shoot. The skies were cloudy and the weather forecast was calling for rain. (big surprise)

As soon as my daughter saw me getting ready to leave, she asked where I was going and if she could come. I told her "I don't know where I'm going yet..." I then asked my son if he wanted to come along as well.

We decided to all take cameras. My daughter doesn't have one yet, so I lent her my old Panasonic DMC-LC33. My son had his Canon P&S.

After some searching for batteries for my son's camera, off we went.

Our first stop was at a lookout along the Rockliffe Parkway. My kids snapped a few shots of foliage that they thought was cool. I took a few shots of the Ottawa River and the Prime Minister's house off in the distance. All rather boring, especially with the gloomy skies overhead.

Our next stop was at the Rideau Falls. We shot a few photos of the falls itself, flowers, walked across the bridge, and took some more of monuments. It really wasn't that exciting. This place is incredible in the spring, after they break up the ice on the Rideau River and it all goes over the falls into the Ottawa River. I took a whole whack of photos years ago with my Canon S3.

We walked along Sussex to the first traffic lights, crossed the street and made our way back down to where we started. Snapped a few of buildings, a bridge off in the distance and then back to the World Pavilion park where we began. My son was anxious to go home, but my daughter and I took our time.

That's when I saw this huge pine tree, with branches that must have extended 15-20' all around. I mentioned to my daughter "That tree is screaming to be climbed". And, so she did. Finally, a decent photo opportunity for me.

The photos aren't spectacular, but I'm reasonably happy with them. I had to boost the colour a bit because there really wasn't that much in the original.

One of my favourites is this. Her smile says it all. :)

IMG_0844

I put up a few others on flickr. (along with a better photo of the tree)
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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Shutterbugging

As many of my friends know, I bought a new camera last month while I was chewing up some vacation time from work -- a Canon T1i (aka Canon EOS 500D). I figured it was time to treat myself to a new toy since I quit smoking back in January. Although I still love, and use, my Canon S3, I'm really hoping this will help me get to the next step of being a better photographer.

Since that time, I've added to my "toy collection", picking up a Sigma 10-20mm lens to go with my Sigma 18-200mm lens, a wireless remote, Lowepro Sling camera bag, and thanks to a friend, a soon-to-arrive Speedlite 380ex flash.

The weather has been very flaky and unpredictable this summer, so there haven't been too many opportunities to go out and shoot nice pics outside. Maybe this month that'll change (I hope!)

Crappy weather meant having more time to do a lot of reading, and I finally got through 3 books that I bought last year.
  • Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson
  • Learning to See Creatively, by Bryan Peterson
  • Understanding Shutter Speed, by Bryan Peterson
I even managed to read one of them twice. They are excellent books for beginners and intermediates, imho.

I'm currently reading Light: Science and Magic. An introduction to Photographic Lighting. I'm only half done and already I can say that I recommend it. But don't take my word for it, I'm only a noob photographer learning the ropes -- look around for yourself.

I've spent a LOT of time browsing Flickr as well. I have literally spent hours on there, looking at people's photographs and browsing the groups for tips, ideas, and inspiration. I never cease to be amazed at the talent.

I also started following a handful of photographers on Twitter, reading their blogs and looking at their photos. Awesome stuff. Some of them followed me in return and I hope I can one day impress them with a nice shot or two. :)

I've seen many "Project 365" sites around. While I love the concept, I don't think I quite have the committment to shoot and post a photo every day for a year. Perhaps that'll change at some point in the future, but for now, I think what I'll do is post the occasional photo here on the blog and perhaps write a little about it.

Sooooo... stay tuned!

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Open message to Scott Paterson (not myself)

You are using MY email address.

I've had scott.paterson@gmail.com for a long time, and Google treats scott.paterson@googlemail.com (which you are using) the same as my email address. In fact, Google also considers scottpaterson@gmail.com (@googlemail.com), s.cottpaterson@gmail.com (@googlemail.com) and any variation with a period anywhere in the name to be the same address.

As a result of this, your internet purchase receipts and account information is being sent to my email address. Whenever you create an account somewhere using scott.paterson@googlemail.com, I get the confirmation.
I wonder if this other Scott Paterson finds it at all strange that they never receive a receipt for their purchases?

How can they even read their email? If I visit googlemail.com, I can log in with my user id and password, and it's all my email that I can read. I know that googlemail.com is for UK based users only. Is this other Scott Paterson seeing a different account when they log in from within the U.K.?

I might be able to get a phone number for this guy from their latest account creation. Anyone in the U.K. feel like calling them and explaining this to them?
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Friday, June 12, 2009

We (YOU!) did it!

the logo of the CCSImage via Wikipedia

With $930 in online donations and $70 cash, I have now officially reached my $1000 fund raising target for the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life.

THANK YOU ALL for your generosity and sick minds wanting to see my shave my head. :)

As stated on the event page, the shaving date is June 21st (Father's Day), which also happens to be the day after the Relay ends. I'm hoping it'll be a nice day so I can sit outside, have a beer or two and let it happen. If you live in the area, you're more than welcome to drop by for the hour or so and share a beer and a few laughs. I'll post the address closer to the big day. There will be photo taking and video, which I will post on the event page a day or two later so be sure to drop by.

Thanks again and thank you for your patience enduring my fund raising spam! And please remember, just because I reached my target, the fund raising efforts are not over -- I just won't be spamming you anymore. :) If you wish to donate to a good cause, you can do so here http://convio.cancer.ca/goto/spaterson

And, if by some miracle I hit $2000 before the big day, I will still also shave my face. :)

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Chrome Dome!

the logo of the CCSImage via Wikipedia

On June 19th, I am participating in the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life. I did it last year and had a great time raising money for an awesome cause.

Although I set my personal goal at $600, I want more.

So, here's the deal. If I can raise $1,000 or more, I'll shave my head bald. Ok, I generally keep my hair pretty short to begin with, but I have never been bald.

And I'll take it one step further.

If my personal total meets or exceeds $2,000, I will also shave off my goatee and my moustache. My kids have never seen me without facial hair. At the very least, they have always seen me with a moustache.

I am pretty attached to my moustache (no pun intended), which is why I set the goal pretty high for it. But, I promise that if my personal total matches or exceeds $2,000, my head will be as nekkid as nekkid can be.

There will be photos and maybe even video proof, when and if it happens.

I challenge you all to make it happen. You can donate here http://convio.cancer.ca/goto/spaterson

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Do-It-Yourself Litter Box

Our cat, Sam, is about 15 years old. While she's still in good health, and fairly active, she does have one flaw; bad aim when it comes to using her litter box.

It doesn't happen every time, but it happens enough that her corner in the basement requires a garbage bag on the floor, with newspaper spread on top of it, and the litter box centered in the middle. And even then, sometimes she goes enough that it has time to flow off the newspaper and onto the floor.

One time while I was in the basement, I was fortunate enough to see exactly why it happens. She stepped into her litter box and began her business. Everything was fine, until she was about half-way done. Her behind started to rise and the stream of urine started shooting over the side of the litter box, onto the newspaper.

She used to have a covered litter box at one time, but it was rather small and difficult to maintain on regular basis. About a year ago, we switched to a standard size litter box. That's pretty much when she started overshooting.

I searched the web for alternative litter boxes. I found that there's even a top-entrance litter box. I can't see my cat going for that.

In my search, I discovered that my cat is not unique with her habit of raising her behind while urinating. It actually seems fairly common, mostly in older cats. As they age, their joints ache and they can't squat in the same position for any length of time, therefore, they straighten their legs as they urinate.

With that, came the obvious suggestion of using a litter box with high sides. My thoughts turned to the covered box, again. But the article also suggested using a large Rubbermaid tote, and cutting an entrance in the side. It has higher sides than most high-sided litter boxes, and doesn't cost any more than a litter box. I did a search just not to try and find the article, and there are many others just like it, all showing how to create your own high-side litter box. :)

My wife picked up a large Rubbermaid tote today. I made some markings on the side where I planned to cut the entrance, and then finished the job with a hacksaw and an exacto knife. After a little sanding of the rough edges, it was done. I almost made the entrance on the short end, but thought that it might not be a good idea since it would be easy to pee out of. This article reaffirms my decision.

I put it in the same location in the basement, but I did add some newspaper underneath it to help me catch any mishaps. There's no way she'll pee over the side, but there is a chance she might accidentally aim out the entrance.

I really hope this solves the problem. After finding all of the other articles from people who did the same, I'm pretty confident that it will.
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(Update 03-15-2010: FYI… this did solve the problem. Zero accidents since.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Addiction, fear, & brainwashing

Unlit filtered cigarettesImage via Wikipedia

About a month ago I did something that I've done many times over the years. It was something I should never have had to do in the first place, and after failing once, I should have only had to do it once. But I failed many times. This time, I am certain it will be the last time I ever do it.

I quit smoking.

The first time I actually inhaled from a cigarette was when I was 17 or 18 years old. I really don't know why I started. Nobody pushed it onto me. It gave me quite a head buzz. So much so that I had a couple more soon after. That evening, I remember being white as a ghost and sick to the stomach. I should have stopped right there. But I didn't.

It wasn't until after basic training in the military in the mid-80s that I started smoking regularly. In the years that followed, sometimes more than a pack per day.

I tried to quit countless times -- once for a couple of years -- but the lure of the "lung darts" always got the best of me.

About 6 or 7 years ago, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which I now take a pill for every day.

Last year during my annual physical examination, my doctor gave me "the lecture", as he put it. Lose weight, eat better, and quit smoking.

I lost a few pounds, I ate a little better (but not as good as I should), and I didn't quit smoking.

Last month, I had my annual physical examination again. It ended with my doctor asking me if he had given me the lecture the year before. I chuckled and said "Probably, but it wouldn't hurt to give me a reminder." He smiled. He then gave me the lecture but to put things in perspective, he added that he had recently attended or assisted with two open heart surgeries for men 43 and 44 years old.

I left with my blood work requisition and renewed prescription in hand, and something to think about.

I'm 43 years old.

Despite feeling pretty good, health-wise, I can't help but wonder if those two men were at one time in the same position as I am today. It's probably a safe assumption that they were, or were at least aware of their health situation at some point.

On January 24th, I took the first step in making a change and quit smoking. Only a few days later, I could feel the difference. I even saw the difference in my blood pressure, since I have my own blood pressure cuff at home.

I decided to get a little help , and went on the 21mg nicotine patch. It helped. It helped quite a bit. I used it for 3 weeks, one week short of the recommended time, and then switched to the 14mg patch.

In that time, I learned about a book: Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking. $20 later, I had it ordered from Chapters.ca.

I'm 50% finished reading it and it's quite an eye opener. The thing is, he doesn't really tell you much that you probably haven't heard before, but somehow manages to get you to see it in a different way to reverse all the brainwashing and beat the fear.

I stopped using the nicotine patch altogether after the third 14mg patch.

The way I feel now is nothing like the other attempts I made at quitting. That's why I firmly believe I beat the nicotine addiction. In the past, if thought about how it felt to have a smoke, I would end up craving it. This time, when I try the same thing, I have absolutely no desire to have a cigarette.

If you've ever tried and failed at quitting smoking, give this book a try. It's cheaper than any of the other methods and has a higher success rate. You've got nothing to lose and your health and freedom to gain.

P.S. Here's a free download of another Allen Carr book: Scandal. ‘SCANDAL’ is the book that the pharmaceuticals, the Department of Health, the NHS, ASH and QUIT will not want you to read!
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More Ford Escape Fun -- a GOOD experience this time

Not all bad this time, but since I've whined complained in the past, it's only fair to mention when the experience is a good one.

A little history....

Monday morning:
  • Our 2008 Ford Escape started and ran rough. It felt like the transmission was slipping when pulling out of our parking spot. It had been very cold overnight, so I just assumed that might be why. Once it was warmed up, it seemed OK.
Tuesday morning:
  • Another rough start. More of that "slipping" feeling. Again, warmed up, it seemed fine, although sometimes when accelerating from a stop or a slow roll, something didn't feel quite right.
Tuesday afternoon:
  • After sitting for 9hrs in the underground parking at work -- where it's above freezing -- the truck started fine. While driving through the underground parking, I accelerated lightly and felt slippage, followed by a sudden grip of the transmission. This is probably what it would feel like if you were in neutral, revved the engine slightly and put it into drive. It made the tires chirp on the concrete. Not good.
  • While driving up the ramp to exit the underground parking, the transmission slipped again. I almost didn't make it all the way up. Not good at all.
  • It drove fine to my wife's work. I told her what happened. She called the dealership and was told the transmission guy went home already, but would be in at 7:30am Wednesday morning. She asked if he could take a look at it right away in the morning and they said he could.
Wednesday morning:
  • After leaving the block heater plugged in all night, the truck started fine. I felt a little slippage when we went to Timmy's for coffee.
  • We drove all the way to Orleans and arrived at the dealership at 7:30am and pulled into the service bay.
  • Jim, the "Senior Service Advisor", helped us. We explained the problem. He checked with the transmission guy and was told that he had 3 or 4 cars to do today. It probably wouldn't get looked at today.
  • We had a choice: if it was deemed not serious, he could schedule us in for tomorrow morning and we could take our truck home and back tomorrow. If it was a serious problem, they'd need to keep it.
  • The good: Because we have an ESP (Extended Service Plan), they'd cover a loaner/rental!
  • The bad: they had no loaner cars available, and the liklihood of getting us a rental was slim to none because of the never-ending OC Transpo strike in Ottawa. On top of that, Ford would only approve of FORD rentals -- they won't supply non-Ford rental cars to their customers. That would make it more difficult for Jim to find us a rental. WTF, Ford?
  • Jim told us about some nasty stories he had heard from the other dealerships in the area -- customers irate that they couldn't get loaners or rentals while their vehicles were being serviced. Apparently the cops had to be called to get one customer leave.
  • My wife said that she was told they could take a quick look and maybe take it for a spin if we brought it in first thing this morning. Jim seemed a little surprised, but went to talk with the transmission guy. He agreed to take a quick look.
  • The first thing the mechanic asked was to start the engine and pop the hood. He checked the transmission fluid. It was dry. O_o He put his hand under the bumper and something dripped on his hand. We had a coolant leak. He asked me if I had noticed any puddles under the truck when parked. I said I hadn't. Had it been summer, I surely would have noticed, but with all the snow lately, I hadn't seen anything.
  • The good: a coolant leak is a quicker repair, if the parts are available. The mechanic left and came back to tell us that they had the parts, and a guy who can do the repair immediately.
  • More good: the entire repair would be covered by the ESP.
  • Jim told us it would be a 2-3hr job, if the parts they had matched the truck. We could wait, or they could give us a shuttle ride to work or home. We decided to wait until they could do a more thorough check with the truck on the hoist.
  • A ½ hour or so later, Jim came to the waiting area to give us an update. Parts are confirmed in stock, they match, and the problem was as suspected.
  • An hour passed and Jim again gave us an update: repairs almost done. The mechanic would then take it for a spin to make sure the problem was fixed.
  • Another ½ later Jim came to tell us our truck was ready. The paper work would take another 20 minutes, but we could leave and they would mail them to us.
2 hours after arriving at Jim Keay, we were on our way to work with a working truck.

Needless to say, we were very pleased with the service we received this morning. Granted a little luck was involved that the repair wasn't as serious, but we left feeling that Jim -- the Service Advisor -- and the first mechanic put in additional effort to get us on our way quickly. I don't know what we would have done otherwise. Hopefully that's how they treat all of their customers.

Thanks, and kudos to the guys at Jim Keay Ford Lincoln!


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Monday, January 26, 2009

My Bucket List

Yellow BucketI stole got this idea from someone's blog, who got the idea from another blog. It sounded like a fun idea, so, here's the start of my list:
  1. Weigh 200lbs or less (target = summer)
  2. Quit smoking (already in progress -- if I can go 2 months, I'll consider it done)
  3. Visit the UK (where I was born, and where my cousins, aunts, and uncles live)
  4. Visit my Dad's grave site in Louisiana.
  5. Own a Ford Mustang. :D
  6. Visit every province in Canada (6 to go... not including the territories)
  7. Cycle 1000kms in one year (this may not seem like much to some people, but considering I tend to cycle once per weekend, in spring & summer only, that's about 80kms per weekend -- double what I usually ride...)
Yeh, some sound more like goals, but achieving them will make me happy. :) I'll add as I come up with more stuff.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ear Force X3 Headset -- my review (or 2 cents)

I love gaming. I love gaming late at night. Unfortunately, this means that I can't play certain games and fully enjoy the experience without disturbing my family as they sleep.

I discovered that Turtle Beach makes wireless headsets to solve this problem. They allow you to listen to the audio of the game AND chat with friends at the same time. Up to now, my options were:
  1. use the original Xbox headset and keep the game sound low
  2. plug my stereo headphones into the stereo to listen to the game audio and not bother with voice chat
  3. use both my stereo headphones and the Xbox headset at the same time (ever tried wearing two headsets at the same time?) :)
I picked up the Ear Force X3 after a few friend recommendations and reading glowing reviews on the web. I had high hopes for these, but I have to say that I am disappointed.

The sound is good and they're comfortable, but there is one thing about them that is making me seriously consider returning them: they are not compatible with the Rock Band guitars or the Xbox chatpad. You can't even use the adapter wire that came with Rock Band.

I thought that surely I must be doing something wrong. I visited the Turtle Beach web site and found this:
The wireless X3 and X4 model headsets use special connectors that draw power from the Xbox handheld controller's "puck" connection. This connection is used to power the X3/X4 chat level boost, which boosts the chat when game soundtracks get so loud that they might obscure the chat channel.

Because the Chatpad, Rock Band and Racing Wheel controllers do not provide these extra power connections, the X3 and X4 headsets are *not* compatible with these aftermarket controllers. There are no adapters available that will make them compatible.

The Guitar Hero controller has been reported to work with the X-series headsets.
So, not only can I not use it with the chatpad or the RB2 guitar, but I can't use it with the racing wheel either.

I may be able to live with not using it with the chatpad, or the racing wheel, but when I play Rock Band or Guitar Hero, I use the RB2 guitar. My main purpose for getting these was so I could talk and play RB2 or GHWT later at night. Without being able to talk, I may as well wear my old stereo headphones and put up with the inconvenience of the headphone wire extension. (and wear two headsets at the same time) :)

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