Thursday, October 28, 2010

Double Rainbow!

White Westinghouse TA-5723 Answering Machine

Got one of these answering machines and lost the manual?

I do.

Earlier this week I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out how to check my messages remotely. I don't use that feature very often, but I really wanted it on that particular day. It turned out that the remote access code may have reset to the default and I wasn't aware of this.

Not that it would have done me much good. Even if I had gotten into the remote options, I couldn't remember what numbers to press to play the messages.

I scoured the web for information and all I could find was multiple "manual" web sites wanting me to sign up to get information, or posts from people looking for the manual. I couldn't even find a picture of the answering machine anywhere.

Later that evening I came across a quick-reference card that I made years ago. If you have one of these machines, this is for you! (Or for me in the future when I'm stuck again...)

Print this out and write your access code on it if you want. I think the default code is 19 -- that's what mine was set to until I changed it.

The configuration of the machine isn't too difficult with a little trial and error. Just remember that to access the secondary function of some buttons, you need to be press and hold it for a few seconds.

Maybe one day I'll write out detailed information and post it here. In the meantime, if you need to know anything else, post a comment here and I'll do my best to help you out.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ottawa Zombie Walk 2010

Earlier this morning, a friend posted on his Facebook that today was the Ottawa Zombie Walk. It's an annual event where people all get zombified and walk to Parliament Hill in search of brains. I'm sure they leave hungry every time. ;)

Anyway, I checked out the route for this year and noticed that it went right past my sister's bridal shop on Beechwood Avenue. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to grab my camera gear and go zombie hunting.

I called her up and told her that zombies would be walking by at around 2:00-2:30, and said I would drop by to hang out and shoot some zombies.

I arrived at her store about 10 minues before 2:00pm, passing by a crowd of 30-40 zombies outside the Beechwood Cemetary en route.

A little after 2:00pm, they started their march and we stood outside her store watching the spectacle. It was great! Lots of creative zombies fumbled by. Some even posing. :)

One woman, heading the other way, commented as she passed, "What are these kids protesting now?!" My sister responded, "Nothing. They're just being zombies." The women replied, "Well they're good at that" and kept walking. :)

After the two large groups of zombies walked by, I packed up my gear and stood in my sister's shop and chatted. About 10-15 minutes later, more zombies came down the road. I got out my camera again and took some more shots. And again, 5-10 minutes later more arrived. I'm glad I stuck around because I got some pretty good shots of the stragglers.

Here are the pics, enjoy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

After the weekend thoughts

We went for a family walk along some rural forest NCC paths to feed the chickadees. The parking lot was packed with the cars of others who had the same idea on such an awesome day. We, and others, had to park along the shoulder of the road. Not a big deal, but if people wouldn't leave 3/4s of a car width between their cars in the lot, more people could park there.

The next disappointment was finding bagged dog shit hanging from trees along the path. In total, we noticed three or four other bags of dog shit hanging from trees.

It's puzzling. Why do some dog owners even bother to pick up after their dogs, when all they're going to do is hang the plastic bag on a tree? What's the point? Yes, it's the law to pick up after your dog, but it doesn't get you off the hook if you're just going to leave it anyway. You inconsiderate ass-hats.

Anyway, as I mentioned, the weather was awesome today. Clear, sunny skies, cool enough that you needed a light coat, but wouldn't break into a sweat in the direct sun. We had a lot of fun feeding the chickadees and sharing some seeds with families who didn't bring anything for their kids to feed the birds. I'm pretty sure they'll be bringing some the next time they show up. Their kids seemed to have a lot of fun.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My 10.10.10@10:10AM GMT Worldwide Moment

I set my alarm clock for 5:30AM so I could be awake for 6:10AM to shoot my "Worldwide Moment" shot. I rarely hear the alarm clock; it's usually my wife who wakes me up during the week.

5:30AM arrived and I actually heard it. In my half-asleep state of mind, I remembered exactly why it was going off so early on a Sunday morning. I turned it off and slowly crept out of bed and hobbled to the washroom.

Why would I ruin a perfectly good sleep to join thousands of other people worldwide, to take a photo at 10:10AM GMT on 10/10/2010?

Because it seemed like a good idea. It was fun. *yawn*

I needed coffee and I needed it NOW.

As I walked back to the bedroom, my wife woke up to go to the washroom. I asked her if she thought Tim Horton's might be open. She said she thought so, and suggested trying a few different ones. I asked her if she wanted one. She munbled "Get me one just in case..." and crawled back into bed.

I now had ~35 minutes to find coffee and return home.

I put on track pants, grabbed my wallet and keys and off I went.

It was still dark. And cold.

Two of the three Tim Horton's I checked seemed open, but only the third one had the drive-thru open. There was no way I was going to get out of my truck for this, so the third one saved me.

I now had ~15 minutes to get home, figure out what I was going to shoot and actually take the shot.
With 10 minutes to go, I was home. My wife was still in bed. I put her coffee on the kitchen counter and started looking around.

I looked out my back window at all of the leaves on the patio. Leaves. Leaves it would be. And I would add my Timmy Ho's coffee in the shot as well. How Canadian. :) But it was still dark and I didn't want to screw this up, so I grabbed my Gorillapod and attached it to the camera.

5 mins to go.

I quietly slipped out the back door, coffee and camera in hand and set up the shot. I fired off a few test shots while waiting for "the moment" to make sure it was focused.

10:10AM GMT arrived.


A couple more.

*click* *click*


I think my neighbour was sitting in his backyard having a smoke. Not sure what he thought I was doing out at 6:10AM, in the dark, taking pictures on my patio.

I managed to get two pretty good, focused, shots. This is the one I used.

Yay me. *yawn*

My coffee has been done for a while now and I think I'm going to need more.

Oh ya, Happy Thanksgiving to all Canadians.

(Edit: here's my photo in the Worldwide Moment gallery)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

10.10.10@10:10AM GMT - Worldwide Moment

Can you imagine everyone in the world taking a photograph simultaneously?

Can you imagine the feeling of peace, connection, and excitement this moment would bring?

Can you imagine the impact? … We can … Please join us on October 10th!

Worldwide Moment is a not-for-profit simultaneous photography event to create international peace, art, and cultural awareness.

Don't forget, this Sunday, October 10th, is Worldwide Moment @ 10:10AM GMT! If you have a camera, you can participate. Do it! It'll be fun. :)

Be sure to check out what time you need to shoot for your time zone since it's GMT! There's a link on the Worldwide Moment page, or click here.

For my time zone, I have to be awake for 6:10AM.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gatineau Park

Sunday turned out to be a really nice day. My wife, daughter and I drove up to Gatineau Park to check out the colours. It was crazy busy.

Our first stop was the Mackenzie King Estate. When we arrived at around 10:00am, it was just beginning to get busy. The professional photographers were out in full force, doing family photo sessions, each waiting their turn at the various deformed trees and monuments for that "perfect" shot. Some of the tourists were shooting photos of the photographers as they shot photos of their clients. I was tempted to shoot a photo of the tourists as they did that but thought it might start a massive chain reaction.

We then made our way up to the Champlain Lookout, stopping at too lookouts on the way. We actually had to park the second lookout and walk the rest of the way because the NCC was stopping vehicles from proceeding all the way to Champlain. It turned out that they were doing that because the Champlain parking lot was full.

The views from all of the lookouts was spectacular. This was the first time I had ever been there in the 28 years I've lived in Ottawa. If you're planning on checking out the autumn colours, the next week or two is probably the time to do it. There's still a fair bit of green, especially below the tree line, but there's enough colour to make it worth the trip as you can see in my photos here.

After walking the trails at the Champlain Lookout, we headed home, but not until after we made a quick stop at the Byward Market to pick up a whole whack of veggies and apples.

All in all, a great 6 hour outing on a crisp fall day.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Killing Watts

I had a near-death experience today; I opened my Hydro bill.

$414.49 for the last two months.

The previous bill was $377, which was the most I've ever paid until this one.

Most people blame their high bill on the rising cost of electricity, or the fact that there is HST added since July.  While the rates have gone up and there is HST added to the bill, both of those combined do not explain why my bill is over $100 more this year than the same period last year.

Looking at my bill, I can see why our bill is +$100 more.  Our usage for the two months is up by around 20% compared to last year. And last year's was up compared to two years ago.

I called my wife at work and told her the news. I told her that I was going to start unscrewing light bulbs on any light that I find left on without a person in the room.

She didn't like that idea. In fact, she really didn't like that idea. She even got a little angry with me.
I tried to justify it by saying "We haven't even reached the darker days of winter yet. Can you imagine what we'll be paying in January and February when we need lights on more often?" Seriously, I don't even want to think about it.

Our kids are the biggest offenders when it comes to electricity waste. For example: Our finished basement has 3 recessed ceiling lights, 3 table lamps, and two small spotlights that point at our dartboard.  The light switch operates only the ceiling lights. When we got home from work yesterday, I went to the basement. The only lights that weren't on were the ceiling lights. On top of that, the Xbox 360 was on, the TV was on, and the digital cable box was on. There was nobody in the basement. My son said he was using it and was going back down. Why he needed so many lights on, I have no idea and neither did he.

We're all guilty of waste in my family, but seriously, I think I waste the least. The only waste from me is leaving my PC on for about 18 hours a day. I've been doing that since the beginning of time. As of today, it is is now off. Everyone else seems to feel the need to turn lights on wherever they go, at any time of day, regardless of how light or dark it is in the room, as well as leaving the TV on when they're going to be away from it for more than a few minutes. The only light I turn on is the one in the room I'm in. I don't turn any lights on in the rooms or halls that I use to get to that room. I walk in the dark.

Anyway, I'm setting a goal for the next billing period. That goal is to cut our usage by at least 50%. In fact, I am going to make it a family challenge and maybe even make it fun and profitable for one lucky person. If we can cut our bill in half, that'll give us some extra cash. What I might do is offer some of that savings back to my family... like maybe a cash prize draw using the names of those who didn't waste in the two months? I'm not sure yet, but I'll work out the details.

In the meantime, we'll be making a stop at Canadian Tire on the way home to pick up a few more CFL bulbs. I also noticed that they have a electricity usage meter on sale for less than $20. I'm really curious how much electricity some things in my house use, even when they're turned off. It might be a worthwhile investment.

Stay tuned.

(Update: we picked up three 6-pack boxes of 13W (60W) CFL bulbs on sale for $5.99 w/ the $5 off shelf coupon at Canadian Tire and already used twelve of them. We're going to buy more tomorrow and grab some 40W as well for the dining room chandelier)