Wednesday, August 12, 2009

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. :)


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


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 for a long time, and Google treats (which you are using) the same as my email address. In fact, Google also considers (, ( 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, 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, I can log in with my user id and password, and it's all my email that I can read. I know that 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

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

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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

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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