Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's beginning to look...

...a lot like somebody's started the season a bit early. It's not even December yet.

Even at the end of November....

...there are still a few leaves on the trees, and that still seems unusual to me, even after all these years around here. 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The news - or who has more fun than people?

Sometimes, reading the news leads to learning something new, like the wind-catchers used in the hot and dry areas of the Middle East, (thanks to Wikipedia) and sometimes, it leads to wondering if most people have all their 'marbles', like while reading Rex Murphy's column in the Globe and Mail today. 

Rex goes on and on about how Al Gore visited Toronto and from the relative safety of its distance from Alberta, took the opportunity to tell us that our tar sands projects will result in the end of civilization as we knew it. Meanwhile, elsewhere, Sir Paul McCartney is still complaining that there will be dire consequences from all the world's farting cows.

Both of these pampered modern-day princes are masters at avoiding the real issues while promoting their own latest pet causes. Those tar sands, or oil sands, or whatever you choose to call them are a small fraction of the fallout produced by bigger nations with even dirtier economies than ours, and neither of these high-profile attention-grabbers are saying a word about all those expensive explosives being set off constantly somewhere around the globe, while people in various places are attempting to re-arrange national boundaries, or negotiate changes to someone's political systems or alter their belief structures along with changing the shapes of their dwellings.

Meanwhile, getting back to those farting cows, there's only about 1.53 billion of them sharing the planet with about 6.8 billion farting people. So today's Question Everything is: "Do 4.4 people create more pollution than one farting cow?"  

Tiger Woods:-
For the latest, have a look at

Friday, November 27, 2009

'Question Everything'.....

What was going on at Tiger Woods' place at about 2:30 AM when he decided to leave, and lost control of his vehicle, and hit a fire hydrant and a tree? Did he have those facial lacerations beforehand, or were those a result of the accident? How do you injure your face while backing up in a Cadillac SUV anyway? There's probably more to this story yet...

Meanwhile, back in Dubai, how does a city state with about one million local residents, not all of whom are citizens, get itself into somewhere between sixty and eighty billions in debt? And what's it got that's so exciting, besides lots of sand, ocean, and heat? Are they not aware of the global warming problem, or do they just not give a damn?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The old guy looks at the news...

'Bye-bye, Dubai!'
Trying to build your way to Heaven one floor at a time has its downside. They've stretched their credit too far, and now are asking for a delay in repayments on 60-some billions in debt. Even when you're sitting on a serious amount of the world's oil, the fly-now-pay-later plan doesn't work unless you keep up the payments on it. So much for indoor ski-hills in the sweltering sands, and palm-shaped islands in the sea, surrounded by nothing but miles and miles of sand and seawater. 

Canada's Prime Minister plays tourist:
Our PM heads off on visits to foreign locations for photo-ops with local leaders, partly to avoid the uproar at home over the frying ass of one of our diplomats who made claims that turning over prisoners to the Afghans led to the torturing of many innocent farmers. Would those farmers be poppy farmers, I wonder? And as someone else has wondered, if those guys can raise bumper crops of poppies, why can't they raise crops of edible veggies with which to feed their starving kin? Am I being too practical here?

Al-Jazeera gets the OK from our CRTC for its English service broadcasts:
Today's Question Everything is: "Is this a sneaky way to get our Arab immigrants to learn more English?" If it is, I'm all in favour. Salaam, neighbours.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

For Monsieur Beep.....

Here's what I hope is an improved version of your avatar image.

Today, we can't see the hills....

It's another of those typical monsoon-season days - clouds down on the deck, and rainy and dull. It's a good day to take the car in for its regular lube and pre-winter check-up.

While there, waiting for a shuttle ride back home, a lady came in for service and among other things, mentioned that her battery had recently died, and needed a boost to get her going. Being the buttinsky that I am, I said, "Excuse me, but is most of your driving just short little trips?" She said, "Yes, it is." I said, "I have the same problem - and it's because we're taking more out of the battery getting started than the driving puts back while we're running. So to help avoid that, we need to go for a longer drive once a week or so, to get the battery fully recharged again."

On the way home in the shuttle, we were talking more about that, and the driver pointed out that all new vehicles equipped with internal computers will have about 20 milliamps of constant drain on the battery, just keeping their monitoring systems active. So if you aren't driving the car for a while, such as if you're going away on vacation, he advises that we disconnect the battery before we go, to avoid having a dead battery when we come back.
Good advice.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This morning, we can see the hills...

It seems like about a week since we had a good look at the hilltops here, and this is what they look like this morning. Taken with the Canon G9 at maximum optical zoom using the doubler on top of that, and this was spliced together from three images using Canon's PhotoStitch. It came out quite well, I think.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"After Global Warming"

Reading about global warming, I decided to create an image of our north shore mountains with a much higher ocean level - the oceans won't rise this high, perhaps, but it gives us an impression of what that might look like if they did. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hoping for a snack...

Our feathered neighbours, keeping a watchful eye for any treats.

Obscured by clouds

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The high country today...

If these two images look like a big exclamation mark to you, it was intentional... and just to emphasize what a dull, foggy, rainy day we're having here today. This is why it's called a 'rainforest' around these parts. The forest needs the rain, and we need the forest, so it all works out very well, and it saves on sunscreen, so there's a bright side to it too. 

Friday, November 20, 2009

Is this really November ?

Here it is the 20th of November, and look what I found on the outside of my screen door just now.... a huge and very-much-alive housefly. And earlier this evening, we had a thunder storm with several lightning strikes nearby. How about that?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Images: Dust and Scratch Removal -

Thanks to my friend Eolake in the U.K., for finding this one for us. It's now out of date, but available from an archives site, and even though it comes to us from back in 2002, I'm happy to say it works fine in Windows 7.  "How does it work?" you ask....

Pick an image with lots of scratches, like this one I borrowed from Eolake's website to demonstrate. On the 'Action' menu, select 'Create Mask' and use the default settings....

The program finds and highlights all the blemishes on the image. Again I used default settings, because it's my first time trying it, and then after I got this, I went back onto the "Action" menu and chose "Clean Image".....

And here's the finished cleaned-up image! Isn't this something? You can use Google to find out more, or check Eolake's blog for more information about this, including links to the downloads for Mac and Windows. For Windows, choose the most recent (2007) update on
that archives listing page. 


Looking out the window...

It's a good day to be inside, looking out, I think.... except that the apartment on the other side of the wall behind my desk is being renovated, and its kitchen is against this wall. The kitchen cabinets were torn out last week, with a great deal of crashing and breaking of woodwork, and now the new cabinets are going up, requiring a concrete drill to make the holes for the anchors. When that drill comes on, even if I'm expecting it, the noise really startles me - it's very loud. These concrete buildings are like being inside a drum with someone beating on it whenever modifications are going on - and lately, that seems to be most of the time. When one gets finished, another starts. Sometimes, with all the holes it seems people have drilled into these walls, I wonder what's holding the place up....

Today, the subject of removing scratches from images came up, and this points up the fact that there aren't a lot of foolproof programs available for cleaning up old images. There are some, but they usually cost quite a lot, and even then they don't do a perfect job, if their trial demo versions are any indication. And I'm not buying something that doesn't live up to its advance publicity.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Autumn Leaves

In spite of the snow on the hills, we still have some leaves on the trees, reminding us of warmer days.

Winter's getting closer...

The snow-line is getting lower and lower. But the grass is still green down here in the valley, where most of us are.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

This and that....

This is the opening window of the current version of Open Office, the free and complete office program from Sun and the open source community. I really don't need a full office program these days, being retired, but I've got lots of room on the hard-drive for more stuff, and it is a very handy program to have. Among other things, it uses Java which makes it a very versatile program, and for another, it's compatible with various programs usually found in Microsoft's Office, and can open and work with those files, and convert them into the Open Document Format, which makes them more universally useful.

For example, it can open and play a slide show made by Microsoft Office PowerPoint if for some reason your Microsoft Office PowerPoint Viewer 2007 doesn't display it properly for you. Like last night - a friend sent me a very nice slide show of pictures of the moon along with the Moonlight Sonata as background music, and there were over sixty images in it. I couldn't get it to play in its native Microsoft format. I could see the first image and listen to the music, or else I could manually scroll through the images, but I couldn't get it to run automatically with both the images and the music no matter what I tried, and speaking of that, cussing didn't help. So I downloaded the latest version of OpenOffice, and watched the slide show. My friend was right - it's a lovely presentation.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Google's News this morning...

Harper promotes trade links to India -
Why? Is he afraid child labour might disappear from the face of the earth, or that we might not have an adequate supply of hand-woven carpets in the future? Doesn't he know that we have the second-largest population of Persians behind California on this continent, and that they make some pretty good carpets themselves?

Obama meets with Chinese leaders -
We hadn't imagined he went there simply for the authentic Chinese food. He's obviously there to discuss trade, and more specifically that the Chinese are selling a lot more stuff to the U.S. (and Canada) than North Americans are selling to them. And after buying one of the new Pentax X70 digital cameras, now made by a company in China which bought out the original Pentax manufacturer Asahi Optical Company of Japan,  I'd be worried about that myself if I were him, because this Chinese company is turning out a very good product. A product that is definitely competitive with anything made in North America.
Canon may not be worried yet, but I wouldn't get too smug if I were them.

World leaders at UN summit vow to aid farmers in bid to help starving -
This is another of those periodic photo-op type things where everyone attends to see and be seen, and then they all vow that they're 100 percent in favour of Motherhood or Apple Pie, or a Chicken in Every Pot, or in this case Aid to The Starving. But just don't ask these fearless leaders to put their (or our) money where their mouths are, because then they will suddenly start back-pedalling and bafflegabbing like you wouldn't believe.

And that's just the first three headlines on Google News as I wrote this. I'm still reading the rest of it...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Not much happening today...

The weather's been dull and rainy, or maybe snowy depending if you're up on the hilltops, and there's not a lot to report. I'm reading instead of writing today. What am I reading?  I'm reading Margaret Wente's latest book, 'You Can't Say That in Canada!'. She's not only a prize winning columnist with The Globe and Mail newspaper, but also a very entertaining writer of books, and she spins a good readable yarn. And now, if you'll excuse me, it's back to the book...

 Monday, November 16th, 2009 -
I've finished the book, and it's an enjoyable read. Margaret shares her thoughts on a variety of topics, and does it with insight and humour. It's easy to see why she has won awards for her writing. It's one of those books that seems to end too soon. The Good News is that we can still find her column in The Globe and Mail newspaper.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

About Blogger and postings

Here is where you can find more information about how to have more than one page in your blog, and how to set it up for the number of posts on the front or main page. This won't give you your own 'almost website' but it will be close, if you follow the directions.

Another upgraded program...

This has just been upgraded by Microsoft and now works with Windows 7 as well as Vista and its original XP. It's handy for matching the contents of two separate files.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Freshly Updated.....

This great program, from our friends in Iceland, EMCO, is worth its weight in gold, yet is absolutely free, and it was just updated and improved on November 4th, 2009, and now is compatible with Windows 7 in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

If you've ever encountered a file that you wanted to get rid of which popped up a message saying 'action denied - this file is in use in another program', or 'unable to delete - this file is in use. Close the file and try again.' - then this program is for you. This program will remove files or folders that you can't get rid of any other way. 

How does it do that? Simple: you choose a file or folder (or several) and enter those into the program's window for removal. Then you select "restart Windows" using the checkbox provided, or simply do a reboot on your own. The items you wanted to be rid of are then deleted during the reboot, and before they could be re-loaded into Windows during the restarting sequence. That way, the Windows operating system can't interfere with the desired actions, because it all happens during the boot cycle before Windows takes over.

Use the link in the right-hand margin here to go to their site where you can download this latest version of the program. It's well worth having, and it's still free. And my thanks to the folks at EMCO for continuing to make this available to us. 

At last, it's clearing off

Even at half-past November, we still have leaves on the trees around here... and they can't say that where I came from back east.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today's snow report.....

Now that we can see the hills again, here's what they look like today.

Meanwhile, back on Sesame Street....

Still doing what they do best.... and here's to 40 more years!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Irrigation maintenance time again....

That hissing noise I've been hearing is this air compressor truck down below, blowing out the irrigation system for that neighbour's back yard - the whole several many hectares.
It must be rough, having more money than brains.

40 years and counting...

It goes like this.....

Guacamole to you,
Guacamole to me,
Guacamole everybody,
Guacamole to us!

What do you mean, "It doesn't make any sense." Of course it does...
Just replace the word Guacamole with Happy Birthday. Now try it again....

Monday, November 9, 2009

This just in from The Count....

Just imagine - Sesame Street turns 40.... Wow! Enjoy your day, everyone...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Manage everything Google from one page....

First, click on that tiny little word 'Privacy' as shown in the screen shot above, and that will take you to this next page.....

Where you can watch a video explaining all about it, but for best results, you should click as shown above, to watch it on YouTube instead of this little tiny one, because you need to see it all nice and clearly, and this little one is too small. After you watch it, then you can go to the new page, and log in, and manage all your Google settings for everything Google that you have, in this one new 'control center' called 'Dashboard'.  My only beef with it so far is that the name may be too easily confused with the Dashboard already on your Blogger log-in page. But if it works, let's not fix it. And it does work like a charm! Try it.

Oscar, about Sesame Street's 40th Birthday....

This is what I think Oscar might say about Sesame Street's 40th Anniversary.

Officially, for those keeping track, the big day is November 10th, so it's getting close. And who else has a birthday next week? Me, and Prince Charles of England's royal family, and we're both a lot older than Sesame Street and Big Bird. Old age is a lot like being Oscar - you spend a lot of your time in the can!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Don't look now but......

Don't look now, but this tutorial for removing/replacing the arrows of Windows 7 shortcuts doesn't quite work as you might have expected. It works fine, after the first reboot, which theoretically sets up the operating system to do as you've changed it to do. But the next time you either reboot or re-start your system, back come all the arrows - probably being restored from some backup copy in the protected files section of Windows. I've tried this and two other schemes now to get rid of these arrows, and none of them works beyond a couple of reboots or re-starts. So if you're using Windows 7, don't get your hopes up for a program to get rid of these arrows.

And this being the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street, and the Muppets gang, if you want to turn any of those characters into your own set of icons, the link to IcoFX in the right-hand margin here will get you a free program that does it. Have a look at the icon for "Ray" on the left in this image, and you'll see a sample of what IcoFX can do. It's a fun program... I made several of the other icons on my desktop with it. Why settle for someone else's?

More musings from 'Oldest Living Blogger'.....

I woke up much too early this morning - like just after 3:00 AM. That's probably my own fault though, because I went to bed too early, too - around 7:30 PM. I find that when I'm here at the computer keyboard, and nodding off over it, then the best thing to do is lie down before I fall off the chair and hurt myself. See what you've got to look forward to when you get into the 'Old Fart' category? 

Anyway, I awoke around three-something this morning, with the TV still yattering away at me, with some PBS program about quilting. I wondered, 'how many people are going to set their clocks to get them up at three in the morning to watch some handicrafts expert demonstrating how to use a fancy sewing machine to embroider copies of people's photos onto little squares for assembly into a quilt?' The thread alone these days costs a bundle, not to mention that high-priced machine the gal was using to replicate those photos onto the quilt patches. To make a quilt that way, you'd need to be bored cross-eyed and a millionaire's wife, and have more time on your hands than you knew what to do with.

One advantage to waking up really early out here on the wet west coast though is that you can read all the internet editions of the big eastern papers, and get off your emails to their columnists or editors before their day, being three hours later there, is too far gone. If I get my 'feedback' out early enough, I often get a reply. And I'd be lying if I said that I'm not impressed by replies from some of the country's most famous media personalities. This has to be a great country, when a guy like me can exchange ideas and mail with some of the movers and shakers who provide us with our best insights into what's happening in the world today. I think that's just wonderful, and worth getting up early.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Telephones: then and now...

My faithful old Radio Shack answering machine phone finally quit working for me a couple of days ago. The message tape refused to rewind, and all the lights on the little control panel lit up at once, instead of only one at a time, so I knew it was trying to tell me something... It wasn't unexpected. I bought it in March of 1990 at the nearby mall, so it's over 19 years old. It cost over $200.00 back then, and the recording system used miniature cassette tapes.

The new replacement I got today has a digital message storage and retrieval system that doesn't need replacement parts, and it also has several more features the old one lacked. And it cost only $67.19 with the taxes included. Technology really is improving. Now, if only we had a cure for those telemarketers. 


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Another 'keeper' for you....

Just a reminder - this is one of the handiest little freebies you can imagine. Among its other neat features, it includes a tool for deleting those files that refuse ordinary invitations to go. It also includes a very effective shredder for files you don't want to worry about being totally gone. And it is called FileMenu Tools because it adds these features to your drop-down menus where they are always handy when you need them. You can select the features you want from a long list of choices, and choose by adding or removing a check-mark to the little boxes beside each item. Very easy, and very convenient. You should try it.

And you thought grass-cutting season was over....

Well, this is just to show you that you're wrong.... The local 'haying' still goes on. And it's just 50 days until Christmas, Folks. Only in Vancouver, you say?

From Germany: My latest discovery....

You could pay more, but why would you want to? This is rated as one of the very best backup programs available, and it's free for home use.

Happy Birthday, Oscar!

As Google informs us, Sesame Street is now 40 years old! Imagine - kids who first began watching when it first started are now middle-aged. Gee! suddenly I feel much older... And while I'm on the subject, why don't the folks who run the show treat their star characters to a bit of a freshening-up for the big occasion?
Give them a wash & rinse, and fluff them up a bit. After 40 years in day care, they're getting a bit tatty and frazzle-assed, don't you think?  Hell, I can remember when Oscar the Grouch was too young to shave, and now he's older than your Aunt Nellie, I betcha....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This just in (at 11:19 AM)

Just as we suspected! The Toronto Star says: "Ottawa not prepared for emergencies: Auditor General".

Please click the above link to go to the complete article in The Star. Sheila Fraser, our Auditor General, takes a whack at our Conservative minority government of 'Stodgy Stephen' Harper for completely dropping the ball on this flu epidemic as part of her annual fall report to Parliament. And good on her! May she live long and prosper. And I'm just delighted to see that it's not just my media friends who are now 'holding the politicians' feet to the fire' for some answers.

On my morning run to the supermarket, I compared notes with the gals on the cash and the service desk there, and we're all agreed that it's no wonder people are confused, with the mixed messages we've been getting from our fearless leaders in the halls of power in Ottawa. Ergo, it's ass-kicking time at the Old Corral, Kiddies.

I lied - it will snow before February...

The sky's a little weird in this one, but at least the hills are all in their right places along the horizon. That's the Grouse Mountain Skyride and Upper Terminal on the extreme right above.  It's not going to be a record-breaking early start to the ski season though, from all appearances.

That clock gadget on here....

If you'd like one of those, please click here for their homepage. You can choose your own colors, different sizes, and whether it's a 12 or 24-hour design.  If you're like me, and fascinated by these gadgets, then this may be for you. You can even have more than one if you like, showing the time both where you are and someplace else.

Monday, November 2, 2009

That Swine Flu fiasco....

Fiasco being the operative word here. The government knew months ago that this unusual flu was coming around, but chose to sit back and pick their noses and wait for it. Then, they woke up to the political consequences of a do-nothing approach, and got busy looking for a supplier. Again, for political reasons, they chose a Canadian firm. Glaxo-Smith-Kline, whose specialty, according to Wikipedia, is dermatology. Are you wondering what a company that is world famous for its research in dermatology is doing getting involved in vaccine production for a major flu epidemic? Me, too. This evidently isn't their field of expertise, and shouldn't we have the benefit of the best expertise available? 

Our government, mindful of its fragile political future, ordered fifty million doses of the vaccine - for a population of only thirty-three million, of which a significant percentage had either already caught that flu, or had decided against being vaccinated against it. After that perceived goof was contemplated on Parliament Hill, it was decided to engage the media in a concentrated campaign to encourage every possible recipient to line up for a flu shot. The resulting 'overkill' of media enthusiasm scared the hell out of ordinary men, women, and children nationwide, and immediately triggered a stampede to the nearest clinics for the shots. 

Medical staffs at clinics were caught flat-footed and mostly empty-handed, because the vaccine supplier simply couldn't produce enough of it quickly enough to satisfy the instant requests of the millions of frightened individuals who suddenly appeared on doorsteps of clinics across the land.

Compounding this confused picture, there was a recent announcement on an American TV station in Seattle to the effect that their people had just recently 'found' another large supply of vaccine for their own inoculation campaign, at about the same time as our own supplier announced a sudden unexplained shortfall in expected production yields for the vaccine. The news media, sensing a story, began holding the politicians' feet to the fire, as they say, for an explanation which hasn't so far been forthcoming.

Our federal Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, may be an exemplary member of our aboriginal minority but she has absolutely no formal medical qualifications whatsoever that I am able to determine, and perhaps that's why she sounded a bit like a parrot on TV yesterday, repeating that it's the provinces and territories who are responsible for delivery of the vaccine, not the federal government.  Apparently, the federal government's sole responsibility is to create fiascoes like this, not avoid or resolve them. Are you wondering how many millions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted during this mess? Me too!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Setting sun on the windows of West Vancouver

The sunset these days is happening too far south along the western horizon for me to get a shot at it from where my suite is located in the building, so I have to cheat by showing you the effects of it.

And while I was getting that first shot, this little plane flew over. I'm getting better at these airplane shots now that I've done a few. It's a lot like shooting ducks in flight - you have to anticipate and 'follow through' or you end up with a miss or a mess.

Your morning snow report for Nov. 1st

Told ya! It ain't gonna snow until February....