Friday, December 31, 2010

Absolutely the last sunset of 2010....

First, the 'big picture' and then.....

The close-up. That's Vancouver Island across Georgia Strait.

The cure for child-proof bottles for adults

I could say "Screw it!" because that's exactly what you do - put a small screw through the top to make both parts of that lid move together like one. You will never again feel the urge to cuss the guy who invented those tops.

Have a good one, Folks !

Thursday, December 30, 2010

One little cloud on one little hill

Sometimes, shadows reveal details we might not notice.

The not-so-big picture....

I like the look of the snow on the trees along the skyline. The weather up there is obviously different than we have down here closer to sea level, where the grass is green and the streets are bare. I just love a well-behaved winter that knows its place!

Tomorrow's Weather.....

This is what the Weatherman is promising for tomorrow (and today!)
Enjoy your day, Everyone!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Lookout

Watching for donations.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What can you do with a 24X zoom ?

First, the big picture, without using the zoom. See where that snow-line on the right side gets quite thin, and the trees are more defined? I'm going to zoom in on that with the full 24-power zoom....

And this is what it looks like in the full-zoom mode. Perhaps I ought to add that I wasn't using the new Manfrotto tripod on this - these are freehand, which isn't bad, if I do say so myself. I'm quite happy with these. Don't forget to click inside the pictures to enlarge them to full size.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Talk about profitable recycling.....

Remember her? Of course you do! And remember that cute bottle she came out of when she was summoned?.....

Well, if you want one of those authentic 1964 Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon bottles, hand painted like Jeannie's, it isn't cheap, Folks! And you don't even get the Bourbon!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

The local forecast - green & wet for Vancouver

True to our historical record, which says that we have green Christmases ninety percent of the time here, this year will be no exception. It's going to be wet and windy, changing to wet and breezy, changing to just plain Blah for the next five days, until next Wednesday - if the weatherman's right, and the winds don't change, or the systems don't stall, and the sky don't fall.

Looking on the bright side, I just saved $1,000 on a set of winter tires! And thousands of local drivers just saved themselves from fender-benders, and that means we all save on our compulsory government auto insurance - so let's all be thankful for yet another Green Christmas! Am I the Eternal Optimist, or what? - Nah! Just trying to cheer myself up. It's not working.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Winter Solstice Sun, from 2005 in Italy

There's a lot of pictures of moons on the web just now, so I'm trying to different, and show something else. This was taken in Italy in 2005 by a chap named Pivato, and I hope he doesn't mind my showing it again. It's a neat sequence of images and a lot of work went into it, and he deserves our appreciation for that. It shows the sun from rising to setting on the first day of winter, 2005 from a spot near the Italian coast, looking towards the spaghetti fields :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yesterday - ah, yesterday.....

Here's what it doesn't look like today, and once again we're socked in with low clouds, and rain with snow at higher levels, as they say. So there goes the chance to see that total eclipse anywhere around here I guess..... I'll just have to wait for someone's pictures of it I suppose.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Moonshine - just before moonset

This morning's nearly-full moon, just before it set about 5:00 a.m.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mid-December pest.....

I should start by saying the Canon G9 used here was set on its Automatic setting, so it should have delivered a better image.

I had to be quick, because this was a fly on the outside of the window, and it took off for points unknown a few seconds later. Just took this to prove that we have such things flying around outside today. Is Winter over? Can Spring be far away?  Is this because of the dreaded Global Warming? Will we soon have the Bikini Season year-round? I wouldn't be surprised, but it will take a while yet, so don't sell your snowboard or skis just yet.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Eagle has landed......(Not that one - this one!)

This little guy (or girl - not sure!) is lost, and has been crying for its Mommie or its mate all night, and most of the day today. On my 3:00 A.M. bathroom trip I heard it, and that was spooky. Who expects to hear an Eagle in the middle of the night? I hope it's O.K.

A little of this 'n that from Oldest Living Blogger

This is a brewery in the U.K. that has a nice website, and if things like its cute images amuse you, then you'll enjoy it. You can also send a free Christmas ecard to friends, relatives, inlaws, outlaws, or people you don't even like because it's a dandy, and it doesn't cost you a farthing. " What's a farthing, Grandpa?" And the answer is: "There's no such thing now, since the year 1960, when those were withdrawn from use - but when they were a legal coin in Merry Old England, a farthing was worth one-quarter of a penny." Imagine! A quarter of a penny!

Am I the only driver sitting in the gridlock at an intersection where our line is going to make a turn, and I'm looking at the boob in front of me who has the turn signal blazing away in my face and thinking, in time to the flashes, "Idiot! - Idiot! - Idiot!" - What's the point of annoying the hell out of your fellow drivers by flashing your signals in their faces when you're stopped at a light and can't move for two or three minutes? All you're doing by that is wearing out your flashers for nothing, and all those are saying to the rest of us is that here's a driver with his mind in neutral and his I.Q. out to lunch! You don't need a signal until you have somewhere to go and you're able to move.

Anyone remember when you could put a set of tires on your car for a hundred bucks? Multiply that by ten now, Kiddies. And the tires you get for it aren't going to do a whole lot more for you than those 4-for-a-hundred ones did, back in the Fabulous Fifties, when a 1957 Chevy was King of the Road, and my 1957 Ford was the worst Monday Morning Special ever pushed off the assembly line. I've never bought another Ford since, nor do I intend to. How many new cars have you ever had that died on the side of the road with only 308 miles on the odometer? None, I betcha. You lucky rascal, you! I wish I could say that!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Time Marches On - Trampling Everything Underfoot !

This is the latest incarnation of my trusty 30-year-old WaterPik shower, which got put out to pasture yesterday, following another trip to London Drugs, where it came from, all those years ago. This new one looks better, but it doesn't work better than my old one. My old one was the better of the two, but it had worn until it was leaking from inside the head, and dribbling all over besides where you aimed it. But it did such a nice job, I had to buy another one, just because. This doesn't have to last 30 years, because I won't. Now, it's "Shower Time!"

'Tis the season to be jolly......

So if you can't stop, then smile as you go under!

Around midnight, I heard three distinct instances of squealing tires, followed by crashing noises, all within seconds of one another, coming from the nearby section of the four-lane freeway. Minutes later, several emergency vehicles converged on the spot, lights flashing, and began sorting out the mess and removing the injured. The odd thing about it was that the location wasn't on a nasty curve close by, but rather on a short straight stretch beyond it. So if you're driving home from seasonal festivities, please stay alert - the world needs more lerts..... and our compulsory government insurance is expensive enough already without you adding to its costs.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Conspicuous Consumption -

Ever wondered what 'Global Warming' looks like in action? This is our resident billionaire's annual Christmas display, with the 'Star of Bethlehem' shining down benevolently upon his humble abode. Hell's Bells and Little Balls of Fire! That 'humble abode' takes up almost a city block, and those bright lights can be seen on a clear night for about 30 miles in directions where the hills don't interfere. He owns something like 65 companies, and his assets include Frank Sinatra's old hide-out in Palm Springs, and another residence in the Philippines, not to mention the corporate jet and a legion of flunkies hanging on his every word. I can't decide if this display is saying 'Merry Christmas' or 'Buy Now-Pay Later' or 'Up Yours, Peasants!' or all of the above. I wonder if it can be seen from space?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Salvaging old film print

This was in my Pentax film camera for over a year before being developed, and when it was finally processed a couple of weeks ago, it came out very grainy and nothing like it might have been originally. But rather than just throw it out, I tried using an editing program to sample and bucket-fill various areas of it, so the colors would be more even and more consistent. This is the result. It almost looks like a painting. One of those 'paint-by-numbers' ones, perhaps.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Another fast-moving UFO.....

It's a little bit blurry, but they do move very fast. Just lucky I was getting ready to take another picture as it flew by..... talk about your 'covert operations' - this didn't even have lights. But who's going to send them a ticket if we don't even know where they are from.....

Actually, I do know where this one is from. It's from my kitchen's collection of old aluminum pie plates. Two of them stapled together. It's on a string hanging from a vent on my balcony, to chase away pigeons, and there was a wind today so it was moving around nicely. I just snapped its picture, and then edited out the piece of string. And I betcha that's exactly how a lot of those so-called 'real' ones were created too. Now you know how, Kiddies - have fun!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Another panorama for your viewing pleasure....

This is the Mount Seymour Provincial Park and Ski Area on my eastern horizon, which as the crow flies, is about seven or seven and a half miles away, and is the easternmost of our North Shore mountains. Click inside the image for a larger view.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tripods make a difference

This is a stitch of two shots using the Manfrotto tripod, and it does help with stability and sharpness of details during long-zoom shots.

"It's going to be another glorious day in Lotusland"

Want proof? Help yourself.... ( It will make a nice wallpaper!)


Dawn creeps over the hill.....

If you click inside this to enlarge it, you'll see more details in this 7:15 a.m. shot looking toward the Mount Seymour (no relation to Jane!) Ski Area on the far horizon. It's going to be another glorious day in Lotusland. And surprise-surprise my Canon G9 actually captured this without its Image Stabilization malfunctioning like it too-often does. Maybe threatening to take a hammer to it actually helps! It seems to have worked for me. Or was it the missing screw that I replaced on the underside of it? Who knew a Canon camera would start to literally fall apart only 25 or 26 months after leaving its factory? Where the hell were their Quality Control people that day? Would I buy another? Can pigs fly?

So how do YOU spell 'Pentax'? I don't have any trouble with the I.S. in my Pentax X70, and therein lies a hint, Kiddies!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Lights season has begun

Our resident billionaire every year lights up his whole place every evening in December from dusk until midnight, and it can be seen for miles and miles. This being the Christmas Season, we won't go into the subject of conspicuous consumption, because there's an epidemic of it these days.

I have a theory: Away back in the good old days, millennia ago, a shaman and a merchant got together and decided on a 'make-work project' of mutual benefit; they invented what we now call 'Christmas' but back then went by another name, among them in Roman times that of 'Saturnalia', taking place at this time of year because they needed the business. It has evolved over the centuries, and been refined a bit, but its main object remains the same: to separate those gullible unwashed masses from their spendable coin. And it still works the same as ever.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

They're b-a-a-a-c-k !!!

Some good news - always welcome.

I was a little late for my appointment at the cancer center this afternoon, because I stopped along the way at Commercial Electronics, to get a new cartridge for my old Technics turntable, and we got talking among 2 or 3 customers and the staff, about vinyl versus compact discs, and the verdict is that vinyl still rules - it's all in the mixing, they tell me. 

I was also pleased to see they've still got a few very good turntables for sale, and these are good quality, in the $400 to $550 range. And pickups these days start around $50 for the 'cheap & nasty' low end model, up to around $150 for the best quality Grado. I settled on the next-best Grado, at $79 plus tax. It has a nice set of specs, and sounds very good. (I think I'll keep it.)

While sorting out spare parts for the stereo equipment yesterday, I found a new unused pickup for this turntable (P-mount type) and it had a price sticker on the box saying $45, so I had a spare all along and didn't remember it. But the one I got today is supposed to be better than that and better than a Shure M92E, which itself is pretty hard to beat. The Shure is the one I've been using until now on the turntable. This replacement is said to be one step up from that. And the guys at Commercial Electronics still had me in the computer, from 1993. I felt right at home.

I got to the cancer center about ten minutes late, but luckily, the doctor was running a bit behind today too, so it all worked out very well. And the news is good. Looks like my prostate cancer is history. My PSA is down to 1.8, and that's better than most guys my age, and a huge improvement over its 15 from back before the brachytherapy in April. There are angels of mercy in the world, and I was lucky enough to meet one, Thank God.

It's one of those days....Monsoon weather

Monday, November 29, 2010

Those old recordings in my collection....

Now that I'm rediscovering my old record collection which has been quietly gathering dust in the stereo rack for years, it's almost like finding old friends. Looking through that couple of shelves of LPs is like looking back at my life and the music that was being played as the years went by. As a kid, I remember popular music being mostly 'big bands' like Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Wayne King, Benny Goodman, Les brown, and Frankie Carle, and they usually featured a great piano player (like Count Basie, who later got his own orchestra, and ended up in a movie called 'Blazing Saddles' from the ever-radiant Mel Brooks!) along with various combos of brass, woodwinds, and rhythm sections. And back then, people actually held onto each other as they danced - unless it was the Jitterbug. Speaking of that, I've seen recent demonstrations of it on TV, and I'm here to tell you these kids today have no idea what the real thing was all about at all. You had to be there, Kids. You had to feel that beat right in your bones, and move with it wherever it took you, and we didn't rehearse for a week beforehand - we just hauled off and made it up as we went along. Sometimes, the furniture got in the way, but usually no lives were lost.

And who could forget Disco? Valiantly though we tried... Goofy clothes, goofy music, and it being played by the most unlikely music-makers. I'm thinking now of The Armada Orchestra, and a hit from one of their LPs - maybe their only LP - called 'The Hustle'. The Armada Orchestra were actually 30 musicians from the London Symphony Orchestra, and they toured Europe as a dance band during those heady Disco days. The Hustle was a snappy tune, though, and a lot of us liked it. Some of us even liked it enough to buy the record. There's just no accounting for taste!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Found: My old 78 RPM record from the 1930s

Now, all I need is a 78-RPM turntable...... ( Dear Santa: .....)

A shaft of sunlight.....

There's still leaves on some trees

Even at the end of November, we've still got a few trees with leaves on them. Maybe they were late starters, or maybe their internal clocks aren't right, but here's a look at one of them. Everything around it has already lost the leaves.

On TV just now, Mannheim Steamroller is playing Christmas music for some famous skaters performing on ice, and an ad says we should buy their 25th Anniversary edition of a Mannheim Steamroller Christmas. At the moment, I'm listening to their 1984 version of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, and I don't think it gets much better than this. But I'm going to check it out the next time I'm near a store selling music. Actually, this isn't the best time of year for playing Christmas music, because everybody's doing it. Try a hot day in July.... shake up the neighbors! I've got a jazz version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" that's a real mover, and it does that just fine....

And once again this year, all I want for Christmas is the 2nd of January! I got it last year, and I loved it..... I'd like it again!


Friday, November 26, 2010

Strolling down Memory Lane.....

Remember LP records? Remember James Last and his orchestra? Look him up on Wikipedia just for fun - you may be surprised at how many albums he's sold, and his orchestra is still going strong in Europe.

Anyway, I dusted off the old wind-up Victrola the other day, and got it going again.... actually, that's not strictly true - it's a Technics direct-drive Quartz, and it works very well even after all these years. I'm going to treat it to a new pickup cartridge now that I've located a place still selling them here. And that new cartridge is going to cost much more than this turntable did originally, but if I want to preserve my record collection, I have to keep the needle in good shape. Another trick is to always wash off a record with a warm water spray after your remove it from its jacket, and before playing it. That way, you are always playing a clean record, and it lasts much longer. I have some that are 50 years old and still quite playable. But why am I telling you this? You can't buy a 12-inch LP these days anyway, unless you find it in a second-hand store, and those likely won't be in very good condition. So I'm trying to preserve my three or four hundred for a while yet. So far, so good.

Winter's over, at least temporarily

If you didn't get your winter tires installed the other day, because of the rush and the panic, don't worry - be happy! You don't need them now, unless you're planning on going out of town or up the mountain to the skiing and boarding areas. Speaking of which, let me remind you that those all-season tires are not considered adequate winter tires by our law enforcement or motor vehicles department. So forget what they told you when you were buying them - if winter tires are required, and you think your all-seasons will do, you're wrong. Back to the tire shop, Kiddies!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

More winter weather -

This isn't the blizzard of 2010, but it will have to do for now, because the monsoons are scheduled to return by the weekend. Just one thing after another.

An update on my Brachytherapy and its follow-up....

To review, I had a PSA reading of 15.0 and rising just before Brachytherapy on April 13, 2010.  That procedure, by the way, takes about 45 minutes and was less painful and much less messy than a standard prostate biopsy. I had two of those biopsies before being chosen for the Brachytherapy procedure, so I know.

About two months after that, the first follow-up showed a PSA reading of 8.2, which was good, but not really something to write home about. This latest test this week, at about the seven-months-later mark, shows a PSA of 1.8, which is very good. This tells us that the 100+ radioactive pellets (or 'seeds' as they are called) did in fact create the desired radiation cloud around and within the prostate, and that localized constant radiation has killed the cancerous activity in it. 

It being now just past seven months since the 'seeds' were implanted, and those having a half-life of about 90 days, the radiation  level within the prostate is now considerably reduced from its initial level, but its job has effectively been done already, and from now on, it's a matter of the radiation continuing to fade to none, and the body's normal cell activities resuming their usual functions, wherever possible.

I never did "glow in the dark" or set off any electronic security alarms, and that's been a definite disappointment, but I can live with it in view of the rest being such a success. And before I go, let me assure you that I can recommend this to anyone whose tests indicate a suitable candidate for the procedure. So if your urologist is one of those guys who believes in "watch & wait" until your PSA goes through the roof, get him to give you a referral to your local Cancer Clinic and get doing something positive about it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Another invention of mine.....

This building is now 37 years old, and its fixtures are from the early 1970s, and there have been a few advances in lighting technology since then..... including one or two that I've made for myself. All these fixtures were designed to cast their light directly around a room, causing bright spots and dim spots, and glare on any shiny surface you might be trying to look at - like a monitor screen, or the keys on a keyboard. So I grabbed some handy junk, and put together this one which uses the ceiling as a reflector and diffuser. It's basically a plastic bowl, lined with aluminum foil, shiny side up, to bounce the light from two bulbs onto the ceiling, from where it spreads around the room very nicely. Maybe it looks like hell, but it works better than anything that came with the place, and now I don't need an eye shade to keep the glare off my glasses. Works for me!

Let in Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow......

I had to get this today, because it will be warming up and turning to rain by the coming weekend. Our snowflakes are so big out here, it only takes four of them to make a dozen.....

Older Than We Thought -

Would I lie to you ? Are you sure ?

Does your Windows PC need a CPU tune-up? - Probably....

And I have found a nice little program that can do all that automatically for you without you needing to jump into the act hardly ever. It's a freebie for home users, but a buy-it for commercial applications. It installs easily, and it seems to work OK. 

You can find it right here.

How long to keep it in the cupboard/fridge/freezer ?

Here's a set of scans I did of a little household hints book in the section about how long to keep things in the cupboards, or the fridge, or the freezer. For a lot of us, it's a topic we don't often think about, and yet we should - so here's the list, for you to save for yourself......

You should file these somewhere handy, or print them out for reference.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Do these look good, or what?

I took this scan just before I washed them off and put them into a bowl with some vanilla ice cream, and commenced to enjoy them. They were delicious! Look for them in your nearest Safeway store.

Dark Side of the Moon

Pink Floyd, where are you when I need you? And please don't say "1973".....

Meanwhile, back here in The Great White North, the sun is coming over the hill and it's going to be a humdinger of a day. Try to enjoy it, because there's only 32 days left until you-know-when, Kiddies.