Thursday, November 29, 2018

still not making this up

I'm glad you seemed to like my i am not making this up post, but I have an addendum.

I did find or think I found a adapter for my ring flash. It can be had via eBay from Illinois. Or so I thought.

I do have the tendency to not read the fine print. You see I thought it was coming from Illinois, but somehow, eBay decided that that should be my shipping address. Quite a mistake for a guy who lives in a whole different country.

In point of fact, it must come from China, so I notified them and asked if they could change the shipping address. Nope. Not possible. But they could cancel that order.

It's been days, and I haven't yet summoned the gumption to try again. I guess I have been rather hoping that the Canadian website of this company would begin to actually, you know, function properly. But after days, their contact page still doesn't actually contact, and there appears to be no other method. Click their email link, and it just reverts to that dead-end contact page. And round and round we go.

In the meantime, I have also tried to track said item closer to home via Amazon but without success (does this surprise anybody anymore?), so I will likely go through the rigmarole of  re-ordering it from China. But once I do, it will be put on a very slow boat and will more than likely take a month or two to get here. On top of that, Canada Post has been under rotating strikes, so who knows how that will play into the the actual delivery date?

PS: Now ordered. Might be delivered by the end of February. I still had to make sure to change my default shipping address from Marion Somebody in Illinois Somewhere to Me, Here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

When Memory is a Traitor

We have heard it said how memory is unreliable: that our memories, as real as they are to us, are distorted to greater or lesser degrees. I do have some pretty vivid memories that I think are close to what actually occurred, but of course, I can't guarantee that.

Sue and I recently re-watched The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, and I was shocked about what a traitor my memory was. (That's a not-so-clever reference to one of the Lynley episodes (tv) or books: A Traitor to Memory.)

Elizabeth George began the Lynley series way back in 1988 with A Great Deliverance. I probably read it close to that time, so I've been reading Lynley for 30 years now. The most recent novel, her twentieth, The Punishment She Deserves, was published earlier this year.

Then, beginning in 2001 and continuing into 2008, BBC broadcast 20 tv episodes. The first few series were based on George's books, but for later episodes, new tv scripts were written.

At the time, I didn't love the tv series for a few reasons. For one thing, the characters weren't true enough to the books. They did try, but the main problem was miscasting. Neither Lynley, Havers, nor Helen Clyde fit my images (or Sue's), and Nkata, a later character, sure didn't either. For another thing, I thought the quality of the stories in the tv versions was quite poor. Finally, I thought ... well let's leave that for a moment.

Upon re-watching, I enjoyed the tv series quite a bit. I got over the casting choices and found that the series, in general, was better than I had thought. So, my memory wasn't too good on that score.

But my memory was horrible, just totally wrong with regards to Lynley's wife, Helen. She was played by two characters* as the original Helen left the show partway through and was later replaced by a new actor.

Well, many series have done that, so that wasn't my main problem. You see, I had thought that both Helens got shot, and they did. But in my memory, they had both been killed. I was wrong. They were both shot, but the first Helen wasn't killed, only wounded.

Then I thought that the second Helen had been shot and killed quite deliberately, actually assassinated, outside her doorstep. In fact, I had an almost crystal clear picture in my mind. Wrong. Very wrong. She was shot getting in the way of a bullet meant for someone else and in a totally different location.

I was shocked to realize that the vivid picture in my head had come from the books. It was so strong that I would have almost sworn that I had seen it just like that on video. I was not remotely close. (And by the way, just in passing, and this should have clued me in, the scene in my head also featured the image of Helen that I had constructed from the books.)

This astounds me. Not that my memory was off but that it was so off, so completely off.

I think this is a good example of just how unreliable our memories can be. As I have already written, I am astounded by how totally wrong my recollection was.

I am going to end it there and just leave a passing note about the danger of courts relying on eye-witness testimony, but that is another topic for another day, and not one likely to be picked up by me.

*In point of fact, there were three Helens in the series, but the first had only a fleeting part in the pilot episode.

Monday, November 26, 2018

i am not making this up

Too often, my life is like a Monopoly game — a bad Monopoly game.

To understand what I am getting at, permit me to describe my Monopoly games with Sue and the kids over this past year (note: these are the only games that I have played in just about forever). I think there have been five games, four anyway, and each has gone the same way.

In the last game, for example, on my first throw of the die, I landed on Chance. I picked up the card and had to pay out. I landed on a few more during the game, or perhaps on Community Chest, with the same results. There are more good cards than bad cards both of these stacks, but almost always, the other players get those good cards, and I get the bad ones. Some cards send people to jail, and I get those too. I also land disproportionately on the Go Directly To Jail square. I am not making this up.

I approach Go with the possibility of picking up $200, but once again, I disproportionately land on either the Luxury Tax or Income Tax, if not both. I am not making this up.

There are both owned and un-owned properties up ahead. You can guess where my roll of the die takes me. But when someone approaches my property, they get a good roll and avoid it. I am not making this up.

I am effectively out of the game in short order with whatever property that I do own, likely mortgaged to pay off my debts. I am not making this up.

Onto my real life. I am not going to dwell on the past but just get into the recent event that triggered this post.

.... um ... changed my mind to describe just one event from the past although it takes place in two parts.

When I was a young lad in Scouts, there was a camping trip planned for one weekend. I loaded my stuff onto the city bus to get to the rendezvous point from which we would be driven to camp. The bus trip had taken the best part of an hour, but I was looking forward to the weekend and took the trip in stride. When I got there, in plenty of time I might add, I was the lone prospective camper. The weekend had been cancelled. Everyone had been notified but not poor John. I am not making this up.

At some later point, they planned a new weekend. I wasn't notified about that either. Nope, not poor John. Everybody else went, but I was forced to stay home. I am not making this up.

Onto the present and the occurrence that gives rise to this post.

I asked for a ring flash for macro photography for my birthday in September. My plan was to use it for indoor winter photography when outdoor opportunities were limited. Therefore, I hadn't used it and had barely even looked at it until now.

But even though it's still November, we have been experiencing weather that is more January-like, and Eastern Ontario has been setting multiple snowfall and cold records. I am not making this up either. Since winter is happening early, I decided to get out the flash over the weekend, which was somewhat earlier that I had previously intended.

Background to a ring flash. It's a circular flash that attaches to the end of the lens. Like this ↓. 

The flash is attached to the lens via a screw-in adapter. I received four such adapters, for difference size lenses. Guess what? You already know, don't you? None of the adapter rings fits my macro lens. I am definitely not making this up.

I don't think the company makes any other adapter rings, or they would have included them. But in some desperation, I thought I would contact then anyway. They have a handy-dandy contact form on their website. I have tried it more than once. It doesn't work. I wish I were making this up.

This is the way it goes for me. The flash was a gift, and I have no invoice. Besides, it's months later anyway. So it is what it is. 

Fortunately, this was not a very expensive unit although it did cost well over $100. Still that's better than the multiple hundreds of dollars that we could have paid. But I wanted keep the cost down while I tried to determine if I would like this sort of photography. Fortunately, I still can use the flash to some degree, for I can handhold the flash as best I can as I experiment with it this winter. If I think that I want to do more flash-enabled macro photography in future, I can invest in a pricier unit in due course.

I swear that I have not made any of this up. I have not embellished for the sake of the narrative. I don't have to embellish because this is the way that life has often gone for me. But please don't see this as a pity party because many good things have happened too. For example, there's ...

Thursday, November 22, 2018

On Free Will

Do you ever think about free will? I have and do. Like the segment of NPR's This American Life that I am linking later in this post, I have come to the conclusion that we don't have free will in the way that people mean that we do.

Most of us think that we could have chosen otherwise when it came to some sort of decision that we have made. But I think if we're being honest, we would have to admit that if we could somehow put ourselves back in the same place and time in exactly the same circumstances, that we would make the exact same choice each and every time.

I've thought about it a lot and have come to the conclusion that all that we think and do comes as a result of how our biological inputs interact with our social inputs: the social inputs being our family and education and so on. We are like computers in a sense. We come into this world with our hardware, and software is grafted onto the hardware or into us. It is our unique combination of hardware and software cause us to make the decisions that we do.

I am quite willing to grant that I have free will in the limited sense that I have a will and that to a certain degree I am free to use it. But I don't have free will in the sense that I could have made different choices than I have.

I don't think I have a true choice in writing this post. No, in the past I have come across material that I have found interesting and ultimately convincing. I did not choose to be convinced; I just was. So, I have thought about it quite a lot, and then when I came across this NPR clip, it was perfect to share at this time: not so long (14 minutes) to dissuade one from clicking if one were so inclined. I mean, in all likelihood, neither you nor I would have clicked on an hour long post or read the 500+ page book mentioned in the piece, but we might click on a short piece if the circumstances are right.

I know when I talk about it and when anyone talks about it, it sounds as though we are making choices to click or not. And we are, but I don't believe that they are true free will choices. Our neurons, cells and chemicals do not have a will, and it is they which cause us to do what it is that we do.

Anyway, for those whose interest is stirred, here is the link. But I know it is likely too busy a time for you to click on this holiday weekend. Either way, it will seem like a free will choice. But I don't think it is; like me, you have the innate interest and the time, or you lack one or the other or both. Neither you not I can help it whatever might be our particular case.

NPR This American Life link:

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Tradition Continues

Waaay waaay back ... in the early 80s I think, we (as in Sue) started the tradition of having the family, plus friends sometimes, over for the decorating of our Christmas tree. It began once my parents moved to our town, and we could be home for Christmas instead of travelling hither and thither.

More than three decades later, it is still a family tradition, now held at my daughter's, Shauna's, place.

We did it pretty early this year because they are at their Dad's next weekend, plus JJ will be in the town's Christmas parade. With the weekend after that already in scheduling conflict, this weekend was seen to be the right time.

We began with the topping for the tree, but the bells didn't quite fit properly, so we used a bow.

Then ribbon was wrapped all around. It was passed from Sue to Danica and around to JJ, who being the littlest, filled the tight space near the wall.

Then, the hanging of the ornaments.

I put down the camera long enough to contribute a few pieces because that is also a tradition. My dad used to sit and watch the event from afar, but he would be persuaded to hang a decoration near the end.

I am hanging a ball that my mother smocked many years ago. She would do two identical balls every year for many years. One went to us at the time, but they were meant to pass on to her granddaughters some day. Shauna has my mother's set now, but we still hold on to the other one.

I had a bit of a sentimental moment doing this, thinking of the love and care that my mother put into smocking these Christmas balls. She's been gone for 15 years now, but she is still with us in some ways.

Just for effect I deliberately threw the camera out of focus for this shot.

And isn't this photo of Danica wearing ornaments as earrings just the best?


Time for dinner. Sometimes we just do snacky things — hor d'oeuvres as it were. But this year, I made a veggie lasagna. The kids are picky eaters, so it wasn't their favourite, but I'm glad i meade the effort regardless.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

First Major Snow, Part II

I did go out sometime after that initial post (yesterday). My object was to try to catch the snow on the tamaracks (aka larches) trying to get the white snow on the yellow branches before the needles fell, tamaracks being coniferous trees that turn yellow and then drop their needles. I decided to take my compact camera because it is small enough to fit in my pocket when wet snow is falling.

I wasn't about to drive without snow tires, not even just around the corner. In truth, I might have declined even with snow tires.

So, I started the trudge. The sidewalks had been plowed. But some people did leave obstructing piles from shovelling their driveways. The one in this photo ↓ isn't too bad, but it was enough to bother me, and other driveways were worse. People can be thoughtless.

So, I switched to the road. It still wasn't easy, especially with my bad foot, but I managed.

As it turned out the tamaracks were a bit disappointing. While this one ↓ wasn't bad, it wasn't great, and it was the best one out of maybe the half dozen in the park.

This one was almost bare. Meh.

Deeper in the park, I spied some firs that were holding a lot of snow, so I broke a trail toward them. But it was rather tough going for the old man and his foot.

The trees were kind of nice and worth the effort, I guess.

I decided to walk even closer ...

... which led to this close-up, but I guess it was hardly worth the extra trudge.

Then it was time to turn around and head toward home, at which time some lower body parts began bothering me from the necessary lifting of the legs to get through the snow. This wasn't all bad as it helped to take my mind off my poor foot.

I had neglected to take my phone. If I had had a health issue, I could have been stranded for quite some time as the park was deserted. I do pretty good at remembering the phone when I head out with the car. Now, I must remember it for walks too.

Friday, November 16, 2018

First Major Snow

We are having quite a start to winter, and it isn't even winter yet. Well, it is, but not officially if you know what I mean.

In the past two days, we have set record low temperatures — for those days, that is. We have had four snowfalls already, this overnight one being a major one, and it's still snowing. It's major enough to cancel all of the school buses in the region. It's just mid-November, and this isn't usual, at least not in our 13 prior winters in the area.

I did snap a few pictures from my den window as I do once or twice each winter. I may trudge out through the snow later to try a few others. But I don't have my snow tires on yet, so I will stick close to home, at least for the morning.

This ↓ is our across-the-street neighbour maneuvering out of his driveway. The plows had left a pile of snow in front of his, so he smartly exited from his adjacent neighbour's cleared driveway. The thing is that he has paid for snow removal and they promised to come by 7AM. This was taken at 8AM. The other thing is that we have hired the same contractor. It could be a long winter.

Once he had one car out, he began to work on the other. He spotted me peeping, and we waved, but I have already deleted that photo and can't be bothered to retrieve it although I could.

Our adjacent neighbours also have two cars, and I was able to sneak some pictures of them too.

Meanwhile, I'll wait for our contractor: not that I'm planning on going anywhere soon, but I really just want people to do what they say they are going to do.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Remembrance Day Clips

I didn't go to the Remembrance Day Ceremony with the intention of shooting video, but sometimes it seems like the right thing to do, so I ended up capturing some clips.

There are hymns, laying of wreaths, calling of names of the dead, and a bit of the march out, all from not a terrific vantage point. At about 23 seconds in, I couldn't stop from shaking the camera when the gun went off, even though I was expecting it. Strangely enough, the gun isn't loud in the video, but it was really horrendously loud.

Then at 5PM we gathered back for the 100 Bells ceremony. All across the land, church bells rang — 100 bells, 1 for each year since the original bell ringing to celebrate the end of the war to end all wars. Sadly, it didn't.

One attendee was 105 years old and remembers her father taking her to hear the ringing of the bells 100 years ago. How stirring is that?!

Sometimes, in Canada, we get things right. This was one of those times.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Lest We Forget

I was disappointed on Remembrance Eve. I had wanted to take some photos of the cadet's vigil at the cenotaph like I did last year. But alas, it was even colder and windier that last year, if that's possible, and so I let the notion die.

But Remembrance Day itself was calm and sunny, cold but still appealing. So, off we went to stand in the cold and honour the soldiers of the past, and even of the present, by showing up.

Veterans, soldiers and cadets marched in.

Hymns were played, wreaths were laid, and names of the fallen were read.

We will remember.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

A Surprise Request

I was surprised when I was contacted on FB regarding a photo that I had posted in June 2017. She wanted a copy for someone who is retiring from townhall.

It took me awhile to find the photo that she described in words (although she later send me a link). I wonder how she found a photo from more than a year ago because things do get buried both quickly and deeply on FB.

When I found it, I realized how much I liked it at the time both in terms of light and composition. I had never printed it because of the  work area at the back. It's difficult to see at this resolution, but it's there. But I printed it for her.

It was only after printing that I decided to have a go at photoshopping away the netting. I think this will look better on a larger print.

I had another image from that very nice summer evening, which I also photoshopped in the same way ... and ... oops ... I just noticed that I didn't remove the netting in the reflection. Must go and do that now, but I'll leave it here as is.

I have now made a mental note of both images and will likely print and display them at one or both of my little display areas in town. I try, for the most part, to feature local photos in these places, so these will fit the bill as it were.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Successful Photos

Phew! I am finally up to date and posting in real time. Well almost real time as I am typing on Monday for posting on Tuesday. But at least there is no longer a time-lag of a week or more.

What I thought I would do is to post from Flickr, some of my most successful recent photos. These are the ones that somebody, official to Flickr, somehow noticed and featured in a section called Explore. These are not always my particular favourites or even what I consider to be my best photos but ones that get noticed for some reason or other and, therefore, make the list as it were.

My most recent, just from this past Sunday, is this blue jay photo that I earlier posted here in Blogger. It has more than 6 300 views as I type this. It will get more (> 13 000 as I check in before posting this on Tuesday morning), but it will not be one of my most viewed. (BTW, when my photos don't make it to Explore, I only usually get 100 - 200 views. I seldom post to groups, so I'm not sure how I even get this many views for a normal posting.)

(I am linking right from Flickr, so these are higher resolution images than I usually post here are available it you wish to do some clicking. You should be able to click the photo to go to Flickr, and if that doesn't work, I have also posted direct links below each photo as well as in the description. It's not that I expect anyone to actually do this, but it's for the record.)

Aren't I Pretty?

Prior to the blue jay, this one of Linda doing a lip sync garnered almost 85 500 views. Linda ran for town council and was successful in our election just a few weeks ago.

I was surprised by this one from Eagle's Nest, Calabogie. I took it last year but just posted it this year as autumn began. It had almost 53 500 views.

Finally for now, although I might make another post like this, is this one of JJ playing hockey. It was one of his first games three years ago, and as this years hockey season was about to begin, I finally posted it. I like the way that he is at the apex of the triangle (or V). It only received a little over 4 000 views.

I'll see how this actually views and links when it posts to decide if I will do any more like this.

Monday, November 05, 2018

First Snow Leaves

I did say that for the first snow I had hoped to find some snow on leaves to use for macros — proper macros, I mean, with a macro lens and maybe also with a tripod in my garage, out of the wind.

As I've already mentioned, that wasn't about to happen, but along with shooting some winter scenes in the park, I did get a few close-ups.

Another car had parked here, so these fallen leaves weren't completely covered, which is what I had wanted.

As I walked through the park, I also took a few photos of leaves on branches.

And that was the first snowfall, and likely the last of any significance anyway, for awhile.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

The First Snowfall

This is getting ridiculous. I have so many posts in the queue that I am writing this on one Sunday to be posted on the next Sunday. However, there will likely be many days in the upcoming bleak months when there is nothing much to exult over.

But, after posting autumn shots in the park just two days ago (in the readers' chronology anyway), winter happened.

The weather gurus had forecast snow, and I had been expecting a light covering, but we received quite a dumping — in October terms anyway.

So ... I jettisoned my plans to look for lightly snow-tinged leaves for macro photos because they were well buried as you might guess from this shot ↓ of our car in the driveway. Keep in mind that I had already cleared most of the front and all of the windshield.

I don't like to get my snow tires installed until mid to late November because I don't prefer how they ride (noise mostly), but I decided to head out anyway. I drove back to the park where I had taken photos just two days previously.

And ... it was quite wonderful.

With some colour remaining in an otherwise snow scene ... well, I quite liked what I was seeing.

So here are the photos, once again, more than is ideal (IMO) to show, but I have already culled.

That was fun. The next snowfall will not be colourful, I'm afraid.