Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Inserting Characters

When the folks at Google reconfigured Blogger some time ago, they omitted the ability to insert html codes. Or at least I thought they had.

It's not that I had ever used many codes, but there a few — very few — that I find handy from time to time — such as the em dash that I just used three times.

Being slow of wit, it took me these many months to figure out that I could still insert them by temporarily reverting to the html mode.

It is rather helpful to be able to use a long dash (em dash) for those somewhat parenthetical comments when parentheses don't seem to be quite right. I had resorted to double dashes (--) but never really fancied them. Now, I have finally figured out that I can temporarily go to the html tab to get this by typing — (with the semi colon).

Similarly, I can insert a down arrow by typing ↓ or, similarly, an up arrow ↑ ↑. I find this handy at times when I want to direct people to look up at a photo or down .

One other symbol that I like to be able to insert is the degree sign by typing ° and getting ° as in 10°C/50°F. It certainly isn't necessary, but it pleases me to be able to do it if I want to.

To do this, I go to the top left of the Blogger editing screen to access the html panel.

But the good folk at Google make it hard because the html panel is one big unseparated wall of text in which it is very difficult to find the point where I want to make the insertion. There used to be spaces and line breaks, but no more; it is one formidable-looking block of letters. 

What I have learned to do is copy the surrounding text, CTRL-V, in the compose mode where I want to make the insertion. I then switch to the html panel and then hit CTRL-F (F is for Find) so that I can easily find the exact spot again. This automatically highlights the words that I copied back in compose mode, and I type-in  my little code. Then, I go back to the compose window to continue normal typing. 

For sure, it is a very cumbersome workaround for something that used to be so simple, but at least I now know how to do it if I really really wanna..

↓ ↑ — ° = ↓ ↑ — °

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Book Em Jonno

Yesterday, Shauna was texting us by about 7:30. On her drive into work, she had learned from The News that vaccine appointments in most of the province and certainly in our district were being opened for the 70+ cohort. She checked the provincial booking site, but it hadn't yet been updated. It soon was, however. Yay!

When I got online, there were >3500 people ahead of me already. The line moved quickly, and I was entering my data in about 10 minutes — health card # etc. I didn't have to input very much information.

I was accepted quickly, and soon nailed an appointment for April 12, just two weeks away. They only had Monday slots available in the nearest site to us. I presume the inoculation team (or at least the delivery team) roves from one site to another during the week, and Monday is the local day.

Then, I had to start  the process all over for Sue. By then, April 12 was full, so she was booked a whole week later, April 19. It is only a 10-12 minute drive to the next town, so we don't mind going twice, especially for this reason.

We will be shot with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Unfortunately, we will have to wait 4 months for the second shot. While that is not optimal, I have hope that the date moves up. However, the first jab will still offer a lot of protection, and come May, I will feel freer to get a little closer to Shauna and the kids. Edit: I have just read that the single dose is 80% effective, and you are 90% covered (wrong word?) after the second jab.

This called for a celebration, so you know what we did, right? Yup! One more coffee and breakfast at the park. But we were in fine feather, so we got out of the car for this photo, proving Sue and I are, indeed, birds of a feather. Note: I am the one on the right.

It turns out that we were fortunate to get appointments where and when we did because some of the people who later tried to book were disappointed. No doubt, that isn't the end result for them, just for that particular run. Phew! Glad Shauna was so alert.

We are tickled-pink happy about this. We had thought it would be months away for us, maybe June, but now it is mere weeks.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Sunday Morning Photo Editing

Sunday Morning: I had been planning to read — read some more, that is, after beginning in the wee hours having arisen too doggone early. But after feeding the cat and sitting at my computer while I ate my own breakfast, didn't Lacey commandeer my chair and settle herself down for a little nap. What is a guy to do?

So, I kept fiddling and faddling on the computer and ended up in my August 2011 photo folder. What drew me at first was my thought to convert a photo to b&w as well as bringing out the grit and structure.

Do you know what it is?

Then I noticed a picture of Danica doing a little dance is a ballerina/princess sort of costume. My playing with this photo was do darken the background and brighten her. It is a sweet photo that I think deserved some tender loving care after these many years. Sometimes you take the right photo; sometimes you make the photo right.

Further perusing led me to this next photo of Sue and JJ eating ice cream cones, for which my inclinations now took me to more of a retro and faded matte look.

Then, this one ↓ of JJ, which I wasn't inclined to edit very much because it was already pretty good. I didn't do much more than brighten him a bit, particularly the eyes. I think that it's a pretty good candid portrait.

One day, we took the kids in to Ottawa to visit Mom at work. We were pretty well babysitting full time in those days. Ten years later, it would be frightfully hard to get up early and head to their house almost every weekday. We babysat for quite a few years before both kids headed off to school. Good times though.

I darkened and blurred the background in this ↓ one.

I really enjoyed stepping into these old photos again and putting a little more effort into them. The pictures came fast and furious in those days with not necessarily enough time to appreciate them as much as I could have.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

How to Live a Happy Life

The secret to happiness won't really be much of a secret to those of us in this little blog circle of mostly seniors. We've been around the block, so we know. We now have proof in this Ted Talk. 
The Harvard Study of Adult Development may be the longest study of adult life that's ever been done. For 75 years, we've tracked the lives of 724 men, year after year, asking about their work, their home lives, their health, and of course asking all along the way without knowing how their life stories were going to turn out.

If you are interested but don't want the whys and wherefores of the study, start watching the findings at about 5:40. The whole video is 12:36.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

A Modicum of Colour

As the Brits would say, or at least some whom I have heard, it was chucking it down yesterday. Thursday was super nice but it marked the cessation of our days of unseasonal warmth and sunshine.

On our trail walk, Sue spotted what she thought would make a nice photo, so I gave it a whirl.

I was looking toward the patch of red (above photo). There is also yellow and blue, but the red was far off, and those photos didn't impress me.

My next attempt was just beyond the underpass (which you can also see, above) where the boardwalk makes a turn.

The photo from there turned out fairly well once I cropped and warmed it up somewhat. I put a bit of a filter on the photo. It works well enough at full screen resolution, but it looks too blurry at this size. Nevertheless, I like the large version.

We continued over the swampy portion where I stopped to fire off a few shots, but, as usual. they weren't very interesting.

Back on land on the other side of the boardwalk, I took a few more photos that are adequate IMO, proving that it is sometimes possible to find a bit of colour in March in Canada, especially when the skies are bright and blue.

That is little Grape Island, in both photos. It continues for a short distance on both sides of the overpass which you can glimpse on the photo, below.


Friday, March 26, 2021

The Actual Birthday Day

The never-ending birthday has, in point of fact, finally ended. I was beginning to wonder if we, or at least if I, would make it. I did have one more little gift set aside for morning. Then we did breakfast in the car one more time.

It was another super weather day (probably the last one for awhile), and we could have sat outside if we had thought to load our lawn chairs into the car. Perhaps, our next photo of coffee in the park will actually be in the park. If not the next, then, surely, shortly.

After breakfast, it was too nice to go home. The geese were not in the pond, so we visited an area of the trail that we hadn't walked yet this year.

There is a boardwalk over a swampy section. I have taken pictures from this bridge but never a very good one. Yesterday was no exception. I do have a few others that I will likely post, but I'll save them for now and concentrate on Sue's day rather than my photos.

After arriving back home, Sue received a surprise bouquet from friends before indulging in a pre-dinner glass of wine in her more summery glass. She had just put her winter goblet to the back of the cupboard.

I made supper while Sue consumed her wine. We didn't have a proper dessert because we discovered on the previous evening that the rather expensive pecan pie that I bought was rather horrid. 

Phew! Another March of birthdaying is in the books. I now have a long time to recuperate and recharge before the next one.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Amma and Buppa Play a Virtual Reality Game

Sue's actual birthday has arrived. This morning, we will pick up a breakfast and take it to the park. I shall cook supper tonight — nothing fancy — and that will be it for another year. Phew!

On Sunday, for the party, JJ brought his virtual reality gear, and both Sue and I gave it a go. There were things flying at us, and we had to give them a smack. Perhaps our efforts will amuse you.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Warm March Day and Hot Fries

Not everyone would drive 40k/25mi for french fries,

But when it is a beautiful day in March, and we are celebrating Sue's birthday, and when they are the best fries, and when it is the only chip truck open so early in the season, we would. And did.

Wes' Chips is just a little cabin on the way into Arnprior. It has the remnants of a truck attached to it, but the cabin part is quite tiny.

I am at the back of the line but with 4 workers inside the little cabin, it moves very quickly

The fries come very hot, so we had time to drive to a park overlooking the Ottawa River.

The river still has a lot of ice.

It was warm enough for me to wander about sans coat or jacket.

How unusual and pleasant to spend some time sitting on a bench so early in the year. Of course, the warm weather won't stay, but an unseasonal spell like this sometimes occurs in March, and it is quite wonderful and deeply appreciated when it does happen.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Party Cast of Characters

Some candids from Sue's birthday party.

I posted a few of Sue yesterday, but here is one more. She is holding up the card that I didn't remember to make until late the night before.

I will leave Shauna out of the gallery for privacy reasons, but here's Jonathan. I have converted his and the rest to b&w, which didn't take much work in Danica's case, which I will get to last.

Most of the time and especially with women, we process in a way to smooth flaws and age lines. I took my photo in the opposite direction, just as an experiment. Danica had taken the picture with my camera.

The beard is getting rather wild. It can be trimmed anytime, so I will let it go and grow for now.
Nobody much sees me these days, and I lost my looks about 50 years ago anyway.

The surprise and delight were these next two photos of Danica. She was a bit in shadow, so I deliberately overexposed in camera. I was surprised and delighted by what I later saw on the computer -- two almost monochromatic photos. They weren't b&w, but more like sepia monochrome. Almost all that I did in editing was to convert to b&w and crop them into 8x10 ratios, which I think is a very good format for portraits. There wasn't much additional editing, and the result is pretty close to what came straight out of the camera.

I wish I could claim that I knew what I was doing in those photos, but it was luck, but let me tell you that I love them.

Oh, I do have one more party-goer to show you,  Lola, the very sweet Chocolate Lab.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Sue's Driveway Party

Sue's birthday is not until Thursday, so next weekend would ordinarily be the time to celebrate. But when I looked at the forecast, this weekend was predicted to be much better than next, and it was also Sha's weekend with the kids.

Last year, the pandemic was so new, and as we all attempted to understand it, Sue had to settle for not much more that drive-by type of acknowledgement from the kids. It was touching at the time, but we wanted to do better this year.

With the temperature getting up to a balmy 15C/59F we gathered in the driveway for an outdoor, well-distanced celebration.

Instead of the usual cake, I picked up cinnamon buns from the little shop around the corner: a rather unpopulated shop where I can be in and out in a matter of minutes. We set them up in the table with the blue cloth behind Sue's upraised hand in the above photo. Her cinnamon bun (below) had a special touch.

These things are scrumptiously decadent, possibly the best anywhere

I managed to get one lit long enough to present it, but the breeze quickly put out the flames.

My gift was a new winter hat for the lady, which will not likely be worn until about December. It is something that she wanted but had forgotten that she had even requested it, so it was a fine surprise.

We lucked out with the good weather, which is not something that you can count on in March. It was a quiet but quite wonderful, little event, the kind of thing that we have learned to appreciate in these recent days.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

A Year Later

FB has been reminding me of selfies that we began taking in the early days of the pandemic, like the one below. Evidently, it was cold day, much like it was on Friday when I took those Canada Goose pics of the previous post.

On this specific day, 2020 03 21, Sue and I did one of our car coffees. Looking at my hat with ear flaps down and my coat with a liner, below, apparently, it was quite cold.

A year later we still do the car thing from time to time. This time, we got a burger and onion rings from A&W. To consume it hot, we ate right in the parking lot before heading to our usual spot in the park, where Sue took this photo. Although it was just a burger, the meal was delightful. Little treats are great for the spirits, often better than the big treats. We really enjoyed our lunch in the car, but then A&W is higher up the food chain than some burger joints.

That photo is dark, but it's up now, so it can stay that way.

It was just a little later last year in March that we started the funny pics. As you may recall, we kept this going for quite awhile. This was one of our first funny pics.

Although it was cold at this time last year, this year it is warm. Yesterday, the mercury soared into double digits, reaching 13C/55F. Similar weather or even better is predicted for today, and much of the week will, apparently, be similar.

Now, maybe is a good time to, once again, update the progress of the snow melt by our house. These were the photos, previously posted, from the 12th. You may remember that there had already been much melt by then.

These next photos are from yesterday afternoon, the 20th, just eight days later after a week that had not been especially warm. But the sun is higher and shines longer and the melt continues.

Only a little snow on the shady left remains. I truncated the photo and the snow
because the neighbours were sitting out there.

The late afternoon light flares are provided without extra cost.
I guess I should have gotten the big camera out.

Coming back into the house, I looked on the other side of the snow pile where we have a little garden, I saw one daffodil shoot poking out amongst the litter of fallen leaves. Today, I shall shovel the snow off the bit of the garden that is still covered in case there is any more life stirring under there. I don't think I'll bother with the main pile  that is now well back from the sidewalk but just the bit on the other side from the photo where a little still covers the garden at the edge. It is already thin over on that back side.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Geese Again

The previous goose post was from Wednesday, but when we walked past the pond on Thursday, it was uninhabited. While Sue was doing other things yesterday, Friday, morning, I returned on my own. They were there aquawking away to their hearts' content.

There were no ducks though. Last year, the pond had some exotic, for us, ducks, but there weren't even mallards this time. Hopefully, we'll get some interesting visitors.

The geese were mainly paddling about calmly with little landing and splashing, and I missed capturing what little there was .

It is still nice, however, to get some some of action, and I got some posturing in the next couple of photos.

This, below, was my favourite from the few minutes I was there, with both of them having their heads thrust forward. The gander was particularly on guard, protecting his lady from would-be interlopers. 

I didn't stay long because at -4C/25F with a strong wind, it was mighty nippy. I did have my photo gloves, but I still had to expose two fingertips on each hand, and they got pretty darn cold. However, we are heading into double digits for a few days, which means >50F for those who speak American.

I have another very short video (9 seconds) if you care to see and hear.

Oh, I almost forgot. I was asked if any geese overwinter here. I have seen some in the past, and I expect that has continued, I didn't see any nearby this winter.

Friday, March 19, 2021

The Geese Are Back

The drainage pond around the corner is reemerging, and the geese are returning. The wide angle view makes the pond look bigger than it really is.

It had been frozen until very recently, but a little more ice has been melting daily. The next photo shows the ice better, and also the short video below that pans from the geese to the ice.

They are mostly geese, but there are a few ducks.

Oh ... and the robins are back too, but you'll have to take my word on that for now.