Thursday, October 29, 2009

Squirreling it Away

Those giant sunflowers I posted a while back are now being harvested. We have never cared for the seeds of those monsters and only grow them for their oddity and beauty. The kernels are not well developed, but try to tell this squirrel. Actually, there were two of them for a few days, hanging up side down, plucking a kernel, and then sitting on top cracking it and eating the seed. They were eating non stop for days, and working hard for every mouthful. We are at eye level with them from our deck so it is a great place from which to take a photo. I hope they left a few seeds for the chick-a-dees who usually are the only birds nimble enough to hang on the underside of the flower.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On Losing my Memory

McClure Road westbound,
McClure Road eastbound.
My mother used to love touring show homes, whether in a new sub-division, townhouse complex, or condominium high rise. For her, one of the primary considerations was how much storage space there was. She was not what I would call a pack rat, but she just needed room for her stuff. We all have stuff, and we all need a space to store it. I have seen many homes where the expensive vehicles are parked outside, in the elements, not in the two or three car garage. The reason is, the garage is full of stuff. Fast forward to our technical age and take note of all the electronic gadgets and devices we own and sometimes use. The primary consideration seems to be the amount of storage on the device. I recently purchased a 500 GB external hard drive, simply because the 250 GB hard drive built into my computer was inadequate. Cell phones, digital cameras, iPods, and all the other devices are advertised as to how much stuff you can store. Certainly a tiny memory stick, or HD card will take up much less space than an extra closet in the bedroom, but I am finding that like a stuffed closet, a full memory device is just as difficult to find your stuff in. And just try misplacing that memory card. It is as traumatic as misplacing your three car garage.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Managing Resources

This is a photo of the vine, growing up our chimney, melded onto a paper-like texture, done in Adobe Photo Shop.

I see that the old BC Place Stadium, home of the BC Lions CFL football team is getting a rejuvenation. After a state of the art retractable roof is put on the old structure, it will be a venue for both football and soccer. It seems that the main reason for doing this is that in the summer time, because there is no air-conditioning in there, it becomes sauna hot and uncomfortable for the poor fans. Tsk tsk. All for the mere cost of $458 million. The world has truly gone mad. We are being taxed to death for such things as mass transit and road building, our health care system is in shambles, and our province is running record deficits in its finances. And now all this money for a roof over a 40 year old structure, that already has a roof!! How about building another hospital, or some homeless shelters, or care facilities for the elderly. It seems our love of sports has clouded our thinking on this one.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reflecting Reality

If you expand this photo and look closely, you will see that it is a reflection in water and I have turned the photo up side down. Yes, it was a very calm day.
I waited for a long time for a duck, a goose, a submarine, anything to add interest to the water, but to no avail. In the end, the reflection was good by itself.

A week before this photo was taken, the reflection would have been in the wet mud as the water level was lower here than I had ever seen it.
Paranoia is rampant in the press, the public, and now in the US presidential office. Obama has declared the H1N1 flu pandemic a national emergency. I just read this morning that your chances of dying of this flu are about the same as drowning in your bathtub. I guess it is time to call out the national guard because a lot of us are going to be taking a bath in the next 24 hours.
Fear and paranoia re: terrorist attacks, flu pandemics, global warming, oil shortages, you name it, are all used by the government to gain more power. Quite frankly, it is frightening.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Dare to be different! Our society pushes people to conform. We do not want to 'stick out' but rather blend in, and yet, when we think of the most unforgettable people on our lives, they are the ones who dared to be different. Although every single one of us are unique, there is a standard called normal. It is bland, it is like everyone else, and it is boring. Think of something you can do to today that is not only outside the box, but is extraordinary. And if people look at you funny, wear it as a badge of honour. You are now on your way to being unforgettable, a standout in the crowd.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Aging Can be Beautiful

If you don't think so, just check out these leaves. Just before they die, they give this incredible display of beauty, as if all their life was for this very moment.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


This little two part story speaks for itself. In the first photo, you can see my patient, tolerant, and long suffering wife, Lis, as she waits for her husband to get just the right angle, just the right light, just the right shot. She came for a walk in the park, and ended up sauntering along while I was ga-gaing over the colours and choosing the right lens. When I finally caught up with her, she humoured me and sort of posed for a photo. Note the "he loves me, he loves me not" sort of thing she is doing with that dried leaf. But, she is the best. She stuck with me and never complained once. She just had a birthday and isn't she looking better than ever?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Red October

There is a most stunning view as one crosses Old Yale road at Mitchell St., entering the Heritage Trail to Fish Trap Creek South. There were numerous photographers out that day as one could not take a bad photo with all the eye popping red in the trees. The sun was partially obscured and the temperature was a balmy 17C and I believe we could not have chosen a better time to be out with the Nikon. I am loving my 70 - 200 zoom lens. I prefer the tightly cropped shots to the wide expanses of panoramic photos where there is plenty of material to look at, but all in the far distance. I was aching for an opportunity to try out my new triple coated Sigma polarizing filter but with the mostly flat light, it was not making any impact on the lighting of the photos. I will need a hot tropical vacation, near the equator, to test that piece of equipment to the fullest. That would be reason #17 to go south this winter and I only really needed one.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Chance Meeting

As we were walking the trails, who should we meet but my cousin and his wife. Although we live in the same city and get along famously, we only get together twice a year. He was out for only the second day after a horrendous bout of flu that just about killed him. Yes, it was the swine flu and by his account, I certainly do not want to catch that one. They were a long way from home so I phoned him later in the evening to see if they made it back. He said he was tempted at one point to hi-jack a little old lady in a motorized scooter but his good wife restrained him. He will be working at getting his strength back in the next few days and weeks. He was a big strong guy before the flu so it is no wonder that is killing some people.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Golden Day

We are in mid October and the Autumn colours are at their peak. The rains of the last few days have pounded much of the colour into the ground and I was getting concerned that I would miss the golden opportunity that comes once a year, a photographer's dream. By next week, all could be gone, with only a few straggler leaves remaining, hanging on for dear life, their mates rotting on the ground below. My Nikon has been charged and ready to go at a moments notice. Yesterday was the day, but alas, we had other plans that took priority. Then a phone call in the early morning to say that the plan was put on hold so my chance to go photographing caught new life. Right after lunch, Lis and I hit the trails, the old familiar ones where I knew we would have plenty of colour without the city clutter. I pumped up on pain killers and we walked for hours, 'shooting' everything in sight. Over the next little while I will post some of the results of our tiring, yet exhilarating hunt for red October.

Friday, October 16, 2009

And The Winner Is ...

The new 2010 Canada Winter Olympic medals were unveiled yesterday. Finally, something original and, in my opinion, very attractive. Each medal will be unique, a small part of a larger piece of art, a stylized Orca. The medals, which weigh about 600 grams each, are also unique in the fact that they are not flat, but undulate in gentle waves. I am sure they will be treasured by the finest athletes in the world, not only for what they represent, but also for their beauty.
My only criticism is that once again, we are telling the world that the only Canadian cultural art is native art. It is no wonder the Americans expect to see igloos as soon as they cross the 49th parallel.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

These Colours Will Not Last

Obama's 'Cash for Clunkers' economic recovery plan for the automotive industry in the USA fell flat on its face. He managed to push years of new auto sales into one month, and as a result, auto sales have been down ever since. I am afraid that something similar is going to happen on this side of the border. And this is the problem with government stimulus. It interferes in natural market forces and creates false numbers that are not based in reality, all while the economy is trying to repair itself.
I am talking about the 'Home Owner Renovation Tax Credit'. I have been a direct benefactor of this initiative as my business has thrived ever since it was introduced. I just experienced my second best quarter in the last ten years and this while I am working at less than top speed with a defunct hip. This is all fine and good for as long as it lasts, but come early next year, when it expires, we will see if anyone is still interested in renovating or re-decorating their homes when there is no tax advantage to doing so.
I too have taken advantage of this incentive as I will have spent close to $20,000.00 on my own home. Why are others any different than me when I am thinking that there is no other better time to do this. I will not do anything of the sort next year, and perhaps neither will anyone else. If my numbers will go down next year, so will everyone else's and that means that there will be a downturn in the economy. That is why I do not like these programs. They give false hope, like the markets of today give false hope.
Today, stocks are selling at 27 times earnings when according to where we are at in the so called recovery, they should be around 15 times. I am anticipating a crash very soon. They usually come in October anyways so why not bring it on now. It is inevitable because investors are led to believe we are in a recovery when there are not real numbers to back up that fact.
The gov. stimulus programs dupe us into thinking that all is well, when it is far from it. These colours will not last.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Can See My Breath

"What happened to global warming?" asks a headline at the BBC. Folks in the Rockies are shivering. "Western Montana breaks records," says a report. Missoula reported a low of 8 degrees yesterday...14 degrees lower than the previous record for this early in the season. Nearby Idaho had heavy snow last week too. Same thing in New Zealand, where roads were blocked by heavy snow. In New Zealand, two major North Island highways remain closed after unseasonal heavy snow days stranded motorists for two nights. "Even if this was the middle of winter this is extreme," said an analyst. And right now, it's spring in NZ. They had a spring snowstorm that put their winter snowstorms to shame."Forget global warming," says old friend Jim Davidson. "Get ready for another ice age." Buy Brazil, he advises; the cold will drive down farm output in North America and Europe. As the BBC reports, worldwide temperatures are not increasing; they've been falling for the last 10 years. No one knows why. Global warming enthusiasts say the trend is still towards higher temperatures. Their opponents say the world is actually beginning a major period of cooling - driven by solar activity, not by man-made carbon emissions.Who's right? We get out our mittens and wait to find out.
That was Bill Bonner's take on Global warming today. I might add to that the fact there were 17 low temperature records broken in BC within the last few days. Those of you who have been following my blog for a while now, know that I have been repeating this message for the last number of years and I am sticking to it. It must be awfully embarrassing for people like Al Gore and David Suzuki these days. I believe that one day they will recant, through chattering teeth.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wasn't That a Party!

Thanksgiving Sunday was a very full day but we had a great time. Lis and I were up bright and early to get to church on time to put on the coffee and continental breakfast for 300 t0 400 people. We have a great team and many hands made light work. We really enjoy our turn every month and besides providing a valuable service, we have grown close to our fellow team members while aiding in a vital part of the fellowship of believers in our church. We always go out for lunch after we have cleaned up the kitchen but this time we passed. There was too much to do at home to get ready for the big Thanksgiving dinner in the late afternoon.
We always invite our kids and grand kids, along with my father, for the the big turkey day, but because my dad is in the hospital, we thought it would be fun to have his brother and his wife in his place. Uncle Jack and Aunt Louise are almost 90 but there is little evidence other than their birth certificates, to verify the fact. They are two people who are fun, energetic, and always entertaining. Uncle Jack put on a little magic show for my grandsons, or that was the pretense, because we all enjoyed it tremendously and had many good laughs. Aunt Louise, who still bounces around like a teenager, in spite of a badly pinched nerve giving her leg pain, kept us in stitches with her witty comments and 'over the top' compliments to Chef Lis. Wayne, my sister's husband, was here to get my dad's car and joined in the fun. The stories, many of which were probably exaggerated just a wee bit, were flowing fast and furiously, always accompanied with rounds of laughter and more banter. The food was exquisite, we ate too much, we laughed a lot, and in the midst of it, I was ever so thankful.
* The photo is Nathan and Chad getting into the spirit of fun and frivolity after the magic show.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bridging the Gap

Fish Trap Creek Park Oct 10, 2009

My father continues to languish in the hospital. His move to a care facility should be soon, but we do not know. Nobody seems to know. He is being well cared for where he is, but it is getting tiresome. He has always thrived on routine and not been too adventurous, at least not in his latter years, so he has given in to the dreary schedule of hospital life. Those things that he once managed in his life, I now do for him. I have simplified things somewhat, but I am still feeling like a bridge in the gap. The car issue will be resolved within the next few days and I have cancelled newspapers and cable vision, but still go to check the mail and drop in on his home at least every other day. I am very fortunate that it is only about 8 blocks away from where I live.
We knew 'it' would happen, so we are really appreciating having taken care of 'powers of attorney' and joint bank accounts long ago. Things are quite simple because of the preparations we made many years ago. I am observing and taking notes on what is all transpiring here because I am next. It is inevitable.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bench Warming

I did get out on my bike today, but not in the early morning like I had planned. It was windy and overcast and the light was flat and gray. I had a leisurely morning for a change and then much later in the day, after all the chores and running around were done, I hopped on my mountain bike and cruised around a bit. There is an advantage to doing photography this way. You never have to find a parking spot and you can always get to the best vantage point easily. It was a bit cool though and I had to bundle up a bit. I checked out the International Friendship Garden again after having visited it in the spring. It is as ugly as ever and the only thing I thought that was even slightly photogenic was this bench, tucked away in a warm corner, sheltered from the wind. I softened the image somewhat, to make the bench more welcoming. I like this new style of park bench that is showing up in our local parks, but I think I needed a model to complete the photo.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Missing Blogology

This is what I see every morning right outside my kitchen window, as I am eating my breakfast. A family of birds would certainly make it more interesting. I should put up a 'Vacancy' sign.

I have really missed blogging regularly. There has just been no time. This is my busy time of year and after a days work, an evening out estimating and consulting, back home for some paperwork and crunching numbers for the quotes, I have put in at least a ten to eleven hour day. Add to that a trip to the hospital at least 5 times a week, to visit my father, and you can see that there just is no time to blog.

I think I have discovered a way to get around without hurting my hip. I cannot drive for more that ten minutes at a time, but tonight I experimented with my bike. I have not ridden for a few years, but after going around the block tonight (yes, I wore a helmet) I discovered that it was relatively pain free. My plan is to rise early tomorrow morning, don helmet and camera bag, and cruise around my end of town for some new photos. The leaves are starting to turn and if it is a sunny day, there will be good early morning light and if I am lucky, a bit of early morning fog. But, then again, I might just lay in bed and enjoy not having to get up and go to work. I am actually taking the long weekend off and I cannot miss the once a year opportunities to shoot some fall colours. Last year was spectacular for variety and intensity so we will see if this year is as good. With my new camera and Photoshop, I will make sure it is a good year.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


This photo is not the best quality but I just wanted to show the unique beauty of an Angel Trumpet tree in full bloom. As night falls, you cannot walk past this plant without being overwhelmed by the pleasant fragrance of the bloosoms. I am told the pink variety of this plant is not nearly as aromatic.

The so called economic recovery in the USA is not happening and will not happen for a very long time. Here is simple example of why not and it is about job losses and job gains for the future. It is bleak but makes a lot of sense. It is a quote from "The Daily Reckoning".

Yesterday, we were calculating how long it would take to get the jobless number back down to '90s levels...that is, around 5%. There are now about 131 million jobs in the United States...and about 15 million people who would like a job but can't find one. Meanwhile, population growth adds about 1.5 million new workers every year. That means the economy has to grow at 1% (in real terms) just to stay even with population growth. Currently, the economy is going in the wrong direction - backwards. It's losing jobs...maybe 3 million this year...and maybe another 2 million or so before it finally stabilizes (who knows?)...for a total of 20 million jobs down (about 13% unemployment) by the time unemployment bottoms out. Let's suppose, by some miracle, the economy turns around...and begins growing at 3% per year. That should be about 3 million new jobs per year. Half of those, remember, are just to keep up with population growth. So the other half - 1.5 million - gradually reduce unemployment. Now, let's get out the calculator...20 million divided by 1.5 million equals a little more than 13. By these numbers you can expect full employment again in 2022!

Monday, October 5, 2009


Amaranth in the late afternoon autumn light as seen from our deck.

Coming back from a bit of a break, I do not like to get off on a negative note, but I have had a pet peeve for quite some now and it is bugging me more every day.
Here is how it works. You meet someone on the street and say ''hi". They stare off into space as if you did not exist, although you know they heard you. Then you ask them a question and they totally ignore you, although you know they heard you. Then you phone them and say "hi", ask them the same question and you are met with total silence. You know they are there on the line and that they heard you. So now you write a letter and ask them, again, and request a reply, a phone call, or to meet for a coffee. You know they received and read the letter but did not even acknowledge that you just tried to communicate with them.
Of course this would never happen unless they were a total stranger and they did not know you either. And yet, it happens ALL THE TIME.
I am talking about what I call email etiquette. Why is receiving a personal email any different than the above scenarios? Email is a modern day mode of communication no different that talking in person, phoning, or writing a letter. I am not talking about 'forwards'. Forwards are things you can reply to or not. Often they do not deserve a response, so I do not have a problem with that. And yet I have sent many personal emails to individuals who do not respond in any way shape or form. If I talked to them on the street or phoned them, they would reply, but why not by email? I am sure none of my readers are culprits, and indeed the people who do this are few and far between, but they are out there and they need to learn some manners. It is not like they can anonymously snub the sender. The sender knows who they are. They do it by their lack of response, and it is just plain rude.
Just one minute, you say. Some people do not use their email or do not like sitting at the computer as much as you do. Fine. Then delete your email program and never, ever give out an email address. If you have an email address, you should be checking your email every day, just like you check your 'snail mail box" every day. Check it, read it, respond to it, or get rid of it.
Phew! I feel much better now that I got that off my chest. The only people who will be offended by this post are the ones who have offended me so I guess we are even. Just remember, I still love you. :)

Will the Real Economy Please Step Forward

This little scene in the garden caught my eye as the sun found only enough room to illuminate the leaf and not the blossom.

The spin being put on the economic numbers on both sides of the border continue to puzzle me. I think I know what they are trying to do. If enough consumers are convinced that the recession/depression is over, they will start spending again and the economy will truly recover. But who are they trying to fool. Jobless numbers are up, foreclosures are up, default on credit cards is up, real wages and take home pay are down, and we, the consumer, are trying to save and get out of debt because we got a really good scare when we lost equity in our homes, our jobs were threatened, and our retirement investments went sideways. We will not be frivolously spending our money again any time soon. And we, the consumer, drive 70% of the economy. The few good numbers in the economy are only the result of billions of dollars of stimulus money. When this stops, things bog down again. Take the "Cash for Clunkers" program in the USA. In August, vehicle sales went sky high and the end of the recession was announced. What they were doing was pushing all future car sales into one month. The program stopped and Sept was the worst year ever for car sales. So, you see, public spending is not the answer. In fact, it only exacerbates the problem. Those handouts were tax payers money and that has to be paid back.
As for the up-turn in the markets, we must be extremely cautious here. The price to earnings ratio is at a dangerous level. In other words, those buying stocks are paying unprecedented amounts for the earnings those stocks are achieving. How long can that last? It can't. For those of you who have endured my prognostications on the economy since the crash of one year ago will know, I have been predicting an even bigger fall and it will come when investors in the markets suddenly realize that they are buying a 'pig in a poke'* and they will get out in droves. Those who do not will be very sorry indeed.
The end of the recession/depression will happen when consumers will get back on track with their spending and at the present 8% savings rate in the US, this could take up to 20 years. When we boomers and consumers are certain that our financial house is once again in order, and our savings and equity are at a comfortable place, we will again start spending. But this time it will not be on credit like it was during the 'bubble' that led up to this fall in the first place. So, if that is true, we will not see another 'bubble' for a very long time indeed.
Meanwhile, stay out of debt and keep some cash on hand. Gold would be even better. Just remember, you can't take it with you. :)

*Pig-in-a-poke is an idiom that refers to a confidence trick originating in the Late Middle Ages, when meat was scarce but apparently rats and cats were not.
The scheme entailed the sale of a "suckling pig" in a "poke" (bag). The wriggling bag would actually contain a cat — not particularly prized as a source of meat — that was sold to the victim in an unopened bag. A common colloquial expression in the English language, to "buy a pig in a poke," is to make a risky purchase without inspecting the item beforehand. The phrase can also be applied to accepting an idea or plan without a full understanding of its basis. Similar expressions exist in other languages, most of them meaning to buy a cat in a bag,