Friday, November 29, 2013

Baker Three

This is Mount Baker from the corner of Taylor and Mt. Lehman Roads. I think I like the middle one the best. The smog shows up a bit with the telephoto lens.

It is not easy to find a good view of this mountain without power lines and trees in the way.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Rate Increase

We here in BC have some of the lowest hydro rates in the world, not only in real terms but relative to wages and salaries. However, because of aging infrastructure and the fact that the government takes a dividend on BC Hydro income (that is why I have tagged this post under 'taxes') a rate hike is inevitable.
The announced increase is 28% over the next five years. BUT, and that is a big but, it is compounded. That is, each year's increase is a percentage of the previous year's rate. Here is what it looks like in reality. If your 'equal payment plan' hydro bill is $60.00 per month, one might think that a 28% increase after 5 years would be $16.80 making it $76.80.
Here is what it will be:
Year 1  9%  of $60 = $9.40      $69.40
Year 2  6% of $69.40= $4.16    $73.56 
  Year 3   4% of $73.56 = $2.94   $76.50   
     Year 4  3.5% of $76.40 = $2.67   $79.07  
     Year 5  3%  of $79.07 = $2.37    $81.44  
Now that 25% increase  over 5 years has become a 36% increase over 5 years. And this morning I heard that there will be continued 3% increases for the five years following these initial five years. In the above example then, the monthly Hydro bill would be, ten years from now, $94.42  a 57% increase.
 Trust a crown corporation, which is an extension of government, to put a spin on it.  And like that spider in my photo, the cost of living keeps creeping up on us. Hydro would like to keep us in the dark as to what the real increase will be. We might all have to keep ourselves in the dark so we can afford the deceit.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Those 'Boomers'

Delays, postponements, cancellations, indecision, medical emergencies, etc., etc. This is the way my whole Autumn has been going for my business. In 38 years I have never had an Autumn with so little work. It is usually my busiest time of year.
I read an economic forecast that shed a bit of light on this situation, which apparently is not uncommon in the building trades of late. It is the 'boomers' they say. Blame it on the 'boomers'. I am a 'boomer' so I guess I can blame myself, and it does help me understand it. Here is the reasoning:  The 'boomers' are reaching retirement age so they are not spending money on their homes because they are also contemplating a downsize in the near future. Why spend money when you are going to sell and you may not get the money back from your fancy renovation. And the younger generation are all in debt up to their eyeballs so they are not spending money on renovations either. So we are in a transition. As soon as the 'boomers' buy their cheap little condos, the older ones with adequate parking and elbow room in the suite, they will spend money on renovating it so they can live in up-dated surroundings until they are ready for the old folks home. That market is already starting as we have been doing a few of these this year. It is what I would consider for our near future too. Meanwhile, there is no work, and it is apparently my fault for having been born when I was.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Going Ape

And yet another old classic that I can stroke off of my list. This story was first published in 1914 and it is no wonder that Edgar Rice Burroughs eventually wrote 24 sequels. The story of castaways on the primitive African Coast is both romantic and adventurous but not too far into the story we can absolutely write off the suggestion by the author that this may be a true story.
Tarzan becomes a true, larger than life, hero as he battles against wild jungle animals and even against those apes that raised him from the time he was one year old. The battle spreads to the cannibalistic natives and eventually to white humans that invade his domain.
But then comes true love in the form of a damsel in distress and the story gets a little weird, but still action packed. Having read Tarzan comics as a kid, I ever did get the whole story and I had no idea that he would end up in Baltimore driving a car while rescuing his woman (Jane) from a forest fire and an unscrupulous suitor. And in the end he does not get the girl but sacrifices a great deal to make her happy. I realised I just spoiled the story for anyone wanting to read this pulp novel, but there you have it. I would be really curious to know if anyone but me would put Tarzan on his list of classic 'must reads'.
It is a relatively quick read and holds the attention of the reader so I will give it at least 3 1/2 stars

Monday, November 25, 2013


I always become rankled when I hear someone defend the CBC as the 'voice of Canada', or 'preserver of Canadian culture'. What I found over the years of listening to CBC, when I have had no other choice, is that the CBC does not speak for all Canadians, even though all Canadians (at least those of us who pay taxes) pay for it.
When we pay over $1billion per year for this monster, we should at least hear something, at least occasionally, that we like or agree with. And those of a strong Liberal bent will hear plenty that will agree with them. And therein lies the problem. They are biased and make no bones about it.
"CBC Exposed" documents many cases of arrogance, bias, fiscal mismanagement, retribution, obfuscation, and elitism. Their arrogance is portrayed in the way they will never admit that they are wrong, and when the evidence is overwhelming, they will go to court and even in their loss of the case, still will never apologise. Using your and my tax dollars, they refuse to pay a $10,000.00 out of court settlement and fight the case for over a million dollars in legal fees and then pay the complainant a million dollar fine. Are you OK with this?
The book documents how anything Conservative is deemed 'the enemy' and must be thwarted or ruined, and they are good at it, having had a lot of experience.
I have no problem with a news media being blatantly conservative, or liberal, but then do not purport to speak for all people and then use all people's money for your big salaries, huge bonuses, and lavish parties and rants against the 'enemy'.
Most people are so used to this type of programming from the CBC that they do even think about it. Watch critically the next time you tune in to the news or an editorial on the CBC and watch for what is reported, what is not reported, and how it is said. Critical thinking is required and when it is used, the obvious is right there in front of you.
A most recent example that is not in the book because it happened only a few days ago, was how Justin Trudeau was handled after telling aboriginal grade school kids that when he forms government he will legalise pot. Dig out the articles by various news outlets and judge for yourself.
3 1/2 stars   

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thar She Blows!

"Call me Ishmael" is the very recognisable opening sentence in this American classic novel 'Moby Dick' or 'The White Whale'. Written in the mid 19th century, this is a ponderous read, but it has its merits. I started reading this book as a kid but grew faint of heart and gave up near the beginning. This time I endured.
To describe this book in a sentence would be to say that it is a documentary on the whaling industry in the 1850's with a little story thrown in between the difficult, but educational parts.
There are very long asides, monologues, poetic metaphors, and philosophical ramblings on everything from classism to the existence of God. The reader will endure these rants just so as to not miss the next little sequel in the story, which is about Captain Ahab of the whaling ship Pequod who is monomaniacal about killing Moby Dick, an extremely large and cunning Sperm Whale with whom he has done battle before. After losing a leg, he becomes obsessed on revenge, even if it kills him.
Learning about the whaling industry and life on a whaling ship is quite interesting. It is surprising how much was known about whales, and how dangerous it was hunting them. We learn, in detail, how to extract the oil and the spermacetti from the whale, and we learn more than you can imagine about the anatomy of both Sperm and Right Whales.
If you read late into the night, you will awake speaking King James English as did the Quaker crew members in the story. If you pay attention and make note of the author's command of the language and his immense vocabulary, you will improve your own. And if you read too much of this story in one day, you will be battling whales in your dreams, as I did.
What is interesting is the vast amount of verbiage used to pursue obscure subjects along the way. For example, while describing the whale's anatomy, and Moby Dick's in particular, the author goes off on a very long tangent talking about the significance of the colour white in mythology, the Bible, and history. Did we really need this? Or do we need to read for twenty pages why the whale does not have a nose? It makes one think that a condensed version of this story would be more palatable.
It is not an easy book to read, but is somewhat rewarding to those who endure to the end. I know a lot about whaling now, but what good that will do me, time will tell. I almost gave up a few times, but am now very satisfied that I did not. But, you see, now this business of being long-winded, as is Herman Melville, the author, has somehow acquired itself to me and I am rambling. Enough.
3 stars for this classic

Thursday, November 21, 2013

And More Birdies

I was doing a consultation with a client this afternoon when I spotted, through a window, a Humming Bird flying around his patio. When I went to our kitchen this morning and looked out the window to our thermometer, I could not believe that it read -8. It did not warm up too much during the day, so what is a Hummingbird doing hanging around here when he could have migrated to Arizona or Texas?
And then another one flew by and alighted on a bird feeder. Soon there were 6 of them, all perched together drinking sugar water and somehow fending off the cold. Given their high rate of metabolism and their high energy output, how on earth do they stay warm in this weather. The clients told me that these Anna's Hummingbirds stay the whole winter, but they up the sugar content in the feeder during these colder months.
Maybe I can learn a lesson from nature and up my sugar content this winter, just to stay warm and help me be more active. There is sugar in chocolate, right?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Watch The Birdie

We have a low hanging light fixture above our front door that had its bulb burn out and I thought I would use an odd bulb that has been kicking around the house forever. It is one of those 'Fat Albert' bulbs that used to be in vogue in the bar type bathroom light fixtures typically mounted above the sink. The problem with the bulb is that it is so fat that I had to leave out one of the amber glass panels on the bottom of the light. It is hardly noticeable except by the chickadees this fall. They tuck themselves up beside the bulb and stay toasty warm as long as the light is on. We often have been startled by the rapid flutter and escape as we step out of our front door.
Last night the escape was into the house instead of out into the yard. The poor frightened little thing frantically fluttered about the house until we finally caught him with a butterfly net and out into the cold night he went. We turned all the lights back on (we were hoping he would fly to the only light that was on, the outdoor light) and found the floor littered with tiny black things which we thought were miniature worms. Upon closer inspection, we discovered that they were feathers, the smallest you could imagine. The poor thing was so stressed out that he was shedding his protective winter coat of down.
We left the light on last night, hoping he would find his way back to a safe warm place. But please, little chickadee, as much as we like you, we would prefer that you fly to the outside next time. With winter coming, you can hardly afford to lose any more of those warmth giving feathers.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Changes Coming?

There are meetings scheduled for December at Meech Lake, starring the provincial finance ministers and their federal counterpart.  The topic is all about how to improve the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP). Of course, there is only one way, and that is for the worker, who will some day be eligible, to pay more for it now. The government should pay more you say? Did you not know that the government only has our money? So be prepared to pay more, to get more.
There is one thing I do not hear in the debate, nor have I read in a lengthy article just last night. It is the predicament of the self-employed person. Someone like myself whose business is a proprietorship, and right now has no employees. I have contributed to CPP virtually all my life and from day one when it was first instituted. For all but five of those years, as a self-employed person, I have contributed double, the employee and the employer portion. It is mandatory. So, now when they call on an increase of say $2000.00 per year for every working person, that translates to a $4000.00 contribution to someone who is self-employed. This is hardly something that most of us can afford. As a tradesman, I am already cutting prices to the bone to stay competitive, yet my overhead continues to rise.
In the coming debate, who will speak for the self-employed?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Shedding a Little Light

I was driving past this entrance to a townhouse complex near our home when my attention was arrested by a red glow. It was not a very bright day, but there was red emanating from this dark driveway as if it were a 'red light district'. Shafts of light in the darkness are photogenic and revealing, as are shafts of light in a situation where there is something unknown lurking.
Case in point. I was at a 60th birthday party for a friend last night and because I am older than him by a few years, I thought I would shed some light on what his future held in terms of aging. Free advice is a service I provide frequently. I suggested that there is little difference between 55 and 60, but when you hit 63, the slide downward takes an accelerated leap forward. This is based on my own experience and was not meant to be a prediction. He was incensed and confided that his last few years were bad enough and thanks for the encouragement.
Good thing there was cake because that was my cue to head straight for it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What To Do

I am still digging through the last of my Autumn photos, but they are really looking too summerish for November. I walked in the cold wind today and was not really dressed warm enough. I thought I would turn back and put on a heavier jacket, but then decided to just buckle down and walked at a very brisk pace. Soon I was over-heating and my jacket was flung open to let the heat escape.

I dare not miss a day of walking my minimum 5K or I begin to feel sluggish and lose my desire to walk again the next day. It is surely getting to the stage with the weather where it would be much easier to sit and enjoy a second cup of coffee on the mornings that I do not work. It would be a slow death.

As we think about downsizing, we are realising that a condo or townhouse with exercise facilities is going to be a must. My own father was blessed with great genetics but we saw him deteriorate due to lack of activity more the usual ravages of old age. I am a fairly disciplined person and also one who is a creature of habit. Getting into the habit of a bit of a workout everyday is a must for general health, but also achieves the goal of having a feeling of well being and creates energy for other tasks. Photography has been an impetus to get me out and about, but come winter, something else will have to motivate me.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


You would think it would get boring walking the same route several times a week. It can be, if one is not observant. The trail at Fish Trap has its moods, changing as the day progresses and as the seasons change.

For example, I noticed two days ago that the Buffleheads and Teals are back, ducks that winter here instead of in their natural summer hangout in northern Canada. I also noticed that the thick covering of Water Lily is subsiding as it dies and is washed away by the heavier rains of Fall.

This favourite thing of mine to photograph also has its moods as the reflections vary, as well as the light and surrounding foliage. Sometimes there is a human on the deck to give the structure scale.

The leaves are all gone now, as is any colour in the park. I still walk there and will all winter. It is quiet and peaceful, I meet and greet friendly people, and there is always something new and interesting to see, if you watch for it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pirates and Treasures

In keeping with my reading trend (Classics) I picked up this free Kindle book and found it thoroughly enjoyable. If I read it as a young lad, I do not remember, but there is a lot of familiar territory here. Most of our modern day ideas of pirates came from this Robert Louis Stevenson book. Peg legs, parrots, buried treasure, rum drinking buccaneers, maps with large red X's and mutiny are all part of the fun in this Pirates of the Caribbean-like story.
Written as an adolescent novel, young Jim Hawkins will certainly capture the imagination of any young boy reading this book. There is plenty of politically incorrect adventure on this journey to find lost treasure on Skeleton Island. "Shiver me timbers."
3 1/2 stars

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Tower Series

I had the pleasure of re-decorating a suite on the 10th floor of Tower One at the Regency Estates. The work was excellent, the customer was the best, and the views were out of this world.

Needless to say, I brought my camera to work a few times.

It was amazing to see the mood change as the light changed and weather systems moved in and out.

And the Autumn colours added to beauty as I looked in every direction.

It was looking rather gloomy in the north, toward Mission, but here the sun was shining.

Early morning, long shadows, the best light.

You can see how the reflection of the sun off the windows of Tower Three are hitting the north facing windows of Tower Two.



I don't think I will ever live here, but I would work or visit here anytime as  long as I could bring my camera. There is an advantage to high-rise living, and it is the view. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking and developing them.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

10 Mini Biographies

The author of this book Warren Wiersbe, has written and edited 150 books so it comes through in this collection that he is a reader and a collector of books. I found that although each mini biography was interesting, it was but a platform for recommendations of additional books on the subject. It also felt like it was geared more for those in ministry leadership as it concentrated a lot on style and preaching ability in almost all cases. The 10 people, in order, are: Matthew Henry 1662-1712, Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758, John Henry Newman 1801-1890, J.B. Lightfoot 1828-1889, J. Hudson Taylor 1832-1905, Charles H. Spurgeon 1834-1892, Dwight L. Moody 1837-1899, Amy Carmichael 1867-1951, Oswald Chambers 1874- 1971, and A.W. Tozer 1897-1963.
I found the book overall interesting and it did whet my appetite for following up on some additional reading on a few of these spiritual giants.
I would be curious to see who would make it onto  a modern list, according to Wiersbe. Maybe one only becomes a giant after one's demise.
3 1/2 stars   

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Once Upon a Time

Having just read "Uncle Tom's Cabin", I slammed on the brakes as I drove past this scene the other day and backed up the hill to get this shot. It looks kinda' dreamy.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Rotary Park

This series of photos is from a few weeks back. The trees are now bare, but back then they were quite spectacular. Just a short jaunt around the west side of Rotary Park yields some interesting tree photos. Above, Twisters Gym rood showing beside a Maple Tree.

The drive down to the parking lot by the stadium.

Alongside Tretheway Street there is an old threshing machine display.

Very near the pedestrian tunnel that crosses under Trethewey Street.

An old hay rake near the threshing machine.

The view of Mt. Baker as seen from the parking lot north of the stadium.