Halloween is Around the Corner

With less than ten more sleeps until Halloween, it is hard to believe that it is just around the corner, but that this year the celebration will be on a Friday this 2014, making it even that much more exciting. My work will be all decorated up, and you can only imagine who will be dressing up as what as almost all will be wearing costumes during the day. There are community events as well like the fire works, kids hunted house and the pumpkin carv-a-thon, but for the older kids, the pubs will be the places to go. For me, a corn roast out in a barn just down the road from my place will be my early evening place to be, then off to work for the remainder of the night.

Halloween Bones 01 Weblog Image Oct 21 2014

I cannot wait! Trick or treat…. Bwahhaaahahahaha—-BOO!

The image is a low poly Blender Render using Blender 2.72 Cycles. I just wanted to created something that was scary, but quick and dirty to sculpt.

The Fallen Foliage With a Vengeance

It is well into October and the trees have changed, but compared from last year the trees are slow to drop their leaves this season. You would not notice my first rake-o-thon from last week as more leaves have dropped from the trees covering my driveway and lawn. So more leaves to drop–yay–not. What we have not had yet is a good wind storm. The weather website says that a good wind storm maybe on it way for my neck of the woods starting tomorrow, but as usual, we will wait and see. In the mean time, I take my camera with me as often as I can when the light is good to snap photos of the autumn colour show in the forest. This year does not disappoint.

October Leaf On the Deck - Oct 19 2014 Weblog Image

With the Sun shining for a few hours today, and the warm breeze from the West, I snapped a few photos during the morning, enjoying every minute of it. I do not get to feel the Sun that often–it is a problem working the night shift–so catch the Sun’s rays was just as important as snapping photos of the colourful leaves on the ground.

Le Tour de La O.P.

Friday night, work was packed to the rim with everything they could throw at us, and my name came up to do (what the employees lovingly call) The Tour. This job is perhaps one of the most difficult, and requires the most skills that a labour must have to accomplish it in my crew. Because on the night shift we handle, receive, sort, pack, and unpack, all the stock for the business, the final job of putting stock away that cannot fit onto the floor is done by the Order Picker, or O.P., as it is referred to in our alphabet soup of acronyms. So they call that job The Tour, and once chosen, you are asked to do The Tour.

The machine that is used is called the Order Picker, and looks like a forklift without forks, but has instead a platform on the back it for lifting stock on to. Unlike a forklift, the driver goes up along with the stock so that the items can be placed on the steel shelves up to heights of 4 metres from the floor by hand. The driver wears a fall protection harness, and must load and unload the items by hand, or individual boxes, and then operates the machine to move around up and down the isles, and up and down to reach the shelves.

You must have good driving skills. You must be able to lift and work boxes that can weigh up to several hundred kilograms by hand. You must have no fear of heights. For those who start out doing The Tour, time is a huge factor becuase your window of operation to completion is strict and rigid. You must plan your route out before hand, and the safety procedures are often what can put you behind schedule as you must gate off all areas you are working in, and work also around other teams who are working on the floor as well, plus move obstructions from your path, like abandon pallets and boxes (including other machines).

I completed my first Tour tonight. I sweated like a sieve while on the machine–handling the stock, and up in the air where the heat lingers. When I jumped on the Order Picker everyone was watching me as I manoeuvred through the work areas and sections. Some helped with the gates, while others moved their items from my path, but I quickly knew that I was fast falling behind with the amount of stock that needed to go up on the steel (shelves). It was a huge task. You need to be fast, while being safe, and the physical effort is enormous, to do the job.

I narrowly finished with a little help from the second Order Picker driver who caught the last two sections for me as the day shift started entering the floor. When I undone the harness, and turned off the machine, all night shift crew members had already punched out for the day. When I got to the lunch room, one employee said, ” now you’re one of us! Welcome to the club!”

I am Just Loving the Lower Gas Prices!

I am just loving these latest gas prices this past week. I was shocked last week when all of a sudden prices started falling at the gas pumps, seeing prices like $1.30 per litre was welcomed as my fuel bill was worrying me–effecting my  overall budget–now seeing them fall even further is music to my ears. From the weeks of a $1.50 per litre, my budget was being hammered as I was dealing with low wages, less demand for local goods, higher taxes, and everyone spending less because of all of this. In the short term the extra money saved will benefit, and right now I could care less for “Petrol Loonie” as our foolish governments banked all of their eggs into one basket. Sure, I never voted for the Cons., but no Canadian who voted for them can complain as this is what they got in the end; in the end, Alberta hurts, and the Cons. will have to raise taxes to evoke rounds of Corporate Welfare to bail out their sponsors in the Oil Industry, but that is the price we all will pay. I still do not feel one bit of sympathy for them.

For now, I relish in the thought that energy prices are finally dropping. Even with the lower Loonie the cost of gasoline will keep the scales of my budget ledger well into the black, and I can use that money to pay down on my personal debt created when the whole economy melted away at the start of of this in 2007. I know this will be a blip on the chart overall, but I enjoy the relief as my budget is less taxed.

Sure there is the other side of the argument: the Federal Cons. will either have to cut public programs, or raise taxes to make their promises as oil revenue shrinks, and many people who are making their living off of the natural resources will need to migrate away to other parts of the country that will now experience a boom as a result of the change. Manufacturing should start to flourish again as the Loonie drops, and local economies away from the oil industry should start to shift back to prosperity again in my local economy. But who do I believe when each side claims they are right, as the facts only support their side? My B.S. meter goes into the red every time I hear it.

I was also thinking of the day Thomas Mulcair said Canada could  be suffering from Dutch Disease. Today could be the Litmus Test of that theory, as the stock markets crumble their gains away and fears that the global growth is slower than expected, this could prove once and for all how Canada will stand during the latest changes of economic weather (with its Oil sector). Many outside organisations are starting to see Canada as suffering from Dutch Disease, as much as I hate to admit it, I see it for what it is, this could be true. Please see the links at the end of this post for more information about Dutch Disease, and how the Canadian Government views this label.

I have lived and worked on the side of the economy that has been struggling for so long since the market crash and meltdown of 2007 that when I seen the price drops in gasoline prices, and manufacturing production starting to take off again, I breathed a sigh of relief. This could be the turnaround that we needed to get us back into the game, no thanks to our “One Track” Government. So even if this is a small blip on the charts and graphs, and Oil prices climb up again, at least in the short term my bottom line will be showing black–a nice feeling.

Perhaps too, those hart throbbing oil propaganda commercials will stop spewing out onto our media. That would be nice. But I watch commercial free content anyway. LOL


Added Oct 16, 2014: Analysis – Loonie, oil prices could fall much further: Don Pittis

Canada Has Dutch Disease, Bank Of America Declares

Kelly McParland: NDP needs a new theory as low dollar puts a damper on Dutch Disease

Thomas Mulcair’s Dutch Disease warning supported by OECD report

Wood Buffalo mayor questions NDP leader Thomas Mulcair on use of ‘Dutch disease’

Canada Dutch Disease? OECD Says Yes

Mulcair should drop the ‘Dutch disease’ rhetoric

Walking in Steveston Point Park with that Special Someone

I met up with a very special friend who was on the last leg of her vacation in Southern British Columbia, spending those last two days of it in Richmond. I thought spending the morning and afternoon in Steveston with her would be a great outing as the weather was holding and she was up for a walk in the park. It was great: site seeing, then a seafood lunch, then more site seeing. It was also a great way to explore the city of Richmond.

Steveston Point Oct 12 2014 Weblog Image

Above, the Steveston Memorial that has the names of fishers who lost their lives while making their living on the Pacific Ocean. Below, looking North West towards Vancouver and Richmond, part of the Fraser River delta called Lulu Island.

Pacific Ocean - Steveston - Richmond BC Canada Oct 12 2014 - Weblog Image

It was cloudy as the Sun was just visible, but the warm air made up for it as we walked; not one rain drop fell while we were there. The sea air was awesome too–it sure cleared the sinuses. We did noticed that there were no seagulls flying about too–very odd.

Steveston Harbour October 12 2014 - Weblog Image

It was great time spending it out in the park walking about. So sad that it had to end as we went back to our busy lives. There is always next time. :)


Photographing the Fall Colours of October

Fall is a photographer’s delight in the Northern hemisphere where the leaves change colours and the sky becomes more active with weather, well at least here on the West Coast of British Columbia anyway. Where I live, this time of year means the trees steal the show, and landscape shots are a regular routine outside during the chilly mornings and evenings at those golden hours of the day. Even around the yard at my place, the colours make macro photography even more delightful as a whole new crop of creatures come alive, and those leaves look even more interesting close up.

Leaves on a Fence in Fort langley BC Oct 09 2014 Weblog Image

I wanted the back lit effect on these leaves because they are semitransparent, while really popping out the background with some F2.0 bokhe goodness bathing in the Sun light. The secret here is setting the White balance to “Cloudy” to get that warm colour in the image.

Harry the Creepy Caterpillar On My Walkway - Oct 09 2014 Weblog Image

I call this image “Harry the Creepy Caterpillar,” only becuase he/she left a trail of slime on my walkway, he/she is hairy, and I am leaning to thinking that this guy is a Male one. Again, I used F2.0 to get a really shallow depth of field and it created this miniature effect quite nicely.

I also posted these two images on Twitter if you want to see a slightly larger version of them.

After today, according to the online weather website, this is it for the Sun: we are going back to our regular weather of rainy days. get out and enjoy this weather while it lasts.

No Blood Moon Tonight

There were just too many clouds, and too much fog, to deal with when the lunar eclipse reached totality. I waited anyway just in the off chance that nature would throw me an opportunity to catch a photo of the event, but as the Moon’s position slowly moved towards the horizon the cloud mass grew too thick to see it. So, at best my images were full of haze, and focusing was a big issue becuase of this. So, this was one of the best images I took from all the shots from the night. Not very impressive in my book.

Total Lunar Eclipse Oct 08 2014 - 15 min Before Totality Fort Langley BC Weblog Image

The above shot was taken just ten to fifteen minutes before the lunar eclipse reached totality, around 3:20am local time. The high clouds just obscured everything once the light from the Moon dimmed–I could not even see the red ball in the sky with my eyes, let alone from the camera with exposures of up to 30 seconds. I never bothered to wait for the Moon to reappear from the Earth’s shadow, I just went back inside and watched a movie.

The Tools

I used my Sony Alpha, A77 with a Sigma 28 to 300mm f3.6 – f6.3 telephoto lens. The image was shot at 300mm, on a tripod of course, set at Manual: f11, ISO 100, 5 second exposure. The image was cropped in post production.

Morning Sun Beams

We get a lot of fog this time of year here in Langley Township, and surrounding areas of the Fraser valley, Southern British Columbia. From where I live, very close to the Fraser River, fog is pretty much guaranteed every morning in the fall, especially when the nights are cold and the day will be warm and sunny. Last Saturday was no exception as the Sun burnt off most of the fog, leaving just enough to create this sun-beam effect as it radiated its light through the trees. Catching this on camera has its challenges too.

Sun Beams on October 3rd 2014 Weblog Image

Fog is hard to capture on camera becuase you either get a lot, or not enough becuase you cannot control it, you can only wait as the day progresses and the Sun takes over. So this shot was an opportunity shot, the conditions were great: I had my camera with me (this shot was taken from my driveway). I debated on putting my 14mm lens on for some shots to get the super wide angle shot, but instead settled with a 55mm lens becuase the sun was burning off the fog fast.

A lot of people on Twitter liked this photo, but not surprisingly, fog is cool to look at. Who does not like that sun beam effect as the Sun shines through fog in an image. Here is to many more foggy days to come. Here is to hopping that I never get into an accident from driving in it.

A Moment For The Colours of Autumn

I took a moment yesterday to capture some photos of the changing colours from the trees. I can say autumn is one of the best seasons for capturing exciting colours from around the back yard, and I have several maple trees on the property that look awesome. The down side to all of these colourful falling leaves is someone has to rake them up before the cold weather kicks in.

Fall - Fallen Leaves on October 3rd 2014 Weblog Image

I hate raking.

According to the climate experts, this winter season will be warmer, which means no snow, or less days with it. For me this makes getting out better to shoot photos on when the cold hits. Also on the positive side, with my new job, work will slow down during the winter period, meaning more time for shooting during the winter time. Snow is Okay, but going up into the mountains during the winter time is better, while it is warm at home, and the roads are generally better to travel on. So, looking forward to it.

Going Into October, Where Did the Time Go?

Okay, I got sidetracked…, a lot these last couple of weeks. So much on the go with the new employer, new contracts, and catching up on I.O.U.s, bills and projects that needed that stuff they call money that I never had enough of when I went through my period of unemployment. The new job is slowly filling those money voids. As I was fearing a loss of hours with the new job as we move into the slow season for them, my hours never got cut, and I am pretty sure that I should be steady up until November, so I can relax for the next four weeks. But anyway, yes, it has been busy.

List of Accomplishments for the Last Week of September

Mobile Equipment courses are completed and I will be fully licensed by the end of the week, going into the next. Since I had so much experience with these types of equipment, I went through the “fast-track” program, and was issues passes in the same day on the four basic types of equipment used in my location: Order Picker, Reach-Truck, Electric Pallet-Jack and Counter-Balance Fort-lift. The instructor was pleased that all that was required was just to demonstrate to him that I was proficient , and he gave a week to practice until the final “road tests” on each machine. I will not get any more pay, but this will bolster my hours during the slow season.

I took my First Aid (Level-One) and will move onto my Level Two in about four weeks. This was not done through my current employer, but on my own dime as I will need this for some contract jobs that will be coming up. The First Aid ticket is a nice skill to put on a C.V.

I received my final mark for the programming course I took over the summer. I walk away with an grade of A. Very happy with that. The course was programming in Python. My goal is to code on servers for high-end websites which use security and other types of work-flows that sit on networks.  This course was prefect for the type of work I want to do. I am actually running my own Python scripts here on this weblog, on top of WordPress, so this course really helped me out putting it all together.

Anyway, October is here. Wow…, where did the time go?