To Wreck a View

As the population of humans grows ever more uncontrolled, our encroachment on the habitable land becomes ever more dense. The housing boom here in the Lower Mainland, also known as the Metro Vancouver Area, and Fraser Valley, has not really shown any signs of slowing, even with the global melt-down around us. In my little town, nestled along the banks of the Fraser River, practically in the heart of the Fraser Valley, construction is going at full speed, comparing it to the pre-meltdown of 2007.

Some call this gentrification, while others call it progress, but the one common dominator as I see it is change. In the shimmering backdrop of my front yard I once had the greenery of trees and the mountains. Then as progress crept in, I had a waterfront view of the Fraser River when the brush was cleared for development, and an entire forest and more mountains were revealed. Today, I have a view of a few dozen living room windows facing me, and people creeping me out with their binoculars from within them, on top of this, more low-rise building under construction that are even closer. The result is that ever changing view from nature to human habitation, from space and openness to walls and concrete, it is all artificial now.

Two things are for certain, besides my death, and taxes, that is my inevitable move from Fort Langley, and the peace and enjoyment that I once had here. Both seem to complement each other while offering the final solution to my relationship to Fort Langley in the future. In a matter of months I will no longer have the title as the Fort Langley Blogger.

So for now, I have the ability to capture my views, from the bushes to river water, and to the rooftops of today, I can see them all on digital film. Not as great as the real thing, but I can sit back and reminisce on the once enjoyable views from once upon a time on my porch.

The image is of a worker smearing roofing tar on one of the latest condo buildings in the Bedford Landing development, along with the Golden Ears Mountain in the background, looking Northward from my place.

Why I Think Canadian Retailers Are Losing Out On On-Line Sales

Last week, I really wanted to buy some accessories for my new camera. As usual, I scoured the net to see what my options were; you know, doing some research for what is out there, and where I could get it.  As a rule, I hit my local retailers’ websites first to see what they have in their stock. If I do not see it there locally, then I expand my search and widen the net to include nondomestic sources such as the U.S. and the Asian markets. Sadly, as in this case, I finally bought my accessory from a company down in California, for what was a really great price.

The next day while I was shopping for food, I decided to stop in at one of the electronic stores in Langley City to brows around. To my surprise, I seen the exact item that I had just purchased from off of the internet, sitting there right in the (local) store.  Although I had paid slightly less for it from the California retailer, I was shocked nonetheless to see it sitting there on the store shelf in Langley City (close to where I live).

I asked the salesperson why they did not list this on their website. His reply made about as much sense as Federal Civil Servant justifying spending on why HB pencils are used instead of H2 pencils – it stunned me!

“It’s our policy. We only post certain items, stock items that are on sale, or items that we want to compete with from the other retailers…, we post those on line. And super sale items are also not listed” The sales person said.

I told him that I just bought this particular item from a store in California because I could not find anywhere else.

The salesperson’s reply: “Well, you should have gone down here and looked first. We have carried this item for a very long time. Everyone should know that we do not post all of our stock on line – we just cannot do it.”

I replied, “That is too bad. It is more convenient for me to do online shopping than it is driving around wasting gas and time, plus fighting traffic down town. I guess your company will suffer. It is a shame; you are missing out on a lot of sales. The Internet is just so convenient”

To which the salesperson shrugged his shoulders and walked away.

I guess it is that kind of attitude among local business here in British Columbia that will cause them to suffer further economic losses in the long term. I, as a consumer, will take full advantage of using the net for my shopping needs, and if local retailers are not going to cater to me, then they will lose out on my sales as I seek them further abroad.

I heard on CBC news this morning that Canadians have spent over 30 billion dollars on online shopping this year alone. This must be sending a message out to all local retailers here in Canada if we are buying that much volume? If not, will feel bad for them? No, probably not because they know.

Getting my Camera Workout: The Hike.

Although it was cloudy, yet warming up for a mid December day, I took the camera with me for a little hike over to Brea Island to go ballistic with it, snapping photos of all the neat and interesting things that I could find. For a brief time the Sun came out, which nature gave me about a twenty minute window for some optimum light conditions (that I have been waiting for over three weeks now) then it was back to dull, grey and boring.

So without further ado, here are but a sample of the 142 photos I snapped off today.

These, by the way, are in chronological order, over an one hour hike. I spent more time taking photos than actually doing any serious hiking.

The image above, I was shooting for the contrast between the clouds and fog along the trees. The clouds looked awesome. I know it is hard to see the colours in this tiny image, but I will put it in my photo gallery soon in a larger size.

Above image is a neat photo of the Fraser River completely fogged over, looking at the Bedford Landing housing development from Brea Island. The image below is what I call the “Face in the Sand,” becuase I seen a face when I was taking this shot. The zoom lens, 55-200mm, really took a good shot of this. There was noway I could have taken this shot with a wide angle lens. I did not touch the sand, OK, this is all natural.

Above, the fog rolling in as layers; looking at Bedford Landing, near Fort Langley. Below is a Holly bush. I did not know this, but Holly grows here naturally. Whether the Holly trees were brought here by man, or this is their natural habitat, they are everywhere on this island.

Above, I call these, “Weird Creepy White Berries” becuase they look, well, weird and creepy. I do not know what they really are-I have no idea. I think they look like aged Blue Berries that somehow turned white once the cooler weather took over, but I could be wrong. They are extremely mushy, and they have a bad odour once you touch them.

So there you have it, a sample of my photo shoot along Brea Island today, using my fancy new Sony 55-200mm zoom lens.

ADDED: If you want to see the posted full gallery, 96 out of the 140 photos I took today, go here to: GALLERY 16. Let me know what you think, or tell me which is your favourite photo?

Photographs of My Walk in the Park

These are just but a few of the 84 shots I took today, walking through Mariners Park in Fort Langley. This is your typical December day, as it was cold, foggy, and damp, but surprisingly, not a bad day for shooting some outdoor shots. I really liked it becuase no one else was around to spoil the shots, and there were few boats in the water too. I took advantage of the fog effect nature provided me.

 

 

Civic Election Day and Hard Water

In the freezing air this morning I marched down to the Fort Langley Elementary School, which is the polling station for Fort Langley in the Langley Township, and I cast my ballot. I was happy to see so many out voting with me. There was a line-up! Perhaps a good sign that people are out taking action for their community, rather than sitting at home complaining about their government. It will be interesting to see how the voter turnout numbers are this year?

Cold. Freezing fricking cold out this morning. We have been pampered over the last few years with warmer than average winters, but today it felt like a mid January day, not the Novembers that I am used to.  My neighbour’s water froze last night, and it really did not get warm enough to thaw out the water lines until late in the afternoon. It is days like this that you really appreciate liquid water instead of that cold hard stuff we have outside right now.

My walk to and from the polling station this morning was a good one. I brought the camera with me becuase it was an awesome sunny day, despite the cold it was a completely clear sky. I took several shots around the town, and I really got some good shots too. I have posted them in my photo gallery, which you can see along the right column of this page, or you can go to the “Pages” link and view all the galleries from there – which I recommend.

Fort Langley is growing and changing. Today was a fitting time to ponder what is in store for this little village, with the civic election taking place. Many long time residence are unhappy that the town is growing with new development, but at the same time, their property value are going up, making retirements plans gleam with options. Sadly, with higher property values, come higher property taxes. Voting has never being more critical than today!

One week after Remembrance Day, the poppies still lay at the War Memorial in Fort Langley along Glover Road. I believe that more people have placed their poppies at the Memorial since the ceremony back on the 11th? I saw a young woman walk by the wreaths, and she bowed her head for a moment as she stopped, then walked on. Very touching.

The IGA is coming back! Normally something this big should have its own post on the blog, but I am in a hurry to get this post done, so I am throwing a shot of this afternoons photo-shoot of the vacant IGA lot right now. I will write about this news soon thought, as it has really effect my life, and many others her.Soon, we will have our market back in town. Heck, we will be a town once again! Welcome back IGA! We missed you!

The IGA lot at the corner of Mavis and Glover Road.

A Blend of Rendering and Camera Work

It has been cold out, so I have been staying indoors, both at home and at work. With all this time hiding from the cold, I am spending it with my camera, and using it with the instruction handbook that I never read since I bought it. Also, I have been seriously working with some of the these 3D graphic programs that I had downloaded last month. It has been so nice to get better acquainted with the computer and camera.

The first image came from my new camera. I was taking photos of the Moon, using my 18-55mm lens, that came with it, when a seagull flew by in front of my shot. After looking at it on the monitor, the photo jumped out at me as being a very good image, so I processed it and posted it on Twitter, and now here on the blog. I do not own a telephoto, yet, but when I do get one, I want to do more shooting of far away objects with the camera. I am still drooling over that DSLR, the rang of options are incredible compared to my point and shoots cameras.

The next two images are from the same program I talked about earlier this week, called Wings3D, that renders using Povray. I am just starting to see the cool stuff that I can do with this program. I hate that this software has next to no help files, compressive guides or user manuals with it. There are some YouTube videos, and a very basic PDF files to download, but that is it. You are running it strictly by trial and error; which is sad when I am finding that it is a wonderful program to use, but it is complex and has unusual mouse and menu options.

The end results of working with Wings3D are very cool. I can now see why this is a heavy-duty modeller program. You can take a primitive object, like a sphere, and turn it into a 3D face by stretching and manipulating the mesh. I am still finding some options difficult to figure out, but I am making progress.

So this is what I have been up to when sitting idling by at my computer, or outside, going to and from work while it is still daylight.

I am waiting for the sky (weather) to clear up so that I do some night time photography. One of my primary goals with the DSLR is to take shots of the stars using long exposures and apertures adjustments. I have a 25.5cm reflector telescope, and for it I have purchased a mount to use with my DSLR, so I want to start using it for taking photos of celestial objects.

I cannot wait!

Unpinning Your Poppy

I saw something that I never seen before here in British Columbia, people unpinning their poppies from their jackets and placing them by the wreaths at the cemetery after the Remembrance Day ceremony was finished.  It was not until I started watching the CBC News channel on the television that I saw people in Ottawa and Winnipeg doing this very same thing in their ceremonies.

This is a very interesting and a most fitting way to honour this day because it allows everyone to go up to the memorial and contribute a part of them, the same way the Veterans place their wreaths. Although only a few people were doing it, I can see this becoming part of the ceremonies in the years to come across the country.

 

I will be There to See Them Lay a Wreath of Poppies

Tomorrow is Remembrance’s Day. At 11:00pm, on November 11th, the War Memorial in Fort Langley will be full of people who will stand and offer one minute of silence to those who fought and died in all wars that this country has participated in. Today I thought as to why I should treat tomorrow as a statutory holiday, and why it made me feel guilty. I asked myself some hard questions today.

Should I be happy that I will have time off from work, and use November 11th as a day for myself to rest and relax?

Should I work instead on my own projects becuase my time is consumed with work and academic commitments, and I should take care of those first?

Should I get up, as I normally would on a work day, and join the masses that will walk the five block long route and stand with the few people who will lay wreaths at the cemetery?

On one side of my mind is the selfishness of my life, blending ethics and knowledge of my country, with my hard at work lifestyle and drive to full fill the needs of my career. The competition based lifestyle that says “I” come first becuase no one else will look after me, will try and trump my higher thinking. While on the other side, my deeper consciousness, I know what the reality is of why we Canadians do this every year, and what the importance is of November 11. If we did not, then we would easily forget, as per my excuses at the beginning of this paragraph state, and wars, and those who died in them would be forgotten. It would be all pointless without these ceremonies, and selfishness and regret would fill our lives instead. My mind teeters on these two choices tomorrow.

Yes, I will be there. I will stand for one minute, with everyone else in the rain, to pay remembrance. It is the least that I can do.

Going to the Polls – Civic Election Langley

One would think that there is an election going on with the sudden crop of election signs that just popped up along every roadway and field throughout town. According to my sources on Twitter, and verified on the various webpages that I read, we have one coming up on November 19, 2011, a Saturday. If that was not enough, I have being approached by two friends who have friends of their own who asked if I would help out planting election signs with them. I had to decline becuase of my super busy schedule, but they gave me the “dirt” based on their perspectives and ideologies about the upcoming election, and why it is so important to get the word out and get people to vote.

You need the information about this civic election?

Well, here is a good place to start: Township of Langley Elections.

I am not going to go into a big long spew about why it is so important to vote, and why those who do not vote are saying that democracy has failed us, and that your vote does not matter. Nor am I going to go into the whole morel and ethical reasoning of why living in a democracy is better than living under a dictatorship, or regime. The choice is really yours to make. However, I do encourage everyone who can vote, get out and vote, especially for a civic election.

Why is voting in a civic election so important?

Of all major levels of government, your municipality is going to effect you the most. Everything from business to property tax, your schools, fire departments, policing, street cleaning, (to name but a few) these are huge areas of costs and services, and they effect you directly. Yes, even those who rent are directly effected by how your municipality runs and operates!

So on November 19, 2011, get off your butt, out from your arm chair, and head down to the polling stations to cast your vote(s). Do some research on who you want to run. You will be faced with a number of choices, unlike provincial and federal elections where you pick “one of the above;” civic election you will be choosing a number of candidates to run for a number of seats and boards at once.

Vote!

By the way, I do not represent any of the candidates, or political parties that are running in this civic election for Langley Township.

Halloween 2011

With night-time so early this time of year, the kids did not have long to wait for their time to hit the road and start pillaging the town for treats. Almost as soon as I got home from work I could see parents with their little ones walking the streets in their costumes knocking on doors asking for treats. What struck me this year was the low-key Halloween decorations and lack of the festive atmosphere in Fort Langley that normally takes place. I have some theories.

Fort Langley, in my experience, is a agrarian based society of which Halloween seems extra special becuase it got everyone out to dances, and brought the neighbours together on the cool fall nights that otherwise would keep people inside. The changing face of this little town is that it is going through a growth-spurt, and I believe that this is causing the shift in how people are celebrating this festive time. Farming is almost gone, or, they are now a very small segment of the population. The middle class home-owner now dominates this town, and dances and gatherings are all but a thing of the past now. The down town area is almost void of people, and I see many heading away from town for tonight’s events.

Halloween on a Monday just does not work either. I say make this a statutory holiday! Whose with me?

So this year I was surprised to see only a few establishments showing off their pumpkin carvings, and they seem to have less people than pumpkins inside celebrating. When I say that this town is dead, I mean, very quiet, not zombie dead.

I did not have to walk far to see the latest building development site in town. I live not too far from it, so I can see it every day; I also walked down to it, taking some photos to record the progressing changes in this part of town. Anything on the North side of the tracks people here call Bedford Landing, while everything else on the South side is Fort Langley. But, if you live in Bedford landing, well, then, this is Fort Langley–pure and simple. Again, very little Halloween activity going over there too.

 

So, about the only scariest thing I saw in town were these story-book mushrooms. Why I think they are scary, well, they just are?

So, a boring Halloween in Fort Langley (so far, as the night is still young). And what am I doing this year? Well, I do not know yet. A part of me wants to leave and go partying, but I do have work tomorrow, so a Monday Halloween may mean me staying home watching TV, or something like that. I will think of something, I am sure.

Happy Halloween!