Bring it!

Oh ya, it’s hot outside. I think Mother nature has set the Sun to “Broil” (praise nature). It feels great…, no, it feels awesome! I think I have completely unthawed from winter now. I have a fan blowing out hot air by my front door, all my windows are opened, and my sky vent it set to “maximum suck,” blowing the hot air out from the roof. It seems to be striking that right balance of cool to warm air inside. I think we are in summer mode now!

I forgot that I left some candles in their holders from the last power outage we had back in mid-April. I noticed something odd when I looked on my counter. Something wast not right. Then it hit me–all of my candles were drooping down to the table. I looked at my “inside thermometer,” and it said, thirty-seven Celsius. It was a bit warm inside when I got back from my short drive out in the country this morning.

So, the long weekend is half done now. So far, each evening, I head of for a short drive, catching the scenery lit by the setting Sun. So beautiful. I headed down to “Two Bit Bar” in Glen Valley, along the Fraser River today. The river was high, and there was no one around–very peaceful for a walk in the park. Below is what I think is the perfect image that captures my general feeling so far this year. Yeah, I know, the chain and the post, so symbolic with so many metaphors. But look at the green, with the setting sunlight, and the shadows cast by the chain–there is my story.

With only a few hours of light left, and still cooling down my home, I think I will spend the rest of the day out on my patio looking at the trees, the sky and maybe finish off my current book I am reading. Happy Victoria Day, from Glen Valley, British Columbia!

Second Try: Got it!

As per my May 12, 2017 post, I have been trying character animation in Blender, where I can create a human looking mesh, and make it move in a video. I have been experimenting and learning how to do the rigging and animation, and so far, I am getting it. I mean, I have figured out the basics, such as creating the armature, or bones structure, as they are called, and creating a good mesh to parent to the armature, but now it is the actual creation process that has bogged me down. So many ideas, and so little time to do them with. I mean, rendering out a thirty second video on my machine in Blender Cycles mode, takes about two to three hours. Patients is what I lack now, as I move forward in this newly discovered art form.

But I have to admit, this walk cycle animation is really good in my opinion, although I see room for improvement if I want to master this. Not bad for my second try! And I think I got the motion just right too.

Of course I am only animating legs and body. I want to start off simple, then work my way up to more complex characters later on. I also switched render modes to, using the old Blender Render settings as they are a lot faster to render out, but not as nice to look at as Cycles Render is. On my machine, it takes about two minutes to render out the same thirty second video as it did from using Cycles.

The rigging and mesh only took me about half hour to make from scratch, and the above jif animation took about an hour to create on my P.C. at home. The walk cycle is 20 frames in this one. Yes, I am excited!

First Try: When You Learn From Your Mistakes

I laughed when I first rendered this. I was trying to create a simple 3D walk cycle animation, re-learning the ropes becuase it had been so long since I played with animating moving objects. When this spewed out, I thought I had created a good animation, but when ran it, it quickly became apparent that I needed to do a lot more work with it. But then I thought, maybe I did succeed with this result, and I was closer to a polished animation than I could have been if I was learning this for the first time. Nonetheless, I am posting this becuase it is funny to watch.

Oh, before you read this, unless you have some knowledge of using 3D software, like Blender, this maybe a pointless post to read. If you are remotely interested, then why not check out the Blender website. Blender is free, and is open source, and works on all major platforms.

The first problem that I saw, even though I was using the Inverse Kinematics Constraint, I made the legs straight. Having that natural bend in the legs would have prevented the way the knees seem to buckle backwards each time each leg moved upwards.

The second issue I see, I should have added more leg meshes (or blocks), so I would have had a dedicated knee mesh–something that would pivot while the leg and thigh moved independently.  If I had five blocks in each leg, then I think the armature (or skeleton) would have worked right the first time. This ties with having a natural bend in each leg. In this case, I kept the legs straight in Pose Mode, so Blender assumed that the knees would work forward or backwards.

Still, I made this in about an hour, from start to finish. After getting used to Blender’s interface and the work-flow, it took no time to create. But tweaking this “Egg man” guy, may take from time to prefect. Will I do it; hard to say.

Hey, it killed a Friday night before it was my bed time. 🙂

Eighty Balls and Cash Trained Employees

What a day. Between work and my home life, things seem to be going crazy for me. Lack of sleep, and having too much on the go, I think it is all having a toll on me. I am taxed right out; low energy and no enthusiasm–at all. Gee, could be time for change? Regardless, today was a bad day. You know when you do stupid things, make choices that are right out of left field, you get that feeling that you should quit while you are ahead. Well, I had that moment, right when I had eighty basketballs bouncing around me becuase I made a bad choice. Yes, I should have stopped, spent a moment to think, then move forward. Instead, I now had a mess on my hands, and that feeling of “stupid” on my face.

When logic and physics clash, it is often when you cannot tell what should go on top, or the bottom, becuase you cannot tell what would hold up, when stacking stuff with a forklift. On one hand, the bigger of the two means it should go on the bottom, when as the type of packaging and the amount of materials that go into the packaging should say otherwise. For example, if you have a skid of say, eighty basketballs, you would make that the top pallet, right? But say you have a small pallet of, say, power tools, that seems to be less than one fifth of the total weight of the basketball skid, then by rights, it could on top without any troubles, right? Well, my poor logic, and lack of thinking, caused eighty basketballs to go shooting everywhere in the warehouse because they should have been the top skid. I cleaned up my mess, but with some criticism from my co-workers. Yes, I deserved it. I am humbled–my bad.

But things did get worse. Because of the demands that are placed on me at my work, I sometimes get sent off to other departments to help out.  On one such excursion, I was ask to man a cash till becuase so many cashiers had phoned in sick. I was never trained on cash, but the day supervisor thought I was just saying that to get out of working up at the front end. It meant that I had to waste time arguing with her, and getting the H.R. Manager involved, while my department was imploding with the back-log of stuff that needed to be done. I was happy to have found out that H.R. had supported me one hundred percent, but a shamed that it took a half hour before I could leave the office to go back to my department. Later, I found out, it was all a mistake due to someone checking off the box that said I was “trained as a cashier” beside my name, when it was clearly a mistake. This seems to be how desperate they are for front end labour. When I think about it, it was funny–me on a till. Gosh.

So, at the end of the day, I thought, maybe it is time for a break.

Right now, I am too tired to think, and too sore to move. I think I need about forty hours of sleep to catch up. Zzzz Zzzz Zzzz

Beware the Scammer

It was a couple a weeks ago now, as I was nonchalantly looking at the rental market up in Northern British Columbia, that I came across an ad that seemed to good to be true. I was delighted when I got a response almost within hours of my query to the ad. I was inspired, and felt hopeful glee, when I was told that this particular home was available, and that I was the only one who has responded. However, in the end, once it was evident that this was a scammer hard at work, trying to dupe me, I whisked away the happy thoughts and moved on.

So, yes, scammers are everywhere, and sadly, not even our law enforcement in British Columbia, the RCMP, can do much about it. It is buyer beware, and due diligence that must be practice when combing the ads of both printed and on-line media. Scammers are everywhere, and they have no moral values; they are human parasites in today’s world.

What was obvious at first for me was how awesome the ad was. It was too good to be true. The price for the dwelling was, unreal, to say the least. So moving forward, looking at the price, and how it was a deal, was the first sign of the scam. In a market that is flush with little competition, where prices were outrageous, seeing a deal that was unbelievably fifty precent below market value, was a dead giveaway. But I kept going with the email exchanges anyway, hoping that this could be the real deal, but doubting it more and more as time went on. Added to this, all utilities were included, even cable and Internet. Yes, he was going to pay for my Internet! My B.S. meter/detector was pointing off the scale now.

The second warning sign came in the form of how fast the acceptance was, and the rush to move to the actual rental agreement form. I should also point out that the replies I received were typed in very poor English, almost to the point that this person was using a spell-checker, while doing “cut and paste” chunks of phrases from other emails. The poor grammar, and ward choice, coupled with flawless paragraphs in the same email proved that this scammer was luring several victims at once. Yes, I had one section where he was speaking to me as a female. Not to mention how basic the rental agreement was, and how little information I had to give, I laughed when he added that to the text of  the email–no attachment or signature in return. It was obvious that all I needed was a pulse, to prove that I was alive, and money, to give to the scammer.

Third, was when I asked to see the place first before I would give out any money for the damage deposit. Now this is where things got murky. In British Columbia, the laws are different from other jurisdictions about what a land lord can, or cannot, ask for as far as money, information and types of contracts rental agreements. To pay for “site unseen” is, well, not the proper way of doing business here in Canada. So when I asked to have the address of the dwelling before I would consider paying with any money, the answer was no: “pay first, then you get the keys” was the reply. The exchange was to priceless. First was the Trans Union Money address in the Untied States, and then the promise of the keys and receipts delivered to me by Fedex. Then was a possible visit, once I was moved in, to see how I would enjoy my new home.

I stopped my conversation with David, the scammer. He never bothered to continue as well. It all stopped as it began. However, I could imagine him waiting for his next prey, another unsuspecting person searching for a place to live here in British Columbia with his deceptive ad.  All I could do was hope that his ad be taken down after my complaint and rid the net of this parasite for about thirty seconds.

Please use your head when shopping on-line, or from printed media, especially about renting. If it seems to good to be true, than it will be a scammer hard at work ready to take your money. Do your research, and please report these ads to the appropriate authorities once you have determined them to be scammers.

Above the Clouds in Never Ever Land

This post was a long time coming. As most Canadians know, the price of a house is way beyond the average wage earner now, especially here in the Lower Mainland and surrounding Vancouver area. As money from Banks gets cheaper, with super low mortgage rates, and the supposed Off-Shore buyers, the prices for a house have gone passed the clouds. The effect is not just here in the lower part of British Columbia, but have spread everywhere, where there are meaningful services and work. The North Coast, for example, has also seen its share of higher real estate prices, just like the South, but not as strong, yet. I was doing some searching on-line, and saw something disturbing, in my opinion. 

Buying a house up North seems to be relatively easier than here in the Vancouver area, with almost a two-third difference, but I noticed that the rent rates are almost in tune with each other. As a good friend told me, gouging seems to be the flavour almost everywhere in British Columbia, as both job and house seekers alike scramble to get their share of the pie. Sure, makes sense, if everyone cranks up the rent, hey, that is a good thing for home owners, right? Now it seems that everywhere there is a house shortage…, or is there?

I say no! There are lots of homes to be lived in for everyone, but who has the money to live in one when rent rates have to keep in pace with the mortgages. It seems you need a 70k plus per year job to keep pace with the housing markets. So, if you’re not a drug dealer, C.E.O. of a off-shore corporation, have rich parents, or won the lottery, then where are you getting your money from?

This goes into my next question: what happens when the prime lending rate bounces back? I mean, a full on gain of say, five percent, by the Bank of Canada? Market crash, as the big correction take place? The bubble explodes and prices tumble? Something tells the Bank of Canada will not let this happen, unless…

The crash of ’06 seems to teach us a lesson that we are all greedy, and some more than other’s, when money is at play. The United States taught us that it is not just the head of fish that rots first, but the whole body at the some time. Canada follows the U.S. lead well, although there are more ridged rules in place to prevent financial institutions in Canada from imploding the market from this type of mismanagement, we are on the path in my opinion. But I think Canada is just a decade behind the U.S., and we only out lasted the impending melt-down with these rules, but we will get there.

At my work, I am tied directly to the housing market. I see people doing renovations, upgrades and complete construction projects, and the do-it-yourself-er. I see the cost of those materials going up, and cost of labour climbing even higher. The race to upgrade the house for the already set homeowner to cash in on the white hot market has created it own super local economy. Sadly retail has also become a race to bottom, as customers demand the lowest prices, and competition make the profit margin that much thinner. This leaves the worker at a huge disadvantage now–where to live?

I Saw the Sun!

Wow, but typical. Monday, and the sun is shining–go figure. One of the benefits of working afternoons is, I get the mornings to myself before head in. Right now I am outside on my patio, with a glass of orange juice and my laptop, typing this power out. Sadly, in a couple of hours I will have to start my work day. Right now, the sky is clear, and breeze is warm and the Sun feels so nice on my skin.

As much as I am looking forward to the short week–yes I get Friday off as a Stat. Holiday. I know it will be chaos at work as I know my employer is going to cram five days into one. It is the way of the beast, as my co-workers always say. Actually, two of them will most likely say, “it is what it is…” I find that one a little ambiguous, and often used like a phrase of defeat. But, who cares; I am happy! If my employer wants to load us up to fill the weekly quotas, then “go ahead,” as I only work so hard for my few bits of money per hour. I have been looking forward to this short week for a while. I have plans, and so much to do. Bring it.

My taxes were done over a month now, but I have received two letters from Revenue Canada since. The first one was to let me know that they will be holding off on my assessment until they have had more time to look over my maths and deductions. The second one was asking me to send them more information on two separate incomes I claimed. So last night, I spent five hours franticly organizing and documenting the requested data they wanted. I felt foolish for the amount of work I put into this, been that I balanced my year end taxes. I believe that they are more interested in the people I worked for than little old me. Oh Big Brother. LOL

Well, off to work I go. Let us see what kind of week it will be.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Already, and so soon, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day. I’m all geared up for it; wearing my green, and on the hunt for any leprechauns that just happen to cross my path. Tomorrow at my work, we are having Pot-Luck dinner and celebrating anything green. Of course there won’t be any green beer, or pot-rolls, but there might be some green punch at the cool-aid cooler.

So wear green and enjoy Saint Patrick’s Day–even if you’re not Irish–just do it, for fun.

New Worlds – The Trappist 1 System

How cool is that, the discovery of, not one, but seven new worlds around a dwarf star that is just 30 light-years away, and one or more of those planets could have Earth like conditions. When NASA made the announcement back on February 22, 2017 I did a search on-line once I got home to browse their website for all the information I could get. This was great news, a star with possible Earth like worlds, only 30 light-years away–wow. But I was so busy with work, and home projects that just now, that only this weekend I have been able to sit down and do some serious reading about the Trappist-1 system. I am blown away with all the data I see about this star system. 

A few cool things about the Trappist-1 system is that the star is an “ultra cool dwarf star,” which sounds weird and unappealing, but even with such a small star, the planets are close enough to it that they may sit in “inhabitable zone” for life as we know it to exist on. The dwarf star will out last our Sun, in terms of life expectancy becuase Dwarfs Stars burn their fuel more slowly. And something that I found really interesting, becuase the planets are really close to each other, all seven planets’ orbits would fit inside Mercury’s if compared to our Solar system, so you would be able to see the other planets really well if you stood on any one them. They would appear very large in the sky from your vantage point because of the small distance from one another.

On the down-side, becuase of the planets’ size and close proximity to the star and one another, all seven planets maybe “tidal locked” which means they would all have one side permanently facing the star. Read the Wikipedia page for more information.

The astronomers who made the discoveries, never actually seen the planets themselves becuase they are just to far away. They used the dimming effect of the objects passing in front of the star to spot them. So the images of the seven planets are artist’s who just guest at what these worlds would look like. Though, it helps to sparks the imagination.

Please visit the NASA webpage about the Trappist-1 System.

Yay-It’s March!

Finally, and about time too I must add, it is March. It is here, at last! And this means that it is about Twenty days until spring, or the Vernal Equinox! Officially the Vernal Equinox, or first day of spring, will start on March 20th, at about 3:29am PDT on the West Coast. Yes, do not forget about that stupid time change too. But any way, we are slowly creeping up to spring, whether it means we will really have a spring, judging by how screwed up our weather is, or not. Last weekend we had snow, and Environment Canada is forecasting snow for next weekend, when will this madness stop.

Regardless if we have snow up until the first day of spring, I am just happy that the days are getting longer, and soon it will be spring. Either way it will warm up.

The other side of this screwed up weather is, could this also effect our summer too? I mean, will we have a super scorcher summer, or will the cool weather follow us into the summer months?

In my flower bed, at the end of my driveway, the sprouts are popping up. With so much snow, and frosty nights, the normal February flowers have not made an appearance around my place yet, but the regular summer ones are trying to grow–trying. I see the lasting winter weather is making its mark in my area–it is still really cold at night. Though I did see some Snow Drops, but they were flatten to the ground by all the snow we had three days ago, but still exciting to finally see them. So a disappointing season for the early flowers.