Crazy Camera Effects (Shooting at Lakelse Lake, BC)

We had left town (Terrace, BC) for a trip out to the lake to walk the beach. We head to Furlong Beach, on Lakelse Lake, one of the usual spots we like to go. I brought the camera, thinking that I would try and get some shots of the water lilly that grown near the shore, but noticed that the “Function” button started working on my Sony A77. Now, for the record, the A77 is a nice camera, and with its faults, the shutter button breaking, I still keep using it. The reason why I never got it fixed was that Sony charges half of the camera is worth to fix it, so I just use it as a general use camera. Last year, while shooting fireworks, the shutter button broke, and the focussing set-up stopped working working, so I had to use the manual focus instead. Then that started working, but the camera itself is not working at one hundred per cent.

When I was noticing that I could get into the Function settings on the camera, I started re-exploring all the different filters and effects I had on it. The first one I wanted to shoot with was the “Miniature” mode, of fake Tilt-Shift lens effects. Even the way my camera was handicapped, the images were nothing short of awesome. None of these images were given any post production, other than the digital water mark I added.

The above shot was actually a mistake, as I was trying to adjust the colour filter in the Miniature settings, so I had to point at different light sources to see if histogram was reading right. Right-a-way when I opened this image on my Desktop, it screamed out, Mermaids (jokingly of course)! Like I said, this shot was just one of the test shots I made while setting up the camera.

Here is where the power of the filters shines. Once I got all the filters and effects set-up the way I wanted, this was first shot. This is one of the “cottages” that dot along the lake that you can see from the beach. It does look like a miniature hose inside a model country side.

So I was getting very creative–layering the filters settings , and adding the miniature effects with it. Remember, this was al done with the camera alone. What I really like is the way I could bring out the various colours, like the reds and greens and blues at specific wavelengths.

Anyway, it was a great at the beach, and I did get lots of shots of the water lilly, but I sort of lost track of time when I saw I got all my functions back on the camera working. After all it has been nearly a year since the shutter button broke on the A77, and it seems to be working again. I just will not press the shutter button so hard from now on.

The Machine Heart (Years of Neglect Catching Up)

Well, this is shocking. I just learned today that one of my neighbours just had an implant put onto his heart a few weeks ago, and he just got back to his home on Friday. Sure, I do not really know the guy, and I perhaps talked to him once or twice since I have lived here, but I see him every so often, so that must count, I guess. Anyway, he looks to be about the same as when I last saw him, but he does show his discomfort. I guess what really jumps out at me is his age–the man is only in his thirties. That is quite young to have heart implants, you think?

So this got me thinking about my mortality, and lifestyle. My poor neighbour’s lifestyle choices are poor one, from what I have seen in these last few months. He is over weight, and stays inside his compartment almost 24-7. I hear he plays video games–a lot. I know he smokes, and I hope he has quit by now, but I am sure his past has caught up to him. And I know for sure that he does not do regular exercises. And I I have seen the pizza delivery service at his door on numerous occasions. So I look at my life. I do not smoke, and I try to get out as often as I can, and I try and eat healthy. But I am also in my fifties, so I feel I have lead a good life, and I am on the “home stretch,” as it were, in my life.

Anyway, I am sitting here, thinking about this, having just received the news, so I thought I would compose this Weblog Post.

Not Enough Tom

It is beginning to cloud over, with a sprinkle or two, here in the Skeena Valley, this after an awesome two weeks of sun fill days that could cause a suntan if you are not careful. It is hard to believe it is still May here on the North Coast. Awwwww, climate change, marvellous. But that is not what I am going to blog about today. No, this is my monthly round up what is going on in my little corner of the neighbourhood. This month, I call it, “Not Enough Tom” to go around. Between the needy around my place, and all four levels of Government, my hard earned money is being targeted like Mexico paying for the “Trump Wall” along the Southern U.S. border, I keep saying “No,” but the “please” keeps sounding in my ears, louder, and louder, and louder. In our free and democratic country, the need for Taxes grows ever stronger, where “asking” turns into “taking,” and like the Internet scammer, the sound has become more demanding than ever before. The root cause in my mind is, the needy get less back from the Government, so both Government and the needy turn to the Middle-class for more. I ask, “What part of NO don’t you understand?”

In my everyday routine, the to and from work part, I get asked at least once for “something” by my neighbours, in my neighbourhood. It may vary, from hard cold currency, to material items like tobacco or access to the Internet, but in all cases, the asker is someone who is either self medicating or mismanages their income in varying degrees. Whenever I enter my car, or leave it, that is usually where someone will ambush me, and the asking starts. I am an easy target here in the Thornhill Ghetto: I drive my own car, and it is shiny and black, and I have a job–a regular job–yup, paint a “bull’s eye” on me. Even the Government is asking for more, but I have been able to hold them off for now through tax loopholes and investment incentives through reputable programs, but that is still money I can not spend for myself right now. So here is the list: from “least,” to “most often.”

ONE: The Internet scammers are working harder than ever. In the last month (April 15 to May 15, 2018) My phone has logged up an impressive twenty-six callers that use “spoof” I.D. on the call displays. Yes, I screens my calls, and if it is “friend or foe,” it either goes to voice mail, or I answer it back–but “picking up” is almost a no-no.

TWO: The Taxi service out here in the Skeena Valley is very expensive. Unless you are disabled, either through health issues, or through intoxication, walking is the only true and tried method of getting around without a working and licensed vehicle, on a pauper’s income. Most do not like walking, especially if you live way out in the “sticks,” and you want to bring back that “twenty-four Pack” from the Beer Store, to your home. If you do not have money for a Taxi, then you target your buddies who own a vehicle. I get asked at least four times per week for rides. There are only three of us who have our own vehicles here in the Ghetto. I give no rides, becuase once you open that gate, then the flood begins. We have transit, yes, real actual buses that for a small fee, and it gets you back and forth from town–and it works becuase I know from first hand experience. Forget the Taxi Service and take Transit!

THREE: Being asked for money is the most often need I get asked for by my neighbours of all. Usually, it begins with, “I need food,” while they puff on their cigarettes, to “I need money for Cigarettes.” Sadly this is a reflection on the State of Canada’s economic well being, and those who made poor lifestyle choices. We are heading down the path of great economic disparity between the rich and poor. Lines are drawn between the old and the young, the Educated and labourers, all while those who are property rich cling to prosperity, and the “property poor” pay more and more to live in shacks. We have to learn to live without, and adapt to this economic change. We have choices, and drugs and alcohol are easy once to make, you just need the willingness to do it. But most of all, food should be made the first choice over Cable TV, and so on. To date, being asked to give money is by far the most often request I get here in the Ghetto.

In closing, I like say this: there is just not enough Tom. Yes, I save, but it comes with great sacrifice, but I do it. I plan, and it comes battling forces who try to disrupt my goals to their means, but I still plan anyway. For those who do not save up for their future, or plan for it and set goals, then these upcoming days are going to be your hardest ever. The poor need to ask the Government for more, not from me, becuase Government is taking so much as it is, and they make the rules. So, there is not enough of me to go around.

Yay, It’s May!

Well, the first day of May is here, and with it, not too shabby of a day. It is sunny, warm and hardly any clouds to worry about. In all, the makings of a great day. Though rumour has it, we are going to get overcast, and some possible sprinkles are expected. Right now, I am just happy that it is May. I am so looking froward to the warmer days ahead.

I was looking at the weeds outside at my work, and noticed that the dandelions were out in fool bloom, while the flowers in the planters were just sprouting. Funny how the weeds do great, while the flowers you plant suffer. Maybe we got it all wrong, and we should be growing those weeds instead. Anyway, the trees have leaves on them, and the grass is green, what more could you ask for!

The Sun is beaming over the mountains now as I drive into work in the mornings. I keep forgetting that the days are a lot longer here than they are in the Lower Mainland. Here, on the North Coast, it is one extreme to the next; either lots of day light, or just dark. Here, during summer, you can see outside all day, as the sky never turns dark. Now that is a summer.

Yay, it is May!

Tuesday Morning Wakeup – Day Two – Vacation

As weird as it may sound, I woke up just about at my normal start time as if I were just starting my work day, but remember, I had only three hours sleep. Perhaps psychologist would argue that my body is fixed to the daily rhythms, and all that stuff, but I think it was just gas. LOL I got up and washed, figuring that I should at least do something, now that I am up and sort of a wake. So off I went.

My first stop was the tire shop. I decided that I would keep the one set of rims, and just swap over the summer tires on the rims, and just take the winter tires off and store without rims. I wanted to buy another set of rims, so all I would do next season is just change the tires, but my car has these air senors on each tire, which are about sixty-five dollars a piece: a little pricey right now for me. So I will just keep everything on the one set of rims I have now, and deal with it next time.

The brain is slowly running out of steam.

Next I went to the Post Office. I was looking for rates to ship about six kilograms down to Vancouver, BC. This was something I thought I could do more efficiently at the facility in town, but that affirmed that doing it at home over the Internet was what I have should done in the first place. Anyway, to send something that heavy was a little price. I may price out some other carriers this week.

Brain, down to a crawl. Just enough brain activity to drive home.

Nice – coffee. Slurping away on some Dark Roast beans I picked up yesterday. I am thinking about doing a short nap since my appointment time at the tire shop is 2:00pm, and Suz., will be busy until 1:00pm, I might as well log in some horizontal time on the foamy-bed. After all, I am only living on a few hours of sleep. This coffee sure is good.

Brain just started running at normal speed now. Must be the coffee.

Heck, I might as well just watch some You Tube videos while I am up, after writing this Blog Post. Who can sleep with this much caffeine coursing through my veins. LOL

Vibrating. Coffee induced coma. Bra….

The “Meh” Moment

Yes, I am having a “Meh” moment, but in a good way. I was sitting back in my comfy-cozy chair wondering about what I am going to do for the next ten days, when it finally dawned on me that I am in “Vacation” mode from my work. I will not have to get up on Monday morning at the melodious sound of my alarm clock going off, waking me into oblivion, as my muscle memory instincts propel me out of bed, and off to my place of employment–all while still in deep sleep. Actually, it will be the lack of routine that will disrupt me the most, come to think of it. Added to that, it costs so much in Canada to go on a “real” style vacation, the kind where you leave for a tropical paradise, and drink from a coconut with hallucinogenic properties in it. So, thus born the poor-person’s “Staycation” where you simply do day trips, or stay at home to either save money for the mortgage, or you have no where to go because you have no money to travel with. I am sort of in between these two extremes, as far as money goes.

So I figure, this “time off” from work will be a kind of a hybrid of “time off,” when I will do a little of both: travel, and stay at home. No doubt I will spend some money, but not locally. In fact, I have no plans on making any huge purchases. I would rather save my money for that rainy day that might greet us here in Thornhill, BC. That was a joke, by the way. There is that dilemma of a lack of services that directly manipulates the “cost of living” in a very small community becuase you are fairly isolated from the rest of civilization. Thankfully, we have the Internet, and with it E-Commerce, to help us through this situation.

This is tire changing season up here in the North Coast, so I need a set of summer tires, now that the winter like season is over. This is a double edged sword that most people of the North have to obey if you need to drive on the highways–it is the Law of the land to switch from one type of tire of another based on the changing season. Sure, if I live in town, a set of All-Seasons Tires would do, but you do it at your own risk. You could even do the “Lower Mainland” life style and just drive with summer tires on, if you live and commute in just the town limits, but that would just plane stupid, and silly with forty centimeters of snow on the ground. And oddly enough, I was hard pressed to discover that I could NOT find any Summer type tires around, this after going to four tire shops and inquiring. So when in a market where Laws determine what you can and cannot have, expect a level of gouging from one region to another. All you have to do is go on the Internet to price shop to see this. So, not summer tires are available, just all seasons and winters. I just heard a cash ring somewhere out in the Great White North. LOL

Back to my “Meh” moment. I am fortunate to have a partner to be with. Most probably, and ultimately, this is highest level of gratitude one could ever have while living on this planet Earth. To have a friend to share this time with at the most finite level, is truly the highest point-of-being we humans may ever have. And to go even further, life no longer lingers at the level of “boring,” but becomes exciting, with new discoveries, and enlightenment, emerge from where once ashes were piled. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons learned from all of this, is to share, and by that I mean, every dimension of your life: space, time, concepts and one-another. There is peace to all of this; where uncertainty and chaos abound, calm and passiveness now exist; no longer challenging it all, but accepting everything as it is. Where Kingdoms and Religions lay claim to this, they only distort, and diminish it, while they pale by its power. Where tragedy and comity are separate on stage, in real life this friendship encompasses it all as a whole. The mountains, trees and lakes, never looked so great when sharing that view with another. In a nutshell, this is truly awesome. So this is what ascension in life feels like.

Now time to start my day. I have no idea what is on a agenda, per se. I do know, I would like to have some ice cream at the Chill, our local ice-cream parlor. The root-beer float flavour seems to tickle my taste-spuds at this very moment. I will put in a request for that as part of our itinerary for today. Other than that, the great tire hunt for my vehicle. Yay, vacation-here we come.

April Fools, or Just Fools?

Listening to all the news on the United State wanting to drop out of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), or at least awing it in their favour, got me thinking about what lays in my future as a Canadian. And to be fair, I am only referencing this on my own personal life–a life that is almost spanning five decades now. So I think I have some experience under my belt. I remember a time before NAFTA. There was a time long ago, that Canada only had bi-lateral agreements with other trading nations, and it worked. But people wanted bigger, better, with more profits, and the ability to grow at more accelerated rates, and at the time, this was the Automobile Market that launched it. But this was far from the utopia of free markets that the businesses wanted. There will always be outside forces that could bring down, or at least distort, the economy, and as corporations grew mightier then the countries they lived in, so to were the negative effects of the market shifts.

When listening to the U.S. president say he was pulling out of NAFTA, or at least change it into his favour, I thought to myself this must be a April Fool’s Joke of some kind. Could this be true, or just another one of his “flip-flopping” agendas he is so famous for? Changing his mind through an early morning Tweet on Twitter, like a teenager on social networking. The ramifications of all of this is the Markets bouncing up, then down, reacting to every tweet, like a farmer in his fields watching storm clouds pass by.

Sure, it is nerve-racking, as the media plays on every and tweet the US presidents throws out into the Internet. But remember, you can only cry “Wolf” so many times before no hears again.

So here is how I look at it. And I have lived through a bunch of rescissions in my lifetime. We may have our cars and oil increase in costs, but these are commodities that will not bring down our neighborhoods and governments. Sure, it will sting as a small portion of the work force will have to adapts into new industries, but there basic needs that can be met to keep our nation running as long as we have the will to do so.

We can produce our own basic needs like food, building materials and modes of transportation. Unlike some other countries, Canada has the ability to move forward at both the micro and macro levels inside our borders with self sustaining ease. We are, after all, an exporting country, thought not as efficient as China or the U.S. due to our small population, but we can pick ourselves up and run with it. We are fortunate that we are not reliant upon service industries, and raw resources, we have kept a sizable manufacturing sector alive.

So it is far from not being the end of the world when the U.S. president tweets the end to free trade. In the end, he will only hurt the people he leads–his own country. Sure Canada, and Mexico, will under go a transformation too, but both nations will pick up where they left off, and continue to grow, as we all look for more stable markets to trade with. And with the changing world dynamics through tools like the Internet, and digital money, it is quiet possible the U.S. will be left behind if they stagnate.

We need to eat, and we can grow our own food. We need homes, and we can build them. The only thing that will hurt us in the current market economy, is the mountain of debt that the average Canada carries–this we must get under control. But perhaps we need this market shift to correct the economy after all? Homes are out of reach for now for many people, so a good shake up might be what we need.

The Glass Net

In this post, I was going to talk about cryptocurrencies, their advantages and disadvantages they pose on our daily lives, but that got side-tracked when I started reading about the British Columbia’s new “Speculation Tax.” When I looked at how housing prices are being effected in different regions, I thought this was more of an issue than how we are going to buy things in the future. So I took some time to read further on how this tax was going to effect you and me, but more so, how the money lenders look at this.

There is an lesson I have learned in my life about money: you always need more, and you never have enough, and you fight to keep what you have. This sets the frame work between Land Owners, and everyone else in Canada. In Canada, over the last three decades, we have seen property values climb three fold. There are many factors at play here, but the main factor that I see is that more people want to be land owners, rather than renters, so this automatically ups the Land’s value as our populations grows. This is compounded in desirable areas like Vancouver and Toronto, and negatively dries up value in other parts of Canada. So no two areas are the same in terms of Land Values. But there is one constant: for most, property ownership is the biggest, and most profitable, investment–period–in one’s life. As a property owner, any tax or encumbrances, is a direct threat to that investment. 

The double side of property owners is funny to me. Obviously, the land owner wants their investment to grow in value. Added to this, you want the enjoyment and happiness of your land, minus anything you feel would diminish that state of mind such as gentrification or industrialization around you. Your house, its location to the community, means that of all the investments to your future, your land is your greatest investment of them all, and you are going to fight if anyone taxes, or reduces its value for other means. You want that value to grow.

If you are someone who is looking to buy land, in this day and age, the bench-mark is almost unattainable for the vast majority of people based on their level of wealth and income. With cheap money (borrowing it from money lenders), and the lure of living in centres like Vancouver and Toronto, property values in these areas have tripled in price over the last decades. So many are willing to put themselves in huge debt for the pleasure of living in and around these areas. On the same scale, money lender’s are being ask to increase the criteria for borrowing on property, stamping out further those who wish to be land owners, but money lenders are still willing to lend to make their profits. 

Today, the world seems to be looking at Canada, as our personal debt per Canadian is one of the highest among the G7 countries, noting how much trouble we could potentially be in. With so many carrying these mortgages, some are speculating either a meltdown, or a slow deflated collapse of the market, but nothing positive. Needless to say, we could be in trouble as Interest Rates and Market Forces start turning towards a new course in our economy, and these forecasts start coming true. I would not want to be the person who has to juggle public policies, and Laws, to keep everyone happy. 

March 27, 2018

It was announced that the British Columbia Government has laid out sweeping exceptions to its Speculation Taxes. It appears that many who own land in smaller regions of the Province are spared the tax.  

Like a Hit to Head

Well the weather is nice and “springy” with 12C and no rain in sight around here. Still, snow lingers on the ground, but the air smells of spring and good times to come–it is almost magic. Anyway, today’s post is about all those people who think they deserve more than everyone else, yet they do the least amount for it. There are a few ingredients, such as respect, skill, and even to a degree, merit, but these qualities you need to earn by the social standards set by your peers. Self proclaimed leaders and invented titles, such as those you would call scammers and swindlers, every society has them buried amongst the general population. Around here in Terrace, BC, we have our share. But one guy in particular stands out above all the others I have met since I moved here last summer. The truck driver that wanted me to sign his log book. Ya, like I need a hit on the head.

When this person wanted me to sign his log book, I thought “why would I sign that—a log book.” So I told him that it is company policy for me NOT to sign anything of Government in origins, unless directed by the Company Owners. (Yes, I played stupid.) He insisted, and even said that he has Receivers do this all of the time, and that this was his company’s policy. So I said, “Then I need to make a phone call.” Then time all of a sudden time became an issue. His troubles of being an Owner-Operator, and having several employees working for him, was so much stress, and that I was only adding more unnecessary stress to his already stressed out day–he needed to get going on his next trip. (Yes, cue the violins.)

Log story–short, I use to drive trucks for a living. Yes, in my humble younger days, I was a Commercial Truck Driver, and did both short and long haul all over North America. So I knew how the game was played, and heard of all the tricks and stunts played by other drivers. Now I stay away, far far away from driving trucks becuase of both Dead Beat Bosses, and my health–in that order. So listening to this guy, just conjured up many memories of all the dishonest drivers that I use to work with, and who tried to pull scams like this.

Here are the facts. Only the driver and the Scale Officer touch that log book when the driver is on en-route to the destination point. The Bill of Lading are the shipping documents that the Driver carries from the Shipper, to the Receiver; both of these are legal documents. In my current employment, I only sign the Bills of Lading, and I put the times and date on that document–not the driver. If it does not match his Scale Logs, then that is his problem, he has to deal with the Government and his Employer.

After ten minutes of him trying to get me to sign is documents and Log Book, he gave up. But not with some choice words after I unloaded my product from the trailer. I wrote in my logs, that this driver was not following procedure, and that my company should request that he be barred from hauling for us, for life. We will see how far that will goes.

Anyway, that was the start my day.

Life Goes On–Blue Skies Ahead

Great news, if you are living on the North Coast, we are at the leading edge of a possible week’s worth of awesome, but cool, weather! The snow seems to be behind us now, as a nice high pressure area parked above us, and will hold for a while. But enough about the weather, let us talk about life, mainly my life. It is going good. On all accounts, I would say, things are moving along quite nicely. The job is awesome, I am meeting new people all the time and the money is good. The leaps and bounds I have made here are impressive comparing it to my time spent down in the Lower Mainland–life is good.

In typical North Coast fashion, the days are getting longer quite noticeably. Already, at 7:00am, I noticed the sky getting lighter, and by 8:00am, it is practically daylight. I remember the spring seasons from my younger days, and spring hit with a bang. Though at least three weeks behind South, the spring season erupts with explosions of green as the trees ignite their buds all at once. I am waiting for that moment—with camera in hand.

With my holidays booked for the year, it seems that this will be the very first job in which I get mandatory vacation time within six months blocks. When I asked to submit my holiday time, I had only a a couple weeks to figure what times I wanted. The only caveat was that it meshes with the person who flies up North to cover my time away. Other than that, I had free rein of choosing when, not by some complicated formula on a calendar.

Before I forget, the computer is better than what I expected. The faster RAM and CPU are awesome. My rendering times for 3D Graphics are a lot faster. In a way, I should of done this earlier when I was doing simple animations. The image in this post took less than fifteen seconds at 500 samples in Cycles on Blender at 1080 pixels.

So, to wrap it up, today is looking great as I start the weekend. Once the stores open, I am going to do some shopping and perhaps buy some lamps for the apartment. It needs more light.