Last Night’s Walk Along the Beach

When I got up this morning, I realized that my walk along the river last night not only served as a de-stresser for getting out of the house and shooting a few photos, but it made me tired enough to get a good night sleep. And sleep I did.

When I got up, around 7:00am, I was confronted with noises coming from the neighbour beside me who lives in a tiny trailer. Unfortunately the acoustics are very bad in my little corner of Fort Langley in that you can hear a normal conversation several metres away inside my bedroom. Worse, if someone is talking above normal, I have no troubles understanding what is being said. The woman’s voice was someone who was in shock and anger. Her topic seemed to be an old boyfriend who wanted to stay with her while he sorted out his life issues, one of them being freshly out of work. He also needed some money. She was fanatically saying no, and defending herself as to why she could not give into either of his requests. The argument continued for about half an hour until he left without neither of his demands being met.

What I got from listening to this was that so many people are living way beyond their means and depending on other’s who are in the same boat as they are. I now see that most Canadians are too dependent on their families and friends when it comes to looking after their own financial worlds. When people factor in friends and family as their fall-back for meeting financial crisis, I can argue that this is a recipe for disaster.

Culturally most of use are brought up in that we should be as independent as possible. Yet in our laws, families are responsible for the well being for each of their members, then the State as the last caregiver. Canada shifted away from that model when social programs and other bits of legislation were created to help the masses who could not look after themselves, or did not have the necessary support that some families had to look after their own. As Canadians shifted towards conservative values, these social mechanisms started to erode, and those who do not have support from the old school values are now left where they were before at the dawn of when these social safety nets were created.

I believe that people are confused, and misguided. Confused in the sense that laws and government changes are moving much too rapidly. Misguided in that governments are more in the business of severing the elite rather than the whole while playing on the conservative values that appeal to the hearts and minds capitalists. A really good example that I see are the Babyboomer as they shift into retirement. As this group of Canadian becomes more dependent on fixed incomes, they see taxes as a major source of concern that directly effects their standard of living. So, naturally, they will vote accordingly, as it serves in their interests. With lower taxes comes with the Government ability to maintain or create fewer social programs. The standard of living for the lower economic strata will drop even further, making this group even more vulnerable to the negative effects of conservative values.

Sand and Toes

I had to get out of the house–I was going mad with all of the stress of work. The change in pace was just what I needed to calm the nerves. There is nothing so soothing than walking through the sand in bare feet. Although it was cold, a lofty 12C at the time, just had to have the feel the sand between my toes, and it made me feel so good–until it got too cold.

When I walked along the river’s banks, I wanted to capture the sunset, but the golden colours of the Sun hitting the sand made for some interesting shots instead. Then I came along this work of art, a weathered sand castle carved into the beach from days ago. It looked Egyptian in style–so basic, and yet, it caught my eye becuase there were several very small caves carved into the sand bank.

Anyway, shooting photos tonight was a great diversion from all the stress building up over the last few days that I have been going through.

I am still dealing with the layoff notice in my mind. This is by far not the first time that I have gone though a layoff situation like this, and I am sure that this will not be the last. Now that the cooling off period has passed, and the reality of it has sunk in, I have deiced to just play out my final days with the employer. Then I will just exit, and walk away once I have received my final pay. Fortunately, other work is in reach for me, but sadly nothing is for certain as the Canadian economy is weak.

Why is this layoff so disturbing for me?

I did not see this coming. This is a very bad time, during a weak economy, to be laid off. In hindsight, I should have seen it coming, but that is hindsight–which is alway 20/20. My greatest lifesaver has been my unwillingness to not have any debt such a credit cards or Bank loans. I have saved, so I am in a very healthy state, but I must be careful, as inflation is creeping up very fast, and savings do not last forever. So, I can say that I was prepared for a possible lack of unemployment, I just did not know when.

So, I am going to enjoy the night, and perhaps sleep in tomorrow if I can.

What a Monday – Six Week Countdown

It was not the Monday that I expected, but instead, it started off with a bang, and the rest of the day took off in a direction that I did not expect I would ever see in the short term. I was taken by surprise as I received the news the my employer has initiated emergency layoff procedures starting now, and following in the next six weeks. This means that an entire department will be gutted. Yes, there was the writing on the wall, but no one could have foreseen the events that took place behind the scenes over the last weekend. My employer was put between deciding on keeping a contract that was just keeping the bills paid, (plus causing way more effort than it deserved), and focusing on what was good for the company overall. The hard decision was made, and the announcement was made this morning to everyone.

The department that is to be dissolved is the very department that I work in. I have six weeks, starting now, from which to move on and find other employment.

I am not upset in the very least. I am actually happy becuase I even agree with the decision that my employer had to make. I see first hand the obstacles that are everywhere in this business climate. In this economic reality, survival is engine that is driving Canada’s economy as consumers are still holding back because we are still scared that Canada is ready to plummet down the tubes like our U.S. counterparts have already done so. The trickle down effect is not working as everyone, including businesses, are drawing on loans and credit to make ends meet. When profit only pays off the debt, a choice has to made, and letting go is the only viable option for a business that is not going anywhere in terms of sustainability.

So, layoff. Sounds scary, but it is not. I have experienced this a few times already in my lifetime. I have learned from them. I have learned to ignore the Government, the media and the advice of friends and loved ones, especially those who are mired in debt themselves. I have learned to pay myself first, and not latch onto the parasitic banking institutions and drink their milk. (Sorry for the bad metaphor). Instead, I too have incorporated survival methods of my own, and staying debt free and highly able to deal with change are the keys to my survival. Like what Darwin said–able to adapt–quickly.

So, a new day will start tomorrow, and with it, a new hope. This is going to be neat and interesting, and a fast ride–I can feel it. Hold on, it is going to be fast.

Leap Year – If I Were Born On This Day

Surprise, surprise, we get an extra day in February, today. A good thing for some, and a bad thing for others, depending upon your perspective. If you pay rent, or have monthly payments, then this is a great day because you are getting this extra Twenty-Four hours that you otherwise would not have. If you are one of those people who just wants to get February over and done with, then this is just an extra day of agony for you.

Imagine if you were born on a February 29, the looks you would get when you tell your peers that you are only Ten, yet really you are Forty?

I know someone who is.

After getting to know him, a few facts were answered for me. Of course your identification would show your age, thus, the identification people know how to deal with this problem, but in technical terms, you are Ten, if you were born Forty years ago. My friend only celebrates his birthday normally on the 28th, and when a leap year occurs, he then shift his celebration on that day instead. But it is cool to know a “Leaper,” and I do make remarks about him acting his age. His wife is ten times harder on him than we are, by the way.

So happy leap year day—whatever, however you call it, I wish you all a good day.

Shooting Gooey Slimy Things in My Back Yard

As mentioned in my last post (the post I just made this morning) the weather has been poor for shooting outside in. The light showers today were sporadic and unpredictable, and we even had a short burst of sunshine that lasted for a few minutes, but I was busy when that happened.  I only ventured out onto the rain soaked lawn for a few shots becuase there was an explosion of mushrooms popping up everywhere amongst the grass and moss, and they looked cool. Oh the itch to get out and shoot is getting to me.

I have had some interesting comments about the above image from friends on Twitter. I guess if you use your imagination you see that these may resemble the Male sex organ in some way? Some even said that these are “magic” mushrooms? Oh some people.

This guy (above) was extremely slimy and had a real pungent smell to it. I am fortunate that my camera has a tilty, swivelly monitor-viewfinder on it so I can place it close to the object, keep everything in focus and in frame, and yet making sure that the camera does not touch it and not slime the lens, without me being at ground level with it.

Did I say I love this camera?

And from ground level looking up, I shot from underneath a raspberry plant that has managed to survive the winter and the yard cleaner’s weed-whacker. Looks cool eh?

I cannot wait until the weather clears up and I have loots of daylight to shoot in. I think it is called spring–whenever that happened? Heck, even a clear night to do some astrophotography would be nice! Anything but rain and cold!

Parking Lot Upgrade

As the old song goes, “Big Yellow Taxi,” 1970 by Joni Mitchall, “they paved paradise to put up a parking lot,” but since there was already a parking lot, we will just re-pave it anyways (Wikipedia). I thought when I drove by it today that they were adding a new building, or something becuase of all the construction vehicles. The place was full of activity in the little strip mall in Fort Langley.

I think the true peeved-off patrons were those who wanted to drive up to the Liquor Store, but instead had to park elsewhere and walk to it.

It also looks like they are adding more area to the parking lot too?

Anyways, since I just researched Joni Michtell’s songs, here is her You Tube video, “Big Yellow taxi.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWwUJH70ubM[/youtube]

Funny, after listening to Joni’s song, it now seems fitting for our little town [Fort Langley] now. She was really talking about gentrification and the environment (and her matrimonial affair) way back in 1970. It is a great song.

On This Rainy Day I Stayed Inside Shooting Stuff Around the House

So, what do you do on a rainy day?

Well, I stayed inside and shot stuff with my camera. I took my camera and started shooting unusual objects around the house with my 30mm macro lens. It was so ugly outside that going outside was out of the question for me. It rained, and rained, and rained some more. The light was awful becuase it was so dark, and the clouds showed no signs of letting off. At one point of the morning I saw snow flakes mixed in with the rain hitting my window; my heart sank becuase I really want to get outside and shoot with the camera and this lens, and not deal with snow.

So, usual objects. Unusual becuase these are objects that I would otherwise never shoot. And, becuase I used the macro lens to get really super tight closeups with, looking at objects so close, they become totally different looking in these images. That being said, see if you can guess with this is?

Perhaps later on I will post more images from this session to further reveal what this object is. I will leave this up for a day and see if someone can get it. Personally I think it is so obvious, but I just showed it to some friends and they had no idea what it was. I thought the red net gave it way myself?

Comment below if you want to post your answer.

ADDED:

OK, lots of Tweets, and a couple of emails, but no comments, so here is the answer: see photo below. If you still did not get it, please let me know and I will out-right tell you. However, I am sure the photo below will speak for itself.

Here is hoping that tomorrow will be a better day for shooting outside.

I should become a food photographer?

Vexing Laundry: the Soap Opera

There are advantages to starting early and getting the bulk of your work done before the onset of everyone else starting their’s. This morning was laundry time, and as a rule, I start mine every Sunday morning right when the laundromat opens. Some of my close friends kid around with me about my laundry hardcore attitude, but when you have gone through some of my adventures and of laundry Hell that I have gone through, you would then appreciate my attitude.

I start my laundry right when the laundromat opens. Every Sunday, just before 8:00am, the doors open, and I quickly run in and start my task of laundry. My vantage point from my home is such that I can see the owner of the laundromat leave their office doors, and walk towards the laundromat. This is huge for me since many times they are early, and sometimes late, and their starts times very from one week to the next based on if they sleep in or not.

My early Sunday morning starts were never part of my normal routines, as I was never like this back in the old days. I used to do laundry whenever I felt like it, or when there was the stinky need to do it. However that all ended on one occasion when I had my entire load of clothes stolen. Yes, you heard me, a batch of men’s pants, underwear, t-shirts and socks, gone, just after I threw then into the dryer. Later that week I did see my pants again, though on someone else, a young man. Then later on, one of my t-shirts worn by his girl friend. How sick is that?

What do you do when someone has stolen your clothes?

The hardship for me was when I had to wear the same pair of pants for the following Four days until I got my next pay cheuque, then this meant having to forgo my food budget because it was also rent time too. There were also the many times that I wanted to tear a strip off these two people, but how do I justify the violence towards them when the police could not even help return my clothes – I needed to have witnessed the event, and I was not able to stand guard over my laundry during the whole time. I mean, it is not like I sew my name into every garment I own either?

So, since that time, and many other times of lesser laundry mishaps before and since, I do it when most of the population is still sleeping. Sundays are the perfect time to do laundry here in Fort Langley, first thing in the morning.

Another Inspiring Moment in Art, Done in Five Minutes

Yes, another inspiring moment in art, all done within fine minutes using my 9 by 12 inch USB drawing tablet. As per usual, I was board out of my tree, and needed some mental stimulation last night to get me through. I was tired from my marathon of reading, and had a few hours to kill before I needed to get to bed to sleep to start my work week on the right foot. My sleep cycles got all mixed up from the long weekend, so setting myself up for sleep was a priority. I plunged in my graphic tablet and away I went.

I know, it is not much to look at, but what do you expect for five minutes of drawing time?

I used a program called My Paint, which is an open source and it is free to use. It has some amazing brushes and brush effects in it, and it is very easy to use. It is nothing like the thousand dollar proprietary software you see on the market, but for its cost, this program rocks!

I did have a hard time sleeping. My sleep through the night was difficult becuase I was not that tired; in fact I was a little cranky this morning from the lousy quality of my sleep last night. My five minute art therapy was a bust in that regards, but it was fun.

My hand and eye coordination is off becuase I am drawing on a tablet, and the results, or what you are seeing, are up on the monitor, so I found my arm wanting to do weird positions while I was drawing; I was having to really think out what I was doing. A very weird feeling to get used to if you are only used to drawing on a piece of paper instead of looking up at a monitor while drawing on the table.

Reminiscing Through My Old Digital Photos

I was going through some old disks, the old fashioned 700MB CD type,  that I had tucked away. I found this disk that was not labelled, other than “Digital Camera” on to, so I threw it in the PC and fired it up to have a look. Reminiscing through these old digital photos of 2002 made me laugh, and some sadden me as there are people who have passed away since, but the photos were neat to look at again after all these years even though they were small JPEG 800 x 640 images. The quality is poor on these from that old Kodak Point and Shoot camera – which by the way cost a whopping $800.00 at the time!

This photo stood out for me. It is a photo of my return trip from Vancouver Island back in October of 2002 from where a mountain of detergent foam covered the road at the intersection of Highway 10 and 58 Avenue in South Surrey, BC. Because I was driving, I had to drive ahead, pull over, find my camera, then drive back to take this shot. The foam had already retreated back to side-walk by the time I took this shot.

I had to retouch the photo, and converted it to a PNG file. I also added the 2012 LOGO on it too becuase of the modification I did to it.

Apparently this happens numerous times a year when jokers put detergent in the fountain, and it bubbles up and spills onto the road. I remember hearing people laughing as they drove by; it was quite the sight!

CORRECTION: The actual address is Highway #10 and Scott Road in Surrey, BC. Highway #10 is also 58 Avenue (Dec 27, 2011).