Wow, A Lot at Once: Free Trade, LNG, and Inflation.

The start of October has been a busy one! In just these two past day, we have seen Canada settles its trade deal with the Mexico and the United State of America, and right after that, the announcement of the 40 billion LNG project for British Columbia. All of this leading to our local “Think Tank” saying that inflation is going to hit hard in the coming months now that prosperity is shinning through the mist, down the path. Of course, the North Coast is very familiar with the boom and bust cycle, so know is surprised–just look at the speculators are doing.

It was good news that Canada has signed the free trade deal with the other two North American countries. A lot of industry around these parts rely on trade with the US. We are like a Banana Republic, no one wants our finished goods, but sure as heck, our natural resources. Everything from fish to lumber, with a little bit of gold on top, get stripped away, and sent off down South. But, any how, our jobs will continue, and with it, the cost of our goods in the store will not be terribly over priced. Yes, I prefer shopping over at China, than our southern markets. But they say, (the Think Tank) that we will see inflation locally rise around 4 per cent over the next sixteen months. Yes, they somehow figured this out, not in terms of years, but nice round numbers over the course of months. Go figure.

The LNG project seems to be a done deal. Of course, around here, in the Skeena Valley, it is a “When I see it, then I’ll believe it,” attitude, which is the most common opinion. When they announced that “ten thousand jobs” would be created, I heard a lot of muffled, “Bull Shit,” being hurled. I guess from the last great mega project of the North Coast, that fell far short on their promises of prosperity lasting throughout the decades. So we wait–as anything can happy between now and the ends of time. But no doubt, we should start seeing the influx of people move in the area, hoping to catch that three year construction job that would hopefully pay off all the bill, pop-up. Which leads into my next rant, inflation.

Yes, all of this awesome news will spell out two probabilities. First, inflation will rise faster than normal in the area. Second, more locals will be displaced as a result of this. With jobs and the lure of new money in the local economy, comes rising real estate prices, trickling down to higher rents, and hyper low vacancy levels. This should completely kick out any hopes of affordable housing to the masses who need it. The (Think Tank) predictions are that by 2020, the effects of LNG on the area should increase homelessness by five per cent. I think that is a very conservative estimate, for the Skeena valley, but the (Think Tank) stresses that these are based the last mega project, and its effect over a five year period. But on the bright side, if you are one of the lucky one, and sang one of these supposed awesome jobs, then you are “golden.” You will live in prosperity, and can say, “Bonus”!

The Think Tank, are local group of some fifteen residence in Thornhill, BC, that comprise of aboriginal, and non-aboriginal, employed and unemployed, men and women, all younger than fifty years of age (between 20 to 50 years of age). These debates are held at random times, and have no set moderation or agendas, so topics are brought up at the participant’s request.

What is Left of the Harvest Moon

The first full moon after the Autumnal Equinox is called the Harvest Moon. No doubt dating back to a time when we depended on growing our food, this moon cycle was the sign to get the harvest underway, or at least started. Not surprising, here in Canada we start our Thanks Giving holidays on the second Monday in October, just days after the time the days become shorter than the nights. Though this holiday does seem a little weird in its timing, in my opinion, this year I noticed timing is everything. For the most part, I only care about the celestial events, rather than holidays.

The above shot was the Moon just before it hit third quarter, on Sept 30, 2018. October 2nd will be the official time it reaches third quarter. Last Full Moon was on September 24, around 8:00pm local time. What I find neat this year, is that on the Thanksgiving holiday, in Canada, the Moon will be in its New phase, completely dark. So on October 8, around 8:45pm, the New Moon will occur, right when we get our time off, or long weekend: roughly 14 days after Full Moon, or roughly half a Moon Cycle, in Canada. So this means, if we have clear skies, then star gazing should be awesome during that long weekend, in less than ten days from now! Choosing the telescope over turkey my friends!


Loving the Autumn Colours of the Trees in Terrace, BC

We hit the weekend, and with it, super awesome weather–again. Another weekend with not a cloud in the sky, and with warm air, to “almost” make you want to throw the shorts back on. Sure, it is a little cool in the evenings, but that could be all forgotten with the amazing day we just had. So much was done today, and now so tired to type it all out that I will just cut to the highlights, and spare you the details. I took the camera out in the afternoon to shoot some of the streets of Terrace, BC, to capture the changing trees, as their leaves get ready to fall for the winter. And today is also the Banff Mountain Film Festival, which is my second one. It was an action packed day.

All week I was preparing for that opportunity to walk around town to take photos of the changing colours of the trees. So I scouted the down town area in Terrace, looking for the best trees to photograph. With the help of Suz, as she drove in her car, we hit some of the locations I wanted to shoot with the camera. Our first stop was on Kalum Street, right near the Court House. There I shot the above image, right on the corner. The maple trees there are awesome, and with the right light, this looked great. The second stop was on Lazelle Avenue, just passed the Medical Building, looking East, towards Kalum Street. The whole street was bursting with colours from the trees. See image below.

You can clearly see how awesome the day was in this image. And yes, I waited for most of the cars to drive off from the street before I started shooting. Tomorrow is supposed to be as awesome!

To end the evening off, me and Suz., went to the Banff Mountain Film Festival, where we watched ten films that were submitted for the tour. Like last year, these films were awesome to watch. We really enjoyed ourselves, and were entertained. I would like to go to next years event too. I highly recommended it! The tickets were twenty dollars each, and the event was about four hours long, held at the R.E.M. Lee Theatre, in Terrace.

Looking Back Through a Different Lens

It has now been just over fourteen months since leaving the Lower Mainland, with the hustle and bustle of Vancouver lifestyle in Langley, BC, and my quality of life has improved ten fold. This morning while going to work, during my very short commute, I pondered on how much my life has changed since the move back to the North has been. So many life altering changes have taken place. Just so many.

Today is significant becuase I just checked my savings, and I hit my milestone a whole year ahead of schedule! Yes, I have a means to save at a rate that was mere impossible while living in the Lower Mainland. The primary reason is simple, the cost of living seams more on the surface, but a deeper look reveals that rent, fuel and cheaper utilities break the scale, and to a large part, recreational activities and entertainment is on a whole different playing field. Just these factor alone are huge savings. However, there is one main reason why the cost of living is better.

My employment tips the scale between where I came from, and where I am today. Here, even though the wages are roughly the same, living with factors like a seven minute commute time, bringing fuel cost way down, and the ability to go home for lunch, or time to bring a lunch from home, saves huge. Back in Langley, I was facing a forty-five minute commute, and the uncertainty of being late if a train or accident would block my route. Now that is stress! But nonetheless, I gladly gave that up to live more like a human again, or better quality of life–period.

So, looking at my overall health, wealth and well-being, it is in stark contrast from what my life was over fort-teen months ago, a doubling of its value. But I do give a word of caution if you are reading this, and thinking of migrating to the North: it is not for everyone. It is a totally different way of life. You may not get the dream job you are seeking, and finding accommodations is getting very familiar to what Vancouver was just a few year ago–harder. Rents are getting close to Lower Mainland prices are, and home are starting to go through the sames patterns.

Homes are slowly creeping up in prices. I should point out that here in the Skeena Valley, the main home that are in inventory on the market are huge luxury homes, built by contractors. I am seeing these houses well into the $600k range now. Although more reasonable priced homes come up onto the market from time to time, they are quickly scooped up, and so to does the cycle of speculation leading housing prices to climb. So, if looking for a home, wait, and be patient.

Although I have not purchased a home yet, I feel I am closer to the goal. I am still renting, and paying a very reasonable price for that service, and I bought a newer car, so saving is a reality even with the payment. (I should point out that went through my Bank for the car loan, not a finance company.) I guess I would say I am very lucky in that respect. But anyway, time to enjoy time with my best friend! It is dinner over at her place. Yummy!

As We Enter Into the Fall Season

As a famous playwright once wrote, “Parting is bitter Sweet,” and I quote these words as we leave the summer season as a memory behind, as the sky darkens so early now. The campers out on Kalum Lake were living it right to the bitter end, as the weekend came hurling to a sudden close. Not only are the schools open for the children, but the “Regular” season starts to ramp up to a deafening pitch for those campers. Back to the grind. The smell of illegal recreational drugs fills the air, along with the smoke from a dozen campfires, and as the night creeps in with the coldness of the changing season, we decide to take leave from the chaos and confusion, and head back to this thing called civilization. Bye summer time, bye.

Paying homage to the day of equal light and darkness, I aim my camera into the horizon above the lake and press the shutter for a 30 second exposure. “Why not,” I ask myself. The camera can see far better than I can in this light, almost twilight to my eyes, and the viewfinder lights up with the captured image, so bright, I need to squint to see it. I pack up my photography equipment, as I did a shoot with me and Suz, using a speed-light, and we trudge through the sand along the beach, back to the car. It was tough going, all that weight, sinking in the sand, walking in the dark, but we made it back to the car, only to face the thirty minute drive back to town in the pitch back of the early night.

Now in my bed, resting from the day’s activities, I am thinking of tomorrow–it is now the fall season. The hope is that Mother Nature will throw us a couple more weeks of awesome Sun filled days, to cheat the impending winter wrath yet to come. Thinking positive here. Thinking positive!


What Did You Do On the Last Day of Summer?

Happy Autumnal Equinox! The last of the summer is here! Yes, I know: “booooo.” But , hey, it will be back again, next year–deal with it. Anyway, the last day of summer gave up no ghost as far as the weather goes. It was a cloudless sky, with temperatures reaching up to 25C in the valley. I have the photographs to prove it. I even got burnt slightly from the Sun. My Vitim “D” levels are at the maximum. Yes, it was a summer’s day. So, naturally, I did my photographic rounds, celebrating the celestial event, and took photos of my area in its natural spender. It involved a personal hike up Terrace Mountain, and a walk with Suz., along the low laying sandbars of the Skeena River, just North of the Old Bridge in Thornhill, then an evening (officially fall now) at Kitsumkallum Lake. An action packed day, with over 12gigs of photos.

This is on Terrace Mountain, looking South East at the Skeena River. You can see both bridges, crossing into Thornhill from Terrace, and Ferry Island on the right (Terrace, BC). I used the Back Eddy Trail this time to climb up the mountain, and it took me about fifteen minutes to get to the Rocky outcrop locals call “Baldy.” I used my 14mm lens for the shot to get everything in. Already the Sun was climbing to high in the sky, so I have to deal with lots of lens flare. I stayed on the mountain for about an hour, taking lots of shot of the landscape. The only wildlife I met was a very unhappy squirrel who did not like me being there. I also ran into two families of hikers too, along the trails. After that, I climbed down, headed for home, showered and Suzettet met me at my place.

We walked along the sand flats, right across from where I hiked up Terrace Mountain, along the Skeena River. With the river being so low, we could walk (North of the Old Bridge) where river water would normally be. It was like being on another land–sand–lots of sand. In this shot, above, the rocky out crop, is where I took the first photo in this post from. You can see the trees here are starting to turn into their fall colours.

River art is everywhere, where you least expect it to be. This spiral of rocks could not be seen from the road because it is placed in a depression about a kilometer from the bridge. There many such sculpture/monuments around, that locals built. Some are awesome to see, others are personalized, and some are weird.

Like this inukshuk, built on the mud, still in the water. Not to sure if this was built when the water was lower, or it was created in the water? It looks really good, standing at less than 30cm high. I guess if you have a big enough sand box, even the gown-ups like to play too.

I will end this post with some Macro Photography with. I shot this below the Old Skeena River Bridge. Moments before I took this shot, a butter fly landed on it. I missed the shot–but Suzette got it with her Smart Phone. I hope she publishes it.

It was an awesome day. The last day of summer, went out with a bang. Even our Forest Fire Level with placed back into the “Moderate” level again, after having a couple of weeks of cooler weather with rain. But it was not enough to quench the forest’s needs. Everyone is wonder what kind of winter season is in store for us. Will it be a snowy one, or a green winter?

How Low can a River Flow?

We went for our much needed hike along the trails along Ferry Island, which is part of the community of Terrace, BC. The first leg of our mini journey was to walk up the sand bar to the northern most tip of the island. I marveled at just how low the Skeena River is, at almost the same levels as last February, when we last walked here.

When I drove over the old Skeena River Bridge yesterday, I noticed that the little causeway between the large boulders and the northern sand bar were almost joined by dry land. It was not until this morning that the ground between these two areas were completely dry, enough that we could easily walk up sand bar. This would appear that the water level of the Skeena River dropped almost 30cm, over night. So we decided to hike the area.

I would have thought that with the rain we had over the last couple weeks, this would add to the river’s water flow, but that does not seem to be the case in my mind. This raises a few questions. Could it be that the inland areas that feed the Skeena River are dryer than normal? Is this a normal water level for this time of year? I could be looking at a normal cycle that the river goes through year after year., so nothing to worry about–right?

I know a couple of factors. We did have an extra ordinary dry summer, reaching Stage Four Drought Conditions, over the summer season. We went nearly a month and a half with Stage Four. We also had a low snow pack from last winter, and I am sure that will still be effecting our environment. The river is very important for many in the community. Many depend on the river for food and revenue, if that is gone, that could be very disruptive. How low can a river flow?

Either they are getting Old, or it is Snow?

The tops of all the mountains were dusted with a fine covering of snow, about the 2500 metre mark. At first, when I saw this, it reminded me of grey hair, but I quickly snapped myself back to my senses, and knew that it was snow. According to Suz., this snow fall is early for this time of the year, by about a couple of weeks. Could this be a sign of what is to come this winter season?

The have been very cool, with yesterday’s lows of about 4C, then bouncing back to 18C, according to my home thermometer. We did just come out of a couple of days were it rained off and on, with lost of low level clouds, so it would makes sense that if cooled off, snow would blanket the mountains this time of the year. But it is a scary sight, knowing in just a few weeks, our summer like days will disappear and replayed with a white blanket of snow. Anything could happen with “The New Normal.”

Wetter Weather and Thoughts On the Great Melt-Down 10 Years Ago.

We are getting hit with rain, as the rainy season kicks in, though seemingly earlier than last year, it is welcomed. And I just realized that this week marks the tenth anniversary of the 2008 Great Melt-Down, that crashed the markets and change the world, unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In all, the week is going good. Work is chugging along, and I am almost finished unpacking all of my boxes from the time I moved here to Thornhill, BC.

I was surprised that the Forest Fire Rating was set back to Low so quickly. We are only less than two weeks into the rainy season, and the rains seems lighter this year, so I was looking at the Forest Rating sign a little puzzled, as the arrow was placed in the green section. I thought that this might be to soon. Well, even the website says it “Low,” so who am I to argue. The good news, the campfire ban is lifted, so get out, in the rain, and have a camp fire. Oddly, camping season is also over too.

I was checking my journals from a decade ago, and came upon an entry from September, 27 2008. At the time I was living in Fort Langley, BC, working for Bell Canada. I wrote about all the news of the Melt-Down, and how it seemed, “over exaggerated.” Boy was I wrong; the news was correct, as my work saw over 150 employees in October 2008 get laid-off. All around me, nothing seemed secure and talks of lower Interest Rates and Buy-Out for Banks, blanketed the news. The cause and effects, they said would last for years.

Reading an on-line article on the BBC’s website, today, about the effects of the Melt-Down, the developed nations around the world have been experiencing lower than predicted birth rates. Yes, I only need to look at the schools around the Skeena Valley, to see this. The schools are half the size they were when I went to them. Home ownership is another one, as more younger people are renting because they cannot afford the market value for homes. And then there are the lack of good paying jobs. Yes, lots of low-paying jobs to go around, but few sustainable jobs to build a family with. So it looks like Generation Screwed is going to morph into the following generation with these market effects. The BBC article did say it could take another twenty years before we see the glory days of the pre ’08 era back, but the Market landscape has forever changed.

This week, I should have all my boxes sorted and unpacked. A few weeks ago I bought four sets of shelves, and that so far, has made unpacking nicer. I have a very small “compartment,” and brought an entire house with me. So, a sizable amount will live in boxes, until need, but the good news is, have more living space. I hope I find better living arrangements soon.

Shooting RAW, at Night

You can feel it in the air, summer is almost done, as we enter our next season, the cold season. After the Skeena Valley Fall Fair, me and Suz., took a drive out to the lake towards Kitimat, then drove back. I had the camera with me, and thought why not try some nights shots, figuring that it is overcast with clouds from the North, and partly clearing from the South, I might get some interesting results with the weather from around town. If you know me, I do a lot of night time photography, and I have a 6TB drive to prove it, but every time I get out, something different always pops up to shoot that looks possible awesome. I shoot with a Sony Alpha 77v, with a variety of lenses, and the camera is still going after four years. Obviously I use long exposures times for the night shots, and shoot in the RAW format to get these images, which gives me huge editing options when I do the post editing. So, tonight I tried somewhere I never had being in Terrace, BC before, and set up my tripod along Kenny Street, and started shooting. After a while I moved on to the Old Skeena Bridge, and tried there.

Like I said, every time something different changes, and the shots become unique. In the above shot, what really stood out for me was the lens flare. This shot was a twenty second exposure, using a 28mm lens at f2.8 at ISO 100. The added bonus was a train had stopped on the tracks just below, so it added light to the trees in the foreground. Plus, there were low level clouds, or mist, just over head, and clear skies to the South. I took several shots from this spot, and found twenty seconds to the be the best exposure for my liking. I might print this one.

It was a good night. Now to enjoy what is left of the weekend.