The Yearning of the Sun

Actually, when I saw the sunrise last week, it felt as if I saw an old friend again, the Sun, but really, the yearning was for the return of summer. Yes, I had that feeling of needing the good old days of summer back, as I saw the Sun rise. Here in the Skeena Valley, you have the winter position of the Sun, which is just 25 degrees above the horizon, coupled with the mountains that circle around us. This leaves us with a very short day period during the fall and winter months. Seeing the Sun sink below the horizon, as the Earth spins, (this happens around 4:30pm in the afternoon), puts the damper on daily life, when you get home from your work day.

The above image is Miss Egghead enjoying the Sun rise in the mythical Cube Land. The image is a render done in Blender 2.8 Beta.

It is normal to have weeks with overcast sky, and days with rain in the valley. During the colder months, snow is the daily routine, sprinkled with ice, as the sky is cloud filled, with moments of clearing, allowing the Sun sneak through. But it is the darkness that creeps in, making the night life some eighteen hours long, leaving some people with the “Winter Blues.” However, with seeking moments like this day, where the Sun shines, getting out and absorbing its rays, is a natural rite.

Also, one more point: This has been an unusually warm winter, so far. We have missed the full onslaught of the Arctic Vortex, but nonetheless, it is winter. The Earth spins it usual way, and nothing can be done about that. However, there is, with out any doubt, less snow, than normal. The Skeena River is still way below its usual level, and the Coastal Mountains do not look that snow packed, as compared to last year. These are just my opinions, not scientific facts. Though, I have read some articles in the media agreeing with me.

May we see more Sun, and less clouds in the coming weeks, without causing drought conditions like last year.

The Offers Overflow-th

As of today, I have had three, count them, three offers of employment in one week. It seems that my skills and talents are in high demand on the Pacific North Coast. The first offer came last week, in the form of a text message from a contact of mine when I was doing side jobs in Terrace, where they need a law office person in their Claims department. Next came an office/supply management position for a trucking company. And today, a rental company needing a service and office person for their Terrace outlet. Have I accepted?

Let me say, the Skeena valley is seeing an up-swing in economic development, more than likely in the wake of the proposed 40 billion LNG project in Kitimat, BC, then compared to the last few years. Nearly every business, and investors, are ramping up expectations of this possible increase in revenue. Even though not one penny has been spent, the region is poised to offer services that otherwise were nonexistent, or limited, just six months ago. Even the Real Estate Market is rising faster than bread in an oven.

With the cost of living and inflation rising, so to is the need of higher compensation to attract labour in the area. Employers are, by their nature, exists only for the profit, and are often resisting coughing up more revenue for labour. When the cost of living inhibits, and geographical remoteness is added, labour is harder to attract. The game of “give and take” is played. Business cry for cheaper labour when services are lacking talent to fill it, and Labour looks elsewhere where the grass is greener; Free Enterprise is a B*@#! when it works.

As for my decisions: I turned them all down. None of the businesses came even close to my current level of employment compensation. They could not attract me, as their offers’ fell far short of my merits. They will need to put more up front, to fill their needs. If a business cannot grasp this simple concept, then they need to find something else they are more suited to do, or relocate.

The Local Flu Bug Is Still Attacking

It looks like there are more sick people at my work than there were when I was sick a month ago. It sounds like at least five technicians have it now. That is roughly half the co-workers I interact with that are coughing, and complaining about flu like symptoms. I personally thought we were over the hump for this year’s flu season, but looking at these guys, it appears we just might be getting started with the flu season up here on the North Coast.

Their symptoms appear to be a little different from what mine were four weeks ago. I had full on lung goo that caused me to cough every ten seconds, shooting up flem and goo. These guys, they seem to have the sinus infection with fever, without the goo infected lungs. So, for now, I call this a different type of the flu from what I had, but nonetheless, just as nasty.

The flu bugs still roams wild here on the North Coast. Beware, and trust no one!

New Video Card–A Blending We Will Go!

So, on today’s program, it is Blender Time. So let me back up a we bit, say a month ago. Back then, I installed my newer video card because my older video card was not to speed with the latest release of Blender, loving called software “Blender 2.8 Beta.” As work and time sped on, my time to play with the program and fully test it out on my video card, passed by. It was not until today that I dedicated time for myself to play on the PC, taking the graphic software to it limits on my poor old computer. In general, I am really happy with it. I just love the GUI layout.

I was really surprised with all the changes, as I felt my way around, I quickly picked up on new GUI. At first, Shock and Awe, hit me as I looked at the new layout, thinking, “I have to relearn everything….” This was not case. In fact, I can say, these changes are really quite natural, and mesh with my regular user experience and feel of my Operating System. I am very happy that Blender went to the Left Mouse Click. But yes, I did get a little frustrated having to look for stuff, all over again.

The new look, I feel, speeds up my work flow. Everything can be accessed from the main window–I like that. The new widgets, with names and Icons, also are a huge improvement. And to think, this is the Beta for 2.8. So, every week I download the latest build, and I see the improvements. It is awesome to see the progress.

The new rendering Engine: EEVEE is awesome! However, it has some more work needed before I can say it is perfect. I had to get a new video card becuase Eevee would not work, and even with this card, Eevee clunks and sputters when memory is nearing full. But the real time viewing is nothing short of awesome. You need a fairly good video card that can handle the extra horse power, say at least 2GB of video RAM. And the Grease Pencil would not work as well, as it needed the new video card too. Once the card was installed, the magic happened.

The above render I used Cycles, as Eevee still lacked some of issues of not capturing some mesh areas, and left blacked out areas in the background. Even using the Cycles Engine, the improvements are impressive. Less time rendering was the first thing I noticed. The number of crashes has been greatly reduced too. But the way Cycles is catching light reflections with the surrounding materials, is hugely improving. The above render took only a few seconds to render out, at 150 samples, and the result looks great.

Flakes into Drops, into Monster Puddles, and it Was Not Pretty!

Let me set the scene for you. It is 5:30am, and I am off to work, driving from Thornhill, BC into Terrace, taking the Old Skeena River Bridge route. I take this route becuase I usually grab a coffee in town before I head into work. I am now crossing the bridge, entering Terrace, going pass the Legion, going onto Lakelse Avenue. I look ahead of me, and notice that I am following a police car. And at the bottom of hill, the car hit a large puddle, causing it to veer left, then he slowed right down, as the water sprayed across both sides of the road. He straighten out, but I thought his car was going to stall out in water. The water spray reached the building, covering the windows and walls with water and ice. He managed to get his car going again, and drove off.

My turn now. I drove right over to the left, into the other lane, to avoid as much of the puddle as I could. I slowed down to 20km/h too. It did not matter, as the puddle was deep on both sides of the road, only covering less of the road in the East bound lane. All I heard was the thunderous roar of the water all around me, as I hit it, and even at my speed, I could see the water shooting across the road on both sides. Then my car slowed right down, and instinctively I pushed on the gas peddle. For a split second, I was worried. My little car suddenly lurched forward, and resumed speed. I looked in my rear view mirrors, to see water still traveling through the air, into the building, the sidewalks, and onto other vehicles that were parked.

No, the fun did not stop there.

After buying my coffee, I drove back onto Lakelse Avenue, heading towards Eby Street, in front of the Terrace City Hall building. I made my left turn, and then switched lanes to eventually make my right turn back onto Highway 16, heading West bound. It was right at the turn off of Eby Street that I hit another monster sizes puddle. This time, my headlights on my car dimmed as the water shot up into the air. I was turning too, so my car lurched to the left side, and I compensated with the steering wheel. I got onto the highway, and this time all I could see is the steam from my exhaust going into the air. 

Everywhere, there were lake size puddles along the roads. It was raining hard too, in the valley. The night before we a snow storm that dumped about 15cm of snow, then it warmed up to plus 2C, and has been raining ever since. But the problem is, all this water has nowhere to go. All the storm drains are plugged with snow, and the ground is still frozen from the week long freeze.

My last hurtle was driving into the parking lot at my work. That was all water, and in some spots, the water was over 30cm deep. The entrance, was another deep spot that all most stalled out my car. I took that corner very slow.

This afternoon, I hopped into my car, started it, and all was good. I checked everything, and nothing seemed broken from the water, so I was happy. The drive home was awesome, as all the lakes on the road were almost gone. There were a few spots with super-sized puddles, but these were a lot smaller than what they were at 5:50am.

So glad the weekend has started!

Powder Snow and Windy Cold Out

It seems we are in the midst of a cold spell here in the Skeena Valley, were it is below freezing. Old Jack Frost has been a little nippy, especially when it comes to scrapping off my car every morning before work. For three days now, it has been below freezing, with some snow, and it looks like we have one more day of it before we bounce right back into the freakishly warm weather again. Rumour has it, by Friday we could be above 6 to 10C, again in Thornhill, BC.

A shot looking at my bedroom window, my Southern view to the world, from inside.

Sure, this pales in comparison to last year’s wintry season, and even to the hardcore Skeena Valley citizen would say this is weird year, but cold is cold, no matter which way you hold it. Instead of 100cm of snow, last year, we are getting 5cm of nice powdery snow this year, and I can say, the wind has not been that bad either. But waking up to minus 5C, still adds that little bitty shock to the old nervous system when your feet touch the hardwood floor for the first time. You sort of let out a little, “yelp.”

So far, it appears that today will be the coldest day for this season. I think it went down to minus 7C last night, and were currently at minus 3C this afternoon. This might be a super short winter season.

The Ever Growing Rock and Crystal Garden

I added some more quarts crystals to my collection last week, along with some other mineral rocks. The quarts, I only paid about ten dollars for a couple of large pointed crystals, and the big chunk of Iron Pirate, I bought for twenty, so I have about just over a hundred bucks sitting in this bowl. The small blue round rocks are just polished glass that I got at the Dollar Store, to add as filler. There are pieces of Bornite (aka Peacock Ore) and one large piece of Galena, or Lead Sulphide in the centre of the bowl too.

I always wanted a good size crystal collection, with other various minerals added, and now I am well on my way. Sadly, none of these pieces I have collected myself out in the wild. Hopefully, as I get more settled into the Northern lifestyle, I will travel further to remote places, where I can get to go exploring for interesting rocks. The near by places have been picked over, so you do have to hike in those hard to get to locations to find the good stuff. But I am happy buying the odd crystal that looks awesome, for now from the rock shops in town.

Suz., tells me that each type of crystal and mineral has metaphysical value as well. Perhaps with all of these rocks so close to me, maybe they are helping me, or I am getting lead poisoning from the Galena, (I leave them in the bowl). Their shiny crystal sate is enough for me. I like shiny crystal rocks, they make my happy–enough said.

The “Let Go”

It was your typical Friday morning: unlock the doors, turn on the light, boot up the PCs, then wait, sipping on coffee, as everything came to life. It all happened without hitch–the start of a perfect day. And as I looked back, the day did seem to be running too smoothly. The warehouse and Stores were in perfect shape, still clean from when I left it the day before. The vehicles and lift trucks were never used, and during the safety checks, all the machines started without any issues. Sitting in the office, I open the email browser, and waited. Cool–no emails! Nice.

It was about 7:25am, that it came in. The email. And it read, “Effective immediately, employee’s name, is no longer employed with company.” The email went on to tell us who to contact on issues that were pertaining to the said employee, my Supervisor–the man that hired me for this job. I looked at it, and reread the email. I thought it was joke, but it was the real deal. He is no longer with us.

I had issues that I was working with my former Supervisor, but nothing pertaining to the actual job, but more to do with clerical issues and administrative concerns. I had an expense claim that I submitted, that was not deposited into my account. And then there was the issue of not being able to login into my on-line hours time sheet web site–that is now going into its first week. So, I was a little concerned, but not overly excited, as time was on my side to deal with these.

But then more news popped up. Another email, with more bad news in it. More were let go. A total of six, due to varying degrees of misconduct, from theft and larceny, to insubordination and derelict of duties. All were bad, meaning their employment was terminated as well. I do not know any of these people, as they work at other locations, so these had no shock value news for me.

No more news came about after that. The day was quiet again. I was still in a daze, at all this bad news in one day.

The good news: I have my login issue straighten out. My password was reset, and I logged in my hours, and updated my journal, without any troubles. I am up-to-date again. It feels nice. My expenses report will require more time. I am sure that will get corrected on Monday, and all will be fine by the end of next week.

A Friday that should of been a Monday.

Pretty Lights In the Snow: A New Years Day Walk

It was like magic; the pretty lights in the snow along the Terrace Grand Trunk Pathway that stretches beside The Yellow Head Highway 16. I waited for the right time to walk this, to take photos of the LED coloured lights along the path. Of course, it had to be dark out, and not foggy, and above all else, it needed to be a non-work day the next morning. So, New Years day, was the perfect choice. So me and Suz headed down the path, snapping photos as we went.

What was neat about some of the lights, was that they were half buried in the snow–adding for that extra light effect. The above shot was one of my favourites. The other weird thing about shooting LED lights with a digital camera was that you can see the lights fade in and then out again. The light oscillates from bright to dim, and back again.

As for the path, it was icy, so you had to watch your step. At one point, I found it was better to walk off the path, than on it. Of course, I have water proof runners on, which did not help the grip on ice problems I was having.

The weather was even weird too. It was 7C at my place overnight, and tonight, it was hovering around 3C. It was actually raining out when walked the path, and snow was melting at a good rate. The roads were perfect to drive on throughout the Skeena Valley, both in Terrace and in Thornhill, BC.

I sort of screwed up when I took these shots. Normally, I set the ISO to 100, and adjust my shutter speeds accordingly. But this time, I had the ISO to “Auto,” and the camera left the shutter speed a 1/125 per sec., and adjusted the ISO for me. In most cases I hate images with lots of noise from the high ISO values, but I did some good shots from tonight, so I will keep them.

I hope you enjoy the light show. Have a great New Year!

HAPPY 2019!

As we leave 2018 in the dust bin, and move into 2019, one thing was apparent: this year’s celebrations were quiet around the neighbourhood. Me and Suz., did not really hear any fireworks, or party noises at the stroke of midnight. But then again, we spent New Years at my place, so my neighbours are a in a different class economically, fireworks are a luxury only some can afford. In all, a quiet night, but one that I was happy not to go into work today.

Yes, Netflix. I have to talk about Netflix. Me and Suz., watched and episode that just came out from the Black Mirror series called “Bandersnatch,” last night.  We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we started watching it. On the trailer, it says, run time “one hour and thirty minutes.” When we get passed the two hour mark, we started to wonder. Oh yes, we never at that point made any interactive choices during the movie until that point. In other words, we let the story move through its unassisted story line. Enough said–I will stop here. No spoilers here. The caveat here is, you have to watch it either on a smart TV, or on a Roku device, like what I have becuase you get to make choices. The show has multiple endings, and can last up to five hours.

New Years Resolution? None.

Reflections: None.

Hopes and aspirations for 2019: Nope.

However, I am looking for to 2020, when we theoretically can see better.

So, Happy New Years, and enjoy the day off today. I sure am.