Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ah, ranting about politics - what fun it can be. But, so can this! High above Vancouver on a sunny Sunday morning, flying over Stanley Park and the Lions Gate Bridge, heading west to Nanaimo. It's a great way to start a day.

And, yes, I know - it's also a great way to make my small contribution to global warming. But, on the plus side, I ride a bike rather than owning a car, and I live in an apartment. So, overall, my contribution is pretty small. Aren't I just ever so good?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Yeah, yeah - I know. I said I was going to concentrate on photography and forget all about politics, but...

To me, this photo is a Rorschach blot, and a fairly obvious one at that. You have to admit that the white stuff looks like one of those old globes you used to be able to buy to adorn your desk. And the gaping hole in the middle looks like someone wearing some sort of floppy clown's hat. Admit it. So, pick your favourite political clown who's contributing in a big way to the end of the world.

Mine, of course, is George W. (for "Wassup, dude?") Bush. Terrorist recruiter supreme. Deluxe despoiler of the environment. Pinhead puppet. Warrior wannabe (now that his ass won't actually be on the line). Most incompetent world leader's gotta be Nope! He's Numero Uno!

Lied about whatever he had to in order to take his country to war. Responsible for the deaths of hundreds of young Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis. Ready, willing and able to illegally spy on his own citizens (and, for that matter, already has). Ready, willing and able to subvert the First Amendment and prosecute members of the press for exercising their rights.
Ready, willing and able to arrest hundreds of people without regard for their rights. Mouthpiece for piety. Leapin' lizards - don't get me started!

Good thing I'm going to spend a quiet day having fun with friends.
It's Saturday, and that, I think, means it's house-cleaning day for a lot of people. Have fun, folks!

Once you're done, if you can find it, watch "I'm All Right, Jack", a British movie from 1959, starring Peter Sellers, Terry Thomas, Ian Carmichael and Sir Richard Attenborough. Two good reasons to watch it: it's funny; it's illustrative of how nothing ever changes. In the more than 40 intervening years, nobody's learned anything.

And, just to rub it in, feel free to pick up T. E. Lawrence's "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom" and do a little browsing in that. It's from 40 years before "I'm All Right, Jack".

It would seem that even those who know history are doomed to repeat it.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sunday morning, bright and early (for me, anyway), I'll be jumping on board one of these and heading for Nanaimo to visit some of my favourite people. Seaplanes are a heck of a good time. They're noisy, they fly low enough to see things, and, in this particular case, they cut a 2 hour trip down to 20 minutes. That works. One of these days I'm going to see a pod of whales on this trip.

Hi, Candace! Hi, Bev!
Rust - a feature of life on the Wet Coast. And today's weather is bound to create more. Ah, well - I've got work to do anyway.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

When we all used to shoot film, there was no necessity to come up with titles for our photographs. With digital, however, we have to at least give them file names. In which case, why not give them actual titles? So, this one's called, "Life Goes On". Take what you will from that.

But, its relevance today is to the fact that Steely Dan's life goes on. And what a good thing that is. I just got their last CD, "Everything Must Go," and Donald Fagen's latest, "Morph the Cat". You should, too. Just trust me. Listen to "What I Do".

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I don't know how it is where you live, but gas stations in this town - let alone ones with actual service bays like this one has - are vanishing at a prodigious rate. Hard to figure out why, given the fabulous profits being realized by the oil industry. Must make it interesting for drivers, too - "I know there used to be a gas station around here somewhere!" My natural cynicism suggests that the answer might lie in the notion of fewer stations = scarcer supply to motorists = higher prices. But, that's just silly, right? I'm sure it's all in the interests of greater efficiency. Absolutely.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ah, the joys of global warming. This is a photo of Panorama Ridge - a terrific destination for a hike. If you were up there, looking toward the camera, you'd have a grand view of Black Tusk, a giant tooth of lava sticking into the sky. If you looked down over the other side of the ridge, you'd be looking down on Garibaldi Lake, created by a dam of lava sometime in the deep, dark past.

Now, global warming comes into the picture in the fact that that grey slope to the right, with the broad patch of snow, was covered by a glacier 15 years or so ago. All gone bye-bye now. Kind of like the pine forests of B.C. will be thanks to the mountain pine beetle. As average temperatures rise, winters, of course, get shorter and warmer. Temperatures at high elevations rise. Which means that the usual die-off of the beetles, caused by low winter temperatures, doesn't happen. Ring that dinner bell!

But, sensibly, most governments are taking measured steps to protect their economies. No drastic alterations in any activities that might contribute to global warming. No big push for alternative fuels. No, no, no. Could hurt the economy! Gotta protect that. I'm not sure who for, but...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Speaking of a long, hard slog - rock climbing anyone? That's the Stawamus Chief on the right, where, on any day with decent weather, you can see dozens of climbers working their vertical way up that blank face to the top. The view from there is very nice, but I'll be taking the back way, thank you.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A sunny day, a mass of crumbling volcanic rock to slog up, a good view - what more could anyone want? "Oh, porter!"

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Now, you could take this picture as yet another dig at any of a number of world leaders,'d be wrong!

Actually, I was thinking of Andy Warhol when I made it. Because one of the great things about Warhol was his appreciation of the artistry in commercial art. We all tend to ignore the art these folks create because it's ubiquitous. Somebody had to come up with the design for this toy's packaging. For that matter, given that this "portrait" of the robot toy that came in the box is a fairly accurate portrait, it's a portrait of someone's design for the painting on the robot. And, of course, someone had to design the robot itself. Think it's easy? Try it.

On an even more subtle level, someone designed the very type you're reading. Each letter, each "E", "t", "q", each ".", """, "?" - all of these were designed by someone.

Part of Warhol's genius was in pointing this out to us. Not explicitly - he didn't say, "Look, you fools! Can't you see! Somebody laboured long and hard over that soup can!" But he was saying pretty much just that nonetheless. Repetition dulls our perceptions. Given the same image over and over again, we just come to accept it as part of the world and ignore it.

Hmmmm....maybe there's a political comment in here after all.
I don't know why scenes like this get my attention, but - obviously - they do. I can't decide whether there's something vaguely sinister about those cooling units sitting up there above the two shadowed doors, or something goofy.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

One of the things I've always hated about newspapers is their practice of correcting their errors in well-buried retractions - somewhere in the middle of the latest corn prices, for example. Well, that's not going to happen on this blog, nosirreebob! I'm going to make my corrections right up front.

So, it turns out that the Smirk hasn't asked his Chief of Defence for copies of his intended speeches. No. What the Smirk wants is merely the intended topics. Why, you ask? Beats me. Who knows with this goofball? Of course, who knows if this clarification is actually the truth? Why would I doubt it? Well...

Peter McKay - "If elected leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, I promise that I will not allow it to merge with the Reform Party." tic-tic-tic-tic "Oh, I'm now the leader? Cool! Welcome aboard Reformers!"

Smirkin' Steve to the Liberal Party - "You must axe the tax!" The Smirk was referring to the GST being applied to the already-taxed price of gas. This was, of course, before he became Supreme Leader. His declaration now? "Get used to it." Yep, he isn't going to change a thing. He implied he would, but, get a grip. As he said, "That was then, and this is now."

He also stood for expanded freedoms for M.P.s. Then. Now - he gets to pick the committee leaders.

And, of course, he castigated the Liberals for a lack of ethics. Then accepted David Emerson into his cabinet within days of Emerson's election as a Liberal. No problem for the Smirk that Emerson's campaign costs had been covered by the Liberals. No problem for the Smirk that Emerson's constituents had voted for a Liberal and gotten a Conservative. No ethical difficulties there whatsoever. In fact, let's face it, like the Smirk says, "That's old news.".

I love these guys.
I just knew I'd have a chance to use this picture again! Yes, Smirkin' Steve Harper, our very own "Mini-Dubya", has issued yet another "Just zip it!" order, this time to his Chief of Defence, General Rick Hillier. Seems the General actually voices genuine opinions when he speaks, rather than the finely-crafted, content-free sound bites that the Smirk would prefer. Heaven forfend that Canadians should be given actual information! Who knows what they might do with it? Why, they might vote the Smirk out of office at their earliest opportunity! Which, given the pretty much total unpopularity of Smirk's new child-care measures, might just be sooner than he'd like. Much as I hate seeing all that tax money wasted on yet another election, getting rid of this nit would, I think, be worth it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Doug Plummer's a working photographer (as opposed to those of us who wish we were) based in Seattle. He's got a great site, so you should go have a look.
If you don't have an incident light meter, your life just isn't complete.

But, that's another matter. The reason for this picture is a question that floated into my mind last night as I was trying to get to sleep. Coming up with silly questions at that time seems to be one of my brain's favourite jokes on me. Its question this time was, how come shutter speeds start off "1 sec, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8" and then, rather than the expected 1/16, they go to 1/15. And then follow the pattern "1/15, 1/30, 1/60" only to switch next to "1/125, 1/250..."?

Any camera history mavens out there with an answer? Something to do with mechanical shutter design? Arbritrary decision just to keep people like me awake nights? What's the answer?
Canada's own Baby Dubya, Smirkin' Steve, has been at it again. What a busy guy he is! Getting rid of environmental protections, trying to flex our mini military might, and now trying to preemptively muzzle pesky M.P.s. Yep, there's nothing worse than an elected member of parliament with an actual opinion, especially if it differs from the Smirk's. So, shut 'em up before they can open their mouth! It's quick! It's clean! It's precisely the kind of behaviour that Smirk spent much of his time in Opposition decrying. Yep, surprise! The Smirk lied. Heavens! Who'd a thunk?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Spring is rolling along nicely in my neighbourhood. This trail, however, won't look like this for another couple of months. Right now, it's buried under a few feet of snow. At least, it better be. It's high up in Garibaldi Park and shouldn't be seeing much daylight till the end of June. These days, of course, who knows?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Well, isn't the internet just a heck of a lot of fun? Exploring the content-provision side of it is what motivated me to set up this silly blog, and now I've taken a new step - my own little (and I mean "little") "shop" at Cafe Press . If you're really desperate for a postcard or greeting card, I've stuck a couple of photos there for that purpose.

Golly - maybe I'll get rich! Of course, given that, according to the Cafe Press site, roughy 40,000 new images were uploaded to their site at about the same time mine were, that seems like something of a long shot. But, hey, it's all part of the fun. Right?
Bokeh, schmokeh - it's shallow depth of field, O.K.? Yes, different lenses blur it out in different ways, but, gees - "bokeh"? And people are actually measuring it?!?

Which brings me to my one big problem with digital - too much depth of field. With my old Nikkor 105 I could cut it to a few millimeters. Now I'm lucky to confine it to a meter! Then again, maybe I just need to spring for that D50. I know, I know - I traded a pile of darn good 35mm stuff away for a very limited digital camera, so I deserve what I'm getting. But, there no mercy?

Fine. I'll spend the money. Punishment payment. Gees.
Well, that's different. Black and white. What a concept. I haven't done much, yet, with the digital version of black and white, but it's something I intend to work on. In my blissful ignorance of the technology, I originally thought it would be simple. Oops. Not. Or, maybe it is, and my blissful ignorance is just getting in my way.

This, of course, is one of the greatest things about digital photography. A camera, a copy of Photoshop (or, for the simple-minded like me, Photoshop Elements), and away you go. Experiment your brains out! Push every menu option and see what happens. Don't like it? Undo. Can you imagine trying to do all this in a "traditional" darkroom?

The photo, by the way, is of Diamond Head, up in Garibaldi Provincial Park. It was taken from up on the Gargoyles.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Having trashed "The Weatherman", I'd like to now put in a good word for "Howl's Moving Castle". Excellent. That's a good word, isn't it? Excellent? Sure. So, watch it.
Yep, spring's nice.

Friday, April 14, 2006

In case you're contemplating watching Nicolas Cage's recent movie, "The Weatherman", stop. It's an exercise in tedium and product placement. Every ten minutes or so, Cage gets hit with one fast food product or another, tossed from a moving car. That wouldn't be so bad (supposedly it's citizens upset with his weather predictions), but the script calls for Cage to say things along the lines of, "I just got hit with a ********** Hot Apple Pie" while holding up the packaging, just in case you weren't sure. The only thing missing was the price. And, don't worry, other junk food specialists got their licks in, too. And the geniuses in Hollywood wonder why no one goes to their movies anymore?

Oh, and the story was the usual simple-minded crap, too. Career-obsessed son/dad/husband (depending on which sub-plot is playing) watches his life fall apart just before being offered, and accepting, million dollar job of his dreams. Funny how a million dollars and fame will make all the bad stuff go away. Oh! No, wait! It wasn't the million dollars and fame. The job came with redemption, too!
I've got to get out and get some new shots. Still, I'm fond of this one, taken on the Lynn River. It's a darn beautiful spot.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

This is Desolation Plain. It's covered in gravel created by a glacier grinding away at the volcanic rock that makes up much of the area. The glacier used to exit onto the plain through a gap on the right. The glacier no longer exists. It disappeared over the last 20 years. Melted.

Which brings me to Canada's very own George-Bush-Wannabe, Smirkin' Stephen Harper. Funding for measures trying to monitor/counter global warming? "Not in Canada!", says the Smirk. "Heavens no. Business could suffer! Why do anything to increase the odds of our surviving another two or three hundred years?" One word, Smirk: Customers!

Now, just out of curiosity, anybody know why conservatives, all-Canadian or all-American, seem to be so dimwitted? Why is it they can't understand science? They remind me of that old, quickly recalled, Barbie doll that said, "I don't like math. It's too haaaaard!"

On the other hand, Desolation Plain is rather beautiful.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Living where I do, the world stays green all year 'round. It's still nice, though, when spring comes and all the deciduous trees start leafing out again.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A nice place for lunch in my neighbourhood. But, tonight, I'm headed out to the sushi joint down the street from this place. As I sit hunched over my little slices of fish, I'll be mulling over the wisdom of buying a Nikon D50. The only thing holding me back (well, besides the money) is the nagging feeling that Nikon will come out with something even nicer in the fall. By "nicer" I only mean "higher resolution". What I'd really like to see in a digital camera is one automatic exposure mode (preferably aperture-preferred), autofocus, and plenty of manual exposure control. That ain't gonna happen anytime soon. And, of course, since it's got to be pretty cheap to pile in the auto modes, what the heck, there isn't really any reason not to add them, is there?
All the world may be a stage, but all I've got is this wall and this lamp post. Sure, it's a little on the "Beckett-ian" side, but...

And, speaking of absurdist theatre, how about Dubya? Suddenly he's a big fan of international cooperation! No invasion of Iran planned. Heck no. Negotiation and international pressure will do the trick there. And his newfound love of allies and talk isn't just due to Iran's having an actual army with actual weapons. Oh, dear me, no!

Will someone explain to me just why he hasn't been impeached yet?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Ah, another 3 months and this place will be accessible again. I know it looks pretty bleak in this picture, but, on a sunny day it's beautiful.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

"Foreign"'s the key word in this picture.
It's Sunday. It's raining. A good day to just stand around, doing nothing much.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Need a good movie to watch? Go rent "The Apartment". Yes, it's 46 years old, but it's great.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Ah, history. I took this photograph from the Hamilton "mountain", looking north. The small forest of smokestacks in the background sprouts from the Stelco steel mills which, along with those of Dofasco, were the life blood of Hamilton during my childhood. I had a chance to work in those mills one summer and that was plenty.

The broad avenue on the right is Kenilworth Avenue. It has no importance other than personal history. If you follow it from the bottom of the frame to mid-frame, you'll see a small patch of light across the road. That's Kenilworth's intersection with Main Street where, on the southwest corner, my father, along with his partner, Harold Brewster, established his first law office.

Fascinating, eh?
In case it's not already obvious, I'm kind of a fan of the non-event photograph. This picture is part of a slowly growing series that I think of as "Confined Spaces". Nothing profound, or particularly original. Just pictures of various people's attempts to control nature. A neatly-mowed lawn, a boundary of hedges and rock walls. Are these people actually, if unconsciously, trying to control nature, or are they just trying to fit in with the neighbours? What's the point of this flat expanse of grass? Looking at it, I'll bet the only time anyone actually walks here is when they're mowing it. Sure is tidy, though, isn't it?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Serendipity's a swell thing, isn't it? Depending on how you feel about this photograph, that is. I like it.

Which reminds me of the fact that I've been lucky all my life. Fell into one of the most beautiful cities in the world to live. Managed to go to school whenever I felt like it, and studied whatever I felt like. That enabled me to take up teaching at the university level. And that took me to new schools where I met people - students and colleagues - I'm extremely happy to be able to claim as friends. And it's providing me with a reasonable life, materially and intellectually. All in all, like I said, I'm a lucky guy. Lucky me.

(Hmm - "lucky me" seems to be my theme today. I'd forgotten that I'd already mentioned it in the preceding post.)
School starts up again, for me, in a few more weeks. I'm going to be glad to get back - I actually enjoy my job. Which, I guess, makes me lucky.

And, of course, today's picture is a fairly strained visual metaphor for teaching. It's a job that involves trying to show people all the little trees and branches and twigs that make up the forest while, at the same time, helping them keep their eyes on the big picture, the forest.

Well, I did say it was strained, didn't I?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ah, summer's here (no, really, it is!) and the time is right for strollin' the street with a cooling beverage clutched in one's hand. Or, maybe not.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

You can find a lot of interesting things in books. Sometimes the remains of other people's meals. At least, I hope that's all it was.

Monday, April 03, 2006

This picture kind of captures my hasty departure from Hamilton today. I'd hoped for something more leisurely - tomorrow - but, as it turns out, I'd actually booked my flight for today. Oops. I've definitely got the "absent minded" part of college teaching down. Ah, well - home again.
Tomorrow, home again. And, just to encourage me on my way, it's supposed to snow here in Hamilton tonight or tomorrow. Ah, those childhood memories of shovelling snow are rushing back. Run away!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

My apologies to those who have seen this photograph before, but, let's face it, boyhood memories can get dull. Of course, maybe the photograph is too, but...
That's the Skyway Bridge in the distance. Built when I was a kid, it was a pretty big deal. Before it was built, the only way across the channel from Lake Ontario to Hamilton Bay was a little two-lane lift bridge. More charming, perhaps, but it did tend to slow things up.