Saturday, June 30, 2007

I took this shot in a little alley off Vancouver's Chinatown. There are prominent signs in the alley proclaiming it a "heritage site" - i.e. it's got historical value and is worthy of preservation. I guess that explains why this and one other building, out of at least a dozen, were still left standing in the midst of new condos. Heritage? Money? Heritage? Money? You guessed it - money.

Went to see "Paprika" tonight. In case you've never heard of it, it's a Japanese animated movie. It's good. I'd love to say more, but, well, um, let's just say that the Japanese, evidently, are a strange and wonderful people. Go see it. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I don't know about you, but I'm hoping this is the work of a spacing-challenged sign painter, rather than the actual truth, albeit misspelled. I really don't want to know about an engine that can "analy sing".

But, all seriousness aside, I picked up a book of portraits (mostly) by the late, great Arnold Newman today. Man, that guy was good! Go get a really well-printed book (mine's published by Taschen) of his photos and have a good time.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Kind of reminds you of Xeno's paradox, doesn't it?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

North Vancouver's shoreline used to be nothing but docks for fishing boats, and boatyards. Not anymore. Condos, condos, condos. This is a relic.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Now that's a subtle shade.

By the by, did I mention Terry Gilliam's "Tideland"? Of course I did. Well, go get it for crying out loud.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Back to New Westminster and places for rent.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I suspect that one of the possible ways of classifying the world's population is "Those who like Terry Gilliam's movies" and "Those who don't". I don't think there's any middle ground. I fall into the former group, so take the following with a grain of salt. "Tideland" is one heck of a good movie. Yes, a tad slow in parts, but, overall, one heck of a great movie. Which explains why it came and went from the theatres in the blink of an eye. Well, that and the various necrophiliac, pedophiliac, strange-o-philiac portions. Mr. Gilliam has, to put it mildly, a strange and interesting mind. But, I can't wait for his next movie.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Of course, the big question is, who's "Olaf", and why should we admit him? But...

And, for the budding young surgeons in my somewhat limited audience, this story.
Combine this techique with a regular dental check-up, and I think we've got a winner.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Just another place you wouldn't really want to live.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

So, if this is "ultra", wouldn't you hate to see "regular"?

For the whippet fans out there, some evening when you're looking for a little entertainment, try "Chef", the third season. It's a BBC series.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

An "exam-related" photo. The multiple choice portion. Smart students love multiple choice because it's fast and easy. If you can tie your shoes, you can pass a multiple choice exam. Unless the person who designed it was a weasel who tries to trip students up by making the questions and their answers incomprehensible to anyone without a secret decoder ring.

The weird thing is that dumb students love multiple choice, too. That's something I can't figure out. Other than its being a product of student paranoia. They somehow seem to think that multiple choice is "fairer" because it's objective (Their equally un-bright parents seem to think so, too. Witness the rise of "standardised testing".). The answer they give is either right or wrong. There's no room for their teacher's interpretation. Of course, given that most teachers want their students to pass (if for no other reason than not wanting to deal with the hassles that rain down on our heads when someone fails), multiple choice is the absolute worst test design for the, um, intellectually challenged. Precisely because the student's answer is right or wrong. Darn hard to give someone credit for having at least some vague idea of the material being tested. Virtually everyone I know who teaches for a living tries hard to find something - anything! - worthwhile in a sub-optimally-gifted student's answers to essay-style (even if the "essay" is all of two sentences long) questions.

Can you tell I'm in the middle of marking exams?

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Monday, June 18, 2007

I think I've mentioned "The Strobist" before. If I haven't, well, click the link over on the right. I've never been a big fan of flash photography - maybe because I never really understood how to use it properly. Well, reading the information provided on that site has gotten me curious. Damn. I hate that, 'cause it means I'm going to have to spend money. But, if you're nervous about off-camera flash and want to learn how to use it (and you do want to learn, even if you don't know it yet), this is definitely the place to go.

Not that it's not without stress. I've got a Nikon D50. Nikon says, over and over again, "Oooooh, boy! Don't ever, ever, ever use anybody else's flash but ours! Oh no, oh no, oh no - you could totally fry your camera if you do!". But, Nikon's flashes cost pretty much as much as a new camera! Sooooooo, having read that Vivitar 285 HVs work fine (and, since I've got an old 283 that was fantastic on my old FM), I decided to buy a 285 and see what happened. I bought it last Saturday. And stared at it for the rest of the day. And half of Sunday. What if it fried my camera? Did I really want to replace it if things went hellishly wrong? I'd have to buy either a D40x or a D80. The former is affordable, the latter not so much (not that that would have stopped me). I finally gathered my courage Sunday afternoon. I hooked everything up. I tripped the shutter. And, as you've probably guessed by now, everything worked fine. Very big sigh of relief. And now you can look forward to "interesting" flash photos. Maybe. We'll see.

But, do check out "The Strobist". Darn good stuff.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Ah, life's burdens. Tomorrow I have to give the next exam to my students. As I type, most of them are probably hunched over desks, or curled up on couches or beds, stressed to the limit, trying to memorise reams of facts. And thinking what a mean guy I am. Life is heck, isn't it?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Just watched "Letters From Iwo Jima". For a Republican, Clint Eastwood makes a pretty darn fine antiwar movie. For that matter, for anybody, Clint Eastwood makes a pretty darn fine antiwar movie.

Friday, June 15, 2007

There's a lot to be said for an 18-200 vibration-stabilized lens. And a good wall, of course.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ah, the influence of the ipod. Would you like a little more white with that?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wouldn't you hate to be dyslexic and live here?

Are the kids who run Yahoo evil or stupid? Anyone missed the current controversy over Yahoo's censoring flick'r content in Germany, Hong Kong, etc.? This after royally screwing one of the hottest photographers to ever post on their site? After turning Chinese dissidents over to Chinese authorities so these dissidents could be sent to prison? And, it's not like they really need any more negative publicity. Their CEO, Terry Semel, was paid around 100 million dollars last year. A year in which the value of Yahoo stock dropped 35%. Can you imagine what the guy would have been paid if the stock had risen by 35%? Wowee! Don't you love the world of high-flying big business?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

And a good thing, too. Nothing worse than "partially licensed".

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Monday, June 11, 2007

It was the ceramic poodles that really attracted my attention. Honest.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Went to see "Pirates...III" tonight. If you liked P...I, and tolerated P...II, then you'll find P...III somewhere between the two. It was fun. The story line was, um, well, not, shall we say, surfeited with coherence, but that's never really been the point anyway, has it? Wander in, turn off any desire you might be hiding for logic, and just enjoy the show. If nothing else, you can spend some time figuring out how much of Keith Richards's look is make-up, and how much is just him.

Oh, and skip the extra little vignette that comes after the interminable credits. It's not worth it. Honest.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

These are the things you see when you're standing around waiting for a bus. Well, in some parts of town, anyway.

And pho, by the way, is beef soup. More or less.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Isn't it interesting that they don't list pho as a specialty? Or do they figure that since it's mentioned in the name, there's no need? Marketing is such a tricky thing.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Well, I was originally thinking that this photo was just another manifestation of my fascination with dumpsters and bright colours, but then I ran across this. 2050?!? If you currently own beachfront property, right now would be a really good time to sell. Unless you're planning to open an underwater theme park in a few years. Good old Dumbya and his Faith-Based Science.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A sunny, hot Sunday. Commercial Drive was packed (contrary to the way it looks here).

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Are you like me? When you want a game of bingo, do you look for one with no artificial sweeteners? No additives, or preservatives? Well, have I got the place for you.

Isn't free association a terrible thing? Especially when it comes armed with a digital camera and a blog?

And, did Hillary just hand the Democratic nomination over to Barack? America safer now since 9/11? Thanks to the Dept. of Homeland Security?!? Riiiiigggghhhht. I love this notion: "Some cite the fact that there have been no domestic terror attacks since Sept. 11, and the foiling of several alleged terror plots, as evidence that the new antiterrorism measures are working." Yes, and you'll notice they're very effective against tigers, too. Seen any of those wandering across the White House grounds lately? Nooooooo. Ignore the fact that Dumbya has pissed off most of the non-American world. Ignore the fact that thousands of innocent lives have been lost thanks to his moronic (not to mention homicidal) foreign policies. And, if you can actually do those things, believe America is safer. Dumbya would probably refer to it as "Faith-based Security". Lotsa luck with that.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Spent three or four hours yesterday wandering around the east side of Vancouver in 80+ degree (or 28-ish? C) heat, taking pictures. Heck of a good time, really. I guess my time in Tampa is paying off. 80+? Nothin'!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

What goes on in there?

Evidently, I'm odd. Here's a story that totally baffles me (well, O.K., not really). It's a telephone, folks, not The Second Coming, or your life-changing winning lottery ticket, or a cure for cancer. It's an annoying little nag that goes everywhere you do, destroying any sense of privacy you might (or might not) cherish. Peaceful contemplation of your surroundings? Forget about it. Precious moments of isolation? Uh-uh. Not gonna happen. Why, oh why, do people buy these things when they don't actually need them? Doctors - sure. Real estate agents (shudder) - O.K. High-powered, let's-make-a-deal executroids - I suppose so. But, actual people? Normal people?

Oh, sure, you can set them to "Vibro-mode", so they're not ringing (or playing some hideous sound bite from some "indie" band that'll disappear into the aether in a week) constantly. But, admit it, you're waiting for that buzz. And, sure, you can turn them off completely, but they're there, in your pocket, purse, pack or whatever, lurking and you know it and you're wondering what you might be missing. Gad.

By the way - this little rant has absolutely nothing to do with an earlier email keeping me up to date on some good friends' new cell phone numbers. That's important information. Blame, instead, the New York Times and Steve (Drink the Kool-aid, trust me) Jobs.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

How's that for product placement?

And, in the grand tradition of this blog of keeping up with the latest developments much whatever strikes my fancy, this just in from the "Why Everyone Should Get a Decent Science Education" desk. Let's see, shark cartilage doesn't contain many blood vessels....hmmmmm.....interesting. Of course, neither does human cartilage. Or the cartilage of any other animal, for that matter. So, shark cartilage's use as a cancer therapy would be what? Oh! None.

And, I love the comments of "...Debra L. Barton, an associate professor of oncology at the Mayo Clinic"..., lead researcher in a study on ginseng: “The theory is ginseng would help the body moderate the negative things going on,” she said." Now that's science at its finest. If only we could control those darn old "negative things", boy, we'd be able to lick that mean old cancer thingee. Evidently, Dr. Barton didn't get much of a science education either. I wonder if she had one of those Barbie dolls, when she was a kid, that said, "I don't like math - it's too hard!" With "scientists" like her in the news, scientists don't need enemies. Gad - no wonder George "Dumb As A Post" Bush has such an easy time trashing rationality.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Well, a good day and a bad day. On the "good" side, lots of my students (so far) have done well on their first exam. Some, naturally, didn't, but that's kind of how it goes.

On the "bad" side, I installed the latest version of Firefox on my office (thank heaven) computer. It's not workin' so good. In fact, I ended up uninstalling it, which is forcing me to use Explorer, which I'd rather not do. But, until the bugs are fixed - uh-uh - no latest Firefox for me.

And now I'm trying to attach tags to this post, and Blogger's doing me the wonderful favour of auto-filling. Except, of course, it's filling in stuff I don't want! Notice that I've got the tags "fraser river", "fraser" and "river". Well, for the last two, Blogger wanted to put in "fraser river", so I had to delete "fraser" for one and "river" for the other. And now I'm trying to enter the tag "vancouver", since that's where the photograph was taken, but Blogger wants to use "eastside vancouver", since I've used that before. Who designs these things? Are they completely stupid/incompetent, or do they just like torturing the poor folks trying to use their ever-so-helpful software?

Ain't it tragic?

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