Monday, November 30, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

not quite decked out cont'd

ah, so here we have the tree as it appeared early this morning.
that's better looking.

a bit dull on the ornaments, though you can't quite get an appreciation for how big these ornaments are are on this very tall tree.

but, when I went back this evening to capture it lit up -
look what had appeared!

notice how it is all so boringly colour coded with red and gold.

and then my flash blanched out all the strings of white lights

but they're there, as is a view through the window of one of the lamp posts that line the driveway.
a little anti-climactic, isn't it?
tried again this morning, with a different camera.

hmmmm, see the colour difference between the old camera and the new one?
the new camera has a wide angle lens, so I could turn it sideways and get the whole tree in the shot, but I still have to figure out the night photos by the looks of it! both of these were taken on "automatic" setting.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

not quite decked out

Yesterday, in the corner of the lobby by the window,
sat a lonely chair.

Today, the beginnings of a tree.

Apparently, this decorating lark needs to be done s-l-o-w-l-y.

It doesn't look like much now, but I am certain it will grow into something beautiful. Or maybe not. Maybe this is just an ordinary sized tree on an very long pole?

And it's hard to see in this shot, because the ceiling is so very tall,
but the top branch is squished!
Now, how will they fit the star, or angel, on top?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

seeing things differently

When I drove from Ottawa into Hull, one of the first things that stood out for me, was that the traffic lights were different. Not only were they on a long straight arm over the intersection, they were ... horizontal.
That is just so wrong. Well, not wrong really, but so different than what my brain tells me to expect. It was startling.

Traffic lights should be on a pole at the edge of the sidewalk, or on a meridian.
Or on a short curved arm extending over one lane.
And most importantly, vertical.
And yellow.

But on a wire extending from one side of the road to the other with the signals twisting in the wind. Now that is wrong and deserves serious re-designing.
Now, I spend a long time (sometimes hours, even) on some of my blog posts. Especially the ones with photos. The photos have to be the correct size and positioned just so. And the accompanying text has to be specifically aligned. This can cause great consternation with the click and drag option. But I am particular about how I want everything to look.
The other day (week, actually, since this has been sitting in my 'drafts for oh, awhile...) I succumbed to one of the many pop-up invitations to try out Google Chrome. I had been with several friends and the conversation somehow turned to the glorification of the 'chrome'. It was so loved by at least two of my computer geek friends that I decided to give it a go. It was purported to load faster and I thought that in itself would be a wonderful thing.

It took a little getting used to finding where everything was. The font was a little different. I liked the instant spell check - though I had to constantly 'Canadianize' it by adding any 'our' word to the dictionary. The tabs were now on the top, instead of the bottom of the screen. And instead of eventually clumping together in a hidden vertical sequence when it got to be too many open tabs (I am easily distracted) they just kept being added in a long horizontal sequence. It wasn't what my brain told me to expect.

Neither was my finished post exactly as expected when I switched from IE to Chrome. All that careful layout was slightly off.

I once commented to another blogger who had posted a photo of her computer screen on one of her posts that I had no idea there was actually another column far off to the right hand side. In fact, I couldn't even see all of her photo without having to scroll down because it was too large to fit on my 17" screen. It wasn't until then that I realized there was also a scroll bar on the bottom. What she was obviously seeing on her screen was not what I was seeing on mine.
Which makes me wonder, is the image of our posts different if you are using a Mac vs a PC? Since Internet Explorer shows differently that Google Chrome, how many other variants are there?

...and why won't Blogger let me embiggen some of my photos??

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

and the squiggles are....

Maps and I go well together. I always have a map of any new city I'm visiting.
These particular maps from yesterday fascinate me.

For the way they take something that is so familiar and mess with your brain by leaving out certain details.

Yet, manage to make it more accurate.
A legendless map.
I grew up in Toronto, always seeing the city as lying on a straight east-west axis with Yonge St running straight due north. Just as the map indicated.
It is not. We are on an angle.

Subway (Metro) maps are notorious for their distortion.

The iconic London Tube map was designed for simplicity, not geographical accuracy. Note how the Beck map (designed in 1933) has lines that are only vertical, horizontal and at 45 degree angles. It is also not to scale.

This is a more geographically accurate depiction.

Not nearly so pretty, is it?
That Beck design has been copied and used throughout the world, though.

New York's subway system presents a unique challenge in part due to the size of the land in Manhattan and the number of lines running though it. I could go on, as it has a fascinating history but, I won't. Don't want to bore you. And it is again a beautiful sunshiny day (ironic as I am writing about undergound rail transport that rarely allows the light of day in....) and I need to finish this and get myself outside.

Again, one could be forgiven for getting a little confused as to which direction one was actually travelling. And, this doesn't give an accurate description of how many rail lines are involved on several levels with each colour coded line.

I am not as familiar with Montreal's system, Maybe Jazz can expand on it's deficiencies.

I am also not familiar with Chicago's system, but to me this looks pretty darn close. I included this one as I thought it might be recognizable by a couple of you (as it was!)

I included Moscow's map, just because I like it and I have always wanted to see their Metro Stations

So thanks for playing and for your guesses!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday AMuse

Can you name these squiggles?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

SundayStills - fins, feathers and fur

The fur coat was first written about here.
The fish I said I fell in love with I wrote about here.
The bird ornament is one of many I have, but I like it so much I keep him up all year.
Mission accomplished. No archives. Now I have to put everything back where it belongs.

It may seem like I have run out of words.
Mostly, I have been drawn outside by November's unseasonal warmth and sunshine.
I'll be back.

Go here to see how others handled this Sunday challenge.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


"People are rarely interested in events half a world away. That may well be true, but we are going to have to learn to care. The Taliban’s utter disregard for human life is at the very heart of the reason our soldiers are in Afghanistan. It is precisely because we value human life that we are waging war.
This is something a nation must only undertake in the direst of circumstances. Our children are risking and losing their lives. Just as important, our soldiers are killing other human beings at our behest. The only way such losses and such actions can be justified is if our enemies, through their actions, have completely crossed the line into immorality.
Have the Taliban reached this point? Like most Canadians, I oppose the death penalty. But I fully support the right of people to defend themselves against hideous abuse, not necessarily by war, but by war if necessary. I want my country to stand with those people, where it can.
So I would urge all [Canadians] to ask themselves two questions. The first is whether Afghan civilians are worth protecting. The second is whether the Taliban are so bad that they need to be opposed with lethal force.
The answer to the first question should be self-evident. The answer to the second requires more information. If you oppose the war or if you have not yet made up your mind, read everything you can about the mission. And when you hear about the Taliban killing dozens of civilians on the chance that they might kill a single Canadian, take a moment to reflect on what life was like for the Afghans when they were in power.
And what it would be like if they returned. Then decide if you support this war or not."
~excerpt from FOB Doc - by Ray Wiss
a Forward Operating Base doctor who served two tours in Afghanistan, this is a diary of his first tour from Nov 07 - Mar 08
You can read more excerpts here

Royalties from FOB Doc will be donated to the Military Families Fund, which was created by former chief of the defence staff General Rick Hillier to assist military families.

One of the frustrations of those serving in Afghanistan (or anywhere else, really) is the lack of understanding, or appreciation, of what is endured during those tours of duties in far off lands that most of us have not, and will never, experience. For many of us, the war in Afghanistan is a recorded tally of the number of dead soldiers - currently at 133 Canadian, 1340 foreign casualties altogether - but very little of the background information or a tally of the successes that these men and women have achieved. In this book are included dozens of photographs of the horror of the war and the beauty of the country in which it is waged. There are stories of desperation, fear, and boredom. Stories of successes and failures, and explanations of some of the difficulties the soldiers and the civilians are up against in such a harsh land.
A particularly interesting and informative read.
From someone who does not usually find war stories to be particularly interesting enough to be informative.
"Lest We Forget"

Sunday, November 8, 2009

SundayStills - currency

Yes, this is legal tender at any Canadian Tire store.
If you pay cash, you will get a 1% bonus of Canadian Tire money.
It has changed a fair bit over the years and some have become quite collectible.

But, seriously, here is my five cents worth for this challenge.

What have I learned?
That taking pictures of coins is not as easy as one might think.
I spent a considerable amount of time poring through my coin jar to find the right selection to display. I found several Olympic quarters and a few Millennium quarters. I found the coloured ones, for breast cancer awareness and the infamous poppy coin. And I put aside the shiniest of the loonies and toonies. But none of them came out clearly enough for my satisfaction.
So I decided to go with my original thought when I saw this week's challenge.
I was pulling out a handful of change from my pockets last Saturday, when I saw something different yet vaguely familiar.

A Centennial nickel!
I wondered where had this hare been all these years? And why did someone now decide to spend it and put it back into circulation?
The reverse side of all the commemorative coins were designed by Alex Colville. They depicted various wildlife: quarter (usually a caribou) had a bobcat or lynx, the dime (usually the Bluenose Schooner) had a mackerel, the nickel (usually a beaver) had a hare or rabbit, and the penny (usually two maple leaves) had a rock dove. The dollar coin (before the loonie came along in 1987) had a Canada Goose in flight.
Somewhere, I have a set of these....

Continuing with the nickel, or 5 cent piece, theme, here are two more examples:
on the right you can see the old style with the dodecagonal
[12-sided] shape - yes, I had to look up the correct word!
and on the left the current beaver, who really hasn't changed much over the years.
... and by special request for Ed

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

visitors from abroad

There is great excitement in the local media.
For the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are coming to visit tomorrow.
They will plant a tree at Dundurn Castle.
Just as Grandpa George did when he was here in '36.
This will be very exciting for Camilla. It is her first visit to her 'ancestral home' in our great land.
You see, it is well known that Dundurn Castle was built by native born Sir Allan MacNab, but some sleuthing and it turns out he was Camilla's great-great-great grandpapa.

You can read the flattering bits about him on the plaque above.

Really, it looks more like a very big house than a castle and indeed it was, at the time it was built, the largest private home in Upper Canada [Ontario]. It also had the honour of having one of the first flush toilets in the Empire. The castle is open to the public, though I have only ever walked the grounds. It is usually elaborately decked out for Christmas, so maybe then I'll take myself inside for a photoblog post.

In the meantime, I did find this old postcard in my stash of old postcards. My father was from Hamilton and I remembered that there were several he had kept from before the war and which I now have. I found one just like it on a website of vintage postcards of Hamilton and think it was probably taken around 1934-35.

So King George's tree isn't shown.

As an added bonus, I was reminded by Jo about Alice Keppel, which I neglected to mention. We need a bit of salaciousness, no?
Alice was Camilla's great grandmother, who was married to Sir Allan MacNab's daughter Sophia's son George. Following? Well, while Alice was married to Mr Keppel she was having a little bit on the side with .... The Prince of Wales, Edward VII.
He was the last Prince of Wales to visit Dundurn long before he met Alice, who was living in England.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

SundayStills - hallowe'en

the day after hallowe'en

a feast for the squirrels!