Things going on around here

How about this weather, eh? 32C (90F) on Friday, frosted lawn this morning. Summer left us like a thief in the night. (Lytton, the town that isn’t there anymore, set a new record September high for all of BC of 39.6C/103F.)

A small amount of rain Sunday helped damp the smoke out of the air. There are no serious fires burning near us, but enough small ones (including one 1 km behind our house) that the weather forecast one day said “smoke in the morning …” and we’re all having PTSD from the memories of past wildfires. The nightmares are real, and I think we need financial compensation from the government.

Speaking of which, certain provincial ones have decided to hand out cheques to their citizenry to help with the rampant price-gouging because nothing eases inflation like pumping more money into the economy, right? (You can just see their report cards: “Economics 101 [F]”). But don’t worry because after reporting record quarterly profits the grocery chains have assured us the increases they make are just covering their costs. Also, pigs fly.

I have not finished my pre-winter preparations around here and may not get to because suddenly it’s time to start harvesting wood. As in the overnight temperatures have dropped to where lighting the stove may be necessary at both locations while I get wood in for the season. The trick is to cut and stack it faster than you burn it.

Will we be going out to the cabin this week? Good question. I haven’t finished up even what I can do out there yet, and I just got back from WL hospital with five new holes in my arm.

Are things going well around here? No, not really. There’s huge room for improvement, and we all know it won’t happen.

Sneak preview.

A year later

It’s been about a year since the doctor welded my retina back on. Since then the sight got better up to a point, and then that was it. Now my ‘bad’ eye is my ‘good’ eye and vise-versa. The resulting vision degradation has been a real bugger, and not just for photographic endeavours. I’m doing a lot of work ‘by feel’ these days, and resigning myself to ‘good enough’ when it isn’t. Anyone who has a complaint is free to do it over themselves.

The new computer is better to look at, but doesn’t eliminate the troubles. Nor have I found any solution for the camera dilemma wherein the only one with enough zoom capacity to be useful to me is the one with the poorest viewfinder. That’s one of the ‘by feel’ functions these days: point in the general direction, see if any of the subject appears to be in the finder, and hope for the best. I think I haven’t been taking as many pictures as before, and I’m certainly discarding more of the ones I do take.

Oh well. This week’s bug project is repairing the trailer, and that’s been made more difficult by erratic weather. I have to see if I can get some spring bushings today, and cut the mount reinforcements if it doesn’t rain again. Looks like rain, though. In fact the guess is for showers until Sunday. Probably by then it will be until next Sunday. Not getting a lot of co-operation with anything these days.

Mid Century Modern art in real life.

There and back

Made the first cabin trip of the year, just to check things out. Actually got in this time: the glacier road was thawed and not too bad to drive on. Even so it didn’t help the aches and pains I already had from cutting up a neighbour’s tree for him and then splitting four barrows of wood for me. The jostling of going down that gravel highway at 60-80 clicks didn’t make anything any better. Fortunately some neighbours out there had already been in so I didn’t have to clear any trees off the road. Fergus was first in, and had to cut five. I could have gone in last weekend but herself was away at daughter’s wedding. Look, it’s too confusing even for me to understand so I suggest you don’t even try.

Same ol’ place.

The good news is no big damage to anything and the batteries were full up. The bad news is a packrat tried to move in and made a mess, including dragging tools off. They have a king of jackdaw behaviour about shiny things like screwdrivers. Now I get to see how well the new flooring, along with a lot of other stuff, cleans up from rat mess.

The lake is high.

Now I’ve got to come up with some kind of plan for tackling all the things that still need doing there, along with the clean-up. This includes removing that travel trailer, a process which I dread because it’s big and heavy and will end up clogging the driveway at home. Assuming I can get the van going to move it, and somehow get it up the hill at the cabin and through the tight trees and … yes I know I got it in there. Getting it out is another matter, believe me.

First loon of the year.

The other things working against me include ambient temperatures that run between 0 and 10 Celsius, and a forecast of pretty much cloudy with rain for the next two weeks. This is problematic when your electricity comes from solar panels because despite claims to the contrary they do not produce power in all weather. PVs need direct, bright sunlight to work. Anyone who says otherwise is either stupid or a liar. Possibly both. I can say this because not only have I designed numerous installations besides my own, but have fixed even more systems that were concocted by people who definitely did not know what they were doing.

So when the sun doesn’t shine the batteries have to be recharged via the generator, and gasoline is $1.95/L here now which makes for damn expensive electricity. Like about $1 per kilowatt hour. This also ups the cost of going to and from the cabin, as well as increasing the expense of self-harvested firewood for winter heating at the house. Or Summer heating at either/both places due to the lousy weather we’re having. And no I would not be surprised to see it suddenly flip into hot and dry with wildfires everywhere again. It has happened before (2017, the year of the worst fires).

I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. The bathroom needs a complete overhaul and the upstairs needs finishing and the exterior needs restaining (it weathers horribly on the windward side). Never mind all the other chores of daily life like lawn mowing. Oh yes; the wood trailer needs some serious repair.

You know, the best plan might be to take the year off and just enjoy life instead of trying to undertake all these big projects that ultimately I will not see the benefit of. It’s going to be one horrifically expensive year no matter what I do, that’s for sure.

Work to do

Spring is trying to creep in here. Yesterday was well above freezing, this morning was well below. Snow is almost all gone in the yard, but certainly not out at the lake! In fact the lakes all around are still quite frozen over.

Erosion.

Lots of work needs doing around the house, and it will be interesting to see if I can manage any of it – and how. I have not come through the Winter well. Then there is all the work waiting out at the cabin. Likewise many a large question mark hangs over that. It will be at least May before I can even try to go out there as the snow likes to hang about in deep drifts on dark corners of the road.

But the first step is get ready for the return of The Wife. This involves baking cookies. We should at least have cookies.

Soft chocolate chip.

After all, she will be experiencing extreme time change (8 hours off) plus two days with essentially no sleep because the flight is so messed up. Not good for people our age. She will definitely deserve a cookie after that. So will I.

 

Swirling chaos

When someone does make a camera I’d like (Pixii) It of course comes with a price tag that is more in line with what I spend on a vehicle. Shall we lament that no major company had brains enough to do this? Shall we laugh at the paradox of spending truckloads of money to buy fewer ‘features’? Ah the price of being a photographer rather than some jerk with a device full of technological glitz that they never use.

I can appreciate every aspect of this Pixii and wish the company great success. Although given the limited number of potential sales they may need a miracle to achieve it.

What I can afford is … junk.

No name “Go Pro” knock-off that is terrible, Apexcam which is slightly better.

Seriously the one on the left cost $50 some years ago and never gets used because its image quality is so bad. The one on the right is not “4K” but does make a decent dashcam for the Xterra (you’ve seen some stills from it posted before). Both have over-emphasis on video, which is a common problem with cameras these days. I say “problem” because for all the emphasis they then fail to do the job well, concentrating on image and ignoring the other half of video; the sound.

Anyway, not a good time around here. I’m actually refraining from posting images out of fear there will soon be none. The venerable Nikon P610 now ‘stutters’ on every zoom. And my eyesight certainly isn’t getting any better.

C’est la vie photographique.

Want to see how bad that “action camera” is? It’s this bad. (Yes I use YT for storing unimportant videos I want to show to people. I don’t “do” video.)

Eye see

Vision impaired.

Things:

1). I do not like the chromebook. Mostly due to the fact the OS does not handle certain functions well, like file handling. The ‘sliders’ for scrolling vanish when not being used, a very bad thing for me. The keyboard is too small and so is the screen @ 11″. I have not found one single thing that it does better than a real computer, and most things it barely manages to do as well. Meanwhile my ‘real’ computer continues to throw random faults.

2). Eyesight isn’t getting better, which is not surprising. Basically it’s like having eye strain within two hours of getting up. Useless and annoying. At its best the right eye isn’t much good. Sort of like the chromebook.

3). Inflation about gives me a heart attack every time I go to the store. Politicians have decided to give us a one-time gasoline rebate check. It amounts to about one tank full in Jojo at current prices. Fortunately I do not have to drive to work every day like most people. What the hell are they going to do? Quit working? Quit eating? No indication anyone is going to try and tackle the underlying problem. Instead our Fearful Leader, Prince Harming, is looking to consolidate his position as Absolute Ruler through an illegal deal made with the opposition. Whether through bribery or blackmail I don’t know, but this one is something to protest about (unlike the emergency act use).

4). My wife has made arrangements to come home. Whether or not they will happen is another thing. So far the itinerary changed within hours of her buying the tickets, and the flight plan itself is a nightmare of no sleep for her for about two days. She says she will never use West Jet again.

5). I find myself following fewer and fewer social media sites, including but not limited to photography ones. Why? Because I can’t see the pictures and can’t afford the equipment. I think my own postings may end when I run out of the ‘backlog’ because not only do I have trouble shooting but I can’t trust the computer to process an image or keep it.

6). Spring is trying desperately to arrive. The compacted snow is melting and there are robins in the yard. Unfortunately overnight lows are still below freezing and we keep getting fresh precipitation that turns to ice. I have had the first call from a ‘lake neighbour’ wondering if it’s possible to get out there soon. No, it’s not. I went up to the city the other day (for the meds I can’t get in town) and the two larger lakes along the way are still clearly frozen from shore to shore. March is awfully early to expect otherwise.

I think I’ll make some cookies, before they raise the price of the ingredients. Again.

Well guess what

I have spent an entire day’s worth of hours reworking my computer. Upgrading, downgrading, replacing the hard drive and restoring backed-up data, programs, and settings … To be rewarded with only minor losses of images, downloaded data, and some documents. They’re on the ‘defective’ drive somewhere and I may yet be able to get them back.

Of course all is for nought because the damn thing still freezes. What’s more, despite this being an identical OS install to what I had before some things are different and don’t function right even when they function at all. I suspect some of it is hardware failure caused by heat due to laptops’ notoriously poor design for dissipating heat. Also I noticed the CPU usage pings 100% from time to time.

And it is just so much fun trying to deal with this when … well have you ever seen how small the screws are that hold these things together? Imagine it with my eyesight, which is something like this:

This is what you see.
This is what I see.

Not exactly conducive to precision close work. Or anything else. Like photography.

So I’m up the proverbial creek without a paddle or a canoe. If the thing had just completely quit and not put me through that false hope of repair I’d be happier. But …

Anyway. No solutions just now. Not for anything. Whether or not I post more pictures is kind of ‘iffy’: I have some already processed but I am loathe to do more for fear of losing them. I’ve lost thousands before, but not under circumstances where I could see it coming and thus should have avoided it.

Yeah I don’t know what I’m going to do now.

Number 5 Dream

Taken with the worst camera I have*.

You are about to enter another dimension. – Rod Serling

Going ’round and ’round the out-of-control whirligig we call “life” …

Concentrate. Focus. Keyword: focus. Nope; got none o’ that.

So I have been looking at things, albeit blurrily of course. Videos, cameras, finances, realities. Yes, plural on that last one as I’m pretty sure I live in a different one from everyone else and mine only sort of intersects with theirs in the same way you can get cross-over frequency interference on an old stereo. (Don’t expect this to make sense. You didn’t expect it to make sense, did you?)

There was this video with a title like “Five Tips From My Five Years Of Photography”. Gee, should I do something like that? It’d have to have a slightly different title. Something like “More Than Fifty Tips From My More Than Fifty Years Of Photography”. Fortunately for everyone I don’t do video.

But it was amusing as were several other of that content provider’s videos, many of which had to do with cameras laughingly labelled as “affordable”. This is where the realities conflict because it seems other people’s “affordable” is my “costs more than the entire photographic arsenal I already have”.

Oh gosh it’s not just cameras either: lots of “affordable” things out there that look like everyone but me has the kind of unlimited disposable income normally only available to governments. Basically I see it as bragging you paid 7 times as much as a thing is worth. Kind of odd, really.

Plenty of examples of another pet peeve of mine to: that companies are in business to make profits, not products. This is why the CEO of, say, a soft drink company can become the CEO of a computer company next week: the product doesn’t matter, only the profit. When the driving force behind design is “what can we get people to buy that we can make huge amounts of money off from?” instead of “let’s make the best [noun] we possibly can” you get a market full of crap, a society of unhappy consumers, and landfills that rival Everest in height.

Also taken with the worst camera I have*.

To camera makers I would say this (if they would listen, which they won’t): There are FIVE things on a camera that need to have dedicated controls: aperture, focus, ISO, shutter, and zoom (if applicable). Oh you can have automatic override for any/all of them, but ultimately these are the things photographers adjust often when making pictures. If you want to go for six add exposure compensation because sometimes cameras don’t get that right (since they think all scenes average out to 18% reflective gray). Everything else you put on a camera is frippery. Most of those wonderful ‘features’ you include never get used.

To photographers I would say: you know what I just said is true. And if you really want to learn photography you should start with film if at all possible, or the closest digital equivalent to film that you can get. Why do I say this? Because I see a lot of professional photographers out there who are making a living by sheer luck with little to no understanding of the technical aspects, and I don’t just mean they failed to learn about infrared and the visible spectrum. These days “pro” seems to mean “obsessed with background blur to the extent that they only shoot wide open and end up disregarding the actual subject of the photo”. Don’t ask me how they get away with it.

Then again this weird reality you people are stuck in contains experts who think taking vodka off the shelf will stop a war. Hmm. Maybe not buying the vodka from an unstable dictatorship in the first place could have prevented the war?

Or people who praise the “science in Futurama” because they fail to recognize it is a cartoon and it is sending up the science in science-fiction; the actual laws of physics dictating that most of the things depicted are not possible. That’s the difference between sci-fi and fantasy; fantasy calls magic magic, not science.

Well I have some ideas for the time ahead to try and keep myself distracted from various horrors like losing further eyesight and not being able to afford food. Something of a long, strange trip which I will include you on if you’re foolish enough to hop on my metaphorical converted school bus.

Ride along. (Kodak V1003)

*Panasonic Lumix ZS60, which really is not a good camera.

Winter lingers

Well we had a spell of days where the highs were above freezing and lows below, which coats everything with fresh ice daily. Now it’s cold again, but not the frozen brass monkey cold it was. In fact the air is frozen fog, which I have discovered is impossible to reproduce on camera (so far). It is weird to look out at “white air”. Nevertheless, some images want posting.

Frosted bird seed.
Spiky spikes.
Crowned king & queen of ice.
Ghost branches.

That last one I couldn’t reproduce if I wanted to. It is serendipitous in its generation, as the camera failed to fix focus on the right spot and for some reason this eerie, x-ray like image came out instead.

These were all taken with my Nikon. There are plenty more coming up, and even more than that being discarded as it continues to mis-focus without producing intriguing phantom shots like the one above.

Other than that, our store shelves are bare, the disease is ravaging the population, idiots abound, and my wife is still trapped in England. The most frustrating part is the sheer lack of predictability to any aspect of life these days.

Oh and the highway crew plowed huge chunks of icy snow into my driveway. It’s zero Fahrenheit, and I’ve got to figure out some way of moving them so I can go out tomorrow.

Life is not fun.

Brief update

It’s minus forty here this morning. That’s the same in Celsius and Fahrenheit. Not weather conducive to anything. The only thing that runs is the furnace. In addition to the woodstove.

My wife may well be trapped in England due to increasing pandemic problems such as people getting sick and things being closed down. She didn’t manage to finish making arrangements for her poor sister for the same reasons.

One third of our kids have tested positive for the Omicron variant. Despite being fully vaccinated.

I am staying in, staying away from people, and trying to stay warm. Needless to say it is not good weather for photography. Not even inside.

Oh and the new fibre optic phone system has quit working. Just the phone, though. I don’t care, although it would be a problem if an emergency should arise.

One from the ‘archives’, then:

Icicle. (Nikon P610)