It’s that time of year again

We are sucking down smoke here, due to fires all over the Northwest. Particularly one at Gustafsen Lake – which is where the infamous fire of 2017 started and turned us out of our home and nearly burned it to the ground. A little PTSD anyone? BC is full of people with nervous tics right now.

Ironically I’ve started harvesting firewood for the Winter heating season:

First logs on the ground.

The air is still fairly clear out at the lake, but the sky looks like permanent cloud. Once you get near town you can smell smoke, and nothing but. This places extra physical demand on the body doing the unloading, which is me. Never mind the extra physical demand on the body doing the cutting, hauling, slicing, and loading – which is also me. I did that whole load in one day, plus splitting up some for the cabin in case I need heat there. Why would I need heat there? Because we’ve already had a couple of frosty mornings:

That ain’t sugar coating.

The forecast says some showers, with rain amounts not enough to do any good against fires but enough to mess up the dirt roads and plans for travelling down them. Fortunately I have a new tool to help me in this job:

2015 F-150 4×4 extended cab.

Yes it cost a lot of money. More than I’ve ever spent on a vehicle before. No it probably wasn’t a good idea, unless you consider that the Xterra was having trouble hauling an empty trailer and ‘throwing codes’ while trying to overheat. The ol’ Nissan was just right for ‘only me’ trips, but didn’t have much cargo capacity beyond a couple of boxes of stuff. It also was 10 years older than this with 100,000+ more kilometres on it. At least this truck is red. Beyond that there isn’t much I like about it.

At the cabin. Probably the last time it will ever be clean.

Good things: the bed allows me to haul more wood per trip. Not a 100% increase as it’s only a 6′ bed, but about 80%. The first load filled one row of the shed whereas the trailer required about 1.5 loads, so fewer trips (albeit more work to get a load ready). It has a 2.7L V6 (smallest 6 cylinder I’ve ever encountered) with twin turbos which should provide a balance of power and economy. So far it’s doing no better than my ’69 Chevy C10 did with its 250 CID inline 6, and it doesn’t have the full size bed of the latter. It is 4×4 and has a differential lock which hopefully I’ll never have to use. Also, it’s red. Did I mention it’s red? Oh and the seats are comfortable.

Bad things: Just about everything else. Topping the list is the excessive amount of technoglitz ‘features’ meant to sell vehicles to the gullible. There are four switches for the dome light. All you need is ‘ON-DOOR-OFF’ on one switch. The dashboard is a nightmare of displays and buttons … you know, kind of like a modern camera that’s loaded with ‘features’ which impress gullible buyers who then set it on ‘PROGRAM’ and never touch the controls again. In fact the 6 speed automatic has a ‘manual’ setting which allows you to pick the gear. Uh, whatever happened to D-2-1? Is this an admission that the transmission isn’t good at its mission and won’t pick the right gear? I haven’t noticed that so far, and it’s been driven at highway speed, plus down the gravel road empty, and back again fully loaded. Seems fine and has plenty of power. But it took me 15 minutes to find the headlight switch. (The owners’ manual, by the way, is a Tolstoy novel mainly about safety warnings with side plots regarding things this vehicle isn’t actually equipped with.) The door locks and key are a nightmare all unto themselves, never mind the remote start – which doesn’t.

All-in-all it’s a case of “let’s see if we can make this marketing joke of a pick-up truck do some real work”. It does not ride or handle well either; you feel every bump, the steering is too heavy, and the tires do not grip the gravel like the KO’s on the Nissan did. The body is massive, which makes it difficult to maneuver either in town or in the woods or even around the yard (turning the whole rig around was extremely difficult). I mean it’s worse than my E250, and that’s actually bigger. Visibility is terrible with this thing (I may add some flags to the trailer as I can not see it at all behind the truck).

But if it can get the job done faster without using a significant amount more fuel (36 gallon tank that will be painful to fill in one go) then … probably still not worth it.

So far it hasn’t displayed enough ‘personality’ to garner a name. We shall see how it works out.

First load home. There was room for a little bit more, but that would require cutting another tree. Next time it will be full.

And more.

The work continues here. Sometimes it even yields results:

Much neater than everything crammed in any which way with stuff left outside.

Of course despite the re-purposed cabinetry and improvised shelving there’s still more stuff than space. More things need to be tossed, and since it’s all been badly stored it’s not heart-breaking to do so. No want wants to keep mouldy, rotting, and broken items. Consider also that it was used before it came here to be used again.

All has not been good, of course, as yesterday Connor had a Close Encounter of the Bear Kind while trail riding. For some reason the beast ignored Jesse who had just gone past and chose to make enquiries of his cousin instead. Probably because Maverick the dog was with the latter. It was the big bear that wouldn’t back down from the neighbour and seems to think he owns the place. Oh yeah, bear? You can pay the damn property taxes then! See how you like that. Actually sending him in to the CRD office you hand over some nuts and berries for fair change might be interesting. I know I would be amused.

I was not amused by how ill I felt after doing just a little work in yesterday’s heat. It would be nice if there was some sort of obvious cause and effect relationship that would lead to a definitive diagnosis of the underlying source of trouble, but no. I just find myself feeling really unwell at times. Not quite go-to-the-ER this time, but close. Happened on a Monday too, same as last time. Hmm. Maybe I’m allergic to Mondays. I bet that’s it. A pretty common ailment.

This morning we had some visitors early on:

Mama and her kids.

Better than bears! The fawns played around the yard for a while, investigating things with cat-like curiosity while Mama kept a watchful eye on them – and me:

Wary watcher.

I’d like to say there’s not much left to do here, but that would be a lie. Oh right; this is the Internet so … there’s not much left to do here. Actually not much left for the lads to do so they’ll probably head back to the land of air conditioning just as the temperatures here are going to get interesting. (There is currently a significant fire burning near Lytton, the town that was wiped out by fire last year. If you think you’ve got problems …)

Not sure what, if anything, we’ll tackle today. Not good to work hard every day. Not for me anyway.

Do you canoe?

Chaos? Yeah, we got that.

Work in progress.

Well my work crew showed up Thursday night and Friday we got right into it. This mostly involves moving messes from one place to another in hopes they will somehow magically become smaller messes. So far, no.

The good thing about having young and strong people to help is that they can do in two hours what it would take me two weeks to do. The bad thing about having young and strong people to help is that they can do in two hours what it would take me two weeks to do. In other words staying ahead of them is difficult. I’m about 3X the age of one of them and 4X the other, and it shows.

So while they wait for grandpa to shift things into slots they get to go trail riding and fishing and cutting up trees and getting a truck wedged in the woods … That last part was wrong, wasn’t it? If someone had asked I could have told him it wouldn’t fit; that trail wasn’t made wide enough for full-size vehicles, just ATVs.

Anyway, over-all the plan is working.

Extent of the damage, so far.

As you can see from that photo the road out here is still rough. But only one reinforcing plate broke off, and I should be able to grind & weld it back in place. Trailer certainly tows better now. Although my visitors report that the road is getting worse because yes indeed it looks like logging is starting on the hill up behind here, and that means heavy trucks pounding the gravel into potholes.

After getting this batch sorted there’s a couple of piles of debris from the reno waiting to be shifted into different piles in another location. It sounds ridiculous but it’s how it has to be done: pile up, sort through, shift to different places, and slowly whittle down the heaps into useful material and trash for the dump.

We’ll get there. Eventually.

Bucky says: “Oh my goodness! What next?”

How things are going

Head towards the light.

A little update.

First of all, this is the first post done with the new computer. I’ve got it up and running Linux Mint Cinnamon Una. I tried MATE but couldn’t see any functional advantage to it, and had been using Cinnamon before so it’s familiar. There is a noticeable improvement over the old machine, and not just that the hardware doesn’t throw random faults. For one thing, all web sites can be accessed via Chromium instead of having to use two different browsers depending on what I’m trying to look at. For another, the video editing program doesn’t crash as much. “As much”: it still freezes occasionally, and I’ve only tried one video experiment so far – just to test it. Another positive is that the screen is visually superior and so a little tweaking and I have a better chance at seeing what I’m looking at.

The biggest downside is that this laptop does not have an SD card reader built in, so I have to use the accessory reader. This is a pain when you consider my #1 usage is image editing and posting. C’est la vie.

It was quite a process to get it switched over from Win10 – the second worst OS ever. I have wiped that entirely because it is so bloody awful. It’s inferior Android-ish spyware for those who don’t know any better. There just aren’t enough bad things that can be said about it. Take, for example, the fact this machine has only 128 GB of SSD. That’s pretty small, because these days they want you to store all your data on “the cloud”. As the saying goes, there is no cloud; it’s some else’s computer. Not being a fan of handing over my personal data and copyrighted material to companies so they can make money off me, I don’t do that. There was a time when my wife used a secure on-line back-up for her accounting business, but rest assured that was secure: no chance they were taking private info and handing it out to whoever had the price. Encrypted before it left the office, and we paid a fee for the service. Beware anything offered for “free” as there’s no such thing. Learn physics and understand this.

Anyway, Win10 reported my 128 GB was 115 GB and it was using 79 GB for its bloated intrusion into my life. Linux Mint is using 14 GB and reports I have 122 GB total. It does everything Windows does, except spy on you. It’s also not ugly, messy, badly organized, and dysfunctional – unlike Win10. Microsoft should be forced to pay every Win10/11 victim $1,000 for abusing them.

Rant over.

Male rufus hummingbird

I put this pic on as my wallpaper. Windows doesn’t even let you do that. Oh, rant over.

Time for a different rant.

Mosquitoes! They are out en force here now in just the past couple of days. Despite the fact the cabin is better sealed than it has been in 70 years they still manage to get in and interfere with everything from working to eating to sleeping. One tried to bite my nose this morning while I was still in bed – under the mosquito net. Yeah I’ve got some ideas about redesigning that as it’s flawed in function.

Well I’m told there’s people arriving at the end of this week. They’re supposed to be my work crew, but others have already assigned them different tasks which are not in line with my getting things done. (Thought I was the Project Manager. Guess not.) I don’t know how well they’ll like the mozzies. Oh and the big question: is the cabin ready? Well, sort of. It’s a lot better than it ever has been, but I haven’t quite got things done. Mostly due to shortages.

One of the things I’m really short on is energy. The last big project I did, renovating the entire rental house which needed quite a lot of work, took 6 months. That was what? Eight years ago? Now I’ve just spent six weeks doing one room. Yeah I’m not as fast as I used to be. Can’t see well anymore so a lot of it is more “artistic feel” than “artificer perfection”. Anyone who doesn’t like the result can redo it themselves in their own time at their own expense. I shouldn’t be doing any of this stuff anymore.

Anyway I’ve got to get back to work. Zapping mosquitoes.

Fluff – and nonsense.

Week up date

HMS Hannibal

About to head back to the cabin for more work. I can’t say “finish up” because that will never happen. Apparently there’s some kind of schedule on the project, but I don’t know what it is. I just know there’s more work to do.

It’s the second day of three days of hot before rain and then cooler temps. If the forecast is accurate, this will be good. For the mosquitoes, not for people.

Spent an insane amount of money yesterday getting more supplies because everything is so damn expensive these days. Had to buy 40 litres of gasoline as well as put 50 in the Xterra’s tank and two tanks of propane. Never mind the $100 dropped at the hardware store – just for six pieces of trim, a can of paint, and some glue. Food? Yeah, bought some of that too.

Mowed lawn, somewhat, and planted bushes the Mrs. got for some unknown reason. They’ll probably die.

Much to do, much to do, much to do. Try not to die while doing it.

Here’s a little dash cam clip from coming home last time. Watch the for the surprise at the end: Rough Road

BTW, I worked on my ‘updated’ computer and managed to get the UEFI cracked open to where it will look at a bootable USB drive. Except I haven’t found a version of Linux that will actually boot up yet. It doesn’t help that the creating program, Rufus, doesn’t look like the on-line instructions anymore and most of the “how to” info out there is out of date for both the hardware and software and therefor unhelpful. You’d expect the latest distros to work but … no. I’ll keep poking at it until it does. Damn Microsoft anyway. As it is I’m still using the old machine with the defective hardware that crashes, jams, doesn’t boot, et cetera on a random basis. Reliable it ain’t.

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.

 

An update kind of thing

Just about a week ago I hauled the last load of this Winter’s wood out of the forest. This was followed by hauling the four cats, two dogs, and one wife out the next day and a second trip that day to bring essentials out. The third trip was Wednesday to shut down all the cabin systems (it’s not simple, believe me) and bring out all that I couldn’t get the previous day. So four loads and each time the Nissan was stacked to the roof inside. I still missed things.

Last load of wood. (Sony a6000).

I needed another trip but it was not to be. Thursday was spent hanging around while the Telus technician installed our new fibre optic cable connections to the world. I have no use for the TV service, but it was included. Really there is nothing worth watching anymore, and the Turner Classic Movies channel that I might look at was extra money. It’s already too expensive. The Internet is 2X faster and barely noticeably so. At least I won’t have to clear snow off the satellite dish this Winter.

Pity the poor Xterra. (Sony a6000)

Friday was taken up with pre-op exam. Got the results back from that already, and they’re not so good. A few “red flags” on some items indicating problems with my kidneys (no kidding? Guess what the procedure is for). Also I have inexplicably lost a lot of weight. It is not good for a man who is 6′ tall to be 158 lbs. This needs watching. Probably just all that work but … I’m old so practically every symptom is “an alarm bell”.

At this point the insurance has expired on the Nissan and I don’t fancy renewing it for $1,000 just for one more cabin trip. Whatever happens, happens. The expenses have been getting out of control of late, nearly $150 a week for gasoline to cite one example, and we have some more unavoidable expenses coming up next month. Yes I know I just bought a camera. That isn’t even included in the financial haemorrhaging.

The trailer suffered badly too. (Sony a6000)

Saturday I spent getting things around the house here ready for snow, because snow is in the forecast for next weekend. It probably won’t happen, or at least not much, and definitely won’t stay; just a ‘trial run’. I still have much more to do before the 4th when they make it impossible for me to do much of anything for a couple of weeks. Be prepared and all that.

This upcoming week it’s building inspection, flu jabs, and a possible trip to the Big City up North to get meds and things. Weather is likely ‘dodgy’ as every forecast made for last week turned out wrong. Photography? I’d like to but … It will be a difficult thing to fit in even if possible.

Oh I ordered a lens adaptor for the Sony. The day it was supposed to be delivered the order was cancelled. No explanation. There’s a lot of ‘no explanation’ happening these days. I just hope my surgery isn’t cancelled like that.

At this rate I figure it will be December before I can relax. If then: my wife has to go to England to see to her demented sister, and the UK is in a pretty terrible state all-around right now with shortages of everything except the disease. Okay maybe I can relax in January when she gets back. If she does. It’s a realistic fear for several reasons.

More photos to come as I have a few ‘stored up’ for whatever reason.

All clean now. (Sony a6000)

Equipment sidetrack

Sydney J. Harris used to write columns about “Things I learned en route to looking up other things”. This is something like that, but not exactly.

Idly I am poking through equipment for sale, wondering if certain items can be fit into the revised Master Plan, and occasionally bidding on whatever I think might. This has included some rather wild detours like Sony a6000 to get the hi-res sensor and mirrorless adapt-almost-any-lens ability to switching to Nikon DSLR for the same hi-res reason or even because I want to try out some of the older, CCD equipped cameras of theirs. None of that happened. A lot of lenses passed as well.

What I did buy was some more lens adapters for the Canon EF cameras, just in case I found a Canon FD or Nikon F lens for such a price as couldn’t be passed up. In essence, the redesigned plan is to reduce the DSLRs to Canon only, because then it’s all fairly interchangeable and a lot of old glass can be easily adapted to it. Also no need to memorize six or eight different control configurations. Makes sense, right?

The only change, then, was acquiring a Canon T7 to get a 24MP sensor (1/3 more pixels than the T100 so worth the switch). I haven’t succeeded in this either, as they mostly go for more money than I’m willing to put into this project at this point. For another thing, selling off the superfluous equipment is proving to be quite a stumbling block.

Anyway, that’s the plan now: Canon 1Ds (too big and heavy for anyone else to want), replace the Canon T100 with a T7 to get higher res on the hi-res camera, keep the Canon G11 and Fuji F80 carry-along cameras, and continue using the Nikon P610 as the “daily driver” until it fails entirely. Hopefully by that point I can save up enough for a replacement like a Canon SX70.

Oh and one other thing: try, try, try to avoid buying any more equipment just because it’s cheap or interesting (and cheap). Sensible, right? Right. Let’s see me actually manage to do it.

Now off to one side I come across this blog by favourite writer Eric L. Woods: A Sigma dp2 Quattro Fascinating camera. The Foveon sensor is built like a layer of colour film, and the results show. Several of the other X3 write-ups I found dismissed the design as though they were written by people with stock in other sensor manufacturers or something. Much of it was confused and contradictory so I guess maybe they didn’t understand it. Personally I like the concept and the results.

I also like the fact they didn’t go crazy on cramming “features” into this camera. It has some faults to be sure, like no EVF. Considering how expensive it is that’s just stupid. But largely it is a digital camera for a film photographer. Too bad about the price. In my “ideal” camera design I can see that Foveon X3 sensor as a key element.

That’s all as maybe. I have to try and focus on my current projects, including the wood harvest that has just started. It’s been difficult as the still-present smoke makes me cough almost instantly when I so much as talk, never mind work. I got a lot done yesterday when there was no smoke about, so timing is vital to success.

In the meantime there’s only a few more things on e-Bay I want to keep track of. Just in case.

First load of firewood for this year.

How hot was it?

We are currently experiencing a historically unprecedented heatwave here in BC. Records are being set daily, including Lytton giving Canada a new all-time high of 49.5C/121F. Here at the cabin we’ve hit 41, which is the hottest it’s ever been here. The heat is supposed to break tomorrow, with thunderstorms. This brings up another problem: lightning. We already have two large, out-of-control wildfires burning not too far away. The smoke cast a haze in the air here this morning. Welcome to Hell.

In fact I’ve only been able to work a couple of hours in the morning before it gets too hot to do anything. I’ve not been going out unless absolutely necessary, and we don’t even let the dogs stay out for long. It’s a case of “just get through this”.

Some bad news: two of our cats have gone missing and the outlook for them is not good. There is water and prey out there if they can find it, but …

MIA: Hannibal, aka Puff-puff.
MIA: Boots, aka Twinkle-toes.

Few photos being taken, due to the heat. But here are a few.

Queen of the Hill (look close).
Robin on the nest.
New flower. I don’t know what it is; never seen one before.
Robin’s egg blue. I quite like this pic.

Beyond the immediate area many things are happening. BC’s state of emergency will finally be lifted July 1, and many rules relaxed including mandatory mask requirements. I will wait until my 2nd shot (on Friday) has had time to take effect before I doff the N95. Unless I have to keep wearing it against wildfire smoke. *sigh* I’m used to that.

Of late

We are finally at the cabin together. It wasn’t easy. Along the way the road bumps took a few casualties among the packed goods, such as reducing a dozen eggs to half a dozen. The jostling alone did the damage, and it took me a couple of hours to clean up the mess once we got here.

First of the flooring upstairs.

The place is far from done. It’s just usable. But my poor wife hasn’t been able to stay out here since 2018 due to one thing or another or even more. The cats are very unhappy about being here, growling and hissing at each other and the world in general. Two of them have “left home”. They should return once they’re hungry. The dogs are fine. They love adventure. I’m not so keen on it myself.

The new china cabinet.

This was the big ‘sticking point’ for being able to fully occupy the place. Fortunately a couple of friends dropped by and help me lift the top piece on to the base. Three old guys that took. Many thanks to Wally and Danny ’cause otherwise I’d have had to build a crane or something. I swear the top alone is 200 lbs.

Of course with the dogs around the wildlife has taken off so no more deer. Probably no more bear or woodchuck or other sizable beasts. Fortunately they are smarter than the dogs, who’d try to play with a wolverine if they found one.

Timmy the Idiot; a yearling buck who kept coming ’round and poking in the ash pit.

The mosquitoes are still here. They seemed to disappear Saturday when the temperature got up to 97 (sorry Celisus; you’re no good for daily living). It’s expected to be 108 tomorrow and Tuesday. This is highly unusual for the area. Inside the cabin it was only 75. Now this morning it’s 60 outside so the windows are open to let the temperature drop. Once it starts climbing again I’ll close up and keep the heat out. It works and it’s cheaper than air conditioning.

Mosquito Patrol.

We’ll be out here now while I continue working. Not sure what I’ll get done, but there sure is a lot left to do. Going to go slow during this heat wave of course, and not planning on going back to town for anything until next Friday.