Sunday, May 29, 2005

My Trip to St. Catharines

Some of the ruins of the old Welland canal with Darryl and Andrew looking over the railing.

St. Catharines famous for being the "last stop" of the underground railroad and home of Harriet Tubman, a railroad conductor who helped over 200 slaves escaping from the south was our first stop on our Saturday road trip to see the Welland Canal. There was a Niagara folk arts festival that had a small gathering of people where we stopped off at to get some grub. Line ups for the various food tents were pretty short due to a small attendance overall. Probably from the cloudy skies with slight drizzle every now and then.

By the time the weather cleared up we (Andrew, Josie, Darryl and I) were out hiking through the bush along the Welland canal. Sadly, most of the canal had been fenced off from the public in the last few months. Getting photos of ships going through was next to impossible without venturing into restricted areas. We spent a bit of time going through the older, now crumbling, canal ruins and structures. In particular a tunnel noted for some blue ghost aptly named the Blue Ghost Tunnel.

Just off a dirt road, down a steep incline along a small dirt path, through trees, shrubs, and other prickily plantlife towards the tunnel entrance, we walked. As we got closer we could hear some voices talking. Squatters? Beer guzzling campers? Sacrificial ceremonies? Okay the later was thanks to watching third season of Starsky and Hutch. In particular the episode "Satan's Witches" where they borrow Dobey's cabin to visit nature and go fishing but instead stumble across a angry mob of devil-worshipping Satanists.

Josie already had a fear of being mugged before hearing the voices. Images of Ned Betty in Deliverance came to mind. "Squeal like a pig!". If I heard one note from a banjo I was outta there. As I stumbled down the last gravelly slope into the clearing and counted three guys. One of the guys, who would later be known as Dave, had rubber gloves on. They were blue. There were garbage bags at the entrance. No, this wasn't a hide the chopped up body, store it in seperate bags event. These guys were actually cleaning the tunnel and entrance!

Let me rephrase this. These guys were cleaning the tunnel! Removing graffitti and picking up waste. Just when you think the world is going to collapse in on itself, being over run by litterbugs and people who only think of themselves. This was stupendous! Thomas, Kevin and Dave were volunteering their time to clean up other people's crap.

If this didn't make them the most incredible people we met on the St. Catharines outing, then the fact that they were also ghost seekers most likely tilted the scale. Plus they liked my D70. So they have good taste in cameras at the very least. You can read more about the history of the blue ghost tunnel and their cleaning exploits by clicking on the links provided.

Ghost hunters Kevin and Thomas in the foreground. In the background you can see Dave (with the blue gloves) talking to some tunnel visitors.

The tunnel, with the exception of the tiny light at the end, was pitch black. The ghost guys were nice enough to lend us a flash light. I flashed my Nikon SB-800s modeling light to see the uneven muddy wooden planks on the ground. The ceiling was dripping with water. The water falling increased as we approched the other end of the tunnel. So much so that we decided to head back before we slipped and fell into the dark trench on our left hand side.

Andrew, Josie and Darryl in the blue ghost tunnel eerily lit with my green tinted speedlight.

The van that couldn't.

We continued the hike through more tree filled areas to a dirt road. For a place out of the way it seemed populated with a small amount of dirt bikers that would zip by us every now and then. One of the unexpected hilights of our trip was a mini van that was completely fried. Burnt to a crisp it just sat there near the top of a hill. It was almost like the driver gave up and decided to torch the van for not being able to make it up the hill. Everything from the front molded plastic of the dashboard to the hub caps were completely melted or charred.

Darryl poses for my "Freedom 55"/"Cigarette Ad" shot.

A stock car, which would later come in second place, speeding around the Merrittville track.

After an exhausting day of walking we ended it off by going to the Merrittville Raceway in Niagara Falls to watch stock car racing. It was about 7:00 pm when we arrived. Over the course of the races sitting on the wooden stands became more uncomfortable due to the temperature dropping. I resorted to putting on my 18 year old Amiga sweatshirt that I was told to bring in case of such an emergency. By the time the races were finished we were tired, cold and wanted to go home.

After dropping off Darryl, Andrew drove me to the Lucky10 set where I ended up taking pictures until 8:30am... More to follow.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Some Movie Magic Please

This photo taken on location of Felicity demonstrates the effectiveness of a studio light on top of a very tall crane.

I slept for most of the day in order to be awake during the Felicity shoot at Black Creek Pioneer village. Our visual effects call time was 20:45. We stayed until 23:30 leaving the location after finding out our scene had been cut. This is a regular thing being on set and doing visual effects. Unless you're working on a movie or show that is stuffed with effects shots (Star Wars 3 for example) most of the time visual effects shots are placed at the end of the day. If the time runs out (or the producer doesn't want to pay overtime), the scene gets chopped. It is not uncommon for you to come to set first thing in the morning, stand around all day, then have your scenes get chopped off, and you go home having to come back some other day for a pick up shot.

The nice thing about being on set is that they feed you. I suppose this is both a good and bad thing. While working on Earth Final Conflict I saved so much money eating on set. However it's also very easy to gain weight especially if you're not doing anything resembling exercise (like moving sand bags, climbing ladders, lights, cameras or what have you).

Tonight, during the wait, while eating a sandwich from the kraft table, I took a bunch of house reference pictures for an effects shot. They will be stitched together and used to create a large matte painting that will incorporate bare trees, maybe some snow and a new roof. Supposedly houses in 1775 America had very steep roofs made of wood tiles.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Print Problems

The official BagelHot key chain.

Today's mission was to visit the local print shop to fix some problems with my new business card graphic. There was something wrong. That's all I knew from a very vague answer machine message. Did I forget to turn off some layer? Had the data become corrupt? I decided to wake up early and take care of this problem right away.

I arrived at the print shop and found out the "Graphic artist" did not know how dots per inch work. My image was being imported at 350 dpi instead of 300 dpi. This kind of amazed me as the print shop has directions on submission of one's own art work. Why would an employee deviate from those specifications or more to the point how can someone in the print industry not know how to use dpi?

This isn't the first time. It seems there are a lot of people in the print industry getting dpi and image resolution mixed up all the time. Why is it that this isn't something that's drilled into your average graphic designer before anything else? If I had a nickel for every graphic designer, computer artist... personally I blame Adobe to a certain extent. Photoshop 4, to be precise, when they mucked up the interface for image size. In version 3 and below it was clearer how resolution and dots or pixels per inch were related.

After all was said and done, my graphic template made this weeks print run, and the graphic artist found out something new.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Farm Land

Clouds looming somewhere near Acton.

I spent the afternoon on the Felicity film location up at Scottsdale farm. A remote piece of land near Acton (a bit north west of Toronto - about an hour and a half drive). Clouds loomed in the sky most of the time I was there.

There's something quite odd about sitting on grass in an open field eating lunch. The air is crisp, clean and surprisingly no bugs. You don't really notice how bad the air is in the city until you leave it. All that coughing seems to just magically go away.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Darryl's Photo Shoot

Chris posing for one of the few pictures I got to take.

While other Canadians celebrated the Victoria Day long weekend by going to the cottage, launching fireworks, or maybe staying at home in bed catching up on sleep, Mandy Zackowski (of Deadly Design), Amanda Shear (Eye magazine photographer), Mark (Chris' Botfriend/ex-glam rock guy), and myself spent the last two days helping out Darryl do a photo shoot of Chris. My task was mainly comprised of sleeping and being around if Darryl had questions about the gear, needed a light moved, a pizza picked up, or a quick run to the variety store for other miscellaneous stuff like drinks and snacks.

Chris went through a bunch of different looks, ranging from a leopard girl, the devil girl (above), a cheerleader, 50s glamour model, race car poster girl, and a Betty Page look-a-like. Mandy, make up artist extrodinaire, did an incredible job in doing Chris' makeup. She also explained the whole fake eye lash technology to me. You can glue fake eyelashes on! Who knew? I can see a bunch of women putting up their hands. I suppose I did know. It's just something I've never really thought of (being a guy and all).

A whole new world of beautifying technology that makes me more appreciative that being a guy and having to use only and comb or brush, maybe take a shower, is a good thing. It's no wonder women get all pissed off when the "man" doesn't notice the new doo, or new look, right away. The hours that can be put into making themselves "look good" is incredible. Yes... this has donned on me just now. One can be told that getting ready to go out can take a long time but until one sees the actual devices that women use... well it's an awakening experience.

The rest of the weekend was spent eating dim sum, going for lunch at a place called sPaHa (located on Spadina and Harbord), and watching TV shows from the 70s and 80s on DVD. One of them being the Greatest American Hero. A cheesy but memorable show from the eighties. I got sucked in and watched the entire season over two nights. The DVD included the pilot for the spin off show called the Greatest American Heroine. It never aired. After watching the first ten minutes I got bored and tuned out. No wonder it never got picked up.

Friday, May 20, 2005

waiting on set

Sunset on the Felicity location.

I got to set around 8:30pm. It was about an hour drive from the office somewhere near Don Mills and York Mills. Upon arriving we ended up having to wait for the crew to finish shooting inside before they came out to shoot our scenes. I took the opportunity to shoot this sunset that was taking place between two buildings and through a bunch of trees.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

May Day

May at Trinity Bellwoods park.

This was odd. After leaving Laer to go to the computer store to pick up some more memory for my camera (a compact flash card) I ran into May. I met her one day about three years ago in Halifax. She was at an art exhibit and was going to go hiking from Halifax to New Brunswick with Jen (see past post).

She seemed lost and was looking for a firewire cable. Luckily I just happened to be going her way. We ended up at Canada Computers. She bought a fire wire cable for under ten bucks, which compared to Halifax, is forty dollars cheaper. Who knew?

The store didn't have any Lexar brand cards so I ended up getting nothing. Then making my way to work I ended up leaving May in a park for her to commune with nature.

Star Wars Epsiode 3 - the film that didn't suck.

Laer at the Paramount just after seeing Star Wars 3. See, it wasn't that bad.

Laer and I, both having the day off, saw the noon showing of star wars episode 3. I have had my reservations of going. Mostly due to thinking it would suck big time. Let's face it episode one and two are all over the place and do you actually remember what happened in episode two? Not the most memorable piece of work. The reviews that I've read state the opposite. "Fans love the film.", "The best one yet.", "Sithly Irresistible", "Star wars finale earns 16.5 Million at midnight showing",etc, etc.

Overall the film did not suck. However it was a far cry from Empire or even Return of the Jedi (the version with the ewoks singing the yub yub song). Empire was a far better movie for the following reasons...

- memorable music - imperial march
- memorable lines ("and I thought they smelt bad on the outside")
- good composition and lighting (Peter Suschitzky)
- Frank Oz controlling a puppet version of Yoda
- and most important, a good story (Yea for Lawrence Kasdan)

As a star wars fan I would have to say the movie was okay. Maybe better then episodes 1 and 2 but not as great as 4, 5 and 6. Episode 3 does make a great demo reel for ILM though. You have to hand it to George. There's not a lot of people that can make a movie without one of the major hollywood studios backing them.

So now that Star Wars is over and done with let's cattle prod George into making Indy 4.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Freezer contents as of May 17, 2005

Carrying on the freezer tradition since May 2005, I have decided to participate in the open door policy of having the public know just what the heck is in my freezer. I have not moved or changed anything in anyway. The stuff that's in my freezer was in there, and I didn't take anything out. It's lucky, earlier today was garbage day pickup. Otherwise you might have seen a mighty morphin chunk of broccoli and a can of grease leftovers.

Contents by the numbers (with apologies to vegetarians everywhere)
1. Chicken legs - yet to be cooked.

2. Some unidentified meat substance. Might have been a stew. Either that or the Thing, an alien from outer space that kills humans by mimicing then eating them. Which would explain why it's frozen and in two seperate containers. This way it can't become one again.

3. An ice tray... with ice in it!

4. Chicken thighs.

5. Frozen peas, carrots, and corn.

6. Ice cream. Not yet opened. Maple Walnut flavor.

7. Ground Turkey

8. Ice cube trays... all empty. It seems my refridgerator has a thing built in to keep moisture out. This is why there are so many ice cube trays. I put water in them at different times and hopefully when I need ice one will have ice in it.

9. Garlic steams.

10. Beef chunks for stew or stir fry.

11. Sausages - spicy

For more freezer goodness check out cupcake and uncaringbear.

The Clothing Show

Robin Polfus almost hidden in her clothing and toy lines with "Derek" the sock-huskey.

Sunday. The Canadian National Exhibition automotive building housed the clothing show this year. You might ask yourself why am I even here? I did. There were two reasons actually. A) I wanted a new spring jacket and B) Robin was there with her booth of sock monkey shirts. At least that's what her email said.

The cost was eight dollars to get in for the option of spending more money on clothes. Remember that purse blog? The stuff in here was I'd say about 90% geared towards females. To women: Most guys when they shop for clothes will have something in mind. Say a pair of shoes. They will go into the store. If there are shoes available, look okay and fit they will be bought. Purchase complete. Get the hell out of there.

The speed at which we will leave a store once everything is bought is like we just set up a grenade in there somewhere. We do not stop and look at other things, accessories, or things that go with the shoes like pants or other wardrobe. There are two exceptions. Shoe polish and that silver or plastic shoe horn. But only if the sales person asks us if we need it. By agreeing to buy the other stuff, we can get out of the store that much quicker.

The show horn because it shiney (if made of metal) or because it's a gadget which also helps get your foot in the shoe easier. As for the shoe polish, it, at least as told by the sales clerk, will extend the life of the shoe. Hence we can prolong not going back to the store to do more shoe shopping.

I eventually found Robin's booth and the first thing that came to mind was "Wow. Where did you find the sweatshop to make all this?". It turns out Robin has cranked the stuff out on her own with a little help from Chris (the boyfriend) who did the silk screens of a shirt line entitled "Glomponk". The designs were tiny doodles Robin did then Chris scanned them in, blew them up, and cleaned them on a computer and turned them into silk screens. I bought one named "carrot boy". It's the same color as those bright pale orange chamois.

Nas and Michelle. Nas Shows her cool new shirt.

After that I bumped into Nas and Michelle. To save time I thought I'd ask them if they'd seen any spring jackets. I figured, judging by the amount of bags and the cool new shirt Nas bought that they had been there for a while and may have noticed some jackets being sold somewhere. They told me they didn't really see much but said most of the stuff was for women and that I could fly through the store in minutes.

They were right. I zipped through the aisles of clothing and women looking through piles of clothing and found one place that had jackets that looked okay if you were going to apply for a gas station attendent job. Other than that nothing. I left the show with a T-shirt and 33 dollers less.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Tijuana Bibles!

The Tijuana Bibles playing at the 360.

It's been two or three years since I first met Pete Gleeson playing floor hockey (with the Mullets) and over the course of time he has told me that he was in a band and I should see the band play some day. I would like to clarify that Pete has never pushed the band on me but maybe talked about it once or twice in a matter of fact, dead pan, laid back kind of way. You could see the band or not. Didn't matter either way. That's Pete in a nutshell I suppose.

That said, I've never been able to see the band play until today. The reason? It's always been something. Someone's birthday, working late, helping someone out, and an assortment of other things that would pop up at the last minute and cause a conflict in scheduling. Usually I'd just get busy doing other things and just forget. Days later I'd walk down the street and see the remains of a flyer for the band half glued to a telephone post and think "Oh crap. I missed them again."

The big motivation this time was an email I received saying this would be the last time they played for a while. It's like buying the last item in the store. There's only one left. Get it now or it will be gone... forever. My brain usually then goes into impulse buy mode telling the rest of myself "Must buy". That's how this email affected me. Lodged into my brain was "Must see show.", "Must take pictures of show.".

The only problem between me and seeing the show was another friend, Nilla, having her birthday that same night. As luck would have it, Pete's band wasn't starting until midnight. Most birthdays don't go that long right? Wrong. Nilla's birthday started off at her apartment at around 8:30. By the time 11:00pm rolled around the group started making it's way out the door to go salsa dancing.

We arrived at the salsa club and noticed a huge line up to get in. That was my chance to make my get away. I said my goodbyes and cabbed it over to the 360 in the span of 15 minutes. Half the time was stuck on College waiting behind other cars taking their passengers to other clubs and resturants. Once my cab made it to a small alley going southboud it was smooth sailing for that point on. I arrived in plently of time. The second band was still playing. Pete's band wouldn't go up for another 40 minutes.

The Tijuana Bibles were nothing short of amazing. They kick musical ass! Aluminum Baseball Bat, Go Go Rock & Roll, and Tokyo Topless are just some of the tunes they played. Hearing the band play live had the energy reminiscent of seeing the Ramones (without the arguing between numbers). High energy, guitar, drum beating, trumpet, keyboard playing music filled the 360 like a wave of rock and roll should.

I ended up staying around to blab to some of the band members and gush how great they were to hear and shoot. Speaking of which, the shot above was taken at the right time through a huge crowd of people. It kind of reminds me of the superfriends pose with Wendy and Marvin. by Looking at the picture it's hard to believe that they were in the middle of playing and not just standing still posing (as I pat myself on the back).

For a mere 20 bucks I managed to score two of their albums, "Fists of Fury" and "Custom Made". Gads! It's 4:35 am! I just got in the door. Time to hit the pillow.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The People You Meet Each Day

Thomas McDermott, one of those people you meet while you're walking down the street.

Walking down the street, eating at a restaurant, sitting on the subway, perusing a comic shop, leafing through a book store, standing in line for a movie, whatever the case may be eventually it happens. I bump into someone I know. For me it's not so amazing that this happens. I'm more amazed that friends find this amazing. I usually get lines "Wow you know so many people.", "You have lots of friends.", or the ever popular "Are there any places we can go where we won't bump into someone you know?"

Statisically speaking, the odds are pretty good that I should run into someone I know as I was born in Toronto and have lived in Toronto all my life. For the most part, I've lived somewhat downtown or near downtown for all those years, gone to school and took all my post secondary courses downtown. Mathematically then I really should be bumping into people I know.

There are times when I may go somewhere for the first time and be surrounded by whole new people. The only reason I don't get any of the above comments is that usually I'm doing these new things alone. For the most part a lot of my friends from the various circles do not like to jump circles. One person I know through computer animation work will not go to a cryogenics meeting. This is based on the fact the head freezing crowd exceeds the geek quotient by even him. Close minded comes to mind but one person's crap is another person's treasure and all that. The same could be said for some of my other friends who are not technophiles. I would never take them to a computer convention because their eyes would glaze over and it would be like walking around with discontented zombies. If I'm really unlucky they won't verbalize their boredom until afterwards. Then be constantly reminding you of what a crummy time they had. Note: If you're bored say so. The other person (me) may not pick up on this right away.

To Women: It's like taking a guy shopping for a purse. Unless that purse has some quality that makes it interesting for him he will probably be fixated on the store across the mall, his shoes, or maybe even his watch (and how slow the second hand seems to be moving). The fact that a purse goes well with a outfit you have is not really a big deal for the guy. There are of course the exceptions but for the most part it's true. Sorry to tell you this.

If, on the other hand, the purse had a LCD screen walkie talkie, or a fart maker (controlled by a small remote of course), or even some high tech anti theft device involving some sort of small explosion (or could hold cameras) then perhaps he might be interested. Disclaimer: Okay the guys point of view is really my point of view but I'm sure other guys think the same way.

There are those that believe that meeting people is the universe doing it's thing and everything happens for a reason. Personally, I think it's more just coincidence. I met Thomas (see above) today walking around Kensington market. I didn't really think it had any profound meaning. Although I did walk into one of his friends five minutes earlier looking for a lobster. If my purpose in the universe was to tell her where he was then maybe there's something to that whole theory. Then again it did inspire this blog entry. hmmm...

Happy Birthday Gord!

The Gord Oxley Grab Bag of Comedy Show

What do you do when you have a birthday and a bunch of your friends are improv comics? You put on a birthday show of course. I, being one of the lucky few to know about this event, got to see some of the funniest performers in all of Toronto do improv on stage. This made it a bit difficult to shoot photos as I was laughing so hard I couldn't hold the camera steady. Note to self: Bring tripod if going to another comedic event that requires photography.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Bruiser Brody

Bruiser Brody at Sneaky Dees. Thursday night.

It's about 2:30am. My ears are still ringing from going to Sneaky Dees. I went to see a group known as Bruiser Brody play. Turned out there were three bands playing that night and Bruiser was the last in line. The two bands that precceded Brody were The Threat and Phat Bastard.

Surprisingly, to me at least, the bands were great. The Threat had two great guitarists that jumped around stage while playing. Always a photographers dream. There's something to be said about shooting moving band members with low lighting and a crowds of people around. It's quite the challenge getting the people in the right position, with the right expression, mouth movement while doing something photo worthy. I wonder how the guys with film cameras do it. You'd only be able to shoot 36 pictures before you had to stop to change the roll. I suppose you could have multiple cameras, an assistant or change film during the inbetween song breaks.

Phat Bastard was another surprise. They had a brass section. A guy on a trumpet and a girl on sax. They had their own music and mixed in some cover tunes. From reggae to the Ramones. I found this group to have a lot of energy and a large crowd to go with it. Took some pretty good pictures of this band as well.

Finally on stage was Bruiser Brody. With a huge collection of props, a guy in wrestling tights, surrounded by two punk guitarists and a drummer they were the band with probably the best showmanship. Perhaps it was just the lead singer hamming it up? He looked like a neaderthal from the old Trek Series (the Omega Glory episode).

The highlight of the evening occurred while taking pictures of this band. While I was innocently snapping away I felt a hand on my ass. It wasn't a bump, nudge or close brush. It was full palm and all five fingers squeezing. I turned to see who it was. It was a girl in her twenties. She still had her hand on my butt when I turned around. It was like her hand was glued to my butt. Only after making eye contact did she sheepishly remove the offending hand. Did I feel sexually threatened, angry, or upset? Hell no.

For those of you wondering. "No", I did not get her number. She seemed kind of young. But to be honest I didn't even think about it at the time. It's not like a girl grabs my ass every day that by second nature I would ask for her phone number automatically. "Hi your hand feels great! Can you take it off my ass so you can write down your phone number? What you're ambidextrous?" Maybe next time. Putting the hand thing behind (har har) at the time I was too occupied trying to get better pictures of the band and wondering if that more expensive (the Nikkor 70-200mm 2.8 aperature with Vibration Reduction) lens would help in a time like this.

Technology before women. Could it be that's why I'm not dating? Don't answer that.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Come see the Falls...

The Maid of the Mist boat sails along Niagara Falls.

Determined to keep my boredom at bay I decided to take the bus and go to Niagara Falls. I arrived at the Niagara bus terminal at 15:30. The trip took about two hours. Once off the bus I made my way over to the falls by foot taking pictures of the run down downtown core along the way. Boarded up stores, closed restaurants, an old lady waiting for a bus. That was about it. And I thought downtown Edmonton after 7pm was bad. Yeesh.

Perhaps it was because it was a Tuesday that it wasn't very busy. Not just downtown but also at the water (the falls). Whenever I've gone before they are people crammed along the water's edge sightseeing. Mind you I usually went during the weekend. The nice thing about the lack of people is that I managed to go into a tourist trap without having worry about getting pushed by kids or trying to peek at displays over heads taller than me.

Along Clifton Hill, a street that runs towards the Falls (east/west), there are a whole bunch of tourist traps. From over priced restaurants, to wax museums, to 4D IMAX rides. The one thing that caught my eye was the Lego exhibit. It cost about $10.00. I asked if I could take pictures and they gave me the go ahead. The exhibit was a large room with a large Lego train set. Within the tracks there was a small Taj Mahal, Statue of Liberty, CN Tower, Scotia tower, a soccer field, a ski lift and a bunch more stuff that I'm forgetting. One interesting lego piece that stood out was a rock and roll concert featuring AC/DC. (to be continued)

Shot Down in Flames

AC/DC take on Lego form.

So much for my next Hard Liquor and Porn idea. I guess I'll have to stick with the Village People. With no one else at the Lego exhibit (see previous log) I actually got a chance to talk to the builder. All the Lego is from his personal collection. He didn't get any bricks from Lego. It took him five years (on and off) to put together the city (not shown here) including the AC/DC concert. He had just finished a scale version of the canadian side of Niagara Falls which will be installed in the main lobby this week.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Voice of Reason

Zee, the voice of reason

There usually comes at time when one is faced with a major purchase. Not necessarily a purchase costing a great amount of money but one where people question your sanity, your character, based on your willingness to spend money on "stupid" things. In most cases the amount of money spent goes hand in hand and is proportional with the level of nut you're declared as.

For example, years ago I bought my third computer. Wow, did I get flack for having one. It was a Commodore Amiga 2000. It wasn't compatible with Apple or PC but was a close cousin to UNIX. At the time it was the only computer that could do preemptive multitasking, had stereo sound, a built in a dedicated sound chip, graphics chip and a whole array of other geeky features.

In my computer science course I think I was one of four that had an Amiga (the first year students totalled about eighty). Even though I loved that computer I was labelled as a non-conformist and automatically anti-PC (IBM PC that is). I suppose it could have been worse. I could have been Roger, the only guy with a Macintosh. At least his platform is still around and kicking.

It didn't help my image that my computer print outs had "IBMSUCKS" instead of my student number on them. It was just so easy to poke fun at a computer system that had DOS as an operating system. Being graphics oriented I felt the PC was for accountants and those conservative types that were government pencil pushers that gravitated to and loved databases and spreadsheets. Who knew databases and spreadsheets would rule the world of computers?

Time has a way of kicking the crap of out cocky people like myself and twelve years later guess who owns an intel based, windows system? I can hear all those computer profs saying "I told you so. See? Where your Amiga is now? In the dump." Most of my friends that were in comp sci are now programming PCs or at least doing tech support. I'm not even programming any more.

Purchasing the Amiga was a whole lot of fun. I've logged many hours on it. Which brings me to the whole purchase thing. If you buy something that goes against the common way of thinking you've got to be prepared for the "I told you so." line later on and the "What are you nuts?" line just after your purchase. In the end though, it is you that gets something out of it. Who cares if people think you were crazy for buying into a dying platform?

Which brings me to a lens I've been eyeing. It's a nikkor zoom lens. The 70-200mm with a 2.8 aperture and vibration reduction built in. The VR allows you to shoot up to three stops lower than you normally would. Translation: It's 2530.00 after tax in Canadian funds. That's a huge lump of money for a lens that I could be doing other things with. Buying new clothes, paying off the debt, eating out, paying rent, maybe even dating. The list practically never ends.

This is why I have a fall back. There's a voice of reason in my head that says "What are you nuts?". Unfortunately it's usually over shadowed by the "Wow! that's sooo cool!" voice. Because the cool voice usually wins every time I have a fall back for my fall back voice of reason that takes the form of friends.

Five main friends and some more on the side (the extra ones are used on larger more difficult purchases). John, Irmina, Zee, William and Sara are the main voices of reason (or V.O.R.s).

It's good to have guys with input because a girl will automatically say no. Females generally have good, solid input, maybe because they are more practical. When they say "no" to a purchase it makes leaving that item on the shelf more depressing. At least with the guy thought pattern, if they say "no" they've weighed the cool factor (only recognized by guys) and usually it makes sense without the practical financial reasons that women tend to use. When you get a "no" from guys you can identify with their reasoning and respond with "Oh yeah, what was I thinking? That is dumb."

An example of this would be buying speakers. "What? You're buying labtec speakers? What are you nuts? They sound like crap, Pioneer sound so much better and they're only 3 times the cost.". Your response would be "Oh my gosh you're right, how could I be so dumb!"

For the camera lens purchase I have called on Zee. Slightly practical, perhaps because he just got married, but also a long time friend who is used to my purchasing extravaganzas, impulse shopping urges, and maybe even my way of thinking. It surprised him that I went to the camera store, looked at the lens, put it on my camera, shot pictures with it, then placed it back in the box and walked away. Walked away without buying it, without going back ten minutes later and buying it. It was quite impressive.

Zee's answer to my purchase dilemma was to wait until I got a job so I'd have a stream of income coming in. Seemed logical to me. With computer equipment or video equipment I tend to buy things first so I can try it out and get familiar with it before taking on a job where I'll use it. That way I'll know the quirks of the equipment before hand. In my brain this is what was going on with the lens. If I were to pick it up I should at least have a gig that I'll need for it first. It all made a lot of sense and I went home without the shakes or the thought of going back tomorrow.

There are two things to watch out for when you pick your voice of reason. Some friends will tire of you blabbing about a product and will automatically blurt out "Buy it! Buy it, for crying out loud!". Marc and Colin are put in this category. They are great friends but terrible as V.O.R. role models. Automatically they're eliminated from the V.O.R. list.

The other type of person to be wary of is someone that has that particular hobby already. William, a photo bug, would be a bad choice because he can rationalize the purchase without much effort. "Wow, a 2.8 aperture. You can throw the background into blurriness with that. Your photos will be that much more great!". His wife would be a better choice as she can take a step back and say "Are you working? Maybe you should buy new clothes first for going out on dates.". A woman's V.O.R. might have those harsh interjections but they just ground you, very quickly I might add, into reality (and make you sad at the same time).

Why even have females on this purchase jury you ask? Well they might not be good for gadget buying (as they always tend to say "no") but they are great when it comes to dating purchases. "What! you're buying flowers already? How many times have you gone out with her? Desperate! Hello?"

In the end the decision is your own. For me, I will not buy the lens until I get more consistent work. Thanks Zee.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Spider Plant

The spider's actual size is about 5mm in length.

I woke up this morning and found a tiny spider hanging from the ceiling in my washroom. After transplanting the spider over to my aloe plant in the window I decided to take my nikon 990 out og hibernation and shoot a few pictures in macro mode. The spider was pretty lethargic. It's good to know I'm not the only slow moving thing in the morning. He was easy to shoot. Note: A spider's sex can be determined by looking at the head. If the spider has fat bulbous looking "fangs" then it's a he. I can't remember where I picked up that little nugget of knowledge. It just one of those things.

In order to make this tiny spider appear large I had to the get camera right up to it (2cm away). I found the depth of field to be absurd. If the front legs were in focus the body was out of focus and vice versa. Later on I sacrificed the shutter speed in order to use a smaller aperature. The result is what you see above. By the time I started getting the knack of shooting the spider crawled away hiding in the plant.

Even though the camera is a LOT less responsive than my D70 I do miss shooting in macro mode. I'll have to remedy that some day and pick up a macro lens for the SLR. Yes. Some day...

Friday, May 06, 2005

Chair for Repair

My fix-the-chair project of 2005.

Friday. I woke up today with one purpose. To fix the chair that I broke however many months ago. Being a friday and an unemployed one at that it was a pretty simple task. I got up at 11ish. I still felt tired from the grueling week before. I think I put in about 50 hours at work by the end of Wednesday, our day of delivery. Still a bit groggy from getting up too early I made my way outside toward the nearest Home Depot.

Home Depot is a hardware chain that just opened a new store in Gerrard Square. Not really a great mall in the 70s, when it opened, Gerrard Square now shows signs of neglect and the absence of medium to high income shoppers. It seems the main contingent are a bunch of seniors that sit around the food court watching the day go by. It's kind of sad. Perhaps to revitalize the mall Home Depot was introduced to replace the dying, and now gone, Sears.

On my way to the mall I tried out a new (to me) roti shop located on greenwood. The resturant was pretty busy considering there didn't seem to be any places of work or schools nearby. I kept wondering where all the people were coming from. It was friday afterall. Don't people work? Then I realized I was one of those people and shut myself up. After slowly ingesting my roti and pineapple soda I continued to make my way to the mall. It was sunny and warm. It's hard to believe just a few days ago it was hailing.

I found bright orange metal band clamps for 19.95 (yea!) and went back home to fix the chair. I brought the broken chair outside to fix. A wise idea as the glue bottle top exploded off shooting glue everywhere. Finally getting glue on the chair crack I wrapped it with the band clamp then went back inside to check my email.

Long story short. While checking my email I noticed my computer was uploading on a constant basis. After a bit of snooping I found a worm on my C drive. I erased some files. It seemed okay. Then after rebooting my C drive cecame non-existant. As a result I lost all my email and bookmarked URLs. So if you read this please send your email address.

On the plus side I've reinstalled the operating system and it seems to be zooming along. It's the first time I've installed this computer in at least three years.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Garbage Bags and Toilet Paper

The Coxwell bus. The last leg of transport from work to home (and my pillow).

We finally delivered the work we were working on yesterday night at 7pm. Sorry about all the mystery but I signed a non-disclosure form regarding the thing I was working on. So I can't identify it until it's released. It's been about six weeks since the project started and now that it's done I've noticed the apartment needs a lot of cleaning. That and I'm exhausted.

Piles of clothing seem to be everywhere, clean and not so clean. Mixed in are batteries, camera gear, chemistry glass ware (test tubes and beakers) and the odd photo magazine (that I bought over the last few weeks and "misplaced") or newspaper. The kitchen has dishes overflowing and a stink coming from somewhere. Oh yeah, the food rotting in the make shift garbage bag next to my recycling box. I kept missing the pick up day for the last few weeks. My apartment has turned into a wreak over the last few weeks so I decided today I would do something about it.

But not right away. I lazily woke up at around 10am, got up and did a bunch of banking and errands first. Then I got side tracked at a gallery downtown. A city wide photo exhibition is happening this month called "Contact". All over Toronto various venues showcase photography from a wide range of photographers. The gallery that caught my attention a few days (or was it a day) ago was one on King and Bathurst. Thanks to the countless hours at work, the days have all melted into one another. Because I was wandering around town not working I'd swear it was the weekend.

The gallery showcased the photos of a New Yorker, Joel Mayerowitz, who during the post 911 event clean up went around ground zero and took pictures despite being told by police officers that it was a restricted crime scene. A large print on the wall with text told his story of the picture taking and the motivation behind it. He claimed that there should be historical documents for the city of New York and he set out and did it.

The photos were of the smashed twin towers, all the rubble, and the workers that were attempting to clean up and rescue. The sense of scale and the enormous task of sifting and clearing is abundantly clear in his work. You could even make out the detail of the various worker's faces. The faces were about a quarter of the size of your nail on your pinky finger. The pictures were blown up to the size of a transit map. I was impressed. Unfortunetly there was a large push to print the photos using HP printers. This diluted the exhibit to a certain extent but I managed to ignore most of the HP ad campaign.

Finally I managed to make my way back home and did a small run to the grocery store, where I restocked on the garbage bags and toilet paper. I went out a third time to pick up a couple of band clamps. A band clamp, to those of you that don't know, is like a belt that can be tightened with a ratchet device of some kind. I decided to fix my chair. I bought some wood glue and realized I'd need something to hold it together while it dried. One would think Home Hardware or even Canadian Tire would carry something like this. The Home Hardware guys didn't know what I was talking about and tried selling me a vice grip. The sales guy did a pretty bad job. The vice grip, that was on sale, broke while he was demonstrating it to me. I walked away as he tried to reassemble it.

Next I went to Canadian Tire (where they sell more than tires). Although the sales staff gave me the chicken look they did direct me to the right section of the store where I eventually found them. They had two types, both by the same company. One was $20, the other single hand band clamp was $40. I felt that both were too expensive for tools that were made of plastic. If you're going to buy hardware it should be made of metal or at least not feel like it's made from the same plastic that they make pumpkin pails out of for carrying Halloween candy. It's the kind of plastic that smashes into tiny pieces if dropped from waist level. The same kind of plastic that they make Lomo cameras out of. Cheap. Brittle. Crap.

Not getting a band clamp I ended up getting bowls. Yes, red plastic bowls. Four of them. They, unlike the cheapo band clamps, were made of heavy duty plastic. If melted down you might be able to make a bowling ball. The reason I bought them, aside from their durability is that they have rounded bottoms. I have other bowls that have bottoms with a crease in them. I've had the blue flat bottomed bowls for months, maybe years, and it's always bugged me when I eat ice cream and when I clean them.

To answer the question posted in the past blog about work. I was called later on to be informed that I will not be hired by the second party involved. This means I have joined the ranks of the unemployed yet again.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Work work work

Darryl cycling next to a streetcar I happen to be on.

What day is it again? Oh yes Saturday, the end of a pay period or work week. I've been putting in long hours at work the last week resulting in being tired and a being a little unhappy. Mainly because I've been missing things going on at night. The Scandalvavia band that played last night, the free food and model shindig, the comic book convention, the play on one of my friends will be in tomorrow night.No one said working this particular project would be a breeze and with this wednesday as a deadline it'll probably get worse. The money is good and I suppose that's something. But where do you draw the line?

Today Darryl and I left work at midnight. Tired, exhausted, we walked over to a Tim Hortons on the way home, ordered a couple of bagels with cream cheese and continued on our way. That's probably the second most exciting thing I've done after work all week. The first thing being dinner with Kiri, Laer and Darryl on Thursday. Whatever happened to making more time with friends (see previous blog) and myself?

Days blur into one another, time passes, but nothing gets done. I haven't been able to hit a food store in almost two weeks. My fridge is empty (or things are starting to turn into alien beings) and I'm out of garbage bags and more importantly toilet paper. It's amazing what can be taken for granted. I can just hear my friend John saying "Wah wah wah". So looking on the up side there are a lot worse things that I could be experiencing now and I do have my health. The job only lasts another four days and when I'm unemployed again I'll probably be asking myself why I've got nothing to do with so much time on my hands.

It's now quarter to three. I've got to get up to be at work for 8am tomorrow. Bye for now...