Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean 3

The madfishmonger@lj posted a terrific review of this latest Mr. Depp feature. I bet it's a while before he buys into another round of the big Hollyrude block buster after he's done with this, but then again the money must be so tempting.

I expect he's got enough offers for interesting work to see him through creatively irrespective of any mind numbing that might go into the making of this type of film.

In my imagination I equate it to being like the flag man's job on a highway construction site. I'd have to either really have my shite together or be so dumbed down to be numb to sustain the position. Depp I suspect is on the former and brighter side of that choice.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tim's old male JCP

JC the Jungle Carpet Python is an impressive snake to me still. He's by far and away the one I learn the most from. I'm still struggling with humidity so he obviously deserves a better enclosure with a more controlled ventilation that what he's in now.

He toured the enclosure all fall looking for a mate. Man was he busy, then like a light switch had been turned off, he settled in for a long sleep. His last meal was in November some time and he didn't take another one until March, but man did he go after food! He ate five 500 gram rats in about as many weeks once he got going.

This again is an image that is the result of a new found technique to squeeze more resolution out of my little Canon A70. Manual setting, 5.6 f-stop because that's the sweet spot on all photo optics, reduced flash to suit the distance, macro on, no effects and a steady rest for the camera. I'll have to begin bracketing the focus because the automatic is always a bit shy of the eyes even on the best of circumstances.

He is big and strong and not unlike myself in temperment. He can be a bit nasty at times. heh

Morelia spilota cheynei - jungle carpet python - seven year old male


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

school visit, Kat's photo shoot, seamless background setup

Last week we had a bit of a photo opportunity day here. Meite brought a friend out to take images of the various creatures we've got around here. I had bought some poster board to create some background for the images in black, white and blue. I really wanted to create a setup where the background was seamless, but hadn't figured out the exact engineering on the apparatus to hold the poster board by the time they arrived.

Last week was a busy one. Bonnie, Manon and I took a car load of critters into a k-5 school on Wednesday for a three show gig of show and touch. :D What fun the little ones are. The response was overwhelmingly good which was a relief given that I'd never presented these guys in this way before.

So when push came to shove and I needed a background, I found a simple and effective way to create that seamless background and I had a great time getting all I could out of my little camera. I thought I had exhausted all the possibilities of gaining more resolution from this 3.2mp Canon A70, but I found a little more last week. I didn't realise until later just how much more until I was editing and I found this image of the leopard gecko. I still want a new camera, but this isn't bad!

Worthy of a new tattoo? :D


Here is the little bracket for holding up the poster board. It worked quite well and it made it easy to change the coloured cardboard. The weight of the paper held up the bracket in place very nicely.




Meite's friend had a better camera @ 5.?mp, but really didn't seem to grasp the mechanics of the machine very well. I got two decent images from her efforts. This is my older male ball python in shed. He lost his skin this morning and now can see again! Maybe he'll eat now too although I see his heater is out of whack and keeping him a little cooler than might be required for a vigorous appetite.


The remainder of the images that worked best from that day are less than hoped for really. I crave more resolution.



The classic greeting to an invitation with the blues, again.


Another one of Kat's that worked. My big emperor chowing down a roach in hand.


Dad's progress, L. parahybana molted to new legs, disappearing squirel

Dad's on the mend and Mum's sounding like life is settling into a manageable routine. The walking and napping schedule keeps the days full as Dad has to walk on level ground and the only place for that is the beach. What a great place to be reminded that life is good and worth working for.

I'm happy he's healing up so well. I'm also impressed at how quickly they get into changing his lifestyle to include some cardiovascular work. Are we all listening? Diet is good, but the work is best.

The most important thing I've learnt about aerobic exercise is this. You need to work hard enough that you can't sing, but not so hard that you can't carry on a conversation. Now, away with you and jot that down on your collective foreheads backwards of course so you can be reminded of it every time you look in a mirror.

Late last fall my Lasiodora parahybana - Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater tarantula lost a couple of legs in a molt. After a quick Internet search I discovered that this isn't such a rare event in the lives of tarantulas and she'd likely regrow legs progressively in successive molts. Although the process of molting takes a huge toll on these critters, it wasn't more than a few days after the molt that she was able to function seemingly without impediment and Saturday night she molted again.

Way cool! Two new legs sprouted where there were only stumps before. She lay down a matt of webbing on Satuday so I knew a molt was imminent. I took that opportunity to have a really close look at her so I could hopefully better appreciate the changes a molt would bring to her. She didn't grow much, but the colours are much enhanced and how about those legs? < g > Heaven only knows where she put them, but obviously inside her body cavity somewhere. The two new legs aren't fully up to the high quality of the other six, but I bet next time they are a lot closer to prefect. What a trick to be able to gas the lame ones and start again.


This next one should be posted to the found_objects@lj group here. I wish I would have recognised what was going on earlier in the process. The dogs finally caught up with a ground squirrel they had been hounding for weeks and it was dead as a door nail out beside the outhouse. Everyone has one of those right? :P

The first day I noticed the head was beneath ground level I stopped and had a close look at the dirt to see who or what was trying to pull a fast one on me. I could make no good observations to support any above ground interferance, but it never occured to me that the tug was coming from below at that point. I thought for sure Manon had spent hours configuring the scene to suggest a mystery. She's the queen of the practical joke. The next day it was much farther along being swallowed down a hole, but again there was no suggestion as to who or what was playing with my brain.

OK, so I'm slow! On day three I got the camera. It must have been a pocket gopher. Nasty buggers in a trap noted for the brave again.

How weird is this?





My foot troubles remain and it looks like I won't get in to have my inserts fit to my shoes this week. My fitness level is dropping off rapidly as would be expected. So many buttons, so little time.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dad update - homeward bound

From what I understand, Dad's on his way home tomorrow. When do you expect the most difficult part of the recovery might be? It seems as if he's on rails and doing quite well given the set back of a stroke and all.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

New images are uploaded.

Manon and I got up early and drove two and a half hours north to volunteer at the Narcisse snake pits. It was a brilliant bright sunny day spent with some good friends. The guide we were working with thought we saw about 1500 people through today. It was a great day off.


When we got home "Bruce" the corn snake had just finished shedding so he was looking pretty. The sun was low with all those rich warm tones so I grabbed him and the small milk snake and went outside for a bit of a photo shoot.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Dad update - norwalk

Dad's coming along. He was speaking in full sentences today, but last night was really wonky with weird out of character comments. The reports today were all really positive. He's got all his tubes out save the intravenous and he was up and walking around the ward for quite a while today. They had him sitting up for some time too. He's bloated by about 4.5kg but the chest tube is out and he's moving the fluid. They were going to introduce some diuretics shortly to bring him down again to his proper weight.

He still gets lost in his words, but more often now he struggles for it and gets the words he was seeking.

Now for the bad news. Heath Canada officers are guarding the doors. The ward he was on has had an out break of the norwalk virus. The guy Dad was in pre surgery with came down with it. Fun eh? Sheesh! Stop the fun already.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dad update - stroke

It looks like Dad is having some trouble after his bypass surgery. Mum said he was moving his jaw in a strange way last night and wasn't talking other than indicating yes or no. It was difficult at that point to know what was due to drugs and what might have been other trouble.

Mum was up early to speak to the nurse that was on nights. She suggested he was having some difficulty speaking. Later when everyone spoke to the doctor it was clear they were thinking that he may have had a stroke. It's not at all uncommon, but disconcerting regardless.

They will likely take him in for a CT scan when possible to see if they can learn anything from that. I would be there if my youngest brother could stand the sight of me. I'm a sad boy today.

Bonnie's pre-calculus

Dad's out of surgery. He had five bypasses and a valve replaced. Whoa. Apparently he's had enough ice cream! All looks like it went very smoothly. Now the hard work begins.

Bonnie has been enjoying math this year. I have have a love hate relationship with math. I love it when it's working for me, but when it's not I'm not very forgiving of myself or the process.

I asked boo to tell the story.


So, in one week, the week before all my tests, I had my 18th birthday party, got sick, missed 3 days of school, and then broke up with my boyfriend.

Now these conditions are not conducive to good studying and keeping up with a heavy grade 12 course load. I ended up missing the majority of my pre-cal classes for an entire unit and had to teach myself most of the concepts from our handouts and other classmates notes. Being emotionally battered, and fatigued I knew that getting my usual high mark on this test was not a possibility. I figured that I knew the basic principles well enough not to fail.

I struggled through the test. I did all the easy questions first, guessed on a few, and then worked on the more difficult ones. I got to the last question and could not make it work out and I couldn't remember how we had been taught to get the answer.

So, I racked my brain and finally, using a concept we had been taught at the beginning of the course, put an answer down on paper. The concept I had used seemed sound enough and the answer I got satisfied all the requirements of the question. Heck, what could go wrong?

I got the test back later that day and saw the lowest mark I had seen all year as well as something that completely made up for it. The 84% bumped my average down to below a 90 so I was a little bummed, but on this last question I had done, there was a comment written in red pen with brackets around part of the question. My stingy-with-the-praise, very competent math teacher, Mr. R. had written, "This is a brilliant way of doing this question using logarithms". I got full marks on it and a bonus mark.

I was practically glowing but had decided to keep it to myself because from what I could tell, the other students had not received any bonus marks. As a friend was looking over the test she noticed the bonus mark and asked why I got one when there had been no extra question on the test. Mr. Roman replied, saying that I had done, "some pretty amazing math". When talking to me later he also added that I could write a thesis on what I had done in that question.

Personally, I could really care less what the percentage on the front of that test says. I couldn't have been more satisfied with the results had I received 100%.


Saturday, May 5, 2007

big beetle

What the hell is this? As I was heading into this fancy place in Wildwood to set up a clock this morning this little beast was sitting waiting for me on the banister by the door. Wild! It was huge and not a bit like a cuddly kitten either. I've never seen one of these before. When I was headed out I couldn't resist grabbing the camera.



I'm starting to get excited about a new camera.

I saw a podiatrist today about my running injury. What a prize he is. I think I landed another big clock job out of the deal too. I'm on the mend already. He built me some pieces of padding that he shaped and stuck to my feet for the week. His diagnosis progressed like any excellent mechanic's might have progressed. I'm in such good hands. I love competent health professionals! If anyone is in need of help in this area, you might enjoy this fellow's skill set.

The bad news is that I've been flying a little too close to the sun (stress) and my back has told me the limit has been reached. I hate having to be screamed at before I can hear!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Sally the salamander and the first of the garter snakes

Manon and I will help run the canteen over the weekend of the 12th to help support the snake pits at Narcisse Manitoba. I saw the little guy below on my way to the post office this week and that's the first I had seen. I hope to catch up with the little smooth green snakes for a closer look at those guys.


Manon and Dillon let Sally the salamander go on Saturday. He or she was a rescue from the fall and was tickled to be back in the wild apparently.


Dad, soccer, fire, running

Dad's home again. They went up through his wrist with a camera to look at his heart, retreated and scheduled him for a multiple bypass within the month. I'm such a wimp when it comes to submitting to medical help. I can hardly imagine the anxiety he's feeling. Thankfully I've been kept in the loop quite closely and I'm grateful to know the details.

It was soccer tonight. Manon's team lost 3-2, but a happier loss I don't think I've ever seen those kids suffer. I love kids. I'm assisting. I don't have enough ram to keep straight what what kids are coming off and going on, but I like to think I make up for it in enthusiasm. Adults are so cool, or so they think. I'm a terminal juvenile and happy to hang with the crowd that remains sensitive to hypocrisy, denial and thin social veneers of diplomacy. I prefer my beer bitter.

The wind was screaming out of the south with big plumbs of smoke to the south west. I don't know for sure, but after living here for nearly 20 years, it seems the Ukrainian stock here loves to set fire to the land in the spring. It's dry here and one of the fires close by covered 3800 square kilometers. You'd think they'd want to preserve the thin top soil by leaving the organic matter in place, but no. Big raging bush fires are common. Tuesday night every piece of municipal and reserve fire equipment was out with lights a blazing a mile west of us. Some days I'm baffled as to how we've come this far as a species. Soccer takes all those blues away. < g > We won the toss and took the wind in the face for the first half. Manon was attracting comments for her work as keeper. She had a couple of big saves that served to demonstrate her commitment to the game. She can lean into things when motivated. She's also learnt to kick a ball. It's a beautiful parent moment. < g >

I ran three times this week and it's only Thursday! I see a specialist about my foot tomorrow and I'm looking forward to some feed back and instruction. Two of the three runs were completed with good rounds of stretching and strength work. I'm not getting much lighter yet, but that will come. It's so good to be out running again. I've had a couple of nagging injuries from the run across the lake. I've had a lot of feedback from people that don't run suggesting I take up something less demanding, but all I feel like doing is slapping them and suggesting they take on something more ambitious that sitting on the couch! It's a small injury, but is lingering. It's likely that I've irritated some of the fascia on the side of my left foot, but tomorrow we'll get the details hopefully. I think it's on the mend anyway as it's not getting very irritated by my running. My conditioning is down, that's for sure, but I'm in no rush. I'm in for the long haul.

I wish I could be there for Dad through his recovery. He'd hate me for it of course, but what an opportunity to experiment! :D I hope he gets a rush of life back as his oxygen supply is restored. I would really enjoy being his coach. Mum's a walker, but Dad's not likely to take instruction for that field.

The garlic is way up and the yard still has flax bales around! Grass cutting has begun and the poplar is all leafing out two weeks ahead of time. I hope there isn't a nasty frost to damage them all. Frost... snow! Today I was sucking wind as I ran because of the heat. 23C feels like summer!

Last weekend we celebrated a couple of birthdays. We hosted a big crew in our tiny accommodations and it's always to our liking to pack the place. I much prefer a crowed kitchen party to any other type.

As is the tradition, dishes are an opportunity to sing ones face off. I've always regretted being apart from my immediate family at times like this, but I can't always have what I want. This certainly isn't the style of house fun that was traditional in Mum's family, but it's in the same spirit. I have such a poor memory, but I carry with me the days of singing our way from Russell to Dauphin. Car rides were better with music and singing trumps iPod. Fashion is fleeting.

The dishwashing crew video

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Sisyphus belt buckle

I wore a buckle like this for many years and have a hankering to find another one. If anyone happens to see one going by, please give me a nod.