Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I have three legs from my hips to the ground...

We all gathered around to watch the lunar eclipse last Wednesday: we had a spectacular view from our balcony, but we didn't get a single decent picture of it, because I had been procrastinating on buying a tripod. We took several pictures with a 300mm telephoto lens, but at that size and at night, all our photos are blurry.

So I ordered a tripod Thursday.

It arrived today, but a week too late. The next lunar eclipse is not for quite some time. But now we have that tripod, so I guess we're ahead.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I was looking through some old photos this weekend. I thought I'd share a couple.

This is our backyard when I was growing up. I have no idea who took this photo: probably one of my sisters. Somehow it ended up on my computer:

That was a great house for a kid. The trees at the end of the grass were the start of a small forest in our yard. That forest extended past our property and was at one time several acres. They eventually cleared most of it and built a subdivision there, but they never hit the "real" bush at the end of the road. That's still more or less intact, as far as I know. When I was still at home, you could walk off the end of the road and literally go 100 miles without seeing significant civilization. Again, a great place to grow up.

When we got married, we took a "honeymoon" to go fly fishing in Colorado. Here's the lake where we first tried fly fishing:

We didn't catch a thing, but it was fun. That was August.

This is looking out the entrance to the apartment complex where we lived in Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids gets a lot of snow, but doesn't really get very cold. There was a micro-brewery in the building in the front: Robert Thomas brewery. They made a great pale ale, and the Applebee's next door (not in the photo) carried it on tap. They had a tap room in the brewery, but I never actually went there.

Mocha was abandoned by her mother, so we took her far too young: it was that or let her starve, her eyes weren't open yet. We eventually gave her back, for some reasons that don't matter now. It was hard to let her go, but sometimes life's like that. She was somewhere around 30 lbs when we gave her back: this is a baby picture

This car was stolen right out of our driveway. My youngest daughter had helped me wax it a couple days before, and there was thick white wax caked into every seam. Turns out that's how the police identified it when they pulled over the driver.

We went to Niagara Falls in the Fall of 2006. I got a few pictures of Japanese tourists taking pictures: that seemed to really capture the spirit of Niagara.

Another ex-pat Canadian

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

I have any number of guilty pleasures. I don't necessarily mean that in the sense of "bad habit," but in the sense that there are any number of things I enjoy, albeit very privately: things that are embarrassing to admit I like. It occurs to me that the guilty pleasures one enjoys might reveal a whole lot of who one is, so I'm going to share some of my guilty pleasures with you.

  1. I love television. I don't actually have a television, because I can't turn it off. How embarrassing. But all is not lost: most TV networks post their good shows online, so I can watch an episode now and then. The shows I actually watch might be guilty pleasures in their own right, but I think the very fact that I'll watch a full episode in a web browser is embarrassing enough for now.

  2. I think A Mighty Wind is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Probably because I like folk music. I actually put the DVD on just to hear the music.

  3. I have Celine Dion on my iPod.

  4. I like Totino's Pizza.

  5. I have a Bible commentary that I keep just because I think it's basically wrong. I amuse myself by flipping through it and snorting derisively

  6. I have an excellent grill, but I have to look at the grills in every store: frequently just to reassure myself I like mine better.

  7. I love to read novels by Georgette Heyer. And Jane Austen.

  8. I listen to Christmas music in every month of the year except February.

  9. I loved Moonstruck, but I've been too embarrassed to actually buy the DVD from the $5 bin

I feel better now that I've gotten that off my chest.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

We've arrived

We have reached the pinnacle of civilization. With organic pancakes in a can, there is quite literally nothing else to achieve.

Now if they can only get their distribution channels opened up to the East Coast, I'll be in heaven.

Pancakes are the one "simple" food I can't get right for love or money. This is exactly what I need.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I have a dream

Many years ago, I saw my first telemark skier swishing down the slopes of Mt. Washington. It was a sight I've not forgotten: an older guy with a grey beard, a long red stocking cap, and knickerbockers; zooming past the great unwashed on their downhill skis.

Of course, that was back before telemarking was "cool": that was when it was arcane, perhaps even occult.

But I've finally decided I want to learn to telemark. Not because I want to hit the backcountry (although backcountry telemarking looks really cool), but because it seems like a really cool thing to be able to do.

So I've set a goal for myself. I've been losing weight and attempting to get more active in preparation for leaving Get-in-the-SUV-to-Cross-the-Parking-Lot Land. So I've added a measurable objective: when we settle in Up North, I intend to learn to telemark.

Maybe I'll eventually hit the backcountry, but even if all I ever do is swish down the ski runs with one heel up, I'll be happy.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

We're Baaaaaaack!

Feeling encouraged by my sister, I bought a new pair of kicks.

There might have been a little nostalgia at work here, I won't deny it. But there's something indefinably comforting about wearing a pair of Docs. Maybe it's the comfort of the boots, maybe it's the memories... but I love wearing Docs.

There's a slightly guilty pleasure to wearing calf-high boots in public. Everyone else can only see the bottoms: they think you're wearing shoes. But there's a little secret that only you know: they're boots! It's even better with dress slacks or a suit: you look like you're wearing shoes, but you're wearing boots!

Simple minds, simple pleasures.

I used to wear Docs all the time: I bought my first pair in 1995, and have worn them more or less faithfully since. My first pair were 4-hole shoes, then I tried the 8-hole boots, then tried 6-hole boots, and then I bought a pair of slip-on dress shoes last year.

But in 2005, I replaced my worn-out 6-hole boots with a pair of Columbias. The Columbias are comfortable, durable, and good for support; but in the end, they're not Docs.

My Columbias are wearing out, so I started looking for a new pair of boots.

One parameter is my jacket, which is a brown leather:

As you can see, it's a dark brown. It's hard to match shoes with that jacket, it's too dark for virtually all the shoes I've looked at. Then a brilliant thought occurred: I can get black Docs. I know, brown and black aren't a match, but this jacket is dark enough that the black boots match it better than pretty much all the brown shoes or boots I examined:

So yesterday I bought some black Docs.

I never realized how much I missed Docs.

This is my first pair in black: the black leather's a little thinner than the brown I always used to buy, which is a little strange. I can't help but notice they're made in China too. I'm not a big fan of "made in China," but I didn't notice until I had already bought and worn them, so that removes my obligation to decide whether I want to support a totalitarian regime. Of course, show me shoes for sale in the USA that aren't made in China, right?

It's good to have them back.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Life is groovy

Hmmm... I haven't written in a while. I've started a few times, but never quite refine the posts enough to commit them to the public consciousness.

You'd think it wouldn't be that hard.

The move is all but over: the house has sold, we've gotten a cheque, and all our stuff has been relocated. We still have a storage unit full of stuff, and quite a few boxes here remain unpacked.

I had to ask a couple friends for a favour: one friend is storing the canoe for us, another is storing the grill. That makes life a little easier: living in an apartment means I really can't store either item, and I can't use the grill (I could theoretically use the canoe, I just can't store it here). With friends storing them, they are in a safe place, and they might even get used a few times.

We're still on track to head on up to the Great White North this summer. We have a lot to do before then (like figuring out the maze of rules and regulations to move retirement savings across the border), but that's just part of life.

It looks like our travel plans may have changed, though. Rather than cut diagonally from North Carolina up to Alberta or British Columbia (we still haven't gotten a firm final destination), we'll probably head north from here, go through Michigan, and head west along the Trans-Canada. There are various reasons for that, we're still looking to see how that all shakes out.

Work continues as before: we're doing more and more in Groovy, which is a Ruby-like JVM language. It's kind a bit sloppy feeling, but it lets you use a lot of Java directly in your code, and it compiles down to Java classes. It's a nice language for a lot of the problems we've been trying to solve.