I Miss the Wongs

Over the years the quality of neighbours has really gone into decline. When we first moved here, the first people we met were in the house immediately north of us: The Wongs. During the first day or two after our initial move-in, I slipped and fell down a few stairs and got a minor cut. We didn’t have any bandages, but luckily they did.

Over the years, I grew up with them being next door, and never had any issues with them. They were always nice and friendly, and I enjoyed speaking with them. Heck, they were almost like a third set of grand-parents.

During this time others moved in, and quite frankly, I’m not too fond of them. Directly north of the Wongs, a young family moved in. The people are fine, but they have this yappy little dog that starts barking at everyone it sees outside. I hope it gets turned into roadkill really soon.

Directly south of us, another family moved in. While their kids were young everything seemed normal. But now that the kids have gone off to school, the couple constantly bitch to one another outside in their backyard. They’re not exactly quiet or subtle about it, either. Lucky me, my bedroom is at the back of our house. They guy, especially, acts like a little whiny bitch. He constantly complains that no one listens to him or pays him any attention. Then you will hear him in the backyard by himself making snarky remarks about his wife. Gee, I wonder where the source of their problem is. My advice for the not-so-happy couple: DIVORCE. It is LONG overdue!  Tonight they had a pack of their noisy friends over for dinner, and acted like everything is fine for everyone. Worst neighours, EVER.

Directly south of them lives an old Chinese woman with her extended family. The old bag seems to think that we are better friends than we are willing to lead on. She constantly bothers my parents for help with things, and even has the gull to ask my Mother to ask ME to do things.  I mentioned that she lives with her extended family, RIGHT? She has a grand-son old enough to drive, and with his own car. Yes, I’ve seen the Audi-driving Canada-goose coat wearing douche. Ask HIM to help you with your shit, you old bag.

Directly across the street from us, to the east, is another bothersome bunch. I don’t know their names, nor do I care to.  The wife has a condescending tone about her, and on occasion their stupid Mazda3′s bumper will cover up a bit of our driveway entrance. Would it kill you to double-check your careless parking?

Across the backyard fence to the west, there are a couple of houses I don’t like either, and haven’t been able to identify which ones. One will have noisy late night gatherings that go well past two AM in the morning. Another house has someone playing really loud music. Anyways, a curse on both their houses.

A few years ago, the Wongs moved away. At their age, it was getting difficult to manage such a big house on their own. Just as well, they probably weren’t too fond of the these same neighbours as well.

Thankfully, I will be following their lead soon and will be moving out of this area and away from this horrid bunch of people. They will NOT be missed!

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

My 5D Mark II recently turned FIVE years old! The photo below is from my original unboxing on February 23, 2009.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

This camera has been a workhorse for me and has accompanied me to just about every place I have gone to photograph something. In recent years, for fashion shows, it has taken a back seat to my 1D Mark IV, but for everything else, this has been my go-to camera. For five years it has kept up and never busted a shutter, which is pretty amazing. My older cameras, the 20D and 40D, have busted the shutter at one time or another.

I have been very tempted to upgrade to its successor, the Mark III, but since I have tightened my budget, I have forgone that option.  Maybe when a Mark IV comes out, I will upgrade.

Womens Hockey, Olympic Gold 2014

Wow.

As always, I have managed to ignore most of the Olympics as they are happening, but the hockey games have been sucking me back in.  Over the weekend I was chatting with my Uncle’s father in-law, and we were remarking about how well the Canadians were doing overall in the medal standings. I remember calmly making a comment that the Womens hockey team will just add to that total, and they came through nicely today.

We had the television on in the office, and people were reporting the bad news as it happened; the Americans were scoring against us.  During the third period, I was down in the rec room with a co-worker playing some ping-pong, and we had the game on down there as well. The Americans up two to nothing. Just as we were finishing up, the Canadians FINALLY got on the board with about three and a half minutes to go. Hey, that’s plenty of time to mount a comeback. In all my years watching hockey, I’ve seen three goals go in within a minute, and the fastest goal I ever saw after the start of a game took nine seconds to happen. Believe me, three and a half minutes can be an eternity in a hockey game.

So the game progressed, the Canadians pulled the goalie out for an extra attacker, and then, while in the American zone, we see one of the linesman bump a Canadian player off the puck, which gave the Americans a chance to tap the puck off the boards and down the ice towards an empty net. My heart stopped as the puck sailed down the ice and then it JUST hits the post and deflects in the other direction. I was livid! I was screaming at the TV! What the HELL was that linesman doing! If that goal went in, it would have been the most disgusting way for the Americans to secure the gold medal. At the same time, I also thought, maybe this means we are meant to win this one.

A close call for the Canadian Womens Hockey Team!

After a horrible goof by one of the linesman, the Americans are gifted with a golden opportunity to ice their gold medal game, but it was not to be!

Sure enough, with fifty-five seconds on the clock, Canada gets the equalizer and forces the game into sudden-death overtime. I really hoped the game would be decided in overtime. Letting a shootout determine the winner is a stupid idea. Are you listening, Olympics? STUPID IDEA!

After the third we went back upstairs. Our other co-workers who were watching in the kitchen all disbanded for the fifteen minute intermission. Someone was telling me we were missing the fun, but I was like, NOPE, we caught both goals in the basement!

At the start of overtime, I was trying to eat my lunch at my desk. Again, everyone started congregating in the kitchen, It sounded like both teams were getting some good early chances. Eventually the distraction was too much, so I put a lid on my lunch and joined everyone else in the kitchen and started to yell at the television set as well!  It was a fun time for everyone. Everyone was chatting with each other, even those who weren’t too familiar with the sport were fully engaged. Then, at around the eight minute mark of sudden death overtime, we get the GOLD medal winning goal! It got noisy in the kitchen! Everyone was ecstatic and relieved. The Canadian women had secured their fourth consecutive Olympic Gold Medal with an amazing come from behind win with three unanswered goals!

Just, WOW.

Sorry... NOT!

Sorry… NOT!

Embracing High-Definition

blu-ray-crazy-001-IMG_1028

I guess this was inevitable. I am FINALLY on board with high-definition (HD). It wasn’t an impulsive choice to do so, though. Several things occurred along the way.

In 2012, I had purchased the Dark Knight Rises Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack. I was only able to use the DVD disc, but I was quite content with that. Then, last month, I bought a simple Pioneer Blu-Ray disc drive for my Windows machine.  I downloaded makeMKV and Handbrake, and the next thing I know, I ripped and re-encoded my Dark Knight Rises Blu-Ray disc. The amount of resolution on my twenty-four inch screen just blew me away.  I browsed Amazon for some of my old favourites, and saw how relatively inexpensive they were, so I ordered a bunch just for fun. As I find more bargains, I am sure that this will go on.  Hopefully I can find good deals on Star Wars, and Star Trek sets; these are staples for me!

For a long time, the price of Blu-Ray movies kept me away. I already had a substantial DVD library, and I did not want to spend money to rebuild it at Blu-Ray prices.  But now, with movies getting older, and stores becoming inundated with them, their prices have dropped considerably to the point where I don’t mind paying five bucks or so to upgrade my favourite movies to HD.

My Uncle Ken and Aunt Rita were the first of my relatives to set up a big flat screen/blu-ray system, and we always watched something after having dinner there. I had some difficulty adjusting to the HD picture. Ironically, looking too REAL was weird for me. In some cases seeing all that detail revealed the phoniness of the movie scene. A year or two later, my Aunt Jane and Uncle Scott renovated their basement to be this amazing home theatre with speakers built into the ceiling! I am not planning anything so extravagant, but I have been contemplating putting up a screen or two around my suite when my Condo unit is ready for me to inhabit later next year.

End of the World

The big news of the day (well, I guess yesterday, since I missed posting this by a few minutes!) was that a meteor, the size of a bus, flew over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk and exploded in the sky. The resultant shock wave from the explosion shook up buildings, shattered glass windows and injured about a thousand people. Images and video captures of the event were spectacular and terrifying. I wish I had recorded them.

Within a twenty-four hour period of this occurrence, the Earth was scheduled to have a close fly-by with another space rock, this one about half the size of a football field. Object “2012DA14″, came within about 27000 Km of the Earth’s surface. Normally, this is a huge number, but in astronomical terms, this was REALLY close – the closest known approach for something this big.

While I do not work in the field of astrophysics, studying it has given me an appreciation of how big and nasty the Universe can be, and how much we do not yet know about it.  The Earth’s orbit around the sun is encompassed by a ring made up of thousands of asteroids and space rocks.  As the planets orbit around the Sun, gravitational perturbations can dislodge any number of these objects and start them moving throughout the solar system. Sooner or later one of these objects will intersect with the Earth’s orbit, and impact with the surface.  The resultant devastation would be unimaginable.

With this inevitability in mind, it seems logical to monitor the skies intensely, and to develop a plan to counter these threats.  As far as I am aware, we do not have any plan in place or the technology to deal with something like this.

Everyone was aware of the big asteroid’s close fly-by, but the smaller one caught everyone off guard. If today’s meteor had reached the ground intact, it is believed that it was travelling fast enough and had enough mass to level a city. Any city is fair game to these meteors, so it has worry everyone. As a species, we need to come together on this issue, and provide the necessary resources to avert this pending catastrophe.

I started thinking about where we could divert such resources, and with the recent announcement of the Pope’s resignation, religion caught my eye. Religion must be the most useless and wasteful of all human inventions. I believe that if everyone in this world can give up this fantasy of an imaginary sky daddy who will grant them eternal existence, we will have found the resources we need.  Churches take in billions of tax-free dollars annually.  So with this in mind, I say we need fewer places of worship and fewer hocus pocus religions and we need more organizations like NASA and more telescopes monitoring the skies.

Favourite Picard Quotes

I have a friend who is currently watching every episode of Star Trek The Next Generation series. I have been following his progress on Facebook as he updates his status with which episode he is watching. Of all the Star Trek series, this one is my favourite.  The show is entertaining, and has something to say.  Anyways, it’s made me recall some of my favourite quotes from Picard.

“Oh, I know Hamlet. And what he might say with irony I say with conviction: ‘What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!’”

“Beverly, the Prime Directive is not just a set of rules. It is a philosophy, and a very correct one. History has proved again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well-intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous.”

“Shall I tell you what true evil is? It is to submit to you. It is when we surrender our freedom, our dignity, instead of defying you.”

“Your honor, Starfleet was founded to seek out new life: well, there it sits! Waiting.”

“Horrifying… Dr. Barron, your report describes how rational these people are. Millennia ago, they abandoned their belief in the supernatural. Now you are asking me to sabotage that achievement, to send them back into the dark ages of superstition and ignorance and fear? No!”

“There are times, sir, when men of good conscience cannot blindly follow orders. You acknowledge their sentience, but ignore their personal liberties and freedom. Order a man to turn his child over to the state? Not while I am his captain.”

With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.”

“A person’s life, their future, hinges on each of a thousand choices. Living is *making* choices! Now, you ask me to believe that if I make a choice other than the one that appears in your history books, then your past will be irrevocably altered. Well… you know, Professor, perhaps I don’t give a damn about your past, because your past is my future, and as far as I’m concerned, it hasn’t been written yet!”

“They invade our space and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here. This far, no farther!”

“Attention all hands. As you know, we could outrun the Klingon vessels. But we must protect the Enterprise-C until she enters the temporal rift. And we must succeed! Let’s make sure that history never forgets… the name… Enterprise. Picard out.”

Two Thousand Thirteen

Happy new year again! Now back to business.
City Hall New Year's 2013

For the new year, I only have a few simple goals. The biggest one on my mind is getting my running routine back on track. Hopefully I do not get stuck with too many time-demanding projects at work. November and December were killers as I was pulling a lot of ten hour days and even lost a few weekends. The weather is cooler now, so I am looking forward to see what I can do without the heat inhibiting me.

Another one of my big goals is to keep up my thriftiness, so that I can continue to build up my down payment for my upcoming purchase.  Thankfully I have someone nagging me to keep my gadget addiction under control. My current MacBook Pro, cameras and lenses will just have to last a little bit longer. I have been wanting to get an iPad to play with, but I guess I can go a little bit longer without one.

Photography-wise, I wonder how much of the fashion circuit I want to spend my off time covering. I have been away from the office since December 21, doing absolutely nothing, and I like it!  All the vacation time I took off in recent years have been used towards attending fashion events. Sometimes I think I work harder at these events than my own day job, with little or no reward. It might be time to rethink all this.

Vacation time is almost over. Time to return to the grind tomorrow.

Deep Clean

Every now and then I like to give my bedroom a really good cleaning. This usually involves moving everything out of my room so that I can wipe off the dust accumulation on my shelves. This time though, I wanted to rotate my rug, because the rug near the computer has completely worn away, so EVERYTHING, including furniture, had to be moved out of the room.

The entire process started on Friday, and at the time of this posting, I still have a few loose items scattered about the house, but it is all looking pretty good.  It is very satisfying to get rid of all dust that was hiding behind the furniture. I also managed to pick off a few silk worms that were hiding under the rug. I swear, moths are the new cockroach.

The Snow Cometh

A few nights ago, on Wednesday, Toronto got its first major dumping in almost two years (around 640 days). Just thought I would note that. I have not had to drive in the snow yet, but my car has been prepped for a couple of weeks now.