Another “Not A Chance” Wishlist

First of all, no one reads this blog anymore, and secondly, it’s my birthday soon, and with Christmas coming up I figure if I don’t get this out of my head and somewhere else, how would the elves know what to get me? So here’s my 2012 birthday/Christmas wish list

Dream camera setup

  • Nikon D800 (but magically not as heavy)
  • 24-70mm/2.8
  • 70-200mm/2.8 (ditto about being not as heavy for the big lenses too)
  • 85mm/1.4 prime lens
  • Battery grip

New laptop

  • 15″ MacBook Pro, retina, fully maxed out memory and SSD drives

New iMac

  • 27″, new super thin model, fully maxed out memory and hard drive + SSD combination (in fusion drive configuration of course)
  • Why not throw in a second 27″ cinema display just for fun.

Miscellaneous gadgets

  • Full on color managed workflow setup from X-Rite
  • Tripod from Really Right Stuff or Manfroto, the perfect one of course, a combination of tough and lightweight and heavy duty
  • Epson 3880 large format printer
  • Infinite supply of ink and a selection of fine art paper to go with said printer (very useful for printing out all my cat pictures)

New car (this is a dream list right?)

  • Anything that James Bond has driven (almost). DB5 from the latest movie… I’m looking at you.

Other

  • World peace
  • A fantastic dinner at mom and dad’s
  • Hugs from my wife and abuse from my cats

From the list above I am pretty sure about the last two items, the rest, well, maybe I’ll be used to generate good publicity for some rich and famous person looking to give someone the Christmas of their dreams out of the goodness of their heart.

Thoughts After Watching The Mars “Curiosity” Rover Touch Down

6 years ago I wrote that the future was now and was incredible, that you could get raw images from a Martian lander on an FTP site minutes after that were transmitted…. from another planet.

Curiosity Parachute Landing Spotted by NASA Orbiter [detail]

Today it’s different, you can see images tweeted from the @MarsCuriosity twitter account minutes or seconds after they’re sent, and something like 65,000 people watched the live stream of the control room as they waited for the lander to touch down and released barely a day later is video of the actual decent. How’s that for amazing.

I remember something very clearly from when I was maybe 11 or 12 years old at a boy scout jamboree on Vancouver Island. A group of kids were assigned jobs as if we were with NASA, one was flight commander, another mission specialist this and that… The leader looked at us and said “it will be your generation that puts a man in mars.”. No pressure. Of course at the time I thought “hogwash” (or possibly “duh, of course”), but thought nothing of it. I guess I haven’t done much with my life for this, but looking at the people in the control room, well, they were all looking from their 30s to last 40s, so maybe us kids did listen.

Ironically as I re-read this now I have actually looked up the entry that I thought about, I see that I recounted almost exactly the same story as above back in 2006. Oh how predicable I’ve become. I’ll bet when I write this again in a few years when man is finally on the surface of mars I’ll tell the same story once more.

I’m still waiting for my flying car.

Preparing For My Career As A Firefighter Rescuing Kittens In Trees

So I am an animal rescue hero today. Well, “Hero” might be a bit strong. Maybe “super totally awesome cat rescuer” is more accurate. Perhaps “fool”.

Noticed on Facebook and an ex-coworker had posted the question of:

How do you get a kitten down from a 35′ tree? 🙁

The kitten in question is one of the 4 that I fostered from 3-7 weeks old, who had been graciously taken in by Shaun and was a great little kitten, so I wanted to help.

Shadow

Of course being a veteran cat-owner I immediately suggested (as my father has in the past with his great knowledge of cats) that if cats can’t get out of trees there’d be tons of cat skeletons in trees, and why not just leave the cat there and he’ll come down in a bit when he gets tired of being ignored. Then it turns out that the cat’s actually been in the tree for over 24 hours, so that’s when I leapt into action, and headed over after work.

The kitten was indeed up the (40+ foot) tree, mewing a lot, with a gaggle of kids at the bottom of the tree trying to see him and figure out what to do. Talked to Shaun a bit and because of the shape of the tree (big and bushy) it would be hard to put a ladder nearby (which would be too short to reach the kitten even if you could get it in close to the trunk).

Then after some looking, again, think “Hero” here, leapt into action, and climbed the tree.

It was actually a really easy climb, all things considered. Big branches, not too dense. Took me about 30 feet before I actually could even see the kitten (“Shadow” BTW) as he had gotten himself up in quite a spot. I can’t say that he couldn’t have made it down on his own, but I can see that for a non-tree-experienced little kitten that the spot she got in was a pretty tight one.

It was funny that when I got close enough to see the cat (maybe 10 feet) he started yowling harder (as in “get me out of here stupid monkey“) and purring loudly. Finally reached him, grabbed the little shit by the scruff of the neck and threw him over my shoulder and started down.

Now for a kitten I can understand that being on a moving shoulder with no control over your destiny being probably worse than being on a nice stable tree (albeit stuck), so he kept on trying to walk off my shoulder and onto the tree branches. I’d have to hold on, grab him, throw him back over the shoulder and go down some more, until we finally reached the bottom and the throng of children clapped and cheered (see, HERO). Shadow seemed quite happy to be back on solid ground (though when he did get free he went back to the base of the tree into a little’un grabbed him… stupid cat). Shaun then took him into the house and popped a full tin of tuna in front of him which he proceeded to eat until I left a little while later (I can’t imagine not eating for 24 hours, much less 4 hours…).

In short, kittens are cute and climbing trees is still fun even at 36.

More Fun With ICBC

So a bit of follow up to my car “incident“. You’d think that going into the insurance company to be looked after when a truck, driven by a driver who was known to be negligible (as the police officer saw that he ignored the flashing “you’re too tall” lights), hit a bridge and sprayed your car with debris causing damage to it. Well you’d think “there’s no way that I can’t come out on top here”.

I even jokingly set my Facebook status to “Going into ICBC. These guys will take care of me, right?” pretending that there was some way that I could get screwed over when in this case you know, just know that you can’t possibly be in the wrong.

Sadly when dealing with ICBC this isn’t the case. I guess I’m not technically “in the wrong”, but turns out that the truck was registered in Alberta. Which means that the insurance company (ICBC for anyone not the 3 people other than my mother who reads this), can’t just talk internally to itself but instead they have to go out and find the private insurer that the trucker used, negotiate with them, if he has insurance, hope that they don’t push back, and blah blah blah. In the end this means that I pay my insurance deductible and they probably can get it back for me, but I’m still out the cold hard cash until they can talk to the Alberta insurer.

It all sounds reasonable when you’re in the office talking to the adjuster of course, with lots of nodding and smiling and then when I got out I thought to myself “wait a minute, did I just get screwed over here?” I figured no, not totally. Yes, I’m out money but my faith in the goodness of people (* cough *) says that they will be able to find the insurer and there won’t be a fight and I will get my deductible back.

Then I started hunting for a place to repair the car and that showed more issues. See when the form says that you pay the deductible, you are in a different class of people when you talk to the insurance company. Yes, they know it’s not your fault, but because of the way things are structured it’s almost as if you were at fault, because I guess their deal with being paid from ICBC is different.

To quote a friend, “icky bicky” (ICBC).

I did find a place that would take it in this week (or so I was told) and could get me a courtesy car, and wouldn’t write my car off (though he did ask me if I wanted it written off or not). Fingers crossed to get a call from them tomorrow telling me that they have a car and to bring my beast in.

Unsurprisingly a search of this blog doesn’t hold a single good mention of ICBC back to 1997. I can’t imagine why.

Truck Right Beside Me Went Under An Overpass Too Low

Today I had a photoshoot with the lovely Terra Jean downtown Vancouver, helping out my friend Danielle who is working to break into the makeup artist business. Headed down there mid-afternoon with my friend Len and did the shoot over the next few hours. Two models, a makeup artist, a location of a hot tub in an apartment building, and three photographers. Things went great and the shoot was awesome.

We left late, around 8:30 or so and headed back home. I took Len back to Surrey and we had a bit to eat (sushi of course) before I dropped him at home and then headed home myself around 9:15 or so. A late day yes, but not so late that I couldn’t get home for a decent night’s sleep and a bit of relaxation time post-shoot to catch up on The Internet.

This is where things started going wrong, and where the real story starts.

Driving home down the number 1 I took the 264th exit as I always do. As I was driving along the exit, which as anyone here knows goes parallel to the highway for a bit, under and overpass and the loops around to the exit. A bit ahead of me on the highway in the outside lane was a truck and trailer (later I found out it was actually a truck with a big flatbed on it with a Ben & Jerries truck on top of that.


View Larger Map

So on the exit, minding my own business with the truck beside and ahead of me. We hit the overpass except it hits the overpass. You know how you see videos of it happening on the internet or on spoof reels? Well, that happened right beside me.

Kinda like this:

Kinda like that, except way more violent and with way more debris. Whatever the top of the truck is made of it basically exploded all over the road, and because of the angle of the the overpass, it all sprayed directly to the right, i.e.: right at me. I swerved and braked and thought “Oh wow” or words to that effect.

The car was fine I thought so I pulled over, and did notice that there was a bit of an odd sound. I got out of the car, as did the couple of cars behind me, and found that a chunk of girder from the top of the truck had embedded itself in my front quarter panel where the headlight is. Youch!

Car Damage

A bit of a closer view:

Car Damage

Luckily I didn’t think until later what would have happened if that chunk of girder had hit the windshield or drivers window!

A few things were going through my head, some I’m a bit ashamed of

  • I wish the light was better so I could get some better pictures
  • Wow I’m really glad that I just renewed my insurance
  • Holy crap I can’t believe that just happened, I wish I had a video camera out I could become an internet star!

So no damage to me, just the car luckily. I called the police, talked to the guys behind me (who also had many four letter variations on “oh wow, I can’t believe that happened”. It really was like something out of a movie. The guy driving the truck pulled over a couple of hundred meters up the road and eventually wandered back, fairly calm I thought for someone who had just had the top of his truck ripped off, and said “I thought I was ok till number 3 road”.

When the cops showed up statements were taken (writing? with a pen? Analog? How arcane!) and he said that he was working on a stolen car up the road a bit and had noticed the flashing “over height” lights that are supposed to warn truckers when the system detects that they’re too high to fit under an upcoming over pass.

When I finally drove away around 11:45 after statements were given, I had (finally) managed to yank the girder out of my car and a few more pictures were taken of the aftermath things had calmed down a little, but because an overpass was hit there were structural engineers on sight working on things and a few other police cars with lights on, people working to clear the debris off the road, and other fun stuff.

Road Debirs

Tomorrow (technically today) I’ll have to deal with ICBC and get an appointment to get my car in (which is drivable but is definitely making a throaty noise it wasn’t making before, probably due to chunks of the headlight now several inches close to the engine than it was before), figure how much things are going to cost, and do all the other fun stuff that dealing with car accidents involves.

Thanks to all my friends on Facebook and Twitter who popped up to offer tools, ride, and express happiness that I wasn’t road pizza.

Cats Bringing in Worms

I’m not sure if it’s the weather or some sort of subtle hint that they want food and would like me to go and get fish for them, but the cats brought in a total of 6 worms into the house overnight (and based on the odd dirt at the top of the stairs, possibly more that were either eaten or hidden somewhere).

Worms!

Hey Mom, I’m a Star!

Long long time no type. Lately I’ve been blogging a bit on my photography site and naval gazing on twitter and mucking around a bit on Google+. Lately the one interesting thing is I’ve somehow managed to get featured in two videos. Yup, you can see my ugly mug by going to…

http://www.scorpionsoft.com/levelplatforms and watching the video. Ignoring the techie bits at the start and end, I play and evil and disgruntled worker fired from my job and wrecking havoc on my company. My buddy Dana was apparently looking for someone old and bitter to play the part and thought of me! I’m… honoured I guess. It was fun to play for sure, lights and cameras and microphones all around, me with lines on the screen, repeating the lines, drinking the beer, typing, more beer, rinse and repeat. I’m really impressed with the final product, awesome work by Dana and his crew (especially for what he had to work with!).

The second is embedded below, it’s a promo video for MVP Workshops, the photography group in Vancouver that I hang out with. Chris runs the meetups and got Winston Wong did a great video of what goes on at the workshops. Short story, great fun. I’m sadly not the star in this one, but it’s fun and you get a few glimpses of me in “fun mode”.

Metro Vancouver Photography Workshops Promotional Clip from Winston Wong on Vimeo.

So A Funny Thing Happened At The Barn….


A couple of days ago I got a text from my wife saying something about “kitten” and “barn” and “abandoned”. Cutting a long story short, so yea, we got another kitten. She was abandoned (as best we can figure) at the barn (theory being a dumped kitten turns into a barn cat, probably makes those responsible sleep better at night). She burrowed into A’s shoulder and neck and purred her little brains out before she got a chance to even see the kitten.
As the difference in work and effort between 5 cats and 6 is only 20% compared to the 100% difference between 0 and 1 cats, or even 33% if you were to go from 3 to 4 cats. Of course, by that theory the amount of work to get more cats approaches 0, meaning that life will get easier the more cats I have! Well, that’s my justification anyway. Here are some more pictures!




Another Stupid Cat At The Vet

sigh
So Corny is at the vet again.  This time he was panting and drooling yesterday, so A took him to the vet, who gave him an anti-inflammatory shot and some antibiotics and he was ok. The vet figured it was an allergic reaction to a flea bite (or something like that). This morning though he was panting and listless again, so I took him down this morning before work (gotta love the flexibility of the new job!). The doctor said he didn’t like the sound of his breathing… Doc took him in for the day for blood tests, x-rays, and other expensive things.
When I called he said it was (basically) that he was constipated, which was causing pain, which caused the shallow breathing, so they’re keeping him overnight to make sure the laxatives work (fun for the cat I’m sure). Sounds like after he poops his little brains out he should be ok and good to come home. We’ll find out tomorrow. Unfortunately of course it’s all expensive, $95 for x-rays, $150 for blood work, $200 for putting him on fluids, etc, etc, etc. Just when I thought that money was getting better. I anticipate that as soon as I recover financially from this then suddenly my car will get sick 🙁
Fingers crossed this is just a(nother) one time things with this cat. Again.