(mostly) daily photoblog

Archive for March, 2011

Laziness is totally underrated.

I must be a fairly lazy person.  The reason I say that is the little bit of excitement I feel at the sight of an escalator.  I love the way the stairs just appear at the bottom and then disappear at the top.  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever even thought about how an escalator works.  All I do know is that when I’m tired of walking and one of these bad boys appears on my path upwards, I smile.

I know it’s lame, but the only thing that excites my laziness (is that even possible?) more is one of those moving walkways in airports.  I know it’s laziness, but in the right place at the right time, it’s just what I need.

Oh, sure. Darth Vader can fire the Death Star, but the rest of us have to conserve.

TK 413 was pretty sure that riding his bike was saving the environment, but he longed to ride his speeder again.

And he was darn sure that Darth Vader wasn’t riding his Schwinn.

Thank you, Dr. Martens. Thank you.

I need to declare this.  I must be forthright.

I love my Dr. Martens shoes.

There.  Now that it’s out in the open, I want to extol their virtues.

1.  They’re comfortable.

2.  They look nice.

3.  Uh…did I say they look nice?

Anyway, they’re my favorite shoes.  I used to have a pair of 8 hole Docs when I was in high school.  They accompanied me to such concerts as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Jesus and Mary Chain, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Waterboys, and Tragically Hip.  It’s as though my memories of music and live concerts are inextricably joined to my Docs.  They went with me everywhere.  I finally wore them completely down about 15 years ago.  I replaced them with the shoes you see above.  I went nearly ten years without Docs and now that they’re back in my life, they will never leave.  I’ll never let them go.  I love them.

Here’s another quick shot:

“Don’t worry Mr. Frodo.” “Oh, Samwise Gamgee.”

My friend Wes says that there are days when it looks like we live in Middle Earth, that our local environment is something from a Tolkien novel.  I think he says this when there’s a sunny/cloudy day and the sun shines on the snow-capped mountains that surround our homes.  There is a certain majestic grandeur to a great deal of the Lower Fraser Valley.

Sunday, when my family and I visited Cheam Lake (see yesterday’s post) I found out that barely twenty minutes away from where I live exists the dark side of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.  The Dead Marshes, at least our local version, exists within the Cheam Lake park.  It’s funny, because both my wife and I thought the same thing when we saw it.  We’re both big fans of the movies (we watch the extended versions at least twice a year just for the fun of it) and I’ve read the books a few times.  What’s ironic is that we both hate the parts of the movie wherein Frodo and Samwise have a big love-fest.  Or maybe it’s just the unrequited love that Sam has for Frodo that bugs me.  Either way, we skip ahead through the DVDs, right through the parts with Sam and Frodo.

To be completely forthright, I skipped through the parts in the books Two Towers and Return of the King that involved Frodo and Sam.  There was something annoying about them.  I knew they had to survive, but I kept wishing that Gollum/Smeagol would just get it over with and kill them both.  Is that wrong?

Scattered Trees are awesome

I took the family B out to Cheam Lake Wetlands yesterday.  We’ve finally had some rain-free days, so I thought we should take advantage of them.  We had set out to visit Bridal Veil Falls, but the park/trail was closed, so we improvised.  The walk around the wetlands was great.  There were a lot of photos I would have loved to have taken, but they were only accessible via hip waders.  This shot was taken from a floating bridge. It was, in fact, taken 180 degrees rotated from this vantage point.  Please feel free to stand on your head or flip your laptop upside down to see it the way I originally saw it.  When I was processing it, I felt that it needed the rotation.  The reflection looked so much more appealing from this perspective.

The title of this post, by the way, refers to what could possibly be the greatest music video ever.  I am a Star Wars nut and this video is just amazing.  Check out the Scattered Trees.

One of my favorite business metaphors

Having taught student leadership for the past three years, I have done a good amount of reading about business leadership.  One of my favorite metaphors is that of the silo.  I work in education and, much to my dismay, the idea of the silo exists, nay even thrives, in education.  For those of you who are uninitiated in this idea of the silo, let me do the quick lesson:

A silo, like the one above, is a solid structure with one goal – containment.  As the material stored inside is needed, it is unloaded.  In business, a silo is an impromptu structure (no one ever plans to work in a silo) of containment and connotes a lack of communication and common goals between department within an organization.  Although there may be a set of common goals for the organization, departments often pay lip-service to these goals, while maintaining their own set of spoken (and, in rare cases, written) goals that differ from and sometimes even work against the common goals.  The most “fun” part of an organization with silos is that most everyone plays the game in order to keep everything moving.  That movement, however, is never forward – its like moving on a treadmill.  There is the illusion of progress, but…well, you can figure out the rest.

It’s funny that the silo above, on a farm here in the valley, is probably surrounded by less crap than a business that works with silos.

When “Photo Friday” and the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge collide

Just over this dune is the Pacific Ocean.  It’s beautiful on the Oregon Coast.  I kind of wish I was there.

As Spring Break comes to a close, I’ve been thinking ahead to summer holidays (sad, huh?) and that we’re heading to Nehalem Bay in Oregon again.  Add to that the fact that Photo Friday and WordPress’ own Weekly Photo Challenge this week is ocean, I though it would be fitting to post a photo from last year’s summer trip.  It covers both mother nature and the ocean.


Big sky in the Valley.

I am enjoying Spring Break.  To my friends in Ontario, I’m sorry.  We’ve had two days of sunshine and above 10 degree weather.  The kids and I went cycling along the Sumas River yesterday and had a great day.  It’s amazing how fast everyone’s mood changes and the entire culture of the Lower Mainland suddenly turns outdoors.

This is the view from the trail.  I chose not to show you the manure spreader and field full of liquid cow poo that we had just passed.

The mountains you see before you is the backdrop to my house, which, if you could see it from here, would be almost straight forward of the camera’s point of view.  Life is pretty nice when this is what you see on a daily basis.

When ink becomes a part of you

I might as well get it over with.  Here, above, is my new tattoo.  I was inked this afternoon.  Let me tell you how fun it was.

1.  I have a fairly large tattoo on my right shoulder.  It is of a “voided” cross and celtic trinity.  It was irritating, but not painful.  My forearm, on the other hand (pun intended) was wince-inducing.  Actually, I was distracted to silence and tattoo bed squeezing by the pain at least a couple of times.  I’ll remember that for another day.

2.  I had a fully religious conversation with Miranda, the tattoo artist.  She grew up in a fully atheist house, whereas I grew up in a Christian home.  She had questions, so we chatted.  When I wasn’t gobsmacked by the twinges in my forearm, that is.

3.  The text is from a poem by Emily Dickinson.  The first line is:  “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.”  It is one of my favorite lines by my favorite poet.  It also sums up how I feel about my existence.  If I can make a difference in one person’s life for the better, I shall not live in vain.  It is also a good reminder for me, approval oriented as I am, that doing things for others is its own reward and that vanity projects are useless and often don’t accomplish the stroke to the ego that they’re intended to accomplish.

4.  There is some twinging of nerve endings in my arm right now as I right this.  Ouch.  It feels like I was burned.  This was non sequitur.

5.  I love it.  All of the minor and temporary pain is nothing in comparison to the happiness I currently feel about this little project on my left forearm.  In fact, I think I liked the pain.  Pain is good.  It reminds me that I’m still alive.

There you go.

P.S.  Mom and Dad – I hope you like it.  If not, I can’t wash it off anyway.

Everyone else was posting photos of the moon, but now they’re not, so I am.

Does that make me a hipster?  I’m curious because I have a little hipster problem.  My students have told me that I have hipster tendencies.  Apparently, the fact that I like things until everyone else does and then I move on to other things makes me “hipster”.  I don’t know.  I know that when I was growing up, I was considered by all the significant adults in my life to be counter-culture.  I liked music, art, books, fashion that no one else liked.  Until I saw a few of my fellow students wearing what I was wearing or reading what I was reading or listening to music that I was listening to and then I had to move on to something new.  That’s the way my brain works.

So, on the weekend, there were many posts of the “Supermoon”.  I have decided to post my moon photo after the fad.  Isn’t that lame?

The never-ending (construction) story

There was a moment during my most recent trip to Vancouver where I realized that I have not been to Vancouver in the last five years when there has not been major construction right in this area.  As you can see from the photo above, the biggest business in Vancouver is the construction business.

I’d scream, too, if I had to walk out on that ledge.

This ledge is about 10 meters up from the ground (30 feet or so).  The adventurous artists who painted this bit of graffiti had to venture out on a SkyTrain rail after hours, climb over a safety railing and down onto the concrete and steel that holds up the whole enterprise and paint.  I’m not scared of heights, but I am afraid of falling.  Actually, I’ve ridden the Revelation at Playland in Vancouver.  It’s a 160 foot arm with seats at the opposite ends and it spins the riders at high speeds around and around again.  At one point, one feels as though he is about to be slammed into the ground.  I’m not afraid of that.

What I am afraid of is the final slam into the ground at the end.  Heights – no fear.  Falling – no fear.  Contact with the ground after a fall from a significant height – AFRAID.  I guess I’m just funny that way.

Monster riding an escalator!

I haven’t got a clue where he came from, but directly below me, riding the escalator backwards, was a monster.  He tried to look vicious, but it just made him look cuter.  He flashed his fangs and tried to intimidate me, but I stood my ground and took a quick photo.  I survived the encounter, but just barely.

If you’re near the Granville station, watch out.  He might be lurking.

Do you think it’s someone’s job to polish the ceiling of the Skytrain?

Seriously.  I actually wonder this.

Those of you who have read this blog for a while may have seen a similar photo about a year ago, during the Winter Olympics.  I have always been impressed by the cleanliness of the ceiling in the Skytrain.  So, I wonder if there is someone whose job it is to clean that thing, because it always gleams and reflects so nicely.  Maybe they just steam-clean the whole thing at the end of each run.

I wonder this because I think fewer people would want to ride the train if, when they boarded, there was gunk and gum and unidentifiable, mucus looking stuff all over the ceiling of the train.  On the other hand, maybe I’m tall enough to notice, but no one else notices these things.

Now that I think about it, the train is really clean in general.  I’ve never noticed any graffiti in any of the cars.  The worst “offense” is some culturejammer who keeps leaving well-written, neatly copied questions on stickers and attaching them to the advertisements in each of the train cars.  Who are these unsung heroes of public transportation who keep everything so clean?

The Reader

The kids and I went into Vancouver today to view the Ken Lum exhibit.  We also saw the We: Vancouver, which was amazing.  It feels a little like 12 soliloquies on the city of Vancouver.  Very cool.

The high point, for me anyway, of any trip to Vancouver is the ride on the Skytrain.  I love the stations and the fact that I don’t need to drive through traffic and stress myself out.  Mostly, I love meeting all the wonderful, delightful, strange and quizzical people who also ride the train.

Under the bridge

It’s funny how some photos, or the tangent on which some photos take me, trigger memories.  The title of this post is the title of a song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I heard them on stage at the 1992 Lollapalooza concert in Vancouver.  It was at UBC Thunderbird Stadium.  I wasn’t there to hear them; I was there to hear Jesus and Mary Chain.  I thought of myself as a real punk kid back then and the fact that I was going to see this band at this festival, a band very few of my friends had heard of, made me think I was incredibly cool.  It turned out that there were a lot of people who wanted to see them – they were on the mainstage after all.

The Chilis took the stage as the headliners at the end of the night.  Their show was great.  So, eighteen years later I take a photo of an underpass.  One year after that, I process that photo and it takes me back to the summer of 1992.  Weird.

It’s almost spring (you’d never know if from the weather)

The sun was actually out this morning, just to tease me; then it settled back in behind the clouds and laughed at me and my hopes.  At least, that’s the way it felt.  I know – if I don’t like the rain, move out of the valley, but I like to complain so, I guess, it all works out for me.

Batman/Superman team-up; I have the best family ever.

The “Superman” blue is on the wall.  I’m not sure how many other 37 year olds would be crazy enough to turn the entire basement into a shrine to Batman and Superman (the two greatest superheroes ever!).  I’m even less sure of how many families would let their husband/father paint the basement in the color schemes of his favorite comic book heroes.  I have a great family.

I painted the east wall in the basement today.  I have some fun ahead of me when I start on the “Batman” grey, but the blue is up.  It looks amazing.  The basement went from a dull, flat white, with the marks of a lived-in basement, to a brilliant, vibrant blue.  It took a few hours, but the difference is incredible.  Now I just have to figure out where, and how, I’m going to present all of my action figures, maquettes and Batman lunch box.

Why does making (and eating) food make me so happy?

Well, my daughter turned 10 today.  She wanted cheesecake for her birthday instead of the traditional birthday cake (much to the chagrin of my brother-in-law, who loves the cakes my wife makes).  Instead of going out and buying one, I suggested we make one.  I suggested that we make mini marbled cheesecakes.  She was very excited about that idea.  My daughter is a person who loves to spend time with others; it’s how she shows love.  If she loves you, she’ll just want to hang around and do stuff with you.  Gifts are good, but not as good as time.  So we made what you see above.

The thing is, as soon as I bit into one of the first we refrigerated, after all the time spent mixing, creaming, spooning, melting and baking, I felt an overwhelming sense of calm and subdued joy.  I love the work that goes into food, but I feel in a way that I do not for anything else when I bite into a good, tiny cheesecake.  Or when I bite into a piece of home-made flat bread I’ve just finished cooking on the barbecue.  Or when I bite into a perfectly roasted potato (thanks, Jamie Oliver).  I worry sometimes that I have an addiction to food, but I don’t know if that’s it.  I get no joy out of eating something bought in a store, already cooked or baked or manufactured.

I think it’s the sense that “I made that, and it’s delicious” and I wonder if people in bygone eras felt that sense of satisfaction.  Is it just that so much of our food is already made for us that we feel such great, ego-boosting happiness when we make something ourselves?  Did my grandma, who made everything from scratch except the Jif Peanut Butter and Pringles that adorned her cupboards, ever think “I made that!”  I do, and maybe, now that I’ve thought about it more, it’s a little sadness that goes with my happiness.  Hmm…

In what colors do you live?

I’ll be painting my basement soon, so today I was out buying paint.  It occurred to me, through the wise and kind words of my family, that I am one of the least qualified people to go out on his own to buy paint.  I, like many men, am color-deficient.  I am not completely red/green colorblind, but I do have serious deficiencies in color identification in the red/green color spectrum.

When I suggested that I could go out on my own to buy Batman Grey and Superman Blue for the basement, which is becoming a superhero themed man-cave, everyone jumped in with their little quips about how I couldn’t be trusted to handle this task on my own.  Let me explain the extent of my, ahem, deficiency.

At Christmas, I am overwhelmed by the green-ness of everything, not realizing that there is a great deal of red against the green.  Red lights, red garlands, red bows – all green to my eyes.  Not until I am within a couple of centimeters of the tree do my eyes distinguish the red against the green.  When I was in high school, I was called upon to name the country that was green on a large map hanging at the front of the room.  I couldn’t tell which was green, as they all looked green.  On top of that, purples (because of the red in it) comes through as blue.

Let’s just say, I’ve learned that the smartest thing to do in my wardrobe is to concentrate on three dominant colors:  brown, navy and black.  Browns and navies are easy to coordinate with each other, but black wins in my closet.  Black is my favorite (lack of) color.  I am often dressed in all black and have endured years of, “Hey, Johnny Cash!” comments from co-workers and family members.  I also like the varying shades of black, from charcoals to heathers to deep blacks to washed out blacks.  I even, in moments of fashion-forwardness, pair browns and navies with black in a nose-snubbing way to prove that black does, in fact match with everything.

One danger, however, is illustrated by the photo above.  When I take my daughter to a paint-your-own pottery place for her birthday, I am happy, joyous even, when they label their color so blatantly.  I could easily end up with a color-challenged project if I am to depend on my own abilities to detect the colors in front of me.

Thanks, kind person, for making 104 Orange so easy for me to “see”.

Ethereal sky: Photo Friday

Photo Friday’s challenges have been getting a little “Ethereal” lately.  Last week it was “turbulent”.  The week before it was “open”.  This week it’s “Ethereal”.

I shot this a few weeks ago, while I was on my way home.  I was originally going for a shot of the sun glinting off the snow on the top of the mountain, but I got a few shots of the sky first.  So, into the ether we go.

Presenting…the COSMOPOLITAN (cupcake)

My daughter’s birthday is this weekend, but she had her birthday party tonight.  She (we) took all her friends to a local Colour Me Mine where they got to pick out pottery and paint it their own way.

I, being the awesome father that I am, offered to pick up part of the dessert for the evening.  I went to one of our favorite, if not visited enough, cupcake places called Tracycakes.  The little morsel captured above is called the “Cosmopolitan.”  It is a delightful little cupcake filled with cranberry jam and topped with delicious pink icing.  It’s a tiny A-Bomb of cakey sweetness.  Mmm…

Vanishing point; or, what’s with me and railroads?

Not much to say tonight, except:  What would Freud say about me and posting all of these photos with railroads lately?  Any psychology majors, or psychologists out there?  I know, Freud is almost never used in a practical, clinical sense anymore, but I’m still curious.

Teach a man to fish…

and he’ll eat for a lifetime.

Photography in late Winter in the lower mainland of BC is a dodgy endeavor.  If there’s a nice day to be had, I’m out with my camera snapping as many shots as possible.  The next day might be crappy, like today.  Yesterday, there were short bursts of rain, but the day was more win than lose.

Around here, if there’s sun, there’s fishermen.  There were a great number of men out in the water yesterday.  None of them seemed to be catching much, but they reminded me of that movie A River Runs Through It. There is something very Zen about standing in cold water up to your knees manipulating hand-made flies over shallow water to entice a fish to bite.  Most of it seems like action with no purpose other than beautiful, slow movement.  Makes for interesting photos, though.


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