Sunday, October 4, 2015

New (to me) camera


That’s one of the little back swimming otters that entertained us in Glacier Bay last spring.  If you zoom in and look closely, or maybe not even all that closely, you will see little squiggly lines in the image that kind of look like tiny worms wriggling around on the water.  My trusty Canon Digital Rebel that is likely now 20+ years old evidently didn’t survive the years that it has spent on the boat.  I hardly ever use it anymore so it has been staying on the boat and apparently the damp environment has done some damage to the CCD which is the image sensor that serves the function of film in a digital world.  Of course I didn’t know that until we were in Alaska taking telephoto images of wildlife and by then it was too late to do anything about it.  Well, now I’ve done something about it.

I figured I could salvage some value out of all the Canon accessories and software that I have invested in my existing Digital Rebel by simply buying a newer version of the same camera.  I found a 40D EOS on eBay that included a 55-250 stabilized Canon lens as well as a battery pack and was able to buy it for under $250.  Considering that would be well over $1000 worth of camera if bought new I thought I did very well.  Yesterday we ran up to Regina in the rain and picked it up from the terrorist that runs our UPS Store.  Earlier this week Marlan picked up another Canon Digital Rebel body only for which I paid the whopping sum of $20.  So I think we are now well equipped for next spring’s return engagement with Alaska. 

All my old lenses will work equally well with either of the new bodies but I don’t think any of them were stabilized so that’s a major improvement with the new camera.  Of course I don’t actually have any of that equipment with me because I didn’t know that this project was even in the offing when we left Buchanan close to 2 months ago now.  My old batteries and chargers are also compatible with the new cameras.  Its been pissing rain down here for 3 days now so I don’t have great conditions to try the new camera out but I did take this soggy image earlier today.


This next one is from an evening last week, taken with my little digital Elph. 


I bought a couple of digital Elphs several years ago now and they take such good images and are so easy to keep by my side that I just stopped using the digital Rebel but most days in Alaska I found that I missed the Rebel at least once during the day.

I didn’t actually PLAN to buy 2 digital Elphs.  I bought the first one before going up to Grande Prairie to do a project for Neufeld Petroleum.  One of the first days we were up there I put some laundry into the washer in the camp laundromat.  When I came back 20 or 30 minutes later one of the roughnecks who was there doing his laundry asked me if “that” was my washer.  When I responded that it was he told me that my little camera had turned its flash on when the machine filled up with water and kept it on through the early stages of the wash cycle.  He said it was actually pretty impressive how long it stayed alive.  They were some modern kind of washer that locks the door during the cycle so, despite their best efforts to save the camera, none of the guys there had been able to prevent the death of my (brand new) Elph.  I immediately replaced that camera with an identical one which gave me redundant batteries and chargers. A few years later I bought the exact same model off eBay so that I could keep one with me all the time and another one on the boat.

The two big Case quadtracks were sitting on some neighbouring land near where I was watching the harvest for my client.  I continue to be astonished at how quickly farmers are regressing to high tillage.  Degelman has something they call a “pro-till” which is simply a tandem disk with a fancy name.  They must have been giving the damn things away in Corn Flakes boxes judging by the number of them I’m seeing in the field and on the road this fall.  How quick we forget what it means to farm in the Palliser Triangle.  A few wet years are just that, a few wet years.  The fundamentals of dryland farming have not changed just because the last few years have been wet. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What a ridiculous animal

So --- we’re still somewhere.  And there’s a lot of moose around here.  Its a bizarre place for a moose but then the moose is kind of the ultimate bizarre animal.  If I was disposed to believe in intelligent creation then the moose would be clearly an afterthought, assembled from whatever bits and pieces were left after every other animal was created.

IMG_6652Tonight I was just driving along, minding my business, looking for a couple of errant combines and a missing super B with dusk rapidly falling.  When I first saw these two I thought someone’s steers were off on an adventure but it quickly became apparent that they were mooses. 


Then this guy wandered out of the weeds and up onto the road.  They were relatively unconcerned about me.  I just had my little Elph so I couldn’t get any really good pictures.


Somebody told me they like munching canola but there’s not much of that left and what there is left is getting pretty dry so I’m not sure what they were eating before I disturbed them.

My project is ongoing but may be coming to a close.  I think we’re both ready to go home.  Tonight the geese were flocking overhead.  That’s always a sure sign that our days of summer are numbered. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ceremonies and traditions

The Canadian media has been braying loudly about some woman who wants to wear a face covering while she takes her citizenship oath.  The Harper government says she needs to uncover; so far the courts have disagreed.  The media is trying to make the story about personal freedom of choice.


Its an old story – why should the state be allowed to deprive this woman of her individual freedom to appear as she claims her religion requires?  The same argument is presented to justify RCMP wearing turbans and to support Indians being subject to prayer circles rather than the court system.  Its her culture, so goes the argument, therefore we have no right to infringe but its a load of hooey.

I don’t have any innate right to attend a Catholic communion service dressed in a clown suit and signing “Roll Out The Barrel”.  Nor can I join the Shriners dressed as a banana.  Citizenship ceremonies should be held to at least as high a standard of tradition as religious or fraternal rituals.  After all, if the traditions and ceremonies are NOT what is important, then why bother with them at all?  If that element of tradition is so irrelevant then why not program a computer to send an email to the new citizen informing them of their acceptance into the Canadian family?  That would surely be a “greener” option and would absolutely resolve the head covering issue.

There are very few standards left which define what it means to be a Canadian citizen.  Multiculturalism and pluralism have served us well but at some level there must surely be some line behind which we will not retreat. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Grass mowed; sprayer winterized

It seems increasingly likely that we will be right where we are until we get snowed in.  So we slipped home late Saturday night and returned yesterday afternoon.  It was a long trip with not much time at home but we made good use of the little time we had.  First we raided neighbour Keith’s garden, returning with new potatoes, corn, tomatoes, carrots, squashes and who knows what all else – I wasn’t directly involved in the raid.  I was busy using the time to spray various village lawns.

I had intended to spray our own lawns but it didn’t work out exactly according to plan.  First I carefully mixed some Curtail M according to my usual protocol.  I put “some” water in my spray tank – I’m not sure how big it really is but I filled it roughly 3/4 full.  Then since I didn’t know how much water I was dealing with I didn’t concern myself with how much Curtail concentrate I added.  I put in a couple of glugs, thought that didn’t seem like enough so added a couple more and called that good.  Then I started spraying but that’s pretty random too because I mainly just try to avoid driving in the same wheel marks twice and I don’t really know how much spray solution I am applying.  I’m sure I’m applying something because the tank eventually goes empty and it must be roughly the right amount because what I did this spring killed a lot of weeds.

So I started spraying on neighbour Keith’s property but there were a lot of weeds so I sprayed a lot more there than we had originally intended.  Then I moved down to neighbour Michael’s place and sprayed north of his shop.  I sprayed that area this spring and killed some of the dandelions but I wasn’t happy with the control so I wanted to go back.  Unfortunately when I finally got to our place my tank was pretty near empty so I didn’t get much covered there.  I did get a remarkably good kill this spring and I got over a few bad spots yesterday so it wasn’t a complete failure but clearly I should have started spraying on our own property.  That was neighbour Keith’s advice when I was complaining to him after the fact.

The most important part of the whole trip was getting some anti freeze into the sprayer and I definitely got that done so – even if my weed spraying turns out to be spotty – I should still be able to use the sprayer next year.  My big fear until I got that done was that some morning I would wake up to frost on the windshield and a busted sprayer pump waiting for me at home.

Neighbour Keith also told me that we have a furry trespasser living in my new shop.  I’ve never understood why squirrels get a pass.  They’re just rats with fuzzy tails.  Just because they have good PR doesn’t make them any less a rat.  Years ago we had one scoping out the Savanna 5th wheel as a possible winter home.  I attempted to trap him with a gopher trap but he was able to lick peanut butter off the trip pan without setting that trap off.  His undoing came when I set a mouse trap under the gopher trap.  Marilyn saw the whole gory incident from the kitchen table.  He attempted to steal the peanut butter, setting off the mouse trap in the process.  That startled him and he leaped straight up coming down hard on the gopher trip pan.  And that was all it took.  I have some plans for Keith’s little rat but they’ll have to wait until we get back home.  I have to keep his ultimate fate a secret because more than one of my neighbours evidently thinks he is cute.  I just don’t get it.


I’ve been looking for a blower for this little guy and I actually found one in Yorkton but waited too long to go get it so I’m back to looking.  Winter approaches.  There’s a complete tractor in Winterpeg with a blower and home made cab on it but its a long way to go and the guy is a little too proud of it for my liking.  Something closer will likely turn up and I got by just fine with the blade last winter so its not really urgent.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Still on the down low

Things got exciting for a few hours last week but have reverted to boredom.  We continue to sit here and I continue to watch while not much happens. 

Fortunately Marilyn has a project to keep her busy and I have a few loose ends to clean up from other projects.  Mostly though my days consist of making a few phone calls, driving around a bit and generally not doing very much.  Idleness is not all its cracked up to be. 


Lots of combine – going nowhere.

It is increasingly unlikely that I will get tin on the roof of my garage upgrade.  I’d really like to get that done before winter but I have no interest in doing it with frozen fingers and it looks like this project might drag on until the snow flies.  We’re waiting for a couple of different crops to be ready to harvest and that may easily not happen until it freezes hard.


While it may not be immediately apparent, that is supposed to be canola.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Mission incognito

I can’t say what I am doing and I can’t say where we are but we’re sure having an exciting week since we left Airdrie.  My client has a client who owes them a lot of money and has suddenly become reluctant to pay that money back.  My client got himself thrown out of his client’s yard and then sent me in to see how I would fare.  Up until about an hour ago I wasn’t doing much better but things may have taken a turn for the better.  Its all very exciting and – as long as nobody gets shot – will no doubt make a good story someday.


Our Airdrie weekend was the usual blowout of eating too much, drinking too much and sitting up late arguing politics.  After we left Airdrie we stopped in Medicine Hat for an early supper with RJ and Michael.  They regaled us with Malibu stories which served to make us very happy that we no longer own that boat.  It was just sad watching it sit in our yard growing mold.  Knowing that it is getting used and used hard makes us both feel really good. 

I made good use of Camiel’s ripping fast wifi connection to let Dropbox get fully updated.  I already wrote about how Mozy thoroughly pissed me off last winter with their “we know better than our idiot customers” attitude.  Now that Dropbox has fully updated I have anytime anywhere access to all my files with none of the idiot “customer protection” lunacy that Mozy imposed.  And at roughly 1/3 the price of Mozy.

Our little R2D2 satellite finder had to sit on top of the air conditioner box in order to see the satellite at Al & Camiel’s place.  That was a bit of a pain but it worked just fine up there and only briefly flaked out in the middle of the worst of the snowfall.  Where we are now it locked on in its normal 2 stage process.  That means that I let it search while I’m setting up and it fails to find the satellite.  Then I unplug it, wait a few seconds, plug it in again and it subsequently finds the satellite in roughly a minute.  I don’t understand what is different about being not plugged in while we are travelling and being not plugged in sitting on the ground but evidently the little bugger can detect the difference because it almost never connects the first time out and always connects after the brief power interruption.


We prefer to call it R2D2 but officially it is a Winegard carryout.

Sunday, September 6, 2015


The ground isn’t white but its not green either.  We’re parked in Al and Camiel’s driveway west of Airdrie.  Yesterday it pissed rain all day and never really warmed up.  As I feared, this morning it was whitish.