Saturday, April 20, 2013

I'm Back

Wow! The Blogger program has sure changed since I fired off my last opinions into the blogisphere. I suppose that’s for the better... but you can bet your bottom dollar that "old dog new tricks" problem will appear as soon as I try to take it for a test drive.

I'm really living rather adveturously these days, because I'm also about to experiment with e-book publishing for the first time. An acquaintance of mine, who seemed to be spending a lot of his time hanging out with his Apple laptop in a coffee shop that I also happen to frequent, got me interested in this new venture. Much to my surprise he turned out to be writing children's books for sale on Amazon's "Kindle Direct Publishing" rather than surfing the web for whatever.

It just happens that I self-published a cartooned booklet about the real estate industry back in the good old days of typewriters and printing presses some 40 years ago, and I found in reviewing it with some friends, that while the numeric values it contained were totally out of date, the points that I was attempting to make were equally valid today as they had been almost half a century earlier.

So my next job will be to use my scanner and an optical character recognition program to digitize the work then convert the book into a file format that is appropriate for the online e-book publishing company or companies that I choose.

Will I make any money? Somehow I doubt it, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, and it is always interesting to try something new.

Wish me luck

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sidney by the sea

This Sidney doesn't look at all like the big city Sydney we visited down under some 15 years ago, but it was warm, the sun was shining, the skies were blue and the natives were friendly when we drove up to the neatly groomed little park where their the information centre was located. First impressions are always important, and on this occasion I'm pleased to say they continued throughout the visit as we drove and walked through their clean, well manicured neighbourhoods during our brief stay in this little town perched at the north end of the Saanich peninsula on Vancouver Island.

 Even Sidney's garbage containers are attractive.

Our visit to Sidney had come about because we had decided to visit a few of the Southern Gulf Islands which are accessible by small ferries from Swartz Bay, just an additional 5 minutes further along the Pat Bay highway at the extreme end of the Saanich peninsula. Not so long ago, the British Columbia Ferry Corporation, was a rather poorly maintained and inefficiently operated government run company. Now it is privately owned and managed, and boasts a fleet which includes several almost luxury liner-like vessels servicing the major BC Mainland to Vancouver Island routes. The ferry activity in Swartz Bay did in a way remind us of that big city Sydney in Australia, where there are also a great many ferries scurrying in and out of the harbour as part of a commuter service which by comparison puts to shame  its counterpart in Vancouver and their adjoining municipalities.

While I'm thinking in terms of comparisons, closer to home, Qualicum Beach (by the Oceanside) might also benefit from a few of the lessons learned by, and exhibited in Sidney by the sea. They might send their inward looking City Council and planning staff down for a visit to find out how to attractively blend in the commercial operations (which QB seems to so abhor) and whose absence forces their residents (and their tourists alike, I might add) to leave town almost every time they needed a product or service other than groceries.

I can't think of a single benefit that their present small town thinking policy generates, although QB's gray haired population appears to be quite satisfied with a monotonous lifestyle that does not ever require adapting to change... even if that change might be beneficial.

Birds can be funny. People too.

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me at breakfast in the coffee shop of the rather posh, 4 1/2 star, Sidney Pier Hotel the other morning when it opened at 6:30 am. I was enjoying my first sip of their quite delicious blend of coffee, when out of the corner of my eye I spied a furtive movement on the floor beneath an adjacent table. Surely not a mouse in such an up-scale establishment, I thought, but then suddenly, there it was again, another brief movement. But my mouse had feathers.

When I drew the attention of the rather pretty waitress to the little trespassing sparrow, she simply replied without looking up, that it was in here most mornings. No smile or expression of annoyance or happiness or amusement. A couple of other early morning customers came in, ordered and sat down peacefully, until they too noticed the sparrow, and since the wooden faced, pretty waitress still appeared completely uninterested, I let the others know that it was apparently a rather normal every day event.

A different sparrow, another time and a prettier setting.

Eventually the expressionless waitress came out from behind her counter, and the sparrow popped up onto the back of a chair. I remember noticing that it was rather expressionless too. Anyway the waitress walked over to the front door, opened it and locked it in that position before stepping outside and looking back at the bird through the window. It cocked its head to one side then the other, then looked down at the floor for a moment before deciding that it must be time to go, and left obligingly to resume its hunt for crumbs under the tables on the sidewalk.

And you guessed it. Not even the flicker of a smile or word of acknowledgement for her triumphant exhibition of bird training ability from the pretty young wooden faced waitress. But I smiled and made some comment about it being all in the days work... and the other customers, at least those who had noticed the performance, murmured or nodded in agreement, while the waitress closed the door and walked stoically back to her post behind the counter.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"The time has come the walrus said."

"The time has come" the Walrus said.
This quotation is from Lewis Carroll's - "Through the looking glass."
That's not so different than the title of my blog is it? "Through the rear view mirror."

The poem continues: "To speak of many things:
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, Of cabbages and kings.
And why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings."

Since I don't have any sketches or stories about walruses, I'll have to make do with something about sea lions as a substitute. But this is a true story, not a poem or fantasy, and this is a real untouched photo, one of a sequence which I forwarded with a polite, perhaps overly polite, letter of complaint to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, shortly after witnessing the incident... which was in fact perpetrated by one of the DFO's own vessels, with three of their officers aboard, and would you believe, right in French Creek harbour in front of several individuals who were happily photographing this pod of large marine animals.

Who has the right of way? Sealions or DFO?

The only reason that I've decided to publish this episode now, is that I was anticipating a phone call, other than the preliminary 30 second acknowledgement of my letter's receipt, to review the outcome of the subsequent investigation. Regrettably that was several months ago, so I will send this off into the blogosphere to see if that might prompt a response.

Lord knows, sometimes it's not an easy matter to get the attention of a bureaucracy! That reminds me of another true story which I'll have to remember for a blog on another day soon.

And remember, your own comments are always welcome... Even with the 20 20 hindsight that my"Rear View Mirror " blog guarantees, it's hard to be right all of the time.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Another picture for the candid photo file.

I wonder how many of you recall the history story about King Canute? Actually there are two versions of that yarn, or at least of its outcome. Canute was the second son of a king of Denmark who defeated Ethelred the Unready, the king of England almost 1000 years ago. Canute, after a couple of other historic ups and downs, inherited the throne of England in 1017, when his conqueror father died suddenly... but a history lesson is not this blog's intended purpose.

The photo below, instantly brought to my mind the story about Canute requesting that his throne be moved to the edge of the ocean to demonstrate his ability, or inability, to command the tide to reverse its flow. Obviously he failed in his experiment, and depending upon the version of history you prefer, (and there are indeed many versions of history, each largely dependent on the story telling ability of one particularly historian... or his political persuasions or those of his boss) this was either:
a) To demonstrate to his flattering courtiers, who had tried to convince him of his God like power to stop the incoming tide, that he was all too well aware of their flattering ingenuity.
or b) Perhaps it was that he had simply succumbed to his own over-inflated ego, or alternately, had foolishly started to believe the news media rumours of his remarkable prowess.
Anyway, it is not my intention to presume to resolve this age old quandary, although, having spent many years in the real estate development wars, I have met my share of ego-maniacal individuals, and consequently rather prefer the plan b) propositions.

 Summer fun, or a historic mistake?

Whatever Canute's motivations were on that historic occasion, I doubt that the family in today's photo had any such illusions of some amazing power. What is rather extraordinary, however, is that the lady on the left appears to be holding an Amazon Kindle, or Sony, or some other make of electronic reader. And I rather doubt that any of these modern miracle appliances is built to float, or survive a salt water dunking... or posses the Canute sought ability to reverse the incoming tide.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Parksville's horizontal forest

Parksville city christened it their "Waterfront Walkway"... and erected another in their series of magnificent new decorative signs to celebrate its presence. I have renamed their walkway the horizontal forest, because it must have consumed hundreds, if not thousands of previously vibrant, vertical trees. Yes, I am prone to using hyperbole from time to time, but I ask you, was it really necessary to use 3in x 8in x 15 ft dimension lumber, or to edge it with raised 8in x 8in wooden curbs? I guess the engineers responsible for the design must have really taken to heart the little tsunami warning sign at the other end of the beach. I am quite convinced you could drive a Centurian tank along this extraordinary board walk structure, without doing any damage at all. Perhaps in the future the city has plans to use it as a parking lot to augment the below sea-level parking stalls built under the adjacent highrise and midrise condominium towers which almost completely block the panoramic beach view from Parksville's main drag.

The north portal to our new boardwalk

And what did this magnificent structure cost? Well I'm glad you asked, because it must have been a steal at just a few thousand dollars over $1,000,000 mark. They also had a sign up for a few days to celebrate that statistic, but for some odd reason that one disappeared remarkably quickly.

At the other end of the beach there is an also new, asphalt paved walkway adjacent to the erosion prone section of the shore which was mechanically re-shaped two years ago, also at substantial cost, in an attempt to stop the inevitable progress of the ocean's efforts to reshape the shore line at the expense of the Parksville's famous Park. And would you believe that to separate that walkway from the beach, (perhaps to prevent cars from driving down the embankment or to further obstruct the view from the few remaining parking spots?) they built a fence using imitation wood, precast concrete posts and planks, replete with wood grain finish etched into each rock-hard component. How ironic!

Oh, and I almost forgot these tiny little LED lights built into the walkway curb timbers. I really must go down there after dark some evening soon to see if they actually do work, or if they're just reflectors.

I did note one rather good thing about my horizontal forest though, that is apart from the fact that my wife and I really do rather enjoy strolling along it... That other good thing? These blankety blank Canada geese don't appear to be at all interested in using it as an extended biffy, as appears to be their habit and right almost everywhere else in the world.

Watch your step. It's a dangerous world out there! And as I've observed before, it's just as well that cows can't fly. But I certainly do wish that more dog owners would pick up after their hounds, as the by-laws require.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Candid camera

As I've mentioned previously, I'm quite often happier with the effect achieved by casual, un-posed photographs, as compared to those that the subjects posed for, and I have a computer file folder which refers to them as my candid collection. Using the 420mm equivalent zoom lens on my digital Panasonic FZ35, I managed to capture several photos of this couple the other day (from the new board-walk on Parksville beach - but that's another blog for another day)... before the one who was getting wet, appeared to tire of the game, and finally come to his senses.

"____________________" Caption by _____________

I didn't realize that there would be an uninvited gull in one of the shots until I uploaded them onto the computer, but it does add a little perspective to the scene, don't you think? In fact I might have 'Photoshopped' one in, had this one not happened to glide conveniently by at the appropriate moment.

Anyway, the objective of this blog (there's always a point to my blogs you know) is to encourage my blog 'followers' and/or 'RSS subscribers', or even 'casual visitors' to use the comments space at the bottom of the page to create a good caption for the photo. I'll even leave the caption space blank for you, and will give you credit for the title if you suggest a good one. Just remember that others will be able to read yours too!

So far my own favourites are:
Land ho! Home James! and, Oh you're heavier than I expected!