Saturday, November 28, 2009


My piggy bank sitting on it's contents

I found myself a little low on money this month. There were a lot of factors. Buying three GPS devices probably wasn't the smartest financial move. Add to that not making any money on the wire service for the Nationals thanks to a FTP site failure, having to pay first and last month's rent for the new apartment, paying the current landlord's rent increase for the last month of residence, getting financially shafted for photos I shot for a gift guide. It all added up placing me in a less than great financial position.

The easy solution would be to go into my line of credit and pay off the sum until the next cheque arrived (money was coming in from the movie I was working on). Instead I decided to see how much money I had saved in my piggy bank - yes, a coin holder in the shape of a pig. Would it be more adult like to have change in a jar or ice cream tub? Maybe. I have a pig. I am comfortable with that.

For the last year and a bit, since RollerCon 09 when I last used the pig funds, I put every two dollar coin I came across into the pig. It's an odd system but it seemed to work for me, It was my way to save some money for a rainy day.

Today was that rainy day, or maybe this month was. I needed 1200.00 so the cheques I wrote didn't bounce. The pig ended up housing 1198.00 worth of twoonies (the canadian two dollar coin). While rolling the last set of 24 coins I accidentally dropped them into my camera bag where I found another $2. It completed the 25 coin roll and it gave me a grand total of exactly $1200.00.

How cool is that? Pretty much a "coin"cidence. While I would have been happier if there were more coins stuffed in the pig at least I didn't come up short. Woo woo!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On to Philadelphia

Our journey starts here at the Union station GO bus stop (N43° 38.741' W79° 22.598'). It is here that I will wait for a GO bus to get to Hamilton.

Breakfast at Steve's Open Kitchen

In Hamilton I meet up with Marybeth (Hawkeye Fierce), Scot, and Pulled Pork (two of the Hamilton referees) at Steve's Open Kitchen (N43° 15.148' W79° 52.270'). We have breakfast then travel to Scotty to change cars. While there I test out the GPS by creating a way point over his bathtub. We will use this way point for reference over the course of the weekend to see how far we've travelled. There's no logical reason for using the bathtub as a reference only that it's funny (to me anyway, maybe to Marybeth as well but note that she laughs at everything)

A mural

While in Syracuse in the back of the car I take a photo out the window so I can check later to see if the GPS camera combination is working. As you can see from the URL here (N43° 3.188' W76° 9.120') it is.

Farm house

Taking photos from a car is pretty fun if you can locate the places later. (N42° 48.083' W76° 7.350')

For lunch we stopped off at a Burger King (N42° 47.990' W76° 7.457'). I am always fascinated with the way things in the USA are presented to the customer. I realize this is Burger King and maybe I haven't been to one in Canada for a while but I did take notice of the signage and food wrappers. It should be noted that in Canada we do not have burger shots. Years ago there was the Burger Buddy. Three little burgers that came in one container. They didn't do too well and were abandoned much like the McRib at McDonald's. Perhaps the burger shots are a way to reintroduce the little burgers once again.

Burger shots

Scotty at Burger King


Crisp O Matic, a hole that lets out steam from french fries - I love it

More burger packaging. Note: There are six mini burgers

Gas Station (N42° 47.957' W76° 7.299')

Current gas prices for reference

N41° 52.840' W75° 43.357'

N41° 50.101' W75° 40.873'

N41° 49.900' W75° 40.842'

pack of two hard boiled eggs

We stop for gas and a washroom, snack break at the local Wawa store (N41° 4.241' W75° 42.229'). I find these packaged hard boiled eggs. For me it's right up there with the plastic bag containing a single pickle - weird.

Medical ad

Here's another way to know you're in the USA as opposed to Canada. Medical Ads (N39° 57.460' W75° 9.777'). There seems to be a lot of them. In Canada medical ads aren't as prominent and if you do see an ad for a hospital it isn't written up like you won a lottery.

The Hard Rock Cafe (N39° 57.097' W75° 9.594')

Bus stop ad for this year's WFTDA Nationals (N39° 57.111' W75° 9.610')

bus stop wider view

N39° 57.007' W75° 9.720'

Philly cheese steak sandwich in Philly

Inside McGillins


Looking out the hotel window at City Hall (on Market Street)

It seems ironic that the GPS receivers, both the Garmin and the TripMate, weren't picking up any satellites in the city I decided to test them in. I'm not sure why this is.


Strychnine and B-Train

Meanwhile just outside the lobby

Charlotte Bruise a lot and J.P.

It's the kids from Montreal

It's Val Capone

Subway entrance

The guy we bumped into walking around at night

Being that it was only 2:30am and being in a new city I thought it would be a good time to explore the city.  Why not?  Getcha Kicks joined me and we headed toward City Hall.  On our way we met this guy that was lost.  He had a map.  We attempted to help him out and after a bit of conversing found that he was just in Toronto for fashion week.

The world became smaller as I told him we were from Toronto and I had photographed Toronto fashion week.  From there he gave Kicks a hat but then took the hat back and gave her his glasses.  I'm not sure why.  After getting them to pose in a bunch of photos we say good bye and Kicks and I returned to the hotel

Having fun in downtown Philly (N39° 57.191' W75° 9.886')

Trying to help with directions


More posing

Even more posing

Still more posing

The clothes peg (N39° 57.141' W75° 9.918')

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No matter where you go...

The TripMate 850

There's that saying from Buckaroo Bonzai, "No matter where you go, there you are". This line from the movie floated in my head as I found myself in the middle of an open field being landscaped by tractors and bulldozers off in the distance. I was in Unionville, a small community north of Toronto (part of Markham) that was apparently growing right before my eyes.

A few blocks away from where I stood were townhouses, relatively new. The large construction vehicles were working on the next phase. Odd.

I was in the area walking from the GO bus station to the UPS store. It was at this remote location that a package was waiting for me, a package containing a GPS logger. Specifically the TripMAte 850.

The ironic part of this trip was that I used a car GPS to program a hand held GPS, or personal navigator, to help me find this store to purchase another GPS device.

The garmin nuvi 250w, while it works great in the car, powered by the cars's battery, seems to have a weaker signal reception when used unplugged and running solely off the internal proprietary battery. I hate proprietary batteries.

I bought the Garmin etrex Legend HCx, a cell phone sized device that uses AAs. It also has a better signal pick up. The disadvantage is that the maps it comes with are pretty simplistic and no where near detailed as the nuvi 250w.

I used the nuvi GPS to punch in the address. Once the address was located, I took the longitude and latitude coordinates and transfered them to the legend HCx. Because it was a clear sky, no clouds, the car GPS worked anyway.

What the heck is a GPS logger and why is it useful anyway?

A GPS logger is a device that records your location (longitude, latitude, and elevation) with a time stamp every few seconds, or over a course of distance. The end result is a list of data that can be imported into your computer.

The usefulness of this list is that it tells where you've been and when you've been there. When synced up to a camera, as digital cameras typically store the time and date with each photo, you can tell almost exactly where that photo was taken.

Other useful applications for a GPS logger...

put on the neighbourhood cat (with the owner's permission) you can find out where the cat has been. This can come in handy if the other neighbour is complaining that the cat has been eating their garden plants. You could then figure out if the cat has been in that area. Maybe a raccoon is the culprit.

figuring out where you were when you were drunk. This is a great idea but you have to attach the GPS logging device somewhere where you won't lose it so you can get the data off of it later. Not only will it tell you that you were at the toilet bowl, but for how long.

Also note...

After a bit of experimenting and playing around with these gadgets I have found that although the eTrex Legend HCx doesn't advertise explicitly on the box, it too can be used as a GPS logger. The Garmin terminology that it uses is Track Data.

Track data is like virtual bread crumbs. Th gps records the latitude, longitude and elevation along with a time stamp. It's totally programmable. You can drop a crumb every X seconds, or Y kilometers (or miles). When you're done travelling you can use the GPS to back track and retrace your steps. It's pretty cool.

I have not yet determined if the formatting of the data is compatible with the TripMate's. I'll figure that out over the next few days. Below are photos of the TripMate 850.

the stuff you get in the TripMate850 package

The TripMate850 on

The USB interface

Monday, November 09, 2009

Swine Flu

In the window of Theodore 1922, a store on Bloor Street

Is it me or is this swine flu thing being sensationalized in the news? I was in Montreal and the reports coming in from not having enough hospitals offering this free vaccine, people getting sick and even dying seemed a bit surreal. Then getting back into Toronto it's the same thing on the news.

Surely there are more deadly viruses out there? I see see the P.R. guys for H1N1 doing high fives some where out there. Probably the same guys in charge of marketing cranberries. I mean Cran-grape drinks?

Well anyway, I was on my way home from meeting up with FAB's fashion editor with a bag of stuff to shoot for the upcoming Christmas guide when I saw this in a window on Bloor street. I found this funny.