Monday, January 28, 2013

Snow Leftovers

The snow is melting but while waiting for the bus I figured I`d build a small snowman.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Knick Knack patty whack

Leanna, up and coming interior decorator

Today's photo gig was to shoot an apartment layout put together as an interior decorator assignment by my friend Leanna. It's interesting to shoot something new.  When looking at the reference magazines she had noticing the way the photos were taken and how the light bathed the room.

We weren't in a studio where we could put the lights anywhere.  We were in an actual apartment where lighting, if used, had to be squashed in behind the scenes.  The challenge was having the lights positioned in such a way that they would make the apartment look naturally lit.

Much like a model with make up photographing a prepped apartment was pretty easy.  It was just finding the right angles to make the photos look good.

A lamp that you can buy at Ikea!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pickled Eggs

Pickled eggs in a jar

  • vinegar (enough to fill jar)
  • eggs (as many as you want that can fill jar)
  • cloves (1 tablespoon)
  • peppercorn (1 table spoon)
  • chili pepper (1 table spoon)
  • bay leaf (1 leaf)

Step 1: make the pickle mixture
  • pour 1/2 of vinegar in jar, add cloves, peppercorn, chili pepper, and bay leaf. 
  • Close jar with lid and shake to mix.
  • Let sit.

Step 2: make hard boiled eggs.
  • fill pot with water, add eggs
  • place on stove until water boils.
  • once water boils move pot off hot element and wait 18 minutes (the eggs will still be cooking)
  • after 18 minutes cool eggs off by running cold water into pot replacing any hot water
  • peel eggs
  • poke eggs with a fork (to let pickle mixture seep into eggs)

Remember to poke your eggs

Step 3: Combine ingredients
  • place unshelled eggs into jar with pickle mixture.
  • add more vinegar to top off jar
  • close lid
  • shake
  • place in refrigerator for 48 hours

Eggs will keep in the fridge for about a month.  To help me keep track of the eggs, especially if I make multiple jars, I use a dry erase marker to write the date on the jar so I know how long the eggs have been in the fridge.  If you look in the fridge and see a jar of black goo chances are the eggs have gone bad.  I highly recommend opening the jar (if you have to open it) outside as it'll stink pretty badly.  Remember due dates on containers are there for a reason.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jack Got Beans

Plastic rocks...

There are some really bizarre things that you can purchase at the Dollarama dollar store. Like these rocks for your garden. For $2 you can get a bag of these plastic rocks that GLOW in the dark. I originally picked up the rocks to line the hamster cage. The hamster bedding while soft doesn't make for a great foundation for the flying saucer. The bedding gives and is a bit springy making the flying saucer wobble and make noise when one of the hamsters is running on it. I figured smooth rocks would be better.

...that glow in the dark.

The fact that they glow in the dark is just a bonus that speaks to the kid in me. All cool toys had glow in the dark features. Heck, I even had glow in the dark show laces during the Wham days. So what if it's made of radioactive material.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wherever you go, there you are

Making sure my camera is time synced to the GPS devices.

Today Toronto was hit by snow. I poked my head out at 9:30 to look for mail only to be blinded by the intense whiteness of a light snow fall. It should be noted that the best photos of cities, still life, etc. are always photographed when the weather is terrible. The worse the weather the better the photos. I think this is an inversely proportional thing. It makes sense because the majority of people A) don't want to subject themselves to the elements, B) don't want to expose their gear to the bad elements. As a result, and this is my theory, there are less photos in terrible conditions so the photos that do exist are more unique and perhaps special.

Don't get me wrong, you can still take crappy photos in the rain, snow, and blizzard. I also suppose that taking photos of snow is probably not that interesting if you live in an area where there's snow 365 days. I'm in Canada. I'm sure taking photos of snow is interesting to my Australian friends.

N43° 40.097'  W79° 27.325'
How many people do you know that go out in the middle of a cold winter night to shoot sewer gratings? Go out into a water drenched city setting? Go to the beach for a blizzard in -16 degree weather? Trudge through knee deep snow for five hours to get one shot? If you're reading this post you know at least one. Yes, it's me.

N43° 39.841' W79° 27.576'

My main goal today was two fold. 1) get outside, 2) test my GPS devices, 3) test out my newly compiled software with the data I've collected. I have three GPS devices, four if you include my iPad. The Tripmate850, the Garmin legend HCx, and the Houlux. The nice thing about the Garmin is that I know it works. So I would use that as my base for comparison.

N43° 39.818' W79° 27.664'

N43° 39.628' W79° 27.584'

N43° 39.532' W79° 27.549'

N43° 39.512' W79° 27.628'

N43° 39.499' W79° 27.652'

N43° 39.511' W79° 27.696'

N43° 39.478' W79° 27.684'

N43° 39.310' W79° 27.615'

N43° 39.209' W79° 27.670'

N43° 39.201' W79° 27.836'

N43° 39.192' W79° 27.845'

N43° 38.971' W79° 27.903'

N43° 38.947' W79° 27.910'

N43° 38.727' W79° 27.889'

N43° 38.658' W79° 27.856'

N43° 38.588' W79° 27.788'

N43° 38.560' W79° 27.666'

Saturday, January 19, 2013

More of the Same

Peppy and a walnut: A Star Trek Tribute

Friday, January 18, 2013

GPX distiller

As of this day Friday January 18, 2013 at 23:41, I have completed coding my first Windows application using C sharp. For me this is pretty monumental as the last time I coded anything significant, to me at least, was way back around 1997.

It was around the time I made the transition from working on CDroms and kiosk installations to going into visual effects. The companies I worked for didn't need a programmer as much as a compositor and so slowly my coding skills faded away. I didn't miss programming back then. In fact around that time I was beginning to get tired of having worked on projects that constantly needed software upgrades, it became monotonous. Going into visual effects was great because once you were done and the show aired, you were done.  You never had to upgrade the visual effects.  With coding upgrading software was consistent with the release of new operating system versions and new platforms. In visual effects the work you did was done and it would last for as long as the show aired.  Most of my coding projects won't even run on today's platforms.  So visual effects was great. At least that was the case until George Lucas released the upgraded versions of Star Wars 4, 5, and 6.  Then all of the sudden visual effects shots could be upgraded and re-released.

Part of the need to program something is have something that needs programming. I guess the last few years nothing really seemed to pop up. Then about two years ago I picked up my first GPS data collecting device and along with that came the need, for me at least, to have a program that could work with the data.  Yes, they were and are other programs that do this but not specific enough for what I wanted to do.  The computer programming itch came back.

The program was put on the back burner over the last few years until around Christmas time of 2012. It was at that time that I found that I had no work and as a result a lot of free time. What better way to occupy oneself than to learn a programming language and start hacking away at the little project.
So today I finally finished the thing. I would have completed the project earlier based on the original ideas but as anything the project evolved. New functionality was introduced and better coding replaced older code. Also better error handling. The actual functionality of the program was easy in comparison to dealing with human input. There was a point where entering non-numeric characters would crash the program entirely and while the program was specifically being written for me I figured it should be bulletproof anyway.

With the release of version one I already have ideas for the next revision. I also have ideas for other programs.  For now it's kind of cool to be able to wear the programmer's hat again.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rockets and Flying Saucers

Hamsters in Space!

I ended up staying at home taking photographs of the hamsters in various poses. Here is the hamster rocket ship I picked up at the Pet Emporium yesterday. It has a design similar to the rocket in Flash Gordon (starring Buster Crabbe). As a result I ended up watching Flash Gordon on Blu-Ray.

"I can do this" captioned by Rebecca Gillis.


Monday, January 14, 2013

The truth is out there

With the current weather outside being pretty cold, especially today, it's easy for one to sit indoors and do something in the warmth of an apartment. Watch movies on tv, program on the computer, surf the internet, stalk/creep people on Facebook, upload photos to instagram, sift through the photos from the last two parties you've attended (yes, I'm on that), sit and watch Peppy and the Professor explore their new habitat (It's a bit more entertaining than watching fish), photograph something in the mini studio, clean the camera gear, clean the apartment, bake those carrot muffins from that muffin mix that's been sitting on the shelf taunting you for the last three months. Yes, there were options.

Instead I went out to find a flying saucer. Probably not what you're thinking. Not the vehicle with green little men that swoops down looking for humans to install spy devices as dental implants. This flying saucer (otherwise known as a spinning disc in the UK) is something the hamsters run on. Instead of the hamster wheel that everyone knows and loves, this is essentially a plate that sits on a stand off axis. When the hamster tries to crawl up it rotates. The hamster can then run it's little heart out on this thing. More importantly it runs silent. No squeaky wheel making noise in the middle of the night.

For some reason I thought the place I bought the hamsters had a flying saucer. I suppose I could have phoned them, but that would have required effort in looking up their website from the computer, a web site that I have a link to on this blog. I needed to get out, if not for the exercise then for the change of scenery.

My stir crazy need for leaving the apartment comes from being trapped at home watching Star Trek: The Next Generation the complete seven season box set over the last few days. I've watched the first 50+ episodes out of 178 so far. While watching another episode or two might be relaxing I really needed some outside interaction. I could feel myself turning into a hermit. At this rate I would be peeing in bottles by the end of the week and watching Ice Station Zebra.

I ended up walking to the Hamster store down on Coxwell and Queen. One part to save money (I only had one bus token), one part for exercise (I think I'm getting fat).

The attached photos are some things that caught my eye on the journey to Toronto's east end.

A leftover Christmas display. (N43° 39.640' W79° 23.025')

The Menagerie pet store (N43° 39.978' W79° 22.126')

I thought if I found the flying saucer at a closer pet store I could save walking all the way down to the Queen street store. Unfortunately this pet store has a small selection of hamster merchandise. It should be noted that they do sell crickets should you need live food. This is where I bought crickets for Captain Hill way back when.

N43° 39.462' W79° 21.282'

N43° 39.642' W79° 20.453'

N43° 39.707' W79° 20.177'
Here's a place I'd like to return to when it opens. It was just luck that I passed by this place and noticed the sign.

N43° 39.714' W79° 20.167'

Another restaurant goes out of business (N43° 39.835' W79° 19.599')

McDoanald's (N43° 39.898' W79° 19.151')

It seemed like I was going to make progress in terms of burning calories when just before I made it to the pet store my bladder informed me that it was cold.  The only place that had a washroom was the local McDonald's.

As I don't like using washrooms unless I'm a customer I ended up buying a double big mac meal.  The meal put back whatever calories I burned walking up to that point and probably added some.  The two raspberry chocolate pies didn't help.  I really wanted them to taste good.  But in the end would have been better off eating a warm cookie.

My meal at a better angle.

The readings on my GPS device and my walk so far

Critter's Castle (N43° 39.979'  W79° 19.015')

The trip turned out to be a bust.  Critter's Castle, the place where I adopted Peppy and the Professor, did not have flying saucers.  (insert "Boo"ing here).  The good news is that the store's Hamster wrangler told me about another store sold them and they were relatively close by.

Scooter Taxi prop (N43° 40.301'  W79° 19.476')
This scooter taxi lives just outside an Indian restaurant. It's kind of nifty.

This colorful building seemed of out place in Toronto. (N43° 40.293' W79° 19.513') I'd imagine seeing this in Portland, OR

Cat eating a pizza (N43° 40.271' W79° 19.599')

Just when you thought you saw everything, there was a cat eating a pizza. The cat looked possessive, as much as a cat could look possessive. It kept looking at me like I was going to steal it away. "It's okay cat, I just had a double big mac. That should last me for at least another few minutes." The cat slowly attempted to drag the pizza slice away.

N43° 40.266' W79° 19.628'

Huzzah! The Pet Emporium (N43° 40.145' W79° 20.179')
I arrived at the overstuffed tiny store called the Pet Emporium. Despite the store's size they had some spinning dishes in stock. The "Hamster Exerciser" was $5.00 taxes in. The unexpected low price tag allowed me to get something else as well. Will post that tomorrow.

Who are these people? (N43° 39.939' W79° 27.073')

Hoser, the Rev Joel, and Dust Bunny seen creeping around the neighbourhood. This was a good thing. It's reasons like this that I venture outside in the first place. To bump into people. Human interaction it's a good thing.