Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Ripping Up Old Snapshots

Ripping Up Old Snapshots

Once a photograph has been scanned, the original is nothing but useless paper. 

So, Jay is going through a pile that we've carried here from the other side of the world and kept in closets for 28 years. This particular pile was from Nepal and taken in January 1993. The paper hadn't been handled in decades. I'll pick the image that Jay is ripping. I put it and sixty others on Flickr today. This image had likely never been seen by more than five people. Now, however, it live on the Internet. I can put it right here for you to see.

And if you stop at the apartment, I can show it to you on our TV as well. All of the Nepali photos have the following description:
While working in Dubai, we had a chance to take a vacation to Nepal in January 1993. We went to Lumbini to see Buddha's birthplace. We also took a bus to Pokhara and flew back to Kathmandu.

I'll add a few more. 

Nepal-0052 Nepal-0026 Nepal-0038

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

This Was Tuesday

Seldom See the Inside of a Bank

We only see the inside of a bank a couple of times a year. Today, was one time for 2021. We had a 10:00 AM meeting with our banker to renew some GICs and shift funds into accounts that will minimize our taxes. It is always nice to chat with Frankie.

I hit the scanner again in the afternoon.  I'm glad I've made this a summer project as getting old snapshots scanned and organized will take a while.  I repurposed an existing Flickr album to include only images taken of our group of friends.   It'll be a while before I hit the film photos taken during the first few years in Canada.  I didn't get my first digital camera until 2002.  I didn't start putting all digital photos online until the mid part of that decade.

Friends from Vancouver

Then, I pulled from early experiences. I uploaded a roll of film from our first trip to Thailand in the spring of 1991. Next, I went back to an even earlier time to put a number of photos from a trip to the Maldives.  It is fun breathing new life into old prints.  It is also very satisfying getting rid of the original prints.
  First Trip to Thailand 1991 (13) Maldives-0004

Monday, May 10, 2021

Some Day ... More Than Ornamental

A Tiny Blueberry Bush

Yesterday when we leaving the park between the bridges at Brownsville Bar, we stopped at the Home Depot. They set up a nice garden center every year. Jay tends to a few balcony pots over our summers here. He manages to keep alive lemongrass for use in cooking. This year he wanted a blueberry bush. It's pretty little at the moment but it is supposed to grow to 3 or 4 feet in height. That will take a few years and a couple of transplants, hopefully.
  Jay's Baby Blueberry Bush

Sunday, May 09, 2021

See Ya 'round!

Today, I remembered to attempt a 360° photosphere when we visited the park on the other side of the river. The SkyBridge is one side and the iconic Pattullo Bridge on the other. Eventually, this picture will be historical as the construction of the replacement for the Pattullo is finally underway. We have lived in New Westminster for 25 years this summer and there's always been talk about the need to replace the unsafe, narrow structure. The new bridge will be built a bit upriver on the other side of the existing span for trains.
360° Try, Try Again!

This prompted me to see if I could collect some of my attempts over the years in shooting photospheres. For years Google phones have included the option with the camera app. I used to occasionally remember to try taking these types of images but it is not easy nor is the task very forgiving. One has to turn around in a complete circle and shoot at every angle. Crowded places don't work well either as you'll end up with ghost images and abberations such as legs without a body. Google initially saved them under Google photos, but later moved a bunch to Google Maps. Still, I seem to have about half that I'd taken. 

It seems as though the last time I tried with a hacked version of Google camera on my OnePlus 6. This was taken last year in Kuala Lumpur at the Thean Hou Temple.
360° Image at the Thean Hou Temple

I have rounded up a total of only 21 so far. Like all of my images, they've ended up on Flickr now. If you are viewing in a normal browser, you should be able to mouse around to see the whole scene. Clicking a photosphere will show the original image on the Flickr website.

Saturday, May 08, 2021

The Road Ahead is Here

Slower But More Fun Than AmazonI realized that I've become a little spoilt by Amazon. When ordering via Prime, I have come to expect my order either the next day or, at most, two. The world has little patience nowadays it seems and I'm a prime example, so to speak!  Proudly, I'll mention I've come across a fairly effective cure though. 

Yesterday, I downloaded the AliExpress app.  When ordering junk from China, I will have to wait a minimum of two weeks and sometimes even up to 74 days for something to arrive.  For sure, this will cure 'my need for speed'.  Like a good zen master, ordering off this site will teach me patience.

However, there's a big difference in what I can order from these two online marketplaces.  Amazon has come to feel like it is for our few, boring necessities of life.  You know, there are bulk food orders or boxes of ordinary household items.  On the other hand, AliExpress is full of poorly-worded marketing for exciting, new items fresh out of China. 

I went in search of a Mi Band 6 rather than buying a simple replacement strap for my Mi Band 4.  With that in the basket, I could not help but keep looking around.  There were just so damned many gadgets vying for my attention

Okay, Jay likes laser pointers.  I'll have to get him a $15 green one which can supposedly light a match at the distance of a meter.  Also, I loved the look of an electronic cigarette lighter with a dragon on the side.  I don't smoke but everyone needs a lighter, right?  In addition, it really is time to replace the tired old wifi LED strip on the balcony.  I hate the Magic Home controller as it constantly disconnects.  Obviously, it's time I buy one that will work the Smart Life app.  What else?  Oh my, there are just so many things to catch my eye here.

My need for instant gratification is now being replaced with a desire for totally unnecessary, impulse purchases.  That is an improvement.  Isn't it?

Friday, May 07, 2021

Love Being Home

Law Courts in New Westminster May Flowers

Today, I acknowledge my satisfaction with being at home. Although we've already been back from our winter in Mexico for a month, our initial two weeks were spent in isolation. 

This morning started out grey but we did want to get a little exercise. We walked to the other side of downtown. We passed the Law Courts and the photos above were taken two blocks down Carnarvon Street.  Downtown New Westminster is built on a hill and the stairs simply extend to the back of the court building and an entrance area of Douglas College.
  New West Station

We walked into New West SkyTrain Station.  Retail and a cinema are in shops that wrap around the SkyTrain line.  We'd not been in the Safeway because we seldom buy anything there. However, it is nice to have such a great, if a bit pricy, supermarket so close to the apartment. Jay and I continued into the Thrift Store next to Hayak Square. We returned by walking up Columbia Street back to the SkyTrain Station. Our building has direct access to another SkyTrain Station via our buildings' parking floors.  I'd forgotten how compact and convenient it is where we live.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

A Low-Key, Rather-Grey Day

Picking Up Vegetables

Jay decided we should go pick up vegetables today. For us, that means a trip to the Langley Farm Market on Kingsway. 

I didn't do a whole lot today otherwise. I did spend a great deal of the afternoon researching smartwatches. I have come to rely on my Mi Bands as I've been wearing them for years. I was ready to move to something a bit more expensive with a larger feature set. Unfortunately, I found the smartwatch ecosystems, other than Apple Inc, are in complete disarray. Google bought Fitbit in January of this year and that may end up orphaning Wear OS.  Samsung, Fossil, and a few others were on sale but I wondered if this is because newer models would soon appear. 

In the end, I learned that the Mi Band 6 has come out although not available here yet. I guess I'll wait a bit and continue my romance with the same company. I have enjoyed wearing every model.  I will be skipping #5, I guess.  With each iteration, Xiaomi adds enough improvements to make the new generation a worthwhile upgrade. More importantly, I will have spent less in total than if I'd bought a couple of Fitbits or a single smartwatch.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

When Writing This, I Craved Turkish Coffee!

Last Sunday, Turkish Airlines began a new non-stop route from Vancouver to Istanbul. I'm glad they are brave enough to expand during this time of COVID restrictions and its accompanying travel slowdown. They already had flights into Montreal and Toronto, but a non-stop from here will undoubtedly create some possible interesting itineraries and future routings for us. For example, we usually fly over the Pacific when travelling to Sri Lanka, but the distance is comparable in either direction. Stopping over in Turkey sounds like an exciting possibility. 

When Jay and I were in Bahrain in the years surrounding 1990, we first visited that country. We travelled twice from Bahrain and once from Dubai. It was a short, easy getaway from the Gulf and gave us a chance to experience a little winter. In fact, Jay first touched snow in Ankara, Turkey! 

So, I hit one of two piles of snapshots from Turkey with the scanner. I will include four of the fifty photos I uploaded to Flickr today. This is the blurb, I wrote to accompany the batch of images.

"At the end of 1989, I flew through Istanbul to go home.  Jay stayed  a few weeks until I returned.  Then, we used free air tickets to take visit Ankara.  This was the first time Jay played in snow.  Getting to Turkey was quick from the Gulf and we visited several more times during the next couple of winters, once more from Bahrain and once from Dubai.  We travelled locally by bus and visited important sites such as Antalya, Ephesus, Cappadocia, Pamukkale, and Konya."
  Three Trips to Turkey Three Trips to Turkey Three Trips to Turkey Three Trips to Turkey

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Consider Me an Expert

Four Cups of FlourThere are approximately one million online suggestions on how to create a sourdough starter. It seems that everybody thinks he or she knows the only way. So, although I'm only three days into a topic that's new to me, I'm already giving out free advice. I've never ever let a lack of experience affect my willingness to share a multitude of opinions. 

The photo below was Brad McGillicutty this morning. He was born on Sunday night and still lives in a bowl. I expect he'll move into his own glass jar at the end of a week. Therefore, this sourdough starter is obviously not mature yet. This fact is not going to force me into following others' instructions and rules.

I think collecting wild yeast will be pretty forgiving and I'm not at all afraid. In fact, I just saved a half can of Vancouver Island Brewing's Twisted Stalk Blackberry Helles. It's on the counter and already lukewarm. I'm going to share it with Brad during his next feeding. Tap water is boring but Brad and I both celebrate complexity, especially as an excuse for beer.
  Brad McGillicutty: Sourdough Starter

Monday, May 03, 2021

Thanks to Jay, the Amazon Guy, and Brad

The Amazon delivery guy arrived before noon. 

Bread Machine W/ Horizontal PanHe brought a new WestBend bread machine. I happily noted the online pictures pretty much looked like what arrived. It does include a horizontal pan with duel paddle-kneading blades.  That makes it too large to keep on the counter, but it seems like it'll be easy enough to pick up and store in a convenient cubbyhole.

I remember a year ago, seeing flour disappear from grocery-store shelves.  I guess increased home bread-making became one consequence of the pandemic.

This afternoon, while we napped, the new appliance diligently kneaded a 50% whole wheat mixture.  Although the pan in this device will bake a 3-lb loaf, we added enough ingredients for a more usual 2-lb one.

Jay helped throw in what was needed.  I would like to also thank Bradley McGillicutty for his help too.  I didn't mix the sourdough starter until last night.  Although everyone says not to use the discard until after the colony has stabilized in a week or so, I couldn't see tossing out a half-cup of already bubbling flour.  So, Brad helped with our first loaf.  

(Incidentally, everybody names their sourdough starter.  I choose the first name after the character billed as a hero in Rocky Horror and McGillicutty because that was the name of my maternal grandmother's wild yeast starter.)

It apparently worked and the apartment does smell great.

Trial Loaf

Sunday, May 02, 2021

It's Not So Far to Tipperary

It feels cold to us. It was colder last night than we'd seen during the whole winter in Mexico. In fact, it is only supposed to be around 6°C or 7°C during the nights for the whole upcoming week. It was very cloudy this morning but the afternoon has cleared. Still, looking at the forecasts during the first week of May shows a lot of rain. Sometimes we can leave for the entire Lower Mainland BC winter and still get an ample taste of one after we return from away.
  Tipperary Park, New Westminster, BC

We stopped at Tipperary Park near New Westminster's City Hall. It is a delightful little place nestled in the middle of a residential city. We were returning from a drive uptown. We picked up a 5-lb package of whole wheat flour at Walmart. 

I ordered a bread maker on Amazon that'll arrive tomorrow. We do get plenty of good deals on healthy, sprouted Silver Hills® bread. But it's been a dog's age since we had a bread machine.  I ordered one that is supposed to include a more traditional, horizontal pan. I think I liked the West Bend model because it shows dual kneading blades and supposedly can make a loaf up to 3-lbs. Of course, as with any appliance nowadays, only time will tell if it lives up to its positive, online customer reviews.

It'll be nice to smell bread baking in the apartment.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

The Free Ride Ends


Today marks the end of free electricity for my car. BC Hydro, our province's electrical utility started charging for power at their many high-speed DC chargers. Until now, they'd been setting up the huge network of refrigerator-sized units. I essentially charged for free during the first two summers of driving my Kona EV.  Today, I was happy to swipe my special card as I'd put bucks on it a long time ago. I could have used the app on my phone instead. My automobile charged from 55% to 80% using a total of 18.1040 kWh. I had to run out while we were shopping as my app said I was approaching my entered limit of 80%. The car was connected for 27m 27s and I paid a total of $CA 5.76 including tax. 

Before lunch, I drove up to Queen's Park. The city's fast DC chargers there have initiated fees as well. Presently, the prices are a bit too high as they are also 50 kW units.  Instead, I tested one of the formerly free L2 chargers which use excess street-light circuit power. These now cost $1 an hour but charged at just 5.5 kW until another car came and cut my flow in half.  I was there long enough to have a cost of $CA 0.39.

This is going to be so much cheaper than buying petroleum!  I estimate it'll cost quite a bit less than half of what gas would cost me.
  She's Not Gone Far

Friday, April 30, 2021

A Replacement Nest Speaker

I've been playing with Google Home products for nearly three years. For example, it's now second nature to say, "Good Morning," to the Google Hub clock on my bedside table. This causes the 'do-not-disturb' on my Android devices to end, turns off the night lights, stops the white-noise fake fan, and depending on the time of year, turns on a few lights around the apartment. It also prompts the device to tell me the day's weather and any of the day's activities I have in my Google calendar.  I'm never ready at this point to listen to the radio or turn on the TV.  I need to get a coffee in my hand first.

During the day, I frequently ask questions of the speakers around the apartment. They're great for US to metric conversions or odd questions about something we see on TV.  When I want a copy of something from the wifi printer, I yell to turn it on. If I want to print something on the 3D printer, I do the same. Anytime I want to play Spotify or our local 24/7 news radio, I ask a speaker to play on the appropriate device, or set of devices. 'Couch' plays on the Hub and the Google Mini in the living room. The kitchen has a Mini on the fridge. Even the hallway closet has a spare mini.  They were so cheap,  they became impulse buys.

Towards evening, I control almost all the lights in the apartment and on the balcony by voice command. 'Turn on the living room lights' activates four different bulbs in the room.
  A Pair of Nest Speakers in Sage

As soon as I was assured of our arrival date in BC this spring, I ordered a new phone from the Canadian Google Store.  I popped a Pixel 5 into the basket.  Then, I noticed that the newly-designed Nest Speakers were available in the same colour as my phone.  Something called 'sage' is really just a light green but appears to the hot this year.

I noticed Nest speakers were on sale if two were purchased.  I'd always wanted to test the stereo capabilities of my smart speakers.  Two can be configured to work together as left and right channels.  At nearly $US 75 each, they weren't an impulse purchase.  But, hey, I figured I'm worth it.  I have so few costly bad habits that I can splurge on tech once in a while.

My phone and speakers came by UPS in a very big box.  I enjoyed changing over the phone and left the speakers for a while.  When I did get to them, I could make only one connect to wifi.  I'm no novice at setting up Home devices and I knew I'd received a defective item.  I had to print out the RMA and shipping label.  As soon as it arrived back at Google in Ontario, they credited me a full price on the speaker as a replacement would no longer be on sale.  Yet, I found one online store still offering to sell to me for $US 75.  I jumped.   So, I think that means I got a better deal than just the regular discounts.  Higher math functions such as addition and subtraction are not my forte though!  

Today, I picked up my speaker at THE SOURCE up at the mall as I had them sent it to the shop rather than the apartment.  THE SOURCE used to be the Canadian Radio Shack before they bit the dust a decade ago.  I have my two green speakers set up as 'Nest Stereo' in my app.  Spotify sounds great playing on the bedroom dresser.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Image #32132 as of April 29, 2021

Screen Capture Image #32132 of Flickr Albums
Click the screenshot to load my Flickr albums.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

JPGs from Different Eras

These two pictures were amongst some I uploaded to Flickr today.

This was taken at Queen's Park today.
At the Park Today

This was taken 44 years ago on a senior-year high school class trip.
High School Class Trip 1977

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