Sunday, May 14, 2017

Hi. My name is Glenn...

Seek, and ye shall find...

My name is Glenn and I'm a coffee-o-holic. It's been 2 hours since I had a cuppa...
Seriously, I'm addicted. In fact if I don't have a cup of coffee before bed (my wife and I used to lie in bed and watch the Johnny Carson show with a cup of coffee!), I wake up with a low grade headache, cured only by a cup of Joe.
Now I'm not a gourmet. I'm an equal opportunity coffee-o-holic. I don't like weak watery stuff and it should be fresh, but (don't think less of me, now), I even like Tim Horton's. I generally buy darker blends for brewing at home. The MacDonald's stuff is pretty good too.
I like Latté's and cappucino's but, like, they have milk in them. Coffee should be drunk black. Espresso is good from time to time, and Starbuck's occasionally has a good blend but you can't get the same thing there two days in a row, so I don't go there.  I buy beans and grind them just before brewing.
I know there are many ways to brew coffee. I prefer a drip machine but it has to have a conical filter. Or a single brew.
So what's this story about? I have a Tassimo machine. I like it. It's quick, the coffee is always fresh, it's super convenient. But it's big and bulky and has a water reservoir. When I was in a hotel in Montreal last December, they had a coffee machine in the room that took the Keurig K-cup pods. It was small, had no reservoir, one-button easy. I managed to find it online, but believe it or not, it was $140!
As you may know, I'm planning a month-long trip to Newfoundland and I want something to take with me. The Tassimo is too big and one-cup drip things make lousy coffee...
I asked my sister to look for me in the US. And she found one: made by Proctor-Silex, around $25! I found it on Amazon and bought one. It's coming with me to Newfoundland. So is my cast iron frying pan. How can you live without these things?
That said, it's not as good as the Tassimo. I find the coffee comes out a bit muddy. But it's better than a generic hotel coffee maker or {the horror} instant. 

PS: after writing this, guess what I need? I'll be back in a moment...

PPS: it's Sunday now and I'm re-editing the blog. Guess what I need? Right back...

The RAW vs JPEG argument popped up again, as it often does. FWIW, here's what I wrote:

So when you're looking at a JPEG, you're looking at a baked cake, one that you bought in the supermarket for $2 because it's the cheapest one they make . It was made by a machine. Once the cake is baked, there's not much you can do to change it. 
When you're looking at a RAW file, you're looking at a bunch of ingredients: eggs, flour, all that good stuff but before the cake was baked. You can custom make that cake any way you want, or you could bake cookies or muffins, or... whatever your heart desires.

How can you make your RAW file look like a store-bought cake? With a lot of work and practice. But why would you want to? If you want ordinary pictures, take JPEGs. If you want images made with love and care, shoot RAW. 
Make sense?

May I ask a favour?

I entered the Vistek "Capture Canada" competition. It's hard to choose a picture that says "Canada" but I think I did. Here it is:

A warm sanctuary on a quiet lake in the wilderness shows the peace and serenity that defines Canada

The way it works is they choose the 10 most popular images and select the winners from amongst that bunch. But to be popular, I need votes. Please go to this link and vote for my image.  I need your help.

I'm given to understand that you can vote once per day: I know it's asking a lot, but if you could bookmark it and click the link and vote from time to time? Thanks! 

Oh, and tell your friends. Give them the link to this blog and let them read it for themselves. They might enjoy the blog...

Speaking of things coming with me to Newfoundland...

The car's going to be pretty full! How do people travel by air? Just my camera gear would exceed my luggage allowance. Then there's my clothes, kitchen stuff, bathroom stuff, computer stuff, rain gear, hiking boots, knee pads, oil paints and easel and canvasses and sketchbook and charcoals and of course, my wallet.
Do the math. Driving 8000 to 10,000 km (gas!), the ferries, staying in cottage/efficiency accommodations for 30 days... 
Why Newfoundland? Three main reasons: (1) I love the place. I've been there two or three times before and I'd really like to go again, (2) I might even be convinced to buy a place there to spend my summers there in future. Not winters. Gawd. and (3) I can't really travel outside of Canada. I've been turned down for travel insurance by all of the carriers I contacted, including CAA who initially said yes but who now say "no" (the killer question: "have you been treated for metastatic cancer"). I especially can't go to the US, and I doubt I could even safely go to Iceland or other foreign destinations. So Newfoundland it is!

I've booked the first three weeks plus, I've booked the ferry, all good. Can't wait!

I bought a backup camera body. A D5500, got a good deal on a used one. The main feature I was looking for was the articulating screen to make it easier on my knees.  I had this picture in my mind of my D800 failing and me there for a whole month without a camera. It also has a crop sensor so it'll be interesting to compare using it with the big telephoto lens vs the D800.

File this under, "I'll believe it when I see it".

I was on the phone with Bell tech support today because my DSL modem goes down 3 or 4 times a week and it's annoying. They're sending me a new one (update: "you should have it by Monday or Tuesday". It's now Sunday, a week later. No sign of it, so back to the phone tomorrow. Grrr.)

Sickening. Especially the Upload speed. But then again, I look out the window at the lake...

But in the conversation, when I deplored the awful speeds available here (I was asking if anything changed or do I still have the max available to me) he said "Bell is working on your area and EVERY CUSTOMER will get FIBE services in a few months". 


Documenting my day.

I thought my readers might like to know what to expect and to do if they go down to Carden. I wandered down again yesterday. It was a nice day, and the weather forecast said "rainy and cold" for the next three months (OK, not three months. But it sure feels like it).  

This is what Wylie Road looks like in early spring. What you don't see in this picture are the huge water-filled potholes. Some of them are the full width of the road, maybe 15 or 20 feet long and as much as a foot deep. Except for a section in the woods down the road, they're hard-bottomed (it's an Alvar. Look it up). But you want to have all-wheel drive and substantial road clearance, and take it slow. Don't bring your Ferrari. 

I've learned a lot of patience while birding down there.  I got there a little after 9 am and the first real picture I took was just before 11 am. I had already walked a couple of km on the road, and decided to hike down the Sedge Wren hiking trail before I saw anything worth shooting, and it wasn't even a bird! 

People wonder why I wear camo's at Carden*. This guy paid me no attention as he sedately munched away on some kind of stick for lunch. I watched him for about 10 minutes until he finished it and calmly swam away. 

* I wear them for other reasons too. They snap at the ankle and fit under my boots, so ticks and other nasty insects can't get at me, they're Goretex lined so they're completely waterproof and breathable and they're windproof so worn with suitable undergarments (wool blend) they're comfortable over a wide temperature range. And they fit! Cabela's is a great place to shop.

I met an interesting guy who worked with the Conservancy. We chatted for a while, I learned that one of the things he did was to arrange a port-a-potty at the blind on Wylie Road (thank you, David!), he maintains the hiking trails,  he's fully aware of the condition of the road (he's working on the township to get them to run a grader down the road. We both think that may be a mixed blessing since it would allow people to access the area in their Ferraris and the place could turn into another Algonquin Park weekend zoo). He could see things I couldn't see (two bluebirds mating, a Loggerhead Shrike in a bush far away). Of course Stevie Wonder can see better than me...

I ran into David again on the Sedge Wren trail, after shooting the beaver pictures.  He flushed an American Bittern but of course it flew away from me, so I never got a shot. Then a Northern Harrier flew over, hunting the marsh, and all the birds went into hiding! I didn't get a good picture of her either, but for what it's worth...

From there I went to the Cameron Ranch because I heard that the Shrikes have been known to hang out in the Hawthornes there. None I could find, of course, but I did find this field sparrow playing hide-and-seek

That's a Hawthorne, by the way. Emphasis on the word "thorn". You don't want to go in there... 

After Cameron (I walked a total of about 6000 steps — that's over 6km. Dr. Jeff made me get a fitbit thing and although it doesn't DO anything, it makes me more aware and I try to walk more. Only hit his magic 10,000 steps once, though!), I drove down to Prospect Road where there's a designated marsh. Now I was there for at least a couple of hours and I didn't actually SEE anything (other than red-winged Blackbirds, Geese and some more hunting Harriers), I heard a ton of things.

I was stopped in one spot when I heard an odd sounding call and figured out that it was a Virginia Rail. A woman stopped by (Theresa from Bobcaygeon? You know I'm bad with names!) and she hung out for a while. We definitely heard the Rail again, and also at least three different Sora (I played the call on my iPhone and they called back!) It's rare to actually see one. Another guy stopped by who really knew his stuff. He said he was going back to Carden, so I decided the day was shot anyway, I would too!

On the way up Prospect Road, I heard a Sandhill Crane. I stopped, got out the camera but they were so far away I couldn't get a usable shot. With apologies...

This will give you an idea how far away they were. There's a meadowlark in this picture. Can you find it?  600mm, uncropped. Hint. It's in the middle... 

Back at Carden, we were hanging out near the blind when I said, "a bird just landed on that fencepost over there". The guy from Prospect Road said, "that's a bluebird". I hate people who can see.

Digitally painted 

He also said there was a Meadowlark in a tree near the road. Not when I got there.

Time to leave. It's 6:30pm, time to go home. As I'm driving up Wylie Road, near the end, I see this:

A gaggle of Greater Yellowlegs! There were three of them, hopping around but behind the wire fence so it was hard to get a clean shot.  I couldn't get closer to the fence (giant foot-deep puddle) so I had to wait until they moved away, then shot through the holes.  

It was worth waiting. I saw one of these the week before on Prospect Road in the distance, but otherwise, this is the first time I managed a picture of them. 

So this was a great day. Listening to birds, talking to nice people, putting miles on my feet. It would have been better if I had noticed that it was a police cruiser I was driving behind on Highway 35 and had slowed down a bit... but this should tide me over until the rain stops next year!

Carden Plain, Algonquin Park... which one should I go to next? It's bird season. It's moose season. What to do, what to do...

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