Sunday, November 29, 2009

The End of Autumn

Our next door neighbour's beautiful Crimson maple

We have been lucky here to this year in that we had a wonderful Autumn with lots of sunny days between the rainy ones. Recently the Old Scientist and I made an excursion out to nearby Steveston to walk on the dyke and have lunch afterwards in the picturesque village and these are some of the photos I took along the way.

Looking across the now brown marsh towards the North Shore Mountains
the white spots are geese swirling in the air

The water lilies in the canal have stopped flowering and are withering while
the turtles have disappeared. Who knows where they go in the winter?

My favourite Belted Galloways are still browsing in the field
but it is getting wetter for them

A closer look at the geese which stopped off to rest in the
pond as they make their way south for the winter

I have no idea what type of geese they were. Sorry.

City workers trim the grass on the bank with this very large nifty machine

And now it's time for lunch, don't you think?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Technology


I am certainly a big fan of technology and I like to have the technological toys like an uptodate laptop and an iPod touch. When all goes well I am delighted with technology. But when there is a problem it is the most frustrating thing in the world. Apologies for the photos, you know the idea is the thing on this blog, not the brilliant photos.

Old Canon printer

For 11 long months we have been unable to get my MacBook Pro to print wirelessly through our home network. The others, PCs, worked just fine. So giving up we purchased, at great expense, a new fancy network printer. One week later, with much consulting of the Canon help line, we have two PCs up and running and one MacBook Pro still unable to print. Today we consult the poor technicians once again and the Old Scientist lives in hope that we will finally succeed. I am more skeptical. Ain't TECHNOLOGY grand?

Fancy new Canon printer, with 900 page online
manual without an index. They have to be joking!


Monday, November 23, 2009

In Memoriam

I don't normally mention names in my posts but one I have permission for and the other will become clear...

When I first came to Second Life one of the very first places I discovered was Renaissance Island. I have probably mentioned it in the past. They gave out free peasants clothes you could wear to be in character. I loved it.

It is a Tudor sim.

For those who don't know it is a sort of generic mock up of a small town/village in Tudor England. Tudor England is something I have been interested in since school.

I think it suffers a little from not being quite sure of the year, so anything from the reign of Henry VIII thru to Elizabeth I goes. Probably fortunately Henry VII does not seem to get a look in.

Still things changed a fair bit in the best part of a century from 21 April 1509 to 24 March 1603.
It is very good though and tries hard to be authentic within the period it takes in. I do recommend it, especially during the winter when there is snow on the ground and often in the air and it is quite beautiful in the half light of an evening. There are docks, stores and a playhouse, replica of the Globe theatre.

One face that was familiar round the place was a lady by the name of Dinnie Devonshire. I didn't know her well, just a nod in passing, the odd word.

I found out the other day she had passed on and they were going to have a memorial service for her and dedicate Devonshire Lane in her name.

She had quietly done quite a bit to help make Renaissance Island what it is. I had not known that.

So one Saturday in November found me standing in the cold on the snow covered ground of a small Tudor Town in SL remembering her.

Quite a few turned up, many where vaguely familiar, some I knew better were not there and someone I knew well from my first days was there, incongruously in a Tux. Stainless, a sometimes blogger. He is still a tenant there.

He suggested that a memorial be built in the church. He was thinking of anything from those tombs with the statue on it to the plaque memorials with carved figures and words of remembrance. The idea seemed to go down well.

Someone remarked that it was weird that the place was now starting to develop its own history, take on a life of its own.

Everyone broke up and went to look round and/or have conversations with one or two people.

Stainless and I wandered off arm in arm doing the same and catching up, till he had to go. I took a picture. Then I got a guided tour of the redesigned Manor house, still being finished off and complete with resident ghost.

It struck me as weird that Dinnie's Avie (body) and all her property that she didn't give away in SL, is probably for the moment inviolate, held in Linden's memory banks, only waiting for her log in that will now no longer ever come again.

I hope they have ice skating again this year...

Thank you Dinnie... and everyone else who makes the world a better place to be in, be it second or real life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Bird(s)


I think you will find some very good photos today for this theme, especially at Carver's Site. On the other hand I don't think I find the birds very interesting in my area save for the herons and the bald eagles which I always photograph if I see them, usually unsuccessfully in the case of the bald eagle.

However this was a photo I took recently at nearby Steveston. A huge flock of geese had chosen as a resting place this pond in the field where a small herd of Belted Galloways spend their summer. I suppose they are on their way south for the winter. The field is pretty wet year around and the cows are usually pretty muddy as is this one. The birds were swirling above and taking off and landing constantly in a flurry of activity.

One of my many heron photos


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Buying a New Camera or How to Make a Compromise!

Old Camera, neat, fits in handbag

You know what it is like when you have made the decision to buy something and the money is burning a hole in your pocket but you can't find exactly what you are looking for.

This was my dilemma this past week. I have loved my Canon Powershot A620 camera, my very first digital one, ever since I acquired it 3 years ago. I wondered why I had taken so long to make the change from film to digital image. I'm not the greatest of photographers but I have really enjoyed taking photos with this and playing around with them on the computer with editing software in a simple way.

The one thing I sometimes missed was a longer range zoom as this had only 4 times optical and seeing some heron on the edge of the water or eagle in a tree made me wish for something a bit better. So when the zoom on this camera began to malfunction on occasion I thought, time for a new one with a longer range.

I knew exactly what I wanted. Yes I know that SLR cameras are best but carrying around a bag full of lenses and changing them is not my idea of fun. I did not know it when I got my Canon but I soon discovered that a viewfinder is a must as the LCD screen is virtually useless in full sunlight. Luckily the A620 had that so I knew this time to make it a requirement. I wanted to stick with Canon to make it easier to learn and ten times optical zoom sounded about right for my requirements.

But guess what? That camera does not exist. Canon cameras with ten times zoom don't have viewfinders. Supposedly they have been sacrificed to make the LCD screen larger. But the LCD screens, while somewhat better still are not good enough on many occasions. Searching online one sees the same thing over and over. Many people would like to have a viewfinder but no one is listening. Or perhaps they cannot make a camera at a reasonable price and size which incorporates a viewfinder. All the sales people said they complain continuously to the camera representatives who just shrug. Apparently younger people are so used to taking photos with their cell phones they would never think of using a viewfinder.

New Camera, large with separate case.

So I had to make a compromise. Viewfinder or twenty times zoom and a camera which weighs twice as much. Or ten times zoom with no viewfinder. Well for better or worse I got the larger one and now I have to truck around this heavier piece of equipment in its own separate case. I don't know if I will be sorry and very soon looking for a small one to tuck into my handbag while the larger one sits in the car. Time will tell I'm sure. Sigh. I'm trying to jump start the economy but it isn't easy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Moggsy's Top Ten

Ok. A nice fluffy post. See I don't have on my yellow hard hat ^_^

My personal Bill Board top 10 chart in order... plus a bonus track #11.

Oh BTB did you notice my makeover? this is a shot of me in a friend's place by the sea. It is lovely there especially at dawn and sunset.

The usual disclaimer about the tracks. No secret messages, tho goodness knows what a shrink would make of them ^_^ It's a bit of a mixture style-wise too, I make no apologies, I just like them.


#1 No Other One by Taio Cruz
#2 Almost lover by A Fine Frenzy
#3 Confusion Girl by Frankmusik
#4 I'm not gonna teach your boyfriend how to dance with you by Black Kids
#5 About a Girl by The Academy
#6 Shark in the water by VV Brown
#7 Party in the USA by Myle Cyrus
#8 Meet me Halfway by the Black Eyed Peas
#9 You Belong with me Taylor Swift
#10 4ever by the veronicas


#11 New York by Paloma Faith

There is also a really great dance version of "Almost Lover" by Manox, if you like dance tracks.

Kate Nash did a version of "I'm not gonna teach your boyfriend..."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Music


Music brings to mind so many different images but here are some of the buskers I photographed yesterday at one of my favourite places, Granville Island, making music for the pleasure of the passersby.

Singing his heart out amongst the chaos which is the market norm

Outside on the lovely cool late Autumn day

A busker has a lot of equipment to cart around. This
one plays guitar and a variety of wooden flutes
to accompany his recorded South American music

The truth is that for many now the musical experience is about being
plugged into an iPod or in my case my iPod Touch
with speakers


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day --- Poppy Day 2009

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae

John McCrae was a Canadian doctor who served in the First World War and in honour of his friend he wrote this very famous poem, In Flanders Field, which is commonly used on this day, November 11th, when we remember those who have died while fighting for their country. Click on the link to read it in full.

Last week, many people posted Peace Globes, as did I. Maybe, one day, there will be no more wars. Even then we must never forget those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Lest we forget

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ave, Caesar, futūtum te salutant (Don't ask)

OK. This is just a rant I guess. Maybe a hard hat one.

I had sort of promised myself not to post any more political posts as no one seems interested. But this...!!!

Maybe people just aren't interested?

Maybe that's how politicians like it? Maybe they even promote that attitude? Maybe they like it if they can just get on with being in charge without having to go through the messy business of elections and being held accountable?

This is about UK/EU Politics.

Labour (think Democrat-ish, only more left wing, except their colour is red - go figure) promised a referendum about the European Constitution that would among other things impose an UNELECTED PRESIDENT on us.

Other countries populations mostly rejected that constitution when they were allowed to vote on it.

So they repackaged it as a "Treaty" The "Lisbon Treaty". Suddenly because it was a "Treaty" and not a "Constitution" that was going to impose unelected... etc. Labour said we shouldn't have to bother our silly little heads over it and they would just sign it.

They don't represent anything like half the electorate, they were elected after having promised a referendum. They sold our democratic rights down the river instead.

Well the Conservatives (think Republican-ish, only maybe more left wing, except their colour is blue) said, "No way! We will have a referendum - definitely - if we get elected."

Well now it looks like they had their fingers crossed behind their backs just like Labour. Because now it looks like they are not going to after all.

Now we already have a bunch of unelected, 'jobs for the boys' European Commissioners (think Senators) who mostly run things in Europe. Their finances are so wrong their accountants have refused to sign off on them for years.

So it looks like a bunch of sleazy backroom pork barrel on steroids deals are going to force an unelected President on us after all. Plus things like foreign ministers and such.

Rome used to elect its rulers till Julius Caesar. I guess we need to learn to say "Ave Caesar" or maybe "Hail Blair" or whoever...

I am mad about that. Real spitting mad! Just goes to show you really can't trust politicians I guess.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy Birthday to me!

Yes, another year older. Today is my 74th birthday and I am not sure what I should write about this year. Two years ago I talked about life expectancy which was pertinent to the OS at that time and last year I looked back on my fortunate life.

Perhaps this year I should just be grateful that I am still here enjoying life and in good health. Others have not been so fortunate amongst my relatives and friends.

But I think one of the things I am most grateful for is that I still have a lively curiosity about everything. I am still learning new things every day. Yes maybe I do spend too many hours in front of the computer, hopping from link to link in the vast store of knowledge which comprises the internet. Or doing what most of my friends think is even worse, dallying in Second Life which is a guilty pleasure.

Well if you are looking for the fountain of youth that certainly is one place where you can find it and I tool around in the body of a very beautiful 35 year old interacting with others who judge me by what I say and not by my appearance since we are all beautiful there, with some exceptions.

But I am never bored and how many can say that? There is always a good book to read, actually too many of them, both in my house making me feel guilty and in the library which I visit often. There are interesting blogs to visit, things to look up and research just for fun. Yes, that is fun for me. What can I say?

The other day I had dinner with a friend who is fifteen years younger and has recently taken early retirement. She goes swimming at a local seniors' centre but she does not interact much with them because she says they "seem so old". No doubt my age, maybe younger! No, I said to her, they are just dull.

Which brings me to my friends and for them I am extremely grateful. I am very thankful to say there is not a dull one amongst the lot of them. Not long ago, one of them who is in her late eighties came out with a story about when she worked in the lab at Berkley University with the scientist who had discovered Vitamin E. Of course no one knew how it functioned then and even now it comes and goes in favour as good for this or that and then later is cast aside as research moves relentlessly along.

Any one of my friends can come out with something which will perk your interest, even after knowing some of them for a very long time. If the truth be told I might be considered the dull one!

So Happy Birthday to me, who is not that confident 35 year old of long ago in body but, hopefully, still in the mind.

Once again - it's become a tradition - let me repeat the very pertinent last five lines of a poem written by Janice Thompson of Drinking the Moon called When did I grow old?

Now the hair on my head has gone whiter;

the wrinkles on the face deeper and wider.

Now the seasons pass by so quickly

the taste of death is in the air...

When did I begin to grow old?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Veterans/Military


An appropriate theme this week, for in a few days it will be Remembrance Day. The most moving war memorial for me was the Wall or the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC but I have no photo of that. However the one I am using is an American one which I visited in Philadelphia. I hope you will click to read to enlarge and read the text besides the title which is:



The Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier lies within Washington Square, one of the five public parks drawn up by William Penn in his 1682 blueprint for Philadelphia. George Washington looks out across the eternal flame. While not known as a battlefield during that time, many mortally wounded and sick soldiers were brought to Philadelphia and were buried in mass graves in this park.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dona Nobis Pacem

This is the third year I have participated in Mimi's Blogblast for Peace. Each year I have used a different quote on my globe and another one again in the text of the post. But I think I am going with the same one as last year for the text. May the day when the world will be as one come in my lifetime. Peace be with you.

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

John Lennon, 1971

Mimi's Blogblast for Peace Official Website

Peace Globe Gallery

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Lieutenant --- Kate Grenville

While Kate Grenville is an Australian author she is well respected on the international scene, with her book The Secret River, which I reviewed recently, being short listed for the Man Booker Prize. She has a Master's degree and a Doctorate in Creative Writing and her books on the writing process are used widely as textbooks in many writing courses. In addition two of her books have been made into movies.

She is also known for her meticulous research and that is certainly obvious in her latest novel The Lieutenant, which like The Secret River is based on the life of a man who actually existed.

The story chronicles the story of the fictional Daniel Rooke who as a child is an outsider but gifted at Mathematics and later in astronomy. Trained as a marine at the Portsmouth Naval Academy he joins the First Fleet as its official astronomer on its voyage to establish the first colony in Australia.

On arrival he establishes himself apart from the fledgling colony where he meticulously records various physical data besides his astronomical readings, like rainfall for example and his solitude from the others makes him a perfect person to interact with a group of aborigines who on the whole tried to avoid the first settlers.

In particular he befriends a young adolescent girl in the group and through their interactions he begins a study of their language and records his work in notebooks which he names a dictionary of this native language. Finally he believes he has found his calling and he envisages staying on in New South Wales to continue this work when his current tour of duty is completed.

Of course eventually there is trouble between the aborigines and the settlers and Rooke as a marine becomes caught up in a punitive expedition against the people who have become his friends and what evolves from this event leads his life in a totally different direction.

In this book Kate explores the dilemma faced by these soldiers and marines who were forced to confront the rights and wrongs of their orders from the Governor in dealing with the aboriginal population. It is a beautifully written book and the story is indeed powerful with the tension building increasingly as the story unfolds.

I highly recommend this book, not only for its engaging story of the friendship between the lieutenant and the young girl and its relating of the trials of those who went first to settle in New South Wales, but for its thought provoking questions for the reader.