Archive for March, 2011

Puppy Pictures

As I continue my scanning mission, I ran across some shots taken on the first night Penny arrived at our house. She was cute – still is now, but in a different sense. Penny’s dad was a purebred yellow Lab while Mom was a mix, with a lot of border collie. Dad was a big sweetheart – Mom not so much but that may have been because she was being protective around her babies. Penny arrived home on June 1, 2004 when she was about six weeks old.

Penny's Dad giving Ian a kiss

Penny's Mom - An interesting mix whose name was "Puppy"

Chewing already

This was probably the only time she slept in the kennel - and no, that is not what you think it is.


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As promised in the last post, here are some more images from the Magpie Extravaganza on March 24, 2011.

The Magpies opening the show


Singing "Green Valley Monsters"

Jim, Irene & Ernie

Accordian Time



Deb and Group

All shots by Ian. As some may notice, we took great pains to avoid getting shots of drummers … sorry Brian and Wayne. Hopefully more images and sounds to come.

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The Magpies Extravaganza was held on March 24. Why it was an Extravaganza, I am not really sure (mind you, I am not sure why we are the Magpies).

We rented Expressionz Café for the evening and held our open stage for friends and family. I don’t really think we had any great expectations of how the evening would turn out. But, all in all, I think a good time was held by all.

Thanks to Don and Jim for organizing. Special thanks to my sons Dave and Ian, who handled sound and photos respectfully. And a great thank you to all who came and participated, whether on stage or encouraging from the audience.

Some of Ian’s photos;


George and me - "Goodnight Irene"


Greg & Kyle - The unrelated Jones' Boys

"Six Days on the Road"

Louann, Jim, Tom, Don and Brian

These shots in no way capture all the folks who were there and performed. I will fit some more shots into a future post. And hopefully we can have some sounds in here in the next little while.

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My first 'serious' camera - the Argus A

‘Serious’ = Adjustable

I enjoyed my Kodak Flashfun, but it really wasn’t a ‘cool’ camera to carry around with you as a teenager. The Flashfun was more along the lines of something your maiden aunt would be taking pictures of Niagara Falls with. Another camera really wasn’t on my radar until a family friend gave me an Argus A.

Now this was not a new camera by any stretch of the imagination by the time I got it around 1968. The Argus A was the first mass-produced 35mm camera in the United States. First introduced in 1936, the Argus A was designed in the image of the much more expensive German-made Leica. It originally sold for $12. The body was made out of Bakelite and the camera was fully adjustable for aperture and shutter speed. The A was a very popular camera in its day and spawned a number of variations over the years. Mine had a pretty high serial number so probably dated from 1938-39.

For me, being able to control the settings of the A opened up an entire new world. It was as though I now had a ‘real’ camera. I started buying Popular Photography and reading about the technical aspects of different cameras as well as the idea of photography as an art form. Now I could experiment with light, form and texture. I don’t think I ever shot a colour roll through the camera. Black and white was about all I could afford at the time. But now there was a choice. I could use Tri-X for cloudy days, Verichrome for bright scenes – there were all sorts of possibilities.

Our high school had a camera club with some darkroom facilities. I started developing my own black and white film and experimenting with enlargers and printing. And I found I liked to capture images that weren’t just snapshots but had some artistic merit (or at least they did in my eyes).

What the Argus did was whet my appetite for all things photographic. It didn’t take me long to recognize the limitations of the Argus. It had a small viewfinder, no flash attachment and the lens was fixed. You could buy a telephoto or wide-angle attachment but that was not the same as an interchangeable lens. So after saving up, I purchased my first Single Lens Reflex camera – a Minolta SR1. But for a couple of years in the late 60s, the Argus was my entry into the world of photography. I have never looked back but I still own that Argus (along with about 20 of its siblings). And every once in a while, I run a roll of film through just to remind myself of the way it was and how far we have come.

My Sister and Barry from next door

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I suppose one of the consequences of being interested in photography for 45 years or so is the collateral damage of boxes and boxes of old prints and negatives. While I have had a flatbed scanner for years, it is a time consuming and complicated process. I have been looking for an easier way to scan images for quite a while. While looking over the Best Buy website, I stumbled across the Kodak P461 Personal Photo Scanner.

After reading some other people’s experiences with the scanner, I decided to pick one up. At $119 it was the right price considering the old Nikon scanners went for over $1000. At the same time, I didn’t get my hopes up too much … you get what you pay for.

There are several versions of the scanner. I chose the most expensive one because it claimed to be able to scan negatives and slides as well as prints. Yes, it does scan prints very well. Slides and negatives not so well. There seems to be an issue with the negative carrier binding the film as it moves through the scanner. But for prints, it is very simple. Turn it on and feed the print through. The scanner itself is about the size of a three-hole punch and it does not have to be connected to the computer to run. The images are saved on to an SD card. Take the memory card from the scanner and insert it into the card reader on the PC and you are in business.

Nana and me - Toronto 1954

As mentioned in an earlier post, family history needs to be preserved. Well, I have lots of history to preserve.

Typical Leafs Fan

(I was going to save this for a wedding celebration but what the heck!)

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Don, Jim and I headed to the Carrot coffee house on Saturday night for the open stage. Our friend Steve, who plays with us on occasion, joined us. I went, not expecting to get my own spot to play, but rather thinking that I would back up either Jim or Don.

The Carrot is quite small with a stage that holds three people in a pinch. For a cold Saturday night there were quite a few people there. I was a little late in arriving and the first act I saw was an aboriginal girl playing a wooden flute. It was haunting music. It was one of the few times I have been there and experienced complete silence while someone played. She was joined for her last two numbers by an aboriginal fellow named ‘Herb’. He had a brightly decorated sack that was full of different sizes of wooden flutes that he had made. Their duet was magic.

So Don asked Herb to come up and play on Don’s first song. Don has a way of getting complete strangers up on stage to play with him. It probably didn’t work as well as either would have liked (apparently Herb’s flute is in F-sharp) but there is promise. And even if it wasn’t perfect, people appreciated the effort.

I then went up to accompany Don on his other two songs. I sang “Sunday Morning Alibi” – a song Don wrote about sitting with a cat on the front step and contemplating life. And then we premiered “Ernest and Lucy”. This is a Don original about Ernest Hemingway and Lucy Maud Montgomery (Apparently the first line “Ernest Hemingway and Lucy Maud Montgomery danced on a Saturday night” came to him in a dream). Don played piano and I sang the lyrics (which have more syllables per line than anything else Don has ever written). It was first time I had ever sang without playing an instrument and it was different – it allowed me to concentrate on my voice and the lyrics. It is a great song and has a ragtime feel that is nothing like anything else we do. You know you are doing something right when people start to clap along.

It was a good night for the Carrot in that not everyone was able to get on stage because we ran out of time. Jim surrendered his spot to one of the regulars, Rene, who offered his Neil Diamond tunes on the 12-string. Poor Steve came all the way from the south-west of the city and didn’t get a shot but there is always another Saturday night.

The Carrot shuts down at 10 so Don, Jim and I decided to grab a coffee. There was a cafe across the street so we headed over there. Turns out it was a Somali restaurant. There was no one in the place and a television in the corner that was tuned to “Cops”. We sat down and noticed the menu was placed on a glass sheet on the table. The waiter then brought us menus that were exactly the same as those under the glass on the table. Everything on the menu was exactly $10, except a beef or chicken sandwich that was $6.

I was a little hungry so I thought I would order something. The first item on the menu was goat but I elected to go with a chicken stew. This turned out to be a serious meal with soup and a banana as an appetizer. Don inherited my banana but the soup was excellent. The main course was more like a stir fry with very interesting seasoning that didn’t overpower your taste buds and was accompanied by a huge dish of long grain rice with vegetables and raisins. My sister will be disappointed that I don’t carry around an iPhone to document my meals. It was a little more than a “coffee” but really good fun and good company. All in all, another unique experience at the Carrot.

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There were a number of things I wanted to write about but this one just has to be shared.

As I mentioned before, my kids gave me a Kindle for Christmas. It doesn’t come with a case but I was able to find a nice one on eBay with a protective cover and magnetic clasp to keep it closed, so I am set. And then my daughter pointed out this eBay ad for a Kindle “case”.

This is a REAL eBay ad …

How stupid are people? (Click to enlarge)

And what is more amazing is the ad says they have sold 54! I don’t care if it is heavier than a sandwich bag … it’s still a sandwich bag! Ahhhh!

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