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A Little Mystery

Hobbits

Hobbits

I have lots of photos. I began shooting when I was about 11 and have been going ever since. I have about 900 on Flickr but there are thousands in boxes waiting to be scanned.

When we were in university in Southern Ontario in the early 70’s, we would go camping as a group on weekends. One of our favourite spots was Sandbanks Provincial Park near Belleville, Ontario. The shot above was taken in 1974 on one of our trips. My friends, Mike and Luke, are pretending to be hobbits – the joke is the vegetation is only about a foot high, but it was like a miniature forest and made for some interesting photo opportunities.

The interesting part is that I uploaded the shot to Flickr in November 2011. For quite a long time, the photo had a few views but nothing spectacular – until recently. Over the last several months, I have added about 400 views and average 4-8 views a day. I have no idea where the link is posted but some folks must like it. I had a similar experience about two years ago when one of my shots from the 1973 Canadian Grand Prix went viral – it was a photo of the first time a safety car had been used in a Grand Prix. The link to that one had been posted on a Turkish Formula 1 blog and in one day, I had over 400 views. Another shot from a trip back east was posted on Reddit and that one took off as well. But the hobbit shot – I have no idea. A friend once likened the Internet to letting something out into the wild – you never know where it will end up!

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Dogs help a Scottish gamekeeper keep watch in Aberfoyle, Scotland, March 1919. PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM REID, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Dogs help a Scottish gamekeeper keep watch in Aberfoyle, Scotland, March 1919.
PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAM REID, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

The National Geographic has a Tumblr blog simply entitled, “Found“. It has become one of my favourite places on the web. It is essentially just photos from the vast archives of the National Geographic … and the photographs are amazing. The shots date from the 1890’s and cover just about every subject imaginable.

A similar Tumblr blog is from the New York Times. “The Lively Morgue” is comprised of photographs from the Times over the years. A neat part of the Lively Morgue is both the front and back of the photos are shared. The back shows the caption and editor’s notes, which in itself is of interest. While there is a New York focus, as would be expected, the photos are from all over the world.

Both blogs are highly recommended.

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Spam

I am an early adopter. I started with working with computers in 1972 in a stats course at York University using APL (a programming language). My bachelor’s thesis used a computer model, written in Fortran, to estimate pollution dispersion from a point source. My first personal computer was a home-brew that ran CP/M (control program for mircocomputers) as an operating system – it predated DOS. And I was using the net before the World Wide Web – back in the days of Freenets and Compuserve. This is not to brag – I have just been around this technology for a long time.

So what do you do when an elderly relative (not a close one, mind you) discovers the wonders of the Internet and insists on sharing everything and anything he comes across. My Dad’s cousin is in his mid-80s and at least once or twice a day, I receive the mailing list post of his interests – which unfortunately don’t have any interest for me. It wouldn’t be so bad if the e-mails were limited to beautiful landscapes or puppies and kittens. But included in the flood are borderline racist observations, misogynistic jokes and rants about things that he either doesn’t understand or can’t abide. I have asked him to stop sending me these posts and while they stopped for a time, they are back and more frequent than ever.

I understand we live in an amazing time. Our world is now available on our desktop. I can fly to anywhere on the planet courtesy of Google Earth and in many instances see where my friends live. We have up to the second access to news and sports. As I have said before, this is Star Trek come to life.

I also understand the attraction in sharing these marvellous times. However, when we are just carrying on with old prejudices and sharing them with light speed, I wonder how far any of us have come. Sorry Jim, your posts are no longer welcome and won’t be read by me. Sad in a way – given the power of communication that the Web affords.

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Writer’s Block

Last week I returned home from a 12 day, 7,500 kilometre road trip to Saskatchewan, Ontario and back. You would think that I should be able to come up with some interesting writing after all that.

But I feel as if I need time to process all the thoughts and experiences that occured during my time away. I have done the drive between Alberta and Ontario quite a few times before, but the last one was 15 years ago. This time I took a voice recorder to put down my thoughts on the road but even that hasn’t helped me. I assume the words will come eventually … until then, here are some photos from my journey – with more to come.

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This has been the trip of thunderstorms. I left Estevan Saskatachewan around 8 in the morning. For the first three hours I dodged thunderstorms and it rained from just north of Minot to almost Devil’s Lake, N.D.

I am writing this in a Super 8 in Superior Ws. in the middle of a severe thunderstorm. Lots of rain, lightning and thunder. I am on the top floor and the rain is making quite the racket.

So, some thoughts from the road:

  • This has been a very civilized drive. By contrast, the trip from Edmonton to Calgary is way more stressful. I quite enjoy the vast expanse of the prairies and once you get into the rythmn, the miles just flow by.
  • My tires, Toyo’s, don’t like some concrete roadways – they make lots of noise.
  • I was asked how many miles I expected to do in a day – never think of miles – it is all in hours. Today was a good day – about 11 hours and around 1000 kilometers and I still feel pretty good.
  • The one thing that causes stress is all the changes in speed limits – lots of mental arithmetic as I convert Imperial to metric measurements. On a Canadian speedometer, the miles per hour are in red and almost impossible to read.
  • It has obviously been a wet year on the prairies. There was one spot on Highway 39 in Saskatchewan where the water was up to each side of the road. If the water was a metre higher, it would have been over the road – never seen that before. And the red-winged blackbird population is in good shape.

So, hopefully the car will survive the storm and we have a good day tomorrow.

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Damn, I am good with resolutions. Come the first of January, I can make them with the best of the them. And I have already abandoned about half of them. My sister scooped me on the shot a day for Flickr … but, if I can do a shot a week, then I am doing well. Learning guitar scales and practising – that lasted 2 days.

But I have one that I am motivated to keep. That is to walk my puppy every day – this is both for me and for her. We have become too sedentary in our lifestyles and doing something for her is a good incentive for me. However, tonight will be the test. The temperature dropped about 30 degrees over the last day and the wind chill is now in the minus 20s. The walk may not be as long … but we will get out there.

Walkies

Now for the resolution to write more blog posts … there is always next year.

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