June 2010

Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada


All Shook Up

Click here for larger view The big news of the moment is we had an earthquake yesterday, 5.0 on the Richter Scale! We felt it and heard it, but I had first thought it was simply an extremely heavy truck driving by the house, so it didn't amount to much here although a bridge collapsed at the epicenter in Quebec 35 miles (50 km) NNE of Ottawa and from what I've heard, it was felt as far away as Michigan, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts and Illinois.
    On the news last night they said it was the strongest quake here in over a 100 years, but the Ottawa River flows along an ancient fault line so a quake every so often isn't a big surprise.


I bought a new camera. While most serious photographers buy bigger and better cameras when they get new ones, I went the other way and bought a little compact model that can fit in a shirt pocket. It's a Panasonic Lumix ZS7 (aka TZ10 outside North America) and is the latest model of the camera Sandra has (a Panasonic TZ5) except the ZS7 has the manual controls serious photographers use - shutter speed, aperture, and sensitivity. Sandra's doesn't have manual controls except for sensitivity. It's got myriad settings for different scenes and situations, but I've never been able to figure them out, so the few times I've tried to use her camera I never got the results I wanted. The ZS7 still has all of those settings, but at least that model now has the controls I'm used to.
Click here for larger view    The only thing it's missing that would make it a perfect pocket camera is being able to output in RAW format, however only one pocket camera I know of offers that feature, a Casio FH100, but they are not available locally and the ZS7 tags each shot with its GPS location which is probably more useful to me, considering the reason I wanted a pocket camera.
    I didn't want one to replace the DSLRs, since image quality produced by pocket cameras is lower, but the DSLRs are so bulky and heavy that I often leave home without them and have therefore missed shots and even a lower quality shot is better than no shot at all, so the pocket camera should always be at hand and there will be no more excuses for missed shots.
    Nor is the image quality all that bad. I took the heron photo above with the ZS7, which has some pretty impressive specifications for such a small camera - 12X zoom with a very useful range of 25-300mm, which can be digitally extended to 400mm without noticeable loss of detail, image stabilization, spot metering, and the aforementioned GPS tagging, just to name a few.

The same day I also bought a 2TB (Terabyte) hard drive. I've been organizing my software collection, of which my photo archive DVDs is a part, and to my dismay found an entire batch of photo DVDs that had gone bad. Fortunately, I burn a set of two DVDs when I back up and the other DVDs of those sets were not generics and were still good, so I copied those onto Maxell DVDs to replace the generics, but this has destroyed my faith in the reliability of DVDs. The real problem is that over the years I've had so many hard drives fail, I also have no faith in them either, so I was in a quandary what to do until LeRoy (my friend and Apple VAR) told me there are three grades of hard drives and the ones you buy at the box stores and neighborhood computer stores are usually the low grade which are more prone to failure. So the 2TB drive I bought from him is a higher grade one. Hopefully that will make a difference.


Beyond all that, the only thing of note we've done was Saturday evening it looked like a promising sunset was developing, so we drove down to the Land o' Lakes region south of Westport and were rewarded with a very scenic sunset, as seen here.
    And Thursday the plumbers arrived and fixed a couple of small plumbing problems in the basement, put a new faucet on the bathroom sink, and installed a new sink and faucet in the kitchen. I can do quite a few handyman kind of things (as I've been doing almost on a daily basis since we moved in), but plumbing isn't one of them.
    For Sandra's accounts of things since my last report, click here. For my latest photos, click here.

June Showers

Click here for larger view For a variety of reasons, I've once again been negligent in getting this page updated, not for lack of events, just a lack of energy and inclination. Today though I'm brimming with both.

Danica's Graduation

First of all, the highlight event since my last report was Danica's college graduation on Monday, to which we were invited to attend, and to which we did (photo here showing Danica onstage to be congratulated by the chancellors of Ottawa University, her alma mater, although the ceremony was held in the National Arts Centre). And not only did Danica graduate, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Science. Way to go, girl! She wants to be a doctor.
    They seem to hold these graduation ceremonies in dark halls up here, so photographing them can be quite difficult, but since I have a fairly sensitive camera I was able to get a few shots during the proceedings worth processing. The photos I took at the event can be seen here.
    Also, the day before, Betty dropped in for a visit on her way from the cottage at Lindsay to Ottawa to also attend the graduation, Danica being Betty's goddaughter. Unfortunately, it rained for Betty's entire drive to here, but at least by the time she left that evening to finish the trip, the weather had cleared.

The Weather

And speaking of the weather, as I reported near the end of May when we were in the midst of a record breaking heat wave and it looked like those predicting a hot and dry summer this year might have been right, the weather changed and for the last week or so has reverted to last year's cool and wet weather. It has rained on and off for several days now, but the heat wave left the grass parched so we were in need of this rain and I'm not minding it. I much prefer this to sweltering weather, as does the lawn.

New Printer
Click here for larger view
In 2004 when Sandra bought her now dearly departed HP laptop computer, it came bundled with a free HP inkjet printer, which she had used since then for our infrequent printout needs, although it was less than convenient to use in the RV due to having to be stored away in a cabinet from lack of available surface space for such things. However, such is not a problem with the house as it has a room dedicated to computers and peripherals, but in trying to use the inkjet recently we were unable to get the ink cartridges to work properly (what else is new) and when we went to Stapes to buy replacements, I saw a Samsung CLP-315 COLOR laser printer, a cute little thing, on sale for only about twice the price of the two replacement inkjet cartridges. In my long history with computers and printers I've used all kinds of printers and have had nothing but headaches with inkjets and very few problems with lasers, so we put the inkjet cartridges back on the rack and walked out with the laser printer. For the exorbitant prices inkjet companies charge for their replacement cartridges, it's no wonder they can afford to virtually give away their printers when you can buy an entire color laser printer for twice the price of two inkjet cartridges!

The RV and Traveling

I also forgot to mention in my last report that on Saturday, May 29, we attended a dinner at the Tranquil Acres Camping RV Park, our home RV park in the Ottawa region for the five years we were on the road and where the RV is currently parked for the season. The dinner was hosted by Dave and Shonagh, owners of the campground and held in honor of the 20th anniversary of their ownership.
Click here for larger view    As you can see in the photo on the left, the dinner was well attended and the weather was perfect, as was the cuisine. As usual, they catered to Sandra's and my food restrictions.
    Unfortunately, we've only been to the RV a few times this summer and those times were just for the continuing effort to get all of our things out of it, a task that still isn't complete! It's just amazing to Sandra and me both how much the RV was capable of holding without looking like it was packed to the gills.
    We get asked why we're not keeping the RV or if we're going to continue to travel. We're not keeping the RV primarily because we found the health of neither one of us is good enough to be without guaranteed health coverage for 6 months of the year in the US, plus we do not plan to put ourselves at risk again to be blindsided by US Immigration while attempting to cross the US border even after US Immigration's issue with Sandra is resolved, which it might never be. Hopefully, friendly relations will return between the US and Canada someday, but as long as such moronic and life-ruining situations can take place due to a total lack of bureaucratic common sense, we are both happy to let the US go its way without us, although visits with my family in Ohio can hopefully continue at some point. I'm going to stop with this now before it turns into a rant, but the bottom line is if we aren't able to spend winters in the US for whatever reason, we then have to have a house in Canada and having a house, we don't need nor can afford to keep or use a 38 foot fifth wheel for what traveling around Canada we might end up doing.
    And we do plan to travel around Canada, weather allowing, although it won't be this summer because of too many health issues to be taken care of (i.e. Sandra's cataract surgery) and too much to do to get settled into the house. Next summer though, we are talking about touring the Canadian maritime provinces and will probably simply use hotels and motels or in a pinch, a tent I still have from years ago, plus I'd like to go west again and return to the Rockies and tour Vancouver Island on the Pacific coast, but it's very unlikely we'll ever own an RV again, although we both greatly miss the fulltiming RV lifestyle we led for five years.


Beyond all that, we've pretty much been living a routine life, continuing to get things done around the house (like getting the PC setup and a myriad other things) plus taking some drives in the country when it looks like we might have some photogenic conditions, which have been few and far between with this cloudy rainy weather pattern.
    For Sandra's accounts of things since my last report, click here. For my latest photos, click here.

Wow! Finally, But What A Finale!

Click here for larger view Yesterday we finally got the last pieces in place, so we are now done with furniture acquisition, hauling, lifting, and assembly, and none too soon as it has about done me in.
    The last major item was a computer desk and Tuesday on one of the online classified ad sites, Sandra found a desk that looked acceptable and for an acceptable price, so off we went to Orleans (Ottawa's far east end) to pick it up.
    The seller had partially disassembled it, which was good because it turned out to be very heavy, the upper section being so heavy it takes two men to lift, it being too heavy for Sandra to help with. The seller and I got it into the bed of the truck and I figured when we got it to the house I would simply disassemble that part of it further to get it out of the truck by myself. Wrong! No matter what I tried, all I could further take apart was to get the doors off, which didn't lighten it nearly enough. So, we called on the neighbor's son-in-law who was gracious enough to help get it off the truck and into the computer room.
    Then we started to reassemble the desk base, but had to remove the computer room door to get one section of it into place. We wanted to remove that door anyway since it was an accordion door which is a totally inappropriate style for such a small door opening, so having to remove it was a good thing.
    With the base assembled, we were left with the upper section sitting on the floor. We could have imposed on the neighbor's son-in-law again, but I came up with a scheme yesterday where Sandra and I were able to get it in place by ourselves. I could lift one end of it by myself, but couldn't budge the rascal if I tried lifting it in the middle. So, I lifted one end at a time while Sandra put spacers under it, spacers in the form of cinder blocks on the first lift and empty paint cans on the second lift, which got it high enough I could then lift one end up onto the desk base and with Sandra guiding that end across the base as I lifted and pushed from the other end, got that end up on the base as well. So now we have a computer desk. I think the reason it couldn't be disassembled further was the original assembler used glue on some doweled joints and gluing this thing was totally unnecessary.
    That left getting a computer chair for the new desk and a couple of end tables for the living room, all of which we bought new locally and I spent the rest of the day assembling those items.
    So...voilà! That's it! We're in and all that's left are getting the rest of the boxes unpacked and seeing to the myriad little things that always need to be done around a house. Photos will follow as soon as things are presentable, which they almost are.
    Among all this, I did manage to find the energy for a couple of sunrise drives lately and went to the Rideau Lakes area, which is the closest truly scenic region to the house, a half hour drive south of it, where among other photos, I found the one above of two deer willing to pose for me.
    For Sandra's accounts of the last few days, click here. For my latest photos, click here.


For Older News

To read details of our previous stops and camps, visit the News Archives.

Updated Saturday, July 3, 2010

Copyright © 2010 by Gordon L Wolford .
All rights reserved.


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Didya Know?

Wrigley's Spearmint and
Juicy Fruit hit the market
In 1893.

William Wrigley Jr. was
one of the first to promote
the sale of branded goods
through advertising.
Spearmint quickly
became a best seller.

A Spot O' Humor

A bicycle can't stand
alone. It's two tired.

When a clock is hungry it
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Parting Thot

There's much to be said
for challenging fate
instead of ducking
behind it.

– Diana Trilling

Cast of Characters

For those reading this page who might
not be familiar with the people in
my life, these are who I often refer to
without noting who they are
(in alphabetical order)...

Becky - Nick's wife
Betty - Sandra's older sister
Caden - Grandson
Carol - my younger sister
Danica - Margie's daughter
Eric - Son-in-law
Faith - Granddaughter
Garth - Betty's husband
Grace - Granddaughter
Ian - my son
Iris - Granddaughter
John - Margie's husband
Lillian - Granddaughter
Luke - Grandson
Margie - Sandra's younger sister
Michelle - my daughter
Miss Pinky - our GPS navigator
Nick - Margie's son
Rick - Carol's husband
Sandra - my most wonderful wife*
Tracy - Daughter-in-law

*(a.k.a. 'Grammy' to some)