November 2012

Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada


Holiday Train Arrives

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This evening just before supper, Sandra told me the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train was due to arrive in town a little after 8 PM. Since the early version of one of my favorite TV shows, Elementary, doesn't end until 8 PM and I wasn't willing to miss the show in that time slot, it didn't leave me much time to get over to the train yards, which fortunately aren’t that far away.
    As it turned out though, it still wasn't enough time because the train was arriving just as I was approaching the parking lot, so not only did I not get photos of the train arriving as I did last year, but by the time I found a parking spot in the nearly full parking lot, the train had pulled into the station. However, I still got some photos, like the one seen here.
    I didn’t stay long because it was cold and despite it not looking like it in the photo, it was quite crowded and I hate being in a crowd. Behind me from where I shot the photo, people were packed together like sardines and although there were no more spaces available in the parking lot, cars were still arriving. This is quite a popular event here in town.
    The train usually spends the night here before moving on to the next stop, so Sandra, who stayed home this evening to avoid the crowd, wants to go take some photos of the train at first light tomorrow morning when we should have the place to ourselves.

First Snow Of The Season

The photo on the left shows the weather I woke up to shortly before 3 AM yesterday morning, our first significant snowfall of the season. I checked the weather radar, saw the snow was going to last for only a short while longer, so I rushed out and took as many photos of it around town as presented themselves to me.
    Before this snowfall, we had seen only a few flakes blowing around a time or two, but nothing that accumulated. This one did accumulate though, maybe amounting to only an inch or two, but enough to make things look pretty. I expected it to melt off before the day was out, but it didn't. Some of it is still around this afternoon. Sandra hates snow and I'm only fond of it because of how it improves drab winter scenery for photography, but I'd much rather be somewhere more tropical at this time year. Oh well.
        At the moment I'm editing this web page with an application called Adobe Dreamweaver. Before getting the new computer I was able to edit it with an application called Adobe GoLive, which is the one I learned web page design on and the one I'm comfortable using. Adobe quit supporting it a few years ago and unfortunately it doesn't run on this latest operating system, Mac OS X 10.8 - Mountain Lion, which is the only OS X version this new computer will run, so I have no choice but to switch to Dreamweaver. It is the only application I could find that would work with my existing site files. Otherwise I'd have to recreate them all and that would be a monumental task. So the lesser evil is to learn Dreamweaver.

Another New Computer
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As I mentioned in my "New Computers" report a week ago, I had a new computer on order. It arrived on Friday. Also as mentioned, it is a fully loaded, top of the line Mac Mini computer with all the trimmings (expanded to 16GB of RAM, 2.3 GHz quad core processor, Fusion drive, wireless keyboard, wireless trackpad, etc). What I didn't know then was what display it would be driving.
    That turned out to be an LG IPS224V. As its model number indicates, it is a 22 inch (21.5 inch diagonal actual display area) IPS display. I had wanted a 24 inch, but this one is plenty large enough. The important thing is that it is an IPS (In-Plane Switching) display. IPS is a technology I had never heard of before doing some research recently, but it cures all the ills of non-IPS displays, for instance, relatively slow response times, narrow viewing angle, and low-quality color. Because there was no room for them, I had to give up my beloved CRT (picture tube) displays when we moved into the RV in 2004 (not to mention the CRTs were exceptionally heavy) and I've never been happy with the LCD displays I've used since then because of their narrow angle of view. That all changed with this IPS display. Its displayed image is truly stunning and as good as, if not better, than those dearly departed CRTs. I would have preferred an Apple Thunderbolt display (which also utilizes IPS technology), but they cost $999 and are too tall to fit below the cabinets of this computer desk, while this LG display cost only $139 and easily fits. To me, that's a no-brainer choice.
    As to the Mac Mini, it is mini in size only. With the extra two cores of processor compared to my MacBook and additional 12 GB of RAM and the Fusion drive, it is a screamer for speed. Doing a quick test yesterday, on a typical Photoshop editing session the Mac Mini was four times faster than the MacBook. That was with the MacBook operating under best case circumstances, i.e. after a restart and with only Photoshop running. Open a couple more applications or filters within Photoshop and things bogged down, often to a snail's pace. Not so with the Mini since it has plenty of RAM. With the Mini, my computer life has taken a major leap forward.

Bye Bye Bugs (I hope)

Click here for larger view By and large I've liked the house we bought when we were forced to give up the RV. I love the location, being central to many things that interest me, and the house, although small, is large enough for the two of us and has many features I like, but it has also given us a couple of serious problems, like the sewer and bug problems.
    When we moved here we quickly found out the sewer was prone to backing up. Turned out to be roots from the large box elder tree (called a Manitoba Maple up here) that is beside the house.
    When we moved here we also discovered there was a bug problem outside. Although it wasn't serious at first, with the passing of each year, which both had very dry summers, the bugs became quite serious. Sandra found out they are box elder bugs and while they aren't dangerous or damaging, they breed like rabbits and became annoying just because there were so many of them. At first I wasn't sure where they were coming from and it took much time and effort to keep them from getting inside the house, but it eventually became clear this past summer they were coming from the box elder tree beside the house. So, although it was a large tree and provided some very nice shade, it had to go, but removing such a large tree can cost thousands of dollars which was a problem.
    Then fortuitously, the power (hydro) company came to the rescue. Because there are some high voltage power lines that run just beyond the tree, the power company stopped by one day wanting to make arrangements to trim back the tree and it turned out they remove at no cost such trees that pose a threat to their power lines, so we told them not to just trim the tree but to remove it.
    It took the power company a couple months to get around to it, but yesterday bright and early just after 8:30am they arrived and started work on removing the tree, as seen here. Although it was a large tree, they made short work of it, being done and gone by 10am. Pictured above is the fellow who did the actual cutting. He was accompanied by four coworkers, three who fed limbs into the wood chipper and a supervisor who made sure things went smoothly.
    The photo here shows the last remaining limb of the tree to go and the photo here shows what they left behind. They chip and haul away what was small enough to fit in the chipper and leave the rest behind, although they do cut that up into manageable size pieces. The supervisor said to simply put a "Free Wood" sign on it and it would disappear quickly, which is what happened. The wood was gone by late afternoon, as seen here.
    Hopefully, this will cure the bug problem, although we won't know for sure until warm weather returns.
    For my latest photos, click here.

Finally Caved

Click here for larger view Well, I'm sure I'm the last computer-savvy person in the known civilised world to join Facebook, but after nine years since Facebook started, today I bit the bullet, caved in, and signed up.
    I view this with mixed feelings. I've held off for so long because of security issues Facebook has experienced in the past and also because these social media sites can consume a lot of a person's time (as well as I'm not the most sociable person around), but on the other hand I've gotten tired of getting photos of and news about family and friends second hand from Sandra who has been on Facebook for five years, so at least I can now get those things myself. We'll see how it goes. Now to figure out how to use the site. Lots for an old dog to learn.
    It's tempting to quit updating this news page (which can be a bit of a chore) and post the same kind of information on Facebook (which would be much easier and basically the same thing Sandra has done, using Facebook daily instead of updating her blog on Blogger), but I doubt I'll quit doing as I have been doing since I'm in complete control of this and am not with someone else's site like Facebook or Blogger. This news page in effect has become my diary as I often refer back to my old files when I need to find when I did something, like when I bought a particular camera or computer, so what I'll do is take advantage of features on Facebook that are missing on this site, like commenting.
    To visit my Facebook page, click here.
    For my latest photos, click here.

New Computers

Click here for larger view On August 2, 2007, five years and three months ago, Sandra bought an Apple 13" White MacBook laptop and has been using it ever since. Unfortunately, while her laptop still works as well as the day she got it, the computer world has not been idle and there are now things her laptop with its 2GB limit of RAM can no longer handle efficiently, if at all, so yesterday we drove to Ottawa and visited LeRoy Lees, our Apple supplier of long-standing and picked up her new computer, an Apple 13" MacBook Pro laptop that has 4GB of RAM and can be upgraded to 8GB if the need ever arises (which it no doubt will eventually). She got the 13" model without Apple's famed Retina display, but it is still a very capable and sophisticated device.
    And one of the changes that has taken place in the computer world was the advent of tablet computing with the arrival of Apple's iPad in early 2010. That sector of the market has advanced to the point that Sandra felt she would like one of those too, so when we picked up her new computer yesterday we also picked up her new 4th generation iPad. Photo on the right shows her configuring it last evening.
    Then there's me, still using the Apple 13" White MacBook laptop I bought in late January, 2009. My White MacBook is very much like Sandra's, but being a later model was able to take 4GB of RAM and can run even the latest version of Photoshop (CS6), although things tend to bog down a bit if I have much more than that running. While we were living in the RV, laptop computers were the most efficient, although I did also have a tower PC, but it was much more comfortable sitting in the recliner using the laptop than sitting at the RV's desk using the PC, which I'd had to keep in order to set up our internet satellite dish every time we moved to a new campsite. But now being in a house, none of that applies any longer and I have a large computer desk with a wonderful office chair and decided it was time for me to once again have a desktop computer, so I have ordered a fully loaded, top of the line Mac Mini computer with all the trimmings (expanded to 16GB of RAM, quad core processor, Fusion drive, wireless keyboard, wireless trackpad, etc) and will be attaching a large wide screen monitor to it. Should all arrive in a week or so.
Click here for larger view    The downside to this new computer is that it requires the latest Mac operating system (Mac OS X 10.8, aka Mountain Lion) and some of the software I use, like the application for editing my website here, is too old to run on it and I will have to find something modern to replace it, which means learning yet another complex program (sigh). However, this isn't as irksome as it might sound because the application hardly runs with the system I've been using (Mac OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard), which is two system upgrades old and was released in mid 2009, so it's about time I got up todate.
    Anyway, all these new acquisitions are essentially being funded by our travel budget. Due to complications arising from Sandra's and my food sensitivities, it is unlikely we will ever again do any extensive travelling, so we decided we might as well spend the money on something to make our lives more enjoyable here at home.

In other news...

    On Wednesday, November 7, we got our annual flu shots here in town at a clinic they set up for that purpose in the County Fair Mall. Happily, neither of us has experienced any ill effects from the shots.
    On Thursday, November 8, we had a handyman come in and do a few odd jobs around here that Sandra wanted done.
    On Friday, November 9, Sandra's friend Nancy (the person who so kindly put a roof over our heads for the winter when we were so rudely turned back at the border by US Immigration) dropped by for a visit, along with Max, her wonder dog.
    On November 16, last Friday, I had the local KIA dealer put our snow tires on the car. No snow is in the forecast, but at least we're ready for it when it does come.
    Today, Sandra started a new blog. Since she now posts news mainly to her Facebook page, she doesn't post much anymore to her Blogger blog. This new blog is for posting a photo a day to. So far I've resisted starting a Facebook account, but it looks like if I want to keep track of people, I'm going to have to break down and start one. I now get almost no emails from people I know. They all seem to use Facebook.
    And as usual, I've been out nearly every morning for dawn photos, although I've missed a couple days recently due to being uninspired by the drabness of landscapes at this time of year. However, the sunrise photo above wasn't drab. It's of Lower Rideau Lake on the Rideau Canal Waterway, taken Friday morning at nearby Rideau Ferry.
    The link to Sandra's new Photo A Day blog is now in the sidebar or you can click here.
    For my latest photos, click here.

22 Years Later

Click here for larger view Yesterday it was that time of year again - Sandra's and my wedding anniversary, our 22nd.
    We celebrated it by going out for supper, something we rarely do anymore due to our food sensitivities making most menu items toxic to us. However, Sandra learned of a restaurant called Gad's Hill Place in nearby Merrickville that can accommodate people like us, so she called them a few days ago and made sure they would have something we could eat and that's where we went last evening.
    For those of you who don't know (as I didn't), Gad's Hill Place was the English country home of Charles Dickens and the namesake of the restaurant here where they really play up the Dickensian theme by looking very much like you'd expect a pub from that era to look, as seen in the photo above of Sandra. That's our waitress in the background bringing our meals. She was excellent. Personable as well as knowledgeable about food problems. We were one of only two couples in the dining room which would normally put me off about a restaurant, but the food was good (click here for a photo of it), the service great, and it being a Monday night I doubt if they're ever too busy then. They even provided gluten-free bread with my meal and that's a first for any restaurant I've ever eaten in.
    In addition to the photos at Gad's Hill Place, we also took what has become traditional for us, a posed anniversary photo, which can be seen here.
Click here for larger view    That morning, since the sun was finally shining, we decided to go for a drive in search of roads we hadn't yet traveled, which means we had to go pretty far afield, but we did manage to find a few around Athens, Ontario. Of course, as seems to happen more often than not, we had hardly left home than clouds started to appear in what had been a clear blue sky when we left and after an hour on the road it had once again become overcast, as it had been for the previous nine days, thanks to Hurricane Sandy, which other than that was more or less a nonevent in this area. Because the storm was so huge, we did get some wind and a little rain from it the day it came ashore at New Jersey (photo above left), but no damage although there was some damage that day around Toronto from trees taking down power lines. Otherwise, all we got was day after day of overcast with occasional drizzle and rain even though what had been the eye of the storm eventually passed right over us. I have always liked the coast and would like to live there, but during my lifetime I've seen too much damage from too many hurricanes to ever seriously consider moving there. A nice place to visit, but...
    For Sandra's account of our 22nd anniversary and more photos, click here.
    For my latest photos, click here.


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Updated Saturday, December 15, 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Gordon L Wolford .
All rights reserved.


Sandra posts her own news 'blog'...
The Not So Nightly News

She also has a Photo A Day blog...
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Didya Know?

During the 1800s, lard (pig fat)
was used as a spread, like butter.

Tomatoes are berries.

Until the 1700s, English people believed tomatoes were poisonous.

A Spot O' Humor

Local Area Network in Australia...
the LAN down under.

Every calendar's days are numbered.

Parting Thot

You can easily judge the character
of a man by how he treats those
who can do nothing for him.

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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
Jack - Great-nephew
John - Margie's husband
Lily - Granddaughter
Luke - Grandson
Margie - Sandra's younger sister
Max - Grandson
Michelle - my daughter
Miss Pinky - our GPS navigator
Nick - Margie's son
Oren - Grandson
Rick - Carol's husband
Sandra - my most wonderful wife*
Tracy - Daughter-in-law
Violet - Granddaughter

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