Sunday, December 07, 2008

Us amateur photographers - always shooting for free

Although I have no authority or much experience, I thought I would chime in on the "work-for-free" controversy that is going on this past weekend in the photography blogophere from an amateur photographer's perspective. (btw - I hate the term blogosphere).

In brief, David Hobby (over at wrote last week that you can really feed your photography passion by shooting for free. That is, find something you want to photograph and use the promise of free photos to help you be allowed take the photos. One example given was taking photos for an animal shelter (for someone passionate about pet photography), another was taking photos of food for a restaurant that couldn't otherwise afford it.

The responses over the interwebs have fallen into three fairly predictable categories:
  1. The pros who feel that this undermines the value of what they produce. How can they feed their families if every Joe, Dick and Jane are willing to shoot for free?
  2. The amateurs who already don't get paid for what they do. They of course think this is a great idea as it gives them legitimacy for the photos they want to take.
  3. The in-betweens who want the best of both worlds. "Only take the gig if it is for a charity" is a common theme in this group.
Me? I think I mainly fall into category 2 with a hint of 3. Amateurs already shoot for free - that's kinda the definition of "amateur". We already follow our passion and shoot what we want to shoot (or, if they are like me, are still trying to find our passion). The advice Mr. Hobby gives us is that if we want to try something out of our normal subject set, offering our photos to the subjects may be a good way of getting to shoot what we want to shoot. And I think that is excellent advice!

I've been thinking about doing a few projects. One of them requires a fair amount of driving across Ontario (it will probably need to wait until we have second car). But one of them is way more possible in the here and now. In fact, the only thing stopping me was my shyness and the thinking that I should keep all the photos I take. I think the post over at may just be the kick in my pants that I need.

But there is still a part of group 3 that I fall in. I've done a few photo shoots for money; I charged way less then a professional photographer would, but I also delivered way less as well (no backup camera, delayed proofs, mid-range resolution, amateur touch-ups). Only one of the gig's I had I think would have gone to a professional if I wasn't convenient. At this point in my life, I don't want to be a professional photographer (I like my day job too much), but at the same time I feel that when I'm not shooting for friends or family, I should be charging something just so people know that there are professionals out there who make their living doing this. But with the advent of affordable professional quality cameras and photo-processing software that professional photographers will need to differentiate themselves from us amateurs or risk going out of business. Us amateurs are a wave that I don't think can be stopped.

Anyways - those are my thoughts (as always, worth just as much as you paid).

Sunday, November 30, 2008

End of an era

Friday was the last day of a contract that my company had with a client. The contract has been going on for just a few months shy of 5 years and I've been on the project since the beginning. Friday was a day of mixed emotions.

The project didn't finish well; it was cut short a month which means that our transition period went form 8 weeks down to 4. Combine that with no team to transition to and you don't get a recipe for success. We did what we could in the time we had, but I don't know if it was enough.

I'm happy to be working on something new on Monday. I've been hoping to work on something new for a while. But part of me will miss the old project and the old team. We worked our butts off making the code as good as we could. I logged close to a thousand bugs over those years. The team suffered together and celebrated together. We made a lot of money for our company and for our client.

It's sad to see it go, but it's time to move on. I'm ready for the next challenge.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Boston - more than a cream pie

I'm in Boston for my first Conference tag-along. Tara has an veterinary ophthalmology conference here and I decided to tag along. I hope this is the first of many conferences that I get to come along with.

We arrived early Wednesday morning, flying in from Buffalo. The first thing we did after checking in was hit Legal Seafoods. It was recommended by three distinct people back in Kitchener and it didn't disappoint. If you are in Boston and enjoy seafood, I suggest checking it out.

After that we toured the New England Aquarium. It was pretty cool. Tonnes of fish (duh). I tried to take some photos, but most of them didn't turn out. A few that did are on flickr. I've got to learn how best to shoot fish through glass.

That was Wednesday, the only day I had with Tara. Thursday, Friday and Saturday she is stuck in the conference while I get to roam. And roam I did yesterday, taking in a good chunk of the city by foot. It really is a nice walking city. I took some photos, but the sky was pretty overcast and the lighting was really flat. Plus it started raining in the middle of the afternoon. With the rain I headed to the Public Library to see an exhibit on Yousuf Karsh. I had seen some of his work online, but it does not compare in the slightest to real prints. It almost makes me want to give up my dinky D70s and buy a large format camera. He truely is inspirational.

Today I am going to head to Harvard and see what I can see - it looks sunnier outside and a bit crisper (~12C); perfect for photos. But first I need to grab some breakfast. Ah life married to an opthamologist is tough....

There are a few photos on flickr. I'm posting from Tara's laptop and Picassa, so there hasn't been much post production done on the photos. I'll clean them up when I get home.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Laser Cooling

Warning: geek post below

One of the podcasts I listen to is TVO's Big ideas (site, podcast). Big Ideas is a series on Ontario public television that is devoted to lectures and lecturers. They put out a podcast once a week with the last week's lectures. I know - some of you are tuning out right now. That's ok - it's not for everyone. But if you like to learn about stuff it's a good place to start.

The lecture this week is from William D. Phillps from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He talks about laser cooling, among other things. Laser cooling was a term I had heard about but never really understood (how can a laser cool something when all the movies I watch has it heating things up?). I won't claim I understood everything, but I could probably now explain the fundamentals about laser cooling to someone who asked.

Anyways - if you are into physics and like a good lecturer with a goofy laugh, take a listen. It's about an hour long, perfect for washing your car, raking your backyard or your weekly status meeting at work (if you get small ear buds and sit at the back of the room)

I have no idea how long it will be up, so grab it while it's hot.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Granola Time

Hmmmm Granola Tara and I have been eating granola for breakfast these days (well, more Tara than me). We found a great recipe in September issue of Bon Appetit that we've used and improved upon.

If you love granola, give this recipe a shot - it's better then the dried store-bought stuff anyday.

Quick Granola

1 C oats (we have been using quick cook)
1/4 C wheat germ
1/2 C sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 C cashews, broken
1/4 C pecans, broken
1/4 C maple syrup
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp corn syrup
1 Tbsp light molasses
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp salt
1/4 C raisins
1/2 C chopped dried apricots

Preheat the oven to 350F

Mix the oats, wheat germ and nuts together in a large bowl.

Whisk the maple syrup, oil, corn syrup, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in a second bowl. Add this mixture to the dry mixture and mix to combine. Spread out over a large baking sheet (rimmed).

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove, stir and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove, stir in fruit and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden.

Remove and let cool on the pan. store in a tupperware container.

Goes well with yogurt, milk or ice cream.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Labour day at the cottage

Tara and I spent another fine Labour day weekend up at the Richards' cottage on lake Memesagamesing.

We arrived Saturday morning and spent the day just hanging out and relaxing. My folks were able to come up for a night (they were camping in Dorset the week previous) so Tara's dad, my dad and myself went to pick up the boat while Tara's mom and my mom went shopping in the local town.

Sunday morning we got up early and headed out fishing. The lake was calm, the sun was bright and fish weren't hungry. We didn't catch much but I didn't mind- I hadn't been fishing with my dad in 15 years and it was good to do it again. We cruised around on the boat afterward, pulling wake boards, water skis and water tubes. We also hit one of the beaches on the lake and hunted for crayfish for bait (and by we I mean Tara and her family - I didn't want to get pinched by those cray fish).
Fishing with my dad Tara skiing Tara and her crayfish friend

We got up even earlier the next morning for fishing and headed to Dave's secret fishing spot. This time the fish were hungry and we snagged a few. I caught a 19 inch large mouth bass. Those crayfish sure came in handy. And nothing tastes as good as freshly caught fish.
Jimmy in the water Me and my big mouth Alissa on the tube

A relaxing afternoon and evening later and it was time to pack up and head home. Too bad we couldn't stay another day, but bills need to be paid and school work won't do itself. Maybe next year we'll stay more then a few days.

(more photos to come)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More photography equipment to buy

There is a funny thing about the photography hobby - there are always more things you can buy.

If you are at all plugged into the photography world, you've know already that Nikon announced a new camera today; the D90. This is on the heels of Canon, which announced a new camera earlier this week; the 50D. Both are awesome cameras, but seeing as I'm a Nikon guy and Nikon's rule, I'll promptly ignore the new Canon*.

The new Nikon D90 puts my 4 year old D70s to shame. The photos it produces can be blown up to twice the size of the photos my camera takes. It behaves way better in low light. It autofocuses faster and smarter. The batteries last longer. It can control flashes better. It even takes HD video. I want one.

Some corner of my brain keeps whispering the phrase "You can take better photographs if you buy a new camera". I know this is a half-truth; a better camera will make my good photos look better but it won't make me take any more good photos. Composition, lighting, timing, and all the other things that go into making a good photo can't be controlled by a camera.

All this desire is compounded by the fact that a good friend just dropped 10K+ on new camera equipment. He now has a top of the line Canon around his neck. The part of my brain that was whispering sweet nothings lives right beside the part of my brain that keeps telling me to keep up with the Joneses. It sucks.

I don't need a new camera and I can't afford a new camera. The D90 retails for $1200. The step up from the D90 (the D300 which is even nicer!) retails for $1800. That type of money is hard to justify for a hobby, especially since we already have one expensive hobby in the household.

So for now, I'll hang tight. I'll count my pennies and maybe in a little while I'll have saved up enough to upgrade. By then, I'm sure, there will be an even better camera out.

On a positive side, I had my second paid photo shoot in June. One of Tara's co-boarders at Fantasy Lane asked me to take some photos of her and her daughter and their two horses. With the money I got from that gig I picked up an umbrella and stand for my flash (plus some miscellanea cables and connectors). Now all I have to do is learn how to use it :) Below are a couple of photos from tonight of Tara and our cat Fez with my new lighting gear.

Tara and Fez Fez jumping off Tara

* There really isn't much difference between Nikon and Canon unless you are into really specialized photography. I'm not.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Our sod arrived yesterday. Four skids plus another 15 rolls.

We started laying it down at 3:15. At 6:45, Tim and Vanessa showed up and we ate dinner (Tara's brother and his wife). As soon as we finished dinner, Dave and Linda showed up (Tara's dad and mom) and we put them all to work. We stopped when it was too dark to work.

We started again at 6:45 this morning and were done by 9:00. All the sod is laid, rolled and watered.

I am 100% exhausted. I can hardly move without some muscle tensing up and and telling me that moving 3+ skids of sod was a task I should have paid someone to do. But I rarely listen to my muscles.

Today was spent visiting, recuperating and moving the sprinkler. The lawn looks great. Thank you so much Tim , Vanessa, Dave and Linda.

Laying sod is hard work. Who knew?


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Rain rain go away

It's been raining here a lot. It seems almost everyday it's raining. Which doesn't help the landscaping we need to do.

The grubs got our lawn this year. There were whole patches of property that had no grass. And then the weeds started. It looked horrible.

We took drastic measures. We killed the whole lawn at the end of June with an unhealthy dose of Roundup. And last weekend we ripped it up. I rented an 8hp tiller which chewed through it like butter. We raked and shoveled and carted off two truckloads of crappy topsoil and dead grass/weeds. I'm in the middle of putting down new soil but the rain is getting in the way.

Hopefully tomorrow will be drier. But I doubt it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Good to be back

My trip to California got cut short so I'm back home again.

Traveling for work is fun for a few days you get to try new restaurants and see new scenery. After a few days, especially if you are leaving work late, it gets pretty boring and the urge to go home kicks in.

It's good to be back.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Afternoon Trip to the hills

Instead of putting in another long day at the office here in Silicon Valley, I took the afternoon off and headed for the hills. The west hills to be specific, up to the Monte Bello open space Preserve for a quick hike. Well, that's not precise, really. What I did was drive towards the mountains and after a bit of time I found myself at the preserve. Who need maps when you can see your destination from half the city?

The scenery was quite breath taking. It's been 7 years since I was last in California and I didn't quite remember it being so beautiful. The road up was tree lined and covered with a thick canopy. At the preserve, there was more grass than trees; golden grass that almost looked like wheat.

I hiked for 2.5 hours. The trails were really well maintained and there were lots of people out. Half of the people I saw were one mountain bikes - I wished I had one of them myself. I even saw one guy on a road bike with slippers and wool socks (there are a few crazies here).

I saw a little bit of wild life, lizards and birds mainly. I didn't see any mountain lions (happy and sad about that at the same time - it would have been a great photo op). I did see a rattle snake which was pretty cool (a first for me).

If you find yourself in the valley for any length of time and you want to go for a hike ( and you aren't afraid of winding roads - more below), I highly recommend the preserve.

The drive to the preserve is the most exhilarating and terrifying drives I have ever done in my short driving career. Page Mill road is twisty and turny all the way up and my knuckles were white for most of it. Very fun, but a little intimidating. The ascent was about 2000 feet over 7 miles - fairly steep. I really really wanted to get some photos of the road itself, but there weren't any shoulders (let alone guard rails) for me to pull off on. That said- if I find myself with another free afternoon, I may just make the trip again. Here is the map.

Monte Bello vista Rattle Monte Bello vista

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Flying on short notice

I'm heading down to Mountain View, California on tomorrow (Wednesday) for business. I found out that I might be going this morning and it was confirmed at 5:00 this afternoon.

Hopefully I'll take some good photos and eat some good sushi while I'm there.

Monday, June 30, 2008


A quick round-up of marginally interesting things going in.

1. We've moved Lego from Fantasy Lane Farm to Hopewell Creek Stables. Fantasy Lane was great, but it was a bit of a hike for us to get there and they had a habit of changing the feed without telling us. That said - it was good place for Lego and a great place for photos. Hopefully I can keep in contact with those from Fantasy Lane - a couple of them expressed interest in a photo shoot. Here is a flickr set of my photos from Fantasy Lane.

Hopewell Creek is right beside Maryhill golf course (for those of you who know the area) and it's a 5 minute detour from the route Tara makes to and from school. As long as they take good care of Lego, I'm sure we'll be more than happy to have him there (plus I get to go golfing more often now :) )

2. I made a really rockin' cream of celery and scapes (garlic tops) soup the other night. It turned out really well and I got to use my new immersion blender (which made it oh-so-smooth). If anyone wants me to try and remember how I made it, let me know in the comments and I'll post the recipe.

3. If any of you out there want to feel manly - go find yourself a tree and cut down. I did this past week and it felt good.

4. I'm wearing contacts now, at least when I'm not at work. Taking photos is a lot easier when I can mash the camera right up to my face. I also enjoy wearing sun glasses. This is a poor attempt at a contact self-portrait

I think that's about it

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I would pay good money to see any of my friends do this. Seriously.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Art and differences of opinion

A coworker (and friend) and I had a friendly argument today about some art work. It all centered around a set of photos (on this page and no, I'm not telling you which set).

One of us argued that the photos were technically great, the other argued that they were severely technically deficient. We also strongly argued about their artistic merit, given the subject matter (wedding photography).

This is a coworker and friend who also takes photos. Our own styles are quite different from each other (and the same can be said about our subject matters). I didn't, however, expect there to be such difference in the what we though was good photography. The difference is vast, with one of us indicating that if he had paid for the photos he would ask for his money back and the other willing to spend money on these prints (even though they are of someone else).

All this to say: Art is subjective. Very. Very very subjective. So when you create something and you put it out there for people to enjoy, let your art be its own reward. Don't get bogged down by people who don't like it. Take their criticisms with a handful of salt, improve where you can, and don't be too harsh on others. Everyone gets respect but that doesn't mean their opinions do.

In the end the two of us decided to just disagree. Hopefully we can discuss something else tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Arva Flour

Last weekend was my sister-in-laws graduation. We had a jolly good time which included dinner at my brother-in-laws apartment. While I was there, he gave me a mostly full bag of flour.

Odd? Not really - this flour is from the Arva flour Mills in Arva (which I think is near or in London). Tim said the flour was really good and told me to take the bag. Unbleached hard wheat flour. I used it tonight for the first time. I made pizza.


It was simply the best pizza crust I have ever made. Bar none. It was flavorful and crispy and chewy. I ate until I couldn't eat any more.

So the next time I'm in London I'm going to Arva Flour Mills and I going to stock up on flour. Hard and soft and maybe some semolina. I can hardly wait.

(Arva has/had a website, but it looks like they forgot to renew the domain.)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Double plus good

Two items of good news today. Well one good news and one really good news.

1. I got my camera back and everything is working. It took 4 weeks, but it came back working. My contact at Blacks (Ian) said that they replaced an SB circuit (which seems to be involved with the self-timer) but the guy at the store said they replaced the flash bulbs in both the popup and the flash. It doesn't really matter I guess a long as it works and stays working.

So all told, my camera was gone for 10.5 weeks in three separate 'outings'. Not a great record, but I hold no grudge.

2. I am officially a published photographer. I've been sitting on this news for a while because it seemed a little surreal, but it looks like it's real real.

I have a photo up in the American Museum of Natural History in New York, New York. It's in a exhibit on horses called "The Horse" and is centered around how horses have shaped our world. The exhibit is on until January and then it tours the world.

The photo is one I took at a dressage show last summer. It's a decent photo - I wish the background was cleaner and I had been a bit more to the right, but I like it. I was approached by José Ramos, a Graphics Research Supervisor for the museum; he saw my photo on flickr and sent me an email about it.

It seemed like a hoax at first, but the AMNH did exist, they did have an exhibit on horses coming soon and his name came up in the internal search a fair amount. He didn't want any of my information, just a copy of the photo and details of when and where it was taken. I decided to take a chance and go with it.

That was early April. Today I got a couple of photos of the panel that contains my photo. It's kinda crazy, but this is real. I have a photograph in a real museum.

Tara has a conference in Boston in the fall. If we can swing it, I may take some time off work and we'll drive down to the conference and and stop off at the museum on the way back.

If any of you are going to New York you should stop in and take some photos for me in case we don't make it.

Anyways I'm a happy camper these days (well, except for the fact that Tara's away at the moment).

Top row, second from the right. That's mine.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

She gets beautifuler and then she leaves

My amazing wife has a new hair cut and colour. It looks pretty darn hot to me. she got this done Friday night.

I just got back from the airport. I dropped her off for a three week course in Madison Wisconsin. I'm home alone for the better part of a month.

So my wife gets even better looking and then leaves. How fair is that? To even up the score, I just bought a bag of Lays Sea Salt and Pepper chips. Tara can't have those because the have MSG. Now we're even.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Well, now that I'm driving more, we thought it would be prudent to carry a cell phone for emergencies. So we picked up one of the cheapest ones we could find, but even the bottom of the line has a camera, plays mp3 and lets me surf the web. Crazy, eh?

I am officially tethered.

Monday, May 26, 2008

And Tara got bit by a fish

The first day back to work after a vacation usually goes one of two ways; either you are really tired and the day just slogs on or you are so refreshed that the day flies by without a care. I fell into the second category today.

Tara and I just got back from a week in Mexico. We were at the southern tip of the Mayan Rivera , staying at the Grand Bahia Principe resort.

The resort was amazing. The facilities were clean, the food was really good and the staff were aways helpful and friendly. The beach was varied from smooth sand to crunchy coral bits. There was a coral reef not 30 meters from the shore. I would not hesitate the recommend the resort to anyone.

The resort is made up of three mini resorts. We stayed in the one called Coba. It seemed to be the nicest one, but it's also the one furthest from the beach. No worries, they had little carts heading to the beach every ten minutes, right outside our room.

There were iguanas everywhere. You couldn't walk a couple of minutes without spotting one (from 9am to 6pm at least). They weren't tame at all and most would take off if you even looked at them funny. Iguanas are a protected species in Mexico so they can't be killed (and eaten). And I suspect that they help keep the bugs down.

We mainly just sat on the beach or by a pool, swam in the water, and ate. We both polished off a few books and magazines. Tara even got through a few journal articles. It was very relaxing.

We did take a couple of day trips. The first trip was a package deal: they took us to the Coba Mayan ruins. It boasts the tallest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatán peninsula (which is also one of the few remaining pyramids that you can still climb up, which we did). After Coba, we visited a Mayan village where we were shown how the Mayans live (and also how to make tortillas - I think we'll try that on our BBQ). We ate at a mexican restaurant (best pork I had the entire trip) and then stopped at a cenote, which is a flooded sinkhole, for a dip. It was a really fun trip.

The next day we headed out on our own for the morning. We hit the Tulum ruins early, before any of the bus tours were showed up and we got a few good shots. The Iguanas there were also much friendlier (sensitized to us humans). Tara got a couple good macro shots of the lizards. After the ruins we hit the public beach in the city of Tulum. The beach there was awesome, it just stretched out forever and the sand was the finest I've ever seen.

There is more I could write about, but I've gone on long enough as it is, so here is the highlights:
  • We attended the wedding of one of Tara's lab-mates. It was just coincidence that we booked our vacation for the same week that Meghan and Chris booked their wedding at the same resort. The wedding was very nice.
  • We got up early one morning to see if we could see any sea turtles laying eggs, but it was too clouds for them to come (they follow the light of the moon, or so we were told). They had been then earlier in the week though - their egg sites are roped off.
  • I went snorkeling for the first time. The first day was hard; I kept trying to breath through my nose and scratch my eyes. I was also a little panicky (the ocean is a scary place!). The second day was better.
  • Tara got her hair all braided and likes it so much she is thinking about keeping it.

We had a really really good time. It was a much needed break for Tara (and me too, but I did have a week off earlier in May).

Photos are coming. Check back here over the next couple of days or watch my flickr page for updates.

Oh ya, and Tara really did get bit by a fish, but that's another story.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Third time's a charm

I brought my camera back to Black's today to get it fixed. This time I've been in contact with the guys that does the warranties for the company (in Ontario at least). He told me he is going to personally walk it over to Nikon himself. In addition to that I showed the issue to my guy at Black's; Tim seems to be the most camera knowledgeable in the store. He agreed that it was an issue. Hopefully it will come back fixed.

I'm glad I got the extended warranty. I paid $49.99 for it and it came with 100 free 4x6 prints. The prints are worth about $15 or so (and I've used them all), and the camera has been sent to Nikon 3 times. Black's has already lost money on it - it's got to have cost them more than $35 for three return shipments to Nikon. Mind you - if I had sent it to Nikon myself I like to think it would have been fixed the first time.

Anyways - I'm without a camera yet again. Wish me luck :)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Photo stroll (with a side of harassment)

Today is the last day of my week off. The weather wasn't great for photos (overcast, diffuse, flat and boring), but I went out I anyways. I strolled through downtown Kitchener for a few hours this morning and got a few good photos.

I also got a little bit of harassment. After I took a photo of Budds clothing store storefront, mister Budd himself came walking out and demanded that I tell him why I was taking photographs of his store. Seems he worried about people doing that - I'm not sure why. Perhaps he is concerned that I'm with a property developer or that I was staking out the joint for a Ocean's Eleven style robbery. I don't know.

After convincing him that I wasn't with an organization and that I didn't have a business card, and after talking a bit about his store front he calmed down a bit. I still don't think he believed that I was just a photographer who likes to take photos, but there wasn't much more I could do to convince him.

Anyways - that was at the end of the morning. I got a good number of decent shots before he fouled my mood. A few are below (more on flickr).

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Tack Locker complete

Tara's tack locker is finished. It took about 10 hours longer than I had anticipated, but that' ok - it was fun to make.

It's basically a 2x2 frame of pine with 3/8 fir plywood for the sides and shelves and 6" pine T&G floor board for the door. Two and bit shelves, a nice spot for the crops and whips, enough hooks for everything (I hope) and two adjustable saddle racks. It turned out not too bad, if I do say so myself.

It's not without it's flaws. The floorboards were a bad idea for the door - the wood was warped enough that both doors have a insignificant twist to them. I tried several attempts to rectify the twist, but in the end I couldn't do much. In the first shot below, you can see that the door is sticking out a bit - I'm going to see if I can get strong enough magnetic latches that keep the door closed. So the lesson here is - if you are going to make one of these, don't use cheap floorboards (and use a planer!)

But I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. I wasn't sure I would be able to pull it off, but I have a great dad who taught me everything I needed to know about building this thing (and who was just a phone call away in case I got into more trouble that I could deal with) - Thanks Dad! All those years ago you didn't think I was paying attention, did you. :)

Now the challenge will be getting it to the barn - not only is it large (46" x 28" x 76"), but it's also heavy - I guess it's about 100lbs empty. And we don't know if it's thin enough to make it up the stairs to the tack room at the barn. If it's not, we'll stick it in the bucket of the tractor and lift it up.

Most of Tara's tack is at the barn (in various rubber maids), but I populated the locker with as much of her tack lying around the house as I could find.

Anyways - this is what I've been doing for 3/4 of my week off. It's nice to build something solid for a change.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A swing and a miss

I got a call from Black's Photography yesterday saying my camera was ready. It took only three weeks this time to get it back to me in the same condition it was when I sent it in. The Commander mode still isn't working which means I still can't use my new flash (see this, this and this for background).

So I'm headed back to Blacks tomorrow or Saturday to see what they can do for me. I'm not a pushy person, but this is getting ridiculous. I've never had to deal with a warranty issue before - any suggestions from you who have?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Photoroam at Snyder's Flats

I went out to Snyder's Flats today with a bunch of people I don't know. Martin from work mentioned yesterday that a bunch of his friends were going and he asked the photogs at work if any of us were interested. Turns out the Carolyn and I were (we both have free weekends without our spouses).

I had a really good time - I met some cool people and I took some photos I'm really happy with. Plus the weather was warmer then it has been since the fall.

A few of my photos (more on flickr) ...

Tack Locker

So I'm building a tack locker for Tara's birthday. Don't worry, it's not a surprise. It's coming along pretty well and Tara said I should post some photos of it. If anyone out there is interested, I can write down the rough plans I have in my head that have gone into this.

For those of you not part of the horse world, a tack locker is a cabinet/cupboard piece that horse people put the horse equipment in. It's like a tack box, but upright and larger.

This is the first draft. When I'm older and I have an extra $1000, I'd like to make another one out of a nice hardwood. Cherry perhaps as it reacts nicely to the ammonia in horse barns. Or a nice walnut. Until then, this will have to do. Plus it gives me time to hone my woodworking skills.

The locker is about half done. I'm soon adding a top shelf, plus the doors and sides. I'll also put that drawer that slides in the bottom (but for now Tara will use rubber maids down there). The saddle racks are adjustable height-wise to maximize space usage and flexibility.

Sorry for the poor quality photos - I wasn't planning on showing them to anyone except Tara.

[update - see this for the completed locker]

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Quote of the day

Overheard in a meeting today about customer supplied code
"Hitting F5 is not unit testing"
This probably won't make sense to my non-computer industry reader, but it's funny to those of us in the industry (or at least me).

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Elmira Maple Syrup Festival; Copious Amounts of Food and People

The Elmira Maple Syrup Festival was this weekend. After a couple of botched attempts I made it there. Tara and I were going to go but at the last minute she had a couple of patients in hospital that she had to see that morning. My backup plan was to go with some friends from work but that fell through as well. My third option came through - I ended up going with Laura and Tim (Tara's sister and brother-in-law) plus a bunch of Tim's university friends.

We got there about 3 hours later than Tara and I usually do and it was packed. P-a-c-k-e-d. We hit the pancake tent (a first for me) and I ate two plate sized pancakes with loads of maple syrup. With three bites left, I had to tap out. It was too many carbs without enough meat or something else in my belly. So off we went in search of meat.

Aside: About 20 minutes after we got our pancakes, there was word that they ran out of pancake batter. I didn't think that would have been possible.

We pushed our way through the crowds and I found some meat on a bun (back-bacon and sauerkraut - mmmmmm). It was exactly what my stomach needed. After that we wandered a bit, as much as you can wander with people pressing in on all sides, and then headed for the car. We didn't even see a quarter of the booths, but we all agreed that there were too many people there.

And that sums up the typical Elmira Maple Syrup Festival experience. Too many people and too much food. It was good.

Here are a few shots I took with Tara's D50.