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 Yucat√°n 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.