Monday, July 27, 2009

Eat Canadian

Hellman's put together the following interesting video about how much food we import into Canada. It feels like a bit of propaganda (it was commissioned by a profit-driven food company after all), but if even a quarter of the statistics are accurate, we import a lot of food into this great country. I know I will keep a better eye out for grown in Canada food (easy to say in the summer I know).

Hellmann’s - It’s Time for Real from CRUSH on Vimeo.

QA geek note: The video does a really good job of presenting statistics in an attractive and informative manner. The charts are pleasing to the eye and contain a significant amount of data. The graphic designers and animators did a real bang up job. I only wish the software I test looked as good at this does.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

World Wide Photo Walk 2009

Saturday evening I participated in Scott Kelby's world wide photo walk. Scott Kelby is a big name in digital photography and he came up with a fun idea - organize a multi-city photo walk and then share the results. This year over 900 groups formed and walked with an estimated 30000 people attending.

I was at the Kitchener one and it was well attended. I think we were close to 50 people. Our leader came a little late so things were disorganized, but I think most of us had a good time anyways. Everyone was friendly and I met a bunch of new photographers. Our route had a good amount of stuff to shoot and it ended up in Victoria Park during the Beer and Rib fest.

I shot both digital and film, but I mis-loaded my first roll, so all my film photos from the first half of the walk don't exist. That's ok - I'm sure there were no winners in there :)

There are prizes for the photowalk. Everyone gets to submit two photos. I'm having a hard time choosing mine. Below are my candidates - any suggestions? Click through for larger photos.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


We have wasps. Bald-faced hornets to be exact (but IANAE*). Thankfully they are outside, in a tree. But now I have to go and remove their nest. Their nest is 15 feet high. Does anyone have any good methods for killing wasps that high up? I'm thinking I'll use that raid stuff that shoots a jet of killing foam whilst standing on a ladder.

*I am not an entomologist.

Our Fez is sick

We got the news last week that our cat Fez is sick. Quite sick. He has intestinal cancer - large cell lymphoma. The doctors give him 6 months at most.

Fez is our most personable cats. He loves people and loves to be around us. He's clumsy and he eats anything. We love him. The next few months will be hard.

We are going to try chemo-for-cats. We are taking a middle of the road approach - not to aggressive, not to passive. Tara has started a blog to track his progress: Will my cat go bald?

There is a somber mood over our house. We are trying to enjoy all the time we have. That's good advice regardless of the health of your pets.

Monday, July 13, 2009


We got some sad news about one of our pets today. Nothing I want to talk about right now, so I'm posting some photos of animals that I don't need to worry about. Sometimes you need a distraction from the gloomy side of life.

This is one of the herds of sheep at the University of Guelph. I was at the fence for 5 minutes with the sheep ignoring me and then a couple walking their little dog walked by and all the sheep ran to see the dog (or the couple). Taken with Ilford FP4+.

This cute little monster is digging holes in our lawn and under our interlocking brick. He also likes to eat our garden and the cherries off our tree. His only redeeming quality is that he doesn't mind posing.

This is a bunny at my sisters place. He/she was pretty skittish - this was take at 300mm.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ginger bread cake

In the summer, when it's warm out, I'll reach for a light dessert after dinner. Maybe something with berries or something airy. Ice cream is always nice.

But our summer here in southwestern Ontario is MIA. We've only had one week of hot weather, the rest has been highs of 20C-25C. Not weather where I was to sit out on a beach with a nice piece of angel food cake and a whack of strawberries. These days I've been craving something with a bit of heft to it.

I used the excuse occasion of my sister and brother-in-law staying with us for a few days to make a nice winter cake in our cool summer. Behold the Ginger Bread Cake!

This is a nice dense cake that goes well with a nice hot drink. It's packed with flavour and can stand up to a rich ice cream with ease.

Note that I have not been able to get the cake out of the pan without at least some part of it sticking. I've tried both silicon and metal bundt pans. I don't know what I'm doing wrong - perhaps I need to to make the cake at a higher temp at the start? If you have success, let me know what you changed.

Recipe: Ginger Bread Cake (modified from Smitten Kitchen's recipe)

1 C stout beer (I used Guinness)
1 C molasses
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 C flour (all purpose)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger (or 2 Tbsp ground ginger)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (fresh grated is best
3 eggs (large and at room temp)
1 C brown sugar (packed)
1 C white sugar
3/4 C vegetable oil

1. Combine stout and molasses in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add baking soda (warning - it will foam up - keep stirring) and cool until it is just warm (or cooler).

2. Preheat the over to 350F. Butter and flour the inside of the bundt pan.

3. Mix the flour, baking powder and spices together in a large mixing bowl.

4. Whisk the eggs and sugars together in a large bowl until well combined. Add oil and molasses and whisk again until well combined and mostly homogeneous.

5. Add liquid mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine. Pour into bundt pan and bake for 45-50 minutes. Cake is done when a skewer comes out mainly clean (a little under baked is fine, try no to over bake).

6. Cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes and then turn cake out of the pan and cool on rack until cool.

7. Serve to your friends with a fine vanilla ice-cream and a steaming coffee or tea.

Friday, July 10, 2009

First rule of film photography

Today I learned the first rule of film photography.

Rule 1: Make sure there is film in your camera.
Corollary: If it takes less effort to wind the film in your camera than usual, see rule 1.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

More Killarney Photos

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Camping in Killarney

Tara and I spent the first half of last week at Killarney Provincial Park.It was the first time either one of us had been to the park. The park is just south of Sudbury and just north of French River Provincial Park; about 5 and a half hours from the KW region. It's a fairly new park, only 45 years old. The Group of Seven petitioned the provincial government to set the park aside and protect it from logging and development. It truly is breathtakingly beautiful.

I've been car camping at a number of provincial parks and this is one of the best. The campsites and trails were clean, the underbrush not trampled down and the park staff very friendly and helpful. I give it two thumbs up.

The weather was great while we were there. Highs of 28-30 and sunny all week. The nights were a little warm, but nothing we couldn't deal with.

There was a fair amount of wildlife in the park. We saw a few foxes (one with a chipmunk in her mouth) and a couple of bears (one a little too close for comfort - 15 feet and startled, but I think he was more afraid of us than visversa). Lots of chipmunks, squirrels, and woodpeckers. Oh ya, and raccoons.

Embarrassing story: I stayed up late one night to try to get some star photos. Only the sun doesn't really set and get completely dark at the end of June in the park until well after 11:00. So I'm sitting on a rock face with my camera by myself, the day we saw a bear up close, and I start hearing rustling in the the bush behind me. I flip on the flashlight and it's just racoons with their tiny reflective eyes, watching me. I turn the flashlight off. Two minutes later I hear more rustling. I turn on the flashlight again and all I saw are the eyes. The smart part of my brain knew I was safe, but the stupid part of my brain didn't think so. I got one 14 minute exposure and I high-tailed it back to the safety of my tent. That was the last clear night of the trip.

Our only problem was the bugs. There were a lot of bugs. Blackflies, mosquitoes, deerflies, and horseflies were out and hungry like I haven't seen in a while. They forced us to wear our bug jackets all the time, except for in the noon sun, at the top of a hill or in the middle of the lake. Both Tara and I had countless bites all over; Tara suffering more than I. When we go back to Killarney, it will be in the fall or very early spring, when the bugs are happily sleeping.

We rented a canoe and had a easy paddle around George Lake. The lakes in the park suffered from the acid rain in the late 80's (the park is downwind of Sudbury and it's smelters). They are just coming back to life now, but are still pretty clear. We tried fishing on George Lake, but only caught a couple of large-mouth bass (out-of-season unfortunately). They are trying very hard to rehabilitate the lakes - maybe in another 10 years the fishing will be better.

We went on a couple of really nice hikes. Both the Chikanishing Trail and the Granite Ridge Trail are not to be missed. The trails themselves aren't too difficult (if you take your time) and the scenery at the end of these trails is simply breathtaking.

If you do end up going to the park, you must make the trip into the town of Killarney for the fish and chips. At the end of the hwy 637 there is a fish stand with the most incredible pickerel I've tasted. Trust me and make the trip - you won't forget it.

Like I said, I think we will head back to the park in the fall (not this year -maybe next). I hope this review encourages you to as well.

-- Click on the photos for more detail. --
-- Watch this space or my flickr page. I'll be posting more photos soon - I tool a roll and a half with my trusty FM10. Hopefully at least one of them turned out. --