Thursday, February 28, 2013

The appropriate response when someone cuts you off …

You know you’ve always wanted to do this …

19 Billboards and a Sign

Yes, the title makes no sense … until you count the images below. These were sent to be by my ex-step-father-in-law … if that even makes any logical sense as a relationship :-)

Even though they are fake … they are definitely amusing …





















Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ha Ha … funny … warning – don’t read this if profanity offends you too easily …

I was starving and there was not much around to make … Nick was not sure what he wanted and I’m on my 11th straight day of working ridiculous hours to complete a project …

So I decided to make a quick and easy pasta dish. Well, I was pretty impatient and ended up not giving the super high fiber noodles (Fiber Gourmet Nests – 18g fiber per serving) enough time to cook, nor did I infuse the Olive Oil with the garlic for more than a moment … which led to a chewy dinner with far too sharp a taste. To be clear, it sucked.

Here’s where the profanity starts, so the faint of heart please move along …

Nick and I were laughing over the horrible meal that I was scarfing down (while complaining) and I suggested that I would have been better off crapping on the floor and eating that, to which Nick immediately replied – laughing -- “like Buddy used to do”, honing in on the reference immediately (Buddy was our dog a couple of decades ago and he enjoyed his own and the kids’ caca for a snack now and again.)

We were chuckling over this when my brain snapped on a joke that amused me, although it is still unrefined. But here goes anyway …

What is the difference between a conservative government and a dog?
A dog will happily eat its own shit, and yours …

Like I said … unformed, as you have to work too hard to get the corollary.

But it has the ring of something potentially special in the right comedian’s hands Smile

Update: Thought of a few variations ...

What is the difference between a government and a dog?
One regularly kicks you in the balls,
and the other licks his own.

What is the difference between a government and a dog?
One shits everywhere and expects you to clean it up,
and the other licks your face.

I think I’m liking that last one a bit Smile

Monday, February 25, 2013

Funniest video I’ve seen in a while …

Cornish Rex cat screaming “I'm Wet!” while being bathed … hysterical Smile

I stole that from a friend’s timeline on Facebook … videos like this are probably Facebook’s and YouTube’s greatest strength …

A tragedy exposed …

Well worth a look … go to YouTube to give the film a “like” …

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The relentless advance of technology and its effect on flora and fauna …

I chuckled so hard I almost levitated Smile

Found on my sister’s Facebook page (thanks Gaye!)

Carpe Diem

Or not …

Office 2013 – A thing of beauty, but not quite perfect …

I own Office Home and Student 2003, which has allowed me to use Outlook for my personal email for about a decade. Office 2007 and very nice and I used those apps for my word processing, spread sheets and presentations for half a decade. They annoyingly replaced the wonderful Outlook with the much less useful (for me) OneNote in that version, probably because the students use of OneNote makes more sense that Outlook would in a hotmail world.

I skipped the 2010 revision since nothing much had changed, but 2013 got me interested because I like the new look of the apps, they are fast, and they have a host of new(ish) features relating to mobile, web, cloud, and so on. WHat is more, the subscription service gives you all the applications … a full version of Professional if you will. So I bit the bullet and signed up for the moth by month trial. First month free.

I must say that, after only a few days, I am very pleased. Excel makes much nicer looking graphs. The newest Outlook feels very sophisticated yet sucked in and used my OL2003 settings with nary a hitch. I have to say that I am sold.


The one thing I really dislike so far is that Word 2013 just will not allow me to edit blog posts for my blogger account. I have not figured out the magic incantation, despite reading Greywulf’s blog on the subject. He obviously got it working for his blog, but my account refuses to hook up.

image imageimage

Luckily, Windows Write 2011 is an excellent blog editor and it works just fine. But I would like to work in Word if possible. I hope they eventually fix this glitch, as this would really put the cherry on top of a great set of applications.

Losing Weight … how difficult is it really?

Pretty fricken difficult, for anyone who has ever tried and failed (and everyone has unless they have the world’s most anal gene set – and I am quite aware that some do.)

I have been writing at very wide (get it? Smile) intervals about my own journey. My epiphany came last February, right about this time in fact, and I chugged along nicely until I stalled at the end of November. I held my ground with stable weight throughout December, despite enjoying a diet holiday, so to speak. But then things went south in January and I lost focus completely. I also lost my relationship in mid-January and spent another couple of weeks trying to regain my focus in all things.

And then it happened. What I call “the switch” was finally set to ON again in my brain and my ability to eat reasonably returned. I find that, when I am in that mental zone, I am able to resist the guilty pleasures, despite watching my boys chowing down constantly on crap less than perfect food.

So here is the current state of things …


I’m not quite ready to come clean as to the actual numbers, but the total loss was around 73 pounds from peak to valley and you can see clearly the plateau in December and the very brutal January, followed by a pretty decent February …

The two downward trending lines are what the graph would look like if I lost exactly 2 pounds per week from each of the two peaks in the graph. Of course, that never happens in such uniform fashion, but my trend has always been right around that amount. Because that’s just how my body likes to work. I am never going to win a fight against my natural tendencies, so I have to go with it. The reason why I start and stay a bit below the actual trend ling a lot of the time is obvious once you think about it. The first week or so on any diet includes the massive “water weight” purge, which generally comes from (a) cutting back on the volume of food – and thus the volume of salt in your diet, and (b) improving the quality of foods, often by changing from processed foods to fresh foods – again reducing the volume of salt in your diet.

That means that you drop a lot of weight quickly, which is of course very helpfully reinforcing, and then you start losing at the pace determined by your net calorie intake. Look at the second peak on this graph (it is missing on the actual line because I have smoothed the line a bit, but it is definitely there) and see how the drop is dramatic for a while and then levels off for a bit, and begins dropping again right on this line.

There is no magic involved. I can easily explain this by looking at my analysis page for the last month.


You can see that I was very steady for a while, and then slowly allowed myself to eat more and more … bit by bit (bite by bite?) That led to a plateau, which I decided to break by taking a short diet holiday. The red days are days where I exceeded my diet. I already blogged about the Saturday where I had two meals, one was a pancake breakfast that was not all that large, and the other was 3 slices of wonderful pizza from a local branch of the best chain in town. And that was enough to brutalize the day (how many of you reading this eat like that every day and then wonder why you slowly put on weight? The graph above makes the answer rather obvious.)

I have lost significant weight a few times in my life, but never with the level of education I have on the subject today. I understand that nutrients matter a lot, and you should be getting these from plenty of fresh vegetables and some fruits (but watch the sugar.) And that lean meats are an important source of protein. And that spreading meals out works for some, but a few larger meals works for others. And both strategies work for me, depending on the day. And that structured meals like shakes and bars (the ones with little to no sugar in them, and most do not fit that category) can be a godsend for those of us with stressful jobs and long hours.

I also understand that regular exercise makes a lot of difference to your health and well-being, but in and of itself does little to nothing to contribute to your weight loss (surprised?) because you would have to exercise for 2 to 4 hours at high intensity to work off a small pizza, and how many of you are willing to do that? The answer is less than 1% of you.

And in the end what I understand most is that, more than any other factor, calories in minus calories out determines your ultimate success and eating less is the fastest and easiest way to affect that balance.

The second big secret is to measure what you are eating and to log those calories so that you have a continuous reinforcement of your progress. I measure everything I eat and I weight myself every day. This is not necessarily the method that would work for everyone, especially people who cannot relax about the inevitable plateaus … but if plat your weight on a graph, and you religiously count your calories (as I do on, then you will see without fail that you are progressing. However slowly … remember that speed is not your friend. Lose it too fast and it will come back, there is more than enough research to document that fact as an axiom.

So if you got to this point and you are wondering how to get this far for yourself … let me offer a few ideas:

  • Consider tracking your progress at a site like
  • Consider eating a few structured meals a day to take the pressure off of meal prep
    • I like Atkins light meal bars – my current fave is the Caramel Double Chocolate Crunch bar
    • I have the odd protein shake as well, which is a source of high protein and low sugar, mainly coming from the 1% milk I use – but you can use Almond Breeze to lower the sugar even further
  • Consider walking half an hour every day just to keep things moving … you would be surprised how well that works to keep your metabolism running smoothly
  • Consider lifting weights, which builds muscle and raises your overall metabolism, besides making you stronger
  • Consider weighing yourself every day and plotting that on a graph in a program like Excel

Some or all of these tips will work for you. But if you don’t feel like exercising right now, don’t let that stop you from changing the way you eat, and certainly don’t let that stop you from starting down the path by logging yout calories etc. Truth be told, I have not been back to the gym since July 2012, nor have I gone walking in that time. I do remove the snow and do other work around the house, but I am sedentary most of the time, working at my desk. Losing weight still works because I let the daily analysis I get from Calorie Count guide me. You can too …

Note: I am not affiliated in any way with … there are many such sites out there. Find one you like and use it regularly. You will be glad you did.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pancakes and a Walk in the Woods


Karen got back from her tour of the Fiji Islands (!) last week and wanted to pop over to the Fulton’s Sugar Bush for a pancake breakfast and a walk in the woods. I was delighted to have such a nice treat so off we went yesterday morning.

Fulton’s is a family business nestled in between two really pretty towns – Almonte and Packenham in Lanark County, west of Ottawa. It’s a short drive (maybe 40 minutes for we who live in the south end) but it is well worth the crisp air and trails through the bush. And if you like Maple Syrup … well ….

I am trying out my very first case again because, unlike the dSLR days, I can carry rather a lot of equipment for day trips. I packed in the GH2 with 100-300 lens, the G5 with 14-140, and the GX1 with 7.5mm fisheye. A trifecta of fun …

The food is cafeteria style, served on paper plates for easy cleanup, but that takes nothing away from the incredible flavours of Raspberry Maple sauces and syrups that go so well on everything. This is opening weekend, so lunch is a twofer, which makes it an incredible deal. While we ate, we were entertained by a young student with his violin.

Panasonic GH2 + 100-300 @150mm (300mm EFL)  400iso  f/4.5  1/15

He is pretty good, considering his age. He went for hours, since we popped out for about an hour for a walk and he was still playing when we got back. Stamina and a good repertoire … the ingredients of a budding professional.

Panasonic GH2 + 100-300 @300mm (600mm EFL)  1600iso  f/5.6  1/60

After lunch, we hung around for a short while, digesting the food, and then it was off to the woods.

As we entered the trailhead, I looked back at the main building, which was shining in the bright sunshine of midday. At this time of year, the sun is really low at its peak, we the sides of wood buildings tend to glow all day long.

Panasonic G5 + 14-140 @58mm (116mm EFL)  160iso  f/13  1/250s

Note the brain fart … I had it set to S prio mode instead of A prio. so I got f/13 instead of mostly wide open as I would normally shoot this lens. Stopped down to f/7.1 at most.

I remember setting up all three cameras before leaving the house, so I must have accidentally nudged the dial as I took it out of the case. I discover it later on, but I shoot a lot of images in this state first …

There are a lot of instructional signs along the way, for the obvious reason that they expect a lot of kids and it is nice to explain what you are encountering.

Most exposures are variations of the previous one, so I won’t take the time to show them. If you want to see the whole series, pop over to my gallery and every image is easily viewed at my max image size (1000px) with the names containing relevant exposure info. You can use any browser based EXIF viewer to delve deeper into the information.

The rest will be highlights from all three cameras, annotated with text where interested. To see the whole series, pop into my gallery.

That’s the GX1 and the Samyang fisheye lens. Awesome combination. I found the LCD perfectly bright in this sunshiny light, so the lack of a viewfinder was no issue at all.

What you see there is a set of hoses that run through the woods to every Sugar Maple, sucking the sap back to the boiling kettles, apparently automagically :-) … I was really impressed by the scope of the setup here.

Some of the trees are named, likely because they have been around for a very long time. This is the Grandma Maple, an enormous tree that I could barely get into the frame by crouching down low and angling the camera so that the 180 degree view corner to corner could take it all in. This is one tall tree!

There appears to be a lot of wildlife here … I think this is from deer, but I’m not certain.

There is a marked grave for Bernard Shiels, who bought this huge parcel of land after graduating from Dublin University and emigrating in 1930.

There are information plaques around the place that tell you that he cleared only a small part of the land in his lifetime. This lovely meadow in an example …

I will return there in the summer to see what the trails and meadow look look like then.

As we walked along, there were quite a few lovely scenes with trees that seemed out of place and of course with the shadows dancing from the low sun …

About 4/5 of the way around the trail, we encountered this wicked looking four-posted tree … a bit like a trident in shape, so perhaps Poseidon got confused at some point and sent this mutant down to Earth.

And after that we encounter what appears to be the main line back to the boilers. It is insulated, which makes sense, since the sap coming out of the tree would still be at whatever temperature is needed to keep it flowing, but without insulation it would probably get too thick to flow hundreds of yards in an exposed hose. Our weather has been bitter at times this year. By this point, the hoses are pretty low, so I suspect there is an element of gravity involved in transporting the sap as well.

They have a sleigh that it towed through the bush by a pair of nice looking horses. We are walking a parallel trail back to the buildings, so I think maybe there is a second set of trails for the horses.

The last artifacts we encounter are the washroom and the lean to. Karen remembers her kids playing in the lean to more than a decade ago. I never brought my kids here back then. We walked the Beaver Trail a lot but I didn’t drive them around Lanark County much. I think I regret that a bit now.

When we arrive back at the buildings, we pop  into the little shop where they sell all the goodies. We didn’t buy anything, but the selection is really impressive.

On our way to the car, we see the Taffy shop, where some poor soul has to freeze to provide the sugar maple taffy that tastes so amazing for the kids …

I remember the sugar bush in Gracefield, PQ where they would pour hot syrup over snow while you watched and you would then take the warm taffy and munch on what was effectively pure sugar. Awesome :-)

So … a lovely afternoon … if you live anywhere in snow country, you ought to find a local sugar cabin and try their brunch out. If you are lucky, they will be more of a full meal place like the Cabin de Sucre in Gracefield, where they serve a massive brunch of pancakes, eggs fried in syrup, back bacon fried in syrup, toast, beans (Fulton’s has these as an option too) and so on … the brunch is simply stunning at places like that.

And don’t forget to view the whole series in my gallery: