plonq: (Emo Luna Mood)
Dear Mount Hagen Coffee,

I purchased a small jar of your freeze-dried, instant, decaffeinated organic coffee because my experience with the three previous brands of instant coffees I had tried were disappointing, and also I have no self-respect. I can say with some assurance as I gleefully tossed the empty jar into the recycling bin this evening that the coffee therein was not disappointing. I daresay it vile to the point of being insulting. These horrid little crystals bore as much resemblance to coffee as the ashes of a dearly departed. Did anybody taste the product before it was labelled as coffee? I would suggest that a the consumer would be better served if this product was renamed to, "freeze-dried tragedy. Serve hot."

I would not serve this drink to my enemies, though I would venture to suggest that I might make a few by serving good folk this abomination.

If I could find a silver lining in this brew of putrescence, it is that it spurred me into dropping all pretence of coffee in the evenings, and made me seek out an alternative to decaf entirely. The problem is not that I dislike coffee, in fact I love it too much, and I drink it in all of its full-caffeine forms during the day. I would just like to enjoy the brew in the evenings without disrupting my sleep. I've had some mixed success with whole bean and ground decaf coffee, but I was hoping to get away from the fuss and mess of brewing coffee by lowering my standards a bit - a lot, actually - and and trying my luck with instant coffee.

Anyway, I blame you and the sheer repulsiveness of your product into rendering me susceptible to my next ill-advised purchase: Bambu instant organic coffee substitute.

The product caught my eye while I was shopping for other products, and I happened by the section of the store that offers products like Almond Milk, Flavoured Soy Drink, and other items that tend to serve as a ward people who do not hate themselves. I was intrigued by the label which showed a couple spikes of wheat, several whole acorns and half a fig flying gleefully into a swirling mug of foamy, brown liquid. I held the product in my hand in a state of detached, morbid fascination before I quickly tossed it into my basket lest somebody see me and misidentify me as a pod person. I mean, surely nobody would make a product like this as anything other than a trap to ensnare aliens trying to pass themselves off as humans.

"Hello, fellow humans. Would you care to join me in a cup of beverage made from nuts, grains, and a pulpy fruit normally used for making newtons?"

I had low expectations for this beverage, so nothing would delight me more than to tell you that it was delicious. But it wasn't. It was a disappointment. From the very first cup of hot, steaming, what the hell was I thinking, I knew that I had made a big mistake. I made another cup the next night, and tried adding enough sugar to mask the flavour. No amount of sugar helped. The second cup was naught but sweet regret.

I left both products sitting on the kitchen shelf, untouched for almost a week after that. I finally concluded that I was never going to drink either of them again, and though I am loathe to waste a product, I went out to the kitchen with the intent of pouring both into the sink and recycling their jars. It was when I had both jars in my hands that I performed an act that I can only attribute to temporary insanity, or suppressed self-loathing. I decided that they deserved a proper send-off, and I was curious if their awfulness was additive or multiplicative, so I scooped half a proper portion of each into my mug and prepared it as I would a regular instant coffee.

What I had not anticipated was that their union was neither of those, rather it was subtractive. The resulting blend was not simply not bad, it was actually pretty good. It would be like putting a pug and a shih tzu into a grinder and... well, actually we could stop right there and we'd still have a winning condition. But in this case, it would be like putting two yappy, snorty dogs into a grinder and having a border collie come out the end.

I finished the last of the Mount Hagen coffee this evening, and I have since purchased a brand that was more passable. I am hoping that it will play as nicely with this coffee substitute as its predecessor. I suspect it will. I remember years ago it was common for coffee companies to add chicory to their instant coffees, and it is the main ingredient in Bambu.


Return to Pinawa

Path of The Rock

Happy Birthday CanadaHappy Birthday Canada
plonq: (Enlightened Mood)
I have not taken a lot of photographs lately, but what I have been doing is finally processing some of the ones that have been in my queue for months. I am starting with the shots from our drive out to the coast in the summer, which I will follow up by working through the rest of our shots from the cruise - well, both cruises as I never finished processing all the shots from the first one. Finally I will move on to MFF, where I have a couple dozen pictures that I think are probably worth fixing and posting.

While I was fixing up a few pictures today, [ profile] atara wandered up and watched me work for a few minutes before she made an observation about our difference in philosophy when it comes to photography. She said that she takes pictures with the purpose of documenting the moment, and capturing digital memories. On the other hand, she thinks that I am more concerned with capturing the art of the moment, where the composition is more important than the content.

I guess I can see her point. I like to think that I am creating a digital documentary of sorts as well, but I confess that I have always had a soft spot for pictures that raise more questions than they answer.

I call this one, "I am ready for my close-up now." This is a picture that I would normally have left to sit on my HD because it is a bit blurry, and not quite composed the way I wanted because I shot it in a rush. On the other hand, I love what is happening in the shot, so I did my best to salvage it.
I'm ready for my close-up

I dashed off ahead of the pack in order to capture this shot of the trail up ahead. Originally, I wanted it to show how wet and muddy and miserable the hike was, but when I processed it, the trail actually looks friendly and inviting. It looks inviting to me, anyway.

I am a real sucker for black and white photos. I have always had an interest in learning to take good black and white, and to that end I bought a roll of film back in the day with the intention of taking pictures around town. It was one of those films that Fuji put out that took black and white, but was designed to be processed in a colour lab. I loaded up the roll by accident when I was on vacation down in Alabama and then went through some very colourful gardens down there, taking great pains to ensure that I carefully composed the colour arrangement in every shot I took.

Then I got the roll back from the lab, and I was both disappointed and intrigued. I was irked because I had been so careful about my colour arrangements, but I was actually very pleased at how the black and white shots turned out. Many of them were very striking, where I think the colour version of the same shot would have been forgettable. In the case of this shot, I just like the way the contrasts work in black and white.

The last time I was out to visit these ice fields, Dad was still alive. We did not get out to the ice fields this time, but we hiked up to their base. It was not a long hike, but it was a taxing one because of the altitude.
Mind the step

I scampered down a hill to get to a good location for these shots. I thought the others knew where I had gone, so I took my time setting up for a few pictures, and even used my neutral density filter to get a couple of shots like this one.

Apparently, they did not know where I had gone, and they assumed that I had wandered out into the woods and gotten lost. Oops.
A river runs through it

This was very good, but I could not get my head past the idea that I was basically eating a deconstructed sandwich. When we were at MFF a couple of years back, we went down to the hotel restaurant for dinner. I was tired of road food, and all I wanted was a salad. I ordered the chef's special salad, and when it arrived, it had been similarly deconstructed. It came on a long plate, with a wedge of lettuce at one end, and the rest of the ingredients strung along the plate. It was pretty good, but it was not what I'd had in mind.

I love the look and feel of determination in this picture. This was actually near the start of the climb, so I can't promise that they looked quite as determined by the time we all got to the top.

Even though we were there in the shoulder season, the lake was not quite as empty as it looks in this shot. A lone family just happened to row into the frame as I was setting up to get the shot, and I decided the shot would look better with them in it than without.
Rowers in the Rain
plonq: (Pointless Icon)
Our temperatures crawled up into double digits this weekend for the first time in recent memory. It was not quite into double digits on Friday when we decided to drive up to Oak Hammock Marsh to see what the migratory birds were up to, but it was pleasant if we stayed out of the wind.

Unfortunately, there is not much shelter to speak of up in the marsh, so we spent much of our time out in a damp, chilly wind. As a result, we did not spend more than an hour or so walking around the marsh. There were not a lot of birds hanging around other than a couple different flavours of blackbirds, and an assortment of geese. The place will probably be teeming with fowl in another couple of weeks, but the marsh was still frozen solid this weekend in spite of the warmer weather.

The geese were being wonderfully photogenic for their part. I cropped this a bit, and obviously converted it to black and white (though it was so nearly monochrome anyway that it did not lost a lot of colour in the transition).

As I said above, the marsh was not big on sheltered areas.
Oak Hammock Marsh

The marsh was still a sheet of ice while we were there, and the path around it was blocked by sizeable snow drifts in spots.
Oak Hammock Marsh

I never even thought to check if the interpretive centre was open, though we'd have had to pay to get in there anyway. We have talked about getting season passes or memberships there, not because we go out there very often, but to give a bit of financial support to the work.
Oak Hammock Marsh

My mother once accused me of living a filtered existence since I experience the world through the lens of a camera. I suppose there is some truth to that. When I am out without my camera, I tend to be more Zen-like in my appreciation for my surroundings, rather than keeping an eye out for my next good shot. It looks like I may be rubbing off on [ profile] atara

Do you see what is behind this porous little shelter? If you answered "nothing" then you win the prize. When you hear me or [ profile] atara mention that we live on the bald-ass prairie, this is what we are talking about. We are surrounded by a whole lot of bugger all, punctuated by nothing.
Oak Hammock Marsh

I may be relying too much these days on post-processing software for my pictures. I need to process them because my camera shoots very dark - especially when I have the polariser on it. Still, when I look at all of these pictures together in one post, the colouring and contrast is so different from shot to shot that it's almost hard to believe they were all taken at the same place on the same day. I think I am becoming a bit addicted to contrast and saturation. I can quit them whenever I want though. Any time.
plonq: (Somewhat Pleased Mood)
While I would not call my "picture a day" project for 2013 derailed, I admit that it seems to have slid into a siding for the moment. The problem is not so much the lack of pictures - I have been taking lots - but I have not been labelling them and and adding them to the collection. At some point as things start to wind down again (early autumn, perhaps) I will try to set aside a day to go through my picture library and pad out some of the missing days.

This stained glass was from the Unitarian church up in Gimli, Manitoba. The minister there is a very engaging speaker, so we made the trip up there to take in one of his sermons.

My phone takes decent pictures. Not great pictures, but a far cry better than the useless, impressionist things that my previous phone or iPod take. It is a shame that it does not have the option for shooting RAW, but when I am out and find myself in a situation where I need a camera, my phone serves as a reasonable approximation of one.

My DSLR has a bunch of built-in effects that my earlier one did not. I will probably end up taking a few more funky shots like this before the novelty wears off.

There is one irritating feature of every camera I have met, where it does not save a RAW copy of the picture if you shoot using any special effects. Even switching it to full automatic will disable saving RAW. Why? Dear camera manufacturers, when I tell my camera that I want to save pictures in RAW format, I mean always save a raw version until I tell it otherwise.

This seems to me like it should be a self-obvious feature. I don't understand why it isn't.
plonq: (Cat-like Typing Mood)
It is going to take some time for the novelty to wear off of being able to shoot pictures of cats/people/kids/whatever without worrying about red-eye.

This is Merry being concerned that there is another cat on the bed with her. I think that she forgets that they exist as soon as they leave her field of vision because every time she sees one of the other cats, she acts like it is the first time in her life she has seen them. She obviously has very little processing power or storage capacity in that peanut-sized brain she houses.
Merry Is Concerned

If I was to go back and take this one again, I think I would try for a genuine close-up rather than cropping the picture like I did here. Belladonna is being a pest today. She is fascinated by the process of [ profile] atara setting up her new computer, and she wants to get involved in every step.
Belladonna Close

This is the new flash in all its flashy goodness, showing that it knows how to trigger remotely. I had expected it to work on IR, or radio but instead the camera's built-in flash triggers it. When I have the flash set remotely, my camera's built-in unit flashes at its lowest setting and triggers the remote flash that way. That seems a little half-baked to me, but it seems to work well enough. On the down side, that means that the fastest I can sync it to remotely is 1/200 of a second because that is the fastest my internal flash will accept.

I think that most of its external use will probably be with the light box. The rest of the time it will probably just be attached to the camera.

Con Crud

Nov. 22nd, 2012 11:45 am
plonq: (Dubious Mood)
In spite of all the hand washing and liberal use of hand sanitizer, I managed to come home from the convention with a minor cold. I am not surprised, as it sounded a bit like a tuberculosis ward at the breakfast buffet on our last morning there. [ profile] atara has managed to avoid the cold so far, but I daresay that if yesterday was the worst it plans to hit me with then I will count myself as lucky.

I don't know if this man was checking in or out, but the automated kiosk was apparently giving him trouble. He spent at least ten minutes at the kiosk while a parade of various hotel staff came by to help him. Just a thought, but when something has not worked after the first five minutes, it may be a cue to step to your right and let a real human tackle the issue.

Anyway, here is another of the hotel staff pitching in to help with whatever was giving him trouble. I have mentioned before that I am a big fan of the surreal, Kubrickesque lighting in the lobby of this hotel, and this picture manages to capture a bit of that.

The bulk of pictures that I took at the con were of the fursuit parade. Fursuit production is starting to reach a point of maturity, which is a mixed bag of blessings in my opinion. On the plus side, the quality of the suits in the parade gets better every year. On the down side, as 700+ suits pass you, there is a growing air of sameness about them. I think part of that is because more people are commissioning them than creating their own. Let's face it, if the choice is between building a baggy suit with an ill-fitting, cut-foam head or ordering a custom-fit suit with 3D eyes and an articulated jaw, who wouldn't spend the extra few bucks for a clean, professional-looking getup? I've been tempted a few times myself...

I am not going to lie - I think I prefer the current state to the droopy, smelly suits of bygone times, but at the same time I do feel like we've lost a bit of the charm. My biggest quibble was the sameness of a lot of the suits, and I am wondering that this is just a transition phase, like when every artist was trying to emulate Michele Light. Anyway, this is just a quibble rather than a complaint. They all had better suits than mine.

A couple more pictures behind the cut )
plonq: (All Business)
Our total driving distance from when we stopped for gas at the south end of town until we parked the car in our garage again was just over 3,000 miles. That's not a bad little road trip in my book. Naturally that included city driving, side-trips and the like, but that is still a lot of driving.

I did it regularly when [ profile] atara and I were still dating.

Aside from the glitch with our hotel room on the way down, everything went smashingly. We saw almost everybody we were hoping to see.

Pinkie Pie was our little mascot for the trip, so if you happen to wander over to my Flickr page you will notice her cute little mug in quite a few of the pictures. This is one of my two favourite shots of her though, posing in front of the condiments at Denny's in Wisconsin Dells. This was the morning after our hotel adventure mentioned in my previous post. I don't know why (other than having Pinkie Pie in it), but I really like the colour and composition of this picture.

What you can't see in this shot is the frighteningly patriotic pictures and wallpaper behind [ profile] atara just out of the right side of this shot.

During one of our off-days in Ohio, we were out cruising for electronics and ponies to take home when [ profile] atara began shrieking and carrying on about the county fair. Apparently she noticed the signs for it, and suddenly it went from being a non-issue to being one of the top items on our itinerary. I don't know why she was so anxious to go there because the last time we went (when we were still dating), I stepped on her foot in the chicken shed and tore some of the skin off her toes. She married me anyway. Must be true love.

I wanted to move the rakes for this shot, but I was not sure if somebody had just left them there, or they were part of the exhibit. It would have been embarrassing to be accosted while moving them aside by somebody yelling about how I was messing up the feng shui of the display. Ohioans and their feng shui - oy.
More pictures and text behind the cut )
plonq: (Cheesy Grin Mood)
Later today (or tomorrow) I am going to write a longer entry about our Ohio trip, and rest assured there is a picture dump or two in the works as well. The good news is that I had fun at [ profile] atara's class reunion. I only vaguely knew a small number of people there, but they had an open bar, and her classmates were good about not making spouses feel excluded.

The last time I saw my niece and nephew they were about the size of a large pot roast, and we had to wear surgical masks for the whole visit because they had underdeveloped immune systems. This time they are normal, happy, healthy 22-month olds. They are not talking a lot yet, but they are full of character and personality. I took quite a few pictures of them on the trip, but these are two of my favourites.

I originally posted both of these to Facebook in full colour, but when I got home and started playing with the raw files (I don't have the Canon raw software on my notebook), I decided that they look better in black and white.

Josephine does not smile as much as her brother does (though she has a very cute smile when she wants to turn on the charm). Her neutral expression is one of haughty, mild interest. Although it may look like she is leaning on the piano, posing for the shot, she is actually assessing me to decide if my camera is more interesting than the piano behind her. She was idly plinking the keys while she made up her mind.
Jo Piano

This was the picture that made me decide to convert to black and white because it contextually reminded me of a vintage 1930s picture of a man reading the newspaper. I could probably find the original with a bit of work, but I am happy with the way this one turned out. Ike loves to "read" the newspaper just like the adults.
Ike Paper

Photo dump

May. 27th, 2012 11:24 pm
plonq: (Derpy Mood)
Doors Open Winnipeg happened this weekend, and we took in a couple of venues. Last week we had been making a fairly impressive list of places we planned to visit, but when the weather turned rather sketchy this weekend we trimmed it down to the two that seemed the most interesting. Our first stop was the Ukrainian-Orthodox Holy Trinity church that is not too far down the road from our house. We drive by it twice a day on our way to and from work, but this has been our first occasion to stop in.

The church is newer than I had thought, but it was still interesting and storied. I imagine most churches have a tale to tell if you can find somebody who knows the history. While the story of the frieze on the front (designed by Leo Mol, built in Europe, then shipped over and assembled in situ) was intriguing, I was more interested in the fact that the church was actually a church built on a church. They built it in stages over the course of decades. The sanctuary pictured below is actually just another layer built on top of the old sanctuary (which is now the basement).
Here are a bunch more pictures that I either took recently, or have been in my to-post list for some time )
plonq: (Pluggin' products)
The city came by this morning and started working on the small lake in front of our house. As you can see, the pond turned into a steaming hole. I suppose that's an improvement.
Steaming Hole
More behind the cut. )
Finally, Merry still does cute very well. There's nothing like a warm radiator to bring out the cute in your cats.
Cute Merry


Apr. 7th, 2006 12:49 pm
plonq: (Default)
Awhile back I mentioned the 1337 repairs that they did to alleviate a leak in our office ceiling.  A picture is worth 1000 words, so here are some pictures to show you how professionals handle a leaky roof.

Repairs contracted out to a bucket shop. )
It's a good thing we saved these broken chairs. )
This hall just screams out 50s plain. )
Dancing chickens. Get your dancing chickens here. )
plonq: (Fiddling around)
Posted in no particular order (and behind a cut tag), here are some random shots from our vacation.
Read more... )

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