Monday, 12 October 2015

Castles, Cameras and Creative Mealtimes

The word of the week is sartorial.

October 5 – Fall Time

Is it October already? Wow…

Only a few more months to go until the end of the year.

Until the next Star Wars film.

Until when I thought I would have the first draft of my second book finished.

Until I thought I'd have moved on from my current job, though I'm thankful that I have no need to do so unless I choose that path - things are great and far less stressful than I could have imagined.

Oh, and Christmas is coming too - can't forget that.

I think it's going to be an interesting next few months. My life has stabilized and change for the better, for the most part and whatever stress I'm currently carrying is partially self-induced. While it would definitely feel nice to be in better shape financially, I am hopeful that by the end of the year some other things will fall into place and improve the situation even more.

In the meantime, December 18 can't get here fast enough!

October 6 – Celebs Say: Enough

Even the celebrities of had enough of the crazy gun violence taking place in our neighbor to the south.

I'm impressed by the variety and quality of the celebrities in the video, many of whom that I have a high level of respect for. It's heartening to see media savvy celebs speaking out against the insanity that keeps needlessly taking lives in the US every day.

I only wonder how many more years, and lives, it will take until major changes are effected...

Because that video is from 2012 - nothing's changed.

October 7 – Camera!

What a deal!

Thanks eBay, last week I managed to snag a great deal on a great camera, which I've been wanting to get for some time. While I have a nice 12MP Fujifilm pocket camera that served me well for the last seven years, it doesn't have more than a 3x zoom on it, which is a handicap too often.

Having looked for the last year or two at various cameras, I had decided on several bottles and price ranges to keep an eye out for on eBay. My budget is not such these days that I can spend many hundreds on a camera, nor do I need anything fancy like an SLR: I just need a zoom.

When I saw an auction pop up for a Nikon 830L for $99.00 USD, I jumped at the chance. For some reason, several people were watching the auction but not buying, which was silly as the price was excellent for a camera in perfect condition with the lens cap and strap - it even came with batteries! I didn't care that it didn't have a box or manual, as you can easily get the latter online - and who cares about a box? Added bonuses: it uses 4x standard AA batteries and takes 1080p video!

When the camera arrived in the mail today, I powered it up and was immediately struck by the quality of the pictures that it took: with almost no effort, they all look great. While the manual controls are almost nonexistent, the camera is well equipped with features that mesh well with what I want to do: just takes simple photos with excellent zoom capability( 34x optical! )with the bonus of an optical stabilization system to cut down on those pesky blurry shots.

I can hardly wait to test out its capabilities both inside and outdoors!

October 8 – Nerf?

The internet is oddly strange and comforting both, some days.

Like when I’m sourcing things for a possible new business in the spring, using Nerf guns.
Retail Nerf guns here in Canada tend to run anywhere from $20-$100 each, depending on the complexity of what you're buying. Even if you're buying from wholesalers, the costs generally aren't reduced by more than 10% or 20%, which means a fair bit of overhead if you're looking to purchase 20 or 30 units, plus ammo and accessories, to start a business.
Take those numbers to Internet, and things change radically.

Nowadays, you can deal directly with manufacturers in the Far East, depending on how many units you ordering. By skipping the middleman and having your goods shipped by the slow boat, you can get far more bang for your buck and the quality is comparable or even just as good as what you might find retail here.

Depending on the item, of course.

After only a few hours of researching today. I was pleased to discover that setting up a Nerf business would not cost thousands, but rather only a few hundred dollars. While some companies out there have rather large minimum order requirements, others do not and I've bookmarked several that I'll be checking up on come the spring.

I should order early so they actually arrive by the end of spring…

October 9 – Deals and Castles!

I played tourist today, with my girlfriend, at a castle! We decided to see a local landmark that neither of us have visited yet, an oversight that we felt we needed to correct today.

Craigdarroch Castle was built in the late 1800s, on the highest point of land in the Victoria area with the best view of the countryside around. It was built by the immensely wealthy Dunsmuir family, whose fortune was derived from coal mines, railroads and other endeavors of the era.

The castle is four floors of luxurious splendor, with stained glass windows and less stress carved wood everywhere. The ceilings are all at least 10 foot high, with the main floor being even higher and the sense of luxury permeating the building throughout.

I'd be remiss in trying to capture the feeling of exploring the Castle in only a few words here. Places like Craigdarroch have to be experienced first-hand and not through pictures, glorious as they may be. I absolutely love this sort of architecture and could have easily spent the entire day wandering around the Castle, peering in all the tiny details from behind velvet ropes:

I'll probably go back in a few years and experience it all over again.

PS - as an added bonus, on the way to the castle today, we stopped at Staples to pick up a camera case to keep my new camera safe. Wouldn't you know it that not only did I find a great case on clearance, that fit my camera perfectly ( and was the last one! )but I also picked up a 64gb high-speed card for half-price because of a pricing error on the shelf – what a great day for deals!

October 10 – Museum Gold!

It was another day of exploration – again indoors, but this time due to the weather.

A cool, cloudy and rainy day meant that my lady and I wanted to spend the day indoors, and what better place than the world-renowned Royal BC Museum? We just made it under the wire to see the premiere of the IMAX film Galapagos, which is a stunning nature documentary about the incredible and unique biosphere native to those isolated islands first visited by Darwin so long ago.

After the film, we went to see the main exhibit, which has changed since I was there last year, and it's a spectacular one now: the Lure of El Dorado, the promise of gold!

There was a lot of gold on display, which explained why there were so many security guards wandering around the place. I took some wonderful pictures, with my new camera again performing brilliantly: it's intelligent enough to perfectly expose the image under the artificial lighting almost every time, and I couldn't be happier with how most of them turned out:

Once the allure of gold had faded somewhat, my lady and I went off to explore the rest of the museum. She was quite taken with the natural history section, where we discovered this fellow whose friends have been in the news of late:

As for myself, my favorite place to visit at the Royal BC Museum is always Old Town, part of the Modern History Galleries in the heart of the museum. Wandering around the massive gallery, you can easily feel as though you've been transported through time into the past – I love it! You believe me there all day and I'd be as happy as a clam in a tidal pool.

October 11 – Turkey After All!

Today didn't quite go as planned but it all worked out for the best.  

I had wanted to clean out my storage area somewhat, putting up a lot of things for sale on eBay, but it seems that not everything I stored was complete. My Amiga system, for example, is inexplicably missing both of the mice that I had used for decades, which are nowhere to be found. Without a mouse, the system's value drops considerably and though it's still running smoothly, I can't list it along with the hundreds of other accessories without this most basic piece. So I managed to find cheap replacement on eBay am I'll have to wait until it arrives before listing the entire package. The same went for a few other things that I thought were complete and by late afternoon I had only managed to list one item out of a dozen on eBay - silly and frustrating.

The silliness continued when my lady and I met my parents for an early Thanksgiving dinner. We had made reservations at the Yates St Taphouse, where we were looking forward to a sumptuous meal of three courses. However, my astute girlfriend notice that the menu’s main course had two separate dates listed: Oct 11th was shown as serving ham, and October 12th was Turkey.

Since there was no turkey, we quietly left in search of a last-minute place that might meet our needs. Several places that we called / visited told us that it would be close to 8 PM before any space would open up, which was hours away.

Fortunately, because I had checked out the options earlier in the week, I knew that there was still one place nearby that might be able to help us: The Beacon Drive-In. We all drove over there and within 15 min., had plates of hot Thanksgiving turkey dinner set in front of us, for less than half of what it would've cost us any of the other places. The meal was delicious, dessert and all and we all agreed that it perhaps was the best choice that could've been made, even given the circumstances.

Strange how things work out sometimes.

Having a four-day weekend was wonderful and it's incredible to think that there's only tomorrow left to get whatever else I need done before the workweek begins again. It's going to be a busy week two, with things going on every night, including a friend’s book launch and an important business meeting for me, so they'll be little else getting done this week.