Life of Dave

Life of Dave

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Santa Shuffle 2016

I think this one could alternatively be called the "Santa Sniffle"as I woke up with a sore throat last Saturday but went on our regular Saturday run anyway. It's not like I had the flu or anything. It turned into a sinus cold to accompany me through my week. I was a bit concerned by a threateningly wet forecast for the Santa Shuffle today (Saturday), but I guess Santa judged us runners to be "good" rather than "bad" and blessed us with a dry course through the east side of Stanley Park.

As a bonus it turned into my best 5 km time to date (~29 minutes) as indicated by my self-timed phone-based running app).

Jane, me and Leona at the start line.
Not the best selfie in the world but I was still catching my breath post finish.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Avian Eulogy

I had a rather startling experience yesterday while on my regular lunchtime walk around the office complex where I work. I was on the return leg heading north as I watched a jet plane approaching YVR, which is normal. Our offices are (somewhat unsettlingly) below the flight path to the airport. As I watched the jet glide past I heard another plane approaching.
From the pitch I judged it to be a propeller-driven plane. Normally I’m not much of a plane aficionado; I’m more of a car nut. By this statement I mean I don’t regularly go out of my way to crane my neck to view a plane, but, inexplicably, I did in this case. And as I swung my head back into its normal arc I also noticed a flock of birds ahead of me, and also potentially in the path of the plane, although I really didn’t focus too much on it at that instant.
But perspective is a funny thing (although not for the bird in question I’m afraid). I had perhaps 2 or 3 seconds to ponder the altitude of that particular flock of birds in relation to the approaching aircraft before I witnessed the intersection of mechanical flight with natural flight, the result being a surprisingly audible “Pop” (or two or three; I really can’t recall how many) following by a small white mid-air explosion. Obviously it wasn’t the plane that took the brunt of the collision.
Somewhat in shock of what I’d just witnessed I watched a small white bundle gently drift earthward, quickly darkening to bright red as it descended. As I say, I don’t know how many birds were ploughed through, but I’d say either two or more birds fell from the sky in various quadrants, or else parts of the same bird were strewn in various directions.
I’m leaning towards the “strewn in various directions” theory because as I walked further and approached the building I work in, I noticed a woman turn and look down at the pavement as she walked a block or so ahead of me. I was quite confident in my prediction of what I would find as she had made such an obvious motion to turn and observe. Unless I had not witnessed the initial aerial collision I don’t think I’d have immediately been able to identify what I discovered on the asphalt.
The colour was intensely red, poppy red, and three small piles were arranged almost artfully amongst the fallen autumn leaves. Again, perspective is everything, and if this had been a different arena, say as restaurant critique, I’d have been expecting to be introduced to a plated appetizer of caviar. Another mental image that immediately came to mind was a scene from “The Blair Witch Project” that has always stayed with me; the scene where the protagonists, lost in the forest traveling in seemingly endless circles (a la “Groundhog Day”) discover a “present” outside their tent of some unidentifiable animal (or human) remains. 
Again, if I hadn’t witnessed it I probably wouldn’t have believed the force with which propeller blades could fling material with which they had collided.
My prayer is that the bird died on impact and never knew what hit it. Rest in peace little bird.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Tofino Time "With Intensity!"

As another restorative Tofino extra-long weekend winds down I wonder how it is that such a highly anticipated vacation could end so quickly. We’re not exactly home yet by any stretch, although it’s now the last evening in our cabin avec hot tub fronting Chesterman Beach.

We experienced a rather monotonous tone of weather this trip, mostly rain, although seemingly gale force at times. It certainly was a good test of my rain gear. My aged rain pants failed btw and had to be replaced in Tofino. They now complement the gumboots I bought in Uclulet years ago. We walked Tannah along the beach this morning and actually had to bail, returning via the road though the neighbourhood rather than along the beach because when we turned around to retrace out footsteps to the cabin we were being sandblasted by 45 degree wind. The raindrops actually stung our faces. I felt like one of those Florida reporters you see on TV sent to cover the hurricane du jour, battling Mother Nature just to maintain verticality.

Prior to departure from home the weather forecast had us on the edge of our seats as well as to whether or not we’d actually be able to pass through Port Alberni. A flood watch had been issued and the main bridge on Highway 4 was closed for a while. Traffic was being re-routed, lead by a pilot car. All was fine by the time we arrived however. Fortunately we’d padded our schedule with extra time in case of such diversions. A number of years ago (at least 10, probably 15 years ago) we’d cut it too close on a winter trip to Tofino by traveling on a later ferry and staying too long in Coombs. We learned the harrowing way that it’s best to arrive in Tofino during daylight hours rather than driving through intense rain after dark on a freshly paved road minus painted centre lines with tailgating locals pressuring us to exceed posted speed limits.

This has been a very satisfying trip in all aspects, including photographically. Armed with three cameras I managed to transform most of what intrigued me into pixelated format. Learning the art of photography has been an interesting journey thus far. Probably the best lesson I’ve learned (and it took a long time to master) was not getting hung up on how I think other photographers do things. In my opinion photography is very much about “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Don’t worry about how you think someone else would frame a shot or even choose a scene. I used to think that “real” photographers always got their shot the first or second try, or used the same camera for all their shots. Maybe some do, but I doubt it’s the norm.

This afternoon we had just finished watching the last 20 minutes of the football game (the BC Lions pulled the rug out from under the Blue Bombers in the last minutes of the game after trailing to that point) when I noticed the light outside was noticeably yellow (it actually reminded me of the yellow smoky haze that had crept into this area the last time we were here during the abnormally hot summer of 2014). At the same time I realized the torrential rain had stopped. That golden glow was the setting sun! To the beach; stat!

I almost missed that all-important sunset light. The colour range of ambient light I experienced in only about 5 minutes is astounding. By the time I donned my outdoor gear and was out the door that golden glow was well underway and it was transitioning into a purplish hue as I searched for a suitable silhouette subject to complement it.

This shot was taken only about 10 minutes later than the previous one.
So…another trip and another experience to reinforce that it really is all about the light. My task is to learn how to capture as many variances of light as possible with whichever camera I happen to have at my disposal. That’s another key concept; the best camera for the job is the one you happen to have with you.
Lots of November surfing action at Tofino. 
Tannah had a blast too.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Autumn Rainbow

This morning we were pleasantly surprised by what turned out to be a double rainbow. It was a perfect introduction to a November motorcycle day, and an almost unprecedented 17 to 19 degree (Celsius!) afternoon. However, I have to admit I'm a bit unnerved by such spring-like temperatures so late in the year.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Hope 2016

One more day before the scariest day of the (four) year (cycle): US Election Day!

And with the Holiday Season almost upon us (it is mere days post-Halloween, after all J) one can only hope that mean ol’ Mr. Potter won’t get his chance to transform Bedford Falls into Pottersville.

One can only hope.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Autumn Colours

Every year I marvel at how quickly the leaves go from hanging around (literally) to clogging up the catch basins. In September it always seems impossible that they'll release their grips and cascade down from the trees. It seems like in no time at all the trees have been stripped bare to reveal a secret squirrel highway system obscured half the year by a curtain of leaves.

It's not like the squirrels have gotten bused in from out-of-province specifically for nut season, but I was certainly not aware of this many of them during summer. The trees in the office complex where I work are presently over-run with them. I happen to have a ring-side seat too because my desk is directly opposite a wall of windows on the second floor where I am often distracted by black, brown or grey flashes of fur zipping up, down and across tree branches, often leaping from tree to tree.

Needless to say, I don't have any squirrel photos; they're far too quick. Maybe they're shutter-smart. Which naturally leads me to leaf photos, which you don't have to be overly quick to capture. And mushroom photos. I am still in denial that those red ones are actually real. Don't they belong in a Disney Snow White cartoon, being carefully tended by a squadron of garden gnomes?

Oh yeah, and a doughnut.

I mean, a pumpkin. What screams Autumn more loudly than a creme-filled, orange-glazed seasonally appropriate doughnut?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Motorcycle Toy Cruise

The weather cooperated this weekend for the annual Vancouver motorcycle cruise to donate toys to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau. It's been about 20 years since I last participated so since getting back on a motorcycle this season I marked the date on my calendar quite a number of months ago. I was expecting a big turn out, but not quite this big. We definitely numbered in the thousands this morning. It's was a blast! Lots of groups of people lined the road and waved as we passed, on our way from Coquitlam Centre mall to the PNE grounds. It took about an hour.

It looks deceptively unbusy, but this was not the main parking lot.
The line up awaiting release from the parking lot holding pen.
This shot starts to give a sense of how many bikes were there.