Volunteer Strike

November 17, 2012

I appears to me, more and more, that volunteer groups are doing the work that we pay tax dollars to have our governments do. Look at our hospitals and shelters. They wouldn’t survive without the volunteers and fund raisers. The Occupy Sandy group is a perfect example of this in the US. Volunteers putting the Red Cross and FEMA to shame by getting things done in a timely manner without the bureaucracy.

Perhaps all of these volunteer groups should go on strike and demand that tax dollars go where people feel they are a priority before they go to projects that just line the pockets of politicians and industry. I think our governments are starting to depend on the kind hearts of people a little too much, and I don’t think they really appreciate it as much as they perhaps should.

But it won’t happen because the government knows that people won’t just sit back and let people suffer. That’s their job.

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Occupy Everything

November 5, 2012

Plan B Protesters

I don’t normally follow politics very closely because it frustrates me to witness the illogical insanity of it and be helpless to do anything about it. Lately I have been following it here in PEI and yes, it’s about to drive me into Ward 9. People say, “You CAN do something”. They tell me to vote. That just makes me shake my head and think, “Could there be anything more minimal than that”? Taking 20 minutes every few years to put an X on a ballot isn’t exactly what comes to mind when I see how dysfunctional our political system is and how much needs to be done. There has to be something more.

Groups like Occupy Wall Street make more sense to me. I saw this type of group in action when the Stop Plan B protesters organized themselves. They get things done. They don’t have any money or a leader and they don’t have an office and they dam well get things done, almost instantly. It’s amazing to watch.

Now there’s Occupy Sandy (Hurricane Sandy, that is), in New York City that’s out performing the Red Cross, and FEMA, and the police. They are providing REAL support. They have nothing more than a group of willing people and they’re able to gather up food, blankets, water, batteries, provide shelters, and generators, etc. And they do it almost instantly because they don’t have the red rape and bureaucracy to tend with. They don’t have the lawyers saying “Protect your ass or you’ll need me for more than just advise. I’ll have some forms drawn up for you in a week”.

They’re using social media to communicate to a large group of people who volunteer to help. Within minutes they have a website up where people can go for information. They have a facebook group and they twitter and they branch out and organize when needed. People being the helping souls that they were meant to be and loving it.

A week after Hurricane Sandy I had a look at the the Red Cross and FEMA websites. They have a form that you can fill out if you want to volunteer and another one to apply for assistance. There’s no information on shelters or where a person can go for food or provisions. Oh and they have pretty pictures of people helping the smiling injured. AGHGHHH! I can only imagine how useless the people in NYC find this. It must be very frustrating for them. Their website should be a hub of information, should it not? Thank goodness they have people like the Occupy Sandy group actually on the front lines.

And here in Canada, I’m sure it wouldn’t be any better. I just pray that we don’t actually need to depend on CCEP or the Red Cross if something like this should happen. Thank goodness for these small, altruistic groups who are constantly mocked and ridiculed. They know how to organize when the need arises. THEY are the font line workers. THEY are the ones I depend on to some day kick some government ass and make them do the jobs that our tax dollars pay them to do.

Maybe we need to occupy everything.

What’s Happening To Our Food

February 3, 2012

It’s been a while since I blogged. Here’s something new for me to rant about… food.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about food and the food industry. I’ve also spent a lot of time changing my diet over that past five years. It’s a slow process but I think I’m as “there” as I can be. I eat about 60% organic and I buy local products when I can get them. I eat small side servings of local meat so it’s never the main part of my meal. It’s been three years since I’ve bought any industrial farmed meat that they sell at the Super Store or Sobey’s. I also keep a few hens for eggs. (If you need eggs call me.)

Eggs

Good food is expensive. It shouldn’t be but that’s another rant. It is… I look at this way. Everyone has their causes that they support. I support the environment as one of my causes and I support it by spending a little extra at the grocery store. I eat better and the earth/environment benefits from it. It feels good. How can I go wrong doing that?

In a nutshell here’s my synopsis of what’s happening.

The food industry wants you to buy as much food as possible, understandably, so they make money. The problem is that food doesn’t last unless you remove all the goodness from it. You know, the good fats, the antioxidants, and such that have a short shelf life. This is where processed food comes in. But it’s not food. It’s FILL. It hardly nourishes you and leaves you hungry unless you eat a lot of it, …frequently. It’s a scam, people. Rule number one according to Michael Pollen is, eat FOOD. REAL FOOD. And buy it as locally as possible so it’s fresh. Produce loses it’s nutritional value after only a few days.

See the problem with fake food (or edible food like substances as Michael Pollen puts it), is fundamental. It lacks food.

~ End of rant ~

Finding My Expression

April 12, 2011

Lately I’ve been a little less than inspired by the landscapes here on the Island. Until things begin to grow again and the birds return to nest, I don’t go out and take as many photos. What I do do at this time of year is go through a lot of my old photos and “play” with them.

I’m trying to find my “style”. Letting myself go wild in Photoshop in hopes that I might find the secret recipe to make my photos uniquely mine.

This is my latest one. I had a photo of this young Common Yellow-throat that had a few too many branches for my liking but the bird itself seemed pretty good. What could I do with that? Well, I could soften the branches and lighten them up, add a slight texture and fade out to the edges creating a light vignette. What do you think?

Common Yellow-throat

And a few more…

Blackburnian Warbler

Red-winged Blackbird

Beach Dune

I Prefer To Photograph Small Birds

March 28, 2010

While most photographers like to go after the large birds of prey for their dramatic poses and overall regal presence, I prefer to shoot the small birds. The tiny little Warblers and insect eaters like Kinglets and Flycatchers.  Large or small, they both have their challenges.  It can be difficult to locate large raptors and they tend to keep quite a distance. It is, needless to say, quite exciting when you do spot one. However, if they see you first, which they usually do, they don’t hesitate to fly off which tends to leave you with yet another shot of a large bird’s rear end in flight.

Is this Seagull hiding from the Eagle?

Looking for dinner

The small songbirds birds are more my style though and I always look forward to their spring arrival. The little ones seem to be everywhere in the summer and they can be just as challenging to photograph, if not more so, than the large raptors. They rarely sit still, but they also have this curiosity for new things which brings them considerably closer to investigate your presence.  Of course close is a relative term depending on the length of your lens.  I like their charm and their cheerfulness. They seem so delicate and yet they are able to survive some very harsh conditions.

Common Redpoll keeping warm by fluffing it's feathers

This Common Redpoll is a tiny finch that is able to withstand bitter cold. They fly south to spend the winter here and then return to the North for breeding.

Northern Parula

It won’t be long now before the little Warblers are back here singing their summer song and I’ll be out in the woods or on the pond looking for them. Can’t wait.

I guess if I had to give a photo tip for capturing small birds it would be… Walk softly and carry a big lens.

One Of Those Days

March 22, 2010

Sometimes photographing wildlife is very frustrating and more often than not the reward is not worth processing. Then there are days when everything is just out of reach of your lens.  For me that seems to be the case quite often.

I’ve been wanting to photograph a coyote for quite some time. It’s one of the few larger mammals here on the Island and I have rarely seen one let alone had a chance to photograph one.  This week I saw one AND I had my camera with me, but it was a field away from me and a 400mm lens just doesn’t have enough reach for that.  (Heavily cropped)

Coyote

After that disappointment I went over to the National Park and it seemed there were Eagles everywhere. I saw at least a dozen of them.  Again, they seemed to stay just out of reach of my lens.  (Heavily cropped)

Eagle In Flight

Eagle on the Marsh

Eagles Fighting

And the best shot of the day…

Common Crow

Oh well tomorrow is another day.

Seal In The Harbor

March 9, 2010

I was driving over the bridge at Covehead Harbor yesterday and spotted a little black blob in the water. At first I thought it was just a lost bouy but it disappeared for a few seconds and then re-appeared so I knew it must be a seal. I drove down to the harbor to have a look and noticed that it was eating a fish.

Interesting to watch how it maneuvered that flat fish around with it’s flippers while floating on it’s back.

Harbor Seal

The Kodak Hawks

March 7, 2010

My parents did not take a lot of photos.  We had a camera.  An old Kodak Brownie Hawkeye that Mom would take out on special occasions like first communions and any other day when we were forced to dress in our Sunday best.  There were also times when it was used to take photos of us at our worst, like when we were camping in Northern Ontario for weeks with only two changes of clothes.  But most of the time the camera sat on the top shelf of the bedroom closet. In fact all of the photos ever taken with that camera fit into one cigar box and a small album.

Then there was the Kodak 8mm Hawkeye 8 movie camera with it’s 13mm f2.3 lens.  Wind it up, press the button, and shoot.  Wow, what a familiar sound; that 24 frame per second sound of the camera and the projector.  It reminds me of every time I ever had to get dressed up, or down.  Again, this was kept in the top of the closet and only taken out for holidays and special occasions. Of course the movie projector was taken down for special visitors. Those lucky devils likely appreciated that we only had a handful of films for them to watch.

The Kodak Brownie and Hawkeye

Funny how not only the photos but the cameras that took the photos can bring back such vivid memories.

Windows 7 (64 bit)

February 27, 2010

So far the best that I can say about Windows 7 (64 bit) is that I’m not totally frustrated with it.  As with any new operating system, particularly Microsoft products, it takes a few weeks to tweak things to just the way you like them.  But it also takes a while for the glitches to start showing up.  So far I have only had a couple of quirky events where I had to restart my browser or reset some options, and one major freeze up where I had to I had to reboot the computer.

I was tempted, at first, to switch to a Mac but as it turns out it would have been a monumental task for me to at this particular period in time.  By staying with PC I manged to get away with not having to upgrade most of my software.  I’m now using Open Office which I’m liking a lot so far, and because Windows 7 will let you run a virtual copy of XP I’m able to run my current accounting software which is great.  I was very surprised that some applications like WordPerfect 10 actually installed with no problems at all even though the MS website said it would not run.  (They wouldn’t be pulling my leg now, would they.)

So in celebration of Windows… here’s a window.

Old Windows

Squirrels Amusing or Annoying

February 16, 2010

Is there anything more charming than the face of a squirrel?  They are one of those things, much like a laughing baby, that will never fail to make me smile.  Little clowns in a furry outfit that can maneuver their way into any bird feeder to steal a meal.  They’ll sit there eating all the best peanuts while looking in your window at you to make sure you’re watching their performance.

Red Squirrel

Now the dog… he doesn’t get the same pleasure from watching them as I do.  They seem to be his nemesis. His life-long mission; the pursuit and conclusion of that seed thieving, good-for-nothing, tree devil. If he ever caught one he would likely not know what to do with it.  It would just be one point for him against the thousands of points the squirrel has already accumulated.  What fun!