Sure, I believe in Santa Claus

You should too, and I’ll tell you why in a moment.

I had a great Christmas, and I got some nice gifts, too. There’s people who want to enjoy Christmas, but can’t. There’s things going on in their lives at the moment which make it hard to get into the spirit. I understand that. I’ve had some pretty tough Christmas’ … Christmasis… Christmase’?

If I reach all the way to the farthest back of my memory shelf the first Christmas I can remember was decorating the tree with my father. He had these small tin candle holders from his childhood in Europe. They had clips on the bottom that you’d clip to the tree. Then put a small candle, almost like a birthday candle, in it. Yes, and you’d light it. I understand the mental image is enough to send most everyone running for a fire extinguisher, but those were different times. And by the way, the tree looked magical with the room lights off and the tiny, gold, flicker of candles on it.

I remember another year when i got a Major Matt Mason, the space station and lunar walker. It was the most awesome thing ever. I still feel a thrill at the idea of playing with that thing. It could climb over almost anything, including our Doberman.

I’ve got a stock pile of past Christmas memories and every year there are new memories to add to that collection.

I’ve had Christmas’ that I’ve been entirely alone. Not by choice. I’ve been poor, sick, lonely. I’ve been sad, worried, and in one case, devastated. Yeah, I’ve had some very bad times. I remember them.

I know I’m not alone. Others have had their share of hard times at Christmas. I suppose things like that have taken the luster off the day for them. Others like to make out that they’re too adult, mature, wise, or what have you, so instead of taking part they like to tell you about when they stopped believing in Santa Claus, or how it’s just plain silly, or recite the history of St. Nick, or the origins of the Christmas tree. They seem to feel that by telling any one, who’ll listen to them, ‘the facts’ that they are saving you from participating in a fallacy.

It’s not a fallacy. Their ‘facts’ are only blinders that keep them from seeing the real magic that happens during Christmas. I do believe in Santa Claus because every year I’m lavished with the gifts of memories of Christmas’ past. Cherished friends and family. Kindness from strangers. Parties, songs, moments of ridiculous fun, laughing to tears, and on it goes. It happens every year. Even the bad memories have their place because I can look back on those, knowing I’ve made it through, see where I am now and feel the gratitude, and appreciation of how my family, friends, and even a stranger were there for me. Picked me up and dusted me off.

This Christmas is over, now, but I’ll find the memory of it again next year. Wrapped with a shiny bow and I’ll relive the moments with my wonderful daughters, a priceless wife, irreplaceable friends. There’ll be good food, cigars, the Rifleman theme song, and Red Rider BB guns.

That’s why I do believe in Santa Claus and you should too.

I’m a zoom’n fool and excited to be one

I got an early Christmas present from Karen last week. I don’t know what I did to deserve this amazing woman in my life. Personally I think someone in the Fate Department totally screwed up some paperwork and I got her by mistake, but I won’t tell anyone.

So yeah, last weekend I find myself slobbering over my new present, the Canon SX30 IS.

It’s the latest release from Canon, and I mean latest as in just came out a couple of weeks ago.

Until the competition comes out with something more powerful, this is the king of super zoom cameras.

 

I’ll throw a couple of numbers at you, but don’t worry, there’s nobody has to do any math.  This camera has a 35x optical zoom, meaning it will magnify something the human eye sees 35 times. Most binoculars are 8x, by the way. But wait, there’s more. It also has a 4x digital zoom and no, that’s not 4 times magnification of what your eye sees, oh no. It’s 4 times the magnification of the 35x optical zoom. That comes out to 144x magnification, or 3360mm!

Okay, so what’s all of this mean to us humans? Allow me to elucidate.

This picture was taken without using any zoom. See those hills in the distance, between the building and the lamp poll? Maybe you’re wondering what’s on those hills?

 

I zoomed all the way in and this is what I shot.

 

That is not retouched or photoshoped. The heat, distance, and haze account for the washed out look, but with a little work in post and it would be clear and sharp. I am amazed at this. The image stabilization on this camera is staggeringly good. This picture is hand held, i.e., no tripod.

 

I checked google maps to see how far away I was from this. Click on the image to see the full size map. By enlarging your browser window it’ll zoom the linked image.

The weather station is at point A and I was at point B. That’s about eight miles in distance. Eight!

Bloody heck!

 

Last weekend Karen and I had breakfast with Mark, who was able to tear himself away from his Sunday laundry ritual. A sacrifice few mortal men could endure. He brought his camera and we geeked out over cameras and settings.

While there I tried out the macro ability on a creamer cup.

 

 

 

I have a very nice Nikon D80 which I have used for a good while. It’s a top quality camera, but I have to say that the features of the SX30 are too hard to resist. I’d never claim to be a good photographer. That’s a title I’d give Mark. He takes some great shots. For me, I want to be creative and spontaneous without tripping over my own photographic ignorance, and that’s what the SX30 does. It helps me get out of my own way.

Lots of people take lots and lots of pictures and many look the same, but, and it’s a big ‘but’, when you have the ability to insanely zoom in on something it changes the playing field dramatically and opens up possibilities that I could never do before. Like for instance… Go ahead and click on this image to see a larger version. I didn’t include the actual full image because it’s just obnoxiously huge… which delights me to no end.

I can tell I’m going to have a lot of fun with this new camera. I’m hoping Karen has the patience to deal with me as I stop every five minutes to take yet another picture. I’ll be sharing as I go and hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy taking them.

I’m a zoom’n fool and excited to be one

I got an early Christmas present from Karen last week. I don’t know what I did to deserve this amazing woman in my life. Personally I think someone in the Fate Department totally screwed up some paperwork and I got her by mistake, but I won’t tell anyone.

So yeah, last weekend I find myself slobbering over my new present, the Canon SX30 IS.

It’s the latest release from Canon, and I mean latest as in just came out a couple of weeks ago.

Until the competition comes out with something more powerful, this is the king of super zoom cameras.

 

I’ll throw a couple of numbers at you, but don’t worry, there’s nobody has to do any math.  This camera has a 35x optical zoom, meaning it will magnify something the human eye sees 35 times. Most binoculars are 8x, by the way. But wait, there’s more. It also has a 4x digital zoom and no, that’s not 4 times magnification of what your eye sees, oh no. It’s 4 times the magnification of the 35x optical zoom. That comes out to 144x magnification, or 3360mm!

Okay, so what’s all of this mean to us humans? Allow me to elucidate.

This picture was taken without using any zoom. See those hills in the distance, between the building and the lamp poll? Maybe you’re wondering what’s on those hills?

 

I zoomed all the way in and this is what I shot.

 

That is not retouched or photoshoped. The heat, distance, and haze account for the washed out look, but with a little work in post and it would be clear and sharp. I am amazed at this. The image stabilization on this camera is staggeringly good. This picture is hand held, i.e., no tripod.

 

I checked google maps to see how far away I was from this. Click on the image to see the full size map. By enlarging your browser window it’ll zoom the linked image.

The weather station is at point A and I was at point B. That’s about eight miles in distance. Eight!

Bloody heck!

 

Last weekend Karen and I had breakfast with Mark, who was able to tear himself away from his Sunday laundry ritual. A sacrifice few mortal men could endure. He brought his camera and we geeked out over cameras and settings.

While there I tried out the macro ability on a creamer cup.

 

 

 

I have a very nice Nikon D80 which I have used for a good while. It’s a top quality camera, but I have to say that the features of the SX30 are too hard to resist. I’d never claim to be a good photographer. That’s a title I’d give Mark. He takes some great shots. For me, I want to be creative and spontaneous without tripping over my own photographic ignorance, and that’s what the SX30 does. It helps me get out of my own way.

Lots of people take lots and lots of pictures and many look the same, but, and it’s a big ‘but’, when you have the ability to insanely zoom in on something it changes the playing field dramatically and opens up possibilities that I could never do before. Like for instance… Go ahead and click on this image to see a larger version. I didn’t include the actual full image because it’s just obnoxiously huge… which delights me to no end.

I can tell I’m going to have a lot of fun with this new camera. I’m hoping Karen has the patience to deal with me as I stop every five minutes to take yet another picture. I’ll be sharing as I go and hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy taking them.

Reality-1, Fantasy-0

It’s a strange and hostile land. You’re cautious but untroubled. Sounds of unknown things growl and scurry beyond the murky distance. Menace lives in every shadow and dark place. Yet you wear confidence like a second skin. What ever this place holds you know you’ll handle it. Something is coming. You can hear it getting closer with a whooshing pop. Suddenly a geyser of fire jets up next to you setting flame to the dress of the girl next to you.
Without missing a beat you snatch her away from the gout of flame and beat the fire from her clothing.
Eyes wide and breathing quickly see fixates on the wisps of smoke curling up from her scorched dress. Cool and un-rattled, you give her a wry smile saying, “That was an adventure.”
You are the Dread Pirate Roberts. (from Princes Bride)
dread-pirate-roberts

Yeah, as much as I like to imagine I’m that guy… I’m not that guy.
Calm, cool, and collected. Confident under pressure. Doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘stress’. Not even close. At least, not these days. I can give you the meaning, origin, and Latin root of the word ‘stress’. Heck, I’m a fricken walking dictionary for words like ‘tense’, ‘suspense’, ‘nervous’.

Okay, I’m not always that bad. Everyone’s got their limit. When I’m under my limit I laugh in the face of danger. I smirk at doom.
Not these days. I’m so far above my limit I can see my house from here. Heck, I can see your house from up here.
Birds Eye View of Toronto, Canada

This time, though, I’m not a basket case over something bad. On the contrary. It’s good. It’s excitement. Although it’s easy to confuse fear, stress, and worry with excitement. They’re both butterflies zooming around inside you. It’s just that sometimes those butterflies have tattoos of skulls and black widows on their arms and carry chainsaws, and sometimes they don’t, but they all can keep you awake at night, be distracting, make you fidgety… you know the drill.

Except for August, every month of the year has a special event. In eight short days, August will leap to the front of the pack with five. Two of them, which you can relate to most easily, are Karen’s arrival, and our wedding.

In light of all of this hand wringing, butterfly zooming, lack of sleep stuff it’s without an ounce of cynicism that I say getting married is not that big a deal to me. Maybe a more accurate way to put it is that it’s not the act of getting married, it’s the ‘who’ I’m getting married to.
I’ve been married before. I was too young the first time. Too blind the second. And I thought I was too jaded for there to be a third.
The jaded part was believing that there was no way there was a woman who was equal to my expectations and believe me, I have a cavalcade of expectations a mile long. I’m pretty sure there’s a marching band in there somewhere.

Well, I was wrong. In fact it’s been the longest incident of being wrong in recorded history, that I know if. It started 30 plus years ago when I let Karen go back to England and on August 14th I’m putting an end to it.

As far as the jittery nerves, excitement, and all of that. The best way to describe it is like being blind for half your life and knowing that in a few days your sight will be given back to you. You and the world around you will still be the same, and yet everything will be fundamentally changed. Almost like you’re being given a new life to live, pre-furnished.

So, while I’d like to think I’m the calm, caviler guy with the easy grin, reality says I look just a bit different.
stressed_kitty