Monday, November 13, 2006

Kurt Vonnegut / Getting old

I was just reading a Wikipedia article about Kurt Vonnegut.

As far as I am aware he is the greatest living American novelist.
He was born in 1922. He is getting old.

That Wikipedia article has a quote:
The Army kept me on because I could type, so I was typing other people's discharges and stuff. And my feeling was, 'Please, I've done everything I was supposed to do. Can I go home now?' That's what I feel right now. I've written books. Lots of them. Please, I've done everything I'm supposed to do. Can I go home now?

Historically most human beings died long before they were adults and most people reading this consider themselves to be adults. We are all getting older.

Slaughterhouse-Five, Or the Children's Crusade
is his masterpiece. It is about the futility of free will. Does Billy Pilgrim really have a chance? Do any of us know what fate has in store for us? It is also about not giving up and doing the best with what life gives us. Relax and be happy.

I agree with the basic premise that life is already written. Some of my biggest struggles have been against walls that I did not have a chance of getting over. While other things that I did manage to overcome were things freely provided at birth to some others.

Of course, there are billions alive today who did not have the level of privileges that was provided to me. So I have little reason to cry over my fate. One can observe with open eyes though and hope for the best.

And so it goes.
Do good.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Photo Changes / Optimism

I was trying out some new / old software yesterday. I have been using the free and shareware editions of ACDSee for years and have always found it to be a great and easy to use to organize and view my photos. Yesterday I downloaded a 7-day trial updated version.

It has all the old basics along with a couple of new wrinkles. The built-in editor was great and I just might have to give in and make a purchase. This editor did a great job of updating some of my old web pictures. The newest part that I like is the automatic exposure and removal of color cast options. It is once again amazingly easy it is to do some web things that formerly were difficult to do.

I also updated some of the oldest pictures on my web pages. Many of these are the larger pictures that open up from the little thumbnail buttons. (Yes I know that almost no-one every does that but I have not given up hope). Some examples include the FijiMe and MelleFr self-portraits from 1975 and 76.

It has been pointed out to me that my previous post seemed horribly pessimistic... but anyone seeing me on that beach in Fiji will realize that I have had some great times in my life. I remain highly optimistic that some of those great times will come again.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Optimism and Pessimism

I wrote something on my other blog about some recent writings on Conrad Black. Best quote in the article is the final word's of Conrad's father: "Life is hell," he told his son as they awaited the doctor. "Most people are bastards, and everything is bullshit."

I can be slightly more positive. I recently heard something on the radio about Pessimists just being Optimists with more knowledge. I hope that there is more to life than that.

This is where my human ability to believe in two opposite things at once comes into play. I truly think that is truly the biggest and most important human trait. We all know that human life is bullshit. One has only to gaze once at the clear night sky to realize that all that we covet and desire amounts "to a hill of beans in this crazy world" as Rick in Casablanca said.

On a conscious level I know that life is terrible and nothing under the sun is with fair or unfair. Things just are. But that does not mean that we can't just go on pretending that what we do has meaning. That is fine as long we also realize that all human consciousness is just a form of pretending.

Human life has meaning because that is what humans believe in. We are human so we act as humans do.

So it goes.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Cinnamon the dog

This is the noble Cinnamon. (She was formerly the symbol of this web site). 'Nimmers' was a Maltese / Poodle cross breed dog. She was originally given to my sister while I was still living at home in Vancouver. She ended living with me for many years while I was making an attempt to be a responsible young adult.

Cinnamon was a true friend. There were many times traveling in the seventies when I would have liked to take a bus and stay in a cheap hotel. But with a dog this was difficult to do.

We hitchhiked across BC and Alberta many times. There were many nights that she kept my feet warm inside my sleeping bag. I was always afraid that a bear would come along and try to quiet a yapping dog. It was sometimes hard to keep her quiet when she was being protective.

I have never had children so there have been questions about my ability to handle responsibility; but taking care of a small dog for several years while in my twenties took a lot of commitment.

Cinnamon made friends easily. There were many people over the years who told just how much they disliked small yappy dogs. Cinnamon melted hearts though. Some of those same people ask me decades later about her fate.

She never learned few tricks that most people would recognize as such. She was smart and was quite capable of thinking on her own. One time in Dome Creek we were crossing the Fraser River railway bridge when a slow moving train snuck up behind us. I had plenty of time to jump off to the side platforms. But I had no time to return for my dog. She was frozen in the middle of the tracks as the train approached. She froze as I yelled at her to get off the tracks. It looked like she was going to be yet another of the many animals that had been killed on that span. At the last moment though, she figured it out and stepped to the side of the tracks and lay down until the train passed. Good old dog!

She was also great on city streets. I would walk her down the sidewalks of Robson Street in Vancouver without a leash. She would rush back and forth but never cross the street until told.

Cinnamon lived a long life and eventually ended her final few years living with my sister in Ontario.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Whats New May 1999

I created my first What-New page in May 1999. It was my attempt at a weekly web page diary. During the early part of this period I was working in Northern California. So there are many pictures of the San Franciso area.

Eventually my interest in the weekly journal faded.
Some highlights include pictures of Vancouver and the BC coast in August 2001, March 2002, April 2002, May 2002, June 2002, July #1 2002, July #3 2002, August 2002, September 2002 and July 2003.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Another web page creation recollection

Eventually, I got better at this web page stuff; and the ability to upload and download larger photos gave me greater freedom to be expressive. By the time of my 2003 travels in Europe I was posting larger scale photos. I expect though that in a few years these photos will seem as quaint as the photos that I have scanned in from my family's photo albums.
Some of my ancient web pages -- such as the ones for and -- are in dire need of an upgrade. I apologize.
So what is good at Well, after I took some Internet Programming courses in 2003 I became pretty good at Active Server Page programming. That is the technology which I use to enforce standards and allow feedback. I use this on pages such as and to allow the popup photo viewing. Cool is it not?
There is a big downside though -- isn't there a downside to everything? Google has a huge problem cataloging the content of these ASP pages. In 2005 I was in the top 1 million web pages -- yes not much to brag about -- but now I am barely in the top 3 million. Ouch. So it is a constant battle between the ability to be ugly and slow and searchable or the ability to be fast and good-looking but hard to search.
My most recent web pages are those for New York 2006 and the Fraser / Thompson areas of BC. Both pages have nice pictures but need some more words...

Sunday, October 08, 2006 - a brief history

I have had the dream that I invented the web blog... but of course I did not. Perhaps I should have though. I have been fooling around on the Internet since early 1996 and making personal web page dairies at since May 1999.

It is finally time to put some of my Internet effort into blogging. HTML web page development is such a nineties thing to do. There are many things on my web pages that I always intended toupdate. I have had the recent thought that it might just make some snarky updates and remarks here instead.

It is interesting to look back on my early efforts. I was living in Armstrong, British Columbia when I made my first web page. Things that seemd to took forever are now just so easy. I remember downloading some early wisiwyg editors. On my old 286 processor PC I found that a person would fall asleep waiting for the pages to render. So I soon learned to do a lot of my creation on basic text editors. I still do most of my html coding that way.

And the picture editing! I would send slides film off to Seattle Film Works and they would return the slides and scanned images on floppy. I was using an 2600 baud modem to surf the net, so would load pages without the images. Then if things seemed particularly interesting I would view the pictures.

In my earliest web creation efforts I put little thumbnail pictures on the page and linked them to seperate pages that contained a larger version of the image. Unfortunately the linked image page was not much larger and generally in poor quality. My first publishing effort was my Armstrong BC page. It originally had many more poor quality photos but I have reduced it to just a few kept for old times

Eventually I got a digital camera and started carrying on my long range trips. In early 2000 I made a round the world trip with camera and mini-laptop computer. It was an educational experience trying to upload via modem from Japanese radio stations and to recharge batteries on a Russian train trip. During this period my pictures became more interesting and I started the Whats-new pages. I thought though, that 250 by 250 pixels was a huge picture size and rarely went even that hi-rez on my pages. Examples are found on my Year 2000 trip pages.