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Christmas Eve

Good morning everyone and Merry Christmas if you are into that sort of thing.

Some of you have read that Dad was a) declared free of the infection in his leg last week and b) it came back strong enough to almost kill him this week.  So he was super sick the last couple of days until the antibiotics started to fight their way back.  Well he is still super sick but not as sick as he was earlier this week.

Today was his first day back at work and we went and got him around 3:30.  While the malls may have been chaotic still, the rest of the city was slowing down.  We came home, had some coffee and hot chocolate.  I also went outside and lit a bunch of lanterns with candles and tea lights.  It gave the house a really cool glow.  We then had some Family Pizza delivered by 6:00 p.m.  After we had pizza, Oliver got to hand out the Christmas presents.

In my stocking was the expected chocolates, candies, and toothbrush.  I also got a Magnum M5 razor and blades.  The Gillette Sensor3 had fought the good fight but it was time to move on.  I also found the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy, a Saskatchewan Roughrider travel mug (Green is our colour, losing is our game), and Call of Duty: Ghosts in there.  Also there was a Sandisk 32 GB SD Card for my Pentax K-30.  I have a 16 GB card but this one is faster and will hold a lot of photos from next year when we hike in the mountains. To keep warm this winter, there were also some leather gloves.  Since I suck getting organized, there was a 2016 organizer from Staples in there.   Finally as is tradition, there was a magazine in there.  This year it was an edition of Sportsnet Magazine.  The whole stocking was pretty amazing.

For Christmas, Dad and Mom gave me a 24 inch television to go downstairs and Oliver gave me a Google Chromecast 2.  I had no idea but I can watch Netflix independently of what is being watched upstairs.  Of course I like watching nerdy documentaries with dad but I still love the gift.

Mom & Dad gave me a really great but discrete looking ring while Dad gave me a really nice stainless steel Timex Calgary Flames watch.  Hopefully the watch works better than the Flames have this season.  Mom gave me a Cross Adventura fountain pen and a couple of journals to write in as well.

Here is what The Art of Manliness says about keeping a journal

In studying the lives of great men, I’ve noticed a common trait: they were all consistent journal writers. Now, I’m not saying that their greatness is directly attributable to their journaling. I’m sure Captain Cook would still have been a bad ass even if he hadn’t kept a diary. But I figure, if great men like these thought it was important to keep a journal, maybe I should, too. Heck, if it weren’t for their journals, we probably wouldn’t know much about their great lives and deeds.
Here’s a short list of great men from history who kept journals:

  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Charles Darwin
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Captain Cook
  • Winston Churchill
  • Sir Edmund Hilary
  • Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton
  • Doogie Howser M.D I could go on, but I think you get the idea. 
  • Why Keep a Journal

    Your children and grandchildren will want to read it. I know it’s hard to believe right now. Your life probably seems quite ordinary and of little interest to anyone else. And every generation believes that life will pretty much continue on like it is now. When your great-grandpa was kicking it in the 1920’s, he thought to himself, “Who would want to read about this new fangled radio or how I get my food out of an icebox? Phhht! That’s boring stuff!” But it’s not boring anymore; to this generation, such a peak at the olden days is fascinating. And so it is with you. When your grandkids are talking to people via hologram, they are going to be absolutely fascinated by your impressions of those ancient things like the alta vista and cell phones. And unfortunately, they’re not going to be curious about it until they get into their 20’s, realize you’re going to die, and start asking you questions. 

    Trust me, while you think that you’ll be able to remember everything just as clearly in the future, you won’t. Remember when you were a kid and you thought your experiences would be easily recalled at age 30? Now what do you remember from those days besides that time a dog bit you in the face?

    As each year passes, the pixels of our memories burn out and the haze sets in. By age 80, you’ll only remember the faintest outlines of the big things that happened to you. But the stuff that’s really interesting is often the little, seemingly mundane details of life. What was a man’s daily routine like in 2009? Of course, the whipper snappers will ask you about the big stuff too: “Where were you when you found out about the attacks on the World Trade Center?” and “What did you think about the election of Barack Obama?” Your journals will give them the answers they’ll be looking for and will bring you closer.
    And who knows? Maybe the whole world might be interested in your musings someday. You may not think so now, but how many famous men knew that they would be famous before they actually burst onto the scene? And how many men were ignored in their lifetime, only to be celebrated after their death?

    To help me think of things to write about, Dad hit me up with some books on architecture and urban planning, something that the people of Saskatoon hate. I may have to leave town after I read these books.  I have a bunch of thoughts to journal and then blog about. 

    Santa made an appearance and gave me a North Face t-shirt and Air Conflicts: Pacific Carriers.

    Hutch gave me a Coleman trekking pole, and Marley gave me a Black Diamond Orbit 60 lumen lantern.  I had one before but someone stole it while on a school trip so it’s nice to get a new one.

    One present that is in progress is that Dad gave Marley a GoPro Fetch.  He put his GoPro on her.  At first she wasn’t crazy about it but got used to it.  Tomorrow you should be able to see what Christmas looked like from the dog’s perspective.

    The Ultimate Saskatchewan Road Trip: Brought to you by the 2015 Ford Focus

    Focus on Saskatchewan

    This weekend I find myself behind the driver’s seat of a 2015 Ford Focus.  When I say that I am behind the wheel, I am really behind the wheel… in the back seat of the Focus.

    The good news is that Ford Canada is lending us a 2015 Ford Focus and sending us across Saskatchewan to try it out.  We are heading down to Moose Jaw where we are staying at the Temple Garden’s Mineral Spa.   Then we are checking out the historic Claybank Brick Plant.   After that it is back to Moose Jaw where we are eating at the world famous Smoke’s Poutinerie before relaxing in the mineral spa.

    Sunday we are off to Rouleau and then Ogema where we will embark on the Southern Prairie Railway train for a historical look at the Saskatchewan prairies.  Then it is time to put in the iPod, find The Guess Who and crank this up.

    I’ll be posting photos here, Twitter, Instagram, and Flickr all weekend long.  It will be a fun weekend.

    Pentax DA 40mm f/2.8 XS Lens

    As thanks for babysitting Oliver for some of the summer, Dad and Mom gave me a Pentax DA 40mm f/2.8 XS Lens they picked up at Don’s Photo.  It’s a pancake lens and is the coolest lens I have ever seen.

    Pentax DA 40mm f/2.8 XS Lens

    Since I am using a APS-C sensor, it works out to be a 60mm Focal Length and was designed by Marc Newson who designed the look of the Pentax K-01.   It should be a great discrete lens to go on my camera when I do some street photography.  It’s pretty well rated and loved so I am really looking to try it out.  There will be lots of photos posted here.

    Exploring Prince Albert National Park

    It is my birthday tomorrow (Happy Victoria Day by the way) but yesterday Dad, Mom, Oliver and I drove to Prince Albert National Park to do a day of hiking and photographs.

    Dad and Mom gave me an imitation MSR Pocket Rocket stove, a fuel canister, and a mess kit.  

    Imitation MSR Pocket Rocket Stove

    The stuff should last me for years. It is really cool.  I will use it on our hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin in June.

    The mess kit has a bowl, frying pan, and a pot to cook things in. It also has one of those cheap cups that I won’t bring with me (I’ll have my travel mug). It was a cool early birthday gift.

    After that I packed up my camera gear (I took my Pentax K-x, my 70-210mm and 35mm lenses) and got into the car where we drove to Prince Albert and then Waskesiu. From there we drove to the Narrows, descended down a lot of stairs (while realizing that what goes down must also climb back up) and explored the Narrows Trail for a couple of kilometres. As Mom tweeted last night, we did hear a black bear in the trees but we mostly saw and talked to a lot of other hikers who were all having a good time.

    After that we drove to the Waskesiu River trail where we walked the boardwalk and then walked for a couple of kilometres back to the trailhead. Oliver was exhausted by that time so we went back into Waskesiu, got some food, checked out Outer Limits, got some ice cream, and headed back home.

    We wanted to hike the Mud Creek Trail but Oliver was tired and I don’t think it would have been any fun for him if we made him go on a “forced hike”. Plus, the trails took a toll on his body. We were 5 minutes into the Narrows trail when he fell hard the first time. He fell about 10 other times yesterday but never cried once. It was so funny because at one point he walked down a steep hill and goes to himself, “nailed it!” when he didn’t fall.

    Oliver wasn’t the only one that was tired. I was tired enough that I fell asleep on the drive home until I felt Oliver giving me a “wet willy”. I wasn’t impressed in part because I think that wet willy may have been sanctioned from those in the front seat.

    Not sure what the rest of my plans are for today but tomorrow I hope to play some disc golf (with mom’s discs) with Dad.

    Calgary 2015

    We decided on vacations this summer.  Both will involve a lot of walking.  For my birthday we are taking a backwoods hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin.  We will leave early on May 16th, spend the night with the black bears and wild animals of Prince Albert National Park and hike out on May 17th (unless we are eaten by bears).

    Then at the end of July we are heading to Calgary and Banff via a lot of scenic drives.  We are going to explore a lot of Calgary, Banff, Lake Louise, and Johnston’s Canyon.

    The Peace Bridge in Calgary an HDR photo

    Lower falls at Johnston's Canyon

    I am told the plan is to get up early and drive through Drumheller.  We had a lot of fun last year in Drumheller exploring the Atlas Coal Mine but this year we will explore a bit of the downtown while stretching our legs.  Then it will be off to Calgary where on the first night we will explore downtown Calgary with our cameras and chill out.

    Saturday will see us head to Johnston’s Canyon in Banff National Park.  After that we will go up Sulphur Mountain on the Banff Gondola.  After we come back down, we will head into the mountain at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site.

    Depending on the time, we will head to the Bow Falls.

    While we were looking around online, I noticed the Banff Hot Springs and talked dad into taking us there to end the day.

    The next day will by my first time at Heritage Park.

    Sunday will be Calgary Zoo.  Dad promises that we will visit Mountain Equipment Co-op and The Camera Store.

    I can’t wait.

    Christmas Morning

    Merry Christmas everyone!

    It was a nice Christmas Eve around here.  Dad and Mom had it off.  Mom invited some of our friends for lunch at Alexander’s where we discussed politics.  After that we wandered in and out of some stores.  Oliver found a Lego Batman movie.  After that we went over to Uncle Lee and Aunt Brittany’s place.

    Aunt Brittany made the Christmas lasagna and we watched Oliver’s movie. Uncle Lee gave me my yearly threat when I had seconds of lasagna. He wasn’t isn a sharing mood.

    Uncle Lee and Aunt Brittany gave me an indoor basketball net, a copy of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Day Zero Edition, a Denver Broncos toque, and a poster.  It was pretty awesome.

    Denver Broncos Toque

    After heading home and getting some sleep, we opened some gifts today.

    Mom and Dad gave me a new Asus MeMo Pad 7 which kind of blew me away. 

    Asus MeMo Pad 7 tablet

    Oliver gave me a Bluetooth keyboard, stand, and stylus.  Since they know me so well, Dad gave me a cool retro case that looks like a real manilla envelope.

    Mom gave me a VIA Rail laptop bag that will hold my laptop and my tablet. Inside was drafting notebook. Dad calls it a murse.  Of course Dad would but I like it.  

    Pepsi

    Mom (who is currently my favourite parent) also gave me a massive can of Pepsi and a cool looking Pepsi t-shirt.  Don’t laugh, some of us like Pepsi.  Now I can wear some Pepsi as well as drink it.  Life is good and oh, so refreshing.

    Dad isn’t all bad, he shocked me and gave me a Pentax 35mm f2.4 lens

    I have wanted this lens ever since I got my camera.  I was saving up for it but I definitely didn’t expect to get it for Christmas.  Here is why it is awesome.

    PENTAX 35mm f2.4 lens

    The smc PENTAX DA L 35mm F2.4 AL has a fast F2.4 maximum aperture for handheld photography in low lighting and depth of field flexibility. It is built with a highly lightweight design for improved comfort and portability. PENTAX Super Protect coating helps repel dust, water, and grease, making the lens easier to clean. An aspherical lens element helps to compensate for spherical aberration to maximize image quality. Equivalent to 53.5mm in the 35mm format. Developed specifically for PENTAX digital SLR cameras.

    Santa Claus gave me a Canon tripod while Maggi gave me the manly version of the photography gloves we gave Mom.  So yeah, now I need to get out and take some photos.

    Oliver gave me Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale and Santa gave me a Pentax 200mm f4 prime lens which should be awesome.   They also tossed in some photography gloves which are almost a need in our weather.  In case I need to go out at night, I was given a compact red Maven Police Security flashlight.  130 lumens should be enough to blind anyone who is out at night.  You’ve been warned.

    Dad was in a giving spirit.  He gave Mom a Sigma Art 19mm f2.4 lens and Oliver a Nikon Coolpix S31 camera so that means all of us got some new photo gear to explore tomorrow.  

    Tomorrow after a big breakfast we are headed downtown to take some shots of what should be a totally empty downtown coreRiver Landing, and Meewasin Trail.  Then I will help Mom and Dad make Christmas dinner.  I’ll post some photos to Flickr tomorrow so you can check out the lenses and also what life was like around here.

    Have a great Christmas everyone!

    Pentax Days at Don’s Photo

    Ricoh Imaging/Pentax was having a big sale at Don’s Photo in Saskatoon today.  The Ricoh Imaging (Pentax) rep was in the store so I stopped by with Mom and Oliver to check out what was going on.  I brought my camera and tried out the following lens

    I really liked them all.  I am hoping to get a 35mm in the spring so it was fun to try it out.  The Pentax 300mm f4 is amazing beyond description.

    The Pentax 10-17 Fisheye had to my favourite.  Why?

    A Mark Cooper Selfie

    Yeah.  It was pretty cool.