Feb 2018-

Unless otherwise credited, all photographs are © David Ritchie and may not be used without my permission.


 

March 31/18 Well that game was much better. The Jays’ bats were swinging, Estrada was on his game and team spirit was lively. Pillar was amazing: three stolen bases in the same at-bat. Wow!

March28/18   Baseball is back! Spring will be officially here tomorrow:  Toronto Blue Jays host the dreaded NY Yankees at home. Hope springs eternal on opening day. Go Jays!

Looking forward to seeing the new players.  I hope Aaron Sanchez returns to his form: he is critical to the pitching staff.

JaysMug.jpg

I’ll be toasting the Jays with this mug that I’ve had since their first World Series Championship in 1992.

JaysMug2.jpg

The mug is in excellent condition for a twenty-five year old, and it has been well used. Here’s to a third win. Cheers!

Update: That did not go well. Where were the bats? Donaldson looks like he’s heading for DH status until his throwing arm strengthens- it’s obviously injured.

 

I had a paper route when I was a kid in a small town.  It was the golden age of newspapers, competition was fierce. A kid could make a few bucks a week, big money back then, plus tips at Christmas- except for the cheap buggers. I delivered the morning edition of the “Telly” (the Toronto Telegram). I remember the feel of early summer mornings.

Paper Route Memories

sleep pierced by hateful alarm clock
gritty eyed stumble out the door
into a world filled with dark

crickets gossip dogs argue
I am the only human alive

paper bundle at the corner
the unborn waiting to be delivered
will the count be right
will I have the correct amount
or will my newest customer be shorted

cut the cord releasing the scent
of fresh ink on pulp paper
that soon blackens hands
rolling and tucking each copy
like loaves of bread stacked on end
in sturdy steel bike carrier

heavy steering hard pedalling eases
with each jaunty toss of paper to porch
as dawn slowly turns on the light

 

Speaking of summer, cicadas are the sound of summer to me (never mind the crickets: they rasp into fall.) Sitting on the porch with a friend, a cold beer and Wilson on a hot August day. Cicadas come out of the ground beside a tree, climb a short way up the trunk and then metamorphize into an adult through the back of their shell. They continue up the tree and celebrate freedom with a wing-generated song, hoping to attract a mate. This is what they leave behind:

Cicada18Web.jpg

 

Going through a stack of business cards I found this vintage card from my early days in London. My first business card. I’m on the ninth generation card now, and about to have the tenth printed to include my blog address.

Available Light001.jpg

 

March 24/18  I had a comment from a reader asking why I don’t have an “About Me” on the menu. Ask and receive: added to the Contact page on the menu. It’s weird- I kept thinking “what is this, I’m writing my obit?” No idea what to put in or, more importantly, what to leave out. So I didn’t write about my time in a Mexican jail.

 

March19/18  I’ve been having fun going through old archives. New photos are posted in the Photo Gallery but you will need to scroll down to see them all. As usual, I look for context.

It’s an ever clever ploy to make you re-visit my photo gallery!

 

Unsafe Bridges?

UnsafeBridge006.jpgGoing through a box of old prints I found this 11×14. It was unfortunately too large for my scanner bed to capture the handwritten caption, “Unsafe Bridge, eh?” I put the framed enlargement in the front window of my photo store opposite the town hall. I enjoy poking the hornet nest. The bridge had been condemned by engineers as ‘unsafe’.

However, the Port Bruce bridge passed a recent inspection. Apparently, gravity and the engineers had a difference of opinion. Gravity always wins; the strongest power in the universe. I learned that from PBS. Re-inforced by the hammer I dropped on my foot yesterday.

 

The winner of the What Is It? photo (scroll down to view it) is Jim from Bancroft. He correctly guessed it to be a dog’s claw. Take a bow, Jim, your fifteen minutes of fame starts now!  Let’s have a round of applause for the winner!

Other guesses include a cattle horn, eagle talon, fossilized banana! and a broken tool? Scale can be deceiving when there is no known object to compare with in size. The actual size of the claw (Wilson’s) is just a bit over 2 cm, while on my monitor it is over 12 cm in length.

A reader asked me how I took the photo and where were the lights placed to get that effect. The answer is quite simple. The ‘camera’ was my EpsonV700 scanner! It took a bit of work to get the photo I wanted. I had to wait for dark and turn off the ambient room lights. That is necessary when an object is too thick for the scanner lid to close.  To keep the claw at that angle, the lid of the scanner had to hold it in place. It took a few attempts but I’m pleased with the result. I have ‘photographed’ flowers, translucent objects and more with the scanner.

Using a scanner requires user input for best results. I, fortunately, have many years of darkroom and colour lab printing experience that fits in nicely with the digital world. My scanner has an “auto” function but I don’t use it. The professional software has many useful functions, the most important being ‘curves’. That allows for the image to be adjusted for highlight, mid and shadow detail before the final scan. The cropping is adjusted and DPI (more correctly PPI) is set.  The term “garbage in, garbage out” is appropriate when using a scanner. With a bit of knowledge and experience, a whole new world of imaging opens up.

 

Announcement

March13/18  I have changed the main menu to include “Short Stories”. There are two stories found in the drop-down menu (arrow to the right of Short Stories) including my newest, “The Blind Photographer”. I hope you find it enjoyable.

Please contact me if you have any difficulties with the site layout. Thanks!

 

 

March12/18  Walking with Wilson yesterday I saw a sight that gladdened my heart: children playing outdoors! There is hope. When we got home I wrote this:

                 The Kite

hawk-shaped kite climbs in the air
tethered to youngster on top of hill
magnetic whoops of joy draw another
who runs up the hill- let me fly it!
soon there were four

wind shift kite falters
demands manoeuvre
instinct
run draw in string don’t let it crash
learning things they cannot yet name

 

A New Old Earworm

Listening to Galaxy The Blues while cooking last night, I re-discovered an old favourite. I have it on my iPad (along with hundreds of other tunes) but had not listened to it for a few years. Etta James “The Jealous Kind” has to be the very best of all ‘torch’ songs by a female artist. The classic Rhodes electric piano intro instantly sets the era and the mood. The horns are sublime, the sax is liquid melody and nobody sings like Etta did. Give it a listen, turn it up to 11, and if you know of a better song from the heart, let me know.

 

 

What Is It?

Claw.jpg

First correct guess wins 15 minutes of fame here! Please use the Contact page to enter. If you do not want your name published I will publish your initials only (with your approval).

 

March 6/18    New Landscapes page added to the menu.

 

Blame Johnny Sombrero

I have ridden motorcycles since I turned 16. Motorcycle riding is a passion for me, an obsession. When I was younger I would ride all year if the roads were clear of snow.

Motorcycle fever first started when I was a very young boy, riding in the back of my aunt and uncle’s car on the way to the cottage in Muskoka. From behind the car, a loud rumble announced the presence of the Black Diamond Riders M.C. Looking out the back window in excitement I yelled: “it’s Johnny Sombrero!” I recognized him from photos in the newspaper.

That was a time of motorcycle ‘gang’ media hysteria, fueled in part by the movie The Wild One, which produced some great lines:

“What are you rebelling against, Johnny?”

“What ya got?”  Classic Brando.

My frightened aunt says to me “Don’t look at him!” She likely had visions of us being savagely beaten (or worse) by heathen, vicious bikers.

Naturally, I continued to look out the back window. I waved and was rewarded with a nod and a smile from Johnny Sombrero. At that very moment, I knew that I had to have a motorcycle. Thanks, Johnny.

Sombrero.jpg

The Black Diamond Riders were often called the BDRs. After I posted the above story I went for a walk and found this logo on a transport truck. Cue theme the from The Twilight Zone.

BDR.jpg

 

Canada’s History is of great interest to me. I get annoyed when I read about the way it is manipulated in schools today. It’s all about context, people, let’s not throw out the past because it does not fit your idealized perfect world of today. Sir John A Macdonald- gone, Edward Cornwallis- gone. Who’s next, David Thompson, the greatest explorer in our history (in my opinion)?

Another beef I have with our education system is dropping cursive writing and spelling from the curriculum. It became very real for a friend when he found that his daughter, who moved to another city for college, could not write a rent cheque. I must admit that my handwriting has badly deteriorated over the years but I can write a cheque and send cards with personal written messages.

Another parent told me that they complained to their son’s teacher that his spelling was atrocious. The reply? Well, proper spelling is not necessary because computers have spell-check.

One glance at the comments under news articles shows just how illiterate our society has become. Do people even read what they have written? It reminds me of that hilarious book, The Magic Christian by Terry Southern. The protagonist purchases a large daily paper and gradually introduces typos and then awkward sentences until, after some time the entire paper is gibberish. Perfect!

Comments:   “Re: cursive and spelling? Why expect more if you can expect less?”  Pathetic but true.

The lack of emphasis on spelling is another indication of lowering standards. Is the fact that a machine can be programmed to do something a valid reason for us not to have the ability ourselves? Robots can walk and run, so we don’t have to walk and run anymore?

Handwriting experts must be having a tough time finding work these days”

Wow, very astute. Maybe you should be writing instead of me! That last line is perfect, wish that it were mine! Thank you.

Winning

It’s always nice to have the occasional win. I purchased a nicely detailed etching for $15 from an online auction. Edward Cherry had an interesting life, a survivor of the first World War. When I got the frame home I peeled back the dust cover paper on the back, looking for nasty workmanship and materials. What a pleasant surprise to find it had been re-framed using proper archival mats and backing!  I only needed to replace the wretched wire hanger. It would have cost me a fair bit more than the $19.49 (with premium and HST) I paid for it to frame it properly. In Gardner’s last auction I had the winning bid on a very nice watercolour of a lumber mill on the French River. It was in an ugly frame and had the usual cardboard, masking tape and pulp mats. I tore it down and started over. The frame is in the fire pit now. Any takers? No? it’s free!

 

Feb 28. I’m quite stoked about another personal framing project I’ve just completed. Slide over to the Custom Framing page for a look, it’s at first frame you’ll see there.

I have also completed the framing of another slate. It is available for sale, contact me if you are interested.

Hogs on Diet?

Harley-Davidson name many of their various models using words that few other motorcycle manufacturers would even consider. It would be embarrassing for most others to label models “Fat Bob, Fat Boy, Wide Glide, Street Bob” etc, all HD names. Tough-guy handles that make it acceptable, perhaps even desirable to carry some extra.. girth? if you ride a Harley.

HD”s response to the current trend towards a healthy lifestyle is here. A new model, the Harley-Davidson Slim! It only weighs 291 kg (641 lb). That’s almost 200 lb heavier than the bike I ride. Guess I’ll have to man up!

Spring

Signs of spring? This morning (Feb 24) Wilson took me for a walk as usual.  We heard red-winged blackbirds singing. The males arrive very early and establish their territory long before their ‘girlfriends’ show up. To me, that song is the first promise of spring. The cardinals, finches and sparrows were also quite vocal. What a refreshing change from the cold silence of a frozen land, only occasionally broken by hooligan crows. I like those marauding hoolies too. Robin sited late afternoon, the days are getting longer-  better days ahead!use

Feb 22.    Roy McDonald will be missed. A nice LFP summary of his life and his character.

Tools

I have a lot of respect for good tools. I have had motorcycles since I was 16, and I do all the mechanical work myself.  Motorcycles, bicycles, lawn mower- everything except automobiles (too complicated now). Over the years I have slowly acquired a decent tool collection, purchased as necessity warrants.

Which makes me wonder at the newest trend in mechanical tools: black chrome. Anybody who has dropped a socket on the floor and watched it roll into the darkest,  most dusty place possible (they always roll that way) can attest to the difficulty of finding it. And that is a standard chrome steel socket. Imagine hunting for a black one?

There is an old saying: if you want to find something that dropped down through the innards of your bike, always keep a large bowl of filthy used oil under the bike.

Maybe that is the solution for using black tools?

 

Rock & Roll

I’ve always loved rock & roll. Blues based 12 bar turn-it-up-loud rock & roll. Nothing fancy;  a driving bass, drums, rhythm guitar, gritty lyrics and vocal. Piano and organ a wonderful option if the band can afford an extra player. If you can’t sit still, your foot is tapping and you’ve just gotta get up and shake your hips, that’s rock & roll.

Mainstream music has lost the roll in rock & roll. It has evolved into formula entertainment over music quality. Overproduced, extended annoying metal guitars leads, screaming vocals and don’t get me going on sampling.

But wade through the crap and periodically a new tune hits the groove.

Barr Brothers from Montreal tune “It Came To Me” is a gem.

Radio version here.  The faded Ektachrome-like CD cover image is nice.

The most interesting video I’ve seen is an extended version and features eclectic string instruments and a great driving bass lead.  Listen at your own risk- it’s my newest earworm.  (I warned you, Paul!)

 

Feedback

The reviews are in and they are mostly of the glowing variety. All from family and friends, but I’ll take it where I can get it.

“Excellent blog! The photo gallery, signs and graffiti sections are my favourites. I’ve been savouring them, trying to decide which are my favourites. Oops ‘trying and’.”  Heather G.

“Once again you have delighted me with more old photos, beautifully restored photos, framework etc

I think perhaps “passed on” could mean passing on a large inheritance. Passing away, however, may mean they hid the inheritance away before they DIED.”  Freda (Lucy)

“OMG! This is awesome Dave. Love that Odious!”  Betty

“I love the picture of Toronto ‘Continuous strip show’. Taken in my birth year, 1977!”  Amanda

They weren’t all peaches and cream;

“Your blog sucks. And, no, I will not give you any financial support.”  Bill Gates

“I hate your dog.”  Neighbour lady. She has 7 cats.

” I have started a lawsuit against you for defamation of character, and when I get out of this body cast I’ll hunt you down and give you a beating.”  Pastor Otis Oats, M. Div.

“Damn you and your blog on earworms. I had Stevie Ray Vaughn’s ‘Pride and Joy’ in my head for two days. I’m learning the bass groove; it’s awesome. I finally cleared it out of my head. Then I read your blog on earworms and it’s back!”  Paul

If it helps any, Paul, I have had Pink Floyd’s tune “Money” running through my head for two days now. It started with that rejection from Gates.

 

More on Word Usage

The Brits and the Irish certainly have some of the better descriptive words. What can better describe a lowlife person than a toerag (Brit) or gobshite (Irish)? Perfect.

Irish literature has some word usage that, to our North American ears, may seem awkward until the reader becomes accustomed to them. For instance “grand”.

-It will be grand, I’m grand etc means “fine” or “good”

They also use the word “but” at the end of a sentence- “She went to the shop, but.” I have not figured that one out.

Or “after” as in “he’s after having a new girlfriend.” I haven’t a clue on that one, but.

Here in Canada, some words have taken a new meaning. If you ask an old farmer what dinner means, he will tell you it is the midday meal, what is currently called lunch, while dinner has become the evening meal. Perhaps that evolved as the midday meal got smaller and the evening repast grew in size. Farmworkers did much more physical work in the past and still do in many instances, so more food energy is required in the middle of the day.

Now here is one that irks me: “passed away,” or simply “passed.” Nobody dies now!

Passed? What did they pass? It’s a total failure of all systems and they are no less dead for the current politically correct whitewash term.

 

RAMJAC Strategies

I have had an eBay credit balance of $2.41 for many years. I leave that minor credit on my account. It creates an accounting activity that eBay must deal with once a month. A minor gesture to ‘stick it to the man’. I snicker every month when I get a statement from eBay. Granted, it is computer generated, but it still costs eBay resources.

What a rebel! Like refusing to cash a one-dollar refund cheque from RAMJAC (insert your name for The Man here).

I’ve done that too. I have a cheque issued decades ago gathering dust in a file somewhere in the back of a closet.  Issued by a company that really pissed me off. Mice have likely shredded that cheque into little bits to build a comfy nest. But still, it cost those cretins more than the value of their cheque in accounting costs. And the cheque was printed on paper of very good quality- nice pillow, Mickey!

Finally, I get an email. eBay has noticed my perpetual credit. I decide to take the refund. I can buy and pay for purchases at the click of a mouse, it should be easy to transfer a credit back to my PayPal account, right?

Wrong. I have to phone eBay. I know it will not be worth $2.41 of my time. Listen to the menu, push appropriate numbers and then wait. Force-fed annoying music, a recorded voice periodically interrupting my favourite elevator tune, telling me “how much we value your business…”

That Catch 22 is some catch.

It’s the best there is!

(Inspirational credits: Easy Rider, Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller)

 

State of Confusion

There are two pop tunes currently airing on the radio that have me shaking my head. The first is “Nothing Makes Me Happy“. It has a good groove with that currently- hot stomp & clap funk groove. Boom- Clap. The backup singers are good, a touch of synth and rhythm guitar that doesn’t get in the way. A model pop tune with a hook. The kind of hook that burrows into the brain until it becomes an earworm.

But the lyrics and the message are in total conflict with the happy pop groove. If you feel that bad, if nothing at all makes you happy, adopt a dog. Says Wilson.

The next one is the polar opposite in message: “I Can’t Get Enough of Myself“. Totally dedicated to vanity, even Narcissus would squirm.

The common subject of these pop tunes is self. Me me me. Woe is me if things don’t fit my expectations, if I haven’t been noticed yet. End of the world as I know it.

Get a grip, look beyond your little virtual world-on-a-screen.  Maybe pick up a good book and read in a quiet environment. And then take your dog for a walk.

 

Correction

Thanks to a reader I became aware how vulnerable our digital era is. The “Contact” section in the menu had one letter mistakenly inserted in the address.The horror! For the want of a nail, the internet was lost.

The problem (not the issue) is corrected. If you have attempted to contact me and had your very flattering message bounce back, please go to the contact page and re-send it.

Thank you, Pam.

 

Our  Strange Use of Words, and Annoying Announcers

I’ll start this with the strange usage of words in, possibly the most complicated of languages, English. I don’t know why I dwell on certain phrases but I do it endlessly.

Lately, I have wondered about the phrase try and (do whatever).

It is almost universally used. I probably say it myself, although I will be consciously making note if I do, now that I’ve raised the point. Try and figure that out.

The proper phrase should be try, to as in “endeavour” or “attempt”. Try and is more like an order, as in “you will try and you will succeed.” Or else!

A past word switch that I never liked is issue. Since when did it become forbidden to say problem? Are we so terribly sensitive that a word is dangerous? It seems very Orwellian to me.

Still with me? Well here is another, and this one really gets under my skin. What year is this?  2018.  That’s twenty eighteen, people, not two thousand and eighteen.

I love baseball and my team has been the Toronto Blue Jays since the day they were born.  I detest their current TV announcers Buck Martinez and Pat (White Bread) Tabler. Martinez has a whine in his voice that grates. I like Greg Zaun, the Don Cherry of baseball, but he’s gone now, another victim of the PC language cops.

Baseball announcers talk a lot about what a player did in any given year, stats are their go-to when the action is slow. Buck- who has far too much to say at best of times- always says screeches “two thousand and sixteen” etc. Spoken aloud those six syllables are very annoying when repeated endlessly during a game.

If you were to ask Martinez what year he was born, I guaranty he would reply “nineteen forty-eight.”

You certain that it wasn’t nineteen hundred and forty-eight, Buck?

I prefer baseball radio announcers- they can paint a mental picture of the game in progress, as they have no visual crutches to rely on. So why don’t I listen to the game on the radio and watch it on television with no audio? The answer is that there is a time delay on TV so I know what will happen before I see it. I either turn the TV off or I watch it with no audio. Or I go sit on the porch and listen to the radio.

I really miss hearing Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth on the radio.

Update, Feb. 13  Jerry Howarth announced that he has retired. Truly the end of an era.

 

Need a laff?

Despite devouring novels since I learned to read, I struggle with grammar and punctuation. Maybe skipping all those classes wasn’t so cool after all?

I use Grammarly  -the free version that checks spelling and punctuation only so my writing still probably sucks.

Studying the use of commas, I found this:

But, if there is a chance of misreading the sentence, use the comma:

Incorrect- Before eating the family said grace.

Correct-    Before eating, the family said grace

Family meals can be complicated.

 

Phrase or Cliche?

“It is what it is.”

I have not, and never will use that phrase. Since I first heard it I thought it to be ridiculous. Of course “it” is what it is- everything is, otherwise “it” would be something entirely different. A cliche that says nothing. I think that people first started to use it because it sounded so philosophic to them, very hip. Now it is just a monotonous drone added to the conversation. Makes me want to laugh.

C’est la vie, no?

Comment: ‘It is what it is.’ You think that’s ridiculous, David? Really? Well…my grandson knows exactly how to use it. For instance, if I encourage him to complete a chore when he has no intention of doing so, he will say to me with a shrug, “It is what it is,” Grammie. “It is what it is.” And he’s definitely not being philosophical, but it’s enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face.

Arts Axe

The City of St. Thomas has announced that the St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre will have $11000 cut from the $71000 granted last year. Based on last year’s total city budget of $50,400,437, that $11000 would account for approximately .02% of the total. This year the city budget will likely be larger- they will have more revenue from all the housing and building starts.

$11000 taken from STEPAC grant of $71000 is a very large amount. More time will be spent on fundraising, hours of operation will be reduced and some programs will be cut.

Why must arts and cultural organizations be the first to get the axe? If it doesn’t carry a hockey stick, it doesn’t rate, I suppose. We need to expose youth to art and us adults could use more of it too.

Funding cut.

 

 

 

 

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