Tales from Spam Folder Subject Lines

Occasionally I like to skim through the subject lines in my email spam folder, and construct silly stories from them. It’s like being a kid and playing with those spiral-bound books in which you could individually flip sections to rewrite stories, often with funny results.

Here’s a mashup from my spam folder today:

“Explore Russian Dating Online” it’s OK because there is a “Frenzy Over Herpes Cure (Latest Discovery)” If things go bad, “Do THIS When a Gun is Pointed at Your Head” and if things go really bad “Many Threw Their Glasses Away After Seeing This”


Choco the Cat Gets Annual Checkup – Declared ‘Senior Citizen’

Choco the Cat had her annual checkup and vaccination today. Here I’ve just scooped her up and am heading for her carrier. She knows what’s coming and gives me a clingy “Daddy don’t put me in there” wriggle.

Choco the cat on way to vet


Choco was a Burnaby, BC, SPCA adult female rescue when we got her on August 12, 2005. Wow, that means it’s exactly nine years to the day since she stole our hearts : -). At the time, they thought she was about three  years old, so she’s around 12 now, putting her at the human equivalent of around 64-65.

So the vet greeted her with a cheerful “she’s a senior citizen now!”

She’s still a wonderfully bouncy, active cat, though. Drinks lots of water, eats well, and in nine years of annual checkups, her weight has never varied by more than 1/2 a pound from around 7.5 pounds.

She looks bigger, but most of it is incredibly soft  fur that she’s always kept impeccably clean and smelling wonderful. She’s had only one bath in her life with us, the day we brought her home from the pound, because in her initial stress she’d soiled herself.

She’s an indoor cat, only goes out on a harness for short stints of eating grass. She’s always been a bit afraid of the outdoors, and has never wanted to explore too far. We’ve always spent lots of time playing with her, so she can happily burn energy.

There are lots of photos of Choco and other pets on my old blog in the pets category.


Great Day at Burnaby Blues & Roots Festival 2014

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The main stage viewed from the Shadbolt Centre with Deer Lake in the background.

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A side view of the main stage from the shade. It was hot!

Gorgeous, hot, sunny day at Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival 2014. I saw the three acts I was most interested in — Miss Quincy and the Showdown, The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer, and Imelda May.

Miss Quincy
Miss Quincy and the Showdown. I vote for main stage next year for these powerful gals!

Win 7 Box Hit with Malware — Adding AVG to Protection

My main Windows 7 work computer was hit with malware last night. Too tired to deal with it then, I shut it down and went to bed. Today I installed the free version of AVG and it immediately began finding problems that Microsoft Security Essentials had missed. I am now having AVG run a complete scan of the entire computer and all its drives.

Based on the fact that AVG is finding malware that MSE didn’t, I’ll likely cough up for the paid version of AVG.

Urban Sprawl — Are Humans Less Efficient Than Slime Molds?

“History suggests humans, in contrast to ants and slime molds, rarely optimize growth, particularly when multiple objectives such as profit, equity, and ecological integrity come into conflict.” And since we aren’t quite as good at this as slime molds are, there is the distinct possibility that we should plan for the worst rather than assume we’ll fix the problem ahead of time. – Dave Levitan | August 5 2014

Thanks to Pamela Zevit for posting this quotation, and the article it came from, on FaceBook. Pam posts links to a steady stream of articles that make one sit up and think.

Paul’s Photo Tips — Tip 4 — It Is the Camera

It’s the Camera, Not the Photographer

About a week ago in Photo Tip 3 I argued the point of view that you can take great photos with a cheap camera, and bad photos with an expensive one. I promised to write about the other side of that coin, so here goes:

In some situations professional, expensive gear will get shots that are difficult, or impossible, to achieve with simpler cameras.

Speed. Semi-pro and pro models focus faster, meter faster, shoot multiple shots faster, and have faster shutter-button reaction time (“lag”) than cheaper models. Those gaps have been closing over the last decade, but you still get what you pay for.

Mirrorless cameras throw some wrinkles into the following discussion, in which by “pro” models I mean higher-end DSLRs, but for simplicity I’ll ignore the mirrorless format for now.

Of course not everyone needs speed, but if you’re into genres like sports or wildlife photography, speed can make the difference between blown shots and tack-sharp ones that capture peak action.

Let’s tackle some of these speed issues one by one.

Faster, more accurate focus: Pro models usually have sensors with more focus points than consumer cameras, and accompanying computer chips that can react and process data extremely quickly. This results in near-instantaneous autofocus, focus tracking, etc. The autofocus sensor systems on higher-end cameras also work better in low light, and can work with lenses with smaller maximum apertures than lower-end cameras.

Faster, more accurate metering: Take most of the above comments, and apply them to metering, too. Higher-end cameras have more sophisticated metering systems.

Faster multiple shots: (in the old days with physical film we called this “motor drive”). Pro models can take multiple shots faster than cheaper ones. There are other variables involved here like file size, etc., but generally speaking a pro DSLR can shoot somewhere around double the number of shots per second compared to an entry level one. Another factor here is buffer size. A pro camera can likely shoot and store two or three times as many shots before its buffer fills up. When the buffer is full, the camera cannot take any more shots until the data in the buffer gets transferred to the memory card.

Higher usable ISO: Pro models have the latest, greatest (and concomitantly most expensive) sensors, and can often produce usable images in low light at extreme ISOs that cheaper cameras may not handle.

Shutter lag: Semi-pro and pro DSLRs have near-instantaneous shutter-button response. That means that when you hit the shutter button, the camera fires now, not a split second later. And yes, a split second can make or break a shot. Again, this applies mainly to action photography, but can also be key in documentary situations, or even catching a grin on a kid’s face.

Durability: Higher-end DSLRs are built like little tanks. They have expensive metal frames and bodies, and components like shutters that are tested for tens of thousands of cycles. They tend to be water-resistant if not watertight. In contrast, lower-end cameras tend to have more plastic parts, and are not designed for the heavy use and abuse of pro models.

Support: This varies by maker, but expensive DSLRs tend to get preferential treatment if anything goes wrong. If your $400 DSLR breaks and you take it, or send it, to an authorized service center, you may not see it for some time. But if you take a multi-thousand-dollar pro camera in, it’s almost guaranteed to jump the queue and get fixed ASAP. That makes sense to the manufacturers, who want to maintain good relations with professional photographers who buy expensive gear, and whose livelihoods rely on that equipment.

So there you have it. You can take great photographs with a pinhole camera, but advanced gear is immensely enabling, if you know how to use it.

500 Words a Day Not Going Well

I must confess that my 500-words-a-day writing project is not going well. Initially I was blasting out 500 words as fast as around eight minutes, but it’s been over a week since my last entry. I think the problem is that so far it’s basically been a diary or journal with no focus, no other goal.

It is not building toward anything, so what’s the point? I can spew 500 words about my day, but who cares about the subject matter if even I don’t?

I need to choose a topic, or choose some goal, to write toward.

It could be an essay, it could be working toward longer blog posts on topics I’m passionate about, it could be an even longer fiction or non-fiction work, but it has to be about something.

UPDATE: Hey, my Photo Tip 4 that I posted here the next day is over 600 words! I had a topic staring me in the face, eh?

Streamkeeping, sustainability, community, business, photography, books, and animals, with occasional forays into social commentary. Text and Photos © Paul Cipywnyk