100 Wild Huts

31 05 2013

Wild? They were livid!

100 Wild Huts: Wild Hut 20.

Such a Scouty thing to do. And an English one for that matter. OK – “British”, since the guy is quite definitely Scottish. An architect to boot.

Build 100 different huts (actually bivouac is more accurate) and sleep a night in each.

Each bivvie is built from natural materials local to the location… including a slash pile.

100 Wild Huts: Wild Hut 20

In and around Glasgow he seems to have found lots of little patches of green space. 20 huts into the project, he’s running low on designs though. With 80 to go, he’s open to any suggestions…

This 360 degree shot of one of the huts was particularly cool I thought. There’s audio of a Radio Scotland interview.

100 Wild Huts: Wild Hut 20

How do you think Superman shaves?

29 05 2013

An interesting little Gillette marketing piece to tie in with the new Superman film.

Thought-Provoking Theories Explain How The Invincible Superman Shaves – DesignTAXI.com.

In the trailer he’s all scruff and ruggedness. Later he’s clean shaven.

Superman… with scruff

How can it be so?!


Experiment. Fail. Learn. Repeat.

27 05 2013


Great posters for small startups… or large companies that have lost their way.

Poster “Experiment. Fail. Lear. Repeat.” Startup Vitamins by Startup Vitamins on The Bazaar. Buy creative products by Startup Vitamins online!.

IAmMorley.com – Blog – Three Kinds Of People

27 05 2013

IAmMorley.com – Blog – Three Kinds Of People.

“When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.”

– John M. Richardson

Grouse II

26 05 2013

I like to do the Grouse Grind after work on Thursdays. Nothing obsessive you understand (Moi?!). But being as last Thursday was my Geburtstag, I gave myself the night off. By last night I was feeling slothlike. I’m doing some charity 5km race next Sunday, so I had to “get out there” and went for a run around the local environs. Today looked a bit rainy so I figured the Grind would be quieter, and drove over to the North Shore to partake in the madness.

Wrong! It was heaving. I smiled at myself clucking at some BMW driver trying to drive against the relentless flow of arriving grinders. Plainly a newb and unaware that the other way (hinted at by the Exit sign) was the way out. I gave him a disapproving look, which as a BMW owner he was plainly unaccustomed to.

Fortune smiled upon me and someone was leaving just as I cruised past. Some deft reversing and the trusty steed was parked.

Most of the hike was uneventful, but I do so enjoy catching up and over-taking the young bucks and buckesses that regularly storm past me earlier on the trail. They can usually be found gasping at the side of the path, or in the case of the less well brought up – right in the middle of the path.

By the half-way mark, I was feeling in a groove and quite fluid in my stride. There’s an artsy seating bench at the half-way mark which I have overheard several people mistake for a mountain biking “stage”. It seems to not occur to people that mountain biking and Grouse Grinders would be a disastrous mix. Anyway, as I arrived, the bench was covered with a handful of 20-somethings trying to catch their breath. I was a bit peeved that they weren’t offering their seats to the various ladies that were pausing to also catch their breath. I was itching for one of them to offer me a place, so I could rebuff them with sarcastic comments about how they needed the rest more than me. Alas they were all too rude to offer their elders a seat, and I stood to quaff from my water bottle. They all set off just as I was ready, but I passed them only two switch-backs later.

It was quite a trip in all though. I saw TWO babes in arms on the trail. One being breast-fed at about the 3/4 mark. The other was plainly not happy about proceedings and was clearly audible from way off.

Just as I got to the top, there was someone blocking most of the trail having a rest. I was about to make some comment when I noticed that they had a prosthetic leg. I was completely knackered by then, and I can’t imagine the extra effort and bodily stresses it must make to do the route with a prosthetic limb. Kudos!

Despite it feeling really humid, and me being convinced I’d done a shoddy time, I was actually 2 minutes faster than last week at 1:24.

English: Part of the Grouse Grind in Vancouver...

Part of the Grouse Grind in Vancouver BC, showing part of the hiking path. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My one over-riding impression though was about how much perfume and/or cologne people seem to think appropriate for a hike in the woods. It was overpowering at times. Somehow it seemed so out of place with the scenery – but then again, so in keeping with all the “look at me” attire that the typical walker was wearing. I wonder if Lululemon would be in business still if the Grouse Grind were to close.

Getting the record

25 05 2013

Funny old day.

Had great intentions of doing the Grouse Grind today. Wasn’t to be.

Bit of a slow start, which didn’t help, but then it started to rain. Not a big off-putter – after all, this IS the Wet Coast, and a little thing like bucketing down rain can’t be stopping the world happening, now can it?

Just as it fined up a bit and the Grouse was once more a potential (it’s a good hour’s drive from here, so I have to kind of work my way up to it), number 2 offspring returned from her night out at boyfriend’s. No point getting all bent out of shape about that. She’s off to the other side of the country in the autumn, having just accepted a place at McGill. If her university career is anything like mine was, there’ll be as much learnt between the sheets as in the lecture theatre. I don’t consider myself that liberal… just more of a realist. I hope we’ve instilled enough common sense and critical decision making into her by now. If not, well – she’s 18 now. She just took her part in electing BC’s new government. It’s a bit childish if I thought I could come the heavy hand and dictate her nocturnal activities now.

Where was I? Oh yes – number 2 child came home and pleaded with me to take her to Zulu Records in Kits. Last weekend was a long one here in BC and we’d been down to Seattle (pre I5 bridge collapse, thankfully). Her favourite film is Moonrise Kingdom, and we’d seen a retro portable Crosley record player as featured in the film. Thankfully, she loved it, but the lack of vinyl for it to play had been an irritation ever since. Her collection consisted of a handful of 45s she’d acquired on a recent trip to the UK – selected PURELY for their sleeve art, and with no regard to their musical style. Now being able to hear it… she was less impressed.

Naturally she’d already been to Amazon and ordered Françoise Hardy‘s “Le Temps de l’Amour”. (No retro Crosley should be without a copy.)

But that was going to take a few days to arrive. Zulu Records though seemed like the answer. Situated just a couple of blocks from the Granville Bridge in Vancouver, it was relatively easy to get to. We were lucky to find street parking just opposite, and deposited the several body parts in the meter that the city of Vancouver charge for the pleasure. We opened the door to Zulu Records and entered another world altogether. Number 2 offspring was transported into a surreal place that had a seemingly endless supply of vinyl to play on her new toy. I on the other hand was transported back to my own youth.

More vinyl than you can shake an S&M aficionado at

More vinyl than you can shake an S&M aficionado at

There were some amazing bargains, and I felt slightly embarrassed that many albums I had in my own pre-CD collection were in the 2 for a dollar section. There were others too that I recognised from my parents and grandparents collections. Soundtracks from Oklahoma and South Pacific. Every other record seemed to be a James Last offering. There were some surprises like Rolf Harris and a copy of Tony Hancock’s comedy album…

Harris & Hancock

Harris & Hancock

… and no less than 3 (that we found) copies of Roger Daltrey‘s soundtrack to McVicar.



I was disappointed that these were the regular version, and not the clear vinyl special edition that I myself had once owned. This was particularly interesting as I’d only this last week been moved to locate a digital version of that very album, feeling the urge to listen once more to the visceral “Bitter and Twisted”.

As well as this selection of mainly groaners (anyone who likes Kim Carnes or has a thing for Bette Davis Eyes might like to buy one of their 10+ copies of her album on sale for less than the parking fee,) Zulu had an extensive collection of “better” albums ranging up to $35 for a second hand copy of The White Album, as well as brand new stuff from Vampire Weekend, Mumford & Sons (Number 2 offspring had just seen them live in Surrey last night) and others. Oddly, the singles were generally more expensive  and 45s by The Jam and The Police were $10 or more. In the end we spent about $20 all in with albums by ELO and The Boomtown Rats, some classical music, some big band Glenn Miller music (she’s in the school band, and his stuff’s actually quite palatable) and The Cure’s “The Love Cats” 45. (She plays bass and this has an awesome bassline.)

So wonderfully wonderfully wonderfully wonderfully pretty
Oh you know that I’d do anything for you
We should have each other to tea huh?
We should have each other with cream

Ah 1983… 🙂

Since we were so close we headed for Granville Island for a spot of tea and some more photo opportunities. Driving in, you pass the childrens market, and this reminded me of my first visit there over 10 years ago. I was in search of some “thank-you” gifts for the daughters of a friend who’d put me up for a couple of weeks whilst I was checking out BC as a potential place to live. I was en route to the UK from a business trip to Japan, and had gone “the long way around” East to fit in a recce of  BC. I bought a couple of dolls for the girls and they seemed to go over well. The eldest, now 20, is getting married in a couple of weeks. Jeez, I’m getting old…

While we there, I got a text to tell us that number three offspring had scored his first goal ever at footie. He was over the moon even though they went down “3-lots” as he reported.

Home for an odd meal of tilapia and spinach, then off for a run. I’m entered in the BC Children’s Hospital run next weekend, and although it’s only 5km, I felt the need to practice. That and I’d like to make it to the top of the Grouse Grind tomorrow still breathing without assistance.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend dear reader!

Old dogs

23 05 2013

They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. I don’t know why they say that. It doesn’t strike me as particularly well based in scientific research.

I’m feeling a bit of an old dog today – I just clocked up 49 circuits of the sun. Give or take a partial spin of the Earth for emigrating from the UK and immigrating into Canada. That’s more of a rounding error in the grand scheme of things. I also flew clockwise all the way around, so I’m not sure what that means in ABSOLUTE age, either. But I do like a new trick every now and then. I can be obsessive in my interests. To the point of annoying Mrs E. My most recent obsession is a newly refreshed interest in photography. I did all the usual mid-life male pseudo-crisis stuff and bought a new camera and lenses. Convinced myself I now took better photos. The usual.

It’s not surprising therefore that when pushed to state preferences for potential presents by offspring and assorted rellies, I came up with an assortment of camera and photography related items. It was a bit tough, as being reasonably affluent and of the male persuasion, I’m not shy of splurging out whenever I feel the desire for a new gizmo or trinket. Nevertheless, I was indeed pressed to name items I might not be averse to receiving, and so duly received even more baubles with which to play.

One such item is an Infra-red filter for my camera. More expensive than I’d have expected, so I’m even more grateful to my father-in-law for sending it.

I attempted to snap a few photos this morning before work. Nada. The images barely registered. I’d watched a video that had explained how hard it was to compose your shot because the IR filter blocks all visible light… kind of makes the through-the-lens viewfinder a bit useless for the non-bionic amongst us!

So I wasn’t looking to get any super photos, just something to see the promised ethereal effect of an IR spectrum shot. The video had mentioned that IR focuses slightly shorter to visible light, and that your focus ring needs to compensate, or you need a deep enough depth of field to handle the difference. Again, I wasn’t looking for super sharp images at this stage… just SOMETHING. The video had gone on to mention setting a small aperture to give that extra depth of field, but had just vaguely mentioned “the appropriate exposure time”. Thinking I was being smart, I set my fancy schmancy camera to aperture priority, slapped on the auto-focus, set ISO100 to try and get a low-noise image, set a small aperture for good DoF and let the camera do the rest. It selected a relatively short exposure (1/50s I think) and snap.

As I said… nada!

Time to leave for work, and a frustrating day pondering the puzzle.

I read more, and discovered that the camera’s sensor is confused by the narrow band of light reaching it through the filter and assumes there’s more light than there actually is. Exposures in the 10s range are more appropriate. Ah! So, once back home, I took care of the other little issue I’d read about – setting the custom white balance of the camera to deal with the strong red/magenta cast of using the filter – and then went about putting my camera on a tripod and having another go.

Here’s where I learnt one last new trick. It turns out that because of the aforementioned difference in IR wavelengths and the band of visible light, the IR light bounces around inside your lens a bit differently before it hits the camera’s sensor to be recorded. Depending on the design of the elements in the lens it may be prone to producing “hot spots” in the centre of the image. The good ol’ Interwebs provides a few sites listing various lenses and their suitability for IR photography. Guess what? My lenses are all on the “bad” list. All except my 100mm Macro.

Oh well – that’s a good excuse to buy more toys. 🙂

There’s a few tricks left in the old dog yet, it seems…



Slept quite well in Seattle

22 05 2013

We just had a long weekend here in BC. Queen Victoria had a birthday conveniently close to my own, so plus or minus a week I get an extra day off to enjoy my encroaching dotage.

This year Mrs E and I went for an overnight visit to Seattle. It’s probably about a decade since we last visited, and I was keen to take some photos of the MV Kalakala. On our last visit we’d taken one of the tours on the ex-WWII Ducks – amphibian trucks – and had seen the Kalakala when it was still on Lake Union. As it turned out, that was too ambitious a goal and we never got to Tacoma to see the old tub in its current moorage.

As we drove down, we stopped off at the outlet stores near Tulalip in the hope of snagging some wacky Converse high tops or cheap skinny Levi’s 511s. Not quite sure how, but somehow we only ended up with a Le Creuset casserole dish. Moral of the story being never take Mrs E when you’re out bargain hunting.

We pulled off the motorway at Everett to find the Starbucks promised by a siren road sign. As we came to the junction at the end of the slip-road we were met with a blind choice. No hint of which direction would lead to the beverage emporium. For no particular reason I selected the innocent sounding “20th St SE” to the left, and almost immediately regretted it as the road became a long bridge and then a highway promising Wenatchee as a potential destination. Thankfully it emerged in a rural hamlet called Lake Stevens (sans café, incidentally) which at least offered a few residential turnings and therefore the means of salvaging the mistake before too much drinking time was lost.

No matter, we’d just head back the other way and no doubt be enjoying a “London Fog” before we knew it. No such luck. One block past the motorway, and we were in Deadsville, USA.

Now, in fairness, sitting here at home with the full power of Google Maps at my fingertips, I can see lots of cafés and places we could have stopped in Everett. I’ll remember that in the extremely unlikely event I ever again feel the urge to visit.  At the time though, it seemed deader than an engineering student’s potted plant. On the other hand, we were also spared “Seattle Reptiles” on Hewitt Ave, so on balance, I think we were ahead.

Deciding that the Starbucks road sign was in fact simply lying, we tried to find the entrance back to the motorway and to test our luck elsewhere. At this point I began to realise that road signage in the US is a matter left in the hands of the local village idiot rather than treated with the reverence it is rightly due. I swear we did three laps underneath the I5 before we zeroed in on an unlikely junction that thankfully, if a little unexpectedly, launched us back on our Southern journey. Mrs E made several remarks about “turning into your dad” and pantomime shooting me with loaded fingers, but we were back in familiar territory and heading once more in the right direction.

Our next attempt at refreshment was somewhat better signed, but in return lead us straight into a block-long traffic jam. Eventually we pulled into the Walmart carpark in Martha Lake and walked around the corner to Starbucks. Here I enjoyed an outrageously expensive “panino” (but not as you know it Jim) with my London Fog.

Searching for that last link, I finally discovered why Starbucks are so rabid about echoing “Earl Grey Tea Latte” when you ask for a London Fog. It seems London Fog is a proprietary name for a tea blended exclusively by Carnelian Rose Tea Co. of Vancouver, WA. Starbucks no longer used the name after being informed of the potential trade name conflict. Doesn’t seem to bother Murchies, JJ Bean or any other tea shop I’ve frequented in the Lower Mainland.

Where was I? Oh yes – Martha Lake. So, refortified with the requisite caffeine injection and over-mustardised sarnie, we set about sorting out accommodation for when we reached Seattle. It turned out there was some conference on that weekend, and HotelTonight.com gave dire warnings of the lack of cheap offerings. In the end we went for the “sight unseen” alternative at Hotwire.com, and after signing away $200 including tax, we were informed we were booked in the Red Lion hotel on 5th Avenue – nice and central. Described as a boutique hotel, we reminded ourselves that if it was REALLY bad, we could always drive home again.

The rest of the drive was uneventful, and 5th Ave turned out to be trivial to find once we left the motorway on reaching Seattle. I almost missed the underground parking because I was looking at the old British red phone box at the Elephant & Castle pub that is in the basement of the Red Lion. An anonymous block of a building, it didn’t look particularly inspiring from the outside, but once we were in the lobby I began to get more impressed. It immediately began to demonstrate its 3.5 stars as we were very politely welcomed and checked in. I couldn’t help but smile as a couple walked in off the street looking for a room and were offered their cheapest at $100 more than we had just signed up for. We were in a king size room, but the young lady on the desk asked if we’d mind sitting for a while whilst she checked if the room was in fact ready. We were a good 30 minutes ahead of the official check-in time, so a curt “come back at 4pm” wouldn’t have been out of order. Instead though, she returned in a few minutes most apologetic for making us wait and gave us the keys and a smile.

Round about this time I began to notice that Seattle service staff are at least as polite (and probably more so) than Vancouver’s. I also noticed a lot of openly gay couples (which indicated to me a very embracing, open city culture), and no litter whatsoever. When I arrived in the Lower Mainland from the UK, I was in awe at how clean Greater Vancouver was. Seattle makes it look like a rubbish tip. To be sure it has its grungy bits, and I noticed myself taking a particularly firm grip on my camera once or twice, but on balance it felt pretty safe.

Our room was lovely. This is where the “boutique” comes in. It’s a large faceless hotel on the outside – just like a Marriott or a Holiday Inn anywhere in the world. On the inside though, it felt individual. It had everything any other hotel room might have – TV, tea making facilities, chairs, desk, bed. But the decor was smart and modern. Not that neutral beige I always dread so much in big name hotels. The rooms were wheelchair accessible, and though I don’t need to make use of it just yet, it was nice to know that if I did, there was a folding seat in the shower, as well as a detachable shower head for those hard to reach places…

Dumping our clobber, we headed off to REI, replete with the map given to us by the friendly desk-wallah. A large biro X marked our destination, just in case we missed the giant REI logo right next to it. Once there time (and money) drifted away, and before long it was almost tea time. We headed to the Space Needle, and took the monorail back to Nordstrom’s just a block or so away from the hotel. The Seattle Center (sic – it’s a proper name, so I can’t spell it “properly”) had a large outdoor Chihuly collection, but it was cleverly hidden behind large hedges and I wasn’t going to pay money to see it.

Back at the hotel we dumped our purchases, freshened up, and headed out once more. Having grown quite attached to the young lady on the desk, I asked for her recommendation for a fish restaurant and she steered us to Blueacre on 7th and Olive. It was already filling up as we arrived, and the greeter met us with a disdaining eye. Plainly she wasn’t local as she was not in possession of the hitherto ubiquitous warm friendly smile. Having asked for a table for two, I honestly thought she was about to grunt that without a reservation we were SOL. Instead she reluctantly admitted that there were tables to be had in the bar area, and she could follow us with menus. Novel idea I thought. Menus in a restaurant.

Thankfully this turned out to be a minor aberration in my theory of the friendliness of Seattlites, and the waitress was attentiveness personified. We started with cocktails, and I couldn’t resist the Bond-inspired Vesper. I was disappointed to not be asked if I’d like it shaken or stirred, but one can’t have everything I suppose. Mrs E partook of a “Victimless Crime” which appeared to consist of gin, various citrus things, aniseed and “bubbles”.

A plate of oysters casbarian turned out to be baked with bacon bits, stuff, things and whatnots. Actually, it was apple smoked bacon, spinach, fennel and anise. By the time I’d finished my pan blackened Alaskan rock fish in blue cheese sauce I was fit to burst. I think it was the exquisitely done (not at all greasy) onion rings it came with.

Full menu is here if you want to torture yourself more.

The walk back to the hotel was much needed, and though still quite early, sleep came quickly.

Sunday morning came early and was announced by the rhythmic pounding of the next door neighbour. Nothing saucy… we were right next to the hotel gym, and some eager beaver was hammering away on the treadmill. Rather than being grumpy, I got up and went and did 30 minutes on the elliptical machine myself. I worked up quite the sweat – to the extent that two days later as I write this, my calves are still a bit sore. Parking was good until 4pm, so we checked out, loaded our stuff into the car, and went exploring. Naturally we headed for Pike Place Market, which was vibrant and colourful.

We dined on sticky buns (I found some “healthy” seed and nut biscuit thing. It might have been healthier if it wasn’t large enough to feed a platoon), and managed to find a coffee establishment without the green mermaid on it. A swift amble along the waterfront, and back around to the hotel via Nordstrom’s Rack to appease Mrs E’s shopping urge, and we were done.

Coming back through the border was a little bit of pantomime. We have Nexus, and I’m not totally sure what the rules are for duty free, as I usually only get asked “did you buy alcohol or tobacco?” to which the answer is always “no”.

This time though, this was the transcript:

Nice customs lady: Did you buy anything, or were you given anything?

Me: I’m sorry, what? (I was thrown by the “given anything” part)

Less nice customs lady: I said – did you buy anything, or were you given anything?

Me: Yes – we spent about $450

Sighing customs lady (plainly this was potentially a form-filling occasion for her): How long were you gone for?

Me: Overnight

More heavily sighing customs lady (plainly the wrong answer, and forms and pens were beckoning): And what did you buy?

Me: We bought some clothes and a casserole pan.

Raised eyebrow customs lady: Was any item more than $200?

Me: No

Relieved customs lady (this was a pen-pushing event deftly averted, it seems): Thank-you. Goodbye.


17 05 2013

Beauty is in the eye.

I went to the dollar store tonight. To get something to test my new off-camera flash cable with.

One in the eye



X marks the spot

14 05 2013

Today is election day in BC.

Number 2 child got to vote for the first time, so I took her along this morning to the “Voting Place” – really?! What ever happened to “Polling Station“? Another case of the English language being simplified and dumbed down for the hard of thinking? Winston Smith would find things easy here…

Anyway, she was fêted as if she were royalty (being a first timer), which helped make a positive impression I’m sure. I guess she looked like a noob. She commented on how laid back things seemed to be, but I pointed out how very meticulous the process actually was (they wouldn’t even begin to look for me in the register until her vote was in the box). I’m glad she actively wanted to take part in the election. It’s an important part of who we are as Canadians (when we’re not being British, or English or Yorkshiremen – well the last one is only me).

We even got stickers as we left announcing “I voted”. No lollipop though. I feel cheated…

This year, there’s no “good” candidates I felt – only an attempt to pick the least bad. The CBC had a natty online questionnaire which asked a few key questions and helped you see which party’s views were most aligned with your own. I gave it a go. Bad idea.

I was 56% aligned with both the Liberals and the NDP (the two leading parties in BC). 54% aligned with the Greens. So – not really a lot of help at all!

I was reminded of a Churchillism:

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” (from a House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947).

Despite that, yes – I did vote. Fingers crossed now. My part in the game is done.

At 8pm, we see who is steering the grand vessel that is BC.