Sunday, January 30, 2011

Digital Camera Magic

With my first pc, I also bought a Xerox copier, scanner, fax. When I found that the ink cartridges cost more than a new printer, I bought an HP unit. It too has all the functions, but I have never had much luck using the scanner.
However, I discovered the joy in using my digital camera to take pictures of old photographs, and have since digitized many of the old photographs in our various albums.
Not only does this provide digital copies, it also allows for editing of the pictures, and this to me is the amazing part.
Take for example a photo of my father taken in Wainwright Alberta in 1924. Imagine the camera that was used at that time. The photo is dark and without much detail. However, when digitized and edited, much of what was originally dark has become sharp detail. The picture shown had virtually no detail in the original.
Another was again of my father during WW2 when he was a guard in a prison camp in Nipigon in 1943. (both edited pics are shown below)
Again, the original shows no detail inside the tent, whereas the edited copy does.
It is true that care is required when taking the pictures. I find the best method is to sit in the light from a North window, using no flash, and with the close up setting on. You can use a camera stand to give stability, but I find it to be a nuisance, and it is better to just move the camera around until the picture is clear and square in the camera viewer, and with no visible reflection.
It seems to me it is nothing short of miraculous to be able to save all these old photographs in a form that will make them easy to store, easy to find when you want them, and easy to share.
There are many other benefits to a digital camera that particularly appeal to those of us old enough to remember when you had to use film, remember to buy flash bulbs, take film to a developer to have prints made, and then paste into albums.
I know there are purists out there (my friend Dan for example) that prefer the old methods, but for me, digital cameras are one of the best developments of recent years.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


We do meals on wheels. That means delivering hot meals to elderly or shut in folks throughout the city.
I drive while Beth navigates, and she delivers the meals to the home or apartment.
On many occasions she spends more time in the house than usual, and I have come to understand that means the recipient of the meal wants to talk.
In one house recently she spent perhaps 5 minutes. This was a large and very attractive home in a lovely older community.
When she came out she told me that the elderly owner had built the house himself. His son committed suicide. His wife died of cancer 3 years ago. His only other child, a daughter lives in Vancouver. Her husband is deceased. She now has cancer. She is attempting to sell her house and return to Oshawa to live with her father in the home he built. He hopes she can sell and move back soon.

Perhaps this is not such an uncommon story but it is a story that was told to a complete stranger within five minutes of meeting. It happens frequently.
Henry David Thoreau said “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”! This may be even more true of the elderly, particularly those living alone.
Imagine the extreme loneliness that makes a short visit from a volunteer meal deliverer a bright spot in someone’s day.
Imagine the intense desire for human interface that compels someone to share their deepest feelings, sorrows, and hopes to a stranger.
Imagine a life that seems pointless and futile.
How very sad!
John Prine is a songwriter and singer. For the song “Hello In There” he wrote these words

We know that old trees just grow stronger
Old rivers grow wilder every day
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say
Hello in there
If you’re walking down the street sometime
And spot some ancient hollow eyes
Please don’t just pass em by and stare
As if you didn’t care
Say hello in there
Say hello.
The opportunity to brighten someone’s life occurs regularly, and it gives rewards both ways.
You and I can be an angel to someone if we want to.
Say Hello in there!

Monday, January 3, 2011


A friend asked for my list of “best” books for the year. How hard is that to answer? I responded as I normally do, not by trying to define “best”, but simply by listing the ones that come to mind first.
My library records tell me I took out almost 100 books, and along with those were the ones that friends loaned me. I know that as soon as I post this another bunch will come to mind!!
Here is my list.
*The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society -a story of the war years on the Isle of Guernsey. A great read by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
*The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. (Brother of Dan Hill.) Wonderful book.
*Half Broke Horses and The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (non fiction)
*Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese An epic story starting in Ethiopia and ending in the USA. Excellent book
*The Girl who played with fire, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (I am on the waiting list for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest by the same author - Steig Larssen)
*I've Got a Home in Glory Land by Karolyn Smardz Frost (Toronto Author - Great Book - Non Fiction)
*Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.
*The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
*The Kite Runner -and- A Thousand Splendid Suns (same author for both - Khaled Hosseini).
*Reading Lolita In Tehran by Azar Nafisi (non fiction).
*all the Body Farm books by by Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson.
*I currently have (among others) Ken Follets new book - Fall of Giants. It is a giant book. Hope it is good.
*In action books I highly recommend any and all of the Lee Child books. His hero is a guy called Jack Reacher, an ex army MP. Wonderful character.
*If you liked the Steig Larssen books, or Dan Brown books, you should enjoy books by Greg Iles. Particularly Blood Memory, Dead Sleep, and True Evil. I think Iles is a better writer!
*I am waiting for a book called The Friends Of Meager Fortune. A friend highly recommends it. The author is David Adams Richards.

My reserve list at the library is growing. I may have to do another post on books soon.