"When the world is running down, you make the best of what's still around"

The Calm Before the Storm

By Shanathalas
Sorry I haven't posted in a while: my new job is a closed network, so no interweb at work. Great for my productivity, but bad for keeping up with my blogging, rss etc...

The good news is that my new job is great. The team is made up of really good people, my work environment is fabulous and I'm learning a lot. The bad news is that the day I started, Jaime found out that the extension on his work visa has been denied. So as of Monday, he's not allowed to work, and had lost his job (you know, the one he loves and gets loads of positive feedback etc...). As it was total bureaucratic snafu, he can reapply and should get his visa back in a month or two, and his work will likely take him back then. But in the meantime, we are living on my now very poor salary. Why can't I just have a little time without major stress in my life.

So no going to England for Abby and Pete's wedding :( which is so disappointing.

We have to move out of our apartment and likely move back into mum's one-bedroom apartment again.

Jaime gets paid out all his holiday pay, but obviously can't actually go on a holiday.

Plans for holidays are put on hold again.

Plans for studying are on hold again.

Plans for kids are on hold again.

I'm beginning to wonder if our life will ever get off hold. Can't we have a time period without massive stress for just a little while?

The Chernobyl Legacy

By Shanathalas
The Chernobyl Legacy by Paul Fusco could be one of the most moving and deeply disturbing photoessays I have ever seen. I must admit that with all the problems of global warming, I did for just one second start to ponder the rhetoric of politicians like John Howard putting forth nuclear energy as the solution to the world's energy crisis. But how can anyone even think of building reactors after viewing the horrific, widespread, and longterm consequences of just one reactor meltdown. The fact that Australia, which can't even get a 19th century invention like trains to run without accidents, is even considering it boggles the mind. There has just got be better options than this.

I remember when as a child I first came to understand what nuclear bombs and reactors were. I was eleven years old and it terrified me. I began to have "mushroom cloud" nightmares and would become paralyzed by fear of nuclear war. At age 13 I saw the news reports about Chernobyl, but did not come to realise the true consequences until many years later. In the nineties, with the easing of the cold war, the dismantling of apartheid, and increase of global awareness, I had a genuine feeling that the world moving to a better place and further from the threat of nuclear radiation. But now the world is entering scary territory. Politicians are putting nuclear energy back on the table, and people are eating it. Where is the outrage? Where is the fight against this? Is it because people in the 60s and 70s weren't worried about losing power for their iphone that they were in the streets about this? I would rather raise children in a world with no electricity (humans managed without for 4.6 million years) than to see these abominations on the earth.

Here is the Link : Make sure to listen with the sound on as the commentary is vital.
(warning: this has some pretty disturbing images).

Baby's First HDR

By Shanathalas
Now that I'm getting comfortable with Ookpik the dslr camera, I am giving HDR photography a whirl. In a nutshell, it's taking the same shot at normal, over and under exposures and then combining them into one photo. This gives it a greater depth and all areas of the photo are exposed properly. It can look over-done, but properly created images are stunning. Anyway, here is my first HDR (created using photomatix; I used the free version, hence the watermarks):

Crazy F*&^$n Weather

By Shanathalas
Now after all the shit weather our recent and not so recent guests have had to endure, it's nice to see the sun. Makes one happy and let's one see the local mountains, trees flowers etc... But this is kinda of crazy. To all the folk who don't believe it gets hot in Vancouver, I give you this weeks weather forecast:

Yes, that's a 33, 34 and 35 coming up this week. I had to double check I hadn't inadvertently checked Sydney's weather. In the interior of BC the forecast is for 38 and 39.

Still, it's a good week for it. I have a week off before I start my new job and I'm pretty much slacking off, so it's nice to have some good slacking off weather.

By Shanathalas

So I joined the David Suzuki Foundation's Nature Challenge. Its only a small thing, and certainly nothing "off the grid", but it's small steps. Most of which of I'm already doing. But they say" Word of mouth is our most powerful tool", so here I am promoting a it. Looking at the Challenge, I can assess how I am doing a reducing climate change:

1. Reduce home energy use by 10%.
  • I am working on only having lights on when I need them. I'm also reducing the amount of time I spend on my computer (I quit WOW).
2. Choose an energy efficient home and appliances.
  • As an apartment in a concrete building, our insulation is pretty good. But our appliances are appalling. The fridge is a giant old beast that runs noisily all the time, and the drier does not vent very well and is incredibly inefficient. Unfortunately, as tenants, these are not our appliances, and as these appliances are technically still working, we cannot get them replaced. I have countered this by hanging as many things to dry as possible, and by running the fridge on low, keeping the fidgee-part relatively empty and the freezee-part very full (this is the way fridge work efficiently).
3. Replace dangerous pesticides with alternatives.
  • I don't have a garden *sigh*. My house plants are basically bug free.
4. Eat meat-free meals one day a week.
  • We've been trying to go farther with this anyway. While I doubt I will ever be able to go completely meat free, I am trying to make it the exception rather than the rule. I already go meat-free several days a week, so I'm doing well with this one.
5. Buy locally grown and produced food.
  • I've become a lot more conscious of this issue, and I am going to try to pay more attention to this when shopping. Luckily we've got a lot of good markets near us with lots of healthy, local produce. This will be harder in the winter though, as a lot of Canada's produce is imported.
6. Choose a fuel-efficient vehicle.
  • I don't have a car. My feet aren't very efficient, but at least they don't pollute.
7. Walk, bike, carpool or take transit.
  • I've been public-transiting for decades. At the moment I have to catch three buses to work, which isn't much fun. But in my new job it will be one express-bus ride. I miss walking to work though, like I did at Sydney Uni.
8. Choose a home close to work or school.
  • Well I just chose a work that's closer to my home so "hooray". For a lot of people this isn't a viable option. But the long commutes some people make these days are nuts.
9. Support car-free alternatives.
  • Well, I already do. but I'm thinking of buying a bicycle. It will be uphill to work, but then downhill home :)
10. Learn more and share with family and friends.
  • I think that's what I'm doing at the moment.

OMG: My Dream Job

By Shanathalas
I have just been hired as a Research Assistant to the Laboratory of Archaeology at UBC. Its so exciting. I was really starting to get despondent about the career part of my life. While the job is not great paying, and is only for six-months, that is huge in archaeological terms. I will be doing what I love. My student loans have justified themselves. I'm almost too excited to talk. all I can say is that THE MILKY BARS ARE ON ME!!!!