Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 59 - Salute to the unsung hero

Peg and I got up early this morning and went to a hockey game to watch a couple of our students play. It was an entertaining game to watch. Some players spent almost as much time on the ice as they did on their skates. Now, we're watching another entertaining but much more stressful match - Canada vs. USA. Definitely, one extreme to the other. However, no matter the level, time of day or arena there is at least one common factor - the ZAMBONI driver! The person who keeps the rink in top shape so hockey players of all sizes can play their best game. So, to all the Zamboni drivers out there - I salute you!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 58 - Reflections

This is an inverted reflection shot of Peg and the pooches. They were standing around patiently as I was taking various shots for the blog. They're standing next to what used to be a skating rink but is now a giant puddle. As you can tell from the ripples in the water, it's still a bit windy here.

Day 57 - Fish Eye

I was sitting at the table checking Olympic updates on my iPhone and decided to play with the camera. Of course I just happened to have a cold glass of Diet Dr. Pepper nearby so... I took a photo and then played with it in one of my apps, "Camera Bag". I tried various effects and decided to stick with the fisheye. I thought the bubble effect was appropriate given the carbonated subject.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 56 - Snow Love

We had a bit of a snowstorm today. Many of us stayed in bed a bit longer hoping to get the welcome 'Snow Day' phone call. Unfortunately, the phone never rang so we had to get out of bed and shovel before we drove off to work. The good news is that the new snow covered up all the dirty stuff. When we got home we shoveled again to get back in the garage. We had a backyard full of nice clean snow so I quickly took a few pictures before the dogs trampled it all down. Hope those who are still living in winter are enjoying the new snow. Take care of yourself while shoveling.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 55 - Droplets again

I was at home today with the dogs. I had a nice relaxing morning of reading and checking Olympic updates. As I was getting ready to vacuum I noticed big snowflakes falling. I decided it would be a good idea to go outside to get some snowflake pictures. The dogs came out to assist of course. Once again, I got droplet pictures instead of snowflakes. It was quite mild so the snow was melting fast. Sadie was a helpful assistant. She stood still while I took some pics with the macro. The above picture is the snow melting on her fur. I always find it amazing how different things look through a macro lens.

Day 54 - Daffodils

It's that time of year when we start getting anxious for Spring. Peg always buys Daffodils to brighten up the house. They act as a reminder that Spring will come again even if it's not as soon as we'd like. I read in my photography book that when taking pictures of flowers you should try to use a black or white background. I tried a white sheet. I think I was supposed to use something without wrinkles but it's okay for a start.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 53 - On the Line

Spring break begins this coming weekend and we are all more than ready for it. I'm finding myself pretty tired and having difficulty finding inspiration at the end of the day. I was wandering around the backyard looking for pic possibilities. The above picture is our clothes line which we hope to be using soon. I would have liked to more focus but I was leaning over the deck railing and was worried I might fall if I leaned much further.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 52 - Snow Fleas

Yes, you read the title correctly. A few years ago we were walking the dogs in the woods. We saw all these little black spots on the snow. Being the city slickers that we are we figured it must be dirt or pollution. A while later we were walking with a friend and she informed us that those little black spots are snow fleas. Of course we didn't believe her at first but once we looked closely and saw them hopping around we realized she was telling us the truth.
These little creatures usually show up in early spring. However, they have already made their debut in Quebec and it's only February. Looking at them closely kind of makes me itchy but apparently they're totally harmless. The first picture shows how tiny they appear when not magnified. They are just little specs on the snow. I used my macro lens for the 2nd picture but didn't have my tripod. It's not as clear as I would like but I stayed as close as I could for about as long as I could.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 51 - Defying Gravity

It is a strange time in Quebec City at the moment with temperatures and snow melting at the speed of April. Is it a mixed blessing or global warming? for thought. Walking the dogs today we happened upon a spruce tree with one branch still clinging to winter. The branch was bowed downward at almost a 90 degree angle yet the snow had not relinquished it's grip. Interesting determination!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 50 - How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?

What may look like an ordinary woodpile to most is a mountain of opportunity for our Great Danes, Sadie and Dexter. Most dogs play with sticks, ours prefer logs. Their favourite game is stealing logs off the pile and teasing each other with them. Of course the newest one from the pile is always the best. Every few days Peg or I go out in the yard and re-stack the wood. Unfortunately, the logs disappear almost as fast as we stack. Peg figures that we should channel their energy and passion for wood and train them to bring the wood in to our woodbox in the basement.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 49 - Bright Idea

I was back at school today with camera and tripod in tow. At the end of the day I was looking at everyday things through the eye of the camera. I was trying to find unusual in the ordinary. I took the above shot by turning my camera upward and shooting blindly. This is what our class lights look like from below. I cropped the shot a bit and liked the effect. It actually makes a pretty interesting optical illusion. The patterns appear gold and metallic yet it's merely textured plastic.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 48 - Traffic

As you may guess from the clock, this is a picture of me stuck in 5 o'clock traffic. I was sitting in traffic going over my "To do list" and realized that picture of the day was still on that list. I still had to pick Peg up from school and I figured with traffic I wouldn't get home before dark. So, once again the iPhone came to my rescue.
I know Quebec City isn't considered a big city by those from cities like Montreal, New York, etc. but it's easy to see how much it's growing when you're travelling during rush hour. It's days like today that make me grateful that I do live in a city like Quebec and not Metropolis Central!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 47 - Young Olympic Fans

I was at the board office today but had to go to school for the Robotics Club. While we were working the after school daycare group stopped by our class. They wanted to show us their Olympic flames. Murphy's law, I didn't have my camera. However, I did have my iPhone so I took a bunch of pictures. I've only had the iPhone for a week so I haven't taken many pictures. I think I need to spend some time practicing.
On the Olympic side, kids seem to have caught Olympic fever. They check the bulletin board to see if we've won anymore medals, they're discussing Alexandre's amazing gold and the women's hockey team's shining performance. They're excited about and for the athletes and deep inside some of the students are dreaming of going to the Olympics themselves someday. It's a magic time when people, young and old, can believe that with lots of work and determination dreams can come true.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 46 - Couch Potato

I was watching the Women's Canadian hockey team play Switzerland when I looked over and saw my buddy Dexter sitting on the couch. I know pictures can be deceiving but our dogs aren't allowed on the furniture. Much to Peg's chagrin, I make the exception when Dexter plants himself on the couch like this. He just looks so human; it really looks like he's watching the television. The best part or irony, is that he's blind. But hey, don't tell him because he doesn't know. He was born that way.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Day 45 - Winter Green

Today we went walking in the woods. It's relaxing for us and the dogs LOVE being off lead. As always, I brought my camera along, hoping to snap a few shots. My focus seemed to be tree closeups. I chose this one because it gives us a little bit of green no matter the season or temperature. When you look at the picture closely it almost looks like another mini forest.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day 44 - Trees grow up, right?

Out walking today this tree caught our eye. Maybe the tree stands out because it is different from most. We are all used to seeing tree branches reach for the sky while this one seems to be reaching for its roots. I may be stretching it a bit but this tree says to me, "It's okay to be different. That's what makes the world such a wonderful place." People often fear or dislike that which is different or out of the ordinary. I think this tree reminds us to embrace difference and learn from it.

Day 43 - Olympic Spirit

No event, season or religious celebration evokes the same international emotion or pride as the Olympic spirit does. It inspires hope, belief and the best of the human spirit. Our Olympic spirit kicked into gear when Peg & I were invited by a former student to his running of the Olympic flame way back in the beginning of December. At the ripe old age of 14, "J" was the youngest runner chosen in the city to be given the honour. He dreams of and is training to be an Olympian in Track & Field. We felt with the Opening Ceremonies today, that this picture was the pick of the day. Let's go Canada! Let's go "J"!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 42 - Mont Tourbillon

Today we loaded kids, teachers, monitors and parents into buses and headed to Mont Tourbillon, a local tubing venue which becomes a golf course in the summer. We had perfect weather, mild temperatures and no wind. We spent the whole day going up and down the hills. Actually, I spent most of the day at the bottom snapping shots. I took a total of 306 pictures and ended up keeping 178 of them. Everyone had a great time and there were lots of smiling, active kids.
The above picture was taken at the beginning of the day. Two of my girls are in the pool amongst all the tubes posing for yet another picture. It's definitely fun taking pictures when you have so many willing and happy subjects.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 41 - Walk around the World

Once a week our whole school community spends an extra twenty minutes outside first thing in the morning to "Walk Around The World." The mileage is calculated by the number of coloured popsicle sticks each class collects as they go around the field. The primary and elementary class with the highest average per week win the Walk Around The World flag for the week. In four and a half years our school has walked over 95, 000 kilometres, which is more than twice around the Earth at the equator. As you can see some kids love to run while others chat and walk along at varying speeds. It's a nice way to start the day. Waddle on, friends!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 40 - Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

Each Tuesday after school, with help from my techi friend Mike, I run a robotics club at school. Tonight was our second session. Mike taught the guys about input, control and output. We also did a bit of work with flowcharts. Each week we give them a challenge. This week the first part was to have their robot use an erasable marker to draw an arc. Once they did that, Mike and I guided them through some Math and helped them calculate how they would need to adjust their program in order to create a full circle. Some groups even managed a figure 8!
Anyway, I thought the robot would make a good pic. When I look at it I think of Wall-E but as I was looking through the pics to choose one for my blog the song "Mr. Roboto" by Styx started playing in my head. I guess that explains the title of today's blog.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Day 39 - Unnecessary Destruction

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, it's Carnival time here in Quebec. One popular activity is creating ice/snow sculptures. As we were driving home we noticed that some sculptures had been built on a soccer field at the CEGEP near our home. We decided to walk down and check them out, maybe get some pictures. Unfortunately, the thing that struck me most was one of the sculptures had been destroyed. It saddens me to think that some people feel the need/desire (whatever it is) to destroy what others create rather than using the time and energy to create something on their own. While I understand that vandalism is sometimes about making a statement I fail to believe that there isn't a better way to communicate than this.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 38 - Lifeguard off duty

Once again I took my picture while out walking with the dogs. As we passed the local pool the empty lifeguard chairs caught my eye. I find it amazing how things and places change with the seasons. Although this pool is deserted today I can almost hear the splashing and laughing, see the towels, shoes and clothing spread out around the pool, and smell the sun cream and chlorine that will return with the summer. Until then, this lifeguard is definitely off duty.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day 37 - A Pine 'Tree-o'

I apologize for the possibly corny pun in the title. Sometimes I just can't help myself. The carnival parade passes very close to our house and we considered attending and getting some snapshots of Bonhomme Carnival but decided we didn't want to face the crowds. We settled for a late afternoon walk instead. As we were walking Peg discovered this trio of pine cones up in the tree. I took a few shots. I didn't have my zoom lens so I couldn't get very close. I had to crop and zoom in digitally. We chose this pic for the contrast of colours. The branches in the background almost look like palm trees. Wishful thinking on a cold February afternoon. Stay warm.

Day 36 - Talk to the Hand

Had a great visit with our god-kids yesterday. Yes, it was nice to see their parents too. We had a great time playing and exploring with them. Watching 'L' admire her favourite toy, her hand, made us realize how much we take our own for granted. We do so much with our hands; building, eating, touching, exploring, discovering, fixing (and sometimes breaking), caring, typing on our blogs,... You get the idea. As we do all these amazing 'feats' how many of us actually take the time to appreciate these precious gifts. I think maybe babies have the right idea when they take the time to bask in the wonder of their hands. Thanks for the reminder, 'L'.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 35 - Stretchy Starch

Today I was back at the Board preparing for the upcoming common PED (pedagogical) day. I'm giving a SMARTboard workshop. Teaching and being a consultant definitely has its advantages. I can apply what I learn in one job to the other.
Anyway, we have this box of elastics at the office and I've been looking at it for awhile thinking it would make a good pic. I brought the camera along and snapped a few closeups. I was looking through the pictures on the computer this evening and Peg made the comment that it looked like whole wheat spaghetti. While it may look like spaghetti, I wouldn't recommend eating this stretchy starch but it does come in handy when you need to hold things together.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Day 34 - A Mile in Someone else's Sneakers

Yes, I know the expression it's supposed to be moccasins instead of sneakers but today I did in fact walk in someone else's sneakers and I have gained a whole new appreciation for what she does. Like I mentioned before I teach Gym one 1/2 day every Day 4. Well today was a Day 4 but the regular Gym teacher, Peg, was absent. In fact she's out all week with Laryngitis. Since it's difficult to find a sub for a 1/2 day, especially in the gym, I volunteered to teach her classes for the day.
Overall, it was a fun day even if I had to teach the little guys. Now, don't get me wrong. I really like little kids but I feel much more at home teaching the older ones. I had a great time at the parachute station and supervising a great game of team pinball. I have to admit I was somewhat surprised at how those little 'innocent' children cheat.
So, even though Peg planned the lessons and helped me set up in the morning I finished the day EXHAUSTED and even more appreciative of all she does. Let's just say after walking a mile (actually probably farther today) in her sneakers I'm ready to take them off and put my feet up.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 33 - A New Perspective

Over the last few weeks my students and I have been exploring photography and working our way towards completing a self-portrait. Today, I had students bring their cameras to school and brought along mine as well. After reviewing things like angle, perspective, composition, framing, etc., students had the period to take their cameras and look for photo 'ops' around the school. They learned a little bit about flashes and back light as they were experimenting. It was fun to see their excitement when they got the shot they were attempting. I was impressed with their vision and creativity. There were some great pics.
At the end of the period we discussed the experience and talked about what they tried and learned. I asked students to e-mail me their favourite photos, for whatever reason. So far, only one student has e-mailed me so I chose one of her pics for the blog. Hopefully, there will be many more. Thanks 'A'.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Day 32 - The ties that bind

They say when you learn something new, you will hear or see it again in the next few days. Playing "Are you smarter than a fifth grader?" with my students allows me the opportunity to clutter my brain with all sorts of trivia. The sewing machine was invented by Mr. Gutterman. When I got home, Peg's sewing machine and thread were out from her latest sewing and mending stint. I saw the brand name on the spools of thread and my brain instantly made the connection to the game I'd played with my students today. Looks like it's all stitched up!