While the rest of the world celebrates Queen Victoriaâ€™s birthday this weekend, we are celebrating Mark turning 14 at the cabin.
He has been saving up for a DLSR camera for months. Â When I upgraded my Pentax K-x, he thought I traded it in for a new camera. Â Instead I took it upstairs and have been saving it to give him for his birthday.
After having the cameraâ€™s sensor cleaned, I bought him a new 16 GB memory card and cleaned all of the lens up perfectly (if you donâ€™t have a Lens Pen, you are doing it all wrong). Â
Wendy and I had bought him aÂ a new Roots sling camera bagÂ and placed the camera in along with some of my older lenses. Â Along with the camera, I gave him this 18-55mm lens that came with the camera, a really sharp manual 50mm lens,Â a Pentax 100-300 lens, and a Takumar-F 28-80mm manual lens (that to be honest, really sucks) but it will give him a macro to play with. Â I have an older Sigma 70-210 lens that I may give him as well but I am awaiting a replacement for it. Â Until then he can borrow it.
We also tossed in one of thoseÂ Eneloop battery chargersÂ and some amazing Eneloop XX batteries (best recyclable batteries on the planet) and a National Geographic magazine
To celebrate his birthday we are heading north from the cabin for a long nature walk along the shores of Last Mountain Lake where we will hopefully get some shots of some birds and someone can test out his new camera. Â I expect you will see some photos of the day as soon as we get back into the city.
Mark blogs about his birthday here.
After a long day of work, we spent Christmas Eve at Lee and Brittany’s place in Warman. Â They had come by the house earlier and picked up the boys and the presents so all we had to do was go home and then drive out to their place. Â We had a nice non-traditional Christmas dinner (some of that tomorrow) and then opened up presents.Â The key to Christmas Eve is to eat quickly and no small talk (Lee famously said to Mark one year, “Less talking, more chewing”) so we can get to the presents quicker. Â The tradition of the last couple of years has been to even put off dessert post Christmas present opening.
- I gave Wendy a Fujifilm Finepix JX600 compact digital camera.Â She has been looking for a new once since her Fujifilm Finepix J10 camera needed a desperate upgrade.Â This one will let Wendy take better photos, HD video, and yet still be small enough to take with her wherever she goes.Â It also features 3D shooting options which means I will be asking to play with it.Â I also lucked out in that it has the same battery that I just got Wendy for her old camera for our anniversary. Â A nice bonus for her.
- Mark gave Wendy a ladies Timex Ironman Triathlon watch.Â Wendy rarely remembers to put a watch on and is always taking it off.Â The hope is that if we got her a watch she would love, she would actually wear it.Â So far so good but it is early yet.
- Oliver gave Wendy some earrings and a lightweight tripod so she can do some night photography.Â Personally I think he just wants to stay up later and is using the tripod as an excuse to hang out with mom. Â He also gave her a print of him and Mark out for a walk.
- Santa Claus surprised her with an Olympus PEN ELP-2 interchangeable lens camera. Â it was used but barely used. Â Wendy has been looking at a Nikon J1, some Sony NEX series cameras and a Fuji X series camera but apparently Santa found her one with a 14-42mm lens. Â I was a little nervous supporting a second lens family (yeah I know how funny that sounds) but there are some really affordable Micro Four Thirds lens that we can add that she will love.
- The dogs partnered up with Santa and got her a 16gb memory card, a Crumpler One Million Dollar House camera bag, and a 37mm lens filter. Â I think she liked the camera bag more than the cameras. Â Story of my life.
- I gave Mark a Vivitar Action Camera.Â He probably wanted a GoPro but I was on a budget and he is thrilled with it.Â It comes with a headband, helmet mount, and bike mount.Â Expect to see him doing things that will hurt himself soon on his YouTube account. Â That’s quality parenting right there folks.
- Santa Claus stopped by and gave him a Sony Xperia J cellphone.Â Â Mark has had two other smart phones, the Samsung Galaxy 550 and then last year we gave him a HTC Desire C and he has taken very good care of them.Â He loves the Desire C but it is seriously underpowered and really slow running Android and would not run some apps he really likes.Â The Xperia J should speed up his life a little bit.Â
- Wendy gave him some 100 watt 2.1 computer speakers while Oliver gave him some portable X-Mini speakers.
- The dogs gave him a pen and notebook set.
- Lee and Brittany gave him a set of Huskie Athletics sweats and hoodie. Â He’ll never take them off.
- Wendy and I gave him a Canon 28-135mm DSLR lens mug. Â It’s the closest thing he is coming to a DLSR camera this Christmas.
- Since he is doing some winter camping at school, we gave him a couple of pairs of wool socks.Â He is going to need them.
- I gave Oliver a set of walkie talkies and some 4×30 compact binoculars.Â He was thrilled because Mark has a pair of binoculars and I gave a pair to Lee as well.Â As for the walkie talkies, what kid doesn’t love walkie talkies.Â Oddly enough Wendy is thrilled with them because they do Morse code. Â I hear beeping in my future.
- Wendy gave Oliver, Little Big Planet 2 which has less puzzles to solve then the first one which means he won’t be bugging Mark about helping him solve them. Â Of course we also got a great family game as we got him Little Big Planet Karting. Â It should be fun.
- Mark gave him Lego Batman 2 for his Nintendo DS.Â Oliver loves Batman and insists that Mark is Robin.Â Mark isn’t so crazy about that. Â We also got Oliver a Batman bobble head. Â Something to inspire him with.
- Santa Claus dropped off a boom box for his room along with some CDs.Â Apparently Santa knows that Oliver loves chilling to music with Mark.
- Hutch got him an art set
- Maggi got him a compact camcorder.Â It’s only standard definition but if it was good enough to shoot Knight Rider in, it will be fine for Oliver.Â He loves to make adventure movies with Mark so I can’t wait to see what he shoots.Â The camcorder was being blown out at $10 and I tossed a 2 GB SD card in it.Â At only 640×480 resolution, he should be able to record himself doing a “slow punch to the face” for days.Â I guess I need to get him set up on YouTube (where he could be Mark’s second camera operator).
- I gave Lee a full sized set of binoculars that should last him for decades.Â Very similar to the ones that I have and similar to the ones my grandfather gave me.Â The only thing that makes me sad is that they don’t come with leather hard cases like they used to (long before I was born).
- The boys gave him a framed print of themselves being idiots while out on a walk.Â It seems to sum both of them up so well.
- We also got Lee, Bobby Orr’s autobiography.
- Wendy gave Brittany a small cast iron pan with ingredients to make up brownies
- Since Wendy loved the griddle I got her last year, she gave one to Brittany as well.
I also got a Lowepro Classified 160 AW camera bag
Well that’s enough from me tonight. Â We are sleeping in tomorrow (as if) and then heading over to our friend’s Jerry and Gloria Reimer where we are enjoying Christmas dinner. Â Then it is back to work on Boxing Day for Wendy and I.
Wendy posted her New Yearâ€™s Resolutions so I thought I would post mine.
- Take the stairs to the top of The Lighthouse at least daily. This seems like a really good idea now that building is only four stories but when the new tower is nine stories this summer, it could be a really bad idea.
- Carry less crap. There are days when I go to work with my DSLR, a video camera, my notebook, a Moleskine, an iPod, and my cell phone. Do I really need that much stuff? Well considering that I have never used all of it in a single day, probably not.
- Ride my bike more. Wendy has a Dave King inspired goal of riding 750 kms this year. I think I will join her although none of those miles will be done at Ice Cycle which I still think is insane, no matter how many people enjoy cycling in â€“40 weather.
- Read more books in 2012. Darryl Dash has a post on how he wants his reading to more focused which I tend to go the other way. I want to read and explore topics that I havenâ€™t explored before, understand new things, and then figure out how they fit together later. In the spirit of Thomas Homer-Dixonâ€™s book The Ingenuity Gap, I want to be a deep generalist. Part of it is the column I write but part of it is cultivating a spirit of curiosity. It may be because I am at a point of life when I have a lot to learn and I donâ€™t have the need to be a specialist.
- Contribute more to the matrix of agencies that I am a part of as a staff member at The Lighthouse. Some of those actions are proprietary but I canâ€™t handle agencies that donâ€™t play that well with others. It comes from an atmosphere of fear and competition that doesnâ€™t need to exist. Hopefully we can model a different way.
- Spend more money locally. Saskatoon Farmerâ€™s Market, Souleio, Broadway Roastery, The Two Twenty, Collective Coffeeâ€¦ you know businesses that are Saskatoon born and bred. Less Starbucks, Tim Hortonâ€™s, and fast food joints.
- Attend more University of Saskatchewan Huskies and Saskatoon Hilltops games. The Huskies may have the best game day experience of any football team in Canada and the Hilltops because of what they did for Markâ€™s understanding of football in 2011. That and all they do is win national championships.
- Post more photos. Despite having a decent camera phone camera, a DSLR, and a pretty good compact camera, I took far too photos in 2011. That needs to change in 2012.
- Keep losing weight in 2012. I lost 40 pounds since my heart event this summer and I want to lose another 120. I should have it lost by next Christmas.
- Listen to more music. I love music but I rarely take time to listen to it. Itâ€™s always a background activity and never a foreground one.
Those are my resolutions. Good luck with yours.
I turned 37 today. Not much of a milestone but it was an enjoyable day. I fell asleep on the sofa last night so I woke up early to the family and a really sore neck. After some stretching and straining I got up and opened some presents. Mark gave me a 70-210mm Sigma lens for my camera and a Lowepro Exchange Messenger camera bag while Oliver gave me a DSLR for Dummies book and a new camera strap.
Wendy gave me a mini Denver Broncos helmet, some new in ear headphones and some upgraded noise cancelling headphones while Hutch and Maggi got me an iTunes card so I could get some music. The helmet made itâ€™s way to my office and Oliver isnâ€™t pleased. He sees an Oliver sized helmet and doesnâ€™t understand why there isnâ€™t a football game breaking out.
While the Broncos helmet was pretty cool, our timing was odd with the negotiations breaking down between the owners and the players. For NFL addicts around the world, it gives new meaning to the Day of Rage.
Keeping with the audio theme, Lee gave me a Best Buy gift card and I picked up some iHome Rechargeable Mini Speakers which will be making a trip to Toronto with me in a couple of weeks (as will the noise cancelling headphones).
To celebrate, the family took me out to Alexanderâ€™s Restaurant for supper with Michaela and Taylah. Michaela decided that since we share three hugs a year (our birthdays and on Christmas), we must be family. I am not so sure. We just became Facebook friends last year.
Thanks to everyone who emailed, tweeted, and Facebooked today. I appreciated them all.
I finally bought the DSLR after three years of debating back and forth about it. After soliciting advice from Dave King (Flickr) and Ian McKenzie (Flickr), I decided on the Pentax K-x. As Wendy wrote on her blog, we had some old Pentax K-mount lens from an old Ricoh KR5 her father gave to her. The price of film always kept us shooting digital as well as the fact we have had some extended zoom lens cameras over the last ten years. The camera came with a Sears 135mm f/2.8 manual macro lens and couple of years ago I bought Wendy a 200mm zoom lens that is a KA mount.
We also picked up some other used lens a couple of weeks ago from Donâ€™s Photo that were a crazy bargain and I saved several hundred dollars on that deal which made both Wendy and I happy.
We did take it out today and I took a couple of photos of a church on the Fish Creek Road. On the way back I took a couple of shots of this enormous cross on Highway 41. After I downloaded the photos to Picassa, I realized that the lens hadnâ€™t been cleaned in years and it showed. Apparently I donâ€™t handle change well.