Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Introduction to self powered 2 wheeled machines

In response to Gary, that guy with Flies in his Throat was wondering how some of us got into riding motorcycles I can only say that I was introduced to bikes by accident. My experience should be divided into 3 defined periods, the first of which was purely accidental.

I have always liked mechanized power . My first experience was with a wagon, you know, they were metal and had a tiller like steering handle and you would put one leg inside the wagon to support your weight and then you would push with your other leg. It was easier than walking and you seemed to go faster. In my early years I also had a tricycle and a two small-wheeled push scooter. You stood on a platform and pushed with your leg to attain the speed you wanted. Then I graduated to my first 3 speed bicycle.

It was a safer world back “in those days”. I was around 10 years old. I changed schools and I met a friend who was also an explorer. We lived over a mile away from each other but on the weekends, and during the summer we would go exploring, which meant we would ride our bikes downtown, through Stanley Park and over the Lion’s Gate Bridge over to West Vancouver. No one knew where we were, or what we were up to. All they knew was that we were riding our bikes or playing somewhere and we always made it back in time for dinner. Now that I think about it, we had no money and I don’t know what we would do if we had an emergency. There were only pay phones but I think back then you could knock on someone’s door and they would help you.

Now fast forward a few years to around 1960-61 when I was in grade 8 or 9. I was in the back yard trying to get the lawn mower started and someone in our neighbourhood was selling a mini bike. It had a briggs & Stratton engine on a tubular frame and a pulley system which tightend as you stepped on a friction pedal. It only had a single speed but I was very happy that I didn’t have to pedal anymore. I knew nothing about licences, permits or even how to handle a machine faster than a pedal bike but I rode it for miles to the other side of town and back. I knew it wasn’t right to ride on the main roads so I took backstreets and lanes. Come to think of it I don’t think it even had brakes.

Things are a little foggy about what happened to it but I think I sold it or traded it for an actual Moped. It was a 2 speed 2 stroke affair and I cannot remember the make or model but I believe it to have been a Puch. I had fun riding around the local area close to home. One day I finished my ride and put the moped in the back yard and I notice a police cruiser drive by very slowly and looking directly at me as they drove by. I wasn’t sure what they were doing but in retrospect some one must have complained to the police and they were trying to catch me. I knew the gig was up so I got rid of it and that was that until I graduated from high school.

I came from a home with modest means. I hardly every got to borrow the family car, but my dad did let me use it for my graduation ceremony. During the time I was going to school I had a part time job developing film for a local professional photo lab, hand developing B&W subminiature films. ( I did not get an allowance, I always had to earn my own spending money and buy most of my own clothes. ) This is what got me into photography and my first camera back in 1959, it was a Minolta SR-1. I call it my first real camera, not the Kodak 127 Brownie I received as a birthday present when I was 8. In order to save money, I listed to the radio a lot and knew every hit parade song by only hearing the first couple of notes. Of course I couldn`t afford a collection of 45`s, or 33 rpm albums so I bought a reel to reel tape recorder and I started to tape the music using a microphone in front of the speaker. You had to be quiet otherwise you got your voice mixed into the music. Of course you also got to hear the DJ at the beginning and end of every song. I started to buy better tape recorders and a year later I decided to sell the one I was using to upgrade.

I advertised the tape recorder and I received a call from someone who wanted to make a trade. So we got together to see what each other had. This was around 1964 or 65. We got together and he got to inspect my tape recorder, and I got to look at my new used Yamaha 80cc 2-stroke 4 speed motorcycle. I valued my tape recorder at $60. and this was the amount that I used when I took the papers to the Insurance Agent to do the vehicle transfer.

Now what do now that I have a motorcycle and no motorcycle license. I rode anyway. That`s what everyone did ``back then`` . Hardly anyone had a proper license but I decided to get one. It was easy back then. I practiced figure 8`s, stopping and starting and after a short parking lot test in a huge parking lot, I was legal. It was 1965 and I was on top of the world. I had a motorcycle and an MGB sports car.

Most of you know that I prefer to ride solo. I wouldn`t know how to carry a passenger nor do I wish to be responsible for one, BUT I have only carried a pillion twice in my life. And once I got my motorcycle license, Mrs FutureSkoot hopped on the back and we rode this Yamaha 80cc from downtown Vancouver up to the top of Burnaby Mountain, home of the new SFU University

Back in those early days of motorcycling, Honda had a promotion whereby they used the line . . . ``you meet the nicest people on a Honda`` . Downtown near Stanley Park there was a place where you could rent those semi-automatic Honda 90 step-thru scooters. For a 2 hour min we had a blast riding around Stanley Park.

It would also surprise you to know that during the time I owned the Yamaha 80cc motorcycle, we also purchased a used Honda 65 SuperSport motorcycle for Mrs FutureSkoot

yamaha 80

I'm having a hard time trying to come up with a photo, so here is one from the same period but this is 100cc. Mine was a Yamaha 80cc 2-stroke, 4 speed, with Posi-lube. I have no photos of it and can barely remember what it looked like. Wouldn't mind having it back

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Not much

has happened this weekend. Nada, nothing, NIL. Saturday found torrential rains so it was better to stay indoors and do some 'net surfing looking at new, fast Laptops. During the past week I talked myself into and then out of purchasing one right now, preferring to pay more for a newer model after the new year. If it weren't for the video editing I wouldn't need one so I am going to stick with my slow core2 duo and make do.

Sunday started out with hope of a sunny afternoon. It was a lazy morning getting up without the alarm clock and a home-made


generous portion of eggs benedicts. Lots of sauce which was savoured with every bite until it was gone


Then while I was relaxing and looking at the food channel I hear . . .

Mrs Skoot say "We need a new washer, the faucet is leaking"

I head over to our utility sink and see that it is dripping and needs a new washer. Today is Sunday and not many plumbing stores are open except for Home Depot so now the plan for the day developed. I remember that when my friend came over to help me change some pipes a couple of years ago that this same faucet was dripping a bit but we didn't have a washer and it was too late to make a special trip to purchase one, so we did what anyone one else would do in our predicament, we turned the washer backwards and put it back together, so I knew we needed more than just a couple of washers. It took a couple of stops to find the correct complete tap assembly as I did not know the manufacturer of our faucets. Of course I bought two to replace both sides. Amazing how a simple job eats up an afternoon.

Earlier in the week I took a few photos with my new Camera, Sony NEX-5n, with 16mm pancake lens. I could not take low angle shots before as my Canon T2i does not have a moveable LCD screen.

(South Arm: Fraser River)

(High Tide: Finn Slough)

(Finn Slough, Richmond, BC)

Friday, November 25, 2011

More copywrite video from China

This time of year when things slow down I try to finish my previous projects. In my travels I see lots of things to blog about. Often I take lots of photos with good intentions then they sit on the back seat when newer stuff comes along. I still have unwritten stories & thoughts from last year which have already been archived, never to be seen. I take a lot of video clips but time is tight and I am sure most of you don't know how much time it takes to produce a 5 minute movie. It is much easier to snap a dozen photos and write a few paragraphs, than to spend all night pretending to be a movie director. Although my video clips are recorded in full 1080p30, my computer is not up to the task of rendering even though it is a core2 duo it is running around 4 or 5:1 ratio right now, which is very poor. This means that to render a 5 min video my computer takes 20-25 minutes to render. A fast computer could render 1:1 so the 20-25 minutes would be reduced to about 5 minutes.

This is not counting the time it takes to view all the clips, decide which ones to use, and then edit into your predetermined sequence, complete with transitions and perhaps add an audio track. I plan on adding more camera angles thus adding more video and audio tracks to my projects which adds complexity.

I recently had the misfortune of recording a Celebration of Life for my friend Paul Cassells who passed away. He was a fellow rider and my insurance agent. I asked his family if they wanted me to compile a video as a remembrance. My cameras record in AVCHD which is a container to capture the video, it is not an editing format, so it has to be converted to something that is understood by editing software. It took about an hour to convert 45 minutes of AVCHD codec.

Well, enough of this rambling . . . Last week I was going over some "footage" from our trip to China and decided to post them to Youtube. It was as if the Copywrite Police were waiting to ambush me. Within a millisecond both of my videos were already "tagged", the one on the previous post, and the one below.

The previous one was a Live performance at a temple, but I think the artist had a small tape recorder playing background music at a low volume level so she could play her Erhu in accompanyment and keep in time.

This one I am at a loss as to why. I did a google search on "Music Publishing Rights Collecting Society" and got some interesting results. Again, sorry for the ads, There was an ad displayed when I played it

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gulab Jamun & a visit

Today was a day away from work. It was a bonus when the rain stopped and the sun tried to come out. My plans were not etched in stone and I was contemplating having a home-made breakfast of eggs and go out to find things to photograph. In other words, it would be a normal Saturday of being alone and trying to keep myself amused. Imagine my surprise when Mrs Skoot said she would join me for brunch, but where to go ? After driving around Richmond with no fixed destination we ended up at an East Indian Buffet


it was one of those AYCE: All You Can Eat affairs where I normally have too many plates of filled to the brim food. Mrs Skoot wanted to have something with curry in it and I like butter Chicken . Here's what my plate looked like


it was a little taste of everything "in moderation" and I didn't go back for seconds as I wanted to leave room for dessert. You would be proud of my newly found willpower. In days of yore, I would keep grabbing a new plate and they would have to roll me out . . . I went to look at the desserts which were trays of very colourful stuff


I don't know what all this stuff was but I know that most East Indian desserts are on the sweet side. I was trying to limit my input but when I saw these . . .


I knew that I was in heaven. I have had these before and I just love them. They are sort of like rumbabas, without the rum. I never knew what they were called but you can never have too many of these, they go down easy and fast

(a whole tray of Gulab Jamun)

The balls have a cake texture and are sitting in a sweet, warm, honey-like syrup. I tried to exercise restraint, but with a tray full of these delicacies it was my purpose in life to put a "dent" in this supply


These must be 100 calories each so I stopped at only four

After brunch the clouds appeared to be blowing away and the sun was trying to shine so we headed south towards Steveston in search of photos. We did stop at Finn Slough again and noticed the very high water levels. As we were driving along the Fraser River, the water came much closer to the road than normal. The piers are barely above the water level

As we got closer to our destination I thought it would be a good time to introduce Mrs Skoot to my new found friends, whom I met the last time I was here.

I found them at the same place as last time. It seems that they are always on their "break"


The soft-spoken guy was still sitting on the bench, he must be the ringleader. The other guy standing on the right still didn't say much, but he asked me to stand beside him for another photo, while Mrs Skoot sat on quiet guy's lap


Not to be outdone, the soft spoken guy wanted us to take another group photo with him in the middle


by now it was getting late so we decided to stake out a spot along the river to watch the water flow by. It was a relaxing day to do nothing

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Matched third party

content. I am so careful when it comes to copywrited music. When I first started doing videos a few years ago I used to put music to photos but then EMI or Sony Records sent me official looking emails which resulted in some of my videos being audio silenced. Since then I have been using public domain or music from other sources which were not subject to copywrite. I've gone for quite some time now with no incidents until the other day when I uploaded a couple of videos from our recent trip to China. I have more videos on my Youtube Channel than I link to from this blog so you may not have seen them

The following was recorded in a Temple somewhere near Nanjing. The "girl" is playing my favourite Chinese 2-stringed musical instrument called an ERHU. I still don't know why my video was tagged with "Matched third party content" as it was a live demonstration being played before me. I was mesmerized with its sound, thus I recorded it for you to hear (before the sound may be silenced).

Sorry for the Ads. It was never my intention to place ads on my youtube channel, but since it was matched with 3rd party content, one of the conditions of leaving the audio intact is to give them permission to place ads on my video, and also permission for them to see the viewing statistics

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mmmm, perogies

On Sundays we usually go out for brunch, but lately we have been making our own. I love eggs benedicts but you can't have them every week so we decided to go out for some home-made perogies


Not home-made by us, but rather . . . home-made by some nice Ukrainian ladies over at the Ukrainian church. Mrs Skoot spotted their sign the other day. We know that they have regular Ukrainian perogy lunches periodically but we can never make it on a weekday. Because of the Artists' Art Crawl this weekend they put it on this weekend and combined it with a small flea market


I purchased my new camera (info HERE) a couple of weeks ago and this is the first time I have posted anything using it. It is much easier to take stealth photos/video with it rather than my Canon dSLR.


The line-up really isn't that bad but we were ahead of the rush as it got very busy later


They even had desserts for sale and I intended to purchase some, but forgot . Here is what our meal looked like, mostly vegetarian except for that piece of sausage


A bowl of Borscht, cabbage rolls, perogies with onions and I dabbled on a great amount of sour cream . We have a few Ukrainian Community centres around town and most of them have a perogy dinner night but we have not attended one for a while. Did I mention that I love perogies ?


After lunch we went upstairs where they had a flea market and we didn't leave empty-handed


Here is a short video using my new Sony NEX-5n , AVCHD 1080p30 mode but reduced to 1280x720p30 .

Friday, November 18, 2011

River Road, before my GoProHD battery died

This video is an addendum to the previous post. It was a sunny but cool day when I decided to enjoy some solo time by myself. It was a lazy day, didn’t rush to wake up, made breakfast and waited until mid morning to finally get underway on my V-strom. This was the first time that I had taken a week from work and not travel anywhere of note. I had big plans to ride somewhere for a few days but instead stayed close to home and entered into “retirement” mode. Retirement mode is my vision of what my life will look like when I stop work, paychecks cease causing me to be more frugal with my pennies.

It also helps to have projects. Projects keep my mind active and when I shoot a clip, my mind imagines how it is going to be compiled and in which sequence. My project today was to show you some of our urban traffic and how it is like to maneuver across town on our local thoroughfares and ended up on River Road which is a relaxing route to take on the way home from work . Lately, I have been using my GoProHD more as a camcorder than a sports cam but this day I made a special effort to mount it onto my bike

Monday, November 14, 2011

An upgrade & Solo

As most of you know, I frequently upgrade my photographic equipment. I actually prefer the film days as film cameras had a longer life span. Also analog equipment had a trade in value. Most camera shops in Vancouver do not take digital cameras in trade which forces you to pay full price for what you want, then leave you to sell your old stuff on your own. It seems that every few months a new digital something or other is announced which makes the old model redundant and of no value. You will seldom, if ever, find me without an instrument capable of capturing an image. I have one in my pocket, and often another strung over my shoulder and perhaps a video cam in my backpack. I am not very successful in selling things so I find it easier to just "give" it away. I had a Canon G10 which I purchased new a few years ago which is basically brand new. Hardly used but it has travelled with me on many trips as a backup camera. Although I took it to China I didn't use it at all.

My friend expressed interest in it so before I handed it over to him, I updated the Canon firmware, and hacked it with CHDK (<-- click link) With CHDK it allows you to access more options with your Canon camera. I was interested in timelapse which is easiest done on a P&S type camera rather than a dSLR where you would wear the shutter out. At 30 fps you would have to trip your shutter 1,800 times just for one minute of video.

Anyway with my Canon G10 gone it gave me an excuse to purchase its replacement.


I wanted something with a larger sensor, and with more adjustments. The APS-C crop sensor is perfect. The short focal distance means that I can use alternative lenses with adapters which I already have on order from Hong Kong. I am not sure which lenses I am going to use so I purchased 5 adapters which will allow me to use: Nikon Ai/AiS, Pentax M42, Leica LTM L39, Zeiss, and Leica M39 bayonet mount as I already have lenses. If you have been following the flood situation in Thailand you will already know that the Sony and Nikon factories are still underwater which means no camera production until Spring 2012. Also most of the worlds Harddrives are made there which will bump up the costs of laptops. So while I didn`t really plan on purchasing my Sony NEX-5n until spring 2012, I thought I better get one now before stock runs out. Excellent review here
I also picked up the 16mm 2.8 pancake lens and spare battery

In an effort to make more professional videos I also purchased a new tripod with Pan Head. Not that I need another tripod as I already have several, but none for video. All my tripods have a ball head so you cannot pan horizontally. I didn`t wish to pay for a top line model so my new tripod does not have a level which presents a problem. Anyway this is my first test video using a Pan Head

I have found that you first must level the tripod horizontally then do a practice Pan to ensure that the horizon is level, then you can start recording.


A month ago before signs of winter I took a day off and decided to ride by myself to see how I like to ride solo


I took the long route taking the highway and ended up on some backroads around Steveston where I was planning to have a bite to eat. It is not very pleasant on the highway with the speeding traffic, it felt like a raceway . I mounted my GoProHD and was trying to shoot some video so I would have something to do in the winter. Of course with the GoProHD you have no way of knowing if it is recording or not, unless you stopped and looked at the front LCD. Here I was travelling on the freeway, taking on and off ramps, lots of heavy traffic then I travelled along the River turning the GoProHd on and off and a couple of hours later when I finally stopped I noticed that the unit was OFF. I thought I had forgot to turn it on, but then it wouldn`t turn on . . . dead battery ! My spare battery was at home

Sometimes it is nice to be by yourself and have time to think things out, to solve your personal problems, and have time to think. I feels refreshing to hear the sound of your engine, shifting up and down, leaning into the corners but then I craved for some company when I noticed a small group of people outside the Cannery just enjoying the day. They asked me to join them


they told me it was okay to snap their photos so I posed too . Then the soft-spoken guy on the bench made room for me to sit down beside him


There we were, all four of us, solving the world`s problems. They weren`t really that talkative but they seemed friendly enough. The soft-spoken guy was really friendly and said I could sit on his lap


so I did and they asked me to come back anytime, and would wait for me at the same place as they really enjoyed my company.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rape of Nanking, remembering . . .

On the eve of Remembrance Day I can't help but think of something that has saddened me immensely since our trip to China last year. I was not prepared for it when our tour bus arrived at the Nanjing Memorial where 300,000 ordinary citizens were massacred during 6 weeks of occupation from mid December 1937 into January, 1938 .


more information from Wilkipedia * * HERE * *


you can read another article * * HERE * *

When they discovered the mass graves they started to excavate the area then decided to leave it "as is" and built a building on top to preserve this site for future generations


It's a solemn place and while I started to take photos outside I felt it was not right to photograph what I saw inside the Memorial. There were skeletons, bone fragments and bones/skulls scattered everywhere on the ground . It felt as if I was in a tomb. Many Japanese were also there giving their respects.


This site is a few square blocks in area with a Wall surrounding the perimeter. The actual Memorial building is more or less in the centre. Surrounding the Memorial building there are open "fields"


where they covered the ground with gravel and just left the "dead" where they lay. It was an overpowering sight to see the barren landscape and just imagined what had happened here over 7 decades ago by a ruthless aggressor.


My mind was having a hard time processing what I had seen and could only think of the poor innocent people buried here


As respect for the souls of these people you are instructed to walk on the cement paths, and not onto the gravel itself . It felt like such a barren place


the power of this Memorial is in its simplicity .


Outside the perimeter wall there is a shallow water filled moat with statues depicting the "dead"


I think that this is the saddest place I have ever been and even a year later I can't help but think that something like this ever happened . . . it's hard to imagine


Lest we forget all of these people, and of all the people that died in all the world wars all over the world to preserve our Freedom and our way of life.

(Nanjing Memorial)

Peace . . .

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Meeting

I have been trying to visit the site of "The Meeting" for a few weeks but I have a dislike to pay for parking and each time I go near the area I am unsuccessful in my search for a free spot

the meeting

As part of Vancouver's Biennale celebrations there are statues on display throught the city, you can find a MAP HERE

On Saturday we decided to change our brunch location to Surrey, 45 minutes south of Vancouver to a popular greasy spoon, the Round Up Cafe on King George Highway


We hadn't been here for years and Bill said he always orders something that he can't make at home, eggs benedict


Since I had my own home-made eggs benedicts twice last week I went for the eggs over easy with ham and pancakes, big mistake as Mrs Skoot had another of my favourites which I forgot that they made


Boiled perogies with sausage and sour cream. I was drooling over it but I managed to beg for some . . .

Now, family day Sunday rolls around and it was my plan to make breakfast at home then go out to see what was for sale at the camera swap meet then try to snag a few photos of "The Meeting"

Again I lay everything out to get things ready and soon enough stuff is cooking on our new GAS stove. (Did I mention that I love our new GAS stove ?) . The hollandaise is simmering on the left and the poached eggs on the right


Then there was the yogurt and the coffee


Can't wait to start diggin in . . .


There is lots of sauce with every bite made with lots of lemon juice to add the tang I like


When we arrived at the community centre where the camera swap meet was being held, on the other side there was a large guitar meet with lots of vendors and displays and this intrigued Mrs Skoot more than cameras so we went our separate ways for a couple of hours.

I was specifically looking for adapters (for alternative lenses) , small monopods or perhaps a quality, small tripod head, for pennies on the dollar or other video camera mounting brackets . I only managed to secure a small travel tripod in my price range.

I used to belong to this camera group which organizes the swap meet (twice yearly) so I saw many familiar faces as I made my way around the room. I used to collect cameras but now I am more selective with my purchases. I also spent some time talking to the legendary Tom Abrahamsson who is shown here posing with his Leicas and Nikon S rangefinders. He is a mentor on the , click here <--

(Tom Abrahamsson, aka: "Mr Leica")

Eventually we made our way downtown to Coal Harbour to see the statues which were smaller than we had imagined


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hollandaise Sauce: the video

This video supplements the previous post .

Hollandaise Sauce:

3 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter
1 TBsp lemon/Lime juice
pinch salt

Other ingredients:

english muffins (slightly toasted)
black forest ham (or shrimp, crab or salmon)