Monday, October 31, 2011

A relaxing Fall Day

I took a day away from work. A lazy day waking up without the alarm the natural way. Sunrise is around 8am so no need to wake up with the dawn, or in the dark as on a work day. I was waiting for the sun to come out and decided to make my own breakfast with our new gas stove. Did I tell you that we love our new gas stove ? I decided to make one of my favourites . . .

(eggs benedicts)

It's a simple recipe but I am getting used to our stove and I am not sure what heat level to keep the water at. I have 1/2 cup of melted butter standing by in that clear dish. A pot of nearly boiling water on the front element with another container on top, being heated by the heat from the water, which contains the yolks of 3 large eggs.


I have another pan on the right element half filled with water ready to poach the eggs. I also purchased a bag of sourdough english muffins which I half toasted. I find that fully toasted is too hard, and not toasted the hollandaise sauce makes the bread go soggy.


You have to watch the heat or the sauce will overcook. You have to constantly stir the liquid (eggs yolks) until they thicken. I use a stainless wire wisk. As it thickens you have to add a bit of boiling water, perhaps a tsp or so, but I prefer to add the melted butter, very slowly at first, constantly stirring a bit at a time until it is all added. As the liquid thickens I turn down the heat a bit and add a bit more water (another tsp). This is when I turn the element down to low. My liquid has thickened again, so I add a bit more boiling water (from my hot pot), and then I add a TBsp of juice from a squeezed lemon. I like lots of tang so I add lots of lemon juice and perhaps just a pinch or two of salt

We usually have double smoked black forest ham on hand for sandwiches so I slice some up and get it ready for my benedicts, but you could just as easily use hand peeled shrimp or smoked salmon. You could pan fried the black forest ham or do what I do which is faster. I put it in the microwave to take the chill off


Eventually everything is ready and I have to start to assemble my meal. I bring over my plate with the lightly toasted english muffin, put the ham on top, then I add the poached eggs and pour my hollandaise sauce over it

Prepare my cup of Vietnamese coffee and I am set to devour my creation


One thing I find when we go out and order eggs benedicts, the sauce always runs out before the eggs are finished. Today I have lots of sauce with each mouthful and tangy just the way I like it. If you need more sauce to make 4 benedicts (for 2 people), then just use 4 egg yolks and another sliver of butter, it's not like I didn't have enough sauce, but I like my eggs smothered with it

I do have video clips to be edited if you want to see this cook in action


After breakfast I got my bike ready and headed south to do a couple of errands before I could start my ride. I needed to buy another battery tender as one is flakey, first stop was to buy


some halloween treats, just in case I need some. It is best to buy candies that you want yourself, that way you won't waste the leftovers. Most of my rides are on repetitious roads but today I was looking for photos. Here is a Mike Simmon's inspired self portrait "shadow" photo

(overlooking the approach to George Massey Tunnel, Rice Mill Road, Richmond, BC)

Then I headed down to the Fraser River


then I stop again on an empty gravel parking lot to show you the Village of Steveston in the background


today it was very windy with wind gusts which nearly blew me off the road


it was a chilly 11°c and while the sun was out there was little heat

(Gulf of Georgia Historic site, Steveston, BC)

I have taken numerous photos of Finn Slough before but today I noticed the very high water levels, so of course I just had to snap another one


It won't be long before our Fall days turn into days of rain and gloom so you have to enjoy them while you can. I certainly enjoyed today. It was great to be out on two wheels


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Burnt Thumb #2 & memories

Friend: "Have you burnt yourself yet ?"

Me: "No, why do you ask ?"

Friend: "How is your new gas stove ?"

Me: "Fine, still getting used to it"

Well, famous last words. Things break and things have to be replaced and so it was with our old Stove which came with our house when we purchased it back in 1980. It was old then but it worked so we never had an inclination to have it replaced . . . until it broke down again. The hinges on the door were broken which meant that we could not use the oven. The top elements were fine, and so was the broiler section which we use often to broil steaks or roast our own rotisserie chicken.

When it came down to replacement, we wanted what we wanted. We didn't want stainless steel finish, nor did we want Black, nor did we want dual fuel. We just wanted a simple gas stove in white enamel finish to match all the other appliances we have at home. We have a white fridge, white microwave and our small kitchen stuff is white. The dealer finally put one on special order and it took nearly 2 months to get it. Then was the challenged to get it hooked up to our gas line


We needed to buy some parts. What you see cost around $122. and we have some pieces left over. It was more expeditious to buy what you think you may need so you don't have to waste time going back to get the 'missing' stuff, which was not returnable. I have never used a gas stove before and it was a learning experience for the first few days, where I burnt my thumb on a very hot pot. Perhaps we have the gas turned on too high as the pots seem to be much hotter than before when we used electric. Now I know what my friend was asking about. We started to put pot holders and oven mitts beside the stove, just in case we need them

On Saturday I decided to make Tomato Beef chow mein, and I burnt my thumb for the second time


I boiled a large pot of water, put the burner on High and waited for the pot to boil. Then I added a package of noodles to cook and when it was ready I grabbed the pot handles to pour the cooked noodles into the strainer. All was well at first as the handles are insulated but when the noodles were emptied from the pot, I then grabbed the side of the handle where there was NO insulation. This is where I received burn #2 . Stupid me . . .

I put onions in the skillet, cut strips of beef and when they were nearly cooked, then added the diced tomatoes, then a tbsp of cornstarch and a bit more liquid.


Then I turned on the right burner to get the Wok heated up to receive the cooled, cooked noodles. When the noodles were fried up a bit, I added the beef tomato mixture and stirred it up . . . and dinner was served



Last Sunday we were down in Tsawwassen and I noticed this Suzuki motorcycle parked in the lot


It was a Suzuki GS550L, I bought a new one back in 1980 but mine was wine colour. For some reason you don't see many of these models around. I went over and snapped a few photos, and one of the gauge cluster


These were very advanced as compared to their competition. They came with GPI: gear position indicators, electric start. This must have been a later model, as mine also had a kick starter. I also added a Vetter faring with storage pockets, and plastic side cases. Back then I felt "on top of the world" with my new wheels

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wuzhen, China - Part two

Our trip to China was just under 2 weeks. I took 3 cameras: two for stills and video, and one in the suitcase as a backup. I had to also pack a netbook with external HD's to make daily backups of my images. Whilst I also brought a small Manfrotto travel tripod I only used it once, though I carried it with me everywhere we went. On the plane you are limited to space and weight so you just have to make do with what you have.

I came back with over 38 Gigs of mostly video which was all shot handheld using my then new Canon T2i. I used the tripod one evening for some time exposures but it drew so much attention from impoverished residents looking for money or handouts, who obviously think that all tourists are "rich" .

One day when our group went to a mall somewhere in Shanghai it was expected that all of us would remain in the area and shop in the local tourist stores. I decided to explore in a larger radius and found myself in the Old Shanghai Market about a kilometer away. I knew I had a couple of hours to make my way back to the tour bus. I couldn't get over all the photo opps and immediately started aiming my camera everywhere taking pictures of window frames, clothes hanging on the line, old buildings and trying to capture the local people doing their everyday things. The market was also interesting with all the goods for sale, street food, shoemakers doing their work in the street. As this was an older area plumbing was added to the front of their small residences so it was unusual to find the sinks in the street where people were brushing their teeth, washing their hair. For me it was such a cultural shock of seeing life without many modern conveniences.

I brought out my camera and started aiming it everywhere and before I snapped a few frames I heard many people shouting at me and waiving their arms. I don't really know what they were saying but I realized that I was the intruder. I mean, who am I to take photos of them who have little and then leave and return to my deluxe American style hotel with all the trimmings while they remain in poverty . . . It was obvious to me that I could only photograph in these areas if they thought that I was NOT taking photos. So I went into stealth mode and shot mostly video with my camera cradled in my arm and aiming from the waist, without viewing.

I was told that the average wage in Beijing (for the working class) was around RMB 1,500-2,000 which works out to about US$320. per month. A little more in Shanghai, perhaps RMB 2,000. to 2,500 (US$400), so we are looking at under $15. per day. There were labour troubles at Foxcon which was big in the news while we were there. Front page news in some english language newspapers. Foxcon is the company that makes all the iPhones, iPods and apple computers. The workers were promised a wage increase up to RMB 2,500, but the company refused and only gave then RMB 1,800 (US$288). Until this trip I never knew anything about Foxcon, but they employ over a million people in Company cities

Sorry for rambling on and giving you this useless information, but in my long, round-about way I am trying to tell you that I took a lot of video and I have formed some opinions about China from our short stay from what I have seen and from what our Guide has told us. I have so much still to show you, but for now, here is some video from Wuzhen which supplements the previous post.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wuzhen, China

I was going through my hard drive looking for video projects when I came across some photos from our trip to China a year ago last October. We visited an Ancient Water Town, a protected UNESCO heritage site, to a village called Wuzhen, near Suzhou .


being a water city what better way than to see it by gondola . You can find more information HERE

or you can find more information about Wuzhen here
. A little change of pace today as we all know that a picture says a "thousand words" so I'll let the photos do the talking

one of many stone arches

this town is over 1,000 years old and the homes do not have running water. Laundry has to be done in the river, and there are communal washrooms for the residents to use


Mrs Skoot enjoying our brief ride floating down the river


here is a view looking straight ahead


where else can you hang your laundry


as you notice most of the people walking around are tourists like ourselves, and the
Chinese people are now encouraged to travel to see their own country


the local streets are very narrow and we are walking on the original stone walkways. The homes are constructed of wood and it all looks original, and weathered


this town is separated into areas to highlight what it was like "back then". Here we went into a bed museum


we also visited their Mao Tai Jiu factory. It has a distinct smell and these urns are filled to the brim with liquor. Mao Tai has a very high alcohol content of 55% in their familiar white/red bottle


Imagine living 1,000 years ago with no modern conveniences, no electricity and no running water


Sunday, October 23, 2011

White Rock revisited

While I have posted limited photos of White Rock in the past, I had always intended to record a video of the main tourist area along the strip which is across from the beach. We used to come down here all the time and have brunch at our favourite restaurant, near the pier. Nowadays, not so much.

I also have a summer car which I have not used since August and my insurance is expiring in a few days. There is always a reason not to use it and when the weather is good I usually gravitate to my V-strom, and my car sits gathering dust. I also spend my Sundays in the car with Mrs Skoot and we go somewhere for a ride & brunch. Today I decided to kill "two birds with one stone" and accomplish both missions.

The following video was recorded using a GoProHD in R3 mode (720p60), using my Manfrotto monopod technique. In the car, Mrs Skoot was the human monopod holder & aimer.

White Rock has two business districts. The main one on the top of the hill where there is a mall, restaurants, shopping and fast food places. At the bottom of the hill along the beach the "tourist" area is split in the middle by a hill which is really too far to walk. The sandy beach is around 2 miles long and is a popular place during the summer when parking is hard to obtain.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Goats on Roof, Coombs, BC

During our relaxing weekend on "the Island" we had to stop at Coombs to see the Goats, but there were no goats today. If you are in the area you have to make this a "must see" place, especially during the summer


you can obtain more information ---> "HERE" <---

There is a very well stocked Country Store along with other business' in an area behind . I remember that this is a very busy place during tourist season, not so much now that the weather is cooler.

Years ago when I first started my YouTube Channel, I used to put music to my videos, that is . . . until I got some disturbing emails from EMI and Columbia Records about Copywrite infringement, so while some of my videos still have music attached, many are silent. I am very careful now about the music I use and I only use "public" material, or in the case of the following video, music that we have produced ourselves. I have a prof PCM digital recorder and the soundtrack was from a jam session recorded on November 7, 2009. Rock, the guitarist is no longer with us and if you listen closely you will hear Bobskoot & Mrs Skoot happily singing along.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

R & R on Vancouver Island

It is not often that we take a day off but that is exactly what we did last Friday when we caught a morning ferry to Vancouver Island and headed north to Courtenay, BC which is about an hour or so north of Nanaimo


Instead of boarding the ferry at Horseshoe Bay which is the usual way to arrive in Nanaimo, we decided to be daring and take the Tsawwassen to Duke Point ferry where the crossing takes 2 hours (instead of 1 hour 40 min) and I had more time to fiddle with the ProHDR app on my iPhone

(iPhone, ProHDR app)

I usually stay outside on the upper deck but today it was very chilly and the wind made my legs feel like jello so I didn't venture outside for long

(Lumix ZS3)

Where possible I like to travel on the backroads so at Parksville we took the Oceanside route along the water and ended up at a neat place called Deep Bay

(Canon T2i, Tamron 17-50)

where we happened to stumble upon a crime scene. We noticed many newer homes in this area. There is short peninsula with a road in the middle and homes on both sides with water access. There is a Government Wharf and other marine facilites

(Canon T2i, Tamron 17-50)

Perhaps it was the good weather but first impressions are that this is a very picturesque/photogenic place. We hung around for a bit enjoying the freedom of a day away from work

We dilly dallied most of the day meandering our way north and eventually found our way to our destination and checked into our Spa Resort just south of Courtenay/Comox and settled into our waterfront view suite

(Lumix ZS3)

Here is a sunrise view from our deck. Across the bay you can see Comox on the other side

(Canon T2i, EF-s 55-250)

While the air was a bit nippy, especially in the evening, the outdoor spa was pleasantly Hot. Luckily I brought my Speedo

(Lumix ZS3)

We topped off the evening with a five star meal in their award-winning restaurant. This was the special of the night, Scallops on a bed of herb-filled, spiced mash potatoes

(Lumix ZS3)

it was so delicious I tried to "stretch my meal" by cutting the scallops into smaller pieces to savour every bite.

I try to travel very light but the electronics take most of the space & weight. This trip I mostly used my GoProHD with a few shots from my Canon T2i. I carry the Lumix as a backup

(iPhone using Pano app produced from 2 images, cropped)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Giving Thanks

Last week we had our Canadian Thanksgiving. I look forward to having turkey with lots of stuffing but not this year. Our oven is out of commission. It is too old, broken and parts are no longer available so we had to purchase a new one. I mean, how hard is it to purchase a new WHITE stove. Everywhere we called they had stainless steel or black ones in stock but we have an older home and those just wouldn't fit in. We wanted WHITE to blend in with our WHITE fridge and WHITE microwave and WHITE hot (water) pot. We like WHITE. We ordered our stove a few weeks ago and are waiting for them special order ours in. On the US website I found WHITE is available, but on the Cdn website it is not listed.

Luckily our SIL decided to host Thanksgiving this year and decided to prepare two beef roasts, so we were not without food. Sorry no photos but we had an excellent meal with all the trimmings and managed to take some home for another day.

At the end of our meal, after a tableful of desserts and pie someone brought out a few boxes of OLD, Historic family photos


we had photos spread out onto three tables, ooing and aaaaing at the old cars, and the way people used to dress, and also photos of family members which were hard to recognize as they were much younger.


In the old days all you could get were these small black & white contact prints from 127 film. We didn't have fancy equipment back then. I remember when I was 8 years old I was given a 127 Kodak Brownie (no flash). Who knows what happened to it but a few years ago someone gave me a 127 Kodak brownie KIT which included the flash which attached to the side and used flash bulbs. So it is not surprising that not many photos exist of our prior life.

We did not have the disposable income back then to be able to pay for developing and printing a roll of film. It was hard enough to keep food on the table and even strategic highlights of your life are not documented. So it was a bit of a surprise when I noticed the following photo. We got married on June 5th, 1969. We had no photographer and merely just went to the JOTP and had a simple dinner with a few friends and family


this may be the only wedding photo we have and thankfully rediscovered after all this time. Over the years I have lots to be thankful for

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Nothing exciting . . .

has happened recently. No trips, no adventures, just life, living and enjoying the expected. I love to eat Won Tun, NO ! not the HK (Hong Kong) style with bamboo shoots or shrimps, but plain with just pork and some seasoning. That's me, the simpler the better. Few places make this Cantonese style anymore so we just have to make them ourselves


It is also hard to find the brand of Won Tun wrappers that I prefer, which are large squares and thin. The package above was a compromise as it was the only kind I could find on short notice from the Asian mall

I am an old hand at making these bite-size delicacies. When I was much younger I used to have a part time job downtown on Friday nights and Saturdays and I used to stop by this chinese restaurant for dinner and the waiters usually sat at a large round table at the rear of the restaurant, often making Won Tun between customers to keep busy. I would often watch them as I ate my dinner and over the years I have become quite proficient in their production.


soon I have neatly stacked rows of Won Ton in my container. Enough for three meals which we devoured last week. Just have to add some boiled broccoli, and some soup base to float them in.


We have found it is best to boil/cook the Won Tun separately in its own boiling water to eliminate the starch build-up, then scoop them out into a bowl, and add the soup and vegetables. Soon you are eating

Hmmm delicious . . .



This week was also time for house repairs. We had a problem with the siding on one side of our house which needed to be replaced. We also thought we should replace the rotted out wood framed windows at the same time, and also have an exhaust fan installed in the downstairs washroom

I rushed home and found my old window frames in the contractor's trailer


The first day was to remove the siding and rebuild the rotten areas. The second day was to install my new double paned sliding windows.


and by the time Friday rolled around, the siding was nearly installed


The original siding was heavy duty cedar which is hard to get, but it was replaced with siding made of compressed concrete which will never rot. It comes pre-primed and soon will be painted to match the rest of the trim .


On the way to work Friday morning I took a different route which led me nearly downtown. At this time of year I leave home around sunrise and I noticed this scene as I travelled northbound down Cambie Street . I just can't resist a colourful sunrise so I pulled over and unpacked my camera


here is a closer view . . .


I then set my Lumix ZS3 to full zoom and came up with this closer view


As I headed Eastbound on West 2nd Avenue towards Knight Road I noticed the new refurbished BC Place Stadium, which was scheduled for its grand opening later this evening.


The new retractable roof is nearly finished. There are still problems with having the joints sealed and the contractor has run "out of time"


I just couldn't resist this graffiti. The hardest 3 words in a male's vocabulary



NOTE: I am having problems posting comments on "some blogs" so don't think I am ignoring any one. I am having problems posting on:

Confessions of an Ageing Motorcyclist: Geoff
Two Wheelers Revisited: Sonja

There are more but I can't remember right now. It may have something to do with the new blogger templates. I have already reset Internet Explorer 8 back to default settings, and I am open to further suggestions, thank you