So I’ve been playing violin/fiddle now since about September/October of 2010, so about a year and a half of playing. Curtis my teacher is a great guy and I’ve learned a lot, but I’m not about to post myself playing yet, I still think I pretty much suck, but I am enjoying it very much. People ask me what I am playing and it varies, but some classical, some folk, some country, some bluegrass, it’s really all over. Here’s a sampling of tunes I can play now, mostly.

Planxty Irwin

Dennis Murphy\’s and John Ryan\’s Polka

Da Slockit Light

Sheebeg Sheemore

He’s Up!

Well some of you may have heard me mention Glenn “Chip” Burt once in a while. He’s one of my flying buddies who lives in the states and we met during the days of online flying, mostly in Red Baron, Flying Circus and recently in IL2. He’s come up to Thunder Bay to do some canoeing with us as well and I’ve gone to Oshkosh to hang out with him as we went over the planes. Well Glenn has his own website that I’ve been following:

The reason I am finally posting this, is that he has his Sopwith Pup pretty much built. He did the first test flight last week, go down to Taxi Testing on the left from the above link, or I’m going to link to it directly here:

Glenn\’s First Flight

Now how cool is that?

365 Categories

I’m just about finished the 365 pictures/day challenge and it has been fun. At times, or like 11:59pm at night it may not be so fun, and a wack of my photos are forced and not that interesting (or so I think) so after talking to Duane and Matt up in Wawa, we’re going to try something different and this is open to all.

If you would like to join, here is the group:

We are going to do the 365 Categories in 365 days. This means you have 365 days, to take 365 pictures, and I’ll provide the 365 categories. Think of it like a scavenger hunt, or yahtzee. You know ahead of time what you need to take, and you could get most of them done in the first few days if you really wanted. Some are time sensitive, like holidays, and seasonal, but most are not.

Another thing, these are all up to interpretation, some are more specific then others, but it is ultimately up to the photographer what photo fits each idea.

Here is the list so far, it’s a draft, but I’m finally releasing so that others can proof it.

1. Body part (All about me series)
2. Your self portrait taken in a mirror
3. Your hairstyle
4. Your most prized possession
5. You studying or reading
6. You doing your housework
7. You exercising
8. Something with your name on it
9. A self-portrait
10. Life
11. Death
12. Humans on a lake
13. Farm animals
14. A sunset
15. A sunrise
16. An elderly couple
17. A close shot of a couple holding hands
18. Your backyard
19. A child playing dress-up
20. An outdoor ice-skating rink
21. Someone mowing the lawn
22. Rosy cheeks
23. A hot drink
24. A close-up of icicles
25. A computer
26. Your father’s/someone’s father profile
27. A frosty mug of beer or a glass of wine
28. Valentine’s Day – (Holiday Series)
29. Halloween
30. Easter
31. Christmas
32. Canada Day / Independence Day
33. Thanksgiving
34. Father’s Day
35. Mother’s Day
36. Gardening tools
37. Hard light (Explore the Camera Series)
38.  Soft light
39. Long exposure
40. Shot that conveys perspective
41.  Repeat/Repetitive
42. Macro shot
43. Contrasting elements
44. Someone playing with a pet
45. Monochrome, naturally
46. Out of focus
47. Shallow depth of field
48. Action shot
49. Shot through something transparent or translucent
50. Shot from the ground
51. Night photo
52. The main street of a small town
53. A big-city skyline
54. A hot-dog stand
55. A senior playing with a child
56. A fountain or sprinkler
57. Fruit still on the bush/vine
58. A place of worship
59. People watching a fireworks display
60. A wedding party
61. A car trunk packed for a vacation
62. A farmer’s field
63. A colourful patio or beach umbrella
64. People waving flags
65. Friends sitting on a park bench
66. Reflection
67. A pitcher of lemonade or iced tea
68. Someone getting a haircut
69. Landscape
70. Kids’ schoolbooks
71. A grocery store
72. Neon Sign
73. The grave of an ancestor
74. A school crossing guard on duty
75. A kid’s team practicing
76. Lunch boxes, lunch bags or packed lunch
77. Local landmark
78. Birds flying south
79. Baled hay stacked in fields
80. A close-up of a colourful leaf in a puddle
81. Weird shot, what the?
82. Graffiti
83. A haunted house
84. Someone on a cell phone
85. Someone dressed in military apparel
86. A leafless tree silhouetted against a twilight sky
87.  Street Photography
88.  Music
89. A woman applying lipstick
90. Horizontal lines
91. Vertical lines
92. Curved lines
93. Upside down
94. A face illuminated by candlelight
95. Cartoon characters
96. Gifts
97. A large Christmas tree in town
98. Medals
99. Flowers in a garden
100. Flowers or plants in a pot
101. A natural landscape
102. Parades
103. Events at a fair
104. An old house
105. Your house/residence
106. A pile of clutter
107. Relatives
108. Musical instruments
109. A statue or a fountain
110. Stonework
111. Monuments
112. Clouds
113. Your mailbox
114. Your home’s decor
115. Rust
116. Live Performance
117. Cooking and baking
118. A restaurant
119.  A – (a photograph for each letter of the alphabet)
120. B
121. C
122. D
123. E
124. F
125. G
126. H
127. I
128. J
129. K
130. L
131. M
132. N
133. O
134. P
135. Q
136. R
137. S
138. T
139. U
140. V
141. W
142.  X
143. Y
144. Z
145. Rainstorms
146. Grocery shopping
147. Doing laundry
148. House Chores
149. Umbrellas
150. Walking the dog
151. A street lamp
152. Grass
153. Mountains
154. A yard/garage sale
155. Cleaning out the closet
156. High-school memorabilia
157. Group photo
158. Reduce/Reuse/Recycle
159. Your unmade (or made) bed
160. Puddles
161. Destruction
162. Your kitchen
163. Your bathroom
164. Your living room
165. Your bedroom
166. Your lunch
167. Vertigo
168. Time
169. Dinosaur
170. Volunteer work
171. Textures
172. A street sign
173. Your closet
174. Your outfit
175. Handwritten letters
176. Your shoes
177. Your sports equipment
178. A gas station with gas prices
179. Your dinner
180. Someone cooking dinner
181. The people in your life—family, coworkers, roommates, friends and more
182. A local movie theatre
183. Your computer
184. Technology
185. Your creative space
186. Any art or scrapbook projects in process
187. Contemplative
188. Family coats
189. Your music listening device (ie. iPod, 45)
190. Running shoes
191. Birthday parties
192. Birthday cakes
193. Birthday decorations
194. Bridal/baby showers
195. Housewarming parties
196. A piece of history
197. 2 – Doubles (Set Series)
198. 3 – Triplets
199. Set of 4
200. Set of 5
201. Set of 6
202. Set of 7
203. Set of 8
204. Set of 9
205. Zoo/Domestic Animals
206. A day at the park
207. An important graduation
208. Pets
209. Neighbourhood pets (like horses or that yappy dog down the street!)
210. Outdoor concerts
211. Farmer’s markets
212. Weather
213. A gym
214. A local bakery
215. Your neighbours
216. Your cell phone
217. A barbecue
218. The beach
219. A wedding cake
220. Family dinners
221. Your jewellery box
222. A toy
223. Mode of transportation
224. Wildlife
225. Swimming
226. A camping trip
227. The autumn leaves
228. Someone running under a waterfall
229. Hiking
230. Boating
231. Skiing
232. Gardening
233. Holiday parties
234. Road trip
235. Sledding
236. Building snowmen
237. Making snow angels
238. Throwing snowballs
239. Drinking hot chocolate
240. Decorating cookies
241. Makes you cry – (Emotion Series)
242. Makes you laugh
244. Makes you angry
245. Makes you anxious/nervous
246. Makes you upset
247. Makes you jealous
248. Makes you wonder
249. Makes you embarrassed
250. Makes you curious
251. Makes you proud
252. What you do that relaxes you
253. Makes you happy
254. Makes you frustrated
255. Makes you feel guilty
256. A family reunion
257. Garbage
258. Your childhood home
259. A reunion
260. A newborn baby
261. Dancing
262. A board game
263.  Something brand new
264. Something you find sexy
265. Party decorations before a party
266. A party invitation
267. A thank-you note you received
268.  Silhouette
269. Something very old
270. Love
271.  A child’s recital or performance
272. A family or friends playing games
273. Dirty laundry
274. New Year’s Eve party
275. A snowman
276. Local festival
277. Bonfires
278. Peace
279. Museum
280. Art
281. Spring blossoms
282. Lazy
283. The first snowfall
284. What you see on an evening stroll
285. Infinity
286. A teacher
287. Red – (Colour Series)
288. Orange
289. Yellow
290. Green
291. Blue
292. Purple
293. Pink
294. Black
295. White
296. Brown
297. Rainbow
298. A trip to the library
299. A book you are reading
300. Your job
301. Something important to you
302. Someone on a date
303. A dessert
304. A sandbox
305. A bowl of soup on a cold day
306. Cookies straight out of the oven
307. Interesting architecture
308. Someone jumping in the air
309. An umbrella in a rainstorm
310. A clock in a tower or large building
311. People at an airport
312. Luggage you’re taking on a trip
313. Athletes at a sporting event
314. A bird’s nest with or without eggs or birds
315. A bandstand in a park
316. City lights at night
317. Fire (Element Series)
318. Ice
319. Water
320. Wind
321. Electricity
322. Earth
323. Metal
324. Wood
325. Fine china
326. Your everyday dishes
327. A leafless tree in the winter
328. A birthday present
329. A cemetery
330. The view out your bedroom window
331. Headlines on a daily newspaper
332. A child walking to school or catching the bus
333. Something shiny
334. Something wrinkled, crinkled or folded
335. People talking
336. Piles of laundry
337. The inside of your refrigerator
338. Your bookshelves
339. Puddles
340. Fog
341. A family heirloom
342.  People you meet
343.  Vacation shot
344.  A full moon
345. A recognition or award ceremony
346. A new pair of shoes
347. Where you went to school
348. Your alarm clock
349.  Your favourite spot to relax (Favourite Series)
350.  A favourite Christmas decoration
351. Your favourite place to shop
352. Your favourite Halloween costume of all time
353. Your favourite band
354. Your favourite ice cream
355. Your favourite recipe
356. Your favourite piece of furniture
357. Your favourite website
358. Items in your favourite color
359. A favourite magazine
360. Your favourite chair
361. Your favourite food
362. A favourite treat, such as cupcakes
363. Your favourite pillow or fabric
364. A favourite movie
365. Your favourite cereal

Laser Eye Surgery

So those of you who know me would say I tend to be quite verbose, i’ll try to shorten this as best I can.  If you want to know more, just email me at

LasikMD is giving away free consults right now so I decided to go check it out. I inquired for more info on April 13th and finally emailed about an appointment on April 21st and received one on May 29th.

On May 29th the appointment was at 1pm and I was told it would be two hours. By 3pm I was just leaving the clinic, but be prepared to have some waiting in between tests. They were pretty thorough in my tests, having me tested with machines I’ve never seen before. They took pictures of my corneas and even did some neat topographic mapping of my eyeballs. Some neat things, no pain and no dilation the first time.

I read that there was a clinical trial going on at this particular clinic and inquired to the optometrist and the other techs that saw me. After my tests I was told that I was an ideal candidate and could ask further after seeing the last consultant who would tell me about the cost. I was told Lasik would be about $2800 for both eyes and Zyoptix (Waveform) would be $3500. I’ll explain those two shortly. As well, if I was interested in the trial, it would be $2000, much cheaper, but the risk of it being a trial, plus I would need to come back more often as I was being tested and observed for the study.

So I went home and did research on the Aspherical Laser and found out it has been around in Europe and Asia for a while and the States just finished their study but no results have been released yet. I opted for the trial after reading what I could.

Ok, so you’ve read lots so far, but let me get a bit more detailed.

Lasik is explained good here:

Essentially they take your eyeball and cut open a flap, lift it, and use a laser to blow away microns of cornea, put the flap back and you are left with a slightly flattened cornea. Which you can now see through.

With Zyoptix (waveform): Zyoptix, the laser is faster, with shorter pulses, works over a larger area and removes 20%-30% less cornea. It is more customizable to each eye and has less complications. It is more money but a much better procedure and if you didn’t qualify for Lasik, you may with this one.

The Aperture Laser is essentially (as explained to me) the same as Waveform, uses the same laser but new software. It works more at keeping the shape of your eyeball spherical and does this by doing more laser pulses in the outer area. This is what I got done.

One more word on the procedures. Lasik works on a smaller area, and removes more cornea so the flattening is more pronounced. If you have a weaker prescription, small pupils and/or thick corneas, this will work for you. The higher the prescription the more cornea they have to remove. So if you have high prescription, or thin corneas, you should opt for Waveform and Lasik probably previously disqualified you. With larger pupils, because your eyes open so much more at nght, they tend to go beyond the area that was treated, so you get the “halo effect”. This is where lights have this soft glow around them. With Waveform, as it works over a larger area, it helps make this halo effect less pronounced. I didn’t think I had the halo effect until it was described to me, heck I’ve had it all my life and never noticed. After the surgery it is much more noticeable, but even a week later, has subsided alot.

Got all that? My prescription was -3.00 in the right eye and -3.75 in the left. Average pupil size is 6mm, above average is like 6.5mm-7mm, mine were 8mm, everyone there kept noting how big mine were! haha. BUT I have nice thick, healthy corneas.

So because I opted for the trial, they asked if I could come back the next week for the surgery, I would get in sooner being part of the trial, but they noticed I had worn my contacts six days previous and I needed to be contact free for seven. So I had to wait and come back to do all the tests again.

My next appointment was June 15th and I did all the tests again. My eyes barely moved and I was good to go for my June 18th surgery date. I was up late the night before, so I notice when tired, my eyes slip a bit, so I was actually closer to -4.00 in the left, and almost -3.25 in the right.

On June 18th I went in, got tested all over again and I was back to -3.75 and -3.00, eyes were stable and good to go. Jennifer with whom was leading the study sat me down and explained the importance of the next week, my eye drop regime and NO TOUCHING THE EYES!! VERY BAD. I paid the fee, and had the option of getting the drops prescribed to save money, but just landed up paying the $60 for them. She also asked me if I wanted something for my nerves and I said heck ya. I got an atavan, but didn’t know what the hell it was until I researched it later.

There were other people getting the surgery done at the same time, we were lining up like cows to the slaughter. One guy was there with his wife, he had the surgery the day before but was back for his checkup and found out he had an inflammation in his eye and they wanted him back next day to check it. Nothing serious, but it happens to half the patients. He told me what to expect and one guy that was in front of me also told me about it after he came out. The first guy told me you will see two lights, but focus on the top one, as they are both red. Later I found out he is red/green colour blind and only one is red, the top one and the green smaller dot like one below is the surgeon’s.

So I’m sitting there, and people know I get nervous. Heck, I needed nitrous oxide to let the dentist clean my teeth a few years ago. I’m told over and over it’s painless, but things go wrong right? So here goes my experience

The Surgery:

I sit there, Haley (self proclaimed “drop lady”, cute and younger) puts the numbing drops in my eye. I wait for a while and she puts in some more, they only last 15min or so. I get a lovely medical hair cap, the latest fashion she claims. The one lady patient comes out and I know its my turn shortly.

I get called in and the heart jumps out a bit, not sure if that atavan helped, but I’m not super nervous, but a bit. The doc doing the survery is Dr. Avi Wallerstein, one of the two founding doctors for LasikMD and one of the two qualified in Canada for this new procedure. He sits me on the table and goes over my chart with me. Says (again) I have really big pupils, so good I’m going the Waveform path, moderate to high prescription, but really nice thick, healthy corneas, plus this will also fix the very slight astigmatism I have. Whoa, back up, I have that? I ask him about it, and he says no eyeball is perfect and usually people have some slight form of it. Mine is barely there, but the laser accounts for it, ok, cool, another plus I didn’t even know about.

So he asks me to lay down, ugh, it’s starting. There is a nice form fitting head sponge there, your head doesn’t move. They also give you these stress balls, which believe it or not, help, mine were crunched pretty good until half way through my second eye when I knew it was almost over.

I ask them to keep my eyes wet as I have dry eyes and to talk to me, ALOT, its what I learned from the dentish that helps my mind. If mentally I’m kept distracted, physically I do much better. Plus I really am interested in technology, I find it really cool.

They tape my left eye shut. He brings over a piece of tape, scotch or masking, not sure in front of my right eye. He does it so deftly that it raises my top eyelid, then he does the bottom. All the while he is telling me EXACTLY what he is doing, where he will touch me, everything, and I have to admit it was very comforting.

Then he puts in the speculum. If I spelt that wrong, shoot me, but he says ok, you’ll feel some pressure on the left side of your eye (remember it’s numb, so you can poke it all day and not feel much). When it goes into the tear duct area, it does feel a bit wierd, almost uncomfortable, but it’s not for long. He winds it open and I said I like to blink alot, but with this thing, you can try to blink, your other eye will, but not this one, hehe. They are always putting drops or water on your eye, ala Clockwork Orange, I was waiting for Beethoven’s 5th.

At this point I black out and wake up in an alley with a missing kidney. Oh wait that was a movie the other night. No, no, at this point he puts another device on the speculum and I see for a while, but it gets darker and darker. He says I’ll feel some suction and I hear him winding something again. It feels like my eye wants to pull out of the socket, again, no pain, just a bit wierd. Eventually it does go all dark, I swear he was turning something. The device comes off and he is also talking to the room of people. Great flap Derek, he says, they put more water on it, then says to look at the red laser and four short blasts of the laser will happen.

I see the laser, well a starburst red light easily, then he lifts my flap and he says it may smell a bit. It goes a bit fuzzy. The laser makes a loud electrical snapping sound and I do smell some burning flesh, but it is very slight. It happens four times, and he counts it down, almost congratulating me each time. The flap may have been open for hmm, a minute in total?

He closes the flap, it is kind of milky, underwater looking. Then he says usually the left eye is more sensitive and I ask why, but don’t remember an answer. The speculum going in felt wierder, almost uncomfortable, but again, not too bad. The cranking that I guess was slicing my flap though was wierd because I knew what was coming this time. My eye looked up, or I thought it did and I thought I was going to get sliced below my pupil, but no, it was in the proper spot. At this time any discomfort I knew was behind me and I started to relax. The laser part really is nothing. You hear a sound, it fires, you smell it a bit, but that’s it. He puts the flap back down, waters it and untapes me. That’s it.

The whole thing might have been 10 minutes. I was in the room for less then 15. I do get my eyes examined to check out the flap and surgery. He really likes the result and asks if a visiting optometrist can see, go nuts I say. The other guy looks and smiles and nods, he seems happy. About five people were in the room. I go out and Haley is there waiting.

I have four types of drops, an anti bacterial, anti inflammatory, and two types of lubrication (one regular tears and one heavy duty gel like tears). Haley does my anti bacterial and 10min later the anti inflammatory. As it drains in the tear duct you do taste it a bit, I think it is almost metallic, like buckleys or something.

An hour passes with you wearing your dark sunglasses, you can’t take them off inside or out for 2 days. They check me out and say I’m good to go. I came in for 10:20am got the surgery at 12:30 and was out the door by 1:45 or so.

I went to the hotel, grabbed a sandwich, still not able to see clearly, still kind of milky underwater vision. I kept my eyes closed all day except for maybe two hours and listened to audiobooks. The Road by Cormac McCarthy and thought I would relisten to the Potter one coming out in theatres. I ate dinner in the room, but did leave to get it, things were a bit clearer.

Slept a lot, lots of eyedrops, taped the eye shields to my face while I slept and spoke to the parents and Aziel for a bit. No shower either, blah.

Ate breakfast the next morning, and got my eye exam at 8:15am, I’m 20/20, but slightly off on my right eye. They attributed it (as did I) to my eye still healing as I found my left clear but right still slightly milky/fuzzy. They did note my left eye had a slight inflammation and wanted me to come back a couple days later to check up on it. So it being Friday they would have wanted me Sunday, but we pushed it till Monday.

All weekend my eyes itched, but I never touched them, even using the shields the first couple nights to be safe. I had my anti inflammatory drops increased to every two hours, but I religiously used them all. Each day they are less itchy. I did notice the light and computers were hard to use very long at first.

I went in for a 5min checkup Monday, they said my left eye was still inflammed and were not overly concerned as it was much less so then the previous checkup. I am to go in for my week later check up soon to test my vision and make sure my left eye is good!

That’s it, did you get all that?

Dentists, love them? hate them?

Last time I saw a dentist it was 1989, sounds like a long time ago to me. So since I am permanent and have benefits I may as well use them. I’m a big baby when it comes to pain and needles so I wasn’t looking forward to this. Last time I even got close to something like this was when I got my wisdom teeth extracted (notice I use that word and not removed, sounds more painful). They had to give me nitrous oxide (laughing gas) before they even got close with a needle.

So this time, I wasn’t looking forward to how my teeth were after 18 odd years. But I was plesantly suprised to find my teeth are in pretty good shape. No cavities, but they wanted me back for a cleaning. It took over an hour just to check, x-ray and head inspection.

So nervous again, back in the chair, but the cleaning went really well. They said my teeth are really in good shape and barely needed much cleaning.

Neato eh? I’m happy, teeth happy and even got some gas on the way, but next time I’ll go gas free.

June Happenings

Well one canoe trip down, hope to plan some more. Thinking about going down from Sunshine to Kakabeka, maybe we can daytrip it and get some rapids experience for those that need it.

Went down to Duluth for a bit, saw the Movie Waitress, my choice this time, and I really liked it. Stayed at a nice place and relaxed, although the weather was a bit wierd.

Planning a trip to Nova Scotia in August, so will have to stop in and visit Andrew/Jen and their new daughter, plus all my relatives there. Also planning on stopping in at Montreal and I hope to hit old Quebec City as I haven’t been there in eons.

Dragonboat is coming up, anyone want to sponsor me? Work is going mostly well, although the future of application development in our shop is questionable so doing some applying around the province right now. Think that’s it for now.

You can find me on Flickr, Facebook and Digg!

Quetico Done

Well I like my rivers and this year’s trip just reinforced that. 43Km may be much shorter then we do on a river but with rain, hail, snow, whitecaps and a ton of head wind, I want my river again. I’ll get pictures up soon, for now, I’m going to go get some rest.

Derek's Random Musings