Monday, August 17, 2009

Gorgeous 1986 VW Type III

Gorgeous 1968 (or 1967?) VW Type III Squareback on the streets tonight. Perfectly restored . . .

. . . with the exception of the nice wheels and the tach replacement for the original clock! The smell of the engine brought back memories of my parents' red 1969 Type III (switch from semi-circular turn signals up front to pointed ones plus high back seats). What a wonderful 2 door station wagon that was. Sorry the nighttime camera phone shots aren't any better.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Smelt Bay campground, Cortes Island

Because there is very little online about the campground we stayed at for three nights, I thought I'd write a blog post about it. Hopefully those interested in staying at the Smelt Bay campground in Smelt Bay Provincial Park on Cortes Island, British Columbia, will find this of value.

Main point: the campsites are very very small! There are 23 campsites in total, only one of them a "single". The other sites are all doubles, which means that you are placed immediately adjacent to another campsite with only a row of small boulders separating you from the other site. Therefore, if you want any semblance of privacy at Smelt Bay or if you want some room and are pulling a pop-up trailer, you must reserve two sites. Then you'll be in good shape because for the most part all the doubles are separated from other doubles by a decent length of woods. These double sites are great if you're traveling with another party. Most of them are, I'd estimate, about 30ft long x 20ft deep (I may have those dimensions a bit off) and many have small, somewhat secluded tent spots accessible by a set up concrete stairs up into the woods. If you've gone ahead and taken one of the eight reservable sites in advance, you'll be given a site that's at the entrance to the campsite road loop. These aren't bad sites, but when you arrive you may want to relocate to a nicer "first come, first serve" site further down the road. Campfires are rarely (ever?) allowed because of fire hazard.

Smelt Bay campground is a wonderful, small, secluded place and from what I could tell from our visit, relatively underutilized. The ocean and Smelt Bay itself is a short walk down from the campground and features an extensive sand and pebble beach. Smelt Bay is named for the fish that spawn ashore by the tens of thousands in late September and early October. Unfortunately, we were too early for that sight.

If you've never been to Cortes, you'll find the island is sparsely inhabited, compared to others of the Gulf Islands. Groceries are available at Mansons Landing, about 2/3 of the way from the ferry to the campground. There's both a more conventional grocery store and a wonderful vegetarian coop plus a relatively new restaurant that looks great (we didn't eat there). At the coop, prices listed are for members--non-members pay 15% more. If you're going to spend more than $200, it makes sense to pay a onetime membership fee.
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

pears, grapes, corn and more, growing next to the railroad tracks

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the price of a view to the water

"Due to a despicable, and cowardly act of vandalism against nature, our century old Norway Spruce does not have long to live.

"It was recently discovered that someone has hacked around the bottom of the tree, preventing the sap flow and dooming the tree to die.

"This tree's death will represent a very sad loss for the neighbourhood."
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Friday, August 14, 2009

the touch point between human and machine is an essential component of design

I'm typing this right now on a Lenovo X61s. My finger tips are slightly warm, but not uncomfortably so. Still, I wish that a little less heat was conducted up from the processor and into the keyboard. But the keyboard is otherwise perfect and that feature alone makes it hard for me to switch devices. Further, the little red nubby thing--the trackpoint--of a Lenovo (nee IBM) Thinkpad is essential. I don't even want to have a trackpad on my laptop because they give me carpal tunnel almost instantly. The physical interface between body and machine is at least as important as the visual interface of the operating system. The touch point between human and machine is an essential component of design.

I've been thinking about this more as the rumors about an Apple Tablet kindle more brightly. Of course the word "kindle" is used with intention. One has to wonder right now how many gadget boys and girls have paused in the last few days before hitting the "buy" button on the Kindle at the Amazon store with the Apple Tablet potentially in sight. (Rumor #1 was September 7, 2009 but Rumor #2 says it's out to 2010.) After all, the assumption would be that the Amazon app for the iPhone and Touch would also apply to the Tablet. If you've ever flicked through a set of photos on the touchscreen of an iPhone or iPod Touch or the pages of a digital book, you know that the interface is so perfect, so natural it's about as close as you can get to oneness with a consumer electronic. Will an Apple Tablet be just too seductive and incinerate Kindle and Sony Reader sales? The Kindle (Gen 2) has some wonderful physical aspects to its design. Primary for me is the lightness of the device and therefore the ability to read holding the device with one hand for a long time. But it's well tailored Oxford cloth vs skin-tight tight leather. Which are you going to rub up against?

Mini Cooper S Sidewalk?

When you think about it, branding a special edition Mini Cooper S with the name "sidewalk" is jarring and strange. But I guess they had their reasons.
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