I’m So Gull-ible

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The weather, forecasted to be gray and rainy, unexpectedly turned out to be sunny and dry. After our Remembrance Day Service at Belcarra Regional Park yesterday, we returned to our Marina for a bit of an afternoon dock party. The humans set out their deck chairs, furnished a few deck tables with appetizers, and enjoyed the glorious afternoon together.

I was almost allowed to roam at will, but the humans were a little further away from our boat Minstrel than I was comfortable with and instead I started trespassing on a few boats in between. That ended with me getting closed up inside Minstrel for the rest of the day, which was okay because it was my nap time anyways.

But what really caught my attention just before then was the dock leading the other way, along the marina’s breakwater, that was standing room only for a flock of seagulls. My oh my, if I could only join that party! I did try. I lowered my body as low as it would go and almost floated across the dock as I skulked towards them. Unfortunately they have really keen eyesight, and as if on cue a large section of them closest to me just flew up in the air, only to land a little further down the dock. They weren’t ever going to let me get too close. Mom didn’t like the look of the big mess of fresh runny poop they left behind and shushed meow back to boat before meow, or her, could step in any of it. But what a rush though.

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Here on the west coast of North America we have the western gull (Larus occidentalis). Did you know that an older name for gulls is mew? In German it’s Möwe, Danish måge, Dutch meeuw, and French mouette. These gulls typically live for 15-25 years. One of a gulls favourite food are mussels which are readily available to them at this time of year along the docks at the waterline. They carry the shelled morsels up into the air and drop them onto hard surfaces, a method used to crack them open. We are constantly finding empty black shells, and sometimes crab shells, all over Minstrel’s decks. Clever, but messy birds.

My human said she had read a rather humorous news article about a lady in Paignton, Devon (a small town in England) who reported having about 50 golf balls dropped on her house one summer by seagulls. They probably saw the balls as potential food, but then gulls see most things as potential food. Clever yes, but not so smart.

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Writing 101 Day 10: So far, we’ve found inspiration from our own experiences, images, words, and more. Today, let’s quietly observe the world around us and write about what we see. Find a spot where you can sit and observe for at least 20 minutes: a bench at a park, shopping mall, or museum; from inside your car in a parking lot; or even a place close to home, like your front porch. Ideally, it’s a location where you can watch action and interaction in a setting (between people, wildlife, weather, etc.) Don’t be afraid to take risks! Your response can be purely nonfiction and be an exact report of what you see, or a piece of creative nonfiction that uses storytelling elements (like point of view, pacing, and dialogue) to shape a more dramatic narrative.

Geocaching – A Study in Electronic Navigation

381I often pawndered how my humans ever managed to find their way around out on the water without getting lost. I mean there are no roads or street signs to follow at sea. I eventually learned that they have special electronic devices that can display charts of the ocean and where the boat is on them. How very useful. They have several of these visual devices, of varying sizes and capabilities, which are either fixed to the helm of the boat or carried around with them. Even though human mom took a basic boating course which included learning basic navigation, she didn’t really put much more thought into applying those skills after that. To her, it was the captain’s job to figure out exactly where they were, and how to get where they were going, and she was the admiral. That was until we started geocaching.

Geocaching is about finding little containers of treasures carefully hidden all over the planet, in publicly accessible places like parks and hiking trails…and beaches! Well the term treasure is used loosely since one human’s junk is another human’s treasure, but you never know what you might unearth. Like a house has an address, a geocache has a set of GPS coordinates. You plug the coordinates into the electronic device and it shows you where it is compared to where you are on some kind of map, or chart in nautical terms.

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Setting up a geocaching activity for members to play on a cruise.

Since you’re given the exact coordinates of the geocache’s location, it may seem deceptively easy to find, but unlike a road map, you are not given the exact route to it, just a couple of icons showing your location and its, with possibly a straight line connecting the two. The essence of navigation is to get from your current position to a pre-planned destination, and then to return safely. However, there could be forests, hills, mountains, lakes, streams, buildings, or in nautical terms, `hazards`that you have to navigate around first in order to get there. Because of all that navigational uncertainty, the key to a successful find whether it be a geocache or some other point of interest, is education and preparation.

Do you understand what GPS is and how it works? Do you know the different types of maps? Do you know how to load maps and GPS coordinates into a GPS device? Do you know what a waymark is? Do you know how to create a route of waymarks? Can you export a list of GPS coordinates to share with others? Conveniently the Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons  & United States Power Squadrons offer in-depth courses that specifically teach electronic charting, electronic navigation, and navigation by GPS, and you don’t need a boat or be a member to take them. But unlike riding a bike, if don’t use those skills often enough, you lose them. Cue geocaching. The rewards of geocaching go far beyond the material treasures you might find. Lessons in geography, map reading, navigation, nature, ecology, history, physical exercise, fellowship, and the Golden Rule come to life and are far more retentive because of this any-day real world game. Of that I am certain.

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Writing 101, Day 3: Prompts come in many different forms. Sometimes, a single word is all you need to get your mind’s wheels turning. Here are six words: TREASURE, REGRET, HOME, LOVE, UNCERTAINTY, SECRET.  Select one word in this list that speaks to you in some way. Have you always wanted to write about that wrong decision you made? Are you a long-term traveler looking for the right city to settle? Do you want to write a poem about your relationship?vThe beauty of the one-word prompt is that it’s open to interpretation. What do you think of when you hear this word? What do you see? This word is simply the seed for your post: feel free to shape your idea as you see fit.

Strait Up Black & White Seascapes

Photography 101 Day 15 It’s a big world out there! Show us what you see in a landscape. We’ve spent time practicing our establishing shots, capturing street scenes, and observing the natural world. Today, let’s walk in the footsteps of masters like Ansel Adams and focus on landscape photography.


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Bedwell Bay, Indian Arm, BC

Ansel Easton Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984) was an American photographer and environmentalist. His black-and-white landscape photographs of the American West, especially Yosemite National Park, have been widely reproduced on calendars, posters, and books.

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Some pawsome seascape views of the Pacific West Coast. The coastal mountains and majestic fjords of the Pacific West Coast can reach up to 7,000 feet from sea level, creating some very layered and stunning backgrounds. While I consider these serene shots to be in direct contrast to the hard and dramatic scenes typically captured by Ansel Adams, hopefully they still follow the “straight photography” style that he pursued.

SPOILER ALERT!…Today furiends, the second photo was taken my human dad…meowee! He likes taking pictures too, and his Bedwell Bay, Indian Arm, BC photo (the colour version) will be featured in our PMPSS 2015 Seascapes calendar that my human mom published with the help of the membership who supplied their photos.

Happy Caturday!

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Building Memories In Black & White

Photography 101, Day 12 Study architectural forms, and also train your eye to look for shots that will translate well in black and white. As we explored yesterday, color is a powerful element in photography. But let’s not forget black and white, or monochrome, which can be very dramatic! Black, white, gray, and shades in between interact in the frame in dynamic ways.


Boating around in False Creek one day (before I was born), mom took some photos of these two iconic buildings in downtown Vancouver, BC…Science World and BC Place Stadium. These places hold a few special memories for her. About 15 years ago, mom and her human sons, along with several hundred others human boys and adult leaders, slept in Science World overnight once as part of a Scouts Canada event. It got a little crazy she said, but was a lot of fun. A night she’ll never forget. Unfortunately none of the photos she took that night turned out.

BC Place stadium is home to the BC Lions football team, and in 2011 Vancouver hosted the 99th Grey Cup game. The humans cruised downtown in Minstrel and partied all weekend long during the festivities. It also got a little crazy, but was a lot of fun, and the Lions ended up winning the championship! With mom’s help, dad managed to get all the pawtographs of the Felion Cheerleader Dance Team featured in their calendar, which he gave to his nephew for Christmas. Meowee, they shore are purrdy fur humans! Vancouver is once again hosting the Grey Cup at the end of this month. Unfortunately the Lions aren’t in it.

I helped mom choose the black and white settings for today’s theme. We didn’t realize there were so many combinations of black, white, gray and monochrome! You can click on the photos for a larger view. We hope you like the results.

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The Nature of Leading Lines

Photography 101, Day 8 Capture a moment, big or small, and pay attention to the lines and curves produced by nature. Envision the bend of a stream, or the curve of a petal: how can you use these lines in your composition? If you see strong vertical, horizontal, or diagonal lines, can you play with the orientation to create a more dynamic composition? Can you apply — or break — the Rule of Thirds?


If I was a tabby,  a bengal, or a tiger, I would have a lot of lines and curvy patterns on me for mom to photograph. But I’m not. Instead, she went through her photos  from all the pawsome places we went our cruises this summer to find examples of leading lines in nature and these were some of the obvious ones, but you could say they were unintentional. Going forward she will try to look for and use them more. One interesting tip she learned from this exercise was that there are leading lines and paths. The difference between a leading line and a path is that a leading line takes you to a point of interest in the frame, and a path tends to lead you to a vanishing point.

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Tall Drink of Water

Photography 101, Day 3: For day three, we want to see your interpretation of water — how might your image reveal more about you? Ever wonder whether a photograph will work better horizontally or vertically? It’s a great question to ask when looking through your viewfinder! After you snap your picture, rotate your camera and take a second shot from the other orientation — horizontally if you first took the picture vertically, and vice versa. If you’re aiming for an establishing shot, what orientation works better? How does a vertical shot affect your scene? Which version do you prefer?


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This is what water reveals about me. You may notice the water reverses my image. Almost all our photos taken with an iPhone are vertical (above), and almost all taken with the DSL are horizontal (below). Mom has been experimenting with refraction and water, and found a really unique photo on the web that she’s trying to re-create. We haven’t succeeded yet, but still working on it and these are what we’ve managed so far. We like whichever orientation fits with what we are trying to capture. A waterfall would probably fit  better vertically, where as a sunset would most likely be more flattering horizontally.

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Being the editor of our boating group’s newsletter, my human runs a photo contest and puts together a couple of theme calendars consisting of the winning photos taken by her fellow PMPSS (Port Moody Power & Sail Squadron) members. One of the themes is called Waterscapes, and the other is Pets & Wildlife. Those photos are from the 2013 calendar. The 2014 calendar photos will be uploaded to Flickr in December, and the 2015 calendars just went to the printer. One criteria that she insists on is that all the photos have to be horizontal because “landscape” (horizontal) is the paper orientation.

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