Wednesday 30 April 2014

The Hell of a New Computer Part 2

    Yesterday, I started to describe all the trouble I was experiencing trying to get my newly purchased computer into the same shape as my old one so I could use it for all my activities.  The two programs I use the most are Photoshop and iWeb.  Both of them seemed to transfer successfully over to my new machine,  so I figured I was well on my way to using my big new iMac.  I was wrong.
    While Photoshop is generally used for photography, I use it to draw my cartoons, and also in my painting.  (Instead of looking at an object and painting it, I put a photo up on my screen, zoom in to the section I want to paint, then paint, by looking at the screen.)
     I double-clicked on the Photoshop icon on my new computer just to confirm that all was well, and was dismayed when a confusing message came up that said I couldn’t use the program because it was not “Activated”.  I didn’t know what to do, so did a Google search to find out more information.
    That led me to the Adobe site, where there was a “Chat” helpline.  I typed in my situation and problem into the chat and waited.  Fortunately, I quickly got a response from Appachu, who wanted more details.  After I gave him more details, he wanted to know when I bought the Photoshop program, and was I registered as an owner.  I always register, so I confirmed that I was and he asked me my email address, and I gave it to him.  
    He said he couldn’t find me in their records and asked if I had a receipt.  By this time I was scrambling around trying to find more proof of my legitimacy.  I found the Photoshop box and installation discs and gave him the long number that was printed on the outside of the box.  Again he wanted to know about if I had a receipt.  I said I might have one back in my tax records, but that would take some digging to find.  
    Then he mentioned that the number I gave him from the box was not the right number and that I should look on the installation disc.  This I did and then gave him the correct number.  They did have record of that number, but he still wondered about the receipt.  I was also informed that the copy I had was an “Upgrade” and that they wanted to know if I had the receipt for the first version of Photoshop that I had. 
    Luckily, I still had the old original “Owner’s Manual” (remember when they actually gave you such things when you bought a program?), and even more luckily, I had written the registration number on the cover of the manual.  (Sometimes I am amazed that I had enough sense way back then to write the number down.)  It seems that I bought the program back in 2003, and I also gave the help line my older email address, and was told that I had registered Photoshop.
    Of course just because I was happy and satisfied that I had discovered the number, Appachu, the guy I was “chatting” with still wanted to know if I had the original receipt.  By this time I had been on the chat line for about an hour and I was getting a little peeved at the assumption that I was somehow trying to cheat this giant corporation.  During the pauses in my chat, I had even deconstructed the growing lights and table for my infant pepper plants and moved all kind of things out of the way, so I could get into the filing cabinet to find the old receipt.
    I found tax receipts for 2001, 2002, and 2004, but of course I couldn’t find 2003, the ones I needed.  As my frustration grew and I went back to the chat line, I saw the following instructions, “Try typing the old serial number (the I had written on the cover of the old obsolete owner’s manual that I still had on my shelf), into the program and see if that works.”  
    Amazingly it did.  Photoshop was again up and running, now on my new computer.  Crossing my fingers, I clicked on iWeb, the discontinued program I use to do this blog and design my website, to see if that worked on my new computer....

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Tuesday 29 April 2014

The Hell of a New Computer

    My old workhorse iMac was starting to bog down under the burden of all the information it was carrying around.  The second monitor I had hooked to it had ceased to work some time ago, squeezing my desktop with additional menus and windows as I did my work.  I was beginning to feel that itch to buy a new iMac with a larger screen that would give me more room on the monitor.  A couple of weeks ago I acted on that itch, laying down a stack of money for the latest and biggest new iMac.
    It had been so long since I had bought the old one, that I had forgotten just how horrible it was to get a new computer to the same comfortable useable state as the old machine.  When the new one arrived, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the presentation that the packaging delivered.  Just as Steve Jobs insisted, everything was elegant.  I almost didn’t want to open the package my new keyboard came in because it was so beautiful, but of course, I did.
    Once everything was out of the box, the frustration began.  I suppose if you only used a computer for things like browsing the internet and emails, it would be simple, but I had thousands of photos, hundreds of songs, and old programs (some of which were no longer supported) that I used for doing cartoons and publishing my website, so I knew that I might run into some problems.
    The first problem I ran into was totally unexpected--the new iMac’s don’t come with a DVD or CD drive.  I couldn’t believe it.  I had stacks of DVD’s and CDs for saving my old photos and other information.  I immediately got out my credit card and had to order a DVD drive so I would still have access to all those old files.  Hopefully it will arrive next week.
    I had already started to go through all my thousands of photos from my old computer to weed some out and save the rest to an external hard drive.  While I knew that there would be a system for getting files from my old computer to the new, I realized that the less there was to transfer, the better. The information that arrived with the new computer seemed simple enough, as long as both computers were on the same WiFi network, all that stuff could be transferred over the network--Great, sounds easy.
    Well, my next problem was that the two computers couldn’t find each other.  I finally figured out that this was because the operating system on my old iMac was actually newer  and more up to date, than the operating system on my new one.  (I was keeping my old one up with all the latest versions, while my new one was sitting in a warehouse for a while.)  I figured my transfer difficulties could be solved by updating the operating system on my new one.
    Thus, my next problem.  While updating an operating system used to mean putting in a CD, now it means downloading from the internet.  Up in the middle of nowhere where I live, we don’t have the fastest internet in the world, and the operating system was was huge, over 5 Gb.  When it started downloading and the little graph estimated the time for completion it estimated 22 hours.  Oh well, what choice do I have?
    Unfortunately, something stopped overnight which meant starting over in the morning--a couple of times.  It took about 3 days to get the new operating system onto my new computer.  
    I gave a sigh of relief and tried once again to transfer all the information and files from my old machine to my new one.  This time they found each other and I was on my way--well I thought I was.
Because of the huge bulk of stuff that needed to be transferred, again I got a time estimate of between 18 to 20 hours.  Again, I shook my head and plodded on.  
    History repeated itself several times as overnight, something happened, stopping the transfer and for two days I had to start the process over repeatedly.  Finally, I decided to cut my losses and just transfer programs, and use an external hard drive to transfer files.  This I succeeded in doing.
    Tomorrow’s blog--More problems.

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Monday 28 April 2014

The Fire Hydrants of McBride

    The Village of McBride has some unique fire hydrants.  Because we see them all of the time, we forget how unusual they are.  They were given this interesting look back in 2007 when the Whistlestop Gallery commissioned a creative young woman, Bryony Griffiths to do what she could to liven them up.  As you can see, she did an amazing job.
    The one of Snoopy the Red Baron is located at the airfield.
    If you would like to see some more examples of McBride’s fire hydrants, click on the link below.

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Sunday 27 April 2014


    I came across this tree with its unusual roots the other day.  I guess the seed originally planted itself on an old stump and eventually the stump started to rot away leaving the roots strangely elevated above the ground.

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Friday 25 April 2014

Big Holes in the Woodpile

    Our friend, Di who lives in Jasper, came over for a visit yesterday.  When she glanced over at the roofed shelter where we stack our firewood, and remembered how much we had last fall, she was amazed at how empty it now is.  I don’t think the photo shows very clearly just how much firewood we burned through, last winter. 
    I have two rows where I stack the wood.  One runs along the fence toward the back of the photo.  It still has some firewood stacked on both ends, but the whole middle section is empty.  Another section for stacking, now empty, runs besides the big willow tree you see.  All and all, the empty sections are 12 yards (11 m.) long and 4 foot ( 1.2 m.) high.  I also had firewood stacked under the carport overhang , that is now half empty.  All those empty spaces mean that I have a lot of firewood to cut, haul, and split, this year--I usually have more left over after a winter.
    As soon as all the mud dries from the melting snow on the logging roads, I will head out with my chainsaw.  Winter is barely over and already I am thinking about the next one.

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Thursday 24 April 2014

Screen Time

    Amazingly, even though there are still a few small patches of left-over winter snow on the ground, there are a handful of mosquitoes out buzzing around.  One woke me up just before dawn the other morning.  The warmer weather had left us sloppy about leaving windows open, and mosquitoes in the house, were the result.  So, its time to dig out and put on the screen windows, to keep the pests out of the house when the windows are open.  
    These early mosquitoes do not present a big problem.  They are big, slow, and dozy and therefore fairly easy to swat, but when they show up when you are trying to sleep, even one can be very irritating.  Later in the year, the small vicious variety of mosquitoes show up, especially if the Fraser River floods, those can drive you crazy and even keep you from doing things outside.
    We did have a bigger than normal snow-load on the mountains this winter, so if that all melts quickly, the river will overflow its banks and the nasty mosquitoes will fill the air.  I have my fingers crossed that the mountain snow melts slowly, and the river doesn’t flood.

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Wednesday 23 April 2014

A Touch of Green

    Even though the snow has now melted, we are still living in a world pretty devoid of color.  Lots of browns and grays, but during this period before the leaves come out and the grasses and weeds start to grow, the mosses and lichens seem to thrive.  They like the cool, moist weather.
    Above, you see a log that we step over every day as we walk our trail.  Normally we just step over it without really seeing it, but it is quite noticeable now with the verdant mosses and lichens.   Below is the strange looking lungwort lichen that is covering a fallen branch.

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Tuesday 22 April 2014

A Sad Earth Day

    The lyrics of an ancient Neil Young song keeps running through my mind--

                                “Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 1970’s”

    If only things today looked as optimistic for nature, as they did back then when Neil penned those words.  Unfortunately, things have vastly deteriorated since those long ago days.
    Today is Earth Day.  The Conservative Government of Canada celebrated the day by declassifying the status of the humpback whale.  The whale was classified as “Endangered” and therefore its habitat was somewhat protected.  The Harper government took away the endangered classification so that it could more easily get away with transporting Tar Sands Oil (rebranded as “Oil Sands” oil because it doesn’t sound so dirty) in oil tankers, through the breeding ground and habitat of the humpback whales off the coast of British Columbia.  It seems there is lots of money to be made selling the dirty oil in China.
    This is just the latest move of Canada’s federal government to get rid of environmental roadblocks so that corporations can make big bucks out of the most polluting oil in the world.  The Harper Government have also fired scientists who were doing research on the environment, they have gutted environmental regulations for water, and they have closed world-renown research libraries.  Canada distinguished itself by becoming the only signer of the Kyoto Agreement to withdraw from the carbon limiting document.  
    I am terribly ashamed and deeply embarrassed by Canada, the country that I used to be so proud of.  To quote another song lyric, this time by Randy Newman:

                                                           “It’s money that matters.”

    Sorry for the rant, but sometimes I just have to get things out.

Monday 21 April 2014

Hey, Where's the Food?

    One fall in the late 1980’s I had a Caterpillar tractor come in and dig my pond.  Over the winter it slowly filled with water and in the spring, the ducks started to discover it.  It looked pretty raw, with bare clay and dirt surrounding the water.  I was eager to get some plants growing on the dam to make it look more natural.
    At the time I had a small herd of angora goats, and had a lot of hay on the barn floor that I used as bedding for them.  That bedding usually had a lot of grass seed in it, so I decided to clean out the barn, and spread the bedding along the dam, hoping that it would start some grass growing.  I soon noticed that the ducks that were swimming around on the pond liked to spend a lot of time up on the dam eating something in the hay I had spread.
    At first I thought maybe they were feasting on goat droppings, but later realized that there were a lot of oats, that my goats had wasted, in the bedding--that was what the ducks were after.  Being the softy that I am, I began to walk out to the dam every evening with a can of oats and spread that on the dam for the ducks to eat.  I eventually learned they really liked corn even more than oats, so for years now, when  the ducks arrive in the spring, I start throwing corn and oats out on the dam for them to eat.
    I hadn’t yet begun the feeding this year, and yesterday I noticed this pair of mallards out on the dam looking around and wondering where the corn and oats were, so I scrambled out to the chicken house, filled up a container with grain, and took it out and spread it on the dam.
    Of course, the ducks flew off when they saw me coming, but it didn’t take them long to return and start gorging themselves.

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Sunday 20 April 2014

Ice-Free Day

    Every Spring I look forward to the day when all of the ice is gone from my pond.  Yesterday, was the day it happened.  It is so nice to again see the mountains and sky reflected in the water, and when the sun is shining, see the sparkles and flashes of the sunlight on the ripples.
    It always amazes me just how quickly all the critters adapt to the sudden open water.  Yesterday, when we walked around the pond I noticed that the water striders were already out skimming across the mirrored surface. 

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Saturday 19 April 2014

Man-Made Islands

    Way back in Neo-lithic times, I decided to build a pond for wildlife.  We had a pasture, but it was fairly moist and grew mostly buttercups, and I thought that it would be nice to have a body of water there to reflect the mountains and provide habitat for animals.  I  used a clinometer to figure out the slope of of property, and plan just how to locate a pond,  then in the fall, I got a man with a caterpillar tractor to come and dig it out.  The pond filled up over the winter.  We have heavy clay soil, so holding water was not a problem.
    The wildlife did come to my pond--ducks, dragonflies, and even a muskrat.  I contributed a lot of aquatic plants from local lakes, and even added some red-sided shiners--small minnow-sized fish to the mix.  It was fascinating to watch as wild critters suddenly appeared on the scene.
    About five years later, I decided that some of these wild things might benefit from an island in the pond, so I went to work to build one.  I made hexagonal wood frames, which I covered with wood slats.  Beneath the slates, I put a lot of blocky styrofoam pieces, that I had saved from packing around new appliances, because I knew they floated well.  I secured them against the wooden frame with wire fencing and then rolled the finished island, on its sides, out to the pond.
    The island was a big success with the ducks and the turtle that was living in the pond at the time, so I was inspired to make another one on each of the next couple of years.  As you might have figured out by looking at the photo of the mergansers yesterday, the ducks start arriving at the pond as soon as there is a bit of open water, even though most of the pond is still ice covered. Because they arrive so early, I felt under pressure, to make and get the islands out there, as soon as I could.
    As a result, one year when I had a new island made, I got it to the water, rolled it in, then got into the freezing water myself to anchor it to the bottom.  This, I did just 5 days after the ice had melted.  It was a really cold and breath-taking swim, and when I climbed out, my skin was glowing red.  The anchoring, which was basically just wiring the island to a concrete block sitting on the bottom of the pond, wasn’t a great success.  The islands just get blown around the pond, dragging their anchors from one side to the other.
    As you can see from the photo, the sod I put on top of the islands, now is covered with grass and even some bushes and small trees.  Every time I notice the islands, I think of my cold swim.

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Friday 18 April 2014

Welcome Back, Mergansers

    It’s always nice to see old friends again, so it felt good to see that the pair of hooded mergansers have returned to my pond to mate, lay eggs, and raise a family.  Both the male and female mergansers are unique looking ducks.  The males sport a beautiful stripe, patches of color, and on its extra long head, a brilliant white splotch.  The females are not as flashy as the male, but do have a reddish brown punk haircut that sticks up in the back.
    These hooded mergansers were a surprise to me when they first started showing up at the pond.  I had been previously surprised by the wood ducks and had to scramble to put nesting boxes up in some of the trees that surround the pond.  I didn’t realize that mergansers also nest in tree boxes, until the female stuck her head out to look at me as I walked around the pond one day (photo below).
        They have been successful in raising a new brood of ducklings every year for the last few seasons.  I hope that this year will also be a good one for them.

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Thursday 17 April 2014

Mouse Runs

    Here is something that fascinates me every spring when the snow melts--mice tunnels.  During the winter, the mice live a fairly secretive life under the snow.  I can imagine them living in the tunnels, in the eerie low light that penetrates through the snow, trapped in the world between the snow and the ground.
    I guess it would be insulated from the cold, and fairly well protected from predators, although I have seen owls pounce upon the snow and come up with a mouse that was moving beneath the snow, and have seen holes in the snow where the coyotes had dug down for a meal of a surprised mouse.
    These mice tunnels always remind me that there is an awful lot going on in nature that I am not aware of.

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Tuesday 15 April 2014

First Flower of the Year

    I am happy to report that we have the first flower of the year in our yard.  It is a tiny hyacinth, one of several that have been coming up in our yard since we bought the place back in 1977.  Its flower is only a half an inch (1.2 cm) across, so it is pretty insignificant and easily overlooked, but it is a flower, and I am happy to see it.

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Monday 14 April 2014

Baby Rhubarb

    Anyone who has looked through my paintings know that I am very attracted to rhubarb.  I like both the bright colors the plant displays, as well as its interesting leaf structures.   Over the last few days the snow has melted off of our garden plot, and almost instantly the rhubarb plant started pushing its infantile leaves up through the earth and into the sunlight.
    Its nice to have these little blast of color while everything else is still a boring brown color.

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Sunday 13 April 2014


    Alpenglow is defined as the rosy light of the setting or rising sun seen on high mountains.  The photo shows the alpenglow on Beaver Mountain, which is located just east of McBride.  I have mentioned several times that when you are looking at a beautiful sunset or sunrise, don’t forget to turn around to take a look at what that light is doing behind you.

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Saturday 12 April 2014

Ice Crystals

    The other day in my “Rotten Ice” blog, I mentioned how the decomposing ice on the Fraser River often breaks off by columns, reminiscent of the glass crystals in chandeliers.  The other day, I was walking with Skye down on the river and came upon some of this ice so I took the opportunity to shoot some  photos that show this occurrence. 

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Friday 11 April 2014

Square Dance Gals

    Last night was sort of a “dress-up” night at square dancing, as women replaced their jeans with petticoats and wide skirts.  Monica, the driving force behind square dancing, had somehow managed to come home with a lot of women’s square dancing outfits from connections in Alberta.  Last week, she arranged for the female dancers to come in, try on, and pick out dance wear.
    When Joan returned from the event, she was clearly “stoked” about being able to wear the wide skirts and crinoline.  From how she described the afternoon, it seemed just like a group of young girls getting together and playing “dress up” with a pile of old clothes from the attic.  
    There was really a different attitude at square dancing last night, with all the women energized, swirling their skirts around, and prancing light on their feet as they danced.  It was fun, and I look forward to future dances, as more and more females dress up in their new outfits.

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Thursday 10 April 2014

Snow Squalls on the Mountains

    “Spring showers,” is a well-known phrase, but in higher elevations, the spring showers are more accurately called, spring snow squalls.  I enjoy seeing the often dramatic looking snow, falling on the mountains.  Here are a couple of shots I have taken lately of the occurrence.

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Wednesday 9 April 2014

Picking the Bones Clean

    Remember the cougar-killed deer carcass that I came upon a couple of weeks ago, when I was walking the trail?  Well, every day since then, as I passed the kill site, I have been glancing over to the remnants of the deer, to see if any animals have been gleaning a meal on the left-overs.  I couldn’t really tell that it had been disturbed by any scavengers.
    Then the other day, as I approached, an eagle took off from the ground near the bones.  It really made me happy to know that the eagle had found it.  I was a bit surprised to see an eagle, because being in the woods, it was probably difficult to see from the air, through the tree cover.  I am always amazed at how quickly nature finds available food.

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Tuesday 8 April 2014

Rotten Ice

    The Fraser River, that for months now has been covered with ice, now has sections that are ice free.  The ice that remains is starting to turn gray-green, as its softens and deteriorates.   I find this rotten ice really interesting.  Often it gets to the point where it is reduced to individual columns of ice, like the glass crystals of a chandelier, that fall and crumble when touched.
    As the warmer weather continues, all the snow on the mountains will begin to melt and the sand bar you see on the other side of the river will disappear, as all the additional water slowly works its way down the 800 miles emptying to the Pacific Ocean near Vancouver.  The Upper Fraser Basin, which is where we live, has a larger than average snowpack.  This could lead to flooding, if there is a really warm spell which leads to rapid melting.

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Monday 7 April 2014

It's A Small World

    McBride has always been a railroad town.  A hundred years ago, it was decided that the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad should push its way across northern Canada to Prince Rupert, BC on the Pacific coast.  As they worked their way through the mountains of BC, they created towns every so many miles apart.  McBride was one of those towns.
    Since McBride is so tightly tied to the railroad, it is not surprising that there are a lot of railroad enthusiasts living here.  Some are railway workers, some are retired railroad workers, and some are people who just like trains and railroads.  It is also not surprising, that many of these guys have joined together to create a miniature HO gauge railroad in one of the back rooms of the McBride Railroad Station.  They have been quietly working away on their miniature railway world for several years, but I don’t think many of the public are aware of it.
    Yesterday, to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the driving on the last spike of the Grand Truck Railway, the miniature railway layout was opened to the public to view.

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Sunday 6 April 2014

Signs of Spring

    Daffodils and robins are always associated with Spring.  I am happy to report I have now seen both of those things in the Robson Valley.  Of course, just seeing them does not really guarantee that it feels very Spring-like outside.  
    The robins we saw at the McBride airfield.  I don’t think they found many worms to eat, since the ground is still frozen.  I just saw the daffodils for the first time this morning.  I’m not sure how they managed to force their way through the hard ice.

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Saturday 5 April 2014

The Ugly Season

    As the weather begins to warm, we are starting to move into what locals call, “Breakup.”  Breakup begins when the snow, and ice start to melt.  It is ugly because, as the snow begins to disappear, all of the stuff that has accumulated throughout the winter, is starting to show itself once again.
    I did the cartoon decades ago, when we didn’t have a dog, now of course since we do, I won’t be able to blame the neighbors.
    Beside the dog poop, branches, twigs, leaves, and just dirt (source unknown) are all starting to show themselves, and not only is the snow dirty, where it has disappeared, it has been replaced by puddles and mud.  To stay optimistic, I have to concentrate on the arrival of warmer temperatures and the returning birds. 

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Friday 4 April 2014

Eagles On Ice

    For about a week now, there have been a group of bald eagles clustering down on the ice of the Fraser River, just below the Mennonite Church hill.  While most of the Fraser is still covered, there is a small open section of water where they eagles have been gathering, and I assume that fish are attracted to the open water, and the eagles are able to pull them out.  I can think of no other reason for the attraction of the area to the eagles.
    They come and go, but there is usually at least one on the ice.  We have spotted some of the group  soaring over the McBride airfield, when we go for our walks with Skye.  The air field is on the opposite side of the river, but not too far from where we have been seeing the eagles on the ice.  I took the photo below of an immature bald eagle overhead at the air field. 

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Thursday 3 April 2014

Latest Photos of Prince George

    I got an email from by brother, Roy, the other day, in which he said that the world was eagerly awaiting new photos of Prince George.   Roy knew that I was in the position to provide some.  Yesterday, I had my camera along and took the opportunity to get some new shots of Prince George, and I am happy to share them with you.
    On another topic, isn’t it disgusting the way some websites purposely mislead people doing searches on the internet, in order to get an increase in viewers.  
    Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys these “hot off the press” photos of Prince George.

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Tuesday 1 April 2014

April Fool's Day, 1984

    Thirty years ago today, as an April Fool’s prank, I submitted 4 photos to the Robson Valley Courier weekly newspaper (now defunct).  We did get some report back that some of the readers were taken in for a while.  I think the photos and captions are still fun, here they are:

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