Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year

where ever you are. Blogging has brought me in touch with more people than I would ever have imagined. A few years ago I tried to start a Blog and gave up because I had no one to show me how to get started. Back then I was content to post ride reports on various local forums, mostly scooter related . . . hence my name. I have always ridden motorcycles but as a returning rider I needed an excuse to get back into riding so I suggested to Mrs Skoot that we should get scooters so we could tour the Gulf Islands. Other than Galiano and Saltspring we haven't yet fulfilled our goal. All of my posted ride reports are now lost in the internet void as the local server crashed several times, loosing all the data so I thought to myself that if I were going to continue to post reports I should try blogging again and be more in control of my content. So I did.

I didn't get much readership at first in spite of the time I devoted to my posts and photos until I got some help from Orin, Scootin 'Old Skool I had met Orin before at various scooter rallies down in Bellingham, WA . Since those early days I am proud to be part of the blogging community and I have gone out of my way to meet many bloggers during my travels.

I enjoy being on the road with others with the same interests. Last year was especially memorable with a motorcycle tour to Idaho, Montana, Oregon & Washington. We had an IMBC2010 in Bend, Oregon a couple of years ago where many of us got together for a weekend of friendship. Next year is developing to be another great year. Troubadour is organizing another get-together IMBC2012 and there is lots of interest for others to tag along.

What I am trying to say is that I hope all of you have a very Happy New Year and I hope that 2012 shapes up to be as good or better than 2011. Peace, Prosperity, good health and good fortune, and may our paths cross . . . one day soon

I hope you enjoy this collage from this summer's motorcycle vacation. I am tired of getting tagged with copyright infringement so I have done something I have never done before, and in the style of Ricky Nelson

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day 2011

For the past couple of years our SIL: sister-in-law has been hosting our Family dinner, usually after work, on a work day so as to leave our Christmas day free of responsibilities. So again this year our family meal was scheduled for Christmas Eve December 24th

It's a long story but as a family (for nearly 2 decades) we have agreed not to exchange Gifts (children excluded) so we have nothing to buy for anyone except for ourselves, if we decided that we needed anything of importance. It is nice to escape the hustle bustle of the commercialized Christmas season. We have gotten out of the habit of decorating our home and have not put up a tree for more years than I can remember.

With our family dinner out of the way, there was nothing to do on Christmas Day except to try out the only gift we received this year, a PoachPod, from the greatest blogging couple on the West Coast.


I normally poach my eggs free form in a shallow frying pan, with these silicone pods you crack your eggs into the pod and let them float in the boiling water


we also had some left-over salmon from the other day


so I cut a few small pieces. After you float the pods you put the cover over your pot to hold in the heat. I also have a small saucer with melting butter, and plates being preheated as I don't like to put hot food on COLD plates


I try to keep an eye on the poaching eggs as I like the yolks a bit runny, but the whites solid, so these are nearly ready


My hollandaise sauce is getting too much heat, I turn the gas down to simmer and add the butter slowly, and then add the juice from one small lemon, constantly stirring the whole time . I love my new GAS stove as it has instant heat control


I lightly toast my english muffins and then start to assemble our Christmas breakfast. I add the poached eggs, top with our left over salmon (slightly heated in the microwave to take off the chill), and top with generous drizzles of freshly home-made hollandise sauce, accompanied with a glass of orange juice.

Christmas Breakfast: Salmon benedict

As I said, an uneventful day. Dinner was comprised of left-over turkey from last night reheated

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Today I made a BIG mistake. I thought that our family dinner was going to be on Christmas Day, tomorrow so I had planned to bring a dessert to our SIL: Sister-in-law's. This meant that I was going to work on it tonight . . .

well, as it happened, dinner was tonight so I had to fastforward my plans by 24 hours. It's a good thing that we suspended gift giving years ago so I didn't have to navigate the busy malls and like a horse with blinders I only had one task on my mind so I headed to the local grocery store to purchase some supplies, after breakfast with the guys


baking was my hobby during a previous life and I still have a counter crammed with the applicances necessary to do the job. While I haven't done much baking lately I was still able to multitask a bit. Here I am getting my workstation ready

(following in the toe-steps of the Barefoot Contessa)

while the flour was presifted, I sifted 1 cup anyway


I had one cup of milk on my new gas stove waiting for 1/3rd cup of butter to be boiled


after the liquid mixture came to a boil, I turned off the heat and added the 1 cup of sifted flour, in one fast lump


I had 4 eggs at room temperature on standby. I usually bring the eggs out of the fridge and put them in warm tap water to speed things along. It normally takes about 10 minutes. The liquid mixture to which the flour was added was taken off the heat and the residual heat is what is needed to temper the eggs in the next procedure


The room temperature eggs are added, one at a time until the flour mixture appears to loose its shine (looks more dry), then eggs are added until you have used 4 or so. Vigorous mixing with a wood spatula gives your arm a good workout

After the "dough" appears to look dry and can hold a stiff point, I use two spoons to make little balls to put onto a baking sheet. The dough is very sticky. You will find with experience that using your fingers creates more problems


I have my new Gas oven pre-warmed to 400°F and put my baking sheet into the oven. After 10 minutes I reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for another 25 minutes. Make sure you do not take your shells out of the oven too fast as the cool air may make them collapse. Here is what they look like out of the oven


In the meantime, while my shells are cooling I put ice into my Kitchen aid mixer bowl as well as the whipping attachment, and put into the fridge to cool. The freezer would have been better but it is full of junk food. It is much better to have eveything cold before you attempt to make your whipping cream

While my shells are still cooling down, and my stainless steel mixer bowl is cooling down I get my chocolate topping ready. I use a double boiler setup with water in the bowl below to heat the semi-sweet cubes of Baker's chocolate.


you have to keep an eye on the heat as you only want to melt the chocolate, add icing sugar to desired sweetness, and whipping cream to proper consistency. I don't like it too runny and remember that it hardens a bit as it cools down to room temperature


By now I have already mixed my whipping cream adding icing sugar to taste, sliced open my shells to be filled with whipped cream, and drizzled the tops with chocolate icing. And you can see my creation (below) . . . Cream Puffs


When I was younger I used to watch my Grandmother bake and I always got to lick the leftovers. Today I got the whipping cream all to myself


As I have mentioned before, Christmas to us is not so much the material things but the getting together with friends & family. We do appreciate what we have and the things we receive from others and we are thankful for the friendships and bondings over the years and especially from our Blogging community


As I am writing this I just remembered in my haste the BIG mistake I mentioned above. I forgot to add vanilla into my chocolate icing. I hope no one notices after dinner tonight. ( I suppose I could always lick off the icing and add a new batch, I mean, who would notice ? )

Merry Christmas to all of you where ever you are and may prosperity continue during 2012.

Here's a Christmas performance I recorded a couple of weeks ago at a luncheon at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel. A choir from a local elementary school, to get you in the Holiday spirit, using my 1920 8mm vintage camcorder, in full HD

Friday, December 23, 2011

P I M S: Talking Pictures

If a picture says a "thousand words", then a video would say a Million Words. Last weekend we had a mini-Blogger meeting at the Seattle PIMS: Progressive International Motorcycle Show. It was just an excuse to get together for a weekend of fun, taking photos, experiencing new places to eat, and of course to walk around the annual motorcycle show oooing and sitting on the new models. All of us met at the entrance as previously arranged but then we mostly went our separate ways, except that the four of us, Troubadour, Trobairitz, Ms Skoot & Bobskoot (myself) more or less stayed together .

Good for me as I had my camera in hand just waiting for willing subjects. As a photographer I am accustomed to not getting any photos of myself as the images end up on memory cards belonging to others. I managed to capture the essence of our day at the show with a short video, starring Troubadour & Trobairitz.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Supplement to Troubadour's

Progressive Motorcycle Show report HERE, and our 3rd annual mini-get-together.

For the previous two years we have gotten together in Seattle to visit the Motorcycle show and I was wondering whether we were going to continue with this tradition. And as if Troubadour had telepathy he sent an email wondering if we were free to meet again this year, so we did. It gives us a chance to discuss plans for next year, and try out new restaurants after all, Blogging and food are two ingredients that mix well together.

Trobairitz knows her way around a keyboard and google is her friend. She found a funky internet hot dog cafe ( just around the corner from the Motorcycle Show. The portions were generous and delicious. Orin has some food photos HERE

We didn't have a clue where to go for dinner so we sent Chuck a text message and he came up with a very nice Thai restaurant close to our lodgings and took some time away from his studio to join us. We chatted until our food arrived, then came dessert and when that was gone we continued to chat, and chat, and chat, and chat . . . until we got the notion that the staff wanted to clear our tables and go home.

Here is a short recap . . . "We Like to eat . . . "

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Our 3rd Annual Mini-Bloggers'

get-together in Seattle this weekend. What's better than getting together to enjoy each other's company, trying out new food, talk about our plans for next year, and walk around for a few hours looking at motorcycles. This is exactly what we did and co-incidently the Progressive International Motorcycle Show happened to be on at the Seattle Convention Centre.

We decided to head south on Friday night after work and arrived in Seattle around 10pm, where we met up with Troubadour & Trobairitz who had travelled north from Oregon. We had arranged to meet up with SonjaM & Orin at the entrance to the show on Saturday morning. Orin drove south from Bellingham and SonjaM also from Vancouver. We were to have dinner with Chuck that evening


We spent a lot of time looking at all the farkles & accessories for sale and sat on a few bikes. It didn't take much coaxing to get Orin onto a very nice Triumph Tiger 1050 Adventure touring bike

Orin: Scootin Old Skool

Trobairitz just had to swing her leg over a Triumph Street Triple

Trobairitz Tablet

We spent a lot of time in the Triumph section looking at all the models. I wouldn't know which one to choose but I did like the Triumph Tiger 800 which is giving
Troubador a big smile

Troubadour on a Tiger

You get hungry walking around looking at motorcycles and soon it was lunch where we all congreggated for lunch for gourmet hot dogs at a funky place around the corner at 9th & Pike


We were having so much fun ooing and aahhhing that we nearly spent the whole day there. We had arrived early in the morning not long after sunrise, and now the sun was setting

4th floor of the Seattle Convention Centre looking South towards Pike Place

This is the first time they have had the motorcycle show downtown. It had previously been held at Qwest Field south of the city and this year was much better than the dismal displays last year. There were lots of custom bikes on display as well as the new models. I managed to sit on a few and felt very comfortable on the Triumph Tiger 800 & BMW R1200R. The Suzuki 1250 something (which replaces the Bandit) felt very nice too

Triumph: Street Tracker

With the day nearly over we had to concentrate on dinner and Chuck came to our rescue with a very nice Thai Restaurant close to our lodgings. He is a very busy person working in his studio creating masterpieces from Glass. He brought some samples for us to drool over.

We had intended to take a group photo with motorcycles in the background at the show, but it didn't happen and I only have Chuck's likeness taken with my 1920 Vintage Camera while waiting for our meals to appear.

So here's Chuck . . .

I don't know what it is but when you finally meet another blogger "face to face" it is as if you had known each other for Years. We had our first IMBC2010 a couple of years ago in Bend, Oregon the same weekend as the BMW regional motorcycle rally. A few of us had expressed interest in meeting again during the summer of 2012. Troubadour has posted HERE <---

Troubadour has volunteered to make the arrangements, so if you are interested send a comment his way. I would imagine it would be during July or August somewhere Mid/East Oregon or even Southern Washington State to be central for all of us to meet and have a great weekend together, sharing good times, good food and good roads

Saturday, December 17, 2011

After working a

full day, I returned home to pick up Mrs Skoot, had a quick snack, and headed to Seattle, WA where we arrived at our lodgings for the night and unpacked our luggage. Although it was after 10pm, I wanted to snap a few photos down at the Pike Place Market . . .


If you look closely at the figures in the photo, you may recognize Troubadour & Trobairitz . . . with Mrs Skoot looking on

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

There are 2 ways

to produce night photos. There is the way that most people do, that is hand hold your camera at a low shutter speed and crank the ISO way up and cross your fingers. Tonight we headed downtown to the outskirts of Vancouver's Chinatown to a Cambodian Restaurant where I grabbed a quick shot of the street outside. This particular restaurant has won the award from WestEnder Magazine as the Best Vietnamese Restaurant in Vancouver for 2011

(ISO: 6,400 1/60 sec F 4.0 HHT Mode: Sony NEX-5n w/ 18-55mm)

On the way home I stopped on Cambie Street to snap a night shot the old fashioned way. It was drizzling a bit but I found a dry spot under an overhang. I like the reflections that bounce off the wet roads

(ISO: 100 5 seconds F 18.0 Sony NEX-5n w/18-55mm)

I wanted more red light trails but most cars were headed north.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I like ketchup

with my eggs


I somehow got off cycle this week. I spent too much time trying to figure out why my video was not rendering without errors. During the week it is hard to snap photos when it is dark in the morning and dark on the commute home. I often get ideas for photos but find that there is no safe place to pull over, but I have a tripod in the trunk always ready for action, if needed. I have resorted to snapping shadow photos in our company parking lot during lunch hour


this was on one of those rare days when the rain finally stopped. I generally look forward to the weekends when I have more time to explore more photogenic places around town. Saturday morning found me at home waiting for my plumber to work in my washroom and also to disconnect my dishwasher, in preparation for a new one. I thought that this would be a speedy process and imagined that I would have the whole afternoon to myself and my new camera. He arrived around 9:15am while I was making breakfast, my ham omlette (1st photo above).

My plumber was happily working away and about half an hour later there was a knock on the door. It was the contractor who repaired my siding and had come today unexpectedly to repair a few loose ends. He is becoming enamoured with photography and we talked about this and that and he decided to purchase a Canon T3i upon my recommendation. I showed him some of my work and videos and how you were able to use "adapted" lenses on the EOS due to the short film plane to sensor distance. His friend was urging him to purchase a Nikon. I am mainly a Nikon person myself but I am very glad to have a Canon as it is more versitile. I think Nikon may theoretically have the edge in IQ but in the real world, there is little difference and you should purchase what feels good in your hands. I still have my D80 but I have the ability to now attach my Nikon lenses on my Canon.

My contractor was working in my kitchen, then downstairs, then outside in my carport. Between talking and working and discussing photography the whole day was shot as he finally left around 3:15pm.

I had been eyeing a new tripod that I saw on Granville Street last week. It looked very well made and I since discovered from my friend Google that all parts are forged and the ball head is machined to a very close tolerance. I already have too many tripods and I recently added to my collection just over a month ago when I picked up my first Pan Head tripod for video use. As I am typing right now, I have 5 tripods within 5 feet of where I am sitting, a 6th one in my trunk, not counting my two Manfrotto monopods, and my fat gecko suction mount. Almost forgot my small Manfrotto on my V-strom in the tool tube. I wanted a very small tripod for travelling to put into my backpack. This new one collapses to just under 12" and comes with a small sling carry pouch. I think it is made better than a Manfrotto and will double as a monopod, in a pinch. It is a Sirui and looks like THIS

I had plans on Sunday to drive out into the country and try out my new tripod, and snap a few photos with my Sony NEX-5n but Mrs Skoot wasn`t feeling well so we just ate at home and I decided to print and frame some photos. I haven`t used my printer in months and I was afraid of clogged heads but my Canon Pro9000 MK2 fired right up, made some head cleaning noises and the prints came out flawlessly.


We jokingly call these jackets our "City Slicker" Jackets because they are matching colours. We only wear them during the colder winter months. They come with a detachable fleece liner and have lots of storage.

Roger has recently issued a challenge to post 5 of your favourite photos from 2011 and I am still thinking about it. The problem is that I take too many photos and they are scattered amongst various external hard drives all over the place, and some are already archived onto DVD . Here is one taken in Victoria last May, 2011 during the Capital City Scooter Rally. It was taken from inside Pagliacci's. I have been attending this rally for many years and never have I been able to get a parking spot right in front of the restaurant's window. And Princess Scooterpie is no where to be seen.


Another Christmas window display from Granville Street


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Another weekend

We finally made it to the end of the week. I've been occupied all week working on a stubborn video which refused to render. I was getting lots of error messages: "low resources", "dropped frames . . . ". I didn't really understand about the low resources as I have 4 GIGs of RAM in my laptop but my computer keep freezing up, and when I tried to insert a title, it crashed again. Then I was off to google to figure out what "dropped" frame(s) meant.

HHT MODE: Handheld Twight Mode, Sony NEX-5n 16mm pancake lens

HHT mode: where you push the shutter button ONCE, and the camera rapid fires 6 shots and merges all the photos into one image and throws away all parts of any or all images which are blurred or not in focus

I started to edit my video on Monday night and by Friday night I was no further ahead except that a week had gone by and I was getting very frustrated. I spent some of the time trying to figure out whether I needed a new computer, or whether my OLD, ancient Core2 duo was up to the task, or whether I could just add more RAM.

That's the problem when you purchase a laptop during Christmas week of 2009 and the new i3, i5 & i7 models came into stock a month later. While I had Windows 7 installed I had the 32 bit version and the max usuable memory is around 3.5 Gig regardless if you had more RAM or not. I cannot upgrade to Windows 7 64 bit because my hardware won't support it, and I cannot add more memory as it wouldn't make a difference.

same photo as above but: aperature priority mode, single shot: handheld

I try to limit my videos to 5 minutes, more or less as most viewers have a short attention span but recently two friends have passed away unexpectedly and in both instances I asked the remaining spouse whether they wanted a photographic record of their Celebrations of Life. So here I was "filming" the sad occassion. My regular workflow is to reduce the native "clips" down to a manageable 8 Mbps bitrate and on my first production which ran 45 minutes I had no problems at all. This was recorded on my Lumix Camcorder which uses AVCHD 1.0 and I can only use the clips after conversion to AVI. On my second production my Canon uses Mpeg4 (MOV) and the files are not efficient (ie they are very large files). My computer choked on all this data . . .

I had a lot of help behind the scenes from RichardM and Gordon/682202/GAW They are both audiovisual GURU's who know everything about producing videos and I value their opinions and recommendations. Incidently GAW has recently just built a super fast computer designed for fast editing. Richard, has recently installed a video system at the University in Fairbanks capable of broadcast quality video production. I am just a hobbyist with a small budget so I will just stuggle along with what I have and make do for now.

On Friday evening I decided to tackle my video problem by converting all the Canon MOV files to smaller AVI files. On Saturday morning I edited the video and finally finished it. So my 18 minute video only took 5 nights and one morning and the file ended up being 1.1 Gigs in size.

Christmas window display: Granville Street, Vancouver, BC

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Another Bikeless Sunday

I don't ride on Sundays (as a normal practice) and lately we have been eating at home making our own eggs benedicts. I know, I know . . . you are all tired of looking at the photos so because I feel like we make better ones at home rather than paying for them when we go out, today I decided to order,

Shepard's Pie

I was a bit disappointed as Mrs Skoot makes a very good Shepard's Pie and these taste like they were premade and probably frozen as that's the way most pub food is like. Mrs Skoot had Clam Chowder with toasted garlic bread

Clam Chowder

I'm still loving our new Gas stove. I was more of a baker than a chef but I have been trying some new things. I don't know why it costs more for a RAW uncooked chicken, than a fully cooked BBQ'd chicken at the supermarket. I mean, at Costco a cooked BBQ chicken is around $6.99 or $7.99. They sell uncooked chicken in a 3 pack for just over $28. but I don't need 3 chicken. I only wanted one to try out so off to Safeway where they are normally priced at $12.+ but I got it for $9. , still more than a full cooked one. I wanted to try to make a roast chicken


450°F for about 20 min or so to sear the outer skin, then reduce heat to 375°F for another hour. I set the probe for 170°F and the oven turned off by itself, as it should

I was in the meat department to see what was for sale and came up with some pork tenderloins & chops. The hardest part about planning meals is deciding what to make and the best way is to find out what is for sale and plan from there. We also like to make double and then just heat up the other half for the next day's dinner which is usually more tasty. So for around $2. per pork steak I came up with


a tray of baked Pork steaks smothered in onions, sliced oranges, splash of XVOO (Extra Virgin oil oil). Low heat around 350°F for about an hour . Boiled vegetables are better for you so Mrs Skoot added the carrots, turnips, and baby potato nuggests and used the vegetable water as her beverage


On Saturday, after breakfast with the guys in Kitsilano I decided to walk Downtown


over the Granville Bridge. It was a cold, dark, overcast day and the wind gave me a bit of a chill. My foot is not yet 100% so I took it easy and it started to hurt a bit, but I continued on . It was proably farther than I should have attempted but I started to take smaller steps and favoured my other foot. I also got a chance to take a few photos of Granville Island (from above).

Sony NEX-5n, 18-55

Sony NEX-5n, 16mm 2.8 pancake lens

Near the end of my walking excursion I stopped for a quick rest. I must make a mental note to come back here on my 100th birthday