Hercules

Years ago, Don told me about the Lancaster bomber stationed at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton. It’s one of the last two flying Avro Lancasters in the world. More than 7000 were built during World War II, and only two still fly.

I learned more about it in the last few years as it’s sometimes mentioned on the local news. For example, last summer, the aircraft flew to the UK and appeared at a number of air shows. They ran into some engine trouble and had to borrow another engine to finish the trip.

They call her Vera because her civil registration is C-GVRA, and since moving to Niagara Falls, I’ve seen Vera a number of times. You see, members of the museum can book a one hour flight on the old girl for, I believe, $3000. I’m not sure if the flight is always the same or the passengers can request a particular flight plan, but I’ve seen Vera fly by to view the Falls itself.

Many aircraft visit the Falls. They’re mostly helicopters and single-engine planes, but once in a while, bigger craft circle for a view. Even jets sometimes come by for a look. No jet or four-seat aircraft sounds like a big four-engined propeller-driven plane like the Lancaster. I heard that sound this morning and by the time I got outside with my camera, she was off in the distance heading home. I kept my ears open and heard it again later. It was not Vera, but this much younger beast:

20150802-114821 5D3 4M6C3405.CR2: 5D Mk.III, EF 400mm 1:5.6L @ 1/1600, f/8, 400 ISO
20150802–114821 5D3 4M6C3405.CR2
EXIF: 5D Mk.III, EF 400mm 1:5.6L @ 1/1600, f/8, 400 ISO

I didn’t recognize it from this angle, but it was clearly a military cargo aircraft. You can see the outline of the cargo ramp just forward of the empennage.

It circled and from the side, I could see it was a Lockheed C-130 Hercules belonging to the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command. This makes perfect sense as there’s an Air Reserve Station in Niagara Falls, New York.

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20150802–114529 5D3 4M6C3398.CR2
EXIF: 5D Mk.III, EF 400mm 1:5.6L @ 1/1600, f/8, 400 ISO

In the meantime, I’ll be keeping an ear open for Vera.

Posted in Me, Photos, Show and Tell | Leave a comment

The X-Files

As no doubt you’ve heard, Fox is bringing back The X-Files as a short event miniseries (whatever that means) in January 2016. I wasn’t a fervent viewer of the original series but I enjoyed most of the episodes I watched. Noting that the series had appeared on Netflix, I revisited my two favourite episodes.

Je Souhaite

Season seven, episode twenty-one. Originally aired May 14, 2000.

Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate some weird goings on, like every other episode, really. To their great surprise, they eventually find that the weirdness is centered on a jinniyah, a female djinn. She claims that humans all wish for the wrong things, and generally make a mess of things. But then she points out that Mulder is entitled to three wishes. Will he makes the same mistakes?

I liked this one because it was a very different X-Files episode. It was amusing and unlike every other story involving a djinn/jinniyah I’ve ever heard of, we get to hear what it’s like to be the one who fulfills the wishes. I also find that when writers start with a very unusual and fascinating story, they often don’t know how to end it. This time however, writer Vince Gilligan ends the story in what I think is a wonderfully warm and satisfying conclusion.

Home

Season four, episode two. Originally aired October 11, 1996.

I’m not going to get into the details about this one because you’ve seen it, or you haven’t and you really should see it without having it spoiled!

Mulder and Scully are again called in to investigate some weird goings on. Mulder notices that they’re being watched by the inhabitants of the nearest house as they investigate the crime-scene. He asks the local sheriff who lives there, and you can see the sheriff is uncomfortable with the topic. He says the ancestors of the inhabitants build the house just after the civil war. Even now, the house has no electricity, running water, or sewage. No one’s visited the house or even seen the family since the parents got into a terrible car accident nearly twenty years ago. Their children brought them home, but the accident was so serious that everyone assumes they died, though no one knows for sure. You learn in the teaser that even the local children will not set foot onto their land even though it’s out in the country and the properties are huge.

So what do Mulder and Scully do? They go over and knock on the door, of course!

Be warned, this episode is creepy. It’s not really scary, but it’s suspenseful and damned creepy! If you’ve seen it, it was during the episode’s original run or on DVD. The reason being that Fox removed this episode from the syndication package because it pushes the boundaries of network television. It carried a viewer discretion warning and was the only X-Files episode with a TV-MA (mature, ages 17+) rating.

That's a fine head of hair you've got, Mulder!

That’s a fine head of hair you’ve got there Mulder, or are you just happy to see me?!

I initially found it interesting that both of my favourite episodes were one-off stories that didn’t tie into the series’ many long-term story lines. After some thought, it was no surprise at all because the whole “Mulder pursues evidence of aliens” did nothing for me. How many times did he almost have a break-through, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t work out. The proof is destroyed, stolen, fake, or otherwise worthless. You can only do that to viewers so many times because they don’t believe it’ll ever really happen. Indeed, the show in its current form would end if it happened. It was not nearly as bad as Lost, but we knew it was never going to happen.

Still, I’ll have a look at the upcoming mini-series, in no small part because the lone gunmen are back, baby!

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Image credit unknown, though I have to believe it has something to do with Fox Television.

Posted in Television – Review | Leave a comment

Kifli!

This morning, my mother told me that she’s been doing all kinds of cooking for herself, but today she’s make something for me. I tried to get her to change her mind, but there was no use. While it’s good to be determined, she can sometimes be her own worst enemy as her body doesn’t allow her to do what she once could, yet she insists on trying. Although she wouldn’t listen to me, I can take some small solace in her insistence that there’s nothing easier to whip up than her kossuth kifli.

Mmmm mmmm good!

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File: 20150706–103443 5D3 4M6C3324.CR2
EXIF: 5D Mk.III, EF 50mm 1:1.4 @ 1/500, f/2.8, 3200 ISO

Posted in food/drink | Leave a comment

All the Walmarts

The news has been all about how two suspected murder suspects were caught at the Walmart just a few kilometres from where I live. I’m amused by the CBC News because they’ve been reporting the suspects were apprehended at a Niagara Falls Walmart, as if there is more than one Walmart in Niagara Falls.

There isn’t.

Posted in News, Words | Leave a comment

Hello world!

I’ve had alienshore.com since November 1997. I bought a domain because it was some geeky fun, and also because I’d never have to change my e-mail address again. If I was unhappy with my hosting service, I could take my domain and get another one. The same is true with my ISP…if I wanted to switch, my e-mail address would be entirely unaffected.

So the e-mail situation was covered. What should I do with the web site? For a few years, I did very little.

Then came the online journals. I started a journal on paper many years ago but it didn’t work for me because there was no one reading. I still liked the idea so maybe I could give it a try again, but online. I never thought I’d get a large number of readers, but family, friends, and strangers could read if they wanted to. So I put up my first post on January 31, 2000 and Seeking the Alien Shore was born.

It had a rocky start until I figured out what I was doing and found my voice. I used Microsoft Front Page to build the site. It produced garbage HTML, but it did a better job that I could, for a time. Later, I learned more about HTML and wanted to do better. I built an XHTML 1.0 strict template and used Microsoft Expression Web to build my posts and it was good.

It was good until late 2007. There was still a journaling community back then and on one of the mailing lists, someone asked how to get something to work properly with WordPress. They gave a link to their site, and I followed it. I’d heard of WordPress and thought it was a neat idea. It certainly would be convenient to have a nice friendly front-end to enter one’s posts, have them stored in a database, and then displayed to users as they visited. But it seemed very limiting. Following that link was a revelation. The site was beautiful. It wasn’t to my taste, but it didn’t at all look like the cookie-cutter site I expected.

I started reading. Customizing a WordPress site is very different from what I’d done in XHTML but I was determined to learn more about it because I could change the look of the site at any time and the change would affect all of the pages, old and new. My curiosity piqued, I downloaded the software and installed it. I really didn’t think it would replace my site so I put it in a different folder, with a new name.

As sometimes happens, I was completely and utterly wrong. I loved WordPress and couldn’t imagine going back to HTML so after nearly eight years, of Seeking the Alien Shore, I started Seeking Another Alien Shore. With the HTML I knew and some rudiments of PHP programming I learned, I took free WordPress themes and tailored them to my liking. I’m not sure I could build a theme from scratch, but there really is no need. With child themes, I can keep my modifications separate so when themes are updates, I can use them without overwriting my customizations.

That brings us to today, seven years later, and fifteen years after that first HTML post. This time the change wasn’t driven by technology but rather by a few other things. When I started fifteen years ago, I was a lot more free with personal information. Given what’s happened with both government and criminal surveillance of the Internet, I grew more and more uneasy with the information I revealed. I’ve also noticed that more recently, I’ve grown displeased with my tone. The easiest way to change both of these things, to the extent I am able, is to wipe the database and start anew.

I have backups of everything that I’ve written in the past so old posts may appear again if I discuss on a similar topic and want to refer back to what I’ve written. With that possible exception, welcome to the shiny new Third Alien Shore.

Posted in Internet, Me | 2 Responses