MY FINAL BIRTHDAY PRESENT...
On Saturday evening, my parents and I (and my 1/24th scale Maisto "Assembly Line" series Ferrari 550 Maranello Berlinetta model car, which I brought along for no particular reason) went over to my brother's apartment in the Elmvale area of south-central Ottawa. It looked a whole lot bigger than it did the last time I was there, September 2nd, when I, and several of his and my sister's friends, helped him schlep stuff up from a U-Haul truck into his apartment. As a general home decorating tip, the lack of piles of large boxes in the middle of a room greatly assists in creating the illusion of space.
We were there to eat fajitas and to see his apartment uncluttered, but also to see his new cat, Reg (Reggie), which he had acquired from the Humane Society the Monday before. Reg is a medium-haired cat, mostly black, with a white "beard" and a few other white patches of fur in an arrangement very similar to Sam, our half-Labrador dog. Also, unlike our own cat, Ember, Reg is very much a "lap cat" and liked to jump right up into my lap (and claw his way right up my sweater), especially when I was in the middle of eating my fajitas.
My sister, Alison, and her boyfriend were also there, and they brought along my niece, Gen, who, at the age of just three months and a week, is already teething. She's not quite full-on babbling yet, but she certainly was making a lot of noises that were sort of like crying but happy. She's also been relatively easy on my sister at night, sometimes sleeping for a full eight hours. My sister was complaining that she's more likely to be woken up in the middle of the night by their Bengal cat, Maya, than by the baby. I tried introducing Gen to the wonders of Ferrari, but she didn't seem to be too thrilled or excited. She'll soon learn to be in awe of the prancing horse logo. I'll ensure it.
They finally were able to give me the birthday present that was a joint gift from Alison, Nick, and John (in Vancouver). They did that for me at Christmas, and the gift was a PlayStation 2. My sister was going to give it to me the previous Sunday at brunch at Broadway Bar & Grill on Prince of Wales and Fisher, but she forgot (well, she does have to get the baby ready to travel now). The extra week gave me a lot of time to figure out what it probably was... my first thought that it might be an X-Box, but, as much as I would love to own the Project Gotham Racing games for their Ferrari content (though the next generation of Gran Turismo games on the PlayStation will finally have a couple of cars from the big F), I'm still getting a lot of play value from my PlayStation 2 and didn't think that an X-Box would be a reasonable thing to expect. Then I thought it might be a new computer, since the Dell I use is 6 years old now and can't run most modern games, but then my father, who had taken a sales seminar for his job, tried to sell me on the idea of buying a new Dell, and, using my amazing Sherlock Holmes... in the 22nd Century... powers of deduction, figured out that my father probably already knew what I was getting and, if it was a computer, he wouldn't suggest I buy one myself. The only logical candidate remaining was a digital camera, since I had hijacked my mother's Ricoh Caplio camera, a present from one of her friends in England, a lot, especially since I became a Flickr member, and had even given it a near death experience when it got soaked as I walked home from the bus on Canada Day evening. I figured that they'd probably think that I could use a digital camera of my own.
Was I right?
Yesiree bob. A Kodak EasyShare C643 6.1 megapixel digital camera with 3.0x optical zoom. They also got me a memory card with 2 Gigabytes of storage capacity, good for some 1800 or so big pictures (a lot more if I take smaller-sized photos) or, best of all, 85 minutes or so of 640 by 480 (near standard television resolution) video, a lot better than the 320 by 240 resolution video I was getting from the Caplio. And the video files are in Quicktime, so they can be uploaded directly to YouTube, no problem. The only drawback is the batteries seem to last only about 15 to 20 minutes of non-stop video shooting, so, if I was planning on shooting any homemade feature films, I'd need one of those 48-piece "Club Packs" of President's Choice AA Alkaline batteries from Loblaws or Independent supermarkets. I do want to shoot a few review segments, but I'll probably just use an A/C adaptor.
Here are a couple of practice videos that I've already uploaded to YouTube.
Me, riding the long escalator between the first and third storeys at Bayshore Shopping Centre in western Nepean.
My two barking dogs, Luke and Sam, barking at my father pulling in my driveway. (Luke is half-Golden Retriever, a quarter Husky, and a quarter miscellaneous, and Sam is half-Black Labrador and half "misc".) My mother makes a cameo appearance, and I do too, in the mirror, though it's so freaking dark that you can't see much of anything (the sensitivity levels that work fine with the still pictures aren't functional for video).
While I won't, by any means, let my Nikon F65 film camera gather dust, as I still prefer the look of film to digital, especially in the shadows, and as it's still my only option if I need a serious zoom, it's certainly a notch above the digital camera that I was using before, and I am very grateful to my siblings for giving me such a nice gift, even if it was three weeks late. (Actually, it's nicer to get gifts spaced out a bit... makes the celebration seem like it's spread out a lot longer.)
Come to think of it, because both my parents work late most of the week, I never got a proper birthday cake...