Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

2016 Adventures Review

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Getting back to the end of the year again I thought it was time to look back at some of the adventures and share some of my favourite images. It’s become a tradition after 2014 and 2015

Chippewa Falls

Chippewa Falls is just barely off Highway 17 and happens to be the mid-point of the Trans-Canada highway. A little bit of exploration and a little climb over the rocks gets you this view of the small section of the falls.

Magpie Falls

Known for it’s waterfalls, I finally made my way up to Wawa this summer and of course got some photos having a boxing match with the goose. When you tire of that though, a long, dusty road through a field will take you seemingly nowhere until you drop into the canyon where Magpie Falls sits. The size of the falls is impressive and there’s a great viewing platform – but if you’re adventurous you can find a better view.

Wawa Falls

Meanwhile, just outside of the town of Wawa sits Wawa falls. These falls were only a few feet from the road, but from the top were somewhat boring, but after clambering down off the road and along the side of the falls they look much better from the bottom.

Black Beaver Falls

After exploring Wawa, the next day was a train journey into the Agawa Canyon where Black Beaver Falls sits. Water flow was abnormally low this year, so the falls were a little less impressive than normal, in fact Bridal Veil Falls on the other side of the river was almost non-existent. Maybe another time I’ll take the hike in to get a better look.

Agawa Canyon

Luckily there are other attractions in the Agawa Canyon, although I paid for this one. The train only gave us 75 minutes in the park before going back to Sault Ste. Marie and should you miss it the only way home is a sixteen mile hike out to the highway where you can hopefully hitch a ride. There are two primary attractions, each claiming to need 45 minutes walk to view. I managed to get in both – looking at the waterfalls first, then sprinting up 250 vertical feet to get to this lookout and back before the train left without me.

Aubrey Falls

Out in the middle of nowhere lies Aubrey Falls. The area was quite popular amongst the group of seven and the local tourism board had posted a number of painting reproductions next to their inspiration. Taking a look at these falls and the river they sit on I’ve never wanted more to pack up some camping and art gear and wander aimlessly up river for a few weeks.

Aubrey Falls Trees

On the way back to the Jeep from Aubrey Falls I was struck by this scene and how amazing these trees looked – I had to stop for a photo to remember them by.

Tractor at Sunrise

In September I made a trip up North and happened to run across this old tractor sitting in the field at sunrise. I’ve never spent much time on the farm, but I’ve always been fascinated by the hard work that built this country and love seeing the old equipment, particularly when it’s still in running shape or put to regular use.

New Post Falls

I’d been to New Post Falls before this, but this was the first time that there was a safety net to make finding the top of the falls possible. These falls are massive and the ground here was actually vibrating with the waters rush over the edge and the mist was so heavy that your clothes were soaked through in seconds.

Northern Lights

Oddly enough, in all my years of photography I’ve only once taken photos of the night sky and that was to capture a lunar eclipse. The night that I tried it I just happened to capture both a shooting star and the northern lights all in one go. Sometimes you just get lucky like that.

Bear Run

I had some time in Pennsylvania this year and got to explore this set of dozens of tiny little falls on Bear Run leading it’s way down to…

Fallingwater

Fallingwater. Ever since I learned about the house I’ve wanted to go and take in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater for myself and it’s every bit as impressive as it seems in books – assuming you’re a little bit of an architecture nerd like me. Of course, anytime you have a place as heavily photographed as this it’s hard to find a unique view of it, so if you think you’ve seen this before, that’s why.

2015 Recap

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Each year I try to take some time to look over my favourite photos of the past year; typically for a calendar but this year there was no calendar. December simply came and went too quickly and the calendar had gotten a little out of hand. This gets back to the original intent of the calendar though, to share some of my favourite adventures from the past year and some of the tales behind them.

image

It seems I missed half the year because we’re into the first of July before getting to the first of my favourites. I did make up for it though with several great trips in the second half of the year. This trip started with a very early morning hike to this lookout in Killarney park shortly after sunrise. It took screaming at bears through fields and a couple of steep scrambles up the rock face in the dark, but I think this view was worth the trip.

image

Later that morning just before getting back to the truck I stumbled across this car on the trail. I’m curious to know how it came to be there. It sits on a relatively wide and straight stretch of trail quite near the road so my first guess would be that this was actually an early road out of Killarney, but it seems to me the car substantially pre-dates the first official road into Killarney. I had hoped to ask at the park office but was back out before they opened and decided just to push on, but maybe someday I’ll find the history of that car.

image

For years I had heard of the Cup & Saucer trail and been curious, but hadn’t been to Manitoulin Island since I was quite young. The limestone of the escarpment always provides for interesting terrain and being on the highest point of the island just adds to the interest.

image

After hiking past some of the biggest pines left standing in Algonquin Park one can find the reason why there aren’t more of these big pines – the remains of an old logging camp. It was amazing how much detail of the camp the park was able to pull out of what was left of the remains of a few foundations.

image

Hidden in plain sight at the top of the trail was this quiet little branch of the Aux Sables River. There were quite a few people rushing further up river to get a glimpse of the top most of the series of falls at Chutes Provincial Park and in the process walked right over the bridge from which this photo was taken. As nice as it was to relax in the falls further up, this is the photo that sticks in my mind.

image

It was almost an after thought after a morning hike with a friend, but finding myself in Huntsville with a little time to kill I thought it finally time to see what Arrowhead looked like without a couple feet of snow on it. After dodging past some campers and playing hide and seek with a couple deer I found the lookout over this oxbow in the Big East River. As nice as the view was though, I just wanted to be paddling down the river.

image

This was also the year that I decided to find the abandoned town of Depot Harbour. It was strange driving through narrow, barely even there lanes grown over from years of abandonment and seeing next to you neatly organized lots and house foundations. What was once a bustling community was now almost completely absorbed by the bush, the most significant remains being the stone steps up to the now missing church. Of course though, you visit Depot Harbour to see the round house remains and they don’t disappoint.

image

While in the Parry Sound area I also made my way to Killbear Park for the first time. I never did find the ever popular Killbear tree that everyone seems to photograph, but I was surprised by the amount of wildlife. From the bears that greeted me at the entrance to the countless deer that seemed torn between running from the camera or posing for it to the two wolves walking in to the park just after sunset as I was leaving. But the most demanding of photographic attention was this little squirrel that followed me for ten minutes constantly stopping just inches from the camera lens waiting for the shutter.

image

After several failed attempts this was finally the year to make it to the top of ‘The Crack.’ I’d heard about this trail for years and always been told it was quite technical and not to be attempted in wet weather as the rock got too slick. Of course every time I made plans to hike it, usually camping overnight at George Lake, it would pour rain all night leading up to it and all day, or at least long enough to ensure that there wasn’t enough daylight to attempt a trail advertised at six hours.

image

After about two hours hike and leaving behind a pair of less prepared groups along the way we made it to the plateau. It was rather anti-climatic. The view was nice but not great. And then we made it far enough into the clearing to see our destination, still a couple hundred feet over head. The final ascent wove over the rubble of a rock slide right up the middle of the crack itself, nearly straight up at times over boulders the size of cars between the sheer faces of this mountain split in two. The view made it worth the trip though.

image

Just travelling Highway 69 is always an adventure. Checking on the latest in the slow, slow construction project and stepping back in time through the little towns and abandoned hotels and gas bars. One of my favourites seems to be rather popular still as a crack retreat so my stay was brief, but it’s also the home of my favourite character, Graffiti Bot.

image

Every year thousands of tourists flock to Algonquin to take in the fall colours, and occasionally I join them. When that happens though I’m always glad that they get suckered in to the easy to reach and obviously named views leaving the best that the park has to offer quieter for those in the know. The fun of exploring though is knowing that there are even better, even less known spots just waiting to be discovered.

image

Just as the year was closing, a friend and I made an attempt at one last adventure – an overnight camping trip in the snow. The weather report called for minus one overnight and just four inches of snow – great conditions for the fat bikes. Instead, we woke to fourteen inches of snow that forced us to push the bikes most of the way home. There’s a more detailed trip report here.

Making Some Changes

Monday, January 5th, 2015

If you poke your head in here with any regularity, there’s no doubt you’ve noticed that it’s quiet. This whole website has mostly dropped off my radar of late and it shows. What’s happened is that for all intents and purposes Pedachenko Media is now closed and has been for some time.

After honing my skills for several years I was starting to see a shift in the market and my niche was drying up. More and more of the businesses that I enjoy working with were tightening their financial belts. Either I’d have to cast my net through a wider territory to get my ideal jobs, lower my standards to start taking on budget jobs, or partner with some of my peers to make the shift into a higher level of clientelle. I quite enjoy the field and it’s challenges and if it weren’t for the realities of paying my way in this world I’d be satisfied giving my work away without charging – but that’s just not reality. That enjoyment and pride in my work wouldn’t allow me to drop my standards, but to drop my rates to get the budget work and still deliver a product I’d be happy with is a slippery slope leading to an end to this roof over my head – and I’m kind of fond of it. On the other hand, either growing my territory or my scope to take on larger clients would involve a return to those long days that I thought I had left behind. Some might tell you that working 80 and 100 hour weeks is just a part of the game, and at certain times I agree, but it’s not the type of life I want to lead. I have other priorities in my life and returning those to the back burner wasn’t a step I’m willing to take in my life right now. Besides, design by committee sucks the life out of a project and is all too common with those bigger clients.

While pondering this shift I had three large projects in the works for two clients – both of which opted to stop actually paying for the work they were receiving. One simply stopped paying and the two projects for them ground to a halt while doing the collections thing that no one enjoys, and frankly at that point I’m glad to be rid of the stress. The other was truly insulting though as the project was 98% completed when they hired another local firm to steal the code and provide the finishing touches. There’s still a pending copyright infringement investigation in the works there which sadly has the weight to bankrupt both the original client and the secondary firm that stole the code, but at the end of the day it’s such a small scale compared to large pirating and duplicating operations that my case isn’t an RCMP priority.

Finally, as all this was happening I had another opportunity drop itself in my lap that was just to tempting to pass up. And with that, I’ve returned to the world of regular employment and the 9-5. That isn’t to say I won’t take on any new work, but I will be much more particular about what I do tackle and it won’t be my main priority.

So now, what to do with this site? Over time I’ll likely be removing most of the sales related pages and making things a little more personal. I’m going to start using this blog to showcase some of the trips I’m making and things that matter in my life. The main site will still feature some of my prior work and in time some projects I’ve been working on in the background once those are ready for release. In the mean time – what would you like to see more of here?

You May Be Speaking, But is Anyone Listening

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Every Sunday morning Chris Brogan releases a great little email newsletter about business that often gets me thinking – this past Sunday was titled ‘The Rise of the Phoneternet’ and brought to the forefront some ideas that have been rolling around in my mind lately. It’s something you’ve no doubt seen, and maybe even began experiencing, yourself – phones and browsers are taking over much of our internet usage. Chris even mentioned that in writing his morning newsletters he assumes that the average person is reading it on their phone.

And why not? I think we’re entering a new phase in the use of the web. The fascination with the internet is dying, I can’t even remember the last time I just browsed the web with no goal in mind, but the web has become an integral tool in our daily lives. But to become a truly useful tool, it needs to be easy to access, and most of the time going to our desk and turning on the computer isn’t easy. And that’s where phones and tablets come in.

There is some data out there that suggests that mobile browsing will soon eclipse the desktop. Microsoft suggests that will happen sometime in 2014 while The Guardian is already seeing it happen on their site during certain times of the day. I think the true switch is still somewhat further into the future for the average business than these sources would have you believe, but there’s little doubt that mobile access is on your horizon. So what are you doing to capture that audience today?

Recently a local technology business that I frequent decided to start posting 12 daily deals leading up to Christmas. At first I was quite excited about this and thought it was a great move for them. The execution was somewhat lacking though. The deal itself was presented in a PDF file attached to the email. Almost all my email usage today is done by phone, and downloading and opening a large PDF file on the phone is simply awkward (I won’t get into the ‘misuse’ of the PDF format in email here, but would love to know why people insist on PDF-ing everything they email). So this great idea has been all but lost in execution. I opened the first file, but not a single one since then.

How could they have done it? Why not simply insert the deal right into the message body? It’s not the most attractive means (though there are ways to make your email look fabulous – ask me how) but it is useable – and shouldn’t that be the key?

The best message in the world is worthless if no one reads it. Are you doing enough to help people read your message?

Over the next couple days I plan to post a few more articles on how to improve your presence – but if you have any questions you’d like to see addressed – drop me a line.

Rediscovering the Path in the Moonlight

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Sometimes it’s the strangest things that get us re-energized.

Recently I’ve found myself in a bit of a slump creatively and struggling to create the designs that I envision. And it only took one, completely unrelated moment to change that. The other night I was cruising home from a quiet evening with my girlfriend, spinning the pedals on a deserted stretch of road under a full moon. It was one of those bright nights where you don’t need lights to see ahead of you, giving me a great view as two moose slowly ambled across my path. It instantly reminded me one of the reasons I love living in this little corner of the world, but also revitalized my creative side and set me back on the path.

What moments revitalize you?

Connect

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

I was reading a post this morning by Chris Brogan where he briefly introduced an idea called “green blocking.” It wasn’t the focus of the post, more of just a passing comment, but it was the part that got me thinking.

According to Chris, Green Blocking is a term for setting aside a specific block of time in your work day just to contact people and interact. To be human. There’s no question the world is a changing place and that human touch is something that is disappearing from it, making that connection even more valuable. What about in your business though?

If you’re in retail, chances are you’re getting pressure from low-priced box stores and online retailers. And often it’s difficult to compete with them purely on price, but should that even be your goal? The boxes and online outlets can’t offer the same quality of service you can so why not improve on that by taking some time to reach out to your customers without a sales pitch? I know I regularly pay more for quality service, I can’t be the only one.

The same can be said for most service businesses, whether dealing with other businesses or directly with the end consumer. In most cases here you are selling knowledge, and in most cases there is someone else out there with more of it than you. But you have a relationship with your customer that no one else has, why not strengthen that?

I’ve long believed that the ultimate goal for service businesses should be a close relationship that makes you more of a trusted partner than a supplier. So why not reach out to your customer just to see how they are doing and what challenges they are facing without the goal of making the sale? If you better understand your customers challenges maybe you already have or can develop a solution that you can offer them. It’s an opportunity to make a new sale that you wouldn’t otherwise know about and to strengthen your relationship with the customer, but it came about from a simple human gesture, not from trying to make a sale.

In my personal life, a small group of friends and I exchange letters. It’s not always on a regular basis as life is hectic, and they don’t always see a quick reply, but it is an effort to reach out to someone and let them know they are important. In a world of thousands of friends online with whom you rarely make a real connection, a simple hand written letter is a real shock, but a great one.

In my business, one of my goals is to have a closer relationship with my clients, to really work closely with them to solve their problems. It’s something I know I can improve on, but that is important enough that I intend to make the effort. Green Blocking seems like just one more technique for me to reach that goal.

What about you? How do you reach out to your friends and clients to show you value them?

Overcome By Events

Friday, May 25th, 2012

So if you may permit me to geek out for a moment, and if you will not I suggest you’re on the wrong site, I’ve been rather caught up by the reimagined version of the show Battlestar Galactica. For my purposes here you need not know the details, but in this world a character presents the acronym ‘OBE’ or ‘Overcome By Events.’ Apparently it’s commonly used by deep space pilots…but I’d suggest it’s pretty common here in our world in the business realm.

*End Geek Speak*

Have you ever had one of those days/weeks/months where nothing in particular is wrong, but the sum total of a million little things has you so far behind schedule that you wonder if you’ll ever get on top of it again? I think it’s far more common than any of us would like to admit and I know I’m finding myself more than a little OBE right now.

Working long days to meet a tight deadline for one client meant that I lost track of another clients project and felt that dreaded, cool breeze of a deadline sailing by. It’s something that I hate to do – but again, Overcome By Events. Maybe there’s a valuable lesson in there about only pleasing so many people in a day or over extending one self, but I haven’t the time to think about that. However the one sure moral of the story is that while I’d love to take on your new project and make it work for you, realistically we’re looking at mid-June before I’ll have the time.

But to steer somewhere closer to the topic of this rant, what can we do when finding ourselves Overcome By Events? It’s more than a little counterintuitive, but I find it best to take some time off. For me, spending a couple days out bike packing with your biggest concern being where to find food and a place to sleep is refreshing and sort of like a mini reset button on life. I’ll come back with a new perspective and ambition to tackle those things that were bogging me down before and find time for other important things in life (like cleaning this office, yikes).

And so this weekend I plan to cast aside my OBE-ness, at least for awhile, with a couple days riding along the Grand River with a friend. I don’t know where exactly we’ll end up, but that’s a big part of the appeal of these trips, discovering the unknown. That and I’ll be testing out a great, new solar powered bike light – here’s hoping it lives up to the promises.

So what do you do to remedy a bad case of OBE?