I risked my life to save a zoom lens at Websters Falls, Ontario

I got a few new lenses for my 20D over the last few weeks. I got a Sigma 28-70mm f2.8 at Henry’s in downtown Toronto for a really good price. Jake also bought me a macro lens and a 50mm f1.8 as a surprise last week. I’ve always liked macro photography, so I was going to give the macro lens a try and return it and the 50mm if I didn’t like it and get a 50mm f1.4.

I set out Saturday morning with my 3 lenses prepared to seek out some of the waterfalls in the Hamilton area. I had one in particular I wanted to see, and I figured I would just wander my way around until I had to head out to the airport to pick up Jake. The first place I visited was by accident. I’ll have to go back and find out what the name of it is. I stopped and took some pics with all 3 lenses…and I found I didn’t like the macro so much. Maybe just because it was cold, and I had no patience, but I was having a lot more fun with the other two. I even got out my Gorillapod and used it! 🙂

I packed up and headed toward Dundas and ended up at Webster’s Falls. I was surprised at how big it was!

Webster’s Falls, Ontario

I started walking down the path and found a small clearing where I could probably get a good shot. I climbed down a bit and reached a tree that was really gnarly (dude) and thought I could get a really cool picture of it with the waterfall in the background using the 50mm. I thought it was a good idea at the time. Turns out it wasn’t.

I sat down next to the tree trunk and took the zoom lens off and put on the 50mm. I had the zoom lens in my hand and I had just put the cap (on the end that goes on the camera) and it slid out of my hand. Down the slope about 7 feet, across the ledge clearing about 2 feet as it slowed down….then hit another trunk and bounced over the ledge. I was yelling, “Please stop! Please stop!” but obviously to no avail. I scrambled down the slope to the ledge and held on to the bleeping tree stump and peered over the side. It was a good 25 foot drop down to the next place I could stand, and from there it sloped about 40 feet to the water at about a 70 degree angle.

My favorite four-letter word started streaming out of my mouth over and over again. I saw a Dasani bottle lying on the ground and I put it on top of the bleeping stump so I could identify it from down below. I felt like doing a CSI trick and bouncing something off the trunk to see where it would land hoping it would tell me where the lens was too.

I walked around the falls, hoping for a way to get down on the side I was on, but that was impossible. The other side was accessible using steps so I went down them, cursing the whole way, looking at my watch because I now had 25 minutes to find my lens before I had to head to the airport. I got down to the other side and surveyed the water for a way across it without getting wet. Did I mention it was snowing by now? Only a little, but it was cold. After about 10 minutes I gave in, there was no way across without walking through the water.

I found the shallowest and shortest distance and waded through the water. OMFG it was COLD. My feet stiffened up right away. Thankfully the water was below the knees. I don’t think I could or would have done it otherwise. I made it to the other side and was patting myself on the back for putting the Dasani bottle on top of the stump on the ledge. There’s no way I would have been able to identify it without that. Wow, it was up really far!!

I climbed up the slope, which was really muddy and slippery. There were a lot of leaves and sticks and I kept sliding down, but I was making progress. I made it up to the top and looked up — I was to the right of the stump. Not bad. It only took me about 5 minutes to find it. I went directly under the stump and looked up. It likely bounced off the stump and hit a big tree and then in a pile of leaves.

And there it was.

Found my lens!

“Thank goodness.” was all I could muster. It was a little dirty, and there was a small scratch on it, but it was otherwise undamaged. (Incidentally, this is the last picture ever taken with my 50mm, but I’ll get to that in a minute.)

Yay, it doesn’t look broken!

But then I remembered that it might not even work. I propped myself up and switched lenses. This time being very careful not to drop either one. At first, it wasn’t autofocusing, but the drop must have turned on the manual focus. I switched it to Auto and it worked!! Here’s the view from where I was, with the zoom lens.

Yikes, this is scary!

Scary. What the hell am I doing up here? I better get down.

I slid down the slope, which was the only way to get down safely, and waded across the water back to safety. I was now cold, muddy and soaked. I washed my hands off in the water and headed up to the car. It was time to go.

Now, during this whole thing I was shaking and while it may be from the cold, I don’t think so. I was seriously freaked that I just lost my brand new lens, and wading through the water probably didn’t help. I looked back at where I came from. The long tree lying down points up to where the stump is that had the Dasani bottle on it, which you can’t see because it’s so small. Where the rock meeds the leaves (next to the tree in the middle top) is where the lens was, and you can even see where I slid down.

The slope

I certainly got a few odd looks on my way back to the car.

I got back to the car and searched my pockets. Oh no, I didn’t lose my keys did I? No, they’re right here. Whew.

Wait. Oh shit.

I lost my 50mm.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

At this point, I was NOT going to go back and look because I didn’t know where I lost it, and I wasn’t going back through the water again. Thankfully, the 50mm isn’t nearly as expensive as the zoom lens. I’m also very thankful that I didn’t bother to take the macro lens with me on this little excursion — it was going back to the store for a new 50 anyway.

Lesson learned: Don’t change lenses near cliffs. Zip up your frickin’ pockets.

Pimping my new techie blog – Tips and Tricks

I run an IT services business in Hamilton, Ontario.  One of my current challenges surrounds making contacts and finding work, mostly due to the fact that I’ve just moved to Hamilton and just started the business.  Not to mention I’m not from Ontario and I don’t know a lot of people to start with!

I’m doing several things to get out into the community business-wise.  I’m going to a lot of networking events, getting in touch with local business owners, and contacting local IT companies.  I’m also advertising online in a few places.

That’s not enough.  I was with a large company that raised 160 million dollars due to their strategies building websites; why not take what I learned from there apply what I can to my own business website?  I’m not a marketing major, or even a minor for that matter, but I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, and what it takes to be successful (and not!) in the web world.

Let’s combine that with my skills as an IT Goddess.  🙂  I managed a high-availability production environment for over the same highly successful company.  We had clustered web servers, redundant everything, blades, virtualization, you name it!

So, I love technology and I love the web.  One of the things I do when I’m working with technology is keep detailed notes.  When I come across something that’s particularly frustrating or interesting, I keep it filed away for future reference.  Instead of filing it away, I’ve created a tech tips and tricks section for my business website.  It’s basically a blog, and I have a ton of filed away stuff I can put up on it, and it will provide some useful information on my business website.  Having your contact info and what you do is just not enough.

Tech Tips and Tricks at Picobits.com

Archives are back, and I’m happy!

It took me the better part of a day, and I will have to pay for it by working into the night, but it’s done. With Google cache and the WayBack Machine, I’ve been able to get most of my archived posts back, and then some. I’m sure I’m still missing a few entries here and there, but I was able to go all the way back to my very first post. It was actually a little surreal taking a little trip backwards in time. Kind of like watching the last 7 years of my life in rewind.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Randall of BigWhiteGuy in Hong Kong for being the one to get me started in blogging. I don’t think he even said anything to encourage it, but reading his blog and interacting with him after I moved to Canada made me feel like there was more I could do than sit and wait for my permanent residence. He also introduced me to Wide Mouth Mason. 🙂

Meet Zoe, our Quaker Parrot

The newest member of our family is Zoe. She’s a quaker parrot.


We had been discussing the possibility of getting another pet. They want a dog, but for me that is out of the question. I’m allergic to cats. We already have a ball python (Tony) and a leopard gecko (Spot), and I wasn’t too keen on the idea of another pet that I’d have to take care of. I half-heartedly suggested a bird, and I was promised that I wouldn’t be the only one taking care of it if we got one. (So far, so good, I should note.)

We searched online for a good bird to get. We wanted a larger bird, a smart one and preferably one that has the ability to talk. We didn’t find anything definitive, but it seemed to be that the cockatiel would be a good option. We visited at least 4 or 5 different pet stores. Some of the pet stores we went to were really quite sad. The birds were miserable and really shy. We found one cockatiel that was really friendly. The staff was amazing at the mall store, and I was surprised because it was one of those pet stores in a mall, so we told them we’d think about it and come back.

We had one more store on our list to see. They claimed to have a bunch of different kinds of birds. When we got there, they had an Amazon Green and two Quaker Parrots in the front window. They also had about 4 or 5 cockatiels inside, as well as a ton of budgies, finches, and parakeets. It turns out the cockatiels weren’t too friendly, but the quaker parrots and amazon green were okay. The girl that was helping us told us she had another quaker parrot in the back that she was just playing with, so we asked if we could hold that one too. It turns out, the girl was actually going to keep this parrot for herself but it turns out she can’t.

As soon as she brought it out and we held her, we were in love. She was so friendly and calm. Quaker parrots do this little purring-like thing, and it’s so cute. We melted.

Zoe is 3 months old and we have dubbed her female. We won’t know until we get her tested — you have to DNA test quaker parrots to find out what sex they are. She has quite the personality! She’s very cuddly and loves to sit on anyone’s shoulder. We just have to work on training her to NOT poop there, too. 🙂

Slowly, but surely

I’ve managed to get back to my old design…mostly.  I’m still working on a few tweaks, but it’s good enough for now.  I couldn’t use my old WordPress template (“Barum”, I think, with modifications) because too many changes have been made to WordPress since I last used it.  It was about time I upgraded anyway.  This time I’m just using one of the default templates, and of course K2.  There seem to be some inconsistencies between the CSS and the classes the template is using, so I’m trying to correct those issues.

I also found most of my old posts via the Way Back Machine (thanks to Troy, for the reminder!) and eventually I’ll get them back into the blog.  Not that anyone but me cares, but you know, it’s the sentimental value.  🙂

Everything is gone.

All my posts. Everything from the last 7+ years. Gone.

My host sent an email out in mid-October saying they were rebuilding the server and they were A) advising everyone to create a ticket to have their site temporarily moved to another server while the server was being rebuilt, and B) to back up their data. I did both. I wondered why they would need ME to create a ticket to have them move my site, but I figured, hey, they’re cheap, so you get what you pay for. Their support is responsive, and their features are fantastic, but the reliability is crap.

I’ve been meaning to switch to a new host for a while but haven’t had time. My @goaliegirl email has been intermittently down for months, and inoperable for a few weeks. Thank goodness for gMail and my IT Consulting site (hosted at Pair). So yesterday I sit down to take the plunge. I couldn’t log in to my account. Nothing is working. Huh? I log in to the host’s support ticket system to create a ticket and I notice that my previous ticket is still open. Odd. I open it and realize they updated the ticket after they moved my site saying that I was past due on the invoice (it’s yearly). I never got an email or any other kind of notification saying an invoice was due, nor did I ever get notified that it was past due. I surmise my account has been canceled.

I sent a request to them to reactivate my account due to the fact I was never informed of a payment being due.

I signed up for a new host (Bluehost) and started preparing to transfer my data. I had a backup anyway so it was no big deal. Or so I thought. Apparently my backup was corrupted. Or something. I only have about 8 months of data in my database file.

Long story short, even after paying my invoice and getting my account re-activated, my data isn’t there.

I’m not going to dwell on this. There’s nothing else I can do about it. I’ve tried everything to get it back. Re-download from the old site, look through every single backup I have…

I figure this is a good time for a clean slate. I don’t really give a hoot about any SEO value on this site so all my content that’s missing can just return 404’s. Or I can 301 to this nice post. 🙂

Moral of the story: You get what you pay for.