New body new me

So I ended up choosing a new FE body. And then I chose another FE body in the time period it took for me to make a draft. And now I’m questioning my decision making abilities.

TLDR- I chose the a7c as a next body shooting primarily from an a99ii; I love the AF on the a7c and compact format when combined with smaller lenses; I miss the handling of a big DSLR style body in the a99ii. But then I found an a9 mark I and now I have two new FE bodies and had only intended to have one.

I thought it would be interesting to put some thoughts on shooting with modern FE body from the perspective of an A mount shooter. My favorite body by far has been the a99ii- I started off with an a100 and slowly built a system of A mount. I recently picked up the a7c body after much deliberation about which FE body to go with- in mind were the a7iii, a7c, a7riv and a9 ; the a7iii and a7c open box prices and used a9 mark i were within my budget- the a7riv used was just outside of budget. Up for consideration were the following;

a) battery- the a7 mark i W battery is atrocious, and I can’t believe I tolerated it for so long in the a6000 , especially knowing Sony had the amazing M battery for decades- I’ve been using M batteries all the way back to the time of the DSC-f505/f7171/R1/F828, and it has served me well with the a99i/ii/a850/a77ii/a700….you get the picture. I love the M battery. Great duration and no need to constantly worry about battery swapping/draining

b) handling- this is perhaps the biggest problem of the a7c- it handles…like the a6000 but worse so because the body thickness means the grip is less pronounced; the a7iii and a7iv have much more defined grips and even more so with the a99ii. What was a bit of a pleasant surprise was that the a7c handles actually quite nicely with the smaller lens combos – the kit 28-60, 24-70 f4 Z, and 12-24 f4G are great on it; with bigger lenses, its much better to use one hand to grip the lens and the other hand more or less is just firing the shutter button – on the a99ii I would have been able to hand hold singly some lens combos- the 50 1.4 FE Z in particular does not feel as comfortable compared to the 50 f1.4 SAL Z combo. Its also a bit of a shame there is no vertical grip for this camera- it adds a lot of handling to the a7i so it handles bigger lenses better. I never really needed it on my a-mount cameras as much- they were beefy enough grip wise to handle many of the big lenses easily. Some of the vertical grips were a little crazy- the a99i vertical grip houses 2 extra batteries on top of the internal battery and it became crazy heavy.

c) joystick- one of my biggest worries- the a99ii joystick is used quite a lot by me; the lack of joystick was a concern. Most of my shooting is fast moving people and so I did a lot of testing of the lock on AF to see how good it would be- its certainly not something that the a99ii excels at- I primarily move the AF point to preferred place and then shoot. Here though, I struggled to choose between the a7iii, and a9i in particular – knowing that it had slightly better lock on AF than the a7iii and perhaps similar to the a9 i made me feel more comfortable shooting without a joystick- I ended up choosing right for my type of shooting- I leave it on center AF and then lock AF, and then recompose. What is really awesome is that I just hold the AF-on button for locking and then recompose as I want- great for moving subjects- and the AF on is sticky as heck. The a99ii and definitely the a7i do not have the ability to do so. I’m also used to not having a joystick on the a7i but its also a horrible camera for AF- the a99i even with its limited center based AF points and AF-D system is better for me than the a7i. I got to try out the a7iv after using the a9 and a7c, and the joystick is for sure a step up if I was shooting with move AF point around and then shoot; but with Real Time AF now, the joystick really doesn’t get a lot of use- I center AF and then recompose and ….now its not really leaving me wanting.

d) IQ – I’m more or less happy with the IQ on the a99ii- it was limiting on the a99 i with low light shooting with the older sensor and the translucent sensor- ISO 6400 was pushing the noise smudging in JPEGS; in the a99 ii, I don’t pay attention to the ISO at all – its great. I haven’t really done a head to head with the a7c and a99ii but it wasn’t a big factor for me. I don’t really feel the 33mp bump to the a7iv is a bige change from the a7c/a9 24mp; but I have heard advantages of the newer sensor being able to pull higher DR from an image in the iv….I think these are little quibbles that I won’t notice myself, but I’m sure the discerning photographer and pro shooter would be more likely to care. The stacked sensor first generation in the a9 i especially seems to be problematic in that regard, and it gets a DR downvote compared to its other peers; the a9ii and a1 seem to have fixed this.

e) build quality- the a99i/ii/a850/a77ii/a700 are tanks to me esp. compared to other enthusiast cams like the a7 i and a6000; I wanted something similar and the a7c is a solid block of magnesium. Its great and feels great. The a9i feels like a freaking tank. Its on par with the a99ii/i, but maybe not to the level of the a850 body. TBH the a7c while not a pro cam body, feels solid. I’m not really feeling its a non pro body.

f) viewfinder- one of the more contentious points of the a7c is the tiny viewfinder- smaller than the a6000s and a77iis EVF; I was willing to go with it because I liked the different fully articulated LCD and having the EVF on the side for a different shooting experience. Its small. It feels like a giant step up going back to any other EVF. It feels like my Panasonic ZS200 viewfinder- nice that its there but its not a joy to shoot with. You have to squint. And now that I have an a9 i, the viewfinder is a moot problem. I do feel like the a7c is too small for regular usage, and the solution was not to go buy two bodies. But here I am.

g) lack of dual dials- I know Sony could have put a front dial on this cam. There is space. I think it was just limited because they didn’t want it to eat into their other systems. I shoot primarily A and S mode so I don’t really need a second dial as much. When I think of another similar priced small body, the a6600, its rather bizarre that Sony continues to hamper their “pro” APSC body and not give it an extra dial. The a7c actually having that rear dial plus exposure wheel is pretty doable for handling. I probably would have preferred that exposure wheel to be reassignable like in the a7iv but the controls are pretty decent on the a7c despite fanboys being in uproar over it.

Reflections after a month- I’ve taken this a7c and 24-70F4 as my only cam for J’s wedding – deciding on this was a little tough because I certainly have more capable lenses and bodies (questionable on bodies)- especially with low light indoor shots, I would have preferred a wide fast prime, and outdoors I would have preferred a tele zoom. However, there was also the possibility of a hike, and I definitely did not want to haul anything heavy for that- while I like to think I’m a big dude a big cam combo would be no deal, I know on long hikes every weight matters, and heavy combos would also limit how much use I would have. I also felt an overall medium range zoom was more useful than a prime or tele or ultra wide. I missed the tele zoom on the actually ceremony for sure, but also, the point of the wedding was to enjoy it rather than be the official photographer. I also debated the tripod- choosing the Velbon cube ultra portable tripod vs the Peak Design tripod Al edition was tough- I had just started getting hyped over the Peak Design with its very solid and stable design- however despite the unique low negative space portable design, it was still big and heavy, especially compared to the Velbon cube- quite possibly one of the best travel tripods I’ve encountered- table top tripod size with about half the height of a full tripod. In the end I was happy with the combo- very light, very reliable AF, and the tripod was so small it came with me everywhere and was so helpful for group photos – especially for formal wear situations, I would not have been wanting to lug a heavy camera combo and a heavy camera bag- it all fit in my Fossil camera bag. Nice. I’m definitely tempted/likely to buy a fuller sized FE body at some point- the a9 mark I comes to mind, but this will fit nicely in my camera line up. I’m especially happy with the full articulated screen- for group portraits its really helpful to have the LCD screen there. It’s really interesting seeing my first digicam, the DSC-F77 and its “prime” lens set up compared to the a7c here; obviously apples to oranges, but an interesting journey in IQ and handling, and general expectations in photos; going from any kind of rechargeable battery that did not need AA batteries to the monstrous Z battery in stamina, charging over USB; actually liking external chargers (internal seemed more convenient to me at the time); being able to use any charger as opposed to a proprietary to the model charger tip; being able to autofocus to a specific point; tracking AF; shooting with direct flash; ISO above 200 being un-usable to 6400 plus being clean- but there are some pluses in the beginning- far more interesting camera designs, rapid development in technology so ever more exciting hardware being released. The last point is probably my favourite part in that time era. Camera updates now are far and few between in excitement. While I’m pretty blown away by the features of the a7c and a9 compared to the a99ii, I’m not having a revolutionary update feel on this.

So the a9 came my way entirely unplanned. It was my first choice for FE body upgrades but in a used format; what I ended up finding was that the used body a9 were the same price as the a7c in open box and so I felt that getting like new with full in store warranty was a better option with many of the benefits I was seeking- build quality, AF, battery life. So getting a used a9 was a gamble that was too close to that price to feel like it was worth it. So I was looking at open box items on LondonDrugs’ website and I found an open box model with a significant discount- 45% off MSRP. And then I contemplated. It was sold out online and not showing in stores, so I was pretty ok with it, but then I called a store for fun and low and behold there was one in stock. Now the difficulty in the decision was there. I definitely did not feel a need for another FE body- the a7c was pretty awesome overall, save for handling with a few choice lenses- the 50mm f1.4 Z and 70-200 f4 in particular. I figured I would go to the store and check it out first, but knew that I would probably not say no once I had it. This was because I had quite a fond feeling to the a9 series in particular when it was announced-seeing Sony go toe to toe with the legendary Canon EOS 1D X and Nikon D5 was pretty incredible and I remember being impressed both with the reviews, and the MSRP. I had subsequently handled an opne box a9 II before but it was at a fairly small discount and way way above my range of what I felt comfortable spending on a body. So finding this in a demo/open box condition at this price was pretty neat. The other conundrum though was this was at the new price of the a7 IV which had just been released. Of course there are all sorts of new updates, and I had previously made a decision that the updates were not worth the jump for me from the a7c and a7 III price range. That NEX-5 was such a neat invention when I first saw it. It was mind blowing coming from my d90 DSLR to seeing this itty mirrorless body. Later on I would realize that AF and kit lens are pretty rough and it would not be a regular part of my kit. The d90 still ran circles around it in terms of IQ and handling; and the menu based OS was horrible. And no control dials. I do think about getting an APSC mirrorless body in modern tech like an a6600, but the difference in size with the a7c is minuscule and the a7c offers better features (except for handling). I would love to see the the a6600 it’s my 18-105 G f4 one day though.

The a9 I is still an incredible camera 5 years after its debut- its bigger issues have been the low dynamic range because of the stacked sensor as noted. While these issues have been rectified to some extent in newer stacked sensor designs in the a9 II, a1, z9 and r3 bodies, they are much more in cost than the clearance price of the a9. Another issue is the older algorithms for AF acquisition IQ – the a7 IV takes much of what has been learned in the a1 and so it can be smarter in recognizing subjects in challenging situations. The a7iv is also able to AF in lower light -4ev vs -3ev. Updates on video are also there that the a9 I does not have- i.e. RealTime AF in video and flipout LCD that videographers tend to prefer. Despite this, the body that is purpose built for AF above all things is what enticed me for the a9 body. The stacked sensor has a faster sensor readout and generally eliminates the problems faced with electronic shutters- rolling shutter and banding; the electronic shutter allows for silent shutting, a huge difference from my loud a-mount bodies. The stacked sensor also allows for faster AF calculations per second, helping with more accurate tracking- and also blackout free EVF so you can track without losing the subject in between frames. Pure FPS also allows for better burst support, again for sports/action. The bigger concerns I have going with this are the IQ and more intelligent AF in more modern AF systems, but the a9 is still able to hold its own. I’m reading higher hit rates in burst, which is where this is supposed to excel and take a specialty role amongst its brethren. All in all, I’m pretty happy about finding this body at this price; it also handles well with the 50mm f1.4 Z and 70-200 f4, the two lenses I felt were a mismatch with the a7c. I’m likely to get the vertical grip VG-c3em to help with handling with big lenses but this works well on its own. Overall, I quite love the a9, and I think its the heritage of the 9 series that makes me excited to shoot with it. I don’t think the a7iv, even as a smarter camera, would be as interesting for me to shoot with, especially since I have the a7c in conjunction. Its pretty crazy to see how different they are compared to the a7 mark i- I definitely did not see myself going this way gear wise when I landed that ultra cheap/steal of a deal demo edition. I really wish the a7 had the battery life- I can live with the subpar AF and first gen IQ mirrorless sensor, but the horrible life of the W battery really holds it back.

What else is new? Gym stuff has been pretty exciting- I’ve now just switched to repping my previous somewhat max on the new barbell- 390lbs including bar for 16 sets of 5 reps. I dunno if its counted as cheating if I am using alternative grip/lifting straps/lifting belt, but I see plenty of big lifters using that so …whatevs. Feels good. Bench has been great- I managed to hit a 330lbs bench press PR and seem to somewhat be consistent in hitting a 305 lb max after hitting my 8×8 full ROM bench. I’ve been pretty happy that I have been able to hit full ROM after the realization that I was doing somewhat half reps since getting back into bench press last year. And newest to my gym conquests has been being able to hit an 8×8 full ROM (mostly) with the 315 lbs three plate squat and then full ROM (mostly) 390lb max squat. I’ve been using the bench as my threshold for hitting parallel on my squat after being concerned with ego lifting and half reps. It was pretty difficult before when I first tried the bench, which really speaks how low I have not been going and barely squeezed out 4-5 reps per set. This time I went in seeing what it would be like with 8×8 and it was great. I like to finish 8×8 and then go heavy/clean to see how heavy I can get but have fun with the reps/set for less pressure.

Yours truly enjoying G’s home gym. I definitely will get a gym like this in our next home- it was perfectly complimented with a full cage and Blitz air bike. The cage is obvious and a given- most of my training focuses on strength in the squat/deadlift/bench. But the bike was really nice. I would have been die hard tredmill before the pandemic, but now that I have embraced winter running, I’m much less inclined to want a treadmill- outside is just much more stimulating than staring at a digital number moving. The cardio then lies in a spin bike or a rower- and I never really got a chance to connect on a rower; and spin while fun with the Peloton app, did not feel as engaging at the full arm and leg movement with the Blitz air bike. I love that full body burn in a short period of time. I could see it as a add on after a lift session to really complete the day.

Fringe kids festival- dude is teaching circus tricks to a bunch of kids. It was a hot day and a fun day for the kids.

Work has been great. We have started to get some momentum with the new office space and I have really enjoyed my time in office- so far I am not fully back in, but its been pretty nice so far working in person after years of remote work. The new office space is really filling out to my liking- I managed to find two nice pieces of furniture in particular- a demo Morris real pine wood desk from Crate and Barrel and a metal shelf open Ross box shelf from Structube; the desk was nice- I didn’t really want just any random particle board desk and I was hard pressed to choose a corner desk/hutch as I had in my old office. They all seemed just….ok. Nothing special. Hunting old office surplus stores also made me feel a little gross. I dunno why. I shop used equipment all the time. The Morris was just nice- like a desk I could pass along to next of kin sort of thing. The Ross shelf was a filler- I wanted some height and storage that the hutch I used to have provided but now no longer had with the Morris desk choice. The Ross is nice and deep and offers some nice height as well; and metal to boot, no particle board here. Unfortunately, its poorly designed- assembly requires you scrape the pieces together in an awful scratch/gouging movement. But its done. Everything is nice and assembled – I just need a toy shelf I think. The window is something of a bane- it looks great to have natural light, but I also have concerns about making video calls and being able to see my screen with the backlighting.

I’ve been doing some interesting things with the iPad- it was never a device I was super keen on. I thought the idea of a tablet was cool but I didn’t really catch full tablet fever since they started circulating. My first tablet experience was the Blackberry Playbook- as a BB fan boy it was my pleasure to come up with any reason why it was a better purchase than the first and second gen iPad; mostly my arguments stemmed on the 7 inch screen being more useful than a 10 inch screen because it attracted too much attention- it as a weird time where tablets were attention grabbing items and there was some validity with that with me catching transit for college. I did like the dual stereo speakers that were quite good with EQ. The touch edges were weird but workable- the overall OS was good but the apps were just lacking. Some major ones were just missing. And it didn’t help that tablets were hitting fire sales everywhere, which is what I got mine from. Essentially app developers stopped developing for Playbook and it was toast (like Palm’s OS). I had a similar experience with my first tablet (somewhat) the Nokia n800 internet tablet thing- cool device; stereo speakers; limited OS and no app support. A few years later, I did quite catch on with Sony’s Z3 series of phones and tablet compact (8 inches) and it was pretty good I must admit. I never did use that device as a work device though – Android was good with app support but it never caught on with me for productivity. Probably the best implementation of a tablet and productivity though was the Surface series of tablets- I had the RT and Surface 2 and they were both excellent with full blown Office…..however that was all they were good for. Once you left the desktop mode and needed a mobile experience, the OS was janky and…no app support again. So when W needed a new tablet for work I was not overly excited but picked up the 7th gen iPad and 5th gen IPad mini for her to work with. And she didn’t use them because pandemic. So they sat around unused mostly for 2 years until now when I suddenly realized I had an ultraportable solution in my hands. Recently I have managed to install my user profile and apps and synced the iPad and my work/personal phones and iOS really makes it helpful for notifications on important things like iMessage and phone calls for work. I bought a few things to enhance the iPad experience. I found a ZAGG folio gen 1 keyboard case for cheap – its cheap enough that I will keep it around, but it bothered me that it was kind of too chunky and made the whole ultraportable experience less so. I did manage to find a leather iPad Pro 10.5 Smart Cover and this made it still sleek and premium feeling- I usually don’t like covers only; but I do need to cut out weight so that helps. I was thinking of using the Smart Cover on the iPad only; and then a external keyboard- I still have the first magic keyboard with an inCase origami case that also acts as a stand. Today I found a Tucano keyboard case that is super slim and… I have 82 Bluetooth tablet keyboards – something I was trying to avoid. Oh well. It’s small enough that I could leave it in my bag and use my iPhone as a productivity unit with this. Very cool. Anyways its working well so far……and I think I’m going to return the ZAGG keyboard. It’s just too big for me to really want to bring it out. One other cool thing- I’ve been using the PHA-3 and streaming services a lot, so I usually plug into the lightning port on the iPad and have my HiFi setup mobile that way. Cool.

I recently found a good price on the Chromebook Acer 514 model- its built like an ultra book which is pretty appealing with a metal chassis, backlit keyboard, IPS screen….and its 299. That is super cheap in comparison to all the other options in Windows and MacOS which would be in the 1000 dollar range for that build quality. TBH I am pretty tempted to get something that is super cheap and well built as a carry around machine, and I just found out ChromeOS supports DisplayLink so that is another plus for my Samsung DisplayLink monitor. But I really don’t need it. It would matter more if I was doing a lot of coffee shop work or going to classes, but with a baby and my clinic…I stay at a desk or home like all the time. It really isn’t needed but its super chic all the same. I personally still like 15 inch or more laptops but this is just so tempting.

Trying out the new restaurant in HMart on campus- really liking the snazzy decorations in here; food was good too; mixture of Japanese and Korean food; had a really good pork bone soup and Korean fried chicken.

My favorite Western Chinese food combo at Good Buddy – ginger beef, chicken fried rice, and beef and mixed vegetables. Its only really good here. I grew up loving this stuff, but now its dawning on me that mostly its greasy and not that great unless its fresh and piping hot from the kitchen at this one specific restaurant.

Slurpee ice cream drinks on a hot day- it turns out even on hot days, this is too much for me. A small would have been much better for a size. The cheap soft serve ice cream gets old really fast.

One of my favorite feel good places- Old Spaghetti Factory with the Hunter’s chicken and mizithra cheese spaghetti. Very rich in flavor and super filling, especially on a cold windy summer day. The ginormous portions, reasonable price, and piping hot French onion soup I add on make this a stellar warm meal.

We went to Calgary Zoo- first time for me in more than 2 decades. Its a much different experience than the Valley Zoo; I’m not even sure how they could be that vastly different from each other. Quite a few neat things to check out. It was a pretty hot day so that somewhat impeded my enjoyment as I seemed refuge in the shade. I quite really liked the Komodo dragons exhibit and the penguins. We ended up skipping the dinosaur land because we ran out of time- this was one of the lands that I remember distinctly as a child so I was somewhat looking forward to seeing it; but then right after seeing Royal Tyrell Museum its a bit of a let down to see static displays of dinosaurs out in the trees; and I’ve seen this in Jurassic Forest as well and its not all that much different.

This was more up to par for the dinosaur experience. The badlands themselves are quite beautiful – esp in this sunset scene. We did the mini hike here and it was really nice after being inside the museum all day. It’s quite surprising to see the badlands open up suddenly after seeing flat prairie land. The drive to Drumheller was interesting – I typically do not drive in undivided highways if I don’t have to and I did here- I did not like doing the passing in undivided highways- esp with our slow family mover SUV. The drive out from Drumheller was also interesting- K cried the entire way back to Calgary. And also all the way back to Red Deer.

There was a lot of neat things to see here in the museum – H really seemed to enjoy the exhibits. I enjoyed the flow of the museum – it made it a lot of fun to explore the prehistoric time zones and different events and creatures at the time; I quite liked seeing the different extinction events as well. Lots of visuals to check out. It certainly seems a lot funner when its with kids versus as a young adult as I went last few times.

Canmore weddings at Silvertip Resort- the venue was beautiful and perfect. We had a brief period of intense sun that was overwhelming in my full suit and this gave a beautiful backdrop to the ceremony, followed by rain when we had to go indoors so timing was perfect. I really wish I had more lamb in this plate. I got to meet some of J’s friends from Johns Hopkins- I definitely felt like a small fish compared to these guys. PhD? These guys had that and MD and surgery and vaccine pharma status work …great people to talk with and friendly conversation. Danced a little into the night with friends, but importantly got to connect with others who I had not had the place or time for, esp D. Late night convos into the night air in the mountains was just great. I also really liked my suit. I realize that I just love dressing up a lot. Took the a7c and 24-70 Z F4 and it turned out great for a lightweight combo that did not get in the way of the event experience, although I would have loved a fast zoom for the indoor dance floor- not enough though that I would have wanted to lug heavy glass with me. I was hot enough already on my own.

I should have got the beef instead. Sad face. The lamb was good but smaller compared to the beef.

Really enjoyed running in the mountains- little trails here weren’t the big trail runs serious runners are probably used to, but for casual running me, the beautiful scenery and surprisingly low mosquito population was perfect. I took my Nike ACG Mountain Fly Low and they were great.
Surprisingly, the outer layer has started to crack, and that was a bit dissapointing making me understand the sentiment that Nike ACG is not a serious outdoor sub brand compared to other dedicated outdoor brands. They felt great out on the trail though, much more suitable than random Nike Airs that I am used to running with. I’m still not sure if that carbon plate is noticeable to me, but I do enjoy my runs with them. These shoes feel so good to run in though. That react foam is great, and better than the air cushioning I have been used to.

Cafe round two- this wasn’t as good as out last outing here; the potatoes were not as crispy and flavorful. Service was great though.

This soup noodle was just HOT with no flavor besides HOT. I did not enjoy this one as much unfortunate because its a stone’s throw from me, but just not an enjoyable experience as I died trying to keep my mouth from igniting.

This dragon dance was particularly fun. The loud banging of the drums and exciting movements and colors made for a very exciting atmosphere.
Really enjoyed out unplanned drum festival time during lunch and took the kids to embrace the loud rhythms.

Korean for lunch alongside the super loud Mid Autumn Festival celebrations- first time having cold Korean soup noodles- would have been perfect for a hot day outside, but we were snuggled into the AC of the mall. Flavor was nice in the broth, but I really would have preferred a more intense pork bone soup.

Dinner at Gyukaku Japanese bbq. I used to find these things less exciting – its easy enough to buy meat at home and grill it, but the experience is pretty fun to cook especially with family. The meats were generally tasty.

Trying out the new Fold 4 – I feel like this would be a significant upgrade for me instead of the next iPhone 14 Pro Max which seems rather iterative of an update and not really something I care too much about; where as a tablet that can be as big as an iPad mini that is with me all the time is quite useful for productivity. What I also like is that the camera’s were updated on this model- I use my phone camera quite a bit, esp when I don’t have the ability to use my camera body when it is too cumbersome or conspicuous to shoot with; the iPhone is great for this and I can settle for very good computational photography. But this folding Fold 4 might be cumbersome and I’m not sure if I would really want that. Which is why I am interested in the Xaiomi 12s Ultra with a 1 inch sensor, and fast lens and good AF. I just really like the idea of a good camera phone always with me- there just are a lot of good reasons for me in my own day to day that it would compliment my camera body. The Xiaomi is not the one though with being an overseas model and also being Android; I am pretty tied in the iOS ecosystem right now, and I don’t really feel I want to jump just yet unless its really compelling. I wish Sony had made something like the 12s Ultra- the Pro I looked compelling but then reports of it not using the full sensor really took the shine away from its announcement. EDIT- seems that the Xiaomi might not be realizing the techs potential- similar to what was with the first 1 inch sensor camera phone the Panasonic CM1. The computer tech in the iPhone is just that good to make up for lesser specs.

Tons of stroller walks around the city this summer. I have been really enjoying the outdoors and getting tons of walking mileage. Although I know I am a pretty avid fitness nut, I want to live an active lifestyle besides just time at gym, and regular walking has been great for this.

I hit a sub 40 minute four kilometre run for the first time this year ; I’ve been hitting that in the past quite regularly and easily, but since going into heavy lifts, its been much slower- I’m usually hitting 33-36 minutes for 4km. It’s a slow pace for a runner, but for a lifter its different. I’ve been really enjoying my time out in the sun this summer for sure- running and walking. I’m going to have to adjust though as winter hits- I’m usually hitting sub 3km in snow and spikes at 30 minutes, and I don’t intend to go more than 30 min runs.

Dim sum at Chef Tony’s- pretty solid food all around; I can see how the truffle oil actually helps the flavor of the siu mai. I thought that was a gimmick but it really is nice- but it has to be eaten hot off the steamer for full effect.

MEAT for dinner after Kid’s Fringe- I really enjoyed the food, esp the burnt tips, but I over ordered and realized that the food is so rich I didn’t need to do so much meat.

Ribs and chicken dinner at Earl’s – good company and good atmosphere; I just love these late nights with buds and good food. The price has jumped up a lot and it kind of feels like too much- its now the price of a fine dining celebratory dinner.

We’ve had a lot of fun in outdoor pools this year- my favourites were the Fred Broadstock pool and Borden pool. The heated water and summer fun vibes at Fred was really nice- it just feels like the place to hang in summer, although the last few days of pools were freezing and not summer fun vibes. Borden was just cool because of the sand and the chlorine free pool- I really liked the neat idea of using natural ecosystem to clean the pool water. Outdoor pools really added to the outdoor running and walking summer fun vibe this summer. Loved it. Definitely not as awesome with indoor pool swimming.

Dinner at Ichiban- TBH I remember it being more interesting my last visit more than a decade ago, but it might be because I am spoiled by other joints like Japonais Bistro where there are not just great quality sushi/sashimi but unique flavors.

This was not great- beef sashimi Vietnamese style, except the beef was still frozen and we had to wait for it to thaw, and then I just wondered if I was eating food poisoning in the thawed out beef juice. It also didn’t have that kick that ponzu sauce adds in the Japanese style.

Finally graduating in person- really excited to be able to be amongst people even if in a less grand space than the typical Jubilee auditorium; the Butterdome holds far more memories for me and it was special to be in there. Memories of writing huge exams with hordes of other university students, running the track, playing badminton, running stairs, and generally hanging out. I really loved how they set this up – nice ambience.

The orange stairs of doom- in reality after running stairs at Glendora and Fox drive, these were really not that bad. I do miss with some weird self hurting mindset the idea of mass examinations here. It was both exciting and terrifying – potential for failure plus potential to destroy.

The view waiting to get my doctorate- it was over so fast. A bit too fast for me to really enjoy and savour the moment. But pretty neat and definitely something that I felt help settle the graduation that I did not get last year when it was virtual. Definitely felt happy to be able to do so, and walk with family through all my favourite memorable places. Now that it is over though, it feels weird not to be always reading and studying. I think its high time that I start focusing on PD work to keep my mind fresh. Also got to meet a classmate/colleague while getting our doctoral degrees- miss connecting with people in training a lot.

Celebratory dinner at Von’s Steakhouse- this was stellar- the flavors were so rich. I really wish they had the Alberta cut though still- that was massive. I also think we should have done dine in, instead of the patio- it was freezing and the food lost its luster quickly. Still great though.

Sitting down to dine in Taco Time in one of the last/few Taco Time restaurants dine in places- it was REALLY bland. Like totally absolutely bland. I continue to unimpress W with my food choices.

One of my fave places- Tiffen – lots of rich spicey flavors with a nice outdoor downtown ambience. Summer patio vibing great.

Found this slick ravine walk way behind a suburb- so jealous of this trail walkway connecting to the bigger river valley trails.

River valley night runs- its time to break out the headlamps now with the incoming winter nights. It is a bit confusing – the weather is both freezing cold and sweaty hot- so in the end I overdressed in sweat pants and a cotton t shirt. Sometimes I am running in thermal layers.

Beautiful summer days with storm clouds in the distance – love the greenery and the ominous black clouds.

Great view of the summer river scene – big greens, big blues, and hints of yellow as fall rolls in.

Got to the check out the new iPhone lineup- not totally excited at all. The 12 Pro Max is pretty solid and I have not really been wanting- the wide angle and tele photo lens could use a bump in IQ to match the main camera, but its been solid in general. I’ve been really tempted with the xiaomi 12s ultra’s one inch sensor but as sort of expected when seeing other big sensor tech, it doesn’t always live up to the potential because Apple has done that much work maximizing computational photography. Most likely I will still stay with Apple, because it just works.

This was much more interesting- got to see the m2 Macbook Air in midnight blue- it looks fantastic in the color and the new build in nice compared to the old wedge shape. I really don’t need to update my laptop though. I love the style especially. And for portable use, the iPad is sufficing for now.

Nandos for the third time in a decade- I really don’t like it that much- smaller portions, and the peri peri sauce isn’t really my deal. The chicken is super fresh and well cooked though. Just bland to me.

Tried out Buddy west end- REALLY good. The Hainan chicken was on point- good flavor in the chicken meat and sauces, but the rice was the real deal- really nice flavor in the chicken. I am also a sucker for Western Chinese and the ginger beef was so crispy and tasty. Great service as well. My kind of place for sure.

Round 2 of Top Gun Maverick in VIP seats- pretty decent food – buffalo cauliflower and then a double stacked burger that was super tasty with a nice harvest salad. The bacon was really crispy. The movie was stellar. Just a great experience all around. I can see why people would rewatch it like 8 times. The opening sequence and ending song gave me all kinds of awesome chills.

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