A Prairie Christmas, with illustrated remarks on snow, cows, and why the Internet is such a dangerous place.

The week before Christmas, I worked upstairs at the in-laws’ farm, venturing out only to visit the cows and photograph snow. Lauren’s Mom’s Herefords are glowing with health. While I have hands-on farming experience, it’s in a warmer climate, and these cows who grow extra hair and ignore the -30°C temperature are a new experience to me. In the picture below, spot the cloudy exhalation just to the left of the cow’s head.

Hereford peeking out of a barn in Saskatchewan snowscape

That Prairie snow is remarkable stuff, no city discolourations and damn few footprints marring the surface; in the slanting light of evening, which comes early, a photographer can manage to ignore the effects of the temperature and the wind and snap away trying to capture the play of light and shadow, at least until all sensation below the ankle is lost.

Saskatchewan snow, with plants
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Saskatchewan snow, close-up

On Christmas, we all got together to do the caloriefest at my Mother’s place, enjoying the usual low-key good cheer although the crowd was a bit smaller than optimal this year. One relative gave the kid a vivid pink teddy-bear that talks, sort of, think of a low-key version of ELIZA. Whatever the merits of this gift, it worked well, in a still life.

Still life with pink teddy bear

Part of the visiting-Mom experience is a little sysadmin work, inevitably. This year, she decided to go for broadband, the local telephone company had a pretty good special on, so we went and picked up the DSL modem and accompanying gear, which turned out to be, disturbingly, pretty well nothing. The telco apparently thought it would be perfectly OK to plug her five-year-old Win98 EMachines box into a hard-wired Internet link. How many minutes, I wonder, before it would become a spyware-infested zombie slave? And people wonder why the Internet is a dangerous place.

Anyhow, a nice little D-Link router/firewall is now in place, plus she doesn’t use Outlook or IE; so she’ll probably be OK. Lauren and I will cheerfully help our friends and relations out with their computers, even Windows boxes, but not if they use Outlook or IE.


author · Dad · software · colophon · rights

December 28, 2004
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I am an employee of Amazon.com, but the opinions expressed here are my own, and no other party necessarily agrees with them.

A full disclosure of my professional interests is on the author page.