This year’s Pantone colour is …

This year’s Pantone colour is …

Pantone colour for 2019 of the year is "living coral".

Salmony coloured living coral

This year’s Pantone colour has been announced. Oh lordy! It’s pink on steroids.  Living Coral, or as those of us who survived the colour palettes of the 60s and 70s, it’s a bad flashback.   It looks like salmon to me.  I’m sure I’ll be raked over the coals (wonder what Pantone colour coal is) for that, but it is too reminiscent of bad colour schemes of my youth – avocado appliances, salmon coloured bathrooms, shag carpets and rec room panelling. Whoa, I feel dizzy with the flashbacks.  In the late 90s my sister bought a house that was painted in a similar colour.  When I say painted, I mean all over the inside – the kitchen, the living room, the halls. When she found plastic containers left behind in the dishwasher that matched the walls, she quickly dubbed the place The Rubber Maid House until she repainted.  Overwhelming would be an understatement.

I understand the rationale behind the name, it does have the colour of a certain type of coral. But I don’t feel the “vibrant” or “life-affirming” qualities. It screams staid, old, and dated.

“An animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge…. Vibrant, yet mellow PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment.” Pantone Website

Prepare for a yearlong onslaught of salmon pink Living Coral.


Laid low by a virus and a Christmas village on the go

Wow was that a bad ass virus! We were laid low by one of the great unknown viruses that lurk in the winter months. No idea what it was but after 12 hrs of chills, headaches, vomiting and er .. you know – I’m happy to be upright and feeling human. How bad was it? It was nearly a week before I could stand the smell of coffee let alone drink it.    

I kept sitting the computer, promising “today I’ll get some work done” but ended up staring at the screen and achieving bugger all. Felt like I’d gone on a shopping binge at the Big Box of Lethargy Supermarket. It was  easier to watch old movies on YouTube than write. Here I am  … again, staring at a back log of articles that need to be written.  Some articles will have to wait while I build a little stone wall for our Christmas village display.  What’s that you ask? I’m a master of work avoidance, if nothing else so I’ve decided our little woodcutter’s hut needs an old stone wall around the property.  I might make a few paths for the singers standing around the village centre tree as well. 

I’m using air dry modelling clay and  have started the curved section. I haven’t gotten around to figuring out how to paint it, but I have enough art supplies stuffed into the closet, that I’m sure I’ll find something to use. Right now I’m letting the first section dry to see how it looks. If I like it, I’ll pull out the sculpting tools and go at it tonight.  I’ll take a photo of our village and post it when I get the wall erected.  It’s going to take hours to build – it’s so teeny tiny.   

Collecting Canada’s new cannabis revenue stamp

Collecting Canada’s new cannabis revenue stamp

Revenue collectors have a new stamp to look for with Canada’s cannabis revenue stamps. The moment the Canadian government legalised marijuana, I knew there would be a stamp to collect. Keep your eyes open for the cannabis revenue stamp that is affixed to all government store sales.

Canadian cannabis revenue from Ontario

Photo of the new cannabis revenue stamp

One portion of the cannabis revenue stamp


photo of the second side of the Canadian cannabis revenue

This side shows which province issued the stamp

It’s a bit hard to grab a clean photo of the new cannabis revenue. The fraud prevention features play havoc  with the lens. My eyes went a bit wobbly after taking a series of photos.  Many weren’t aware the stamp would be issued (or didn’t care) so thousands have been trashed so it’ll be interesting to see what the catalogue price will be for the first issues.

I haven’t decided whether to keep it on the original box or carefully remove it. The box is a bit of a pain to store but I suspect I’ll leave it on. I’ve already started pestering friends to save any revenue stamps they get.  Might be awhile given the pot shortage here in Canada.

Diving into pioneer aviation with the amazing Antoinette Flyer

Diving into pioneer aviation with the amazing Antoinette Flyer

Originally published Oct 4 2018. Updated Oct 1, 2020
Updates include more reference links, updated details and additional information on pioneer aviation poster stamps

Here’s a little something from my pioneer aviation collection. I was looking for … well, I can’t remember because I became sidetracked.

About 7 years ago, I spotted a set of 1910 Wills Aviation cards on eBay. It’s one of those silly items I coveted for years so I threw in a modest bid and it turned out to be one of those days aviation and tobacco card collectors were asleep and I got the full set of 50.

Scan of a Wills' pioneer aviation cigarette card showing the Antoinette Flyer

1910 Wills’ Cigarette card The Antoinette Monoplane – from author’s collection

The cards are pretty cool and considering they are over 100 years old, in very good shape. They cover flight from early balloons to the most modern (as of 1910) aeroplanes, including my favourite –  the Antoinette Flyer, designed and built by Léon Levavasseur.

The Antoinette Flyer, Levavasseur’s contribution to pioneer aviation

The Silver Dart comes close to the number 1 spot in my heart, but it’s always edged out by the Antoinette. I think primarily because the Antoinette’s design is so unusual.  It looked like a canoe with wings and a pilot precariously plopped in the middle.  I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, engineer and pioneer aviation designer, Léon Levavasseur started out designing boats and boat engines.  The Flyer may have looked fragile, but it was an outstanding aeroplane that helped Hubert (sometimes erroneously listed as Herbert) Latham set a number of height and speed records in the early days of aviation, as well as perform in most of the major aviation events of the day.

Latham attempts an English Channel crossing (1909)

Latham was the first aviator to attempt the Daily Mail’s Channel Crossing challenge. At stake was a £1000 prize for the first flight across the 38 km (21 miles) distance from Calais to Dover. His attempt, July 19, 1909, ended 13 km off the Calais coast line with Latham ditching in the water. He was uninjured, but the Antoinette was badly damaged.

Latham was seen as a good bet to win the prize. His two main rivals were Louis Blériot and his Blériot XI, who went on to win and Charles de Lambert flying a Wright Flyer. A second Antoinette was prepared by the 21st, but bad weather kept him grounded. Louis Blériot and his team arrived, after Latham’s crash, and prepared for crossing. Not far away, de Lambert setup his camp, but crashed or damaged both Flyers during practice flights. That left just Latham and Blériot.

On July 25, 1909, while Latham was still asleep, Blériot saw an opportunity. The weather turned favourable at dawn and he launched off the cliff in Calais and into history. Latham’s chance was gone.

Photo of Hubert Latham (left) and Leon Levavasseur (right) Calais 1909 for the English Channel

Hubert Latham (left) and Leon Levavasseur (right) Calais 1909 for the English Channel crossing attempt – image courtesy BNF/Gallica


Page from a 1909 French aeronatic magazine showing 4 airplanes ready for the English Channel crossing

3rd aeroplane – Antoinette Flyer ready to try the Channel crossing – Image courtesty BNF/Galacia – Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Philosophie, histoire, sciences de l’homme, FOL-LC6-87


Photo of Hubert Latham in cockpit of Antoinette Flyer 1908 just before his 1st English Channel crossing

Latham in cockpit of Antoinette ready to try Channel crossing 1909 – image courtesy BNF/Gallica

Latham and the Antoinette early aviation records

Despite the disappointing outcome of the Channel race, Latham went on to set air speed and distance records with the Antoinette flyer.


  • May – European non-stop flight record, flying for 1hr 07mins) (this was set prior to the Channel crossing attempt)
  • August –  Riems Airshow (Grande Semaine d’Aviation de la Champagne) world altitude record of 155 metres (509ft)


  • January 7 – Mourmelon-le-Grand, France, world altitude record of 1,100 metres  (3,600 ft)
  • April –  Nice Air show world air speed record of 48.186 miles per hour (77.548 km/h)
  • July – second Riems Airshow (Grande Semaine de l’Aviation de la Champagne),  world altitude record of 1,384 m (4,541 ft)


Page from 1909 La Revue aérienne newspaper with photo of Latham flying an Antoinette - pioneer aviation

Hubert Latham 1909 Airshow – La Revue aérienne / directeur Emile Mousset Author : Ligue nationale aérienne, Paris. Auteur du texte Publisher : [s.n.] (Paris) Publication date : 1909-09-10 Contributor : Mousset, Émile. Éditeur scientifique – image courtesy BNF/Galacia

I’ve looked around for postage stamps showing Latham, Levavasseur or the Antoinette and haven’t found a single one. Nor have I found Cinderellas commemorating them, although I’m pretty sure I’ll eventually stumble across at least a Cinderella. Air shows were very popular and many poster stamps were created to promote them, like I said, one is bound to pop up.

The stamp below is a a sample of one of the poster stamps produced for events like the Aug 1909 Reim’s airshow. They are works of art in themselves and hard to find around here. They aren’t expensive, as a rule, and can be a good start to a pioneer aviation collection.

A poster stamp from the Reims France air show in 1909

Reims Airshow 1909 poster stamp

In the meantime enjoy the video below. It’s film footage of Levasseur and Latham preparing for the flight across the English Channel. It starts off in Calais, where fliers gathered to prepare for their attempts. It’s rare to find footage of the Antoinette in flight, but as you watch it, you’ll understand what I mean by “canoe with wings”.

The video shows the infamous dunking Latham took into the English Channel in July 1909.  It was an improbable design, but flew fast and true. Would I fly in it? HELL YES! How about you?  Take the  poll below the video and let me know if you’d fly in an Antoinette.

Coming Soon loading
Would you take a ride in an Antoinette Flyer
Would you take a ride in an Antoinette Flyer
Would you take a ride in an Antoinette Flyer

Read more:

  1. Antoinette (Levavasseur) Aircraft Engines by By William Pearce
  2. A short bio on Latham can be found here Hubert Latham – The Aviator Who Never Made It Across The Channel | Mechtraveller
  3. This day in aviation
  4. The Bibliothèque nationale de France (BNF) is a marvelous resource for early French aviation information. The archives hold many contemporary aviation magazines and newspaper articles that are impossible to find anywhere else. Search: Leon Levavasseur, Latham Hubert, Antoinette moteur and  l’aéroplane Antointette for the best results.
  5. Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace has a short page on the Antoinette. They have a reproduction of the flyer on display.
The power of colours in Graffiti Alley

The power of colours in Graffiti Alley

I’m a  bit embarrassed. Since the eye opening lesson on manual control last week (see Photography experiments with highlights & shadows) I’ve been working with all sorts of settings on my camera. I’ve been wowed by the sharpness and brilliant colours that have been falling out of the camera.

The embarrassment stems from falling into the old trap of “maybe I need a better camera/lens” belief. It wasn’t the camera – it was the camera user that was at fault. Granted I’m using the kit lens that came with my Rebel, but it does the job. I simply needed to learn how to optimize the settings to get the results I wanted. I’m still itching to get my hands on a prime lens or two, but the lesson I’ve taken away from this is, I need to keep working on the basics and worry about a prime lens later. The best lens in the world can’t compensate for poor skills.

Graffiti Alley

I took my new found cockeyed optimism about photography and wandered down to Graffiti Alley for another kick at the can. Graffiti Alley is exactly what it sounds like – a long lane, backing onto businesses –  slightly odorous, shadowy and the location of magnificent wall art. It’s a bit grubby in parts and the aroma of garbage can be a bit over powering in spots, but worth the trip. The explosion of colour and intense shadows/highlights that play long the alley make it a fun challenge for amateurs.

Previous attempts produced some pretty shoddy photos – blown out highlights, grossly bad exposure, off colours and shadows that were overwhelming. I relied too heavily on letting the camera dictate settings. I know what I want my photos to look like, the camera doesn’t. By grabbing onto full manual, I can change settings needed. I experimented a lot and took multiple shots from the same position, using different shutter speeds/ISO/aperture settings. I also worked on where I was focusing. Like the trip last week, it was illuminating.

Putting to work photography lessons at Graffiti Alley

Photography - Photo of long street view of Graffiti Alley with young man sitting in one of the windows

Originally wanted the shot without a person, but whoever he is, he helps pull the scene together

Not sure who the man in the window is, he hopped up there for his friend just as I was setting up the shot. Decided to take the shot anyway and I think he really shows the length of this stretch nicely.  He added a nice dimension to the photo.

Large mural of a tiger like mask

Tiger Mask

Some of the murals just leap out at you, like this tiger mask. (Check out Censdbs’ Instagram page to see more of his art.)

Graffiti Alley art - wall mural of a samuri warrior coming out of the wall

Sharp shadows worked out with the manual settings

The colours is sharper than most of the work I’ve done to date. Instead of the usual frustration at the lack of detail crispness, most of the photos came out like the warrior above. I think some of the sharpness came from a better understanding of depth of field as well.

Photo - wall art showing a Zeus like figure

What alley is complete without Urizen rising from the dark. I airbrushed a bit of garbage away but left the flaws on the wall.

And finally a door

And finally the door to nowhere. The contrast and exposure on this one isn’t quite right. I played with it quite a bit in post production, but the shadows aren’t balanced so the colours aren’t as vivid as they should be.  Maybe I should focus more on getting the highlights right and let the shadows take care of themselves for a bit.  I’m still forcing myself to lighten up photos because I tend towards underexposing too much.

Photo of a art covered door opening onto another door

As I improve, I’ll make a couple more trips down to Graffiti Alley to test things. It may sound tedious taking the same photo over and over, but it’s an interesting lesson. I like to spread them out and compare the various settings, see what worked, what flopped. I have a little note book I’ve started that I’m using as a cheat sheet of settings to help out until understanding how the three settings interact with each other. In the meantime, much fun!