Thursday, July 31, 2008


Today was Derek's scheduled chemotherapy day - and he's not feeling so hot right now. To give both him and Airdrie some rest tonight, we have our granddaughters here for a sleepover. We haven't seen them very often in the last three weeks. They spent almost a week with their "other" grandparents in Maple Ridge (where the granddaughters have many friends) and then almost another week with Derek and Airdrie in Whistler. Fortunately they all came back a couple of days before the large landslide, which is currently blocking the highway to Whistler came down.

Last night we were invited by our friend in West Vancouver and sat on her balcony to watch the Celebration of Light fireworks. This time, it was China's turn. Here are some pictures, taken with my general purpose 18-200mm Tamron zoom lens:

For more images, click here:

The music which was part of this presentation was transmitted by one of our local FM stations. I did not get a sense that this music was well co-ordinated with the visual display - the display was very nice, though. Now, to be fair, our location had us watch the show "sideways". I'm sure that the fireworks were "optimized" for those people who looked at them more directly and were much closer. We were about 5 km (3 miles) from the fireworks barge anchored in English Bay, but there was of course no delay in hearing the music, since it came from the radio next to us.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Derek's on vacation

For those of you who wonder why Derek's last blog update was a couple of days ago: Derek and family are taking a well-deserved break at Whistler this week. I expect that he may be blogging occasionally from there. We're holding the fort here - i.e. watering the flowers, making sure their house is ok, etc. Since we share a duplex, this is an easy task.

I also uploaded a couple more pictures to the "casual" folder - they are "sunset" pictures taken from the living room window a few days ago.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

mp3 player comments

Derek has had a frustrating time installing the Zune software. I bought a Samsung mp3 player some months ago, but didn't have anywhere near those problems. The software installed without major bumps along the way, although I seem to recall that a couple of things had to be repeated before things worked correctly (I've never installed a Windows program that didn't have a hitch somewhere during installation). None-the-less, the mp3 player works well - it has most of the options Derek is talking about regarding the Zune player. By the way, the Samsung software runs on the same computer which Derek used to install the Zune player a second time.

The main purpose for which I use this player is through the radio in my van (my radio does not have native mp3 capability), and I listen to it when I'm using the excercise bike on miserable days when the weather makes walking for exercise a challenge.

All-in-all, I haven't had the problems Derek ran into with the Zune software.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A few random photos

The nice thing about digital cameras is the instant gratification of seeing your pictures right after they've been taken. With the proper equipment, you can also have almost instantaneous colour prints (no wonder that the Polaroid Company went out of business). Derek has lately acquired the top model of Nikon's 35mm film cameras (the F4); he's going to experiment with film/digital techniques.

I don't often print of my digital pictures myself. If I want colour prints, I submit the appropriate files to a photo service - the costs per print are much less than using my own colour printer. If you're in a hurry, you can have your prints in about an hour.

So most of the time, I download the digital pictures from my camera to my laptop, and enjoy viewing them that way. I also back them up to various other computers and drives, as well as to an offline service.

For quick viewing by all, I also post them to Flickr. So here are a four random shots I've taken lately

Sunday, July 6, 2008


A few days ago, some members of our local astronomy centre of the RASC and I set up telescopes for teenagers with cancer at Camp Goodtimes in the UBC research forest. We did this in an open field next to Loon Lake.

We set up starting at the beginning of dusk. It seems that we had been eagerly awaited - not only by the people, but even more by the resident mosquitos. These little pests must have internet access, because they must have known that we were coming. They had organized themselves into a veritable airforce, complete with attack squadrons.
The squadron leader (from Wikipedia):

Of course we had prepared ourselves too. I had slathered copious amounts of "Off" on my exposed skin, and was wearing a heavy, long-sleeved shirt (it was about 28 Celsius at the time, not exactly cool). None-the-less, these dive bombers got to me through that shirt (no "Off" under there) and had a veritable orgy. Even now, my back is covered with mosquito bites. It looks like I have the chicken pox (which I had as a kid).

The things I do for Astronomy....