gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Switching to Daylight Saving Time

March 10, 2018 @ 17:07 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General

Here we go again… changing the clocks forward an hour at 2AM early tomorrow morning in a misguided attempt to save energy. While we’ll shift when we see the sunlight, it won’t actually save an energy.

Instead, we’ll see an increase in accidents for the next week or so because people are discombobulated by the change in their sleep pattern. As an added “bonus”, there’s a 10% increase the likelihood that you’ll experience a heart attack during the days immediately following the time change.

We really need to pick one (preferably the summer version) and stick with it. A whole provinces of farmers (i.e. Saskatchewan) can’t be completely wrong. Read the rest of this entry →

Ringing and remembering: There aren’t enough tolls

February 27, 2018 @ 15:00 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Handbells

One of my favourite pieces of music to play on handbells is Make Me An Instrument Of Thy Peace by Kevin McChensey. It’s a beautifully moving piece of music, that takes full advantage of all the handbells my choir has. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve played it over the years, playing it both with just my choir and organ, and larger massed choirs, including in 2005 at a handbell festival in Ottawa with a huge number of choirs.

He based it on the 13th century prayer of St. Francis of Assisi and dedicated it to “the victims of the shooting at Columbine High School and other acts of senseless violence”. A few years ago, while talking to him (Kevin, not St. Francis) about commissioning a piece of music, I mentioned it. He told me that it was actually his second attempt at writing a piece of music in memory of those who died at the Columbine High School massacre in April 1999. The first attempt was apparently too dark and sad and not what he was trying to achieve. I’m glad he made a second attempt, but I wish he hadn’t had to write it at all.

The piece starts and ends with 12 tolls and a final chord. Each chord represents one of the people who were killed at Columbine.

Here’s a photo of the last couple of lines. You can see the chords starting at bar 109.

We’ve been rehearsing it for the last few practices, but yesterday evening’s practice was the first I’ve been at since the horrible shootings in Florida and I couldn’t help but think about the victims and survivors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. There aren’t enough tolls for them.

One of the many videos on YouTube of it being played on handbells…

Orion Nebula from the field

February 16, 2018 @ 21:28 By: gordon Category: Astronomy, Photography

I’m out in the cold shooting pictures of stars. This is one I pulled off the camera and edited on my iPhone using Photoshop Express.

Its a single 5 minute exposure using my iOptron Skytracker Pro.

Can’t wait to see how it turns out when I stack all the images later.

First try with the iOptron Skytracker Pro: Orion long exposure

January 26, 2018 @ 00:02 By: gordon Category: Astronomy

I bought an iOptron Skytracker Pro after Christmas from Ontario Telescope & Accessories, but since then the viewing conditions in Ottawa have sucked. This evening was one of a very small handful of nights this month where you could actually see the stars. I headed out into the cold and set up at the Deschênes Rapids Lookout along the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway. Not the ideal viewing location because of the light pollution, but good enough for what I wanted to do. Read the rest of this entry →

How do I know you are who you say you are?

January 11, 2018 @ 12:31 By: gordon Category: General

I had a marketing call from a credit card company whose card I have the other day. They wanted to tell me about an offer that was tailored specifically for me. But before they could tell me about it, they wanted me to confirm my postal code.

I said “uh, no”.

Read the rest of this entry →

Another apology to astronomers in this part of the world

January 10, 2018 @ 13:57 By: gordon Category: Astronomy, Weather

So, a couple of days ago I posted an apology to astronomers in this part of the world because I had cursed the weather by having ordered a new astronomy toy. Well, a couple of days ago, I ordered a tripod for my new toy and now the viewing conditions for the foreseeable future look like this:

The line of particular interest is the “Seeing” line. White and grey boxes are bad. And the “Transparency” line is pretty much solid white, so that sucks, too.

I think I’m done buying astronomy bits for a while, mostly because it appears there’s no point because I’ll never get to use them. That should cause the weather to clear up sometime by the end of the month.

Once again, my apologies to the astronomers in this part of the world. I’m sorry.

Hmm… I could use a dew heater. (Does anyone want to pay me to not buy a dew heater and thus not curse the weather further?)

An apology to astronomers in northeastern North America

January 03, 2018 @ 21:02 By: gordon Category: Astronomy, Weather

I appear to owe the astronomy community an apology.

Everytime I buy something related to astronomy (e.g., telescope, filters, etc.) the weather turns to crap and noone can see the stars. The length of time this goes on for seems to be directly related to the amount of money I spent on the astronomy stuff.

Just after Christmas, I picked up an iOptron Skytracker Pro, so we probaby won’t see the the stars anytime soon.

I’m sorry.