After editing photos for most of the morning, I decided to head out and do a little geocaching. My first find was a puzzle cache in the Experimental Farm that I had solved a while ago but hadn’t gotten around to finding. While there, I heard rumblings of thunder in the clouds to the north and the rain started just as I made it back to the car. Read the rest of this entry →
I’m still playing with the 500mm lens I wrote about a few days ago and took these from my balcony this evening:
And with a bit of luck, I was able to capture Saturn, too:
Saturn required a bit of processing to remove the sensor noise and clean things up a bit. But, I’m still very impressed that you can make out the planet and the gaps of the rings around it.
I’m thinking about buying a Tamron SP 500mm lens from a friend, so he’s let me borrow it for a few days to try it out. It’s a manual focus lens and appears to be a fixed aperture (or I need to RTFM), so shutter speed and ISO speed are the things you play with to get the right exposure.
I set up my tripod on the balcony and aimed it at the moon. Other than cropping and some light processing using Lightroom Mobile on my iPhone, these are pretty impressive.
One of the appealing things about the lens is that it’s roughly the same length as my 18-200mm at its shortest length. The lens is more like a little telescope than a traditional telephoto lens because it has a configuration of glass and mirrors that’s used in compound telescopes, aka a catadioptric lens.
The bokeh (the blur of things outside the in-focus range) is pretty cool. Instead of the traditional “dots” you end up with “rings”.
I started writing an entry about how I listen to the news with a certain amount of dread these days because of all the bad things that are going on, particularly south of the border. As I listed the some of the reasons (e.g., gun violence, violence towards the police, the prospects that Donald Trump could be the next US President, the Brexit vote going terribly wrong), it became increasingly harder to finish. So unfinished it remains.
There must be good news stories out there, but they seem to be few and far between.
Lots of exciting weather this afternoon and into the evening:
TAF CYOW 132038Z 1321/1418 20012G22KT P6SM FEW050 BKN220 TEMPO
1321/1322 VRB15G25KT 2SM +TSRA BKN060CB PROB30 1322/1324
VRB15G25KT 2SM +TSRA BKN060CB
FM140000 21010KT P6SM FEW100
FM140900 18008KT P6SM BKN050 BKN200
FM141200 20010KT P6SM -SHRA SCT020 BKN050
FM141500 21012G22KT 5SM -SHRA BR BKN020 PROB30 1415/1418
VRB15G25KT 2SM +TSRA BR SCT007 BKN030CB
RMK NXT FCST BY 140000Z=
In a nutshell this evening from now’ish until about 8pm, heavy thunderstorms with big gusty winds. And then tomorrow from about 8am it looks like we’re in for more wind and rain, with possibly some thunderstorms over the lunch hour.
By now, you’ve probably heard about the plans to build Canada’s largest playground in Mooney’s Bay Park. In case you haven’t, here’s a quick summary: Sinking Ship Entertainment approached the City of Ottawa a few months ago with a proposal to build an enormous playground in Mooney’s Bay Park as part of a reality television series on TV Ontario. Timed to be ready in time for the festivities celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday next year, the playground would be built largely by kids volunteering. The not insubstantial costs will be split between the City (up to $960,000 according to an email from the ward representative) and the production company. Giver, the TVO program, is running a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign to raise $150,000 (of which $770 has been pledged as of 1pm on the 23rd of May, including at least $250 from people who work on the show).
News of this was only made public a few days ago because “the matters being negotiate between the City and the proponent were embargoed”. City Council members and staff were prohibited from talking about this prior to a few days ago.
There are a number of large festivals, including the HOPE Beach Volleyball and the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival, which have been long-time users of the park. Over the years, these two festivals alone have raised over $7.2 million for local charities, not to mention the postive impact they’ve had on local tourism. As a participant in the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival since 2001, I can report that there are teams that come from out of town to participate.
You’ll note that I haven’t said anything about public consultations or even discussions at Council (at least discussions not held in camera). That’s because they haven’t been held. Yet.
Apparently, there will be some sort of public open house held in early-June, but given that some trees have already been removed and there are reports that more will be removed in the near future, it will essentially be a fait accompli.
My questions as a taxpayer are:
- How much will this cost us in the long term? This runs the danger of becoming a white elephant once its novelty has worn off.
- Why does River Ward get a huge playground investment when the rest of the wards don’t? Or are similar investments planned for playgrounds in other wards?
- What are the rules surrounding “embargoed” projects? Is the City involved in other proposed projects like this from the private sector that could cost us millions that we aren’t aware of?
I have other questions, which I may raise later.
Rick Chiarelli, College Ward councillor, apparently stated the following in a recent email:
1) Mooney’s Bay has been designated an “active” – not passive – play area for decades. The Mooney’s Bay play element has been monopolized by adults for many years but, following extensive public consultation, the site has been slated to expand its active play FOR CHILDREN for over 15 years.
2) There is no option to simply move the subject playground to another site as the money that is coming from the private sector to make it possible is being offered ONLY if it is at Mooney’s Bay.
Addressing his first point: There is a large play structure currently in Mooney’s Bay just south of the building in the middle of the park. Yesterday evening, while I was dragon boating, I noted that the play structure was being used by lots of children. To suggest the park has been “monopolized by adults” is nonsense.
Addressing his second point: Suggesting that the private sector gets to call the shots on this simply because they are holding a bag of money is worrisome. It sets a dangerous precedent for future projects being proposed by the private sector. If the private sector money wasn’t there. the project wouldn’t be built, at least not on the scale that is being proposed.
What needs to take place immediately is the following:
- site preparation, including removal of trees, stops;
- a user survey of the current site be conducted/updated. The last major study apparently pre-dates the move of the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival to the site, for example;
- an environmental impact assessment be conducted;
- a transit/parking impact study be conducted. If this structure ends up being as popular as predicted, will there be enough parking available on-site?
- a proposal to relocate the Sue Holloway Fitness Park, which is located exactly where this new structure is going to be installed, be drawn up and made a permit condition should the playground project end up going forward;
- a cultural heritage study for the iconic white bridges be conducted. They date back to at least 1965 when there was a network of waterways in that portion of the park, as can be seen in this photo from the 1965 airphotos imagery on geoOttawa:
Lastly, proper public consultation openhouse sessions need to be held. Just because a private sector company walks up with a bag of money doesn’t mean that the City should cave to their demands.
The photo I posted earlier is a bit small. I downloaded the photo directly from my camera to my iPad and I think it lost some quality in the process. I’ve reprocessed it and some of the other photos to see what I could find.
This is one of the better photos I took:
Inside the circle is a tiny dot that is the planet Mercury. You can click the image to see a larger version.
I managed to take this photo by using my 18-200mm lens fully zoomed, holding a piece of #14 welder’s glass in front of the lens and experimenting with the exposure until I found a combination of shutter speed and f-stop that wasn’t massively overexposed. No tripods, no telescopes, just handheld while sitting on a bench in front of the building I work in. I’m sure this looked very odd to the people walking past, but who cares? They didn’t end up with a picture of Mercury transiting the Sun.