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Archive for December, 2007

2007: The Year In Review

December 31, 2007 @ 13:09 By: gordon Category: Amateur radio, Current affairs, General, Geocaching, Travelling

Only a few hours remain in 2007, so I thought I’d take a moment and look back at the last year as I experienced it.

Map image

I did a fair bit of travelling in 2007, most of it for work. During the year I visited Toronto a couple of times, Halifax (work), Sturgeon Falls (work), Sudbury (play) for a few hours on the Sturgeon Falls trip, Miami Beach (play), Winnipeg (work) and Edmonton (work). In fact, between mid-October and early-December I boarded 16 different flights, and passed through Toronto’s Pearson Airport (YYZ) four weeks in a row. I also passed through airports in Montreal and Calgary in the course of doing these trips. And, I think I’m missing a couple of trips from this list.

Work-wise, I was successful in a generic competition at work that saw me move from being in a technical position to that of a research analyst. This was a big move and I’m still getting used to it, even though I’ve had this new job for a couple of months now. Fortunately, though I changed jobs, I did not have to change the group of people I work with.

According to my records, I went geocaching 29 days in the year and in every month except March and August, with April and October being the two months with the highest number of finds. Overall, I found 119 caches, the most recent one yesterday evening. I went geocaching in Ontario, Quebec, Halifax, Winnipeg and Edmonton. (I was too busy lying on the beach in Miami Beach to do any caching.)

My friends Ken & Margaret got married in June and I was the best man at the wedding. The guys took Ken away for a weekend of golfing-and-other-activities-that-shall-not-be-spoken-of. The day of the wedding, we went trap shooting before taking Ken off to be married.

During the summer I did a lot (for me) of amateur radio. I spurred on the Manotick Amateur Radio Group to run special event station VC3R for a couple of months to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Rideau Canal and its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List. We operated at several locks over the summer and had a lot of fun doing it.

I didn’t get out scuba diving this year, but I did join GoodLife Fitness through work and I’ve gone to the climbing gym about once a week and I’ve lost a fair bit of weight since the end of February. :) I also took up golfing in 2007 and am looking forward to it in 2008.

To help offset the benefits of being less of a couch potato, I bought a Nintendo Wii a couple of months ago. It’s the first gaming system I’ve owned since the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) I was given years ago and I’m having a lot of fun with it. In addition to the games, it offers all sorts of nifty things.

Overall, 2007 was a positive year.

New look and feel

December 27, 2007 @ 11:42 By: gordon Category: Meta

I’ve just upgraded WordPress and also changed the theme I was using. Everything appears to be working, but my old blog entries that were in Pivot and my photo gallery are temporarily unavailable. I’ll get those working at some point.

A tip o’ the hat to Nurudin Jauhari, author of the Prosumer theme I’m using. :)

Merry Christmas!!!

December 25, 2007 @ 16:27 By: gordon Category: General

I just wanted to wish everyone a merry Christmas and hope that you’re able to spend some time with family and friends over the holiday season. :)

Gledelig Jul!

December 22, 2007 @ 01:08 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General

As of 01:08 Eastern (06:08 UT), it ceased being Autumn and officially started being Winter. The days are now getting longer rather than shorter, which is happy news for everyone who suffers from seasonal affective disorder.
In days gone by, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21st through January. Huge logs called Yule logs were were burned until they went out, which could take as long as 12 days. As long as the log was burning, the festivities carried on.

If you were a cow, however, you probably didn’t look forward to the winter solstice because this was a popular time to slaughter cows — it saved having to feed them. On the upside (for everyone except the cows) people had a supply of fresh meat — a rarity in the times before refrigerators.

Congratulations to the Canadian Space Agency!!!

December 14, 2007 @ 23:10 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

Canada’s newest satellite, RADARSAT-2, was successfully launched earlier today aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

RADARSAT-2 is the next generation of RADARSAT-1, Canada’s synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imaging satellite that was launched in November 1995. At 12 years of age, RADARSAT-1 has exceeded its original 5-year lifespan by at least 140%, which is very impressive for any satellite.

RADARSAT-1 provides high-quality imagery of the Earth that is generally unaffected by adverse weather, cloud-cover or nighttime. The largest user is probably the Canadian Ice Service, which uses the data to produce ice prediction maps and guide ships in the Arctic. Other uses of RADARSAT-1 imagery include environmental monitoring, hydrology, geology and forestry.

Congratulations to the Canadian Space Agency on a successful launch!

From the Wii Statistics Agency

December 14, 2007 @ 22:04 By: gordon Category: Statistics, Wii

Nintendo’s Wii game system is a pretty neat thing. In addition to having inertial controllers and cool controllers like the guitar that comes with Guitar Hero III (see also Wikipedia), it also has the ability to connect to the Internet. One of the applications you can download for free from Nintendo’s Wii Shop Channel is the Everybody Votes Channel.

The Everybody Votes Channel allows you to register a Mii (basically a user profile with a customizable avatar) and then vote on multiple-choice questions that the Nintendo people publish. You can also predict how other people will answer. There’s even an option to suggest questions through some sort of vetting process.

Anyways, I checked up on it today and noticed the following interesting results:

Where do you prefer to watch movies? (Asked of Canadians)
Theater: 56.0% (male: 58.3%; female: 49.5%; National Prediction Accuracy: 72.1%)
Home: 44% (male: 41.7%; female: 50.5%)

Which will happen first? (Asked of Canadians)
Time travel: 21.0% (male: 21.0%; female: 20.9%; NPA: 80.7%)
Finding life on Mars: 79% (male: 79.0%; female: 79.1%)

Women will probably nod knowingly when they read this next one…

When lost, which are you more likely to do? (Canada)
Ask for directions: 58.2% (male: 52.7%; female: 73.1%; NPA: 63.3%)
Find it without help: 41.8% (male: 47.3%; female: 26.9%)
With the exception of people in NT, Canadians will ask for direction.

If you had a time machine, where would you go? (Worldwide)
To the future: 57.9% (male: 59.3%; female: 54.5%, WPA: 72.0%)
To the past: 42.1% (male: 40.7%; 45.5%)

And we Canadians appear to be more interested in the Queen than the Prime Minister, and not very many people will be surprised by this given the national prediction accuracy:
Would you rather meet the Queen or the Prime Minister? (Asked of Canadians)
The Queen: 71.5% (male: 67.1%; female: 83.5%; NPA: 78.3%)
Prime Minister: 28.5% (male: 32.9%; female: 16.5%)

Disclaimer: Of course, this is hardly scientific, but still interesting. :)

2 grams of sodium

December 06, 2007 @ 01:41 By: gordon Category: General, Health, Travelling

I flew from Ottawa to Edmonton via Toronto today (Wednesday) on Air Canada. Sometime in the last couple of years Air Canada changed their fare structure and stopped providing hot meals on the longer domestic flights. Instead, they have a snack cart from which you can buy things to munch on. For sale are chips, pretzels, chocolate bars, bags of carrot sticks, and apple slices with caramel dipping sauce. Also on the menu are things like little pizzas (though not always available), and a selection of three sandwiches from Quiznos. (There are also some breakfast things that are often available on flights that start before a certain time.) I’ve been watching my sodium intake since earlier this year and paying a lot of attention to the nutrition score boxes printed on almost every food item that’s for sale these days.

Sodium intake has been linked to hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension has been linked to all sorts of problems including heart disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure, stroke and other things, all of which tend to lead to premature death. Statistics Canada published results of the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) last April that revealed that most Canadian consume much more sodium than is necessary or recommended. The Statistics Canada report quotes the Institute of Medicine recommended daily adequate intakes for sodium as being 1500 mg for someone aged 9 to 50. Nationally, the typical Canadian consumes 3092 mg of sodium, with the provincial levels ranging from 3350 mg and 3300 mg in Quebec and British Columbia, respectively, to 2871 mg in Ontario, the only province significantly below the Canadian figure.

Because of the limited selection by the time the cart made it to me, I ended up buying a roast beef Quiznos sandwich. Reading the score box, I was appalled to discover that the small sandwich had 2000 mg of sodium in it. That’s one-third more than the recommended average daily intake for someone my age. It’s easy to see why Canadians have so much sodium in their diet.

Unfortunately, the elimination of meals on Air Canada, at least for economy class fares, means passengers no longer have the same selection of meals they once did. I’m not sure exactly how many meals you could choose from, but there were meals for almost everyone from Kosher to vegetarian to gluten-free to low-sodium. So, if I’m trying to keep my sodium intake below the recommended limit of 1500 mg, there’s very little on Air Canada’s snack cart that I can eat, particularly as I have yet to see the full selection available on any of the 14 flights I’ve taken in the last seven weeks.