gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for November 2010

Our annual dose of sucky weather (Part 1 of n)

November 25, 2010 @ 17:29 By: gordon Category: Weather

There’s a good chance that tomorrow morning is going to rank highly on the suck scale, particularly if you have to go to work:

TAF CYOW 252038Z 2521/2618 08010KT P6SM SCT030 OVC100 PROB30
2601/2603 P6SM -PL OVC030
FM260300 08010KT P6SM -SNPL OVC015 PROB40 2603/2605 6SM -FZRA BR
FM260500 08012KT 4SM -FZRA BR OVC010
FM260800 08012KT 2SM -FZRA BR OVC006
FM261100 VRB03KT 1/2SM FG VV002
FM261300 25012G25KT P6SM BKN020 TEMPO 2613/2615 3SM BR

Without using a whole lot of meterological jargon, basically this says that we’re going to see ice pellets (PL) and snow with ice pellets (SNPL) this evening. To break the monotony, there’s going to be a healthy dose of freezing rain (FZRA) and mist (BR) thrown in for good measure, followed by fog (FG) and more mist. And it’s going to be fairly windy (250@12G25KT [WSW@22 gusting to 46 km/h]), too.


And looking back to about this time last year, I see that we had similar, but not quite as sucky weather forecast for November 29th.

If you’re driving this evening or tomorrow morning, take your time and don’t forget your ice scraper.

The former Nortel campus: A possible home for the Canada Science and Technology Museum

November 15, 2010 @ 16:39 By: gordon Category: General

canada_museum_of_science_and_technology_logoA recent CBC story about a small amount of mercury in the lighthouse at the Canada Science and Technology Museum that spilled during this summer’s earthquake got me thinking about what the real story really is. It’s not the fact that it cost $7 000 to clean up the mercury that spilled, it’s the fact that the museum is incredibly underfunded and has been in need of new buildings for years.

There have been various proposals to build a new purpose-built home for the museum over the years, but none of them have come to fruition. Last month, it was announced that the federal government has agreed to buy the former Nortel Networks Carling Campus in Kanata.

It has been suggested that the Department of National Defence is likely going to move there and I’ve heard other rumblings that the RCMP could be consolidated out there. Both need new office space, but it strikes me that the buildings that were the birthplace of a lot of the high technology that Canada is known for would be the ideal home for the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

nortel-carling-campusMany of the buildings are visually impressive with large open spaces connecting wings of brightly-lit floors. There are cafeterias and other facilities that a museum needs that make it an even better fit with the museum.

And from the point of view of housing the museum’s vast collection the buildings are secure and many of them have excellent climate control systems that could provide the environment needed to maintain the collection.

Canada has much to be proud of in terms of the science and technology that has originated here. This needs to be presented in a facility the reflects this and of the available buildings in the capital of Canada, that is the former Nortel Networks Carling Campus.

Remembrance Day

November 11, 2010 @ 08:00 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General

Today we pause to remember those people who have made the ultimate sacrifice over the years so that we have the peace, security and freedom that we enjoy today.

To them and their families I say “Thank you”.

Why I wear a red poppy and not a white one

November 08, 2010 @ 23:17 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

RCL poppyThere’s a group in PEI called the Island Peace Committee that has been distributing white poppies. The IPC says that their white poppies stand for non-violent conflict resolution. The implication seems to be that the red poppies somehow denote support for armed conflicts (i.e. wars) or even glorify them.

This has, needless to say, upset a lot of people, including the Royal Canadian Legion. Generally speaking, the white poppies are being disrespectful to the brave men and women who have fought and died for their country. Aggravating this is the fact that the Island Peace Committee is distributing them at the same time the Legion’s Poppy Campaign is underway.

The red poppies are not glorifying war. They are symbols of “Remembrance, our visual pledge to never forget all those Canadians who have fallen in war and military operations”. Though they’ve been this symbol since 1921, their association with those who were killed in wars can be traced back to the Napoleonic Wars in the 1800s, more than 110 years before being adopted in Canada.

Personally, I wear a poppy to remember people I never knew but who died serving my country and family members like my great-uncle Fred who died in 1944. I also wear it as a sign of respect for those who have served and survived, such as my neighbour, Jack, who I have seen in the crowd shots in the television coverage of more than one Remembrance Day ceremony. Jack told me a couple of days ago that he has been asked to lay a wreath on behalf of our MP at the local Remembrance Day ceremony this Thursday afternoon, something he is proud of.

It’s important to understand that the red poppies are for those who died and not for the wars they died in. To suggest that they stand for anything else is incredibly disrespectful of their sacrifice.

Falling back in time

November 05, 2010 @ 14:44 By: gordon Category: Astronomy, Current affairs, General

800px-Vortex_backThis is the weekend that we fall back in time.

No, I’m not talking about travelling through the Time Vortex, though that would be cool. Rather, I’m talking about changing back to Standard Time.

Twice a year most parts of North America change their clocks to chase the sun. Most recently, the dates this happens were changed to be the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November by the US Energy Policy Act of 2005. This year, it happens at 2am on Sunday, November 7th, so you can safely sleep in this Sunday.

The main reason being touted in support of daylight saving time is that it will result in an overall reduction in energy consumption. I have yet to see anything that says this has been achieved to any degree. David Prerau’s book Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time (hardcover: 1560256559; softcover: 1560257962) tells the story of daylight saving time starting with when Benjamin Franklin mused about how many candles could be saved if the clocks were adjusted so that people were more in-sync with the sun up to just a few years ago. Worth a read if you have a chance.

If you’re a *NIX system administrator you probably updated your systems a couple of years ago, but in case you haven’t you probably should take a look at this. The zdump command should give you something like this:

[gordon@seedling]$ /usr/sbin/zdump -v /etc/localtime |grep 2010

/etc/localtime  Sun Mar 14 06:59:59 2010 UTC = Sun Mar 14 01:59:59 2010 EST isdst=0 gmtoff=-18000

/etc/localtime  Sun Mar 14 07:00:00 2010 UTC = Sun Mar 14 03:00:00 2010 EDT isdst=1 gmtoff=-14400

/etc/localtime  Sun Nov  7 05:59:59 2010 UTC = Sun Nov  7 01:59:59 2010 EDT isdst=1 gmtoff=-14400

/etc/localtime  Sun Nov  7 06:00:00 2010 UTC = Sun Nov  7 01:00:00 2010 EST isdst=0 gmtoff=-18000

Lamp post caches revisited

November 04, 2010 @ 12:06 By: gordon Category: Geocaching

A couple of days ago Groundspeak, the company that runs geocaching.com, stirred the pot in the lamp post cache (LPC) debate on Facebook by posting an entry on their blog about a geocacher who leaves little dioramas in their LPCs. IWillFindIt!! thinks that when you lift the metal skirt at the bottom of a lamp post is like raising the curtain on a stage, so her nearly twenty or so LPC geocaches have little scenes like the one in the picture to the right.

The problem is that while Groundspeak does acknowledge that there is controversy surrounding lamp post caches, they do not mention any of the problems with these geocaches, specifically that many (most?) lamp post caches are placed on private property without the landowner’s permission (a big geocaching no-no) and that sometimes there’s more than just bolts at the base of a lamp post. Bees and wasps have been known to take up residence in these spaces, which can be surprising indeed, but the bigger problem is that most lamp posts also contain electrical wires, which can hurt, or even kill, people if they’re damaged.

I’ve written about the problem with lamp post caches before, and I’ve even written about why I archived a cache I had hidden in the base of a light post at a park-and-ride before I realized the problems with the location.

It’s too bad that Groundspeak doesn’t do more to limit these geocaches. Ideally, geocache reviewers – trusted geocachers who approve geocaches – would challenge cache owners to prove they had permission from the landowner when reviewing a potential new geocache. While confirming that you have “adequate permission” to place a geocache is part of the new cache submission process, I suspect that many cache owners put a tick in the box because they can’t submit it otherwise, just like many people click “I agree” when installing a new piece of software. (You really should read all that fine print because it can contain clauses like agreeing to give your immortal soul to a video game store.)

As a geocacher, I generally avoid seeking these geocaches. A couple of months ago while I was out geocaching with another geocacher we came across a geocache hidden in the base of a lamp post at the edge of a baseball diamond (GC1FRVV). While the geocache was tucked just out of side under the flange at the bottom of the post, the container was made out of an electrical junction box – a terrible container because it encourages geocachers to poke at electrical junction boxes in places where there are high-voltage cables. I submitted a “needs archived” log for the cache because the owner hadn’t addressed any of the previous “needs maintenance” logs and also because of the choice of container. A reviewer looked at the situation and archived the geocache.

Groundspeak really shouldn’t be promoting this type of cache – they should be discouraging them. If they are going to post articles to their blog about LPCs, they should present both sides of the debate.