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Archive for June 2011

June wrap-up

June 30, 2011 @ 12:50 By: gordon Category: Amateur radio, Dragonboats, General, Out and about

It’s been a fairly busy June and I haven’t been blogging as frequently as I’d like so I thought I’d post a quick summary of things.

Since my last post, I took part in the Tim Horton’s Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival steering for the Algonquin College Singapore Slings. I’m proud to report that we have once again won the Mill Street Brewery Hospitality Challenge Cup. If memory serves me correct, this is at least the fourth time that we’ve won it since I joined the team. We also raised almost $8000 for the local charities sponsored by the Ottawa Dragon Boat Foundation.

Last weekend I joined the Ottawa Valley Mobile Radio Club (OVMRC) at their Field Day station (VE3RAM), which was set up in front of the Canada Science and Technology Museum. With the exception of one voice contact on 6m SSB, I operated several shifts on the digital mode station. There were a few notable contacts, including Igor (RU6CH) in Russia and two French stations that I chatted with around 2am while the bands were dead. The 30m contacts didn’t earn us any points, but it was nice to have an actual conversation and I even got to use my French. 🙂 Last I heard, the digital station made 188 contacts, which is respectable. I think we were the only ones at the OVMRC Field Day to operate the full 24 hours — some people wimped out an actually slept!

Other than that I’ve been to the climbing gym a couple of times and I’m looking forward to getting out on real rock as soon as my climbing buddies and I can find a mutually convenient time.

As far as what I’m doing for Canada Day, that’s still in the air (and yes, I do realize it’s June 30th!). The options include heading downtown with the mobs of people to Parliament Hill, heading to Kemptville to watch fireworks there or escape the city to the lake for the weekend. All have their merits, so I remain undecided.

The view from the back of the boat

June 13, 2011 @ 12:46 By: gordon Category: Dragonboats

I’ve been steering dragonboats for ten years, so my view of dragonboat races is probably quite different than that of a paddler (who should be following the paddle in front of them during the race!) or the caller (who doesn’t get to see where we’re going) — I’m really the only one in the boat who gets to see where we’re going! At my team‘s practice on Saturday I wore a tiny POV camera and recorded some of the practice. The owner of the camera has posted the video on YouTube and it’s definitely worth a view.

You can see videos from other practices on our team website.

Reassembling shredded documents

June 10, 2011 @ 08:13 By: gordon Category: General

When the Americans abandoned their embassy in Iran in 1979, they shredded thousands of classified documents with strip-cut paper shredders and left the shreddings behind in garbage bags. The assumption was that the information was secure because it would take half a million people 5 years to put it back together and that it was highly unlikely that anyone would be able to do that.

shredded document from IranSo Iran rounded up a whole bunch of carpet weavers (people used to dealing with tangles!), gave them each a roll of sticky tape and a bunch of shredded material. A few years later and they had reassembled most of the classified documents.

And then Iran published them in a series of books called Documents from the U.S. Espionage Den. So much for the US’ secrets.

Since then, more secure shredders have been developed that turn paper into very thin, short strips that mean it’s much harder to put things back together. To reduce the likelihood of someone putting the pieces back together the shreddings can be mixed up. I read somewhere that the CIA learned from what took place in Iran and turns the shreddings into pulp them before burning the pulp.

Fast forward to yesterday:


Steering the Algonquin College Singapore Slings

June 07, 2011 @ 13:09 By: gordon Category: Dragonboats

Once again this year, I am steering a dragon boat in the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival for the Algonquin College Singapore Slings.  And like the other teams in the festival, we’re taking part in the pledge challenge raising money that will go to support the charities selected by the Ottawa Dragon Boat Foundation. These charities do very important work in the Ottawa area and are worth supporting.

If you’d like to help my team reach its pledge target and thus help the various charities selected by the ODBF, please consider clicking here or on the link at the top of the right column, and sponsoring me.  All donations of $20 or more automatically receive a tax receipt and you can request one for donations of less than $20.

Many thanks for reading this and thinking about it.  And a special thank you if you do sponsor me. 🙂

Good deeds and karmic payback

June 06, 2011 @ 08:10 By: gordon Category: General, Out and about

Last week turned out to be a week of good deeds and karmic payback.

starbucks cardI stopped for gas on Wednesday and noticed a Starbucks card on the ground next to the pump. It had a small hole in one corner, so I expect it was attached to someone’s key ring. Sadly, a crack meant the hole was more of a notch and thus not very good at remaining attached to a key ring.

When I got to my destination, I took a picture of it and tweeted a lost-and-found message. I also asked @StarbucksCanada if they could retweet it for me. Their response was:


I sent them a direct message with the numbers and a couple of days later they sent me a Starbucks gift card via email. Hopefully the owner of the card had registered it on the Starbucks website so that Starbucks can issue them a new card. Smile


Pressure and headaches

June 03, 2011 @ 15:39 By: gordon Category: Health, Weather

Regular readers will probably remember that I’ve written about the relationship between changes in air pressure and headaches on a number of occasions in the last few years, most recently in January. This morning, a friend of mine mentioned that she started the day with an optical migraine that morphed into a headache.  As it happened, I had a headache coming on at the time, so I took a quick look at Environment Canada’s website and noticed that the pressure over the last 24 hours had been steadily climbing. I took another look a few minutes ago and it seems to have peaked a couple of hours ago.

Taking a look at the surface analysis from 8am this morning, you can see a high pressure over southern Ontario. My guess is that it’s probably moved past us, which is why the pressure is starting to drop a bit. For reference, Ottawa is the red dot and the circle with X is the high pressure, just north of Lake Erie.

Anyone else plagued by headache, migraines or other things that might be caused by this?

Basketball net vigilantes

June 01, 2011 @ 00:29 By: gordon Category: In the news

posseThere was a story on CBC Ottawa’s morning show Tuesday about some people in Manor Park who went from door to door in their neighbourhood trying to find out who complained to the City about their basketball nets. Apparently, the basketball nets are on the edge of the road, which is a violation of a city bylaw that doesn’t allow streets to be blocked.

Nine homeowners mustered a group of 30 adults and children who went from door to door until they discovered who complained. It turns out that the complainant is a an elderly woman who believes the nets are a safety hazard. The group had proposed putting reflective tape on the nets, but that wasn’t enough to cause her to withdraw her complaint. According to the story, if she withdraws her complaint the city will drop the matter.

The ringleader of the group, Natalie Belovic, says that the bases of the nets are filled with water or sand making them too heavy to easily move them.

This bylaw is the same one that kids playing street hockey ran afoul of a couple of years ago. In that case, the city eventually relented and passed a motion declaring children had the right to play street hockey. Belovic is quoted as saying…

“We actually would like them to take the same stand exactly as they did with the road hockey situation, which is just basically to turn a blind eye and ignore the quote-unquote problem”

And she went on to say that she still hopes that some compromise with the elderly lady can be reached, though I’m doubtful because she ran to the press immediately rather than try a bit harder to work something out.

Personally, I’m on the side of the elderly lady in this case. She called and reported a problem in her neighbourhood. The City sent a bylaw officer out to ask the people to move their nets back on to their own properties, which is the appropriate response on the city’s part. The owners don’t appear to have been given tickets for the violations (yet).

The owners’ response was to form a posse and hunt down the person and try to intimidate her into withdrawing her complaint. When the complainant stood her ground, they went to the media to try to get the court of public opinion to convince the lady to change her mind – basically more bullying.

According to the story, some of the people have already moved their nets, but Belovic and a couple of others haven’t (yet) because their properties are sloped, presumably meaning the nets would topple over.

Should the city “turn a blind eye” to the situation? No. This is not like the street hockey situation a couple of years ago for a couple of reasons. First, street hockey nets are temporary and moved when someone yells “car!” and they aren’t stored in the street. The basketball nets are, by Belovic’s admission, too heavy to be moved easily, so they’re not temporary.

Second, street hockey has been around for several generations of kids and it probably pre-dated the bylaw, while these freestanding basketball nets are a relatively new phenomenon. Growing up, I, like many kids in my neighbourhood, had a basketball net mounted over the garage door. In fact, if you watch this video that Belovic has on YouTube promoting Manor Park (she’s a realtor), you’ll see a number of houses in Manor Park have basketball nets over their garage doors. If Belovic et al. can’t have freestanding nets on their property, they could install one over their garage doors instead, or they could probably take a spade and level out a little square of dirt on the edge of their lawns, put a couple of patio stones down and have a nice, legal place to put their basketball nets. If they don’t the city should cite them, even if the complaint is withdrawn.

A tip o’ the hat to Legends of America who had the photo on their site.