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Archive for the ‘Current affairs’

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. (more…)

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…

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2017 @ 00:00 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General

Merry Christmas, everyone! May you be surrounded by the warmth and happiness of family and friends at this time of the season! Have a save, happy and prosperous 2018!

Remembrance Day

November 11, 2017 @ 11:00 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”.

Time for the semi-annual silliness (again)

November 03, 2017 @ 17:00 By: gordon Category: Astronomy, Current affairs, General

Tomorrow evening, we North Americans (well, most of us) are supposed to turn our clocks back an hour in the vain quest of pursuit of saving energy.

Why “vain pursuit”? Well, because although daylight saving time is promoted as leading to an overall reduction in energy consumption, there hasn’t been any proof that this has ever been accomplished. Check out David Prerau’s book Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time (hardcover: 1560256559; softcover: 1560257962) if you want to learn more about the history of daylight saving time. It’s actually more interesting than it sounds.

If you’re a *NIX system administrator you probably updated your systems a few 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 gordon]$ zdump -v /etc/localtime|grep 2017
/etc/localtime  Sun Mar 12 06:59:59 2017 UTC = Sun Mar 12 01:59:59 2017 EST isdst=0 gmtoff=-18000
/etc/localtime  Sun Mar 12 07:00:00 2017 UTC = Sun Mar 12 03:00:00 2017 EDT isdst=1 gmtoff=-14400
/etc/localtime  Sun Nov  5 05:59:59 2017 UTC = Sun Nov  5 01:59:59 2017 EDT isdst=1 gmtoff=-14400
/etc/localtime  Sun Nov  5 06:00:00 2017 UTC = Sun Nov  5 01:00:00 2017 EST isdst=0 gmtoff=-18000

Possibly the scariest tweet I’ve seen in a long time

September 08, 2017 @ 19:23 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Weather

There’s a lot of stuff on Twitter, some of it pretty scary and/or creepy. This tweet, however, probably jumps to the top of the holy-crap scary list:

Volunteering to help with flooding efforts

May 08, 2017 @ 11:09 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

The City of Ottawa has set up a registry for people who want to volunteer to help out during the floods. You can go to the page here.