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2011: The year in review

January 04, 2012 @ 18:24 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General, Geocaching, Meta, Travelling

The trend of busy years continued in 2011.

Blogging

According to my calculations, I posted 97 blog entries in 2011, with over a third of them in the month of March.

The weather featured prominently in the things I blogged about. In addition to the absolutely sucky weather that we had on a few occasions, such as 2am on March 6th or again on March 9th, I also talked about feeling the weather when the air pressure changed a lot over a short period of time.

I wrote about drivers a couple of times, including a proposal to require new drivers in Ontario to display a "P" and Queensway drivers talking on their cellphones (instead of using a handsfree device). As an aside, I’ve noticed more and more drivers holding their phones while talking lately — perhaps some more enforcement is in order.

There were some good opportunities to view the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Discovery in early March. I posted a couple of entries about how to view them and also a short video I made of one of the passes and an entry about the "making of the video". It’s a bit difficult to make them out in the video but trust me, they’re there. :)

April saw just two posts: an update on Ottawa’s spoiled brat punk young pirate radio station operator and the other being my thoughts on the leadership debate.

I talked about blogging burnout in May and also posted some pictures from the Ottawa Race Weekend.

June featured a classy bunch of people I called the basketball net vigilantes, an entry about why your straight cut shredder isn’t as safe as you think it is and a couple entries about dragonboating. And Starbucks Canada declared that I was awesome (but you already knew that).

In July I talked about the weather and posted some pictures of lightning and also pointed out that privatization of the search-and-rescue system is just plain stupid (again, something you already knew).

August saw me post some pictures from Les Grands Feux du Casino du Lac-Leamy that I took as one of the volunteer photographers at the show. I also gave some advice on how to take pictures of fireworks.

More weather-related entries appeared in September along with a rant about cyclists who persist in riding on the sidewalks even though it’s illegal and dangerous to the legitimate users of the sidewalks (i.e. the pedestrians). I also posted my list of essential iPad apps.

October saw a very sneaky trick pulled by Joseph Mallozzi that resulted in me being sucked into the world of comic books. Joe apologized, but the damage was already done. (Incidentally, Dark Matter #1 is coming out next Wednesday, so be sure to pick up a copy or two at your local comic book store.) I also talked about looking forward to the almost annual geocaching event that was coming up at the end of the month called Go And Get ‘Em 16 (GC3486K).

I talked about a very busy week I had at the beginning of November and then wrote a couple of entries about bus drivers. A threat to bring the buses to a halt made by the president of Local 279 of the Amalgamated Transit Union caused me to bring out my anti-ATU 279 logo for an entry. OC Transpo silliness continued when management muzzled the Singing Bus Driver. OC Transpo passengers responded with their rendition of the Transpo-hemian Rhapsody.

December included the unexpected discovery that while I thought I hadn’t done a lot of geocaching in 2011 I had, in fact, done more caching than any previous year. I also posted a couple of updates on my new addiction interest with some reviews of some of the comic books I’d been reading, including The Ray #1. As well, I posted links to the YouTube clips of A Touch Of Brass’ appearance on CTV Ottawa’s Morning Live show.

Travel

I made a number of trips for both work and pleasure in 2011. Having had my fill of winter, I headed down to Florida for a week in the middle of March. My parents had rented a place in West Palm Beach for a month so I was able to stay with them while I was there. I spent a lot of time doing a whole lot of nothing’ on the beach, interspersed with a couple of rounds of golf and some geocaching.

In late-July and early-August I took some time off and split it between spending some time at the cottage and camping at Presqu’ile Provincial Park.

Work took me to Sherbrooke for a couple of days in October. A couple of weeks later I headed off for a couple of days in Edmonton at the beginning of November, stopping along the way for a day in Toronto to take the Display Fireworks Safety and Legal Awareness course to obtain my certification as a Display Assistant for display fireworks.

Work

I had a couple of things published at work this year and being an odd-numbered year I spent a good chunk of my time getting ready for the survey I manage to go into collection, which it did in October and November.

Play

Once again, I steered for the Algonquin College Singapore Slings at the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival and the Fall 400 in Carleton Place. We won our challenge cup at the ODBF and did quite well at the Fall 400.

I logged 159 geocaches in 2011 and went out caching on 29 different days. As I mentioned in early December, this was my most active year so far even though it didn’t feel like it.

In August I volunteered as a photographer for Les Grands Feux du Casino du Lac-Leamy, which was an absolute blast. Being one of the official photographers, I had complete access to the whole site and took over 4000 photographs during the five days the festival took place. I also spent half a day with the pyrotechnicians, which was really interesting. Apparently, I was the first photographer in many years, if ever, who had gotten to visit the barge while it was being set up and photograph them at work.

I also got out golfing a number of times, including a couple of rounds in Florida. I only started golfing four or five years ago and it’s something I wish I’d started earlier in life.

Although I didn’t get out climbing in the Gatineaus this year, I managed to go to the climbing gym most Sunday afternoons. It always seemed that when I had time to go, my climbing buddy was either busy or broken (stupid ankle!) or the weather sucked.

Looking ahead to 2012

What does 2012 hold in store?

I’m going to Florida at the end of March for some sunshine, sand, saltwater and golfing, so that will be a nice break from the snow and cold. It’s only January 4th and already I’ve grown tired of winter. However, if we must have winter then hopefully it will be good for snowshoeing.

As I mentioned, I obtained my fireworks display assistant certification this past November. I’m hoping that I can get some experience helping out at some fireworks shows. (If you’re a display supervisor looking for some DA’s, please get in touch with me! Smile )

I’d like to do some hiking and camping next summer. It’s actually something I’ve been wanting to do since my trip to the UK in 2010. There are some places just over the border in northern New York that look reasonable for some initial outings.

What are you looking forward to in 2012?

Geocaching in 2011: Perception vs. Reality

December 05, 2011 @ 12:38 By: gordon Category: Geocaching, Statistics

Though I’ve been geocaching for a long time, my number of finds is quite a bit less than some geocachers I know who haven’t been caching nearly as long as I have, but who have several thousand finds. But, for me, it’s not about the numbers.

I was thinking about how much caching I’d done this year compared to last year and that I hadn’t done that much caching this year. But, when I looked at the stats, I found a completely different story.

First, the graph (red line=caches found in the year; blue line=cumulative caches found):

(more…)

Recap of a busy week

November 05, 2011 @ 18:41 By: gordon Category: General, Geocaching, Out and about, Travelling

I had a fairly busy week this week. To put things in context, I’ve put together a little table that shows what I was up to.

Day

Started in

Ended in

Comments

Monday

Ottawa

Ottawa

Hallowe’en; Packing for my flight early Tuesday morning

Tuesday

Ottawa

Toronto

Up at 4AM in order to catch my 0615 flight to Toronto; attended Display Fireworks Safety and Legal Awareness Course; Became certified Display Assistant for display fireworks

Wednesday

Toronto

Edmonton

Flew to Edmonton in the morning then headed to regional office until sometime after 9PM local time

Thursday

Edmonton

Edmonton

Headed to regional office for a few hours in the morning; evacuated building due to fire alarm; finished work in morning; did some geocaching in the early afternoon; returned to regional office until sometime after 9PM local time

Friday

Edmonton

Ottawa

Up at 0545 for my flight back to Ottawa (could have gotten a bit more sleep if the Edmonton airport (YEG) was closer to Edmonton)

So, several very long days that started way too early in the morning. Sleeping in this morning was nice and I’m looking forward to repeating that tomorrow.

I went and got ‘em

November 01, 2011 @ 21:08 By: gordon Category: Geocaching

I headed out with fellow geocachers Nikon-Guy and Photocrasher to see how many caches we could find at the Go And Get ‘Em 16 (GC3486K) Friday evening that I wrote about last week. We started the evening with a couple of FTFs (first to finds) and then started bumping into other catchers as the evening wore on. With the exception of one cache that we found Friday evening, the caches were good hides. We finished the evening with a pair of caches in the west end that involved trooping through the woods, projecting new waypoints using information on small copper tags. Another team of catchers joined us along the way and when we found the cache we discovered that it was full of little bottles of Coke, which were a welcome treat after our trek through the woods!

Saturday saw me and Nikon-Guy head out to find a bunch of caches in the afternoon, including a series in the south end near Albion and Mitch Owens. At 6pm we stopped by a Chinese food restaurant in Orleans for some take-out and met up with everyone else at the
Legion on Kent Street. It was nice visiting with everyone and we learned that there might be another GAG event in the spring (they’ve been a fall event the last few years).

Kudos to everyone who organised the event and thanks to everyone who hid a cache! TFTC!

Getting ready to Go And Get ‘Em

October 28, 2011 @ 14:30 By: gordon Category: Geocaching

Go And Get ‘Em 16 (GC3486K) starts at 6pm this evening and runs straight through to 6pm tomorrow evening. For those not in the know, the Go And Get ‘Em geocaching events are held about once a year in Ottawa at around this time of the year. Basically, local cachers hide geocaches specifically for the event and a couple of days before the event, they are published on the geocaching.com website. At 6pm on the Friday of the event, people start looking for them. Afterwards, we meet up for dinner on Saturday and visit with each other. There’s usually a table with prizes and everyone gets to vote for their favourite caches.

I’ve been to most of the Go And Get ‘Em events and even made some special geocoins with another geocacher for past event, which you can read about here, here and here. But, it’s a lot of work producing and selling them, so we haven’t done them for a while. Maybe in a couple of years to commemorate the 20th edition.

So, with about three and a half hours to go, I’m starting to champ at the bit in terms of leaving work, grabbing my geocaching bag, meeting up with Nikon-Guy and another cacher for several hours of caching. I’m not sure how late we’ll be out, but I don’t think we’re going to cache straight through the 24 hours, unlike a couple of cachers I know.

See you on the trail!

Blogging burnout

May 13, 2011 @ 12:46 By: gordon Category: Geocaching, Meta, Out and about

I just looked at my blog and realized that it’s been a month since my last post. I think this is the longest break I’ve taken from blogging and given that it came not too long after having blogged most of the days in the previous month it might be safe to say that I suffered a bit of blogging burnout.

It’s not like I haven’t been up to anything. There have been lots of blog-worthy things in the last month, such as chasing an amateur radio weather balloon a couple of weeks ago and successfully recovering it from the St. Lawrence River (see Bob’s write-up and a mention on the LASA blog, too), the start of the 2011 dragonboating season earlier this week, and, of course, the recent federal election. But when push came to shove writing about these seemed too much like work. I may yet write about the balloon chase because there were a lot of lessons learned and I’ll probably mention dragonboating at some point, but it’s unlikely I’ll write about the election.

During the haitus I had a blog entry on geocaching published on the Local Tourist Ottawa blog, but even they had to chase after me for a two-sentence bio blurb. (Sorry Jessey and Amy!) I’m very happy with the way the entry turned out, so I may write some future content and see if they’ll publish it.

The arrival of the nice weather (finally!) has spurred on my interest to be outdoors, so I’ve been getting out to go geocaching more frequently. So far this year I’ve logged 65 finds, compared to 86 finds in 2010.

A recent edition of the Podcacher podcast talked about caching burnout. For myself, geocaching isn’t about the numbers, but there are a lot of cachers for whom it is. They have to hit that next milestone or do a 1000+ cache power trail or fill in the holes in their geocaching calendar (days of the year they’ve found a cache), all of which are excellent ways to burn yourself out because you’ll eventually find yourself caching to hit some artificial goal rather than caching to have fun. I think blogging can suffer from a similar thing where you find yourself blogging to ensure the calendar doesn’t have a gap or because you’re trying to increase your readership.

Neither of these are particularly important to me. If the little calendar on the left has a gap in it, that’s ok. If I don’t have as many readers as my friends who blog, that’s ok, too. While I am always happy to see an increase in the number of hits, ultimately I’m writing my blog for myself. I’m not using it as a revenue generation stream (if I was then there would be ads everywhere) so if only a handful of people read it, that’s ok.

But if you want to tell all your friends about my blog, I’m ok with that, too! :)

Pine Grove forest

January 30, 2011 @ 20:51 By: gordon Category: Geocaching, Out and about, Photography

While  out doing some snowshoeing and geocaching in Pine Grove forest this afternoon I looked back along the trail and saw this scene.

IMG_3869