Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Analysis for a Sunny Day

It's interesting to me how much less daylight there is in Prince George at this time of year than there is in Vancouver. I was in PG on Monday and Tuesday for work and happened to be sitting in the library working on a report when the sun slipped below the horizon. It was 3:37 pm. This afternoon I was again seated at my computer, this time in Vancouver composing a blog when I noticed the sun had just set. A quick internet search satisfied my curiosity by providing the knowledge that sunset occurred at 4:20 pm today in Vancouver; a 43 minute difference.

I noticed the PG sunrise occur at about 8:10 on Tuesday morning as one of the first rays of sunshine touched my computer screen. (Wait a minute! What's wrong with this picture that I'm at my computer at sunrise and at sunset?) Again the all-knowing Internet informed me that the sun rose in Vancouver today at 7:39 a.m.; a 31 minute difference.

Just for fun, I compared my self-timed, real-life observations of the sun's appearances in Prince George with published data concerning the travel of Vancouver's sun, on (or about) Nov. 24. I discovered that Vancouver experienced about 1 hour and 14 minutes more sunshine in the morning than Prince George on that particular date. And just to squeeze out the last few drops of analysis, considering that the average driving distance between Prince George and Vancouver is 772 km (according to Google Maps), one would gain about 6 seconds of daylight for every kilometer driven while heading south.

It's no wonder there is such a thing as a "Snowbird".


Unexpectedly I had the afternoon off today. So I decided to take my dog for a walk in the brilliant Fall sunshine rather than having to walk her after sunset as per our usual Fall/Winter weekday routine. As I was unloading stuff from the car adjacent to our front yard I could hear rapid clicking of what I knew to be a hummingbird. I looked in the direction of the sound but could not actually see the source.

A hummingbird is a pretty small target to isolate, especially when it's perched in a maze of brown leafless branches. I opened the gate, went in the yard and slowly approached our rhododendron bush, hoping the sound would continue long enough for me to see the bird. Of course the sound stopped just as I stopped, but amazingly enough I saw the bird about 10 feet in front of me balanced on a branch.

Our front yard hummingbird.
It's hard to imagine from this photo but the dark spot directly under the bird's beak flashes bright red when sunlight strikes it at the perfect angle.
Immediately after dutifully posing for this photo the bird buzzed away with its pal (or partner) who had just flown in to alight on a close-by branch. They were not close enough together to get them both in one shot. I wonder it these two are the same ones that built a nest on a tree branch just outside our bedroom window last February.

Ironically, just before I wrote this blog piece there was a segment on CBC radio about the song "Snowbird". These particular birds didn't fly south last winter. I assume they will hang around this winter also. Which reminds me: I have to re-fill the hummingbird feeder this evening.

p.s. Nov. 26, 2015

I refilled the hummingbird feeder before I left for work this morning because I was reminded by the clicking in the front yard that the hummingbirds were there; probably hungry, looking for breakfast.

Since the sun was barely up this morning as I took this shot, this was the only non-blurry photo I managed to get.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

November in Vancouver

We've been experiencing such beautiful weather the last few days here in Vancouver that I thought I'd share some photos of scenes around town. We had a nasty stretch of really heavy rainfall previous to the sunshine. It's curious how sunshine improves one's mood. Not to say that rain isn't important; we certainly learned that during the recent summer drought.

This one's actually from a couple of weeks ago when I saw the first snowfall on the local mountains.
Fall colours in Charleston Park (the park with the giant jelly beans art installation).
I guess point-and-shoot cameras have their limitations. The definition of the yellow leaves against the dark shadowed portions of tree bark were what drew me to capture this image. I still like it, but it doesn't portray exactly how I saw it in person. If I was skilled as a painter I know how I'd fix it.
It's the contrast of the low winter sun illumination through the pampas grass against the dark background shadows that I like.
This heron was checking the new construction of the Dragon Boat docks along the south side of False Creek.
I never realized how much green is present in the feathers of an egret. I always thought they were mostly black.
Not to say that I condone graffiti, but I'm always drawn to what I consider reasonable reproductions of the Banksy style.
I'd be a cold ride on the False Creek Aquabus. It's a biting wind out on the water.
I'm always drawn to moon shots.
Despite the cost of that new roof, I can't help but admire the fluctuating light display encircling BC Place stadium.  

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Remembrance Day 2015 was a beautiful sunny day in Vancouver. It was the kind of day that made one forget the possibly record setting torrential rainfall of the preceding few days. Perhaps it was that spectacular weather that buoyed my mood into not focusing on recent global turmoil.

We had walked our dog along the False Creek seawall near 11 o'clock. I had wanted to see the fly-past of military aircraft that seems to be a tradition on a Vancouver Remembrance Day. We stopped and observed a vintage bomber fly over the downtown core, followed a few minutes later by a squadron of brightly painted wartime era single-prop planes. I remember thinking how lucky we are in Canada to have been spared a time in history when those planes may have flown over Vancouver intent on dropping bombs.

A pipe band setting up for a parade down Main Street.
Now less than a week later the optimism I was allowing myself to feel imploded with the tragic news affecting Paris (well, everyone really). Does history really need to keep repeating itself by having one faction after another declare that the world has to play by their rules or risk being labeled infidels and condemned to death? The theme to remember here is that such despicable behavior emboldens the resolve of the rational populace to resist such regimes.

On a more encouraging note, we were downtown over the weekend a couple of times and there was a definite sense of camaraderie being displayed with Paris (and France in general) in various light displays, from BC Place to the new Telus Building to the stage lighting at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for the Jerry Seinfeld performance.

BC Place.
The new Telus building in Vancouver.
The stage at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Saturday night.

Model train show 2015

The weeks keep flying by at a seemingly ever-increasing pace. I don't know if its because I've been so busy at work or if it just an age thing. Whatever the case may be, I better get busy and document last weekend's main event (or is that "train event"?) before Christmas creeps up on me.

A model train show was held at the PNE Forum building. The event has been around for years, most recently being held in Burnaby, but I've never attended before. There were three main draws this year: one, it was being held in Vancouver; two, the Lego club was to attend, showcasing Lego trains; and three, both my nephews were of an age to enjoy it. Sunday was the day; the four of us went to the train show!

A wide range of working model train layouts were on display. In terms of nomenclature I'm only familiar with N scale, HO scale and Lionel trains. But there were bigger ones on display as well ranging up to the size that a person can straddle and actually ride. There's one in Stanley Park of that size and also a layout in North Burnaby. I only know of that one because its beside a dog park we've been to. So of course we had to ride the rails in the Forum building. The tracks encircled a 1937 Hayes transit bus which was pretty cool in its own right.

"Back to the Future" seems to have been a theme at the train show, due to this past October 21, 2015 being the day when Marty McFly traveled to the "future". I noted two DeLoreans in the show in two different layouts, both decked out with Flux Capacitors. I really should re-watch that series of movies. I don't recall there being a relationship between the DeLorean and a train.

I have to say, I was probably more drawn to the Lego display than the model trains, but I did truly enjoy the whole event. I can appreciate the level of commitment that goes into the model train hobby. I had a great uncle that was involved and years ago my great aunt gave me some of his train stuff after he passed away. My cousin is totally into the hobby as well, to the extent that he's the president of his regional club. I haven't seen his club's layout yet but it reportedly fills a single wide mobile home trailer!

We lost count of the number of coal cars being pulled by this locomotive; just like in real life!
Kienan was chief engineer for a few minutes to guide a train around a circuit.
Caleb wasn't expecting real smoke emitting from the locomotive's main stack.
I don't think either Caleb or Kienan were aware that model trains got this big.
This restored 1937 Hayes city bus gives some perspective to how big this train layout really is.
With prairie ties in the family I had to throw in this one!
But back to the Lego; how can you go wrong with trains and cityscapes, complete with Spiderman and Mount Rushnore!

By fluke I discovered that the Lego guy repelling the cliff in front of the eye was possibly inspired by this historical photograph depicting the initial creation of the monument.
What adventure is complete without a selfie?
"All aboard!"


Considering we're now 2 weeks past Hallowe'en, I may have to administer last rites on the old pumpkin and transfer its slimy blackened carcass to the compost bin before it slides down the front steps of its own accord.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


While waiting for the Langdale ferry yesterday I was reading a portion of a chapter in a book which described an ancient form of tuning instruments to the natural frequency of the earth. The subject matter of the book is a bit dry by pop culture standards I guess, but lately I seem to be into such things. The gist of the book consists of research of comparisons between ancient societies and their accomplishments concerning the structures they built without the aid of modern conventional engineering. The book began with Stonehenge with its celestial orientation and compared it to other structures like the Egyptian and Aztec pyramids that pre-date written records.
The basic principle that was discovered is that the earth is based upon circle geometry consisting of 366 degrees rather than the conventional 360 degree circle that is the norm today. Like I said, it’s a bit dry but nonetheless interesting. I’m getting towards the end of the book now and it’s currently comparing other systems outside the realm of measurement, i.e. music to see if the 366 system could be applied in that field, and if so what the ramifications would be. Skirting around the theoretical heavy lifting detailed in the book, suffice it to say that the researchers discovered that their data indicated a harmonic frequency associated with a fundamental measurement unit from Stonehenge-era data generated a note in Hertz just slightly above our modern day C sharp. Further research provided the surprising revelation that this slightly higher C sharp was used in ancient times by Australian Aborigines to tune their didgeridoos for playing music to the earth. This particular note is considered to be the most sacred of all tunings.
If anyone has managed to read this far without drowsiness overtaking them I will say that it has been with some purpose that I had to set the stage in this fashion. Because really, how often is it that one considers the didgeridoo at all, especially in North American culture? That’s what makes what I’m about to say so interesting.
Quite literally I was reading the passage about the digeridoo as the lined-up ferry traffic ahead of me began to move. I tossed the book on the passenger seat without even marking my place, started the car and fastened my seat belt as I caught up with the cars ahead of me.
As one of the weirdest coincidences I’ve ever come across, just as I crested the stairs into the ferry’s passenger lounge from the car deck, the very first person I saw was a seated young woman blowing into a didgeridoo! I could probably count on one hand the number of times in my life I’ve ever even seen a didgeridoo in person.
It was just a little too strange for words.