We had a 4 hour long power outage this morning at home. Always a surprise to see how great your preparedness is not. 🙂
It is always good in a way.. gives one a chance to review and take steps to make it better for next time… and there is always a next time.
Out in our rural area, we get at least a half dozen outages each winter.
After the moresnowthannormal winter of 2007 we thought we were ahead of the ball game, preparedness wise.
What happened this morning?
Well we did have the embers of a fire from last night going, and added more wood to get the heat up.
The two 110vac plugin nightlights with battery backup… both failed.
One was turned off and the other was unplugged and dead.
The clock radio alarm… didn’t work even with batteries. That’s out and the old one is back. It may not display the time on batteries but the alarm function still works.
We did have a lot of utility water stored away and some bottled water .. so that was good. The kettle went on the wood stove with no problem either and hot tea was on the way just as the power came back on.
Other notes and thoughts:
Not enough matches and candles and flashlights in all of the obvious places.
Cats are underfoot even more than normal in the dark! Maybe we get them glow in the dark collars… or little cat mounted LED lights 🙂 That would be cute.
Archive for November, 2008
We had a 4 hour long power outage this morning at home. Always a surprise to see how great your preparedness is not. 🙂
It’s been busy for some of the members of the RASC-KC in the last few days.
First Hank’s brother scores with good video of the Saskatchewan fireball (spaceweather page).
Then NASA does a goof and Kevin Fetter had the skill to capture the wayward toolbag on video.
Way to go guys! This is great motivational stuff for the rest of us to get back outside (when the snow stops!)
Once a year or so the Queen’s University the Geological Museum puts on a sale of sorts as a fundraiser. In the past we kept on missing it, and only hearing about it after the fact. This year was different!
We knew about it in advance and managed to actually get there and enjoy the wonderful collections of rock. We picked up this meteorite fragment: Campo Del Cielo from Chaco Argentina. It was $15 and reasonable I though. So we have it to add to our growing meteorite collection.
I went looking this fall up on the internets and found many entries.. you should look too!
Anyways this all ties in with the Great Prairie Meteor and how it would be really keen! to get a meteorite from Canada.
These days when we get out of work and start heading out through traffic to get out of town, we take a detour along the waterfront of Lake Ontario. Sometimes it is nice to stop, get out and just take a look around. On Monday we stopped in at a waterfront parking lot in front of Kingston General Hospital, and the sun was going down over the lake with some nice clouds. The sun has been pretty quiet for the last two years sunspot and storm wise, but we are moving into a new sunspot cycle and hopefully will be getting more activity soon.
More years now we have been running various cameras pointed up at the sky, hoping for pretty pictures of clouds but more importantly, pretty pictures of meteors and fireballs. Robert Nemiroff was kind enough to assist with some better hardware that we have been attempting to commission for well over a year now an SBIG ST237A camera. There was some custom linux software that was meant to aid in annotating the images we took but we have never been able to get that to work.
At a minimum we wanted to get a date/time stamp actually right on the image.
Luckily today was a very slow Saturday with not too many things on the go (ok, besides taking down the fall outdoor decorations, putting up wreaths, christmas inflatables, more wreaths, christmas lights on the roof, decorating trees, and a bunch of other stuff at -10 deg C with a cold north wind). An actual hour of research with google and playing with the ImageMagick package installed on our file server… success!
Below is a manual sample of what each of the 200 odd images generated each night by the Allskycamera/concam setup.
The next big R&D job is to create a folder based on the date and move the 200 odd images into that folder, and then upload the whole thing to the web site each morning.
So, I’ve heard that Astronomy is a boring hobby. Nothing ever happens. Yesterday however, put those comments to rest in a trash bin. Yesterday, fellow astrodude Hank had brother Andy call out of nowhere with news of a Big Bright Fireball in the sky near Edmonton Alberta… with Video!
Wow. He was videoing planes coming in for a landing at the Airport and caught a few seconds of the Great Prairie Fireball, along with more footage of the planes aborting landings. We took the 56 second .avi generated by the Canon Powershot A510 and split out the individual frames using HandyAVI. Once we had those individual frames (about 24/sec) we had HandyAVI recombine the first 50 images, which started during the event and a few frames past the end of the event, at 5 frames per second to make the video last a little longer.
You can find all 50 frames and the short video at http://kingston.rasc.ca/fireball/. We checked the StarlightCascade Allsky Camera for anything but had nothing… as expected as we are far too far east to hope for a sighting.
My HP Laptop came with the dreaded and greatly feared MS Vista Operating system on a fairly large drive, 350gb. Attempts to downgrade this to MS XPPro failed due to a lack of drivers for the chipset in the laptop, specifically, the XPPro installer did not see a hard drive in the laptop.
So I used gnuparted and shrunk the partition down to something more reasonable (150gb) and installed linux Fedora 9 in the remaining 100gb partition. Not too shabby… except the wireless networking refused to work. No drivers, bad drivers? dunno. At least the wired networking worked… until some updates came along and then that stopped working as well.
Today I downloaded all 800mb of linux Ubuntu v8.10 and installed it overtop of fedora 9. Manually handling the partition so that Vista would not get toasted, it went in withing 10 minutes, started up with Grub knowing about vista and everything.
I started up in Vista and all went ok.
I restarted in Ubuntu and all was ok. wireless networking worked! I downloaded some updates
and all is well.
That is the way it is SUPPOSED to work!
Last week (2008) the first of 86 Wind turbines went up on Wolfe Island.
As proposed, this is a 197.8 megawatts (“MW”) wind plant that consists of 86 wind turbines. Each turbine has a rated capacity of 2,300 kilowatts.
Today we can see three turbines up (but not yet operational) maybe two more towers and two cranes.
It is slated to be fully operational by June 2009.
This is it! Our last day! Hmmm.. have to do something special… let’s go down to the beach at sunrise and drink some tequila! So Hank, Kim and I trundled down to the beach and saluted the morning. We also did some long exposure (15 sec) shots looking south at the star Fomalhaut and walking towards the camera.. Pretty neat effect.
A morning of taking it easy, packing up and hopefully not forgetting anything in the rooms, making sure none of the room geckos got into the luggage and we were off to check out at noon and hope on the bus to the airport at 4. Before we headed out however, we were treated to a show, the weekly feeding of the crocodiles? alligators? I always get those confused.
We got to the airport, went through a few security checks, and then trundled through the most massive duty free series of retailers I’ve ever seen. In Toronto there were a couple on the arrivals side. In Mexico we walked for 10 minutes through dozens and dozens and dozens of them, sometimes right through the middle of the stores to get to the other side. They make a huge effort at seperating the last few pesos from the departing 🙂
Around 7:15 our plane arrived, disgorged a full load of gringo touristas and 40 minutes later we boarded on a turned around flight… one seat free on the 757. Packed solid but at least a faster flight home with prevailing winds. We left Mexico in 35 DegC and 95%+ humidity to arrive in Toronto after 1am in near 0C temps, cleared customs and waited for the bags for about an hour. Back to the vehicles and home by 6:30am and right to bed… what a long day!
What a trip!
Just watching some of the new Hd channels that we are getting from the Starchoice satellite service and noticed that the HDNet channel (275) will be broadcasting the launch of the STS-126 space shuttle at 7:55 p.m. EST on Nov. 14 on a mission to prep the station for expanded crews.
Of course it runs right up against our RASC-KC Annual General Meeting, so it will have to be recorded.
Our last full day at the resort saw us down at the beach .. we made a brief siting of the newlyweds getting their feet wet as well.
Where did the day go? Before we knew it, it was sunset on the last day here. Time for reflection and the realization that 7 days is not enough. This was the first day we actually had nothing to do and felt the stresses leaving, leaving.. gone.
That evening we went back to the theatre again. There was an inhouse group of dancers/actors/singers that put on a show most nights. They were very very good. Here in the next few images they put on scenes from Rocky Horror (Sweet Transvestite from Transexual Transylania!), the Phantom, Thriller and a couple more.
We actually made a few videos with our Canon Powershot A540 camera as well that did not turn out too bad.. not of the show but of the audience. Kim, Di, Katie were all dancin up a storm to the Time Warp!
Wednesday again started before sunrise… eight of us hopped into a cab/van and headed off on the adventure of the day… Treasure of the Sierra Madres… ok.. maybe not the Treasure but darned close.
One thing we noticed in Mexico was that there were a lot of dogs and no cats. Scratch that… we saw one cat at the Adventure Centre, while waiting to board our truck jeeps.
Here are some of the dogs we came across.
We met these three amigos at our lunch stop… where we had homemade tortillas that were to die for. Not made from corn soaked in limestone water for two days and then pounded flat.. no… the new instant tortilla corn mix… and it was still fantastic. We didn’t want to go but we had more travelling up into the mountains.
The roads were still pretty bad but we eventually made it through to El Colombo and the Town Square
We checked out the church the square and the school across the way. Some of the girls dug into their packs and left Canadian type souvenirs… pens pencils, balls and stuff like that.
Our guide, Estevan, was fantastic. Enthusiastic, funny, knowledgable.. everything you would want in a local guide.
Back to the fanatastic tortillas and Coca..
Too soon we hit the road again, heading even deeper into the mountains, through Neuvo Ixtlan and La Cucaracha. We stopped for a half hour hike through the jungle, checking out the bugs, fungus and plant life. After a jungle pit stop for the ladies, we went by an active volcano (just a lot of steam and smell) and back out onto the highway through Conalep. We stopped for a BBQ dinner on the beach at the bottom of yet another horrendous road down the mountain plateau. gorgeous little resort… it even had wifi!
Better yet it had one of the best bars for marguaritas ever!.
The undertow was something else so we only went in knee deep onto the surf. The beach was gorgeous with a lot of volcanic rock and sand.
Again too soon we packed up and headed back up the mountain to the highway and out came the tequlia.. lots of toasts and cheers and the trialing state police declined a shot, fired up their lights and passed us with smiles and waves.
Ten hours after we started out we returned home.
Another exhausting day but one of the best ever. Good thing too because tomorrow is reserved to rest, lie around and drink a lot.
Tuesday saw a group of us get up at the crack of dawn and head out on a bus tour of Puerto Vallarta and surrounding areas. The level of construction was phenomenal. The amount of manual labour employed was phenomenal. The condition of the roads was scary bad. Huge series of really deep potholes right outside 5 star resorts. Leaving our own resort in the daylight let us see how bad our own road was. The highways were not too bad but the on/off ramps were another story.
Cervandro was our guide for the day and we quickly toured through Neuvo Vallarta and onto a great whale statue. A little farther along was a great big statue of Triton? or Neptune? God of the Sea type guy.
Kim was amazed at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company (from the movie Forrest Gump). Quite real and all over. Never did get a chance to stop in and sample though.
We made our way to downtown and were immediately struck by tourist attractions, including these natives flying around a pole while playing music. It was something else to experience. These 4 guys climbed up the pole, wound up the rope and platforms to the top, climbed in and started spinning around unwinding the rope as they went. It was a little surreal.
Downtown was full of things to see.. we could have spent the entire day there but only had an hour or so. This hotel was seen in the movie “Night of the Iguana”, which started the entire tourism boom back in 1964. We just watched that movie with Richard Burton and Ava Gardner. Wow. Great Movie!
The church just off the Square and City Hall was magnificent. Here are a couple of images, inside and outside.
After touring the church we started walking into some of the older sections of town, up and down up and down.. good exercise! Then off for a quick bite of lunch and through a market near the river. Too bad most of the items were very similar to each other.. I was looking for some specific items and they were not to be found.
Back on the bus and we headed out of town along the south shore to Mismaloya, the main area of shooting for Night of the Iguana. Beautiful place!
Much more developed now as you can see then it was back in 1964. Back on the bus and we turned inland following highway 200 up into the hills. We turned off up yet another sideroad, washed out and narrow .. up and up and up… to a Tequila factory! One of the highlights of the trip to be sure.
We sampled all six kinds that they made, before during and after touring the factory… basically a tin roof with no walls and a lot of stainless steel tanks and equipment. One thing we could not get over was all of the outdoors to the weather buildings. The tour guide had to sample each shot first, to demonstrate either a shot technique or to give a different toast. Then he would splash around the group filling cups and do it again with us. Then he did one again so we could watch the technique. Later on in the afternoon he admitted this was his 3rd bus tour of the day and that he “really LOVED his JOB!” We fell for the almond tequila, which was so similar to amaretto that we had a hard time telling them apart. Just as we were about to leave, the sky made a big booming thunder noise and the skies opened up in an afternoon downpour. The washed out roads quickly got worse and we headed down the mountain. Phew!
A long 1+ drive home in the rain and we had little energy left that day.
But it was fun!
Sunday evening November 02 we went out for a quick peak at a near conjunction of Venus, the crescent moon and Jupiter, all within the field of view of our little Canon Powershot A540. This was a handheld 1.8s exposure at f3.2 looking south southwest at 18:22 EST. Nice skies. Would like to stay out longer but there is that concept of having to get up an go to work and adjust the routine to the new Standard Time concept. On a bonus side, for the first time all of our computers switched over without any issues.
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