Saturday, May 30, 2009


Yesterday, my wife and I stopped by Granville Island for lunch, and to pick up some fruit and vegetables at the Granville Island Market. The little over 1 pound of cherries we bought came prepackaged in a cardboard box (the proprietor emptied them into a plastic bag after we had purchased them).

Today, we had some of them as a snack. About 20% of them exhibited some marked deviations from the norm. Several had some "outgrowths"; some of those suggested another cherry (an identical twin, if you like) which did not develop properly. A couple of them were actual twins, and the weirdest one had some hairy growth breaking through its skin (see picture at left, below). I broke open the one with the hairy outgrowth (see picture at right). It looks to me as though there may have been a new cherry tree in the making - perhaps the cherry was germinating while still on the tree. Any ideas?

Monday, May 18, 2009

The old and the new

The other day, CBC radio aired an episode about things old and new. The theme concerned typewriter keyboards, and other older technology. The question in the background was why some of the old technologies have survived and been incorporated into the latest technologies, and why some people stick with the older technologies (I'm one of those).

For example, the sound equipment in our home is decades old. The radio show (Spark) mentioned and interviewed a number of people who have the same philosophy as I, namely: if it ain't broke, don't fix it (or throw it away). As far as I'm concerned, use this older equipment, take reasonable care of it, and it'll serve you for many years. This goes for our cars, television sets, computers, kitchen utensils and equipment, and generally for all those things which are subject to the exhortations of the people who want to sell you new stuff.

That's not to say that I'm against the new technologies. We own digital cameras, a flat-screen computer display, an MP3 player, etc. I also own a computer-driven telescope which has been updated from its original state - I bought the telescope itself about 32 years ago at which time computer control of amateur telescopes was extremely rare. In the 1980's I wrote a computer program for an Apple II, as well as constructed the necessary mechanical additions for the telescope to make this telescope obey computer navigational commands. I have now replaced all that with up-to-date hardware and software. This is to show that I like new technology too, I'm certainly no Luddite. I definitely wouldn't be running my business if new technology was my "enemy".

This weekend, my wife organized a family dinner (for my 70th birthday - we usually have around 20 people on occasions like this), and even though we asked for no presents, I received some very nice ones. Derek, being the technical "geek" in our family, presented me with a portable GPS car display (a Tomtom ONE), with which I have played around for the last couple of days. Today my wife and I went for a walk in the neighbourhood, and I took it along. It's amazing how well that unit showed our position in real time all along the way. Being into astronomy, electronics, and computers, I well know the amazing underlying technologies that make this possible. I'm very pleased with this unit and will likely use it for many years to come.

So. I'll adopt any new technology which I consider useful, but I'll certainly not buy anything that is intended to replace those things that work well and whose replacement would result in little improvement. I really don't care about what's fashionable - for me it's what's practical.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

The years go by in a hurry when you're our age.

Yesterday our granddaughters lived up to family tradition and made some "Mother's Day" bread for their Mom. The breadmaking session was all part of my wife's making a large loaf for the granddaughters' piano recital which took place today.

At that recital, our older granddaughter played a moving interpretation of the "Moonlight Sonata", the younger one played a wonderful rendition of "the Lion sleeps tonight"; she also sang a medley of Beatle tunes. Both of them teamed up to sing a duet towards the end of that medley. Each has a beautiful voice (no bias here!) - we're proud grandparents.

Time goes by.

Since it was Mother's Day, the many mothers who go through a lot of effort to make it possible for the music students to attend the Crowe Music Studio were given their due recognition - as was Ms. Crowe (the teacher, mentor, confidante) herself. All her family was in attendance; they handed her a nice flower bouquet. It was nice to see them all. We've come to know Ms. Crowe as a wonderful and accomplished music teacher (she's also an examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music) - and it showed in the calibre of the students' recitals. There is also another connection: Ms. Crowe and I both have German roots. When I drop off our granddaughters for their lessons, we occasionally converse in that language - to the apparent wonderment of most of the students attending her studio at the time.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Astronomy Day May 2, 2009

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC), along with many other like-minded groups is "observing" Astronomy Day with a host of activities for all ages and involving many space-related topics. Here in the Vancouver area, telescopes, talks, and exhibits will be set up at the "Gordon Southam Observatory" (GSO), next to the Planetarium in Kitsilano. Here are a couple of links to further information:

The event will take place rain or shine. If weather permits, you can view the Moon, the planet Saturn, and other interesting astronomical objects through various telescopes.

The event is free to anyone.

Have an educational time!