Time for a foxhunt

Today the Peel Amateur Radio Club participated in “Emergency Preparedness Week” in Brampton. Members of our ARES group setup a table at a shopping centre in Brampton to help educate the public about our role in an emergency situation.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get out to the mall, but I did manage to have a few contacts while out and about, and am told that everything went very well at the table. Our jammer managed to show up, he seems to be able to tell when it’s the most disruptive. In between transmissions we were treated to raspberries, touch tones and the music of Britney Spears. I shudder at what our emergency officials had to think of that.

One thing that was nice to see happening though was the RST reports on the input frequency from everyone that was monitoring the repeater. Next time we’re going to have to get out there with the directional gear and track this fellow down. In the meantime, though we’ll wait for Industry Canada to do something about this joker.

My reports:

5:15-5:21pm — S9 on PRC input from Derry Road and Dixie Road in Mississauga. Raspberries and music

5:50pm — S0 on PRC input from Sandlewood Parkway and Dixie Road in Brampton. Observed music. VE3CVS reported S9 from Queen & Torbram area. VE3IQU(?) reported S0 from Queen/McLaughlin.

Hopefully someone can take care of this guy before we *really* need the repeater.

Geocaching in the news, for the wrong reason again

Looks like they had an interesting weekend up in Orillia. It seems someone brought a geocache into the local OPP detachment claiming they’d found a bomb. Listening to chat among some of the local geocachers, seems to indicate that a ‘muggle‘ may have spotted a relatively new geocacher replacing the hide.

As the cache was in a PVC pipe the muggle probably assumed it to be a pipe bomb, although why someone would bomb a tree is a question. The other part of the question is, why on earth they would pick up something that they thought was a bomb and transport it 5 km away to the Police department? Fortunately this one was harmless.

This isn’t the first time Geocachers have been demonized in this area, as another geocache was cited as causing geocachers to be digging holes in a historic church cemetery. The cache in question was a virtual cache. While digging is generally frowned upon, in this case the cache involved reading a plaque. The holes were more likely caused by local wildlife looking for a meal.

As more geocaches are placed, this is going to become more of a problem in the future.

This is a simulated post

Got to have one of the more unique tours Saturday. Spent a few hours over in Pickering touring the Nuclear Simulators.

These rooms are quite interesting, both from a ‘regular person’ perspective, and from a technical person perspective.

When walking in, the rooms are overwhelming with hundreds, possibly thousands of little lights and instruments confronting the eye. One can’t help but wonder how a human being could possibly comprehend what is going on at any given time. But these people do. It gives me a new respect for the people that perform jobs like this.

The geek in me wanted to know more about the backend and it is truly staggering. A room like this can have 10,000 connections back to the simulator computers and they know the position of every control, and every gauge. Even more astounding to me is the sheer math that must go into this, and the relations that exist between the individual componments. Amazing stuff.

Makes me wonder where I put that Microsoft Fortran compiler I was using in the 80’s…

Getting out the F-80

Yellow Daffodils

Originally uploaded by gregorypleau.

I’ve been a bit lazy for the last little while, using Kristen’s digital camera for most of my pictures.

The digital lets me get a bit lazy about things, if I take a picture with the wrong aperture or shutter speed, no big deal – just take it again. Not the best habit to get into if I want to be taking reliable photos of subjects that DON’T stay still.

So I blew the dust of my SLR, and immediately remembered what I like about it. Composing a photo is just so much better with that camera. Of course mistakes are discovered a week later when you get the film back but when it works – boy does it work.

I just have to remember, not to try and handhold a shot that’s slower than 1/60 ….

It’s election season

Yesterday and today mark the annual election dates for the two Amateur Radio clubs that I’m a member of. Last night I joined several other operators that will make up the executive of the Peel Amateur Radio Club for 2006-2007. I’m filling the role of the Public Relations person, and I have big shoes to fill in this regard, as Eddie VA3EDP did a pretty darn good job. I’m up for the challenge though and look forward to the experience. Hopefully I’ll still be saying that this time next year. Keith Watson, one of the geocachers I go out caching with is the club’s Vice President now.
Tonight is the elections for the Halton Amateur Radio Club, and this ought to be an interesting night as well. The club meetings are held pretty close to one of my busier geocaches too.

1000 Visits to the photostream

Red Tulips in the Sun

Originally uploaded by gregorypleau.

Well, I checked this morning, and I’ve hit a little milestone on Flickr. 1042 visits to my photostream. I hope that you people out there are enjoying my photos as much as I enjoy taking them.

I’m routinely travelling with three cameras at any given time now.

– I’ve got the lame camera in my cell phone, 1megapixel, f2.8, 4x digital zoom that handles white balance about as good as a sleeping bat.

– There’s the Pentax Optio 555 – which is my wife’s camera actually – with a 5X optical zoom and 5 megapixel. The bulk of my flickr photos are posted from this camera. It handles like a miniature SLR some days.

– And I carry a Nikon F-80 with two lenses – the 28-105mm Nikkor AF and the 70-300mm Nikkor AF. This is the most capable of the cameras that I own, but also the most costly to run.

I’ve also shot photos with my older Canon Powershot A20 (that I still have!) and I can still go back to my dad’s old Nikon Nuvis camera – remember Advanced Photo System? They brought that out just in time for film to get killed off by digital. Ooooops!

As spring is here another one of my favorite photography times is upon us. I’m looking forward to the next 1000 visitors, and the photos that they’ll see.

Good Morning (Dove)

Good Morning (Dove)

Originally uploaded by gregorypleau.

This is one of the two doves starting a family in my next door neighbour’s wall-planter. They’re unbelievably tolerant of people coming and going, and even let me grab this picture from just a couple feet away.

They weren’t quite as impressed when I brought Latte (my cat) out to show them, but fortunately they didn’t get too excited and Latte constricted her activities to watching them.

The last couple days I come out my front door, there are doves on my porch – so I think it’s them teasing Latte now. We normally get a finch nest in our Maple tree out front so I’ll have to wait for them and get the Nikon out when they show up. The one with the telephoto lens so I’m not disturbing them

Not how I planned to spend my afternoon

I really should know better than to take this strecth of highway. This is Drumbo, and of every ten trips I take to London or Chatham that I get stopped in traffic on, 9 of those stops will occur here.

Normally I find it’s the trucks that can’t stick to the road around here, but in this case a motorcyclist tempted fate and lost it appears. He was whisked away in an Air Ambulance, but I suspect he may have had a passenger as well, because another ambulance took off on the other side of the road lights a blazing. Hopefully both of them survived to live another day. The cyclist tore the front off the bike so I’m not optimisitic on that.

I took the opportunity to snap off a couple pictures of the traffic backlog, from a place I don’t normally get to stand.

Quiet Harbour

Quiet Harbour

Originally uploaded by gregorypleau.

Another one of my favorite subjects, sunsets. I was trying to go for some composure here, using the tree at the top to lead the eye up and away from the subject.

The Marina itself has lines that draw the eye into the centre, toward the sunset. I used the program mode for sunsets on the camera for this one, my little digital here is quite clever at certain cliche items like sunsets and fireworks.

First to Find #9

Same old, same old has been happening with regards to the race to be first at a geocache, otherwise known as FTF; First-to-find. I went out and grabbed my 9th last night. For those of you keeping score on such things, I’ve found 840 caches so far, and I was the first person to crack open that nice clean, crisp and dry logbook 9 times. So 0.01% of the time I’m out geocaching I grab a FTF.

There are other cachers in the area that I live in that have a much greater thirst for these… often a cache is found within 30 minutes to 2 hours of being posted. Since I’ve got a day-job, I don’t tend to really pay much attention to a “Published” email from Geocaching.com unless it comes at 4:30 and it’s along my commute.

This one sat out there for 8 hours before we hiked up to it, that’s after spending a half hour looking at every grave marker in a cemetery some kilometers away. Needless to say, we were rather surprised to find the logbook empty by the time we got to it. Still, it’s nice to get one once in a while.  FTF #9 for me, shared with Kristen (Kitten on the Hunt) who got her second.