I finally got a new telescope. I had been itching to buy one for a while now. About a year ago I got the idea that it would be great to reboot my old astronomy hobby. As a kid, I was the proud owner of a decent 70mm refractor on an equatorial mount and tripod. I had spent hundreds of hours probably, scanning the skies, even in minus 25 degree weather, looking at the moon, planets, star-clusters … I had always felt a bit of disappointment at not being able to see nebulae or galaxies. Nevertheless, seeing Jupiter and his moons, or Saturn and its rings provided views I will never forget. The scope even had lunar and solar eyepieces (I had no idea the risk I was taking by looking at the sun with that sketchy filter) – I can’t for the life of me remember the brand of the scope, but it was pretty good. I had gotten it at Christmas, a gift from my mother who was keenly aware of my interest in science and nature.
I don’t even know what it was that has recently re-awakened my interest in the night sky. I think it was always there, but recently, I began thinking about it more and more. I think I also became aware, about a year ago, about a shop in town where they sell all kinds of telescopes (Focus Scientific – https://focusscientific.com/) once I paid them a visit and saw all those telescopes, I knew what I had to do. Initially I had hoped to buy a big Newtonian on a Go-To equatorial mount such as the Celestron 8″ reflector on the Advanced VX mount, perhaps hook up my DSLR and do some astrophotography. However, I later decided to go with something a bit more affordable – for now, and settled for the Meade 10″ Lightbridge Plus Dobsonian. Astrophotography will have to wait a couple more years.
Setting up the scope took me about a half an hour. As luck would have it, the sky cleared, and I went out into the crisp March air for some views. Even though the moon was nearly full tonight, I still managed to see the Orion Nebula and The Pleiades. Of course, the moon stole the show.
I can’t wait for some clear dark skies, so that I can hunt for the Leo Triplet and the Whirlpool galaxy.
By the way, the moon photo was taken by carefully positioning the camera of my Samsung Galaxy S9+ against the eyepiece -the photo simply doesn’t do the live view justice, but it gives you an idea of the view.
For her 6th birthday I got Sophia a 10 gallon tank and added 1 blue siamese fighting fish, 3 corydora and 4 neon tetras. Plus a couple of shrimp. And live plants.
And with the live plants, we later learned, came the progenitors of a vast, pesky population of snails – black bladder snails.
We’re not sure how the other fish feel about them either. Here are some pictures.
With some garlic, butter, and white wine perhaps?
Spike’s not impressed.
I love to listen to great music loud in my car. But I don’t have Youtube (nor do I want it) in my car. So, my solution is to record great music off of youtube with a fantastic application called Audacity. I do this sometimes in the evenings, with nothing else to do around my house like laundry or dishes. I can sit down and find an 80’s smash hit that I haven’t heard in 20 years, record it via Audacity to MP3 and then put it on USB which I can play in my car. Here is the problem. This wonderful funtionality recently broke. Let me explain.
My home Desktop Operating-System is an Arch-based distro called Manjaro. I recently upgraded it the to most recent version, Manjaro 18.0 -codename Illyria- but to my dismay found I could no longer record from my browser to Audacity. A quick google-search revealed others who had the same problem. Two new packages in the most recent build of my OS were the culprits, namely, alsa-lib and alsa-plugins. (ALSA is ‘Advanced Linux Sound Architecture’) and along with Pulsaudio delivers audio functionality to the linux desktop. The new versions of these (alsa-lib-1.1.7-1 and alsa-plugins-1.1.7-3) broke Audacity’s ability to record audio!
I hummed and haaa’d. I fretted. I realized that I’d have to download the old versions of these from the Archlinux Package Archive, found here. (under /packages/a, of course).
Once downloaded, I installed them:
sudo pacman -U alsa-lib-1.1.6-1-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz
sudo pacman -U alsa-plugins-1.1.6-1-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz
Now, the only other thing that worried me was patching. The next time I went to install updates on my OS, I was going to run into the problem of pacman upgrading both of these again and breaking everything (possibly, if a new version hasn’t fixed the problem?)
Not to worry!
I added the following to /etc/pacman.conf
IgnorePkg = alsa-lib
IgnorePkg = alsa-plugins
And that’s it. Now pacman will ignore updates for those two packages. If only it was this easy for all operating-systems 😉
BTW, I thought I’d end this with a link to some truly great music that can be found on youtube.
It’s pretty easy to make the dough for the crust. The pizza stone I use to bake pizza on allows for a 16-inch pizza. To make the crust for a pizza this size, I use:
3 cups of white flour
a tablespoon of dry-active yeast
tiny pinch of sugar
I dilute the yeast in a coffee-mug of warm water. I add the little pinch of sugar. I blend this into the flour until it is well mixed, then turn it out onto my work surface. I work the dough until it’s smooth and consistent, then once this is done I flour my surface and work the dough into a nice ball. It then goes back into the mixing bowl where it rises for an hour and a half at least.
One of the hardest parts is rolling the dough out again into a nice even crust shape onto my pizza-stone, which I first sprinkle with flour and corn flour.
Once I’m happy with the shape of my pizza-crust I let it rise for another half-hour to an hour, depends how much time I have.
Finally, it’s pretty easy to add the toppings and bake it for 15 – 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. While it’s baking I shred the mozza, and then add that to the now baked pizza before throwing it back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so, until the cheese has melted just right.[foogallery id=”262″]
Saturday September 8th, I decided to head back to Gatineau Park with Sophia to see if we could find some of those amazing mushrooms we had spotted the previous weekend. This time, I brought my backpack and a couple of containers to stash mushrooms in if we found them. After doing some research after last weekends adventure, I had learned that some of the mushrooms we found were oyster mushrooms, while others were chanterelles and boletes. I was particularly excited to find chanterelles again, as I had never tried these. We searched and searched, but didn’t find any. We did find oyster mushrooms however. I’d say I ended up gathering close to a kilogram of these.
See the picture gallery in this post for these and the dinner I made with them after.
Oyster mushrooms are actually considered a superfood! see this article:
Oyster mushrooms with garlic and chives in a white-wine butter sauce.
Cleaned the mushrooms under water, then cut off the bottoms of their stalks which still had dirt attached. Dried them off with paper towel.
In a wok, melted about 4 tablespoons of butter, added the garlic and chives, salt and pepper.
Added the mushrooms and sautéed them with a splash (more like an ounce) of white wine. (some Portuguese vinho verde I had in the fridge).
Served these with a ribeye steak I grilled on the BBQ and fetuccini alfredo. (see pics)[foogallery id=”247″]
Have a look at these mushrooms I took pictures of when Sophia and I hiked around Mount King in Gatineau Parc last weekend.
Can you identify some? Are they edible?[foogallery id=”233″]
I think I’ll go back again this coming weekend. If I find more of those chanterelles and oyster mushrooms, I might have to bring them home and cook them up.
Here are some shots of the stuff growing on my balcony this summer.
Yes that’s a fig tree.
I started making some serious progress in regaining lost strength this past Spring, when I started up the gym again.
I think I overdid it, because by June my old friend tendonitis started creeping back in. At first it was a minor annoyance that I barely noticed, but after a while it grew into something that became a major detriment to my workouts. In June I also started a new job as a sysadmin at Bell Canada. What I had noticed is my lessened need for coffee. Doing my workouts in the morning seemed to get me going and kept me feeling awake throughout the day. Before long, I had reduced my coffee intake to one cup a week (an espresso) – whereas before I had been consuming 3- 4 coffees daily.
In July the tendonitis (tendonosis??) in my left elbow had gotten so bad again that I decided to take a break. This also coincided with a week-long visit from my mother. I started up my daily coffee habit again. In all, I took about 4 weeks off from the gym. I thought this was going to heal my pain, in fact, I think it did the opposite. To my utter disbelief, I actually developed tennis-elbow in my right arm! I’ve read a few articles online that all seem to hint at a connection between coffee and joint pain.
This morning, after 4 weeks off, I went to the gym. I have not had a coffee yet today. We’ll see how it goes.
So I went to the a gym for the first time in 3 years, and it felt pretty good. I had been going to Goodlife Fitness on Queen St. in downtown Ottawa until about the fall of 2014. It’s a fancy gym, expensive, it’s big, and chic, and very metropolitan. There is a juice bar on site. And it’s crowded. One of the reasons I had joined in the first place was their “Open 24 Hours” policy, which I quickly discovered was a bold-faced lie. Being a single father to a small child, and working fulltime, it goes without saying that I wasn’t going to be able to go whenever; I would need something that was open, at times, very early in the morning, or late at night. Several times when I went later in the evening, I was turned away by their friendly staff, who claimed, each time, that the gym needed some kind of maintenance. Thanks for that $74.00 every two weeks sucker.
I had been a gym guy for years. At times I had gotten into pretty good shape, too. Lifting weights cleared my head. It relaxed me, it was my form of meditation. Now, with Goodlife, I felt like I had joined some weird crowded cult. Too many narcisists, too many yahoos. One of the last times I went, they had a DJ spinning abnoxious faux-house. Another time shortly thereafter, I wanted to go in an evening – no dice. “We’re closing early for maintenance” I was told. That was that. I cancelled my membership.
And now it’s been 3 years.
One day my co-worker Ryan told me about the YMCA, which, it turns out, has a location less than a block away from my office. Who knew? He’s since moved on and found a new job, but I’ve joined him down at the Y a couple times now on a guest pass and I like it. 3 years without going to the gym. I came out of there feeling energized, refreshed. Apparently the membership is quite affordable. So far I have found it clean, the equipment is good, it’s not crowded. No show-offs, no cheezy DJ’s. I think I am going to sign up.
Over the last few weeks I’ve grown increasingly tired of Fedora. Sorry. Just too much breaking, too much instability. I miss Linux Mint. I fired up Linux Mint 18.3 KDE edition and did a clean install. To my dismay, I discovered that setting up a ‘Cisco Anyconnect Compatible VPN (openconnect)’ still doesn’t work. I had noticed this in the previous release of Mint. Ok, the usual googling around for 10 – 15 minutes didn’t yield much. There’s an Archlinux Forum post, a few Ubuntu forum discussions and not much in the way of success. Then I remembered that I had saved a text file in my Documents folder to note how I had fixed it the last time. Two packages that had to be installed:
sudo apt-get install network-manager-openvpn-gnome network-manager-openconnect
This fixed the problem. I can now connect to my office’s Cisco Anyconnect VPN service. I should note, and one thing I actually liked about Fedora, is that this worked out of the box. Why isn’t Mint packaging this by default? I also recently tried Manjaro-KDE and was pleasantly surprised that this just worked on that distro as well. I actually found lots I liked on Manjaro, except for the strange fact that I couldn’t get multiple monitors working. After much playing with xrandr and breaking xorg.conf, I still couldn’t get it. But that will be another post.