Pat's Log
Tue, 13 Dec 2016

Scuba Dive Log Sheets
20161212 On my recent trip to Jamaica I finally finished all of the pages of my PADI dive log book. I decided to replace it with one of those fancy nylon logbook binders, but the insert sheets for them are bizarrely expensive. I found some free ones online, but they really were not up to par. Anyone who has ever been diving with me knows I take my logs pretty seriously, so something had to be done. My solution was to make my own.

I'm happy with the outcome. The resulting design is nice because it's straightforward, using checkboxes and icons wherever possible, and is both metric and imperial. It has everything the PADI pages have, and a few extras.

The PDF has been made available on a new section of my site. Hopefully others find them useful as well.


[] | posted @ 03:26 | link
Wed, 12 Oct 2016

Rant About Ottawa’s LED Street Lighting
The City of Ottawa decided back in 2014 to implement a pilot project to convert the classic high-pressure sodium vapour street lighting on Carling Avenue to state of the art LED. All of the usual reasons were given, their energy efficiency being the main goal. The project went ahead, there weren’t many complaints, and the pilot was deemed a success.

Fast forward to today, and the city is taking on the conversion to solid-state lighting all over the city. It’s an expensive project, but the energy savings is supposed to pay for it within four years. The problem is with the choice of bulbs they are using for the city-wide project.

Here is some background. The high-pressure sodium vapour bulb, developed by General Electric in 1964, is a staple of street lighting. The warm 2700K wide-spectrum glow is easy on the eyes, not blinding to motorists, and also pleasant to sleep to when the light beams into your bedroom window from outside. Recent pockets of LED street lighting installations around the city have been a fair replacement for this technology; the LED’s colour is a little flatter, a little bluer in temperature (around 3000K), but overall acceptable as a replacement.

The current project to convert all of the city’s street lighting to LED is, however, entirely different. The bulbs the city is installing right now are cool white, probably somewhere around the 5000K temperature. They are very jarringly white and easy to be blinded by when driving underneath them.

The difference between the old incandescent lighting and the new LEDs is very stark, especially when seen side by side, as is currently the case on Fisher Avenue, where they have converted one side of the road:


Note how in the top picture the left side of the street has a pleasantly warm and inviting feel, while the right side of the street, with its newly installed lighting, is cold and pale.

The other pictured intersection is Merivale and Meadowlands, which shows the classic sodium bulbs with the more fitting LED replacements mentioned above. These are clearly much easier on the eyes.

How did it get to this? Whose ‘bright’ idea was it to use these horribly harsh bulbs in our street lamps? I sure would like to know why my tax dollars were spent on substandard lighting. Progress and energy savings are fine goals, but only if the progress actually results in something better.

[] | posted @ 03:22 | link
Tue, 11 Oct 2016

Jacob Has a Tooth
20161010 It seems a little odd posting for the first time about my baby son over eight months after he was born. This log simply went into stasis, first being hosted on a server no longer accessible to me, and then effectively neglected for lack of time.

Nonetheless, Jacob Elliot Suwalski was born on January 28th, 2016, and is now about eight-and-a-half months old. While we were out today doing a photo shoot in our colourful autumn surroundings, he became unusually grumpy, and seemed to be in real physical pain. Teething being a real possibility, a quick check confirmed that his first tooth had just broken through the gum. The internet tells me it's his lower left central incisor. He is developing so quickly.

It's a good thing he is well on his way into solid foods.

[] | posted @ 03:54 | link

With the inherent convenience of Facebook, I've managed to ignore the log for a few years now. It was never my intention, it just sort of went that way. I think it's time to change that.

The problem with Facebook is that I've never felt it's a great place to dump my thoughts, where I'm comfortable writing paragraphs on end about a specific subject. Most people will skip over longs posts in their feeds too see the cute cat meme below. I have also held back some ideas, because it's not polite to put something up that some may find offensive, while others "like." With the Facebook model, I'm broadcasting an idea, placing it in the feeds of people who may simply be angered by it. Here, on my own server, anyone reading actually has to seek it out. This, in turn, is possible, because search engines like Google do index the content, like any other web page. Throw into the mix recent stories about Facebook and Twitter censorship, and all in all, posting here seems like a better use of my time.

So, long live the blog.

[] | posted @ 03:39 | link
Sat, 01 Mar 2014

20140228 I recently got back from a work trip to the beautiful Caribbean island of Curacao. The work was fairly straightforward, and with the flight schedule that was available, it left a fair amount of time to explore this quaint, very Dutch island.

Curacao did not fit my stereotype of a Caribbean island. This is probably because it actually has industry other than tourism; the entire island felt more "real" than purely vacation destinations. That said, there were many beaches loaded with many (mostly Dutch) tourists enjoying the sun.

It would have been pretty much impossible to get around without a car, as the taxis are very expensive and inconvenient. The car rentals are cheap, in relative terms. Of course, driving on this island took some getting used to. There are hardly any street signs, and the lay of the land forces roads in many odd directions. Lots of very fun roundabouts. Eventually, I got very used to driving my little Hyundai i10 and started enjoying it. It was sort of like driving in Europe, but with less rules.

On my day off, I got to explore the less developed beaches of the West point of the island, and even managed to get a couple of dives in.

Now for a couple of oddities... in the evenings I wanted to hang out in the old port and touristy areas. This did not pan out well since just about everything shuts down at six! When I needed to fill up the car before returning it, I spent an hour looking for a gas station that would take credit card. They don't! Finally, while this did not annoy me in any way, I did not come across a single bottled water in my entire time there.

Many things could be written about Curacao. It is a vibrant place. I hope to go there again in the future and explore more of the historic aspects.

On my way home, I transferred through Sint Maarten. That airport with the beach behind it is properly nuts!

[] | posted @ 04:00 | link
Tue, 31 Dec 2013

Not Just Any Other Year
20131231 2013 has come and gone very quickly. There was no time to spend writing my mind online, not even particularly much on Facebook. But it wouldn't be right to not have a single blog entry for the entire year. And what a year it has been.

The year is divided into two parts in my mind. It started off with easing into a new job, house renovations, and a lot of running around and planning.

The second half of the year is highlighted by my wedding. It was a lot of fun, actually. The day went perfectly, there were so many friends and family, and now I'm married and can look forward to other big things in life. The honeymoon in St. Lucia felt well-deserved.

With next year come many more planned renovations. I hope there will be time to do other great things, and maybe even write a little bit here.

[] | posted @ 21:05 | link
Sun, 28 Oct 2012

Bye Tanzania
20121027 So ends the trip. We are all glad to be leaving Stone Town. I could spend another week on the beach, but most of us are happy to be going home.

As the flight was in the afternoon, the morning was spent on last-minute shopping and photography. An easy end to the trip ahead of the long travel.

Addendum: Mercifully, the flights back went off without a hitch. We even spent time in the proper Addis Ababa airport terminal, and it was a much better experience. It is good to be back home.

[/tanzania] | posted @ 03:55 | link
Sat, 27 Oct 2012

Stone Town
20121026 Today starts a big, four day, Muslim festival. Everyone is running around in traditional robes, and the streets are noticeably busier.

With more locals around, it is possible to make an observation about how women are treated with less respect. I can walk in a straight line and easily get where I'm going. Looking around my travel companions, Kelly, on the other hand, bumps shoulders with the men as they go by. They seem to harass her more when trying to sell their wares. If we are together and she asks for directions, the answer sometimes comes my way. It is different than what we're used to.

We went to see what remains of the slave trade. The Anglican Cathedral is now built over the site, but they maintained a few of the "horror chambers" where the slaves were kept. It was a little depressing to learn about, with intentionally small rooms being stuffed with humans. The cathedral itself was nice, but it was clear that stones get tossed at the windows every now and then. The culture clash here is alive and kicking.

We had Ethiopian food for lunch. This was a first for many in our group. It should be quite authentic, based on the proximity to that country. As with all the meals we have been getting here, delicious.

The afternoon was whiled away going through shops and drinking at local establishments. Many were closed for the holidays. There are many more things to see in Stone Town, but the concensus is that it is not interesting outside of the tourist areas. Or perhaps not inviting. The heat doesn't help, it is very hot and humid.

It would seem a number of our group is eager to get out of here. I can sympathize, though knowing we are flying out tomorrow tends to leave me with the feeling there is never enough time to explore things fully. Sunset off the coast of Stone Town can be quite dramatic.

[/tanzania] | posted @ 03:55 | link
Fri, 26 Oct 2012

Spice Tour and Hello Stone Town
20121025 The taxi trip to Stone Town was uneventful, though we had the driver couple it with a stop for a spice tour. Like the Maasai village earlier in the trip, the spice farm was definitely geared toward tourists. Nonetheless, our tour was fun and informative. The guide was really nice, and showed us a good sampling of the kinds of plants that grow on the island in larger farms. Particularly standing out was the nutmeg nut, which is in a fruit and has an internal red webbing that looks very alien. The other plant of interest was the cinnamon tree, where it's the bark that had flavour, and it is very delicious when fresh and moist. Roots of the cinnamon tree are used by locals as a substitute for eucalyptus, and it really is very similar. They made us leaf hats and fed us fruits, too.

Stone Town itself is a bit of a mixed bag. It has the potential to be glorious with minimal effort in maintenance to the ancient buildings. The metal-studded doorways, in particular, are really unique and very cool. Unfortunately, most of them are rotting away. It is a curious contrast, since all of the cars are constantly being washed and polished, meanwhile their houses are in complete disarray. Utterly bizarre.

We ate lunch at a very authentic Indian restaurant called the Silk Route. The butter chicken was delicious, and if there was more time, I would definitely be back.

Our stay with the Clove Hotel is cheap but the venue has a kind of charm. A rooftop terrace works very well, along with an honour system bar. It's right in the center of the action, just a block from the coast line.

We went for a walk and ended up in a market where the locals shop. The congestion and smells were a little too much, especially by the meat and fish markets. There is something to be said for the modern supermarket. Maybe it's not for everyone?

We had dinner at a night market. Street meat can be fun; it was nice to try authentic shawarma and locally prepared lobster.

[/tanzania] | posted @ 03:55 | link
Thu, 25 Oct 2012

Scuba Diving with Sea Turtles
20121024 Another scuba day! This was a shorter dive to a closer reef. At first, this reef seemed much less interesting, but then the stingrays and turtles started popping up. We saw four of the latter in total. Beautiful creatures, so graceful when they swim. There was also a large sea horse. I had seen one of these in Cuba, but I always forget how strangely they move through the water. Finally, we saw a fish with wings; it was the strangest fish I had ever seen, and moved through the water like a bird flies in the air. So bizarre!

The balance of the day was spent eating a great burger at the scuba resort, then lazing away until dinner, a seafood barbecue at our own resort. Amazing how the time went by, tomorrow will already be the transfer to Stone Town. This part of the trip was so very enjoyable.

[/tanzania] | posted @ 03:55 | link

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