An evening out with the stars

Aurora Borealis

With some of the mon­ey I inher­it­ed from my dad, last year, I bought an 1116mm f/2.8 lens for my cam­era. In plain Eng­lish, it’s a nice fast lens with a nice wide field of view, which means that it’s great for astropho­tog­ra­phy.

Tonight, the stars aligned for me, as it were. There was almost a 50/50 chance of some auro­ra sight­ings, per SpaceWeath­er. The tem­per­a­ture was a balmy -1°C, which was a pleas­ant change from the -25°C and -35°C nights we’ve had for the last cou­ple weeks.

Long sto­ry short, there was a faint haze to the north. Edit­ing with Gimp brings out quite a bit more than the naked eye could see.

As my cam­era clicked away, I leaned back against the car. At one point I thought of Kurt Vonnegut’s quote: If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

Pine boughs

On my way back to work after lunch, a City of Bran­don truck passed by on the street, car­ry­ing a load of fresh­ly-cut ever­green boughs. Just for a sec­ond I smelled sawn pine, faint­ly, and I felt a momen­tary touch of nos­tal­gia, because pine was the wood of choice for Dad, whether he was in the shed at home or teach­ing shop class. It was com­mon wood: soft, inex­pen­sive, and ubiq­ui­tous.

I grew up smelling cut pine.

Then it passed and all I could smell was win­ter in the city again.

Hallowe’en 2017 count

Here’s the tal­ly for this year’s Hallowe’eners:

  • Mad sci­en­tist
  • Min­ion
  • 2-year-old (approx.) in a bee cos­tume who was appar­ent­ly scared of me because I’m a stranger, and had to be con­vinced by her moth­er to accept a choco­late bar from me
  • Morty
  • Zom­bie banana (how­ev­er that works)
  • Princess
  • Witch
  • Vam­pire cat
  • Cow­boy in a snow­suit
  • Cat in a snow­suit
  • 3 more cow­boys
  • Ghoul with flash­ing red LED eyes that made him look like a dire Jawa
  • Jason Voorhees in a par­ka
  • Princess in a par­ka

First door­bell: 6:15 PM.

Last door­bell: 8:45 PM.

Left­over can­dy: suf­fi­cient but prob­a­bly not fatal.

Bike Around

Speak­ing as some­one who watched his father slide into demen­tia, this is very inter­est­ing.

To com­bat [mem­o­ry loss, researcher Anne-Chris­tine Hertz] built a pro­to­type called BikeAround, which pairs a sta­tion­ary bike with Google Street View to take demen­tia patients on a vir­tu­al ride down mem­o­ry lane. Patients input a street address of a place that means some­thing to them—a child­hood home[,] for instance—and then use the ped­als and han­dle­bars to “bike around” their old neigh­bor­hoods.

Meet the researcher using Google Street View to help demen­tia patients with mem­o­ry loss—via Google.