Victoria Last Weekend (August 25-26, 2007)

30 08 2007

Well, I got “dragged” out to Victoria this last weekend.  I put “dragged” in quotes because I really wasn’t all that excited about waiting in ferry lineups of 2-3 hours just to go over to Vancouver Island.  I had been trying for the last week to perhaps get Mrs D to consider just hanging out at home for the weekend.  I would have no such luck.

With Mrs D working on Saturday Morning, it left me the opportunity to get packed an play a little XBox after I took her to work.  The morning passed quite quickly (too quickly if you’re dreading heading to the ferry!) and before you know it, it was time to head out and get the Missus on our way to Victoria.  Surprisingly she was pretty much ready to head out as soon as I got there so we were at the ferry terminal in Tsawassen just in time to see to see the 1400 boat sail.  The good part about that is that we were going to be traveling on the 1500 boat and it was one of the larger “Spirit” Ferries with many new amenities.   It was windy and a bit rainy which made sitting in the truck with the windows open a bit challenging unless you felt like a cold, slightly salty, shower.  Mrs D had me get up and head out to the terminal market with her.  Apparently Ferry Terminals have learned a thing or two from airports.  People seem to like to buy things while they wait for their vessel.  The market was brimming with people buying sunglasses (God only knows why – it was cloudy), Canadian memorabilia and food.  Gelato, Starbucks, Rocky Mountain Chocolate and Skyway were doing a brisk business feeding the various hungers of the masses as they killed time on land in anticipation of their sailing.  I got suckered into spending about $24/lb for some delicious white chocolate… Meh – You gotta live a little.

The ferry wait was fairly painless all in all, and we boarded at around 1445.  Right on time, at 1500, the boat pulled away from Continental Canada to head out to Vancouver island.  Like Ontario, Vancouver island actually dips below the 49th parallel, and that means that there is some creative drawing of the Canada/US border in this area of the map.  In some areas of the channel an island on one side will be in the US while one right next to it will be in Canada.  The “Spirit” ferries are quite comfortable and really have made an effort to help you enjoy your trip. There is a buffet for $20, but we were traveling mid-afternoon so we weren’t really in a mood to eat a huge buffet.  The trip wound it’s way around the various lower gulf islands, and at times the ferry really did feel like it was too big for the areas it was passing through. I can just imagine how the “Fast Cats” were.

Upon disembarking from the Ferry we headed over to check out the Victoria Butterfly gardens – closed at 1730 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ  We then continued down into Victoria via the “back roads” since we didn’t have a map (doh!) and I figured we could just “wing it” down to the city.  After a few varying interesting turns and random followings, we found ourselves in downtown Victoria.    We were going to be staying at “The Empress”.  The Empress is a beautiful old hotel, owned and operated by Fairmont Hotels.  It lived up to its billing – large vaulted hallways and a sumptuously decorated environment really made you feel like you were royalty visiting back shortly after its construction in 1908.  It really is a beautiful building – inside and out.  Our room was nice, and had a “partial view” of the harbour.  That meant that we could see about half of the harbour and half of the hotel wing in front of us.  It was quite nice.  Although the room wasn’t air conditioned it was very comfortable due to the cool breeze coming in off the water.

We wandered around down at the harbour for a while before dinner at Milestones.  The harbourfront is busy with buskers singing, playing instruments and posing as statues.  Saturday at the harbour seems to be quite the scene.  It kept us nicely occupied for the 40 minutes we had to wait for our table.  One interesting oddity we saw while down there was a HUGE yacht named “JeMaSa” docked.  (Later, Internet searches show this to be a 164ft yacht which can be chartered for the mere price of $250KUSD/week!!!!)  It definitely had quite a few of us looking at it and it’s passengers as they enjoyed the Victoria sunset.

That night, following dinner and a nice stroll around the hotel, we went and enjoyed the hot tub and pool, retiring back to our room at around 2200.

Sunday was a busy day.  We got up and headed down to the hotel’s main dining room and dined on our delicious $23/meal eggs and sausages.  At least it came with coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice included ๐Ÿ™‚ (Again – you gotta live a little I suppose) We visited the Titanic exhibition (no pictures ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ) in the Royal BC museum.  For $25/head I would have liked to have seen more “artifacts”  The whole story and background with a lot of the artifacts was quite interesting, but it was pretty sparse.  From the museum, we went back and checked out from our hotel and headed up to Beacon Hill Park.  It’s a lovely park with a lot of shade trees and well kept open spaces that had many people playing bocce or just enjoying a picnic in the pleasant sunshine of the day.  We walked around looking for the “lookout” but gave up after a half-hearted attempt.  We still had other venues to visit.

Mrs. D  wanted to see Chinatown, so we drove back down to the edge of downtown to check out “Chinatown” in Victoria.  Chinatown was about 2 square blocks and there was a street market on one of them.  We didn’t get out, but we slowed down and took a bit of a look at the “archway” and then moved on.   Our next destination was “Craigdarroch” castle.

The “castle” is a Victorian mansion built back in the 1890’s by a very wealthy industrialist, Robert Dunsmuir.  It was a spacious building with 4 floors, and beautiful stained glass windows throughout.  Unfortunately his family wasn’t as enamored with the home as he was, and it ended up going through quite a period of neglect.  The home is about 2/3 refinished and much of the original woodwork has been beautifully restored.  It was nice.   $11/head nice?  I dunno.

Our last stop of the trip was back to the Butterfly Gardens.  We got there around 1400.  We stayed until 1530!  There were sooo many beautiful butterflies to shoot.  There was even a giant atlas moth… the largest moth in the world!  This $11/head was well worth it.  You can see some of the butterfly pictures at my Fotothing photo blog.

With our trip over, we headed back to the Ferry Terminal at Schwartz Bay and got ready to sit in line for 2.5 hours, a 3 sailing wait.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that they had somehow managed to fit more on the boat than expected, and that meant that we actually ended up getting on the 1900 sailing rather than the 2000!  Yippee!  Again, we were on a “Spirit” ferry and enjoyed its large comfortable seating.  The monotony of the trip was interrupted about 1/2 way along when the announcement of a pod of orcas to the front starboard of the ship was made.  I’m surprised that the vessel didn’t suddenly list to starboard as just about everyone went to that side to see the orcas.  Sure enough there were about 3 or 4 of them moving along, blowing and surfacing.  I got some shots, but really they’re pretty tiny specs in the overall scene ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

We got home at around 2230 and it was time to get some sleep as Monday was a work day and the morning would be soon upon us.

A good trip all in all, and I’m glad Mrs D. dragged me out ๐Ÿ™‚

 I’ll fill out the post with some photos soon.


The complete Eclipse series

29 08 2007

Here is the complete eclipse series from full moon to fully in the umbra:

Photos taken at more or less 5 minute intervals or when it felt like there had been a significant change ๐Ÿ˜‰

It certainly was a LONG night out there!

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Last Night’s Eclipse

28 08 2007

(Update – Augย 30.ย  I have posted the entire first half of theย lunar eclipseย as a composite photo – HERE)ย 

I got a few photos from the eclipse of last night (August 28th).ย  Actually I got about 200 photos ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve posted 3 up on my Photo Blog:


Here they are in small (click on the picture for the larger version):

DragonSpeed’s Fotothing

Profile | Latest Photo | First Photo | Favourites

Aug 28

Aug 28

Aug 28

The moon wasn’t totally eclipsed until 0252 on the 28th.ย  It made for a pretty long night.ย  I kept myself away by taking shots at 5 minute intervals from 0120 onward.ย  I must have been quite the sight, sitting in my driveway with telescope, tripod and camera all set up and me going back and forth between them ๐Ÿ™‚

Fun, beautiful and unfortunately rare when we in Vancouver get clear enough skies to see a lunar eclipse.

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Canon EOS 40D actually Announced!

20 08 2007

No -it’s not Yet Another guess.. This is from Canon!

Apparently it WILL have the Digic III and other goodies, but still not a MASSIVE difference from the 30D.

Of course our good friends at DP Review have an article already!

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North Vancouver First Nation – Giving up Sockeye for the year

17 08 2007

The Tsleil-Waututh First Nation in North Vancouver has said “Enough is enough”.  Chief Leah George-Wilson of this Coast Salish First nation with a population of 450 has stated that they will not be taking their allotment of sockeye from the Fraser river this year in order to help the dismal run have some chance of success. 


While we continue to hear about some Native groups continuing to net the decimated sockeye stocks, these people have taken a public stand to “Do the Right Thing” and say “No”.

While admittedly they weren’t exactly entitled to 20,000 fish or anything near that, EVERY single fish that makes it to the spawning grounds will make a difference.  Other Native bands have harvested over 35,000 sockeye from the river already.

You can read more about it in the Vancouver Sun, where I first came across the article:

Oh, did I mention…. Thank You!

For those wishing to express their thanks directly, you can email the chief and the band council at:  reception AT

Gaaack!!! My WordPress Blog Stats page has changed – for the worse :(

17 08 2007

Dear WordPress…ย  What have you done?ย  My Blog Stats shows some bizarre graph with “Region A” and “Region B” I don’t get a nice daily hit counter anymore.ย  I’m a number junkie… yer killin’ me! ๐Ÿ˜ฆย  WTH is Region A? Why do I have 2003-2005?ย  I’ve only been blogging here since 2007!ย  So many questions.ย  No answers – that I can see.

Update – Whoa!ย  Back to normal.ย  Bizarre.

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40th Marpole Cubs visit to the Vancouver Aquarium

16 08 2007

Back on August 1st, after the 100th Anniversary of Scouting celebration, I went to the Vancouver Aquarium with my cubs.  I got some pretty good pictures.

Sea Jelly - Vancouver Aquarium
I hope you enjoy the tour:

When you come to Vancouver, be sure to visit the Aquarium.  A good portion of the $20 goes towards marine conservation. 

Do you know of a good Aquarium?  I can only compare this with Ocean Park (which while huge in land could have used more animals)

Our 7th Anniversary

16 08 2007

August 5th was our 7th Anniversary.  For the occasion we headed down to a beautiful little cabin rented out by Mount Baker Lodging.  The location was great, and very peaceful.  We spent a day wandering around the alpine areas of Mount Baker and Twin Lakes.  Holy Lobstering… ouch.  Darned Alpine sun.

To make a long story short, it was just the thing we needed to get away and relax, and pretty much in our own backyard.  Just about 1.5 hours from our home to the cabin.  Border included!

I’m already plotting when we can get back!
Mount Baker - Fire under Ice

Our Scouts are back home!

16 08 2007

They’ve been gone since July 22nd and just got back yesterday… They all came back so tanned – amazing seeing as they were in England and France with the weather mostly being overcast… Asians… they tan so easily!

Anyway, it looks like nobody got lost, injured or thrown in jail (The big 3 concerns ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and they had a generally good time.  I now have the fun of sifting through about 2000 photos that they took while there and choosing the best to show you in a photo gallery of their trip.  We already did “Part I”, but now there’s sooooo much more!

Here’s a teaser (the opening ceremonies with 40000 Scouts):

Welcome back guys!  We even saved some rain so it would feel like you were still in Europe ๐Ÿ˜‰

Letter to the Editor – Chilliwack Progress

11 08 2007

The Chilliwack Progress, a small local newspaper in Chilliwack BC, published a story titled “Anglers Take on Ethics“.

The story is sorely lacking in true fact finding, or in depth coverage that is the hallmark of good journalism.  I sent a letter to the editor of the paper, as well as its author, Jennifer Feinberg, expressing my dismay with the tabloid style of poor journalism expressed in the article.  I  would have appreciated an acknowledgement at the least.  Well, even though THEY didn’t publish my letter to the editor, the nice thing about the modern media is that it isn’t concentrated in the power of the few.  Blogs allow us all to be our own editors and publishers and as such here is my letter to the editor of the Chilliwack Progress and Ms. Feinberg:


I have just recently read your article “Anglers take on Ethics, August 7, 2007”
I’m not going to address your entire article, but I’d like to start by clearing up a few misconceptions:
“Concern in the local angling community…”
Should read “Concern among some in the local angling community” as a large number or local anglers are NOT concerned.
“…fishing practice known as flossing, snagging, or bottom bouncing.”
Should read “…fishing practice known as ‘flossing’ which is a variation on a technique called  ‘bottom bouncing’ and is often referred to by some as ‘snagging’
“…it’s considered unethical and unsportsmanlike…”
Should read “… the concerned groups considers it unethical or unsportsmanlike…” as, once again, many do not consider it to be unethical or unsportsmanlike.

I hope you can see where I’m going with this (and that I won’t need to continue any further).  There is a vocal portion of the fishing community that feel that this is wrong, even though FOC has not issued any violation orders in this regard during the numerous times that they have been at the sites of this “floss fishery”.  Ethics, of course, is an individual and communal issue, but fishing regulations, as posted are enforced by FOC for salmon and Provincial CO’s for other freshwater fish.  It is important that people are able to debate the merits of differing fishing techniques. There is a LONG running debate between the flyfishing community and the “gear” fishing community about ethics, as there is between the barbed and barbless hook users. It’s human nature.


The rules clearly say that any fish willfully or accidentally snagged must be released immediately. 

“Quite a few people know they’re snagging the fish. The regulations that say it’s against the law to snag or foul hook the fish, or attempt to do so, but (to enforce it) a fisheries officer would have to catch them in the act of killing the fish.”

The rules actually state:

It is illegal to: 

  • fish for finfish and/or shellfish without a licence.
  • catch and retain salmon if your licence does not have a valid salmon
    conservation stamp attached to it.
  • wilfully foul hook or attempt to foul hook any fish other than herring,
    northern anchovy, Pacific sand lance and squid.

So, we need a definition of “foul hook”.  Pleasantly the freshwater fishing regulations, put out by the province have that definition:

snagging (foul hooking)? hooking a fish in any other part of its body than the mouth. Attempting to snag fish of any species is prohibited. Any fish willfully or accidently snagged must be released immediately.
(emphasis mine)
The group within the recreational sector, of which you have chose to interview one individual, feels that even though 1) the rules ALLOW it, and  2) there is no action taken against individuals fishing in this manner while in the presence of FOC officers, that this style of fishing is illegal as quoted by you.  I don’t know if you gathered more information, but it certainly seems that were simply taking this one individual’s statement as fact – an incorrect fact.
This debate has torn many members of the fishing community apart and publishing a one sided opinion piece without gathering more evidence than talking to one fisherman is irresponsible journalism at best, helping to divide the recreational fishing sector (notice I didn’t use “sportfishing”) even further, and serving no purpose other than filling space in a newspaper.  On the positive side, at least now you’ll be able to go out some time and gather the REST of the opinions from a wider population of fishermen and fill more of that newspaper.
While I am not in your normal reader catchment (located in the Lower Mainland not the valley) I hope that you will take my concerns seriously and not lower to the standards of supermarket tabloids in an attempt to be shocking and gain attention.
p.s. while we’re at it – Would you please refrain from calling it “Sportfishing”, since the government classifies it as “Recreational fishing”.  If there’s a sport between a human and a fish (implying competion on an even ground), then we’re really lowering humans ๐Ÿ˜‰
Brian P. Hampson

Canon 40D info leaking out – like water from a sieve

9 08 2007

***UPDATE*** This has been superceded… Actual information can be found on Canon’s Site, you can hop there via



The Digital Photography Blog has published some “supposedly leaked” specs of the upcoming Canon 40D.  The only apparent difference over the 30D would seem to be 10.1 vs. 8.2 MP and self cleaning.  Not much there Canon ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Best Buy leaked list price: $1599 and availability in Sept. ’07

What do YOU think of this???  Worth the price and the wait?



  1. 8.2 Megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor
  2. 5 fps and 30 large JPEG frame burst
  3. 2.5?, 230K pixel, 170๏ฟฝ wide viewing angle LCD screen
  4. Picture Style image processing parameters
  5. Spot metering and High Precision 9-point AF system
  6. DIGIC II image processor with 0.15 sec start-up time
  7. Digital Photo Professional RAW processing software
  8. 100,000 cycle shutter durability and rugged magnesium alloy body
  9. Simultaneous RAW and JPEG recording
  10. Wide 100-3200 ISO range
  11. E-TTL II Flash
  12. PictBridge compatibility
  13. Complete compatibility with all Canon EF and EF-S lenses and EX-series Speedlites
  14. USB 2.0 Hi-Speed and Video Out connectivity
  1. 10.1 MP CMOS sensor
  2. 5fps, 30 JPEG image burst
  3. Integrated Cleaning System
  4. 2.5in LCD with 230K pixels and 160๏ฟฝ viewing angle
  5. Picture Style image processing
  6. Spot metering & 9-point AF
  7. DIGIC II processor with 0.2 sec start up
  8. Digital Photo Professional software
  9. Magnesium alloy body
  10. Compatible with all EF/EF-S lenses and EX Speedlite flashes
  11. Including powerpack and accessories

What happened to the DIGIC III ???  We KNOW you know how to use it in DSLRs (c.f. ID Mark III)


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Update on the 40th Marpole Scouts in Europe

9 08 2007

After the Jamboree finished our guys left the site at 0200.  They were bussed down to Heathrow airport from which many scouts were flying home.  Not the 40th!  Our leader rented a van and they motored their way down to Dover.  It’s a good thing the road to Dover is mostly a nice straight highway so it wasn’t too confusing being on the “wrong” side of the road.  Apparently they had a couple of roundabouts where they went roundabout a couple times before they could get off ๐Ÿ™‚

After arriving in Dover at 0600 or so, they proceeded to have a nice “nap” in the van until their Ferry.  They got to see “The White Cliffs of Dover“, but word has it: “Not too impressive”.  I’m sure the Brits reading this may disagree ๐Ÿ˜‰

No word on the ferry ride (so it was probably uneventful).  Driving a RHD vehicle on the right hand side of the road is somewhat confusing from what I hear… You have a tendency to drift left as you want to be sitting near that center line.  Also getting in on the passenger side, looking for the steering wheel is a bit embarassing ๐Ÿ˜‰

They stayed in Calais last night and were scheduled to hit Brugge(Bruges) today.  They would be cycling and might spend time at the beach from what I heard when talking to our leader in the field yesterday.  Hopefully where they are staying in Brugge will get them Internet access and we can get some more photos up.

That’s all for now.

Saddening state of Canadian War Memorial in London UK

9 08 2007

Since Conrad Black has fallen from grace, apparently so has the War memorial that he had established a fund to maintain.

“The water’s off and you can see all these kids treating it like a playground. As a Canadian, I wouldn’t say it’s insulting, but it’s definitely a sign of disrespect,” Bingley told CBC News.

It would be nice if Britain or Canada would buck up the small amount it probably would cost to keep it up.  A small price compared to the lives and sacrifices it represents ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


Acer Aspire ASE700-EQ661A and Onboard RAID

9 08 2007

I recently posted that I had acquired the ACER Aspire with the Core2 Quad. I also was miffed that I appeared to have a neutered BIOS that had support for onboard RAID but not accessible.

Heheh.  Boy was I wrong.  After finally configuring my Adaptec 1430SA to work with my disks and Vista I plugged my two old HD’s from my old PC into my Motherboard SATA connectors and what should I see when I boot, but the option to configure my disks into anything from RAID 0 to RAID 5 ๐Ÿ™‚  So, ACER doesn’t totally screw you around.  My mean thoughts that I was having were wrong.


Vista Fun Continues…HP and Linksys SUCK!

8 08 2007

I finally got the disks all working the way I wanted to, so I then put in my Linksys 100TX card.  Nope… Not supported.  No biggie, I can drop in a cheap Gb card.  Next… Printer.  HP Laserjet 1500 Colour printer.  Sweet little printer Vista drivers?  Nope.  Great.  It’s starting to look like I’m going to need a little Windows Server to handle the printing etc so that the new Vista machines in the house can actually do their job ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


Adaptec 1430SA and Vista – Success!

8 08 2007

I know that many have read my problem I was having with my Adaptec 1430SA card and Vista Ultimate… I have solved the problem (FINALLY!) with NO help from Adaptec’s tech support link on their website ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Don’t use the drivers on Adaptec’s site.  BSOD!  0x000000F7 ( I think)  Death in short.

Use the drivers that come on the CD. They are an older rev (1.4.11949.0) vs. the ones on the website (1.4.11955.0)!!!

After that, I was able to configure my 2 disk RAID 1 and get it up and happy… What a long night last night was ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


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Bog Rosemary

7 08 2007

A while back (on my now defunct earlier blog site ๐Ÿ˜ฅ ) I had a photo of a pretty pink flowering scrub that was growing around a lake at which I had been fishing.  I asked you, my astute readers, if you had seen it, or knew of it.

I had no answer until today.  One of my readers had passed the picture on to his mother who showed the picture to HER mother, and we got an answer – Bog Rosemary!  Technology and good old people power!  That’s the new world order ๐Ÿ™‚ Not EVERYTHING can be googled ๐Ÿ˜‰  Well, technically if you know it’s called “Bog Rosemary” you can google that, but it’s harder the other way around.

Here’s the picture in question:

Thanks, Shaun, for ID – I had given up on knowing what it is!

Holy CRAP!!!!

7 08 2007

Jake Brown pulls off a wicked skate maneuver and then actually ends up flying and dropping from the sky – over 40ft!!!

Check out the video

Apparently he had time to think about which way to fall, he had THAT much air!


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Car thief with a conscience.

7 08 2007

I guess he didn’t want kidnapping on his rap sheet.


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End of 21st World Jamboree – Update from the 40th Marpole Contingent

7 08 2007

The latest from Hylands Park:

The closing ceremony is in a couple of hours and our site is now taken down.  The tents are packed and the gear is back at subcamp.  Everyone is in a mellow mood and with a few hours to go before the closing event, hugs and kisses are liberally given…badges are also trading hands fast.
Our Canadian clothing and backpacks are the hottest items at WSJ.  We are quite tired to have to turn people away as most of us have swapped everything we’ve got.
The weather is holding with sun and clouds and we are hoping for a few more hours of dryness as we are departing WSJ for Heathrow Airport at 0240 but we have to be at the Canadian HQ at 0200.  I plan to get our car early and then drive to Dover and then sleep.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the Jamboree and are looking forward to Sweden in 2011 as part of the International Service Team.
Listen live to Promise FM in a couple of hours for the closing ceremonies!
I will have more time to write as we travel to France tomorrow and have electricity! ๐Ÿ™‚
I miss you all and will see you soon!  Pictures will be uploaded shortly!!

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