Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mind Blown

I didn't know that I was going to bite the calculator when I decided to take this selfie, but that's what I did.

I just wanted to show the calculator for the purposes of the post; then I thought rather than just take a photo of it by itself that I would hold it in my hand to show the dimension; and, that escalated into a full-blown selfie. I suppose that I decided to chomp because the US Open aired recently, won my Rafael Nadal, who is my favourite player. And when he wins a tournament, he bites the trophy, and I am nothing if not a mindless copycat.

Anyway, the calculator came in the mail last week. It was a freebie from the Cancer Research Society who want me to show my appreciation by writing them a cheque (that's check for some) ... and I might.

It's solar powered, has memory functions, a square root button as well as a % key.

It feels like cardboard, but it works, and it was cheap enough for the charity to send it to me as a freebie. To get my attention. So that I would write a cheque/check. And I might. Oops, already said that.

It stirs my memory it does, causing me to recall the first handheld calculator that my little eyes ever did see. Pretty sure it was this one. A Rapidman. And I know where I saw it: Eaton's in Shoppers World, Toronto.

It was in the early 70s, possibly 1972 but maybe a year or two later.

It was on sale — for $100 and it blew my mind.

Up until then, I had been using my tiny little brain to add up marks for my students. And then I would use a wheelie thingie to convert their raw scores into whatever I wanted. So, if the kid had a total of 131 out of 169, for example, I would spin the wheels and learn that it was also 78% or 47/60 or whatever I conversion that I needed.

It was a great little wheelie thingie that saved me some steps in calculating marks in different categories for up to 150 students, for I might have 3 or 4 categories to work into one final mark, and it could all get rather time consuming.

Unfortunately, I can't find an image of that particular wheelie thingie, but Google can find all sorts of other calculating wheels, just not that one. So that you can get a feel for the general concept, here's one for calculating pregnancy and birth dates and so on and so forth. Wheels within wheels as it were.

But it was all a little hit and miss. I always fretted about making mistakes adding all of those numbers in my head or even on paper it it came to that. And some discerning student discovered that the wheel could be 1% out, or at least my reading of it could be 1% out. And a percent means a lot to some students.

So, when I saw the calculator ... Mind Blown.

But a hundred bucks was a lot back then. I mean it's enough now but possibly equivalent to let's just guess at $400 now. So, needless to say, I didn't buy it.

As time went on and not that much time either, prices went down. I didn't see any more Rapidman machines, but Sears carried another make (the name of which I can't remember even though I used it for years), and when it went down to $35, I pounced.

But think of it: a 4 function calculator was on sale for $100. On sale! Now, something like 45 years later, I get a freebie in the mail that is more than a 4 function machine and it is solar powered too. No batteries. Free. And it works.

Well, that was the thing that got me started on this post, but please indulge me in reminiscing a little more about technology and mark calculation.

By the mid-80s, within about 10 or 12 years of lusting after the Rapidman, I had my first personal computer, an Atari 800 with a whole 48K of Ram. Wowsa!

I was in heaven. I used a word processor to type up worksheets for my classes. It was great because I couldn't type worth a darn. Still can't. I make loads of mistakes when I type (I just typed ttyp and then typp) but we have those magical backspace and delete keys as we hum (OK plod) along.

I loved using PaperClip as my word processor; I knew all of the keystrokes (no mousing back then) and felt as though I could make the app sing and dance.

And then I purchased a spreadsheet program, Syncalc. And made my own marks template.

Of course, soon enough, marks programs came along, and they worked even better than my homemade spreadsheet.

As I put this post together, I am almost astounded by a few things.

  • One, of course, is the whole free calculator thing.
  • Then, there is the incredible pace of technological change, and beyond what has been mentioned, there is the reality that I am going to publish this post on a thing called the internet.
  • Then, I impressed myself by remembering brand names like Rapidman, PaperClip and Syncalc about 3 or 4 decades later. This is especially impressive since I can't even remember the names of the various pills that I have to take nowadays.
  • Finally, how about being able to find all sorts of images online of products that died and were buried decades ago? Who puts them online and why, I don't know, but I think it's great.
And I say to myself, what a wonderful, mind-blowing world.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Asters, Sumacs and More

I went for another little stroll looking for more tinges of colour. What I found on the path were a lot of asters

A closer look.

One clump had some bees, I got the one on the left almost in focus. I'm not very good on macros which take patience and a proper lens; I possess neither. You also really need a tripod; I have one but wouldn't carry it around on a stroll.

There were orange sumac leaves, some like those in the second photo already fading.

And splashes of normal autumn leaves here and there.

But it's still mostly green.

Monday, September 18, 2017


Well, we finally got there. I don't think Sue and I would have made the drive to Gatineau (on the Quebec side of the Capital Region), but Shauna wanted to go, and she's about the most competent person and driver imaginable, so off we went.

MosaiCanada is a fabulous exhibit made to celebrate Canada's 150th. I did say fabulous, and I meant it. Exhibits are made from plant matter affixed to wire frames that take shapes from out past and present.

The exhibit will run through October 15 and has already had more than a million visitors. It's free, and if you're local and are able to go, I think you should.

The first thing that I saw was this train, the railway was a most important link across the country. There was also a railway station, but I didn't care for my photo, and one has to draw the line somewhere as there are many more that I would like to share.

Lobster fishing has been and still is important in Eastern Canada. The flowers represent ocean waves.

Puffins from the east and an Inukshuk from the north in two displays that seem to be one in this photo.

From history: Gold Miner, Lumberjack, Coureur be Bois (fur trader who travelled deep into the country via canoe)

First Nations: An Inuit (aka Eskimo) and Indian (in the canoe behind Sue and me)

Culture: the piano was in homage to Glen Gould, perhaps Canada's most honoured and exalted musician. The Gould family was friends with Sue's family and Sue took lessons from Glen's mother, so she had to be in these photos.

More Culture: hockey is our sport, and this represents a most famous goal, the winning goal of the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the USSR, Yvan Cournoyer embraces goal scorer, Paul Henderson.

China (1st photo) and Shanghai (2nd photo) made wonderful contributions.

Mother Nature was very prominent and beautiful, and she was pleased to share a photo op with Shauna and Sue.

And I guess that I need to stop with a strong recommendation to go if you can.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Doors Open

Yesterday, our town had an Open Doors event. We went early to minimize the heat, but it was darn hot anyway. (At this time in mid-September, we seem to be experiencing the hottest extended spell of summer.) We had seen most of the venues before but wanted to support the initiative, so off we went.

The Grand Hotel, previously the Mississippi Inn and then the Heritage Inn, has just opened under its new name. Much time was spent refurbishing the place, so we were anxious to see it. Unfortunately, not much was made available except for the dining room and the dance hall. We weren't allowed upstairs to see the rooms nor the new pub-style restaurant. They do have a business to run, but it seemed more like Doors Ever So Slightly Ajar rather than Doors Open.

Sue in the lobby
The Dining Room
Shall We Dance?

After hitting a few other places — The Masonic Temple and the Keys Apartments — that we had visited and posted of previously (linked above), we made our way to Town Hall.

Councillor Sean Redmond gave us a very informative tour, including Council Chambers.

Sue was in her element sitting in the mayor's chair and holding the gavel. She likes to bring order into the world.

I had been into the concert hall a number of times to shoot events, but it was empty yesterday, so the shots were a bit different.

The stage is a Rake Stage, which means that it is raised from front to back, the back being 18" higher than the front. This would enable the audience to see the dancers' feet.
Looking out from the stage. The balcony is to be refurnished at some point, I have been up there to shoot events.
There are several nice views of the river from the various windows. This one includes the bridge.

Finally, we headed off to see the Hawthorne Mill. I had been there earlier when they opened the doors for the public, but Sue hadn't seen it yet. I posted here back then, so I won't post much this time around. It is hard to fathom that this will become an upscale condo within two years, and then other buildings will be added in about another two years. It is quite an ambitious undertaking. I should have taken a picture of the the rendering of the concept, but I didn't.

The fourth floor of what will become luxury condos.
We were so hot that we headed home rather than touring several remaining open doors.


Edit: Eventually, I found an image of the plan online. On the right is the present building, the historical Hawthorne Mill. Other buildings will be built from scratch, including a restaurant on the left.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Were a long way from glorious colour yet, but as you've already seen, we have tinges. We decided to grab a shawarma for lunch and munch it by town hall. I took a photo of the tower through the, well I'll call it an awning, but it isn't really that. You can see a bit of yellow tinging here, but that wasn't the intent of the photo. I just liked the composition.

Then we went for a walk in the park. The first thing that I saw after parking was the reflections past the bench. There's no orange here, but you can see that some of the leaves are yellowing.

More tinging just a little upstream from the previous photo: a little bit of orange in this one but more yellow still.

Our community high school backs onto the park, and it looked like a phys-ed class was making use of the river and the weather. A pretty nice playground for a school, eh?

Several pics as we walked along the path.

And some orange across the river from near the end of the path before we turned back.

Friday, September 15, 2017

That Tree

With fall in the air ... well actually it isn't so much in the air, the air being warmer and more summery than for most of the summer ... and drier too.

Well anyway ... with fall in the air, I nipped up the street basically to take a shot that I knew would be there. I knew it would be there because I've seen this tree in other years and I also noticed it the other when we drove across the overpass.

But let's not start with that tree; let's start with the overpass, Well, under the overpass.

I went down there to see if there was any colour. And there wasn't much in this direction (upstream). But if you strain your eyes, you might notice a tinge or two.

You could see a little more colouring in the other direction (downstream). Not much yet but some.

Up on the overpass, I found that tree. It changes early every year, I think probably because it's on the water's edge and its roots are likely saturated. I'm sure that has something to do with it because it's much too early for a tree to look like this. And you can tell that by looking at the other trees.

From that position above, I swivelled to my left and hung over the wall of the overpass a bit and took this shot. You can see the colour there too. I have often walked that boardwalk on the bottom left.

That's all, nothing earth shattering. I just wanted to mark the beginning of the change of seasons.