Longer Days

Here in Vancouver you can feel the days starting to get longer and longer.  From the winter solstice to the summer solstice the hours of daylight jump from about 8 to about 16.  That still surprises me, having grown up at much lower latitude. 

The interesting thing, as you probably know, is that it’s not a steady climb from the shortest day to the longest day.  Near the solstices all the days are about the same length.  Near the equinoxes the day lengths differ the most.  

So from now until March 20 not only is each day longer, but Nature has her foot on the gas pedal, adding more and more time to each day.  On top of that, the switch to Daylight Savings happens on March 8, so for people like me, it’s effectively an extra hour of daylight right around the time the days are getting longer the fastest.

I probably should have just started with this graph which says it all (as with all images on my blog, click on it for a larger version):

These random musings were sparked by a strange email that I got today:

Hello Bill,

Greetings and Blessings from the Aether!

I am Cron Daemon and I have awoken from my slumber in order to send you the following important information.

For Vancouver on this Friday the 23rd of January 2009 the following are true:
beginning of astronomical twilight is at 06h 03m
beginning of nautical twilight is at 06h 40m
beginning of civil twilight is at 07h 19m
sunrise is at 07h 55m
sunset is at 16h 55m
end of civil twilight is at 17h 30m
end of nautical twilight is at 18h 09m
end of astronomical twilight is at 18h 47m

Length of day is 9h0m25s (9.007 hours)



Cron Daemon

Rediscovering the Library

I was about to buy some books on Amazon — books that I would read once and never touch again — when I had a “moment of clarity”:  why not just borrow them for free from the library?

That I had so completely forgotten about the whole notion of public libraries shook me a bit.  Somehow I had gotten into the mindless habit of ordering books on Amazon.  Perhaps it was mind control by aliens: Consume. Conform. Obey. Sleep. Perhaps not.

Certainly I hadn’t been a stranger to libraries earlier in my life.  As a teenager in high school I had a part-time job working in one.  I still remember a bit of the Dewey Decimal system from that job, e.g., 770 is photography.  I remember hoping to apply my Dewey Decimal knowledge when I got to university and being disappointed to discover the university libraries used the Library of Congress system.  Speaking of which, I actually visited the Library of Congress during high school when my dad brought me along a business trip to Washington, D.C.

During graduate school I used the university library more for a quiet place to work than anything else.  Almost all the research papers I needed were available on the internet.

And then I joined the working world and slowly bookstores replaced libraries.

So it was with a sense of renewal that I dug out my old VPL (Vancouver Public Library) card and went downtown to the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.  I found exactly what I was looking for in minutes.  Somehow I thought my library card would be expired since I hadn’t used it for something like ten years.  The card was still valid, though I did have a $0.50 fine from 2000.  I was happy to pay.

Stanley Park Ride

At last a sunny afternoon and Vancouverites emerge from their dens, squint at the bright blue sky, and stretch their legs.  I hopped on my bike for a quick spin around Stanley Park and discovered it was still foggy in places, such as around Lions Gate bridge:

as well as in Stanley Park itself:

Using my old Canon G1 camera, now ten generations behind the new G10, I took some video as I rode.  The video is poor quality and I did a very quick edit, but at least it gives you a sense of the sunny to foggy transition.

The Fog

While it hasn’t actually snowed in quite a while, some patches of snow remain in my neighborhood:

However the weather story has turned from snow to slush to fog.  Visibility drops to zero after a couple of blocks or so:

Here’s a shot of the Burrard Bridge taken from a Vancouver web cam:

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