2 page Christmas Letter]
[Christmas 2004 Photos]
last year's Christmas
letter that I was doing a bit of virtual traveling
through an email list hosted by an Oregon couple who were sailing the South
Pacific in their 42' sailboat.
What I didn't mention was that I had made a promise to myself that if Craig and
Barbara offered a sailing segment to the email list, I would not procrastinate,
and would offer to crew for them. In early March, that is exactly what happened,
and to make a long story short, I ended up traveling to Auckland, New Zealand in
late April and joined SV Sequoia on its journey to Fiji. I returned by air to
New Zealand and Victoria in late May, while Sequoia made her way across the rest
of the South Pacific to Brisbane, Australia.
As most of you know, I have no sailing experience, however I did own and operate
a power cruiser in past years, and also have my pilot's license. So I felt I had
some skills to offer Craig & Barbara (navigation, boat handling,
and weather knowledge), but otherwise I was a greenhorn on a sailboat. Despite
this, Craig and Barbara were willing to take me on as crew. On my side of
things, I was willing to travel to New Zealand on short notice at my expense,
and help them crew an offshore passage. In the end, we all agreed things worked
out pretty well.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and the challenge of sailing offshore was certainly
good for me to experience. I had a few days to tour around part of the North
Island of New Zealand and visit with my cousin Cindy and her family (who live
near Auckland). In Fiji, I managed to track down old family friends - a native
Fijiian family I originally visited in 1975! I took lots of photos, and kept a
journal, so if you are interested in the details of this trip, please browse my
travel website: New Zealand
I have built some solid skills taking astrophotos this year. Along the way, I
have acquired some new astronomical
equipment, which has enhanced my abilities to take
very much improved photos of celestial objects in the night sky. If you browse
my personal website you will see my
- the results of my work
covering this year.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of my year for astronomy was the October 27th Lunar
Eclipse. I had planned for this event ahead of time, and setup in an ideal
location to observe the already eclipsed Moon as it rose in the east that
evening. The poor weather cleared that day, and we had ideal conditions for
observing. Just to add to my luck, not only did all the equipment work well,
giving me excellent photos of this eclipse, a Dash 8 aircraft flying from
Seattle to Vancouver happened to fly in front of the eclipsed Moon. I saw it
coming and managed to squeeze off a perfectly framed shot!
More astrophotos of The
Moon, including more Lunar Eclipse images.
Lunar Eclipse wasn't the only notable astronomical event of the year.
During the Summer I attended two local Star Parties. Both were held
at the Victoria Fish and Game Association property located near the top of the
Malahat, half way between Victoria and Duncan. This dark site is a real
treat for me, since my night viewing from home is severely affected by
Victoria's light pollution. At the Island Star Party on July 24/25, we
observed a spectacular Aurora!
My Canon Digital Rebel camera performed superbly, and I captured my
photos. What a treat!
On the personal front, Kirk and I are both well…just a year older and starting
to feel it! We continue to get out walking with Tucker (our Jack Russell
Terrier) every day. On weekends we all go for longer hikes in the excellent
regional parks located within an hour's drive. Tucker is a healthy and happy
seven year old puppy. On the other hand, the cats haven't fared so well this
year. Sheba (our black longhair 3 year old cat) was close to death earlier this
year. Our veterinary diagnosed liver shutdown, and after several tries finally
prescribed prednisone, which helped her liver reactivate. She has since regained
all her weight, and appears happy and healthy again - to our great relief!
Sylvester (our white Manx 7 year old cat) has had a terrible year, medically
speaking. It actually started in November 2003 when he was diagnosed with
Cryptococcus, a fungal disease that cats and dogs on southern Vancouver Island
seem to be highly susceptible to through environmental exposure to tree fungus
growing in our area. Cryptococcus is not contagious, however it is extremely
tough to treat, and requires long term and expensive medication, which we are
still giving to Sylvester. As if that wasn't enough, just a couple of months ago
he was also diagnosed with Diabetes. So now we are giving him insulin injections
twice a day. The vet also suspects Sylvester has Cushings disease - another
exotic condition, so the vets now refer to Sylvester as their problem child!
Currently his health is fragile, but he seems to have a will to survive, so we
are hopeful and take it day-by-day.
My Mum continues to live at Hecate Lodge. I think she finally considers it home.
She likes the meals, enjoys the companionship of the other residents, and is
happy to ask the staff for help when she needs it. I try to visit Mum every
second Sunday, and take her to church. It is a great relief to me to see her in
stable health, and to know she is cared for.
My work at the BC Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management has evolved into
new responsibilities yet again. My old job as Manager of Web Services is no
more, and the duties left from that position now occupy only about half my time.
I am now involved in online web mapping, which I consider an exciting and
challenging career change. If you have an Internet connection, browse
Land and Resource Data Warehouse Catalogue) to
view and use our web mapping sites.
was the year my 1995 Toyota Camry decided to tell me that it was getting old.
After paying a $1,000 for an oil leak repair, I decided it was time to
purchase a new vehicle. Since taking up astronomy, I was now lugging
lots of gear around for observing sessions away from home, and I was finding it
quite a challenge to fit it all in the Camry's trunk and back seat, even with
the back seats folded down. I had railed against SUV's for years, but the
more we looked around at vehicles, the more I was convinced a small SUV would
fit the bill. I didn't like the Toyota RAV4 (to small), so the CR-V was
the obvious next choice. Consumer's Reports rated them highly, and
Kirk had always raved about the high quality and reliability of Hondas. I
purchased a 2004 Honda CR-V from
Honda City here in
Victoria on August 7, 2004. The Honda City staff are a treat to deal with,
should you be in the market for a new vehicle.
Kirk has already setup a Christmas tree in the living room, the house is
decorated, and I've put up the outside lights. I will bring Mum down to Victoria
for a few days over Christmas, so once again our little family with be together
over the holidays.
We hope you and your family have a wonderful Holiday Season!
Kirk & Joe - Tucker, Sylvester and Sheba
this graphic for a cute animated version!
from previous years