Suborbital Tourism

July 2021 saw two major suborbital space flights, significant for being private commercial space tourism trips carrying the founders of their companies with paid or sponsored passengers:

Virgin Galactic Unity 22 [WP/YT] aboard SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity, air-launched from carrier aircraft VMS Eve, reached an apogee of about 86km (under the 100km Kármán Line but above the USAF threshold for space), with Virgin’s Richard Branson aboard.

Blue Origin NS-16 [WP/YT] aboard a New Shepard launcher and capsule, reached an apogee of 107 km (above the Kármán Line, so within the international definition of space), with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos aboard — and Wally Funk of the Mercury 13.

14 years after SpaceShipOne flew its historic X-Prize flights, it says something about how I’ve changed that I went from thinking “hey maybe I’ll have $250K for a suborbital hop” back then to “they should pay fair wages and stop evading taxes” today.


I guess it was too much to hope commercial space tourism would grow into more than a couple of billionaire junkets. But hey, I’m happy Wally Funk got to space.

Truro, NS

I had to drive up to Truro for my second vaccine dose so I wandered around town to see some sights and get some lunch.

Truro NS

I’d heard about the local brown sauce pizza and wanted to give that a try, but all the pizza places I found downtown were closed, so I settled for some Murphy’s fish and chips, eaten alone in my car later. Best fish and chips I’d ever had.

Murphy’s Fish and Chips, Truro NS

And since I work for them now I also dropped by some Trailer Park Boys season 8-12 filming locations, like Forrester Hall at the NSCC Truro campus, or “Sunnyvale Hospital”:

Truro NS

In the nearby village of Bible Hill is Bible Hill Estates, or Sunnyvale Trailer Park (this field was where Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles lived, but the trailers and sheds have since been removed or destroyed):

Bible Hill Estates

And down the highway, the site of the old Palliser Restaurant, Motel, and Gift Shop, namesake of Trinity and Jacob’s son Mo. (The motel and house have been demolished, and the field is now a parking lot):

Site of the old Palliser Motel

Across the road is the Fundy Discovery Site, where one can watch the tidal bore flow through. (I had already missed that morning’s tidal bore, though.) Funny thing here, the parking area was all people eating fish and chips, so I parked there and did likewise. When in Truro…

Fundy Discovery Site

I’d definitely like to come back here some day to see the tidal bore, and there’s a nice playground by the viewing area that my kid would enjoy. More photos from the day in my Truro NS photoset.

COVID-19: 3rd Wave, Vaccinated

Got my first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine dose in May and second dose in July. Only major side effects were muscle aches and fatigue the day after the second dose, gone the next morning. As of this week, wife and I are officially fully immunized — but not our son, so until a vaccine is approved for children under 12, we continue to mask up and avoid most social contact to avoid the slim chance of bringing home an asymptomatic breakthrough infection.

Vaccine Dose #2

Meanwhile Nova Scotia is on the tail end of a third wave of COVID-19 that maxed out at over 1700 active cases, but was brought back down to single digits by hard restrictions. Low numbers with no (?) community spread persist now even after a gradual multiphase reopening, so the vaunted Atlantic Canadian pandemic response seems to have worked once more.

Nova Scotia COVID chart

I’m troubled by governments and individuals running victory laps, unmasking, and relaxing on safety before we’ve approached herd immunity levels of vaccination coverage, especially with no immunization options yet available for children under 12. The pandemic is not over and things can change quickly, especially with more infectious variants constantly developing; nor is vaccination a magic bullet, especially where uptake or supply is low.

Vaccine Dose #2

Got a bad feeling that with relaxation of restrictions and the messaging switching to “we have to learn to live with COVID,” things are about to get bad again, for vaxed and unvaxed alike, just in time for when school starts in September — and the Delta variant is more dangerous for children.

Swiss Cheese Respiratory Virus Defence showing multiple interventions with holes in them, an arrow going through those holes stopped partway

Hope we’re wrong on this but for us it’s gonna be Swiss cheese for a while longer.


At the age of five, Ezra can now write his own name, count to a hundred, has lost his first baby tooth (yeah, a bit earlier than most kids), and finished his first year of school.

Ezra's Fifth Birthday

He is really into Super Mario now, is able to finish World 1-1 of Super Mario Bros by himself, and enjoys watching us play through Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy on the Nintendo Switch. Through the course of lockdown he’s been using combinations of toys to build his own Super Mario levels, in 2D and 3D, so we got him a LEGO Super Mario set.

Lego Super Mario

We’re still in the same pandemic we were in last year but at least we’ve settled into the new house.


Mamma mia.

Storm Clouds

While picking up some pizza I saw these lovely shelf clouds advancing ahead of a rain storm over Halifax.

Storm Clouds Storm Clouds Storm Clouds

(Managed to get these photos, get back in the car, and head home before big splattery rain drops started falling, and only got a little wet running the pizzas from car to house when I got home.)

Solar Eclipse of June 2021

The June 10, 2021 solar eclipse was annular elsewhere, but just partial for us in Halifax, with about 70% of the sun covered at maximum eclipse.

Partial Solar Eclipse, 10 June 2021

I set up in the backyard just after sunrise with my NEX3N and SEL55210 telephoto lens plus black polymer solar filter taped over a lens hood (same as I used for the total solar eclipse of 2017), taking shots intermittently over a couple of hours as the moon glided in front of the rising sun. Then I cropped and sun-aligned the best shots, and arranged them in a nice linear sequence:

Partial Eclipse 2021 Linear Sequence

Also in animated GIF format, which really showed the motion of the moon across the sun’s face (though I fiddled too much with aperture and shutter speed through the course of the morning, and didn’t take captures at regular intervals, hence the variable speed and brightness).

Solar eclipse animation showing a cool dark orb crossing in front of a bright warm orb

More in my Eclipse 2021 photo album, and of course I’ll always remember the 2017 total solar eclipse.

Crew Dragon Tours

NASA astronauts work aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon

NASA astronauts aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon captured the flag left by the last space shuttle crew on the ISS, finally filling the gap in US human spaceflight. Three missions in, I got interested in tours of the spacecraft by the NASA crews who have flown so far:

For comparison, an older tour of Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-134). Definitely different interiors; Crew Dragon is much more airliner-like, with more off-white moulded plastic and much less of the mess of instruments and stowage lining the Shuttle’s cabin walls.

Related: inflight cabin views aboard Boeing Starliner, from the abortive demo mission which was unable to reach Station due to software issues. And from 2010: a much older SpaceX Crew Dragon concept animation.

Some Ocean Ambience

Went down to Rainbow Haven for our first beach day of the year; still light sweater weather out at 10°C or so but sunny enough to play in the sand and even fly a kite.

I tried setting my phone on some rocks with the camera pointed out to sea to catch some gentle, soothing ocean ambience:

(Fortunately the mic did not pick up the pair of jetskiers revving in the distance.)

More of the Old Lawrencetown Road Trail

“Maybe in 2021 we’ll get to the ends of some of these trails, too,” I said last December, and hey, sure enough, we managed to reach the other end of the Old Lawrencetown Road Trail, just a couple kilometers, but not an insignificant feat with a 4 year old kid along.

Old Lawrencetown Road Trail

Some ~180° panoramas of the river from the bridge:

Panorama: Old Lawrencetown Road Trail Panorama: Old Lawrencetown Road Trail

Rock hopping with the kid near a fallen tree, plus nearby mossy rocks lit by golden sun:

Old Lawrencetown Road Trail Old Lawrencetown Road Trail

Mushroom, mushroom:

Mushrooms on fallen birch tree

And spotted near the end of the trail, hey, free car:

Old Lawrencetown Road Trail

I continue to collect photos from local trails in this photo album.