The Coolest Picture I’ve Ever Taken With My iPhone

Picture of moon through telescope and iPhone

You can get all sorts of attachments for your iPhone lens.

There’s Photojojo, LensBaby, Kogeto, and others.

Lisa Bettany has had a great rig attached to her iPhone that she took around the world to demonstrate the power of her Camera+ app.

But what about attaching a telescope to the lens of your iPhone?

My son and I went down to our local Astronomy Club’s viewing session and after a couple of peeks at Venus and the Moon, I decided to simply hold the tiny lens of my iPhone up to the viewfinder. It’s the same concept all the pocket lens attachments work with, except this was a beastly telescope attached to my iPhone.

Starred Night in Calgary Starred Night in Calgary Starred Night in Calgary Picture of moon through telescope and iPhone

While I did it old school holding my iPhone up to the lens, there is an Astroclip in development to attach your iPhone to a telescope – no more squinting to see all the brilliance of space.

What’s the coolest picture you’ve ever taken with your iPhone?

Calgary Eats: Mercato’s New West Side Location

Mercato west calgary

Mercato West
5000 – 873 85th St SW
(403) 685-0460

A swanky new joint has opened up on Calgary’s west side, a high end restaurant that high end home owners can walk home from.

The restaurant has taken over a building in a strip mall that has sat mostly unused for 2 years since it was a failed farmer’s market. It is a huge building that has been renovated in a creative way that finally brings upmarket style and food to this well-to-do suburb.

The open concept kitchen is the star of the entire room, so make sure you reserve a front row seat. While there are some tables on the side, the showpiece is a sawtooth bar that lets groups of 4 face each other while dining, instead of sitting side by side. It’s a great idea – the kitchen offers some excitement to watch, while the seating arrangement still lets you chat with your friends.

Our waiter, when talking about the ingredients, almost brags at how much things cost and justifies the $80 as-tall-as-your-fist steak we see searing on the grill as something that can feed two people and takes nearly an hour to cook.

Then there’s the tray of meat. Arosto Misto is a $200 carving selection of steak, lamb, veal, chicken, and sausage that definitely needs 2 hands to be carried out.

Caprese Mercato west calgaryYes, Mercato is expensive. The tomatoes for their $19 caprese salad are flown in from Sicily. The yellowfin tuna steak is $43. Wines all start at $50. But it’s delicious.

The market is almost a walk through the executive chef’s pantry. Want to take some of Mama Cathy‘s sausages home? They’re in the deli. Want your own Sicilian tomatoes and drippingly delicate mozarella di buffalo? Just look behind you. If the wine catches your fancy, like the Magiliano Morellino Heba Toscana did for us, then the waiter will scribble you a note to take to Merlo (Mercato’s wine store) just down the hill.

Save your pennnies, and enjoy a great treat.

Dinner for 4: $360, including tip
2 cappuccino, 1 tiramisu
caprese, mussels
2 bottles of wine
tonno, cresti di gallo, gnocchi

100 Day Countdown To The Calgary Stampede

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March 29, 2012 marked 100 Days until The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth is celebrated for the 100th time.

100 days to show the world what hospitality and community spirit is all about. Already hailed as one of the best parties on the planet, The Calgary Stampede is about to step it up a notch for this year’s party.

Guy Weadick promised big things when it first started in 1912, and he delivered.

The Calgary Herald reported that “fully eighty thousand people saw the parade,” . . . turning out en masse to witness the event, considered to be the “greatest pageant of western types and western history ever gathered together on the American continent .”

The Calgary Stampede Parade is easily one of the highlights, and the unveiling of The Stampede Parade Marshal is a secret held tighter than who wins the Oscars.

The 100th Anniversary Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal will be Ian Tyson. The Seven chiefs of First Nations communities will be honourary marshals including Chief Big Plume of Tsuu T’ina.

MUSIC Ian Tyson Wall 20120328 / THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

“This is truly a special year and I’m pleased we have the opportunity to recognize the people who’ll be at the front of our Centennial Parade,” says Mike Casey, president and chairman of the board, Calgary Stampede. “Our Parade Marshal is someone who symbolizes western heritage and values, is an iconic Canadian and someone who embodies the Calgary Stampede. And as we get set to celebrate our centennial, I’m thrilled to have the seven Honourary Parade Marshals join us as they represent a relationship that started 100 years ago and remains strong today.”

The 2012 Calgary Stampede will go July 6 – 15, and here’s just a piece of what to expect with the latest promise of spectacular:

  • A Stampede show “unlike anything anyone has ever seen” that will feature the best in western horsemanship and the finest in First Nations performances
  • A partnership with Roots Canada resulting in a product line commemorating the 100th anniversary
  • An array of concerts, including Canadian country music superstars Johnny Reid, and Paul Brandt starring in the Grandstand shows
  • A new roller-coaster named Outlaw to honour the famous rodeo bull, and a 260-metre zip line across Stampede Park
  • ”Surprise birthday cake” celebrations at community events in and around Calgary
  • A “white hat roundup” recognizing 100 Albertans who exemplify western heritage; and,
  • A new website to share stories, photos, poetry and video


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    For some this is a party about Calgary beer, western wear, and Stampede midway food. You can have all that, in the end, for me, it’s still about community spirit. It’s about being proud of where you live, and meeting your neighbours. It’s the ultimate pep rally.

    Are you coming?

Kids In Calgary: Penguin Plunge At The Calgary Zoo

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The Calgary Zoo‘s Penguin Plunge is now open and the only complaint is that you only get 15 minutes to experience the fun.

To avoid the longer lines, it’s best to arrive as soon as the zoo opens. On weekends, that means crashing the gate at 9a. I arrived at 930 on a Sunday and was met with a 45 minute wait. When we left our appointment an hour later, the long was considerably longer.

60 people can visit Penguin Plunge at a time, and you get 15 minutes of fun with 40 penguins from 4 species. They are characters, these guys. They dive, swim, chat, and splash the entire time. Oh yes, they splash. The intimacy of the exhibit is remarkable. The glass stands just shy of 5 feet high, meaning average adults can easily reach out and touch a penguin, or they can easily splash you.

The Penguin Plunge exhibit is on both sides of a walkway, with penguins plunging and diving underneath and popping up behind you constanly. You can see them swimming through the glass, and they are just the silliest bunch of birds you’ll ever see.

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Penguin Plunge includes four penguin species – Humboldt, Gentoo, Rockhopper and Kings. Two of which face serious challenges in the wild.

Humboldt penguins can be found all the way up the coast of Chile near Peru. They prefer temps near 5 degrees above zero, while the King penguins like things colder. For now, the penguins are only inside until the temperatures warm up for the Humboldts, then they’ll get to play outside too.

It’s a shame the zoo doesn’t hand out “appointment slips”, where you could show up and pick up a ticket for 10:15, or 11:00, or 1:30. This would give you time to wander over to the dinosaurs, gorillas, bears, or hippos, instead of standing in the cold for an hour. Alas, they don’t, so line up you must – and it’s worth it.

For other things to do with your family in Calgary, check out the entire Kids In Calgary series.

An Engaging Anniversary

2008-03-24 paris 2

Thank God for iCal and YouTube.

Because I shot a video of my proposal to Jen and posted it on YouTube, I will never forget the date. Because of iCal, I can have it pop up on my iPhone each year as a reminder.

March 24, 2008 at the top of the Eiffel Tower, I asked if she would choo choo choose me.

(There used to be music to go with the montage – Seal and Heidi Klum singing Wedding Day, but it was silenced by the copyright police.)

The Blog According to Buzz. Spread the word, ya heard?

Martin Parnell’s Lacrosse Quest 24

Buzz Bishop and Martin Parnell - Netball Quest 61

Martin Parnell does not take retirement lightly.

In 2010 he ran 250 marathons, with a goal of raising $250 000 for Right To Play.


In 2011, I joined him in setting a Guinness World Record for Marathon Netball (our game lasted 61 hours).

To date he has raised more than $300 000 to help kids around the world get out and get active – and he’s not stopping. Up next for Martin are more world records.

On April 27, he has Lacrosse Quest 24. It will be a box lacrosse game lasting 24 hours, setting the first ever Guinness World Record for Marathon Lacrosse Playing.

20110918 Netball Quest 61 Guinness World Record attempt

To set the record, Martin will need some help. Competitors need to be at least 16 and have some experience with box lacrosse. Go to www.hotboxlacrosse.com to sign up.

The endurance “Lacrosse Quest 24” will be played over 24 hours commencing 7.00PM Friday April 27, around the clock through to 7.00PM Saturday April 28, at the South Fish Creek Recreation Complex Arena (S.E. Calgary).

Hotbox Lacrosse and Martin will be joined by Lacrosse enthusiasts to form two teams of 23 each, who must remain court-side for the duration of the 24 hour record attempt.

“Lacrosse Quest 24” is the third event in Martin’s “Quests for Kids” series. His plan is to complete 10 Quests in 5 years, raising $1m for Right To Play and helping 20,000 children. Lacrosse Quest 24 will aim to raise $50,000 of this goal to benefit the children of Benin in Western Africa. As part of a commitment from Right To Play partners, every dollar donated in support of Lacrosse Quest 24 will be matched three times. Online donations can be made via www.hotboxlacrosse.com

More far-reaching and impactful than the boasting rights of a Guinness World Record will be the effect of the money raised by the attempt. With every $50 raised, one child will be able to experience Right To Play’s weekly sport and play–based programs for a year.

The focus of Martin’s “Quests for Kids” series is to promote sports that kids can play both at school and in the community, so working with Hotbox Lacrosse for the Guinness World Record attempt is a natural fit as his third quest event.

Why not strike “Guinness World Record” off your bucket list? If you have box lacrosse experience, join Martin on April 27 and help kids around the world get the Right To Play.

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