Friday, February 27, 2009

An ill wind…

As I look out at the lake today I’m reminded of the old adage, “’Tis an ill wind that blows nobody any good”.

We are now into what is arguably the worst weather season – that depressing thaw, freeze, thaw cycle that we go through every year as Spring begins to flex her muscles before bursting on the scene, fully formed, some time in April.

Today is no exception as rain pours from leaden skies to erase much of the snow in the woods and turn the  hard-packed roads to sheets of ice. Puddles of water gather around the door sills and on the driveway. It’s damp and it’s dreary – the kind of day where the best medicine is a good book and a roaring fire.

DSCN0061 - CopyBut the rain has also flooded the lake, melting the snow on top of the ice to create another puddle, this time one that’s about 300 acres in size. And with temperatures forecast to drop to –18 tonight and expected to stay cold for the next few days, we’ll have some of the best skating in the country. All free, and right at the back door.

It’s going to be great!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dust to dust? Not necessarily.

I was recently looking at the work of Julien Beever, an amazing sidewalk artist who does these anamorphic illusions in chalk on urban sidewalks.beever fountain

His work is imaginative, fascinating, and beautiful, but temporal. The first rainfall and his creation becomes nothing more than chalk dust floating through the storm drains.

It occurred to me that blogging is much the same, especially blogging that is time-relative in that it relates to current events in some way. The words so carefully considered and presented on the page soon lose their currency as they are superseded by new events and new blog entries. Like Beever’s chalk images, they simply devolve into their component parts – bits stored on anonymous servers scattered throughout the internet world. For the most part no one cares; it is, after all, “yesterday’s news”. But in the same way that Beever photo-documents his work to retain a record of the created image, it is now easy to create a physical copy of all or part of your blog for posterity.

One company that has taken the concept of mass customization to blog publishing is Blurb. Using their blog slurper and formatting tools it’s easy and relatively inexpensive to publish your very own book containing a copy of your blog – or at least those entries you feel are worth putting on paper. Or a personal diary. Or a photo spread. Or that novel you’ve been working on in your spare time.

It’s an interesting model, and worth checking out.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ice fishing….

In Ohio, a large ice floe broke away from the shore of Lake Erie, trapping more than 100 fishermen, some for as long as four hours.

According to the news reports, “Several ships and helicopters from Toledo and Marblehead were sent to rescue people from the floe. The Coast Guard said crews from Michigan, including Detroit, Traverse City and St. Clair Shores, also responded.”

Meanwhile, on the Canadian side of the lake …

Ice FishingB

Harper’s brilliant Senate strategy

In one of those slap-the-forehead moments I now know why Harper put Duffy in the Senate. It’s simple, really. Appoint a buffoon who will either piss off or otherwise embarrass enough of the population that we will all soon be begging for an elected Senate so we can throw the bum out.

How devilishly clever of the greatest political strategist of the modern era.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The promise of spring

It’s another crisp, cold morning, the likes of which we’ve seen too often this winter. The thermometer is hovering around 20-below, and the chickadees and nuthatches, feathers puffed up for warmth, are swarming the feeders looking for the energy needed to get them through one more day.

But the sun is up, a little higher in the sky than yesterday, and higher still than the day before that. You can now begin to feel the warmth of its fire, especially in those tucked away corners out of reach of the north wind. And on the deck, the snow is starting to melt, throwing up a thin fog as the heat-generated moisture reaches the still frigid air a foot or so above the surface.

It’s only February so winter still has lots of nasty tricks up her sleeve, but the promise of spring is in the air, and with that promise comes optimism for a brighter, warmer future.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

There's probably no God....

These ads have been approved for display on buses in Toronto and efforts are being made across Canada to get them approved in other municipalities as well.

Personally I would lump them in with ads exhorting one to “eat broccoli – it’s good for you”. In other words, meaningless and pretty harmless, destined to be ignored for the most part once the initial reaction to them wears off.

But not so the reaction from the more religious among us, including everyone’s favourite wing nut, Chuck McVety . To them these ads are an outrageous attack on their beliefs and their response is to rage at the audacity of “atheists forcing their views down our throats”. A typical reaction was a woman who called in to an Ottawa radio show and who, after establishing her bona fides by explaining that she was raised Catholic and later converted to Islam, termed the ads “offensive”.

Okay folks, let’s get a grip on reality here. No one is trying to subvert your personal faith or steal the children from the bosom of your church (synagogue, mosque) under cover of darkness. Your faith will be none the weaker for having read these words, and in fact, may even become stronger if they cause you to reassess and reaffirm your own beliefs. That’s fine if that’s what works for you. But for McVety (the poster boy of intolerance) to call these ads “intolerant” is about as stupid as calling the “God is Love” billboards publicly displayed outside churches intolerant, or “Jesus Saves” painted on barn roofs intolerant. They simply offer a perspective with which it is your option to agree or disagree. You have no more right to be offended by them than by a sign in a travel agency that offers you “The perfect winter get-away vacation.”

We’d all get along so much better if people just remembered that it’s freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.