Monday, April 27, 2009


The tall pines bow in obeisance to the force of the wind. Other weaker specimens simply lift from the ground, roots and all, or snap under the strain. The roar of air passing through branches at 80 kilometres per hour competes with the sounds of the cracking and crashing of trees and branches. Being in the woods is dangerous.

Trees uprootedOn the lake, usually placid, white caps froth and churn, racing the wind to the distant shore. Boaters stay off the water until the storm passes.

The flame blown out, the hamburgers are still raw on the barbecue.

Tomorrow the cleanup begins.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Two less excuses

Every time I’ve had the insane thought that it would be cool to climb Mount Everest I trot out a long list of reasons why it will never happen. In addition to the blindingly obvious such as the exorbitant cost and a fear of heights, there are dozens more on a seemingly endless list destined to ensure that I will never, ever risk life and limb to go where only 2,700 or so people before me have gone and from which only about 2,500 have returned. (Yes, a 10% chance of dying is close to the top of the list.)

But even with my fevered imagination crafting one disaster scenario after another, the lack of cell phone service on the summit has never been a major concern. Nor has the absence of team sports at the base camp ever been a factor.

However if they were, I would now have two fewer excuses to stay down where the air still actually contains some oxygen.

According to this news item Nepal Telecom is going to expand its cell phone service to the top of Mount Everest by installing 4 more cellular telephone towers. Once that’s completed in June of this year, you’ll be able to take telemarketing calls to new heights (or should that be “at” new heights?).

And if a few weeks away from watching your favourite sport is all that’s keeping you from acclimatizing at base camp, the first ever cricket match has now been played at that dizzying altitude (16,495 feet).

So if either of those was all that was keeping you from strapping on the crampons and grabbing the oxygen bottle, you are  now out of excuses. Put $20 on Team Tenzing for me, and call me from the top when you get there.


“What’s up with Arizona politicians?” indeed


Only a couple of days after Napolitano’s ignorant remarks about the Canadian border and her assertion that the 9/11 terrorists crossed into the US from Canada, Arizona Senator John McCain tells Fox News, "Well, some of the 9/11 hijackers did come through Canada, as you know."

As Forrest Gump would say, “Stupid is as stupid does.”


The Mouth That Roared

When will world leaders get so tired of being lectured by our incompetent finance minister that they just turn around and very publicly tell him to “Shut the f*** up!”?

CANADA POLITICSNow I happen to believe Flim-flam Flaherty is right (for once) that the world’s  financial services industry needed a good shakeup and significantly tougher controls. But the abrasive arrogance with which he repeatedly delivers that message has got to be grating on those in his sights – particularly the US administration.

How many times will they stand for being told, “We’re better! Look at us! Why weren’t you guys as smart as we were? What’s taking you so long?” before they put him on their no-fly list and condemn Canadians to his presence evermore?

Of course we could always hope that his name goes on the list while he’s visiting Sudan.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It’s official, spring is finally here.

At long last we have slipped from winter’s grasp and are now enjoying Mother Nature’s awakening.

DSC_4173Living in the city one is aware of the changes happening, most of all the longer days and warming temperatures. But out here, the transformation is observed first hand, up close and personal as it were, which makes it all that much more amazing to watch and enjoyable to experience.

There still remains some snow in deep, shaded forest areas, but the flora is pushing hard to get the most of a short growing season. EarlyDSC_4170 daffodils and crocuses are in bloom. The hyacinths are showing colour and the marsh marigolds have braved the icy waters to push up new growth and the promise of a bright splash of yellow along the lakeshore. The trees are in flower, the sap is running, and leaf buds are fat and juicy, waiting for just the right conditions to burst forth and clothe the naked branches.

Our seasonal avian visitors have also returned. Robins, phoebes and the other snowbirds are scoping out good nesting sites in anticipation of raising the next generation or two before the days again shorten and the southern migration begins.  The DSC_4143loons are on the lake singing their mournful mating songs and the hawks are hunting from the nearby trees. Even the turkey vultures are back, busily cleaning up the winter’s dead recently exposed by the melting snow.

And last, but certainly not least, human spirits are lifted with the higher sun and negativity is drawn from the soul. After all our natural habitat is not in these enclosed, sterile environments where we tend to spend the winter months, but out of doors surrounded by, and a part of, nature itself.

So that’s where I’ll be for the next few months, out of doors, making the most of our all too brief summer.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The City of Ottawa is actually ahead of the curve on something!

The Associated press is reporting that the Navestock Parish Council (40 kilometres northeast of London) is proposing to leave its potholes in place as a means of reducing speeds on its roads.

Big deal. Ottawa has been doing that for years on Carling, Wellington, Baseline….

And you thought Ottawa City Council didn’t have an original thought among the lot of them.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My mind’s made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts.

The Toronto Sun reports that the prison tattoo parlour program that was initiated on a trial basis in 2005 and later cancelled by the Conservative government was a “cost-effective success.”

According to a Correctional Service of Canada study, "Initial results of the initiative indicate potential to reduce harm, reduce exposure to health risk and enhance the health and safety of staff members, inmates and the general public.”

But you’ll never be able to accuse the Harper Cons of letting the facts get in the way of good ideological policies. “A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan said the government has no plan to resurrect the program.”

Sunday, April 12, 2009

“On the rocks” on the rocks?

According to this story, “Between 20 and 30 young seals have washed up on the shore; their bodies in varying states of decay. Some had crushed skulls, others were missing their eyes.”.

Of course this immediately prompted a flurry of calls from the “concerned public”, but it turns out that the culprit was, in all likelihood, sea ice.

According to Allan MacLean of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, they were likely killed by sea ice that broke up and crushed them in the water. "Most often the trauma from ice kills is in the head area," [MacLean]said by phone from Baddeck. "This is not unusual — it happens really frequently in Cape Breton."

If further investigation reveals sea ice to be the true cause of death, PETA has vowed an international boycott. According to a spokesperson, “You don’t need ice to enjoy a good single malt.”

European manufacturers of refrigeration equipment have also announced the likelihood of further corporate losses should the boycott take hold. “This is all we need, to have a reduced demand for ice on top of the world economic challenges we are already facing.”

John Baird, Canada’s Environment Minister further opined, “This could be a good thing. A lowered global demand for ice will ensure that the Arctic ice cap remains in place for at least a few more years.” He added, “Unlike the Liberals who simply let it melt away, we’re getting it done for Canadians.”

Shining a light on the tar sands

Tar SandsI just finished reading Andrew Nikiforuk’s Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent.

Heavily researched and well-written, Nikiforuk serves up a damning indictment of Alberta’s (and Canada’s) progression to becoming just another failing petro-state.

The book’s inconvenient truths will both educate the reader and piss him or her off, but they needed to be said and Nikiforuk does so in a very compelling way.

In my opinion, this book is a must-read for anyone trying to understand the current state of Canadian and Albertan politics, as well as anyone concerned about the environmental disaster the tar sands represent to the people of northern Alberta, and perhaps to the entire continent.

For a more detailed review, link here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

GM’s Horseless Chariot

It may be too little too late for GM, but this latest announcement of a partnership  with Segway to produce the Puma is the kind of creative thinking the Big Three should have been doing for years.

GM SegwayObviously this is not everyone’s idea of the ultimate two-wheeler, but for the right marketplace it has the potential to be a low-cost, energy efficient, flexible means of transportation.

Unfortunately for North Americans, our governments will ensure that this innovative idea will never see the light of day in any of our over-crowded and motor vehicle congested cities. By the time they have legislated front and side airbags, impact bumpers, seat belts, crash guards, safety glass, crush-proof fenders, a dashboard full of idiot lights, strengthened door pillars, and a spare tire the Puma will be indistinguishable from this other GM product.


Except that the Puma driver (rider?) will probably be required to wear a helmet.

(cross-posted from

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


DSC_4097-2 webThe snow drops fight their way through frozen earth and a mantle of snow to prove that Spring has finally wrested control from Old Man Winter in this little piece of paradise.

The crocuses (crocii?)give us a splash of colour as they too appear from beneath the cast off leaves of the maples and oaks.DSC_4101 web

The spring garden is truly a wonder. It doesn’t matter who is at 24 Sussex or the White House. It doesn’t matter how good or bad the economy is. It doesn’t matter whether you are dealing with personal success or great tragedy. Year after year the plants sense it’s time, put on their flashiest outfits, stage the grand entrance, and grace us with their presence for oh such a fleeting time.