July 31, 2005

More Deer Lake Wildlife

Yumi and I walked to Deer Lake this afternoon. Getting to the lake, ambling all the way around it, and going home took nearly three hours on this beautiful long weekend Sunday. We got photos of more beasts along the way.

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I believe this is a northern bluet damselfly.

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A grasshopper.

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And a garter snake with beautiful coloration.

Posted by Paul at 03:47 PM

July 23, 2005

Taming Kittens at the Farm

Yumi and I visited my Uncle Bohdan and Aunt Nadie at their farm northeast of Melfort, Saskatchewan. To our delight they had a mother cat with three kittens. The kittens were initially a bit skittish, but as you can see, they quickly became accustomed to us.

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Posted by Paul at 04:10 PM

July 19, 2005

Subaru Outback Odometer Hits 123456

OK, I know this is strange, but I love spotting interesting combinations of numbers on the odometer of our '98 Subaru Outback. This photo was taken at a rest stop just north of Valemount BC on our recent trip to visit relatives in Saskatchewan. As I got back in the car, I noticed the 123,456 reading and snapped this photo.

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Posted by Paul at 04:02 PM

July 17, 2005

Frogs, Tadpoles, Ducks of Deer Lake

It was a beautiful day at Deer Lake, and we saw several species of frogs, huge tadpoles, turtles, ducks and other critters. Unfortunately the turtles and some of the frogs are invasive species.

Here are a few shots:

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The skyline of south Burnaby from Deer Lake.

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Is this frog native or invasive? One fellow today said it was an invasive and I guess we have to study up on frogs to be sure.

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These tadpoles were big -- at least 10cm long, and some were larger, making me doubt that they are native species.

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Last but not least, a family of ducks. These ducklings were so accustomed to people you could almost touch them. Makes one wonder at their chances come hunting season!

Posted by Paul at 06:49 PM

July 16, 2005

Cruising the Fraser on the Native

Yumi and I took the Skytrain down to New Westminster late this morning to see if we could snag a seat on one of the $5.00 special Fraser River cruises on the Native paddlewheeler.

It was overcast and cool, so we had no trouble getting tickets for the noon cruise. I really enjoy getting out on the water, and the views were spectacular, especially as the sun began to break through. Here are a couple of photos:

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The huge cranes at Fraser Surrey port.

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Returning to the Quay at New Westminster.

We walked all the way home under clear skies and a hot sun -- a trek that took one hour and fifteen minutes -- and arrived soaked in sweat!


Posted by Paul at 06:33 PM

July 09, 2005

Book-Lover's Treasure Discovered

My mother gave me an ancient treasure today that she had found in her records.

It's a well-thumbed blue Hilroy Exercise Book, a No. 993 Narrow Ruled, with a price of 39 cents printed on it.

It contains a list of 1,446 books that I read between August 1971 and July 1, 1985. That's an average of 103 books a year!

There is also a series of notations and calculations on the last page that says by a "conservative estimate" I had read 1,250 books up to August 1971, for a total of 2,696 books by age 26.

Zounds! Needless to say, the yearly totals dwindled fairly rapidly until for several years I was reading barely a book a month. In the last couple of years I've been back up to several books a month, but I doubt if I'll ever return to the voracious pace of my youth.

I still keep records of books I've read, and after a six-month gap in the last half of 1985 (when I was on the road in Japan and Southeast Asia -- surely I must have some record somewhere?), the count picks up again in 1986.

From 1986 through the end of 2004, I read 819 books, for a life total to that date of 3,515 books.

Flipping through that dog-eared Hilroy stirs fond memories of binges of reading on photography, cars, art, nature, music, economics, history, psychology, Canadiana, etc. The phases I went through, the one or two-month flares of passion for some subject that I can barely recall now.

A summer in my teens spent in a cast, plowing through Solzhenitsyn novel after Solzhenitsyn novel. I read thousands of pages of Solzhenitsyn in a month or two, the Gulag series and most of his novels -- I guess I was quite ill :-).

It's a fascinating record, and a somewhat scary one too, when I think of how few of all those words I can recall. I guess it all adds up though -- while I may not remember specifics, the knowledge and the styles are still guiding me today.

Thanks for preserving that blue notebook, Mom!

Posted by Paul at 07:33 PM

July 05, 2005

Now That's A Green Roof!

Yumi standing in front of a park facility with an environmentally conscious green roof :-).

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Posted by Paul at 07:20 PM

Camping at Long Beach

Yumi and I went to Pacific Rim National Park a few weeks ago and stayed at the Green Point campground for two nights. It's the third time we've gone in as many years, and we always enjoy walking aptly named Long Beach and exploring tidal pools for interesting critters.

We always throw in a tramp along the gorgous Wild Pacific Trail near the lighthouse in Ucluelet, and visit funky Tofino as well. Here are few shots I took.

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Me standing on the Pacific rim :-).

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One of the hundreds of beautiful views from the Wild Pacific Trail that greet you every meter or two...

Posted by Paul at 07:01 PM

July 03, 2005

Review - Preparing for the Twenty-First Century

Review - Preparing for the Twenty-First Century.

By Paul Kennedy

This is a solid overview of the economic, social and political forces that are shaping the world into the 21st century. Kennedy presents a good discussion of the changes that are affecting the world, and the challenges that humankind will have to deal with to survive.

The general trends that he lays out include the demographic explosion, the rise of information technology that is driving a communications and financial revolution, biotechnology, robotics and dangers to the environment.

As with many recent commentators, Kennedy points out the ever-increasing gaps between wealthy and poor nations, and posits that "... the most important influence on a nation's responsiveness to change probably is its social attitudes, religious beliefs, and culture."

While not shying away from the huge problems we face, Kennedy believes people and nations can choose to respond positively to change, however that requires the adoption of "... a market economy, at least to the extent that merchants and entrepreneurs are not discriminated against, deterred, and preyed upon; the abscence of rigid, doctrinal orthodoxy; the freedom to inquire, to dispute, to experiment; a belief in the possibilities of improvement; a concern for the practical rather than the abstract; a rationalism that defies mandarin codes, religious dogma, and traditional folklore."

The question is whether or not our political and social structures can adapt quickly enough to keep a handle on the massive changes going on around us.

"It is inconcievable that the earth can sustain a population of 10 billion people devouring resources at the rate enjoyed by richer societies today -- or at even half that rate. Well before total world population reaches that level, irreparable damage to forests, water supplies, and animal and plant species will have occurred, and many environmental thresholds may have been breached."

Can we run fast enough to stay in place?

Posted by Paul at 06:32 PM

July 01, 2005

Review - The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake

The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake 1577-1580.

By Samuel Bawlf

Take painstaking historical research, add a buccaneering yarn about one of the greatest sailors and adventurers who ever sailed the seas, toss in the development of new theories about exploration that read like a detective novel and you get this wonderful book by Samuel Bawlf.

The gist of the story is that Bawlf believes Drake got much further north up the coast of western Canada in a search for an Arctic passage than previously believed, and he makes an excellent case.

Maps and charts have always had great strategic value, and the charts and logs of Drake's various voyages were purposely obfuscated and censored.

Posted by Paul at 06:24 PM