When in Drought, Find a Beaver


I learned something interesting about the Beaver of all things. Once the backbone of  Canadian fur trading, this rather large rodent may adorn our nickel, yet is considered nothing more than a nuisance. Their fur of little value in a world  of synthetic fabric draped political correctness,  the Beaver  inhabit a realm known as pest. In parts of Canada like Porcupine Plains, Saskatchewan they even have a bounty on their seemingly worthless hides.

Not so fast people. According to David Suzuki they could be the most important animal on our planet. It seems their relentless dam building serves a special purpose. By creating ponds, they trap water destined to evaporate from small streams. By building dams they make deep ponds out of trickles the summer sun would have turned to dry creek beds.

Dr Glynnis Hood studied the impact of beavers on water levels in a given landscape. Elk Island National Park near Edmonton, Alberta had seen every last beaver trapped by the late 1800’s. In the 1940’s seven beavers were introduced and park rangers kept meticulous records of their activity. Looking at park records, Hood noticed a dramatic increase in water levels once these beavers got busy.

A fish hatchery in Methow, Washington is using the beaver to restore pools of late season water to areas where salmon stocks are dwindling. In Montana cattle country, conservationists  introduced beaver to what had become dry valleys by late summer. Limiting livestock access, and letting the beaver do their thing; remarkably these bone dry valleys became lush and green the following year.

Pondering the beaver I can’t help but think of the greatest man made disaster in North America. The “dust bowl” of the 1930’s was the result of poor farming practices; stripping indigenous grasses from the great plains removed nature’s perfect defense in times of drought. Protective layer gone, complete with five foot deep root systems; the top soil simply blew away.

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/the-greatest-man-made-disaster-in-north-america/

It worries me to watch arrogance grow, believing we control our environment. Anything getting in the way of progress is eradicated with nary a thought.  It makes me crazy to think this might come across as preachy, there just isn’t any other way to put it. All of us need to ponder the “balance of nature”. Today’s nuisance beaver might one day be our saving grace; in times of drought – find a beaver.

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Shotguns Just Blew My Mind


Slugging my way home from work today, I  happily pondered what I might write about tonight. Content with my thoughts; a pleasant way to spend the afternoon rush hour. The radio played as backdrop, and all was right in the world. Without warning a news story aired that nearly blew my mind. My Jekyll became Hyde; removing the gloves of quiet contemplation, I raced home possessed by the need to learn more.

Houston, Texas resident Kyle Coplen started a privately funded group called the Armed Citizens Project. Coplen is giving away 20-gauge shotguns, complete with ammunition and a lesson, to primarily female residents of mid to high crime areas in the city. A graduate student in Public Administration at the University of Houston, Coplen claims to have come up with this gem while writing a paper for the masters program.

“Pro-gun activists have largely been content to simply fend off new potential gun control laws. It is my opinion that gun-rights activists must take the offensive, and actively encourage the increased presence of defensive weapons in society. Both sides believe that their policies will result in less crime, and it is about time that our side begins to act with the conviction and courage that it will take to win the debate.” – Kyle Coplen

Coplen calls his program a “study” to determine once and for all if more guns reduce crime. Quick to point out he’s not forcing guns on any body, and believes the 20-gauge shotgun is of little value to a criminal. Guidelines stipulate all recipients must pass a back ground check, have lived in their home for at least one year, and complete the Armed Citizens Project training course. Ideally for his ‘study” to work, the goal is to see entire neighbourhoods armed. Coplen points out; you don’t need to be a great shot to take an intruder out with a shotgun.

Not only does Coplen want to put a shotgun in every household, he stresses his intention to counter government programs aimed at buying back guns with education on their merit. Those considering turning guns into the government would be urged to trade them for a shotgun.

My goodness America. I’ve heard rumblings that your education system was in shambles. For grad students in Public Administration to be spewing this nonsense – not only are my suspicions confirmed; you’re in far more trouble than I feared. By all appearances the University of Houston gave Kyle Coplen the high five; keep patting these fools on the back and in no time at all it will be every man for himself.  All I ask is that I never have to read another American scratching his head and asking where it all went wrong.

http://www.armedcitizenproject.org/Press-Releases.html

Religion Can Be So Wacky…


While at work today the Jehovah Witnesses dropped a “watchtower” leaflet in my mail slot.

Normally I would have tossed it straight into the garbage but their new image of Jesus caught my eye. The updated watchtower Jesus looked more like the CEO of Hair Club for Men. I read on – it seems March 26 marks the 1,980th anniversary of his death. They were “cordially” inviting people to attend their church on that day to discuss how the death of the greatest man who ever lived could benefit us all. According to the apostle John – the blood of Jesus cleanses us of all sin. They went on to ask people to consider if death ended it all, stressing the importance of attending a bible study on the subject.

Trying to remember what I knew of the Jehovah Witness faith was spotty at best. I knew they didn’t allow blood transfusions, and was fairly certain the chosen were a limited number. I confess to a little chuckle recalling a story my brother told me – he’s a licensed trapper who happened to be skinning a Marmot one Saturday morning when they knocked on his door. Marmot in hand he answered the door; they asked what was in his hand and he answered “my cat”. Let’s just say they’ve never been back.

Some research followed; I wanted to know if death ended it all. The answer is a little tricky, as it’s yes and no. JW’s don’t believe in a immortal soul or the concept of hell. They believe we cease to exist when dead, however if we dotted all our I’s and crossed our T’s in life, there is a chance God will remember and resurrect the faithful. They believe we are in the “end times” which started in 1914.  Never stating when the “end” will come, one certainty is that when the end arrives, precisely 144,000 “anointed” will ascend to heaven to rule with Christ – the rest will spend eternity in “paradise on earth”. I admit some confusion; they seem a little vague on the concept of paradise on earth after end times.

With around 7 million faithful worldwide, the odds of ascending to heaven aren’t that great – yet the faithful knock on my door or plug my mail box with an admirable tenacity. It doesn’t seem to bother any of them in the slightest. I could care less what any one wants to believe; the sooner religion is off the table the better. However; stick a flyer with “hair club” Jesus pondering “death ending it all” in my door, and I simply can’t help myself.

This link has a good overview of Jehovah Witnesses.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/witnesses/beliefs/beliefs.shtml

Something Cool to Ponder


America’s Stonehenge is the name given to a site in Salem New Hampshire. Though it pales in comparison to it’s namesake, it has some rather interesting similarities The alignment of the stones mark the solstices – longest and shortest days of the year. The equinoxes – twice a year when the sun is over the equator, day and night are both 12 hours. Cross quarter days – falling exactly in the middle between the solstice and equinox. Finally – true north alignment.

Originally called Mystery Hill; a name given by William Goodwin who purchased the land in 1937, theories of its origin run from Goodwin’s belief it was proof that Irish monks lived in America before Columbus, to the Phoenicians paying America a visit. No one argues native americans inhabited the site, or that some of the stones have been moved. Goodwin attempted to stand some of the stones, convinced he was setting them in their original upright position.

Carbon dating places the site between two and four thousand years old. Without a doubt the clever name change from Mystery Hill to American Stonehenge has placed another roadside attraction on the map. When we think of Stonehenge an image of monolithic proportions comes to mind.  This place is nothing of the sort; roadside attraction is a clue to the hopeful business plan of the Stone family who now own the land.

Much hyped or over-rated doesn’t matter much to me, I’m willing to see beyond that. Say or think what you will but the fact remains – when the sun rises at the summer solstice it shines brightly on a marker in Salem, New Hampshire – just as it does at Stonehenge, England. However paltry America’s Stonehenge appears, the cosmic alignment is something cool to ponder.

Photo – crystalinks.com

Perception of Privacy


We were out for dinner with our daughter last night and the conversation landed on Google Glass. For anyone who hasn’t heard of Google Glass, this is a concept known as ubiquitous computing; the idea of fitting computers to every day objects rather than people having to go to computers. Android and smart phones already fill this bill, in many ways eliminating the need for bulky desktops.Google Glass aims to take this a step further by allowing the user to interface with a pair of sunglasses. Google is in talks with manufacturers like Ray Ban, but adds that their goal is for this modular device to attach itself to prescription glasses as well.

Our daughter enthused about the concept for a few minutes, until my husband asked her if she realized the problem with them. A moment of silence followed, we could see her impatience grow – just short of rolling her eyes she relented and asked what the problem might be.

He explained how Google Glass put the GPS in our phones to shame. This device would allow not only our position but every word we spoke, person we met, or conversation we had to be on record. Google Glass is “big brothers” dream come true. A birds eye view of everything we did in a day.

I’ve had a day to ponder her reaction and conclude there was nothing exceptional about it. As alarming as it seemed to my husband and myself, I’ve realized we hail from an era where privacy was truly private. Not that there was the slightest hint of privacy around the single land line in the kitchen, at least when leaving the house I was untraceable. My children have never lived in a world where they didn’t “ping” off a cell phone tower or instant message their friends. Every purchase we make is tracked by store point cards, we “like” on facebook to receive coupons or join discount clubs, we customize the news received – all carefully monitored and digested by big business.

I have nothing against progress – simply hoping we realize the price we pay. My perception of privacy is based on impossibly outdated concepts; I can’t expect my children to understand the freedom of complete privacy. nor could I resist the opportunity to point out the perils of yet another privacy robbing device.

Why Do We Shoot Ourselves In The Foot?


Far from being an expert in any way other than my wits; my mind has been plagued recently by this ponder. I can’t stop wondering if mankind has reached the limit of evolution. The basis of my thesis is our seemingly endless capacity to shoot ourselves in the foot.

It is entirely possible that I mistake common sense for reality – I’ve given that point considerable thought – and every time I reach the same conclusion. Despite our technological advances, understanding of science and nature, or light speed communication; we’re taking one step forward two steps back.

Call me a crazy idealistic fool, but I don’t see us getting over this hump without a few things happening. First – religion has to be taken out of politics. I mean eradicated; delegated to the privacy of our homes. Abolished from political speeches, made accountable for their actions, and subjected to the same rule of law as everyone else. Religious leaders who speak out against homosexuality or abortion should be charged with hate crimes. As should any group such as the Boy Scouts who choose to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Until we move beyond religion, and biased thinking based on religion – we’re simply shooting ourselves in the foot.

Next we need to come to our senses in regard to organizations like the NRA. It boggles my mind to watch unelected spokespeople dictate policy from the comfort of their tax exempt, non profit towers. I find it beyond comprehension for this or any other lobby group to be given the time of day. Shooting ourselves in the foot is putting it mildly.

Third – lets get over rehashing done deals; women have the right to vote, blacks don’t sit at the back of the bus – and news flash religious fundamentalists – abortion is legal, gay people don’t burn in hell. Memo to the state of Arizona – life begins at the end of a woman’s last period? You geniuses made this law which makes you about as clever as the 63% of Canadians who responded in a recent poll to be in favour of bringing back the death penalty. Shooting ourselves in the foot.

I can’t help but think evolution has ground to a halt. Correct me if I’m wrong but I see no chance of moving forward while stalled on out dated concepts and perceptions. Worse still, we’re too busy shooting ourselves in the foot to even realize it.

Seven Black Widow Spiders


I spotted Black Widow spiders number six and seven in my laundry room. One through five appeared last summer. I managed to wrangle most of them, unfortunately six and seven eluded capture. This is not good. Laundry is in the basement, fingers crossed black widows like basements.

Growing up in rural B.C. we were taught to be on the lookout for two things – rattlesnakes and black widow spiders. Not once did I encounter either. Here I am 40 years later, encased in urban sprawl with black widows everywhere. Hard to call it surprising – I never saw a coyote, skunk, or raccoon either, and all of them are regular occurrences in my city yard.

This leads me to ponder evolution and adaptation of species. Why my house in the middle of a city is besieged by an infestation of spiders remains unanswered. Not just any spider, but black widows with potential to deliver a very bad day. Spiders that are supposed to reside in a climate far different than rainy Vancouver. I guess my dry basement offers  warm haven – small comfort in the face of possible flesh eating bites.

It could be worse; the bite of a black widow won’t kill you, only melt your flesh. If Brown Recluse were the problem, I’d be packing my bags instead of writing. All the same, I’d like them to move out – seven black widows in less than a year doesn’t make me happy.