Slipping Support For Bill C-51

Oh Stephen Harper, has it crossed your mind Canadians are on to you? You’ve had a good run, managing to forsake rights of first nations, women, environment and veterans with admirably callous disregard. Your vision of my Canada as “warrior nation” allowed you to dabble in sand boxes of true war mongers. Alienating the United Nations, insisting our military fly in the face of front-line conflict, strutting about like a holier than thou defender of morality – all the while, banking on polite Canadians to roll over and thank you for making Canada a “warrior nation”.

Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson spoke in Ottawa today, imploring Commons support for Harper’s intended expansion of Canadian military in Syria and Iraq. Despite parliamentary approval last year of six months participation in a U.S. led coalition of air strikes against ISIL in Iraq (expires on April 7), NDP and Liberal members are less than supportive of continued involvement, preferring humanitarian aid and support.

Pay attention because these next words from Nicholson are worth pondering.

“Canada is in the fight because the militants have threatened the country directly”

Ah yes, militant threats – AKA, Stephen Harper’s wet dream. No self respecting warrior nation exists without reason – when in doubt, create a reason to ruffle militant ire. Oblivious to the essence of Canada, void of the slightest inkling as to our uniquely inclusive, compassionate or peace keeping perspectives, Stephen Harper set about making Canada unrecognizable.

Harper wasn’t content with a nation of peace keepers, his Canada needed to play with the big boys. His wish was bat shit command – push hard enough and eventually “crazy” will deliver an attack on Parliament Hill. Justification for warrior reason and Bill C-51.

C-51 epitomizes Harper’s intent to undermine the fabric of Canada. A vague re-scripting of anti-terror legislation lacking oversight, accountability and definition. A law of epic proportions, one that gives unrestricted rights to security services, legislation enacted to strip Harper’s Canada of Canadians who value our once great nation.

Nice try Mr. Harper – Canada isn’t about to roll over. Despite admirable use of tax payer’s money funding hysterical militant fear mongering – we’re Canadians who won’t tolerate nonsense for long. There’s a reason why the “Stop Harper” movement is unprecedented in Canadian history – falling support for your legislated police state demonstrates futility of thinking we back your vision of Canada.

Severe Solar Storm

Solar storms rank on scales much like hurricanes – minor category 1 – extreme category 5. Last night, predictions of geomagnetic energy from uppity sunspot AR2297 delivered a severe category 4 wallop to expectant sky watchers. A remarkable 8 on the KP index(scale measuring magnetic strength), this storm rates as one of the most powerful in a decade.

I’ve spent 35 years in Vancouver, only once before have Auroras graced my fair city. Storms of this magnitude often disrupt GPS, cell phones and power grids – despite an unexpected magnitude, so far this storm chooses to spare disruption in favour of pizazz.

Indications point to weakening presence, yet science has no idea when it will fizzle. NOAA gives “a strong possibility” auroras may be viewed early this morning as far south as Tennessee and Oklahoma.

If this ponder finds you awake under clear skies – find a dark corner and gaze at the sky. Aurora just might find you.

Photographer Matt Melnyk took this photo in the Sage Hill area of Calgary, Alberta, on March 17, 2015.

Image – Matt Melnyk, Calgary Alberta

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Image taken by Ellen Monteith at 2:30 am March 16, Barriere B.C.


I may lose my mind – this image taken last night in Vancouver

Northern lights grace the sky on St. Patrick's Day

Image – Notanee Bourassa, Regina Saskatchewan

Dance of The Northern Lights

You might not be able to see Auroras, you can watch this video by Canadian astro-photographer Alan Dyer, shot between February 21-18 at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre in Churchill, Manitoba.


Happy Pi Day

The circumference of a circle, regardless of size is 3.14 times longer than the diameter (distance across). Circumference divided by diameter is a mathematical constant known as Pi. By definition Pi is a mathematical constant because it isn’t changed by the size of numbers it’s used to equate. Pi is irrational, meaning it has an infinite number of digits which never repeat. In 2018 physicist Peter Trueb calculated Pi to 22.4 trillion digits – 22,459,157,718,361 to be precise. Limitless as Pi may be, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory requires a mere 15 Pi digits to calculate interplanetary travel, mathematician James Grime argues 39 digits is enough to calculate circumference of the known universe. In 1988 physicist Larry Shaw organized the first Pi Day at San Francisco’s Exploratorium science museum on 3.14. In 2009 U.S. Congress officially recognized the fourteenth day of the third month as Pi Day.

Antiquity was no stranger to Pi, ancient Egypt and Babylon calculated approximations of Pi between 1900-1600 BC. In 250 BC Greek mathematician Archimedes is credited with the first algorithm calculating Pi as 3.14. Chinese mathematician Zu Chongzhi (429-501) calculated Pi to 6 decimal places.

March 14 ignites ponders of my Pi soft spot. Gavrinis, a Neolithic site inhabited between 5000-3500 BC on a tiny island off the Brittany coast of France. In the 1930’s French archeologists discovered a burial chamber on Gavrinis containing stone slabs with intricate carvings resembling fingerprints. Mathematicians saw it as indecipherable code, modern computer analysis blew our minds – Gavrinis code indicates the exact number of days in a year, reference to solstice and equinoxes, precise longitude/ latitude of the island, and the “mathematical constant Pi.

Happy Pi Day.

First Earth Directed X-Flare of 2015

Oh man, remember that aurora watch I told you about? Sunspot AR2297 hurled solar plasma in our direction on March 11, 2015 at speeds of 1,400 KM/second – 3.1 million MPH in case you aren’t paying attention. A powerful X2 flare (with a blast zone bigger than Earth) ionized upper layers of our atmosphere causing HF radio blackouts and the promise of kicken’ northern hemisphere Auroras.We won’t know until March 13 or 14 if the blast is truly Earth directed or just a glancing blow. Some sites credit it as the first “Earth directed” blast of 2015.

Either way, our planet won’t escape repercussions. In the past 5 days, AR2297 has taunted us with 7 “moderate” intentions. Do yourself a favor northern hemisphere residents – find a dark sky and welcome Aurora.

The first X-flare of 2015 from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory

Extreme ultraviolet radiation from the explosion ionized the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere, causing HF radio fade-outs and other propagation effects on the dayside of our planet. In the red zone of this map, ham radio operators and mariners may have noticed brief but complete blackout conditions at frequencies below 10 MHz.


The Gatekeeper of Colon

Forgive me for repeating myself – it’s late, I’m tired and have Cuba on my mind.


My husband and I have a thing about cemeteries – when we travel, it’s a given we’ll end up in a graveyard. We never discuss the inevitable, that’s not how we travel. It doesn’t matter where we are, at some point a cemetery beckons, we oblige.

Cristobal Colon in Havana seemed no different. Undaunted by the closed gate, buoyed by voices in the gatehouse – my husband negotiated our entrance. Unencumbered by expectation, void of tour book overviews – we entered just the way we liked it –  blank slates on a mission of discovery.

I’m not certain if the enormity of Colon ever truly registered. Past the gates,  lost in silent pondering, each of us intent on picking solitary paths through the labyrinth. Five or ten minutes passed, minutes filled with wonder at the stark beauty of monuments to the dead. We needed that time to get our bearings…

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