2015 Surrey Vaisakhi – Black and White


Last Saturday’s Vaisakhi celebration in Vancouver might be considered a warm-up for today’s festival in Surrey. Work dictated I preside over brunch, leaving my husband to capture some of the estimated 250,000 participants in black and white.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/15574096@N00/with/16929726480/

When in Drought, Find a Beaver


Pondering climate change, dire predictions of continued regional global drought and dwindling wetlands brought me back to the humble Beaver.

notestoponder

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…

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New Horizons’ First Colour Photo of Pluto


NASA’s New Horizons probe left Earth over 9 years ago.  Where does nine years find Horizons? 4.8 billion Km. from Earth, barely 3 months away from Pluto and able to transmit the first colour photograph of Pluto and its largest  moon Charon.

This image of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, was taken by the Ralph color imager aboard NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on April 9 Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Still 115 million Km. away, New Horizons first image is being called a “preliminary reconstruction”.  Mark July 14 on your calendar as the anticipated date New Horizons officially enters the “Pluto system” – close enough to capture detailed surface images of areas no wider than a few kilometers, despite traveling at speeds of 50,000 Km/hour.

Discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh in 1930, Pluto’s brief distinction as ninth planet from the Sun fizzled in 2006 with International Astronomical Union rewriting the definition of “planet”. Tiny Pluto, abut half the width of America, has since answered to the name “dwarf planet”. Size isn’t everything – Pluto holds a planetary designation unique in our solar system, that of “binary planet”. Binary because the largest of Pluto’s 5 known moons is so close in size.

Ponder New Horizons – consider a decade of relentless travel across many billion kilometers of space. Keep in mind New Horizons path, science can’t draw a straight line, gas up a probe, send it on a road trip – consider plotting a course through the labyrinth of space, one that depends on gravitational pull of planets and their moons for propulsion.

I was an 8 years old dreamer when we landed on the moon. The world stopped, holding a collective breath to mark science fiction dissolving into science reality. It saddens my inner dreamer to ask how many 8 year old children today even care about remarkable space missions. Fantastic accomplishment might be commonplace these days, that doesn’t make them ordinary. New Horizons is an extraordinary realization of science. Take a moment to grasp the enormity of mankind’s progress.

http://earthsky.org/space/new-horizons-first-color-pic-of-pluto?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=2fa2f02ccf-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-2fa2f02ccf-393970565

new-horizons-pluto-doorstep

Black Widow Masquerade


Living for well over a year in a house dominated by an infestation of Black Widow spiders is stressful. Occasional laundry room encounters, replaced over time by flagrant ambush intent, a malicious massing of troops oblivious to boundaries or my personal space. Buoyed by apparent inaction – basement widows became kitchen, bathroom and bedroom sentries. No sooner would I find one, another was lost.

Apparently I wasn’t alone. My post “Seven Black Widow Spiders” ranks as third most read of nearly 850 posts. A lot of Vancouver residents were under siege.

Enter Catherine Scott, a student of Entomology at Simon Fraser University. Long story short – Catherine looked at photos of my spiders, concluding with enough certainty to make my day – it was all a masquerade. My cheeky Arachnid invaders are False Black Widows, AKA Steatoda Grossa, not Latrodectus Hesperus, the nightmare widows I feared.

Four spots on abdomen - Steatoda grossa

Steatoda Grossa – False Black Widow

http://bugguide.net/node/view/6932/bgimage

Less venomous, common in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, and easily masquerading as their ominous cousins if seen under dim light. Dark light makes them appear black, in reality their bulk is a brownish purple up close and personal under favourable lighting. The abdomen of False Widows is more oblong in shape than rounded bellies of true Black Widows.

Thank you Catherine, I slept much better last night.

 

Hillary Clinton A Big Mistake?


I’ll be honest, Hillary Clinton’s official announcement of presidential intent left me feeling unsettled. The painfully bloated process of convincing Democrats her presidential nomination secures a White House term has begun. In a perfect world, the stuff of bitch slapping justice – American voters would ice two terms under Obama with a heaping layer of – “Hey conservative America, stop pinching yourself – this isn’t a bad dream. Pay attention – the people traded a black Democrat for a female Democrat.” Hard as I try, pondering Hillary as that female arrives at inspiration begging for a new home.

Lacking any basis for conclusion other than gut feeling, coupled with the fact I’m not even American, should have prevented tackling a subject based solely on opinionated babble. Truly wishing I’m out of my Canadian mind, until convinced otherwise – I think Hillary for first female Democrat president of the United States is a mistake.

Politics is a fickle game – weighing probability of success against greatness isn’t for the faint of heart. Compromise is the tough choice taken to assure political victory. Hillary is a household name, she leans to the right of left – a position appealing to vastly more fence sitting voters than a idealistic unknown, controversial shit disturber, Christian morality ruffling visionary or bleeding heart liberal. Hillary strikes me as a safe, uninspired calculation.

It’s entirely possible my naive reaction stems from utter contempt of political posturing. Given a choice between Hillary and any Republican front runner – Hillary looks like a breath of fresh air. If only she wasn’t so boring.

Every so often a politician comes along equipped with electrifying ideas, persons capable of restoring  purpose, hope, and dignity to otherwise disillusioned masses. Obama’s vision of America began that way, I can’t help but wonder if Hillary is a Democrat compromise following Obama’s horrifying slaughter at the hands of right wing nincompoops. America squandered change under a great man – perhaps the Democrats are banking on ho-hum Hillary, appealing to safe middle ground.

If I could choose a female candidate for the Democrats, Elizabeth Warren would take the prize.Warren is a remarkable American – one smart enough to speak her mind, pick her battles and politely refuse Bill Maher’s offer of $1 million dollars to run for president. Elizabeth Warren isn’t boring, complacent or afraid of anything – smarten up Hillary and prove me wrong.

http://www.politicususa.com/2015/04/11/million-dollar-offer-bill-maher-convince-elizabeth-warren-run.html

 

Vancouver Vaisakhi 2015


Spring officially arrives in Vancouver with the annual Vaisakhi parade. In my mind, a festival unrivaled for attendance, inclusion and sense of what makes Canada’s heart beat. A day when weather scoffs at forecasts of rain, preferring the call of Bangra drums.

Vaisakhi celebrates the 1699 founding of Khalsa, a Sikh military order created to stop Hindu and Sikh Punjabis from being forcibly converted to Islam.

http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Vaisakhi

Vancouver’s South Asian community serves as an example of multicultural harmony. Festival perfection delivered with nary a grump, welcoming acceptance, staggering offers of free curries, pakoras and chai tea. Notes had a happy day.

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