Sunday, December 31, 2006

Edinburgh Xmas Day 2005 - No Welsh in Site


Tis Hogmanay, season to ring in the NewYear, which brings me round to Auld Reekie on this the last day of the year. Sure the party has already begun on Princes Street. How about this quote from Irvine Welsh as a ringing endorsement of Edinburgh. Anyone who has seen Trainspotting, adapted from his novel, will get the idea. Remember now this is the City of Festivals we are talking about; "a cold city on Europe's periphery where it gets dark early, rains a lot and is dull for much of the year.... All in all perfect conditions for bouts of self-destructive heavy drinking." Now to reinforce the message which might just be eluding you he goes on "Scotland: the recipe for disaster. Take a cut of Calvinist repression, sprinkle on some Catholic guilt, add lots of alcohol and cook in a cold, dark grey oven for 300 odd years. Garnish with gaudy, ludicrous plaid."
Source: The Globe and Mail, Books Section, October 21st, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Ellen, a quality student I taught in 2005, recently visited the grasslands of Inner Mongolia. Note the rounded accommodations, yurts, typical of the region. Posted without knowledge of Ellen Pengyou (hey, the fibre optic cables severed by the Taiwanese earthquake have effectively cut off all mainland Chinese internet services)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Totems Still Standing Despite Storms

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Timberrrr! Stanley Park Before the Storms

Like a Pack of Cards

The West Coast (Lotus Land) is being ravaged by violent wind storms this fall/winter season. The Pacific coastline of Vancouver Island is always subject to high winds in winter, snow in some parts although Victoria usually sits pretty. However in contrast to the norm this fall Vancouver and the Lower Mainland are being devastated. The majestic Stanley Park has seen thousands of its half million trees felled. This National Historic Site receives four million visitors each year. Return visitors will be in for a shock. The giant cedars, pines and hemlocks will take a hundred years or more to grow back to their former glory. Puts me in mind of the devastation on Canada's east coast a couple of years ago. In Septermber 2003 Hurricane Juan hit Halifax, in particular its jewel Point Pleasant Park. A combination of high winds and storm surge brought down some 60,000 to 75,000 trees. About 90% of the mature tree growth in the park either was gone or seriously impacted. Board walks and grassy areas (up to 30 feet in some areas) were replaced with beach stone. It so happens there is a National Historic Site there too, the Prince of Wales Tower.
Source: Environment Canada website.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Shanghai's Major Waterway Blocked


Unless you have returned from China this week none of you will have witnessed this remarkable sight. The Yin Chu, a 15,0000 ton ship, sank not far from Shanghai's Bund, a downtown stretch of colonial-era buildings and wharves lining the Huangpu River. But while emergency crews were able to plug the ship's holes before its oil supply could foul the river that supplies Shanghai's drinking water, they now face the problem of what to do with the 150-metre-long eyesore and potential environmental hazard. Maritime officials said they'll try to recover the Yin Chu, but it will be a complicated operation and salvage experts suggested the ship might be too large to remove. A spokesman for the company that owns the Yin Chu said it appears the accident was caused by an open hatch that let in water, but the exact reason won't be known until the investigation concludes. Two tugboats berthed beside the ship to prevent it from floating out into the middle of the Huangpu. The Yin Chu had been converted to a dredge ship and was testing new gear in the river when the accident happened around 12:30 p.m. It took on water and sank in about two hours.
Source: CBC Saskatchewan (landlocked and envious of things maritime)

Sunday, December 03, 2006


I guess the hemlines have gone down this fashion season. Yeah, right! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Snowbird Season is Upon Us

 Posted by Picasa

Natural Governing Party

So Canada's self annointed natural governing party, the Liberals, have a new leader. Stephane Dion was a dark horse who upset the apple cart and has sent the old boys network and insiders scrambling to find out where they went wrong. His campaign colour was green, in keeping with his former post as Minister of the Environment. He espouses Kyoto and sustainable development. Good on you. Trouble is he now has to win an election to implement long overdue ideas. The Liberals under Martin were ousted in part over inaction, the environment right up there. Dion is emasculated by Harper owing to Dion's consultative role over the "Quebecois are a nation" motion (headline news in 22 countries apparently). Dion now becomes chief communicator for the environmental message. He strikes me as a technocrat, an academic who will struggle to convey his message no matter the validity of the ideas. The Green Party, with second place under their belt in the recent by-election and 26% of the vote there, must be licking their chops. The Liberal record and the Conservative stone-walling can only proffer opportunity for Canada's naturally soon to be governing party. The party is over, its time to govern and let nature gain its rightful place, at the top of our agenda.