Monday, May 30, 2016

"Sunny ways my friends..."

It was Canadian PM Wildred Laurier who first uttered the expression "sunny ways" 120 years ago as a way to define his style of politics. The phrase has more recently been appropriated by our new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, but is often misquoted by some as "sunny days" when talking about him.

Politics was probably not even a passing thought though to this mother and child enjoying the sand and surf while the snow-capped peaks of Washington state looked on in the background.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Good Karma

Karma the bulldog skimming the surf at Parksville...

Well, there's something you don't see everyday...

This is Karma, the skimboarding bulldog, doing her thing on a Parksville beach this past weekend. Kat, her owner, taught her how to ride a board after seeing other bulldogs riding skateboards on Youtube.

Kat and Karma...

She taught Karma the trick over the course of a summer when Karma was a year old and they've been entertaining tourists and locals for five years now.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Landlocked on Galiano

The derelict Sea Wave on Galiano Island...

Another in my periodic photos of landlocked boats... see here and here.

The Sea Wave is end of the road on the Gulf Island of Galiano. It sits among a pile of rusted out cars and other abandoned vehicles among the trees.

Beyond that is a native reserve that is off limits to non-residents. This boat has been here for years... I first encountered it perhaps five or six years ago while trying to find a passage to the provincial park on the extreme north end of Galiano.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Magic Monday: Return to Gracepoint

Holy Trinity Anglican Church in North Saanich on Vancouver Island...

Last summer while bombing around on my scooter on a warm, summery day I came across Holy Trinity Anglican Church in North Saanich.

It featured prominently in the Fox series Gracepoint that was filmed here three years ago. At the time I watched the series, I was familiar with all of the landmarks that appeared in the series but this one.

The church has existed for 130 years. It lies at one corner of the property of the Victoria International Airport. As I was strolling the cemetery behind the church, I was startled by a mid-size passenger jet passing low overhead as it came in for a landing. It seemed incongruous to have a modern aircraft passing so close over the weathered gravestones of people who died before aircraft were even invented.

Friday, May 20, 2016

In Aberdeen

Strange sculpture in downtown Aberdeen, WA...
As I'm away on vacation, I've reached into the archives to find old photos that for whatever reason never made it into my blog the first time.

We came across this odd sculpture in downtown Aberdeen, Washington while returning from our Grand Canyon adventure three years ago.

I'll be blunt... we found Aberdeen to be one ugly city. And not just the city itself. The people who live there definitely skew to the low end of the bell curve for physical beauty. It was positively weird how many plain ugly people we saw there.

Now for this statue... my wife actually took this picture. I slowed our van down and stopped briefly at the side of the street so that she could get the photo.

While she busy with her camera, I watched a pleasant-looking woman in her late-20s, cross the road in front of us. She seemed perfectly fine until she got in front of our van when she suddenly leaned forward and puked violently. After several seconds of spewing, she straightened up and carried on across the street, apparently none the worse for her discharge. She didn't show any sign of embarrassment or remorse... she didn't even turn to glance at us through the window.

It is the one lasting impression that I have of Aberdeen.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wayback Wednesday: Blue Hawaii

Posing with my surfboard in Hawaii...
Back in the days when I still had abs...
I'm looking forward to hitting the surf and water at various points on Vancouver Island this summer, starting this upcoming long weekend.

This REALLY OLD! old photo from thirty something years ago was taken in Hawaii. It was my first surfing experience and I learned the hard way that short boards aren't for beginners. I spent all of my afternoon falling off my board into the water, while watching native 12-year-olds deftly carving around me in the water on their short boards.

Another nice thing about surfing in Hawaii? Wet suits aren't part of the surfing experience unlike here on Vancouver Island where year round water temperatures of 5 degrees C make them a necessity.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Who's a seal-ly animal?

A harbour seal swims along at Fishermans Wharf in Victoria.
Surfacing seal swims, seeking sustenance...
For a toonie, kids can buy a fish from the local seafood market to feed the harbour seals off Fishermans Wharf in Victoria. When you're a tourist visiting from some landlocked city somewhere, seeing a marine mammal in the wild is probably a big deal.

The reality though is that these seals are so habituated to humans that they can be considered semi-domesticated. A new federal law about to go into effect would make it illegal to feed seals. The intent is to encourage the animals to forage for their own food rather than rely on people.

It makes sense... drive through many national parks out here in BC and you'll see idiots feeding bears from their cars. Eventually it creates problems for bears and people alike.

Though they look cute, seals can and have attacked people feeding them from local jetties. In the end, they are just as wild as any bear.

"Do these spots make me look fat?"

Friday, May 13, 2016

Philosophical Friday: Love hurts (sometimes)

A colourful but poisonous tree frog...

This small and colourful frog can be found at local Butterfly World near Brentwood Bay on Vancouver Island.

It may look cute, but it's one of the most toxic animals on the planet. It's a poison dart frog, one of a type used by native South American tribes to poison their hunting darts. It secretes the toxins through its skin.

The good news is that handling it won't harm you unless perhaps you have a cut on your hand. The bad news is that you can very easily kill the frog as the skin through which it breathes can be compromised by the oils on your hand.

When we see something we like, there can be a desire to possess it. And, in doing that, we can destroy everything that made it beautiful in the first place. Sometimes it's better to simply admire beauty from afar.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Visit with an old friend

The Lady is ready for a night on the town...

The Lady in Red has put in regular appearances on this blog. During my recent sunset visit to Fishermans Wharf she was looking sporting some heavy eye makeup and peach-coloured lipstick. Getting ready for a night on the town?

Dressed for the evening...

Monday, May 9, 2016

Warm on the wharf

The setting sun lights up Fishermans Wharf, Victoria, BC...

Last Thursday night, while attending an event downtown, the warm evening air and the setting sun enticed me to stroll over to nearby Fishermans Wharf. The jetty was still filled with visitors strolling the jetty, socializing at tables over fish and chips or ice cream cones, admiring the freshly painted, colourful float homes, feeding the local harbour seals...

It was a gentle reminder of all the things that make Victoria a great place to live.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Silent Running?

End of the road for the human race?
Where have all the people gone?
Today's post is a sober one. For some time astrophysicists, astronomers and NASA-types have pondered a question: Why have we not heard from extraterrestrial civilizations?

Some simple math and conservative assumptions about the prevalence of planets and intelligent life suggest that the galaxy should be teeming with the signals of other civilizations. Despite decades of searching though all we hear from the cosmos is a deep and profound silence.

This unsettling situation is known as the Fermi paradox. One hypothesis to explain this situation is known as The Great Filter. Simply put, it states that some sort of unknown factor greatly reduces the probability of life developing, or appearing long enough to make its presence known.

If The Great Filter lies behinds us, it means that we have passed the critical threshold and our species will likely continue to survive and even expand into space.

One of the explanations offered up for The Great Filter is that some sort of catastrophe or resource depletion snuffs out advanced civilizations before they reach the point of extensive space travel. If that's the case, then The Great Filter lies ahead of us... and we will become extinct.

So where am I going with this?

For the past few years, there has been a flurry of articles and news items from around the world documenting the accumulating effects of global warming. Global temperature records are now being set annually...heat waves are killing thousands of people... fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce... new diseases are developing and rapidly spreading... food supply sources are disappearing... climate change refugees are already starting to flee to safer zones... ocean eco-systems are collapsing...

Worse is the disturbing news that the effects are accelerating. Climate scientists are now predicting that parts of the planet are going to be uninhabitable due to intolerable heat in as little as 25 years. Some of them have said that we are already past the point of certainty... that the process is unstoppable and that it's anyone's guess as to what will happen.

We've known these days were coming for nearly forty years and we've done nothing significant to prevent it. There is nothing to suggest that we're going to do it in the future either despite some feel-good pacts and declarations.

Some days, I feel very gloomy and I wonder: Are we face to face with our Great Filter?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Way of the Monkey

Obstacle course in the trees at Wildplay Elemental Park in Colwood...

Monkido sounds like some sort of bizarre martial art, but it's actually the name of an obstacle course at Wildplay Elemental Park in nearby Colwood.

It's an obstacle course with a difference. Participants are forty to sixty feet in the air, and they zip, swing and sway between platforms mounted to the trees.

Physically and mentally, it's a challenge. My wife and I did it several years ago, and it was my first step to overcoming my fear of heights. We did it at a similar site near Nanaimo and immediately after we celebrated with a King Swing... slipping over the edge of the 150-foot high bridge at the end of a 90-foot tether. It was awesome terrifying!

Monkido course...

Monday, May 2, 2016

Magic Monday: Chinatown After Dusk

Don Mee's restaurant in Victoria's Chinatown...
Don Mee's restaurant in Victoria's Chinatown
Neon signs always reminds me of an older age when it was a prominent feature of the urban landscape. Physically and metaphorically, they underlined and highlighted gas stations, diners, bars, theatres... Those candy-coloured tubes were a big part of the culture and sophisticated glamour of places like Broadway and Las Vegas.

Neon signage has declined in the last half-century. I imagine it's because neon signs are relatively expensive, and they aren't particularly good for the environment.

Here in Victoria, the only place where you'll see extensive use of neon signs is in Chinatown. I think it looks best just after sunset when the sky is a dark violet-blue.

The entrance to Fan Tan Alley in Victoria's Chinatown...