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.

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.

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...