Thursday, August 31, 2006

A direct quote from Richard Nixon (a heckuva guy) regarding Rummy: "He's a ruthless little bastard. You can be sure of that." And Tricky knew ruthless bastards.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Just a slight variation on an earlier photo. No metaphors. No political comment. What a relief, eh?

But, speaking of silly comments, were you as amazed as I was by all the hoopla over the re-definition of the word "planet"? To read some of the papers you'd think that the law of gravity had been proven wrong. "Scientists Show, "'What Goes Up Doesn't Have to Come Down!'". Gees. "Planet" - it's a word, coined by humans (English-speaking humans, stealing from the French, who stole it from Latin), defined by humans, re-defined by humans. It's not a planet - a thing (whatever we might call it) existing in space (insofar as anything can be said to "exist") that we like to look at and think about a lot.

The problem with doing a little last minute surfing is that you find things like this: "And I suspect that what you'll see, Toby, is there will be a momentum, momentum will be gathered. Houses will begat jobs, jobs will begat houses." —George Bush, speaking with reporters along the Gulf Coast, Gulfport, Miss., Aug. 28, 2006 (from the on-line magazine, "Slate".)

Remember, folks, this is the man in charge of the most powerful nation in the world. Terrified yet?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Yeah, it's not a great picture, but this story from the N.Y. Times seemed to go with it so well. Dim bulbs? Don Rumsfeld? Really, it was too good to pass up.

The only good thing that's going to come out of the Bush administration is how fast history's going to render judgement, and it's not going to be pretty. Usually it's at least a couple of decades, but not this time. "Time's up, George. Judges, how'd he score?" "Well, Bob, we're giving Mr. Bush, um....oh, dear...." "Come on, judges, how'd he do? What's the hold-up?" "Well, Bob, it's just that, well......are we allowed to give a score below zero? Or, can we give positive marks for stupidity? Ineptitude? How about, 'Most Pretentious Summer Reading List Claimed by a Patently Illiterate President?'"

And, if you want some real fun reading about Dim Donny, pick up the August 10 issue of "The New York Review of Books" and read Peter Galbraith's review of some of the books out detailing Dumb Donny's handling of Iraq. Afraid of terrorists? Look no further than Washington. These guys scare the hell out of me.

Oh, and my new camera's on its way. How excited am I? I'm already planning to run out and buy a 50/1.8 for it. Gad!

Monday, August 28, 2006

I'm getting a jump on the 29th. Just for those folks on the East Coast (or thereabouts), 'cause, with any luck at all, I'll still be sound asleep when you see this.

Now, go rent those movies.

(By the by - those are natural colours. I bumped the saturation about 10% from an in-camera setting of "none", but that's it.)

One week till the whirlwind starts up again. For the first time in a while, I'll have actual science students, instead of future mechanics, to teach. Yay!

Don't get me wrong - many of the "future mechanics" (i.e. nursing students) are very nice, but they don't want to understand anything. They want to know how to measure blood pressure, for example, but have no interest in understanding why it might actually be important. As you might imagine, that can get a wee bit frustrating on occasion.

And, if you're looking for a movie to watch, hey, it's bargain night! I've got three for you. Go get "Trois Couleurs...", "...Bleu", "...Blanc", "...Rouge", by Krzysztof Kieslowski. I just finished watching the last one, "...Rouge". Wow. I've seen all three before - years ago, now - but, at least for this one, a second viewing is well worth while. I've got the other two on order and I'm really looking forward to watching them again. I suspect they, too, will prove even better the second time around.

"Trois Couleurs: Rouge" was, unfortunately, the last film Kieslowski made. He died two years later, during open heart surgery. At the time, he was working on three films based on Dante's "Inferno". One can only imagine how great those would have been.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Feeling down? Not sure you're "good enough"? Go watch people putt for an hour or so. You'll feel much better.

Gad! Fall's fast approaching! In another week, another term will start up. Lights! Camera!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Caught between today and tomorrow is this - go see "The Illusionist".

Another quiet evening of dining at the golf course. Terrible food, but the view's good. And it's so much fun to sit and mock the duffers trying desperately to land their shots somewhere near the green. Not to mention watching them putt. We spotted one guy in position for his final approach shot and thought it odd that there'd be a single guy allowed to play. Usually they'll get added to some other group. Then, all became clear as the other three members of his foursome emerged from the woods on either side of the fairway, shaking their heads. Each dropped a shiny new ball and carried on. Into the brush just short of, not to mention to one side of, the green. And people find this relaxing?

The good news for today is that Richard Ford's got a new novel coming out in October! Another slice of Frank Bascombe's life. If you're not up on Frank's adventures, run out right now and buy "The Sportswriter" and "Independence Day". Have them read by October. Your life will be vastly enriched by the experience, trust me. If you finish your assignment early, feel free to carry on with "A Multitude of Sins" or "Women with Men".

Friday, August 25, 2006

"BBT", for the uninitiated, stands for "bubble tea". One of these days I've got to go in and try out their wares.

In the world of news - hear the story about the dimwit who packed dynamite in his check-in luggage? Apparently the guy's a university student. In mining engineering. Now, about that comparison involving a bag of rocks and intelligence?

And, speaking of bags of rocks and intelligence, well, I just can't resist. George Bush reading Camus?!? Riiiiiiiiiight.

Closer to home, Mr. Dithers has finally made up his mind and ordered himself a shiny new Nikon D50 with the basic 18-55. About time, huh?

Furthermore, after a mere 4 months, I've finished "Tristram Shandy". Heck, it took Sterne 9 years to write it - I don't feel too badly having taken 4 months to read it. And very worthwhile, too. Would that there were a life after death - I'd love to meet the guy. Oh, well.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

So, you're standing around the side entrance to your apartment building, yakking with Andrew, one of the building's more eccentric tenants, and you look up... The large cable on the left comes from Andrew's apartment. Andrew carries a short-wave walkie-talkie with him wherever he goes. He has no known job. The beep-beep-dee-beep of Morse code can be heard emanating from his apartment at strange hours of the day. Hmmmmmm........

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Now we're talkin' "do it yourself"!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Life goes on...or not.

And, for my Florida-and-environs friends, see "Key Largo", if you haven't already. For that matter, Floridean or not, see "Key Largo". Make allowances for the fact that it was made in 1948 and enjoy it. One darn good movie. Something interesting to keep in mind is the fact that Lionel Barrymore wasn't just playing a guy in a wheelchair - he was a guy in a wheelchair.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Wow! Sure have milked that trip for all it was worth, huh? Yeah, well... It's this damn job thing that's getting in the way. I'd intended to get out today and try to get some new pics, but I ended up getting sucked into the gaping maw of lecture prep instead. Blame it on PowerPoint. And being conscientious. How'd that happen?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

See? I told you it was a sunny day.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Hmmmmm, might be getting to be time for another road trip.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Sometimes you've just got to crack open the sun roof on the car and realize that it's a pretty darn nice day.

The tragedy of kelp vs. mountain bike encounters.

And, speaking of tragic, here's how to throw a lifetime of work right out the window. "Andrew, I'd like you to meet Mel. Mel, shake hands with Andrew."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

And, on the good news front (for a change), this just in. Given what big fans of the doctrine of "original intent" Bush and his pals are, I wonder how they'll respond to a federal judge citing exactly that doctrine against them. Other than to accuse her of being unpatriotic, if not indeed a traitor, that is.

Ever noticed how dogs are willing to consider the possible edibility of virtually anything?

And, on the "Technology Gone Awry in the Service of Absolutely Nothing" front, this story. Yep, in the fine spirit of "create a need then fulfill that need", Monsanto first came up with a potent herbicide, Roundup. Roundup kills plants dead. All plants. Imagine how swell it would be if it only killed weeds. Hmmmm....deep thought, deep thought....eureka! We'll make a new plant that Roundup can't kill! Grass, in this case. Very specialised grass. The kind used on golf courses. You know - those large, park-like areas that people with lots of money and spare time like to wander around on. Places that would pay Monsanto lots and lots of money for their Roundup and their grass-that-Roundup-can't-kill.

And, of course, Monsanto has to test the grass, and, of course, they grow it outside. Now, grass relies on wind-blown pollen to generate seed. So, here's a genetically-modified (not necessarily a big deal), herbicide-resistant (very possibly a big deal) plant being grown in the great outdoors where, funnily enough, the wind blows. And now Monsanto is shocked! shocked! they tell you, to find their experimental grass growing in the wild. Amazing.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A lighthouse on a rocky coast. Some hot image for the end of marking and the turning in of the grades, eh? Some students foundered, but most found safe harbour. Guided, of course, by the light of their own intellect. As is always the case.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A west coast "tide gnome" bringing in the high tide. Pull! And you all thought it had something to do with the moon, didn't you?

And, speaking of silly stories, a record 110 Iraqi civilians died every day in July. Isn't it wonderful that George declared victory so long ago? Can you imagine how many would have died if he hadn't? The man's a genius!

Luckily, it's not a "classic" civil war. Donny said so. And the fact that it's not "classic" makes it so much better. Hmmm...wait....that didn't work for Coke, either.

Monday, August 14, 2006

One last exam to give today. Phew.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The rocky shore near Ucluelet. Given this sort of shoreline, the stretches of sandy beaches and the fast-moving fog, you can imagine how interesting this coast is for people in boats.

Watched "Two Days in the Valley," last night. Heck of a fun film. I especially liked the Italian romance sub-plot. Maybe because I was having pizza for dinner.

Tonight, it's "Citizen Kane". I've never seen the movie in its entirety. Having come across a review of a biography of Welles in "The Atlantic", I figured it was about time. Before you click on the link, you might want to make a quick self-esteem check. This guy was amazing. The link goes to a short excerpt of the review, but it tells you enough.

And, on the "The Smirk Shirks," front, there's this little item about the world AIDS conference going on in Toronto. Note that Bill Gates is the headline, not a head of state (Bill actually gets the problem - millions of people are dying). Further, note the list of dignitaries, at the end of the article, who will be attending. Then note who isn't. Yep. The Smirk. He evidently finds the notion of equipping the Northwest Passage with pop-gun totin' tugboats (O.K. - icebreakers) much more important. How in the name of whatever entity you care to invoke did we get such a moron as our national leader? Where, or where did we go wrong?!?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Somewhere in there, there's a bunch of the little guys from yesterday.

And, on the "Marching Forward Into the Past" front...

Friday, August 11, 2006

One of the smaller denizens of Long Beach - a purple dwarf olive snail. The little guy is a couple of centimetres long.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Bill and Melinda Gates?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Farther down the coast, at Ucluelet. As you can see, this coastline isn't all charming sandy beaches.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I swear it was sunny five minutes before I took these pictures. It started with wisps rising off the sand and then...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Monday, August 07, 2006

An up-date from the fast-moving edge of America's descent into barbarism. Why do so many people in the world regard America with fear (and a certain degree of, in some parts, loathing)? Gee, I dunno.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Candace and Shadow and what happens when you try to get your digicam to focus quickly in the fog.

An alternative method of getting to Tofino. The views on the way over would be spectacular.

When we arrived in Tofino, Candace and I, equally struck by the horror of the place, searched for somewhere to eat. We found a restaurant just above this seaplane dock. Ah, the joys of eavesdropping on our fellow tourists. Once lunch was over, we blew town and headed for Long Beach so that Shadow, Candace's dog, could get a good sprint along the sand. But, more of that later....

For now, I want to cut to the end of the adventure. During the course of the day, we managed to travel a little over 300 km, have a couple of nice meals, frolic on the beach (well, Shadow, the dog, frolicked), and do some high-speed sight-seeing. All in the course of about 8 hours. In other words, everything went like clockwork. And then...

My return to Vancouver involves an approximately 90 minute trip on the ferry, and another hour or so negotiating various buses to home. Normally. I should have known I was in trouble when the ferry was not only on time, it was early! "Early" has never been B.C. Ferries' long suit.

I boarded and found myself a "comfy" (in B.C. Ferry terms that is) chair and settled in. Then came the first announcement. Someone's car's steering had locked, and we were going to be delayed for a few minutes while the car was towed off the boat. O.K., no big deal. Ten minutes, tops. I had my MP3 player plugged in, and a magazine to read - what did I care?

Then came the next announcement. A medical emergency. A doctor was attending the patient, and making an assessment as to the possible necessity of taking the person off by ambulance. Hmmmm....the delay could be longer. But, no! All in all, we were only delayed about 20 minutes. Fine. Home a little later, but still...This, by the by, is all happening at 9:30 p.m.

Having snoozed away most of the trip (nothing to see - it's dark out), I came to just as we were approaching the dock. Perfect. I grabbed my pack and headed below decks to where my mighty chariot - a Greyhound bus - awaited. 25 minutes to downtown Vancouver, 20 more to catch a city bus to my neighbourhood - I was as good as home.

We get on the Upper Levels Highway where traffic is moving at a crawl. And keeps moving at a crawl. And keeps moving at a crawl. And so on until we finally reach our exit about 45 minutes later. Yes, there'd been some sort of traffic accident. But, at last we were free! Zip down Taylor Way, drop off some passengers at the bottom, and head for the Lions Gate Bridge to town. Over it and into Stanley Park. And, again, traffic stops. Then crawls. Then stops. Then crawls. I had overlooked one small detail in my travel plans. This was a "fireworks" night. It was after midnight, and crowds were still leaving downtown Vancouver after the big display on English Bay and traffic was a mess. A distance that's normally covered in 10 minutes was converted into a seemingly-endless grind.

So, to get to the end of all this, I finally got home at two in the morning. Tired? Me? You darn betcha!

Well, that was an adventure. But, I'll get to that. This is a shot of part of the harbour in Tofino, a small town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Go west from here and Japan is your next stop. For those of you contemplating a trip to Tofino, I'd say forget it. If there's a winning feature to the town, I didn't see it. Kitsch, kitsch and, just in case you can't get enough, more kitsch. Crawling with people (almost none of whom actually live there), cars, RVs and hucksters, it's just no place for a civilized human being.

On the other hand, Long Beach, which is on the way to Tofino, does have some beauty left - although that, too, is fading fast. When I visited this area back in the late 1970s there was nothing but forest, sand, rocks and ocean. Now, large summer(?) homes line the shore. I could as easily have been in West Vancouver (which is part of Vancouver, the city).

Ucluelet, on the other hand, still resembles a small coastal fishing town. It hasn't yet turned itself into a cheap replica of one the way Tofino has. Go there. But, go soon, because the process of transformation is beginning.

More on the Big Adventure later...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Everyone likes a nice walk in the woods.

And, if you can't get out to the woods, you might consider watching "Steamboy", a Japanese anime film. Pretty darn nifty.

And, if you can't do that, consider picking up an ancient David Byrne/Brian Eno recording, "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts".

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Yeah, but by Sunday I should have some swell photos from the west coast of Vancouver Island, so just keep yer pants on!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Good thing the term's nearly over. Time to go get some new photos.