Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tall Ships.

Here are some pictures I took of the Tall Ships in Victoria Harbor. We were there on Saturday for a while and had a fun time, and it was HOT! Like instant summer!!

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Friday, June 27, 2008


So, a few weeks ago I decided to rid my face of the moustache I have had for quite some time. I believe the motivating factor materialized when I saw a recent picture of myself and thought "WHO is that old man???". Dixon had suggested that I color the moustache but I was not going to be bothered with having to do that every few weeks, so out came the clippers and in a matter of minutes it was gone. In my mind I not only shaved off the moustache but a few years from my appearance also.

WELL, tonight I am outside rinsing off Dixon's car while he is in the house changing from his work attire to more casual wear appropriate for car washing. As I am sitting on the front porch he appears and starts washing the car, like nothing is going on. Upon closer inspection I see that, while he was in the house, he shaved off HIS moustache, the one he says he has had since he was 17! It was like there was a stranger washing his car!!

I suppose if I can do it so can he. His reason was that it was getting too gray and he wanted a change. Well, fine with me, I'll get used to it.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Today's garden visitor.

Here are a few pictures of one of the visitors to the garden today. I have never been terribly fond of snakes, but then again I have never really had any contact with them outside of a zoo environment, so I just kind of watched this little guy slither about in the front garden. I did manage to dash back into the house to retrieve the camera and he politely waited for me, still as can be. After snapping a few photos of him he slithered into the rock border that separates this garden from the front lawn. It was then that I discovered the item in the last photo - the skin that he had just shed into the grass. How cool is that?? Now I am trying to figure out if I can do anything with the skin, although, to be honest, I was too creeped out to actually pick it up - I moved it with a stick. I suppose that answers the question as to what I can do with the skin - nothing!

The other visitor, earlier in the day, that I did not get any pictures of was a Turkey Vulture that was perched on some rocks higher up in the front yard, outside the fenced area. We see them drifting on the air currents all around the area but this is the first time I have seen one up close, with binoculars, and sitting in the yard. Good thing the cat was in the house, but maybe it is the bald eagles that are more of a threat to her six pound heft. Either way, when I take her out for some fresh air I make sure that I am right there alongside of her, lest any bird of prey swoop down and take her away for a meal.

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Oh well...

Well, I tried. The above picture is of our first harvest of tomatoes from the greenhouse today! Trouble is, they are the size of cherry tomatoes - not exactly what I had in mind. The plate in the picture is NOT a dinner plate, it is a salad/bread plate, so that'll give you a better idea of the scale pictured. (excuse me while I recover from laughing hysterically)

Ok, all better now. I don't really see a problem of us 'keeping up' with these 'maters once they start ripening en masse. I'm not too sure how much sauce I'll be able to store up from these little guys, but maybe the other variety we have planted up will yield some larger specimens. They are still green but already twice the size of these so hope springs eternal.

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One more victory for big oil.

It still amazes me when things like this happen, although under current conditions I should not be surprised at all. With the profits they had last year all they had to do was write a check and bring some type of closure to the situation, at least from their financial responsibility point of view. But no, they had to go all the way up to the Supreme Court and are now sticking it to these people again - and all with money they earned from everyday folks filling their gas tanks. We have boycotted them with a vengeance for years and this just enforces our decision.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Mike Lytle, a third-generation fisherman from the coastal village of Cordova, said many residents there were walking around stunned, shaking their heads.

A lot of people he knows were planning their retirements with the $2.5 billion in punitive damages that Exxon Mobil Corp. was expected to pay the nearly 33,000 victims of the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

But the Supreme Court dashed their hopes Wednesday, deciding to cut the punitive damages for the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster to $507.5 million. That translates to an average of $15,000 per victim.

"I always felt that big oil was going to win," said Lytle, 56. "But now I found out what true meaning of punitive damages is: puny."

A jury decided in 1994 that Exxon should pay $5 billion in punitive damages. In 2006, a federal appeals court cut that verdict in half.

Wednesday's decision to reduce the amount to one equal to about four days worth of Exxon Mobil's last quarter profits was hailed by the business community and decried by environmentalists and Alaskans.

"This turns America's resources to the oil industry and only the U.S. Congress can do something about it," said Jim Ayers, vice president of the advocacy group Oceana. "If the Congress doesn't act, this means that America's resources, including our marine life, are now in serious jeopardy and can be bought and destroyed for a mere pittance."

Justice David Souter wrote for the court that punitive damages may not exceed what the company already paid to compensate victims for economic losses, or $507.5 million.

The 5-3 ruling, which reduced the amount owed by 80 percent, comes almost two decades after the Exxon Valdez supertanker ran aground, spurting 11 million gallons of crude into the rich fishing waters of Prince William Sound that so many Cordova residents rely on for their livelihoods.

"I'm not too surprised," said Derek Blake, 25, who was a young child when he began fishing there with his father. "I thought we might get $1 billion, but it was always in the back of my head we could get nothing."

Robert J. Kopchak lost a quarter of his earnings when the Pacific herring fishery crashed in the early 1990s. Adding to his family's burden at the time, he still owed thousands of dollars on two herring permits that are worthless today.

"It really hurts," he said of Wednesday's ruling. "It gives big business the formula they need to calculate the cost of their actions when they destroy the environment. This gives them the formula to calculate their risk, period."

Sylvia Lange, also of Cordova, used to fish commercially for salmon and haul for the doomed herring fishery. But for her, the spill was about more than lost money.

It also was about the end of Alaska Native traditions and a subsistence lifestyle for several villages in the region. Because of the spill, many Alaska Natives were forced to stop harvesting seal, salmon and herring roe and move to urban areas, never to return, said Lange, who is part Aleut and Tlingit.

"A cultural link was definitely broken," she said.

The spill killed hundreds of thousands of birds and other marine animals, inflicting environmental injuries that have not fully recovered, according to numerous scientific studies.

Exxon Mobil maintained that many studies found the area healthy and thriving, countering findings of continuing damage. The company, which posted a $40.7 billion profit last year, had said punitive damages would be excessive punishment on top of the $3.4 billion in cleanup costs, compensatory payments and fines it already has paid.

"The Valdez oil spill was a tragic accident and one which the corporation deeply regrets," Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil said in a statement Wednesday. "We know this has been a very difficult time for everyone involved. We have worked hard over many years to address the impacts of the spill and to prevent such accidents from happening in our company again."

On the question of whether Exxon Mobil was liable for punitive damages at all, the court split 4-4, which leaves standing the appeals court opinion saying the company was liable. Justice Samuel Alito, who owns Exxon Mobil stock, took no part in the case.

First-quarter profits at Exxon Mobil were $10.9 billion. The company's 2007 profit was $40.6 billion.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


A few weeks ago I discovered some strawberry plants in the front garden and was quite excited at the prospect of even just one serving of those delectable little fruits, seeing that they are my absolute favorite! I've been watching them develop from little flowers into cute little white berries, all the while remaining apprehensive because the plants are not in any kind of protected enclosure, and we again have rabbits in the yard. (damn hawks and eagles aren't doing their job) Lo and behold I go to check on the little berries yesterday, as I do every day when I make my rounds about the yard to check on the gardens, and NO MORE BERRIES!! Every single WHITE unripened berry has been misappropriated by some little varmint in the yard. Now I realize it could be the rabbits, which number at least two that we have seen, but we also have a raccoon in the vicinity and loads of birds. All I know is that I am somewhat disappointed, but not really surprised, as I was looking forward to those berries. I guess it will be off to market for some locally grown, which just by chance happen to be ripening now, three weeks behind schedule per the newspaper, due to what they are calling Global Cooling, which I suspect is affecting just us here on Vancouver Island.

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Dubai rotating building.

Rotating Tower design will begin construction in next few weeks

Press were today treated to an introduction to the world’s first ‘building in motion’. Rotating Tower, designed by Italian architect David Fisher, is expected to move from design to reality in less than two years.

The design, in collaboration with British firm Dynamic Architecture Group, will be premiered in two locations: Moscow and Dubai which were chosen for very different reasons. Dubai was Fisher’s first choice for the tower. He said: “Dubai is a city of the future and I think that the building of the future should be in the city of the future.” He took inspiration from UAE Vice President and Dubai ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who told him: “Don’t wait for the future, face the future.” Moscow got involved by approaching Fisher who accepted the Russians proposal knowing that they would be 'fast at putting things together'.

Dubai’s building will reach 80 floors: The top 10 floors will be used for luxury ‘Villa’ style apartments, below which a further 35 floors of accommodation, then the 15 floors below will comprise an extravagant hotel and the lowest 20 floors used as retail space.

The segmented tower design will allow each floor to turn independently using voice recognition technology and giving those inside an ever-changing view over the space of 1 to 3 hours. In the Dubai building the voice recognition will be able to interpret such instructions as ‘left’ or ‘right’ in English, Arabic or Italian but any language could be programmed in for further buildings.

It was suggested by one journalist that there may be difficulties when one floor is occupied by more than one tenant. Fisher responded that the architects would be able to adapt a building in whichever way necessary to suit their needs and added: “It opens a way of thinking... people start to think in a different direction.”

Rotating Tower is the Italian architect’s first skyscraper design but he is confident that he will be able to pull off the concept, first listing his experience in the architecture world and then by stating: “I did not design skyscrapers but I feel completely ready to do so.”

The Rotating Tower design uses photovoltaic cells and wind turbine technology to collect enough energy to power itself and Fisher says they ‘will have some so we can sell to the neighbours’. The cells which will be placed on the top surface of each floor will be 15% open to the sun’s rays on all 80 floors for the full day helping to power the building.

It is hoped that the tower’s design could be adaptable worldwide with the same power generation capabilities. Fisher said: “Most cities in the world have enough wind to power these turbines – we have used German technology and are testing in Italy and it seems we have enough power” (for the current buildings).

The towers will also be the first skyscrapers to be entirely constructed from prefabricated parts put together in a factory in Southern Italy by a team of 600 in the facility and 80 on-site. Moscow and Dubai’s towers will begin construction in the next few weeks in Italy where the bathrooms, the most complicated part of the design according to Fisher, will be created and it is hoped they will be able to break ground in the next couple of months. While there has been interest from several countries throughout the world Fisher hopes that New York will be the next to pick up on the concept.

Niki May Young
News Editor
World Architecture News

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Car travel safety for dogs.

I am passing this along as first hand experience in the hope that it doesn't happen to you. If you travel with your dog in the back seat and have power windows PLEASE lock the window switches after you have opened the dog's window for them to get fresh air while the vehicle is moving. It might be a good idea to set the window locks even if the windows are up. Here's why...

We met some friends today for a doggie day out at the beach. Afterwards we were invited over to their house for coffee/tea/scones. As we were pulling into their yard we were watching them direct us where to park, not paying attention to our dog Sydney in the back seat. Because they arrived just ahead of us they were out of their vehicle when we were pulling up next to them. Apparently Sydney stood on the arm of the door, which she has a habit of doing, and in doing so she pushed down on the power window button thereby lowering the window all the way. She then was so overcome with excitement at seeing her friends next to the car that she jumped out of the car! Thank goodness we were moving at a snail's pace and no harm came to her, but we were stunned that this could and did happen. Never in a million years did we think to lock out the power window buttons in the car for the dog. I hope this doesn't make us sound negligent in the treatment of our baby but it just never occurred to us to take that precaution, even though we have seen stories of window switch safety in the news as it relates to small children.

The car did suffer some paint damage as the metal buckle on her harness scraped the car on her way down. We were in Dixon's car, which he takes great pride in and actually just had washed and shined the day before, so at the moment he is not a happy camper. He realizes it is not the dog's fault, nor either of us in particular, it was just one of those freak things that can happen in the blink of an eye. We shudder to think if she would have done that while we were traveling down the highway at a high rate of speed. The odd thing is that she loves to travel in the car and we made the trip from Wisconsin to British Columbia last fall, over a six day period, with no mishaps at all. Perhaps we were unknowingly lulled into a false sense of security with regard to pet travel in a vehicle. I know to NEVER let a cat loose in a car as they can get tangled underfoot which could result in failure to operate the brake or accelerator, but dogs and power windows? Who knew!!??

So I am passing this along as a lesson we learned that hopefully you or a friend or relative can learn by our misfortune.

And, at the end of the day, all is well and Sydney is snoozing in front of the patio door - she is genuinely pooped out.

And please remember to click on the link to the left to help shelters care for misplaced little critters.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Expansion plans?

Well, I have been on here for a while now and my original intent with this blog was to keep friends and family back in the US, and new friends in Canada, up to date on the happenings with our new home in Canada. Lately I have been taking a bit of a side road by posting news stories that are of interest and/or concern to me that I feel need to be shared. Due to the fact that I still have so much time on my hands at home I have been contemplating starting a new blog, to share the news stories, and keeping this blog as my original plan was laid out - to keep folks up to date on the happenings in Sooke/Victoria/British Columbia/Canada, with respect to my life. The new blog is still in the idea phase in my head and I am trying to conjure up a catchy title/graphics to keep people coming back for more, not to mention riveting content. HA!

So stay tuned and I'll let ya know when the roll-out will commence.

This just in....

Israel shows abilities for Iran strike

By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer2 hours, 38 minutes ago

A large Israeli military exercise this month may have been aimed at showing Jerusalem's abilities to attack Iranian nuclear facilities.

In a substantial show of force, Israel sent warplanes and other aircraft on a major exercise in the Eastern Mediterranean early this month, Pentagon officials said Friday.

Israel's military refused to confirm or deny that the maneuvers were practice for a strike in Iran.

Russia's foreign minister Friday warned against the use of force on Iran, saying there is no proof it is trying to build nuclear weapons with a program that Tehran says is for generating power.

U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the sensitive matter for the record.

"They have been conducting some large-scale exercises — they live in a tough neighborhood," one U.S. official said, though he offered no other recent examples.

The big exercise the first week of June was impossible to miss and may have been meant as a show of force as well as a practice on skills needed to execute a long-range strike mission, one U.S. official said.

The New York Times quoted officials Friday as saying that more than 100 Israeli F-16s and F-15s staged the maneuver, flying more than 900 miles, roughly the distance from Israel to Iran's Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, and that the exercise included refueling tankers and helicopters capable of rescuing downed pilots.

"It was noticed that a significant exercise took place — dozens and dozens of aircraft participated," one U.S. officials said Friday. "We watch globally everyday, and this was noted."

A second U.S. defense official said the maneuver could be taken as a demonstration that Israel is serious about the need to challenge Iran's nuclear program — and could be prepared to do so militarily. "That's one of the assessments you could make out of the exercise," the official said.

Asked to comment, the Israeli military issued a statement saying only that the Israeli air force "regularly trains for various missions in order to confront and meet the challenges posed by the threats facing Israel."

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev offered no comment beyond the military's statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said he prefers that Iran's nuclear ambitions be halted by diplomatic means, but has pointedly declined to rule out military action. Bush administration officials have said the same.

In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel published on Wednesday, Olmert said the current international sanctions against Iran would probably not succeed alone, saying there were "many things that can be done economically, politically, diplomatically and militarily."

Asked if Israel was capable of taking military action against Iran, Olmert said, "Israel always has to be in a position to defend itself against any adversary and against any threat of any kind."

Israeli military analyst Martin Van Creveld of Jerusalem's Hebrew University said military preparations for a possible attack are indeed under way.

"Israel has been talking about this possibility for a long time, that it would not take an Iranian nuclear weapon lying down. And it has been practicing the operation or operations for a long time," he said.

But though an Israeli strike would likely be able to "paralyze the most important Iranian nuclear installations," it probably wouldn't be able to destroy the program entirely, Van Creveld said. "I would be very surprised if Israel can really knock out every part of this program, which by all accounts appears to be large and well concealed and well dispersed," he said.

There are precedents for unilateral Israeli action in such cases. In 1981, Israeli jets bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear facility to end dictator Saddam Hussein's nuclear program. And last September Israel bombed a facility in Syria that U.S. officials have said was a nuclear reactor being constructed with North Korean assistance.

A U.S. intelligence report released late last year concluded that Iran has suspended its nuclear weapons program, but Israeli intelligence believes that assessment is incorrect and that work is continuing.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Iran should be engaged in dialogue and encouraged to cooperate with the U.N. nuclear monitoring agency.

Lavrov made the statement when asked to comment on an Israeli Cabinet member's statement earlier this month that Israel could attack Iran if it does not halt its nuclear program.

"I hope the actual actions would be based on international law," Lavrov said. "And international law clearly protects Iran's and anyone else's territorial integrity."


Associated Press reporter Matti Friedman contributed to this report from Jerusalem and Vladimir Isachenkov contributed from Moscow.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My theory.

Ok, by now I'm sure you have all heard of the mysterious shoes, WITH FEET INSIDE, that are washing up on various shores around British Columbia - five in the last year. Well, aside from the fact that eight others have washed up around the world over the last couple years, this is getting a LOT of press so I thought I'd throw in my two cents worth.

My suspicion is that these belonged to unfortunate people that somehow met their demise at sea. They could have fallen overboard, met with some unscrupulous types who hastened their departure or just had an accident while on shore or a pier. Is it not plausible that their remains were then eaten, or perhaps decomposed naturally, and when the time came for the foot to detatch from the leg that perhaps the air built into the sole of the shoe caused it to float to the surface and drift around until it was found washed up on a beach somewhere? Makes complete sense to me. The oceans are vast and with a few billion people on this planet it would stand to reason that many meet their unltimate fate at the hands of the sea. And these types of shoes are so universal that they could have come from anywhere.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Thanks for tuning in...

Another harbinger?

Jellyfish outbreaks a sign of nature out of sync

by Jerome CartillierWed Jun 18, 1:40 AM ET

The dramatic proliferation of jellyfish in oceans around the world, driven by overfishing and climate change, is a sure sign of ecosystems out of kilter, warn experts.

"Jellyfish are an excellent bellwether for the environment," explains Jacqueline Goy, of the Oceanographic Institute of Paris. "The more jellyfish, the stronger the signal that something has changed."

Brainless creatures composed almost entirely of water, the primitive animals have quietly filled a vacuum created by the voracious human appetite for fish.

Dislodging them will be difficult, marine biologists say.

"Jellyfish have come to occupy the place of many other species," notes Ricardo Aguilar, research director for Oceana, a international conservation organisation.

Nowhere is the sting of these poorly understood invertebrates felt more sharply than the Mediterranean basin, where their exploding numbers have devastated native marine species and threaten seaside tourism.

And while much about the lampshade-like creatures remains unknown, scientists are in agreement: Pelagia noctiluca -- whose tentacles can paralyse prey and cause burning rashes in humans -- will once again besiege Mediterranean coastal waters this summer.

That, in itself, is not unusual. It is the frequency and persistence of these appearances that worry scientists.

Two centuries worth of data shows that jellyfish populations naturally swell every 12 years, remain stable four or six years, and then subside.

2008, however, will be the eighth consecutive year that medusae, as they are also known, will be present in massive numbers.

The over-exploitation of ocean resources by man has helped create a near-perfect environment in which these most primitive of ocean creatures can multiply unchecked, scientists say.

"When vertebrates, such as fish, disappear, then invertebrates -- especially jellyfish -- appear," says Aguilar.

The collapse of fish populations boost this process in two important ways, he added. When predators such as tuna, sharks, and turtles vanish, not only do fewer jellyfish get eaten, they have less competition for food.

Jellyfish feed on small fish and zooplankton that get caught up in their dangling tentacles.

"Jellyfish both compete with fish for plankton food, and predate directly on fish," explains Andrew Brierley from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. "It is hard, therefore, to see a way back for fish once jellyfish have become established, even if commercial fishing is reduced."

Which is why Brierley and other experts were not surprised to find a huge surge in the number of jellyfish off the coast of Namibia in the Atlantic, one of the most intensely fished oceans in the world.

Climate change has also been a boon to these domed gelatinous creatures in so far as warmer waters prolong their reproductive cycles.

But just how many millions, or billions, of jellyfish roam the seas is nearly impossible to know, said scientists.

For one things, the boneless, translucent animals -- even big ones grouped in large swarms -- are hard to spot in satellite images or sonar soundings, unlike schools of fish.

They are also resist study in captivity, which means a relative paucity of academic studies.

"There are only 20 percent of species of jellyfish for which we know the life cycle," said Goy.

And the fact that jellyfish are not commercially exploited, with the exception of a few species eaten by gastronomes in East Asia, has also added to this benign neglect.

But the measurable impact of these stinging beasts on beach-based tourism along the Mediterranean has begun to spur greater interest in these peculiar creatures whose growing presence points to dangerous changes not just in the world's oceans, but on the ground and in the air as well.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New link that is important.

I've added a new link, at left, to Help the Animals. Please use the link to go to their website and use the Click Daily button to help out. If you have a blog I urge you to add the same link to your blog, to get the message out to all your readers. These little guys need our help and I fear that all too often we 'forget', until we are reminded.

Thank you.

Lakes as dumping grounds???

Lakes across Canada face being turned into mine dump sites

Mon Jun 16, 9:42 PM

CBC News has learned that 16 Canadian lakes are slated to be officially but quietly "reclassified" as toxic dump sites for mines. The lakes include prime wilderness fishing lakes from B.C. to Newfoundland.

Environmentalists say the process amounts to a "hidden subsidy" to mining companies, allowing them to get around laws against the destruction of fish habitat.

Under the Fisheries Act, it's illegal to put harmful substances into fish-bearing waters. But, under a little-known subsection known as Schedule Two of the mining effluent regulations, federal bureaucrats can redefine lakes as "tailings impoundment areas."

That means mining companies don't need to build containment ponds for toxic mine tailings.

CBC News visited two examples of Schedule Two lakes. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Vale Inco company wants to use a prime destination for fishermen known as Sandy Pond to hold tailings from a nickel processing plant.

In northern B.C., Imperial Metals plans to enclose a remote watershed valley to hold tailings from a gold and copper mine. The valley lies in what the native Tahltan people call the "Sacred Headwaters" of three major salmon rivers. It also serves as spawning grounds for the rainbow trout of Kluela Lake, which is downstream from the dump site.

Vale Inco's proposal was the subject of a public meeting on June 10 in Long Harbour, N.L. Billed as a "public consultation" on the proposal, the meeting was attended by government officials, mining executives, environmentalists and fishermen.

"Lakes are often the best way for mine tailings to be contained," said Elizabeth Gardiner, vice-president for technical affairs for the Mining Association of Canada.

"In some cases, particularly in Canada, with this kind of topography and this number of natural lakes and depressions and ponds ... in the end it's really the safest option for human health and for the environment," she said.

But Catherine Coumans, spokeswoman for the environmental group Mining Watch, said the federal government is making it too easy. She said federal officials are increasingly using the obscure Schedule Two regulations to quietly reclassify lakes and other waters as tailings dumps.

"Something that used to be a lake - or a river, in fact, they can use rivers - by being put on this section two of this regulation is no longer a river or a lake," she said. "It's a tailings impoundment area. It's a waste disposal site. It's an industrial waste dump."

Coumans said the procedure amounts to a subsidy to the industry and enables mines to get around the Fisheries Act.

"What Canadians need to know is that this year, from March 2008 to March of 2009, eight lakes are going to be subject to being put on Schedule Two, which is just about every mine that is going ahead this year is looking around, looking for the nearest lake to dump its waste into."

A local environmentalist who attended the Long Harbour meeting, Chad Griffiths, said of Sandy Pond: "It's easy enough to consider just one lake as just one lake, as a needed sacrifice, right? But it's not one lake ... It's a trend. It's an open season on Canadian water."

A test case: the Red Chris Mine in northwestern B.C.

Last fall, a Federal Court judge ruled that federal bureaucrats acted illegally in trying to fast-track the Red Chris copper and gold mine without a full and public environmental review.

The decision put the project on hold, but late last week, the Federal Appeals Court reversed the decision, paving the way for federal officials to declare lakes to be dumps without public consultation.

Imperial Metals said in a release Monday that federal authorities "are now authorized to issue regulatory approvals for the Red Chris project to proceed," although the matter could still be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In the earlier decision, Justice Luc Martineau overturned the decision by federal officials to skip a public review, saying it "has all the characteristics of a capricious and arbitrary decision which was taken for an improper purpose."

He also found those officials "committed a reviewable error by deciding to forgo the public consultation process which the project was statutorily mandated to undergo."

The dump site includes two small lakes in a Y-shaped valley. Imperial Metals plans to build three dams to contain mine tailings within the valley. But environmentalists say there is no way to stop effluent leaking downstream in groundwater.

Jim Bourquin of the Cassiar Watch Society, a conservation group, said Kluela Lake, immediately downstream from the site, is one of the best trout fishing lakes in northern B.C.

"This is a precedent-setting decision by the federal government to start using fish-bearing habitat as a waste management area," Bourquin said. "It's totally bizarre for the federal government to come here and say that this Y-shaped valley up here is no longer a fish habitat, it's no longer sacred headwaters, it's just a waste dump site."

But Steve Robertson, exploration manager for Imperial Metals, told CBC News the dump site will be sealed and that the economic benefits of the planned Red Chris mine will be enormous.

"This is a project that can bring a lot of good jobs, long-term jobs, well-paying jobs to a community that desperately needs it." Robertson said.

He added that the total investment over the 25-year life of the mine would be about half a billion dollars and that the risk to the environment will be carefully managed.

"Tailings are part of the mining process," Robertson said, "and, if treated properly, if they're built into a proper structure and kept submerged, they should be able to withstand the test of time and actually not pose a detriment to the environment."

But James Dennis, a 76-year-old elder of the local Tahltan people, told CBC News he doesn't buy that.

"We want it stopped," said Dennis, who lives in the native village of Iskut, 18 kilometres northwest of the mine site. "We want to stop the mine ... The animals will be drinking that water and they'll all be polluted too."

"Once they do the mine, they're going to leave, and we're the people who are going to live with that. Not me, but my grandchildren, the small little kids like this. That's who's going to live with the pollution."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wave of the future?

I just found this story online and thought it interesting enough to repost, replete with pictures.

Thanks for tuning in...

Honda makes fuel-cell car
Mon Jun 16, 2008 12:41pm BST

TOCHIGI, Japan (Reuters) - Honda kicked off production on Monday of its newest fuel-cell car, as the car-maker gears up for the battle to dominate the market for next-generation vehicles.

Honda's FCX Clarity, a sporty-looking fuel-cell saloon, came off the production line in Tochigi, north of Tokyo. The assembly line is Honda's first to be dedicated to building fuel-cell vehicles.

The FCX Clarity will be sold through a newly established fuel-cell vehicle dealership network in the United States from July, Honda said. In Japan, sales are slated to start in autumn.

The car-maker is targeting lease sales of about 200 FCX Clarity cars in the first three years in the two countries combined.

"Fuel-cell vehicles, which don't use fossil fuels and don't produce carbon dioxide, are necessary for the environment. We would like to make them more popular," Honda Chief Executive Takeo Fukui told reporters.

Fuel-cell vehicles are widely considered the ultimate longer-term alternative to today's conventional cars as they run on an inexhaustible and cheaper source of fuel -- hydrogen, have no harmful exhaust emissions, and do not compromise driving performance.

The main hurdles for their proliferation are a lack of fuelling stations and the high cost of development.

Among the first five customers for the FCX Clarity are actress Jamie Lee Curtis and U.S. filmmaker Christopher Guest, Honda said.

The vehicle, which uses a lithium-ion battery, can run 620 km (385 miles) on a single fuelling as measured under Japan's fuel efficiency test method, and has a top speed of 160 km per hour (99 mph).

Among car-makers, Honda and Toyota Motor Corp. were the world's first to put a fuel-cell vehicle on the road in December 2002, and have since been in a tight race to prepare them for mass-commercialisation.

Toyota said earlier this month that it has developed an advanced fuel-cell vehicle that can run for 830 km on a single tank of hydrogen.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp has said it would bring its i-MiEV rechargeable electric minicar to market in Japan next year, while plans are also underway to begin fleet testing at some U.S. power companies as early as this autumn.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Something to discuss over coffee.

Coffee is one of my favorite drinks, especially to warm me up on a chilly day, and I found these coffee facts that I'd like to share.

* 23,000 cups of Coffee are consumed around the world every SECOND! That is more than 710 BILLION cups per year!

* Total retail sales of Coffee: $30 Billion in 1990 vs. $80 Billion today!

* 42 Coffee beans are needed to make a single shot of Espresso!

* Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the global market, after Oil!

* Drink 6 or more cups of Coffee per day and you cut your risk of Gout by 59%, according to Canadian scientists!

* A 10 year European study found that men who drink 3 or more cups of Coffee a day suffer less mental decline in old age than nondrinkers!

* Finnish scientists found that locals who drink 10 or more cups of Coffee a day were 84% less likely to develop Parkinson's disease than nondrinkers!

The World Barista Championship will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark from June 19-22 this year.

100 years of change.

I just found this online and thought it interesting enough to post. It pertains mostly to the US and Canada but if you have something similar for your country please leave a comment!! We can always learn something new.

The year is 1908. One hundred years ago. What a difference a century makes! Here are some statistics for the Year 1908 :
************ ********* ********* ******

The Union of South Africa is founded

General Motors Corporation is founded

Congo becomes a colony of Belgium

Ford Motor Company produces the first Model T, the “Tin Lizzy”

The average life expectancy was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles
of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!

The average wage in 1908 was 22 cents per hour.

The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year .

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, A dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME .

Ninety percent of all doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!
Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which
were condemned in the press AND the government as "substandard. "

Sugar cost four cents a pound.

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used
Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from
entering into their country for any reason.

Five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars.

The population of Las Vegas , Nevada, was only 30!!!!

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea
hadn't been invented yet.

There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write.

Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind,regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health." ( Shocking? DUH! )

Eighteen percent of households had at least
one full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE ! U.S.A. ! (more people had and carried guns back then...)

Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Gardening update.

Well, with the month of June starting today I thought I'd update y'all on what's been going on in the garden. The days are getting longer, with sunrise at approximately 5:30am and sunsets happening around 9pm and some light remaining in the sky up to almost 10pm, and this has had a profound impact on the gardens coming into growing season.

These three poppy plants are in the front garden, as you come through the main gate at the driveway, and are WAY bigger than any that I was able to grow back in the US midwest. One of them is ice white, another a pale pink and the third is more of an orangey salmon color. They are huge and spectacular and my only complaint is that they don't last long and blow apart at the slightest breeze. I'll be gathering and sorting seeds to see if I can start some new plants in the greenhouse over the winter.

The next photo is of a corner shade garden that is at the front of the house. The Hostas are large leaf varieties but upon filling in this spring I am seeing that there is way too much crammed into this area and some things will have to be moved. One thought I have had is to create a shady sitting area by the front door. The 'porch' is about 8 X 8 feet and under a roof so I am toying with the idea of dividing some Hostas and potting them up to arrange around some chairs to create an intimate area to greet visitors. This shade garden also contains a beautiful red Rhododendron, a Fatsia Japonica (one of my favorites), two Lenten Roses, two Hydrangeas, a large and gorgeous Columbine and two rare Chinese woodland plants by the name of Blue Wonder Deinanthe, which have yet to bloom.

This photo is a pot that I 'rescued' from a BAD location - full sun up a dry rock outcropping in the front garden. Now, I know some Hostas can take some sun, I believe the rule of thumb is the more 'yellow' or variegated the leaves the more sun tolerance they have, but this pot also has a Lenten Rose and another Columbine, both of which do best in partial shade, so I brought it down from the hill and is temporarily recuperating next to the shade garden. I can see already that it is dong better in the week that it has been in its' new location. This is the same kind of Columbine that is in the shade garden so I am going to be gathering seeds after it is done blooming and attempting to grow additional stock. Columbines are great at spreading naturally and if you have more than one color/size they can cross pollinate and you can end up with all kinds of colors and sizes, which is what happened at my first house years ago. I had dwarf white ones, medium size royal blue ones and tall bright yellow ones.

These are some of our tomato plants in the greenhouse and a closeup of one of the tomatoes. We have two varieties growing and so far this one is way ahead of the other as far as plant size and fruit. I counted at least 12 little tomatoes on the plants the other day and there are loads of flowers, which means LOADS of tomatoes. The greenhouse ventilates automatically and the plants seem to be thriving in the warm sunshine, and they are out of the wind which can at times be a bit intense and it blows off the ocean. The variety pictured is supposed to not need any staking and the other will need staking, which I have done, but I figure with no wind they may not be too prone to toppling over. I also have 5 of the staking variety in the yard, along a fence between some rose bushes with rings around them, as an experiment to see how they actually do out in the elements. I was told to just grow them in the greenhouse and that appears to be good advice, at least for the area we are in, but I wanted to see what happens to them outside.

This plant is one of three that are in full bloom in the front garden. I am sorry to say that I have not yet figured out what it is but they are loaded with little white flowers that fill the front yard with a heady perfume reminiscent of jasmine! Once a day I just walk over to one of them, stoop over and breathe in deeply, clearing my senses and putting me in a great frame of mind. THIS is what is so rewarding about gardening!

This final photo for today is one of my favorites in the front garden - a variegated New Zealand Flax (I think) and it has FIVE spear-like bloom stalks that have appeared. You can see them sticking out from the nice round shape of the plant and I can't wait to see what the flower look like. There are three solid green varieties behind this one but they were done blooming by the time we moved in last fall so I have no idea what they looked like.

So that is kind of a quick review of some of the things that are happening in the garden. We have 20+ Rose bushes and they are full of buds, so that in itself will be a future update.

Thaks for tuning in....