Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

London building boom.

London is in the midst of a building boom! Some of it is due to the Summer Olympics being held there in 2012 and some is to boost the city's available commercial and residential space. Whatever the reason the skyline of London is set to change dramatically over the next few years.

Eight new Skyscrapers are due for completion within two years, including what is soon to be London’s tallest building, the Shard, and the Pinnacle building. At least ten more have been proposed.

VeloPark for The 2012 Summer Olympics.

Aquatics Centre for The 2012 Summer Olympics.

Strata Tower.

The Pinnacle

The Shard.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What time is it in China?

Well, technically, it is just one time all across the vast country. By political policy, China maintains a single time zone, which is eight hours ahead of the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+8). Before the Chinese Civil War in 1949 there were five time zones in China.

Although all jurisdictions within the region are placed under the same time zone, for historical and political reasons, different jurisdictions keep their own time standard with their own names.

* The People's Republic of China maintains the time standard called Beijing Time domestically but is commonly referred to as China Standard Time internationally.
* In Hong Kong, the standard is called Hong Kong Time.
* In Macau, the standard is called Macau Standard Time.
* In Taiwan, the standard is officially called National Standard Time but has been commonly referred to as Chungyuan Standard Time , Taipei Time , and since late 2000s Taiwan Standard Time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

24 Hours in... London

I was there for a week a few years back and barely scratched the surface! Selfridges, Harrods, taxis, the Tube, museums...SO much to do!!

São Paulo!

A city that absolutely amazes me and is on my To Visit SOON list! Enjoy.

Barcelona City Guide

I have not yet been to Barcelona but this short video wants to make it happen sooner, not later.

Nissan Ellure Concept at 2010 LA Auto Show

Pee in the Shower - w/english subtitles

Brazil offers a unique way to save on your yearly water consumption!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Home sick for the past two days and ferociously trying to not get bored. One can do Facebook only so much, eh? So, that leads me to this thought....

I am looking for a new direction for this blog to go in. We've been in Canada three years now and are fairly well settled in. So well, in fact, that one of us (not me) is now retired from the job he got here! Imagine that, 2.5 years working and now retirement at age 55! I should be so lucky. I need to get over the age 50 hurdle first!

I am thinking of redirecting this blog to a location that will share news from a global perspective. I feel that so many people venture only so far out of their comfort zone that maybe I can bring some things from far off lands for others to read while they are in their comfort zone, namely the coziness of home. I spend hours trolling the internet in search of something new and I figure why not share that with others.

So, stay tuned for changes, as they are a-comin'!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


For those of you who are just a wee bit adverse to change, perhaps this will help the transition...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ursus americanus.

Well, after three years of living in a rather rural area of southern Vancouver Island we saw our first Black Bear. We've heard the stories of Black Bears and Cougars, from friends and neighbours, but have not had the 'pleasure' of seeing one in person.

That changed at 5:20pm today.

We were coming home from an afternoon meeting in town on what turned out to be a stupendous Fall day - gorgeous sunshine and cool Fall temps. We were driving up the private road to our house and as we were coming to the top of a rise in the road there he/she/it was, right in the middle of the road about 50 feet from our driveway. At first I thought it was the dog that the neighbour kid up the hill walks all the time. I quickly analyzed what I was seeing - nope, no tail and no brown fur, not the dog from up the hill - and just as my mind deduced that it was a bear I heard an exclamation from the driver - "WOW! That's a BEAR!". At that instant, as the car braked, the beast spun around, took a look at the approaching metal giant and bolted off road into the forest. In five seconds the encounter was over and we proceeded to our gate, which I opened quickly and closed even faster after the car passed through.

Suffice it to say that I have been instructed that the dog no longer goes out at night with just one of us in tow, the flashlights have all had new batteries installed and the can of Bear Spray has been resurrected from it's resting place beneath the kitchen sink to a post more readily accessible to all.

My thoughts? Well, we know there is a bear in the area, from the sightings we have heard about. Our lot has 1+ acres fenced and gated. There is no food supply within the yard, that I know of. No, I don't think it will plow through the fence and break into the greenhouse to snarf up what remains of the tomatoes and peppers. Perhaps it would have a fondness for the Dahlia about to bloom in the greenhouse? I doubt it. There is still plenty of food outside our yard for it to fatten up on, namely the blackberries that still litter the wild 6ft+ high bushes all over the dang place. So, I'm thinking the thing has been around for a while and not bothered us at all, it's just that now we have a face to put with the stories and it is a bit unsettling. Especially when we stand out on the front porch, in the dark, and listen carefully to the crunching sound moving from one side of the upper yard to the other, outside the fence. Sounds way bigger than a rabbit or raccoon.

(the picture above is a generic photo, not of the actual encounter)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

On this day, three years ago, we awoke in Bellingham, WA and took a deep breath! We knew that by the end of the day we would be landed immigrants in Canada and arriving in our new home on Vancouver Island. After a short drive to the border, and negotiating some construction on the US side, we were in the office at Canadian Customs going over our paperwork. The process, for us, took an hour but that was mostly due to our agent also handling another window and doing double duty. All the while we were inside we kept wondering how the dog and cat were faring in the car out in the parking lot. After our paperwork was completed and we were approved for entry we returned to the car to find the dog asleep on the back seat, no worse for the wear. Oddly enough we were never asked about the pets and their up-to-date vaccinations, which we were ready for. Nor did anyone ever go out and inspect the cars or ask to look at the contents of the U-haul. If I would have known that I would have packed that truck to the rafters and not left so much stuff behind at our house in the US! Oh well, live and learn.

After clearing Customs and Immigration it was a short drive to the car ferry. At the ferry dock I learned that the truck I had been driving, with my car on a trailer, was 56 feet long! I was worried about getting it onto the car ferry when the time came but the woman at the booth assured me that it was quite easy and that there were people on hand to help out, if needed. After a couple of hours wait time we boarded the ferry and she was right - so easy to drive on and park the beast. Dixon was able to park with me on the truck level of the car ferry so we were all in the same location. For the entire 1.5 hour sailing we just stayed in the car with the dog and cat, too anxious to arrive at our new home that we had no desire to go up on deck to enjoy the scenery as we sailed to Vancouver Island.

After we arrived on Vancouver Island we called our real estate agent and met him in Victoria, not only to pick up the house keys but to also drop off my car for the night so we could take the trailer to the local U-haul center instead of dragging it all the way out to the house, which was an hour away. After we were free of the trailer we made a quick stop at Wal-Mart (sorry, no other option) for pillows and blankets, then were off to the house. We arrived at our new house around 9pm. I can't begin to explain the level of excitement we both had when we got here, then, to top it off, were greeted with a Rogers Chocolates gift basket in the kitchen from our real estate agent! Even though I was thrilled with the chocolates I could not wait for daylight the next day to explore the yard and gardens.

In three years we have gotten used to the ride to and from the house, with all the twists and turns. We have had no problems, and actually quite like, the medical system. Finding a Dr. was a bit of a chore, as they are in short supply here, but we persevered and found a really good one. We did a lot of research before the move so there were not too many 'surprises'. Food can be pricier but you have to watch the sales every week and stock up when you can. Gasoline is quite a bit more and the cars get worse mileage due to all the twisty and hilly roads - no straight as an arrow freeways in our area any more. Electricity is about 2/3 the cost as back in WI but living out in the country we find that we are prone to occasional power outages, which we were prepared for. We find that our diet is much better here, we enjoy a lot of local seafood and have even gotten the pets onto an all natural food that is made in Canada.

After three years we still have conversations about what if we had done this or that differently. We don't dwell on that, just more like reminiscing. Would we have done a few things differently? Sure. Do we regret having made the move? Not on your life! Coming from the US there are some things that are done differently here but the culture shock was not extreme at all. We love our new life, have made some great new friends, deeply miss friends and family back in the US and are still thinking of ways we can reinvent ourselves in our new country.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving weekend!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Trevor Lifeline.

To all the young people who are being bullied right now, you need to know that you are not alone. Call the Trevor Lifeline at 866 4-U-TREVOR, because there's always someone there who will listen and who can help.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Yet another...

Raymond Chase, 19-Year-Old Sophomore From Johnson and Wales University, Has Also Committed Suicide

In what is now the fifth suicide in just a few weeks of a gay man, 19-year-old Raymond Chase has also taken his own life by reportedly hanging himself in his dormitory.

Details around the incident are scarce and unlike the Tyler Clementi story, it is not known at this time what the circumstances were leading up to Raymond Chase's death.

The Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Ronald Martel, Ph.D, sent an e-mail on Thursday to students about Chase's death.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

An Important Message from Ellen About Bullying - The Ellen DeGeneres Show

An Important Message from Ellen About Bullying - The Ellen DeGeneres Show

We can't forget. We simply can't.

Matthew Wayne Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998) was a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming, in October 1998. He was attacked on the night of October 6–7, and died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12 from severe head injuries.

During the trial, witnesses stated that Shepard was targeted because he was homosexual. Shepard's murder brought national and international attention to the issue of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels.


According to reports from several news outlets, Tyler Clementi, 18, leapt to his death from the George Washington Bridge near his New Jersey college campus after a roommate allegedly broadcast him in a same-sex encounter behind closed doors in his dorm room, and apparently invited others, via Twitter, to view it online. Regardless of his roommate’s alleged tweet, Tyler Clementi had apparently made no statement about his own sexual orientation.


Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old in Tehachapi, Calif., died Wednesday after 10 days on life support after he hanged himself last week. Police say he had been mercilessly taunted by fellow students over his perceived sexual orientation.


Billy Lucas, 15, hanged himself Sept. 9 at his Indiana home after years of reported harassment by students who judged him to be gay. Asher Brown, a 13-year-old in Harris, Texas, who had recently come out, shot himself in the head Sept. 23 after, his parents say, their efforts to alert school officials to ongoing bullying were not acted upon.


Many Americans also learned this week about Tyler Wilson, an 11-year-old boy in Ohio who decided to join a cheer-leading squad that had been all-female. As a gymnast, he was interested in the athletic elements of cheering. He was taunted with homophobic remarks and had his arm broken by two schoolmates who apparently assumed him to be gay. He told “Good Morning America” that since returning to school, he’s been threatened with having his other arm broken, too.

It really DOES get better.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Denny’s Smokin’ Q Three Pack
2,020 calories
110 g fat (22 g saturated, 3 g trans)
3,570 mg sodium

To be fair, this plate is actually three burgers, but it's one meal—and, thus, fair game. Here's our question: Aren't sliders supposed to be a lower-calorie alternative to a full-size burger? Apparently, Denny's didn't get the memo. They top these mini mega-burgers with both bacon AND onion crispers, and serve them with a greasy pile of onion rings on the side. Those embellishments ensure that this meal obliterates every nutritional guideline in the book—that means excessive numbers for fat, sodium, and calories. Order this meal and the only thing likely to slide is your health.

Friday, July 30, 2010

UPDATE from Sonoma County, CA

This is an update to the story I blogged about on April 20th. A bit of justice was served, but this can't undo the horrible wrong and disrespect that was done in the first place.

Sonoma County settles bias suit

Harold Scull and Clay Greene in an undated photo. Photo: Courtesy NCLR

Sonoma County officials have agreed to pay $650,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by an elderly gay man who claimed the county separated him from his longtime partner and auctioned off their belongings.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Clay Greene, will receive $275,000 from the county and an additional $53,000 from a co-defendant, Agua Caliente Villa, the nursing home where he lived after the county intervened in his life. Additionally, $25,000 will go to the estate of Greene's late partner, Harold Scull. The county agreed to pay $300,000 for attorneys' fees, according to a news release. The National Center for Lesbian Rights, which served as co-counsel, requested that it not receive any fees, spokesman Erik Olvera said.

County supervisors still need to accept the settlement at their next weekly meeting, August 3, but it appears to be a done deal.

Both sides in the case said they are satisfied with the conclusion to the suit that was filed nearly a year ago in Sonoma County Superior Court.

"It puts this tragic episode behind everyone in a way that gives Clay a measure of personal comfort," said Amy Todd-Gher, the lead attorney in the case for NCLR.

Greene, 78, is now living in a small assisted living home in bucolic Kenwood, surrounded by organic gardens and large wineries. Until the settlement he occupied a studio apartment in downtown Guerneville.

According to Gregory Spaulding, the private attorney representing the county, the settlement cost the county less than it would have spent on a trial. He estimated that "the attorneys' fees and costs for both sides going to trial would have exceeded $1 million."

But the settlement, coming less than a week before the lawsuit was scheduled for trial, leaves the public wondering what really happened, in a case that garnered national attention.

According to the lawsuit, Greene said his late partner, Harold Scull, 88, tumbled down the stairs, setting off a county response that ended with Scull dying alone in a nursing home and all of their possessions sold to pay for Scull's care.

But Spaulding said after interviewing over 50 witnesses, he was sure that Scull was the victim of domestic violence and satisfied that the county acted appropriately when it placed him in a nursing home. According to the county, Scull said he was afraid to go back to the house he had shared with Greene in rural Sebastopol and asked county officials to find him another place to live.

"I had plenty of evidence. I was confident that if I had tried the case I would have established that there was domestic violence," Spaulding said.

[Updated Thursday, July 29: NCLR pushed back against Spaulding's claims. In a statement issued today, Shannon Minter, legal director, accused the county of continuing to "make knowingly false and defamatory statements about Clay."

"The Sonoma County Sheriff's office closed its file on any domestic abuse allegations on April 28, 2008," Minter said in the statement. "The district attorney then closed its case, with no further investigation on May 19, 2008. Diana Gomez, assistant district attorney, has also stated, 'As far as we're concerned, it's a closed matter ... We rejected [the claim] two years ago.' Two of the people closest to Harold, Jannette Biggerstaff, his friend of 45 years, and Ron Preston, his attorney, have testified that Harold told them separately in the hospital after his fall that Clay did not cause his injuries and had not abused him."

Minter also said that during their depositions, "county officials have now testified that the domestic abuse allegations were 'unfounded,' and admitted that in the days and weeks following their separation, Harold asked to be placed with Clay again."

NCLR's initial press release on the settlement, dated July 23, did not include a reference to the domestic violence allegations. Minter said today that NCLR has stated "numerous times that the allegations are false."

"We did not feel the need to repeat that in a press release that was focused on reaching a positive settlement," Minter said. "The county has tried to use false allegations of domestic violence to divert attention from their unlawful conduct, which, in our view, is where the focus should be.

"What makes this story important and newsworthy is that the county engaged in grossly unlawful and inhumane conduct toward an elderly gay couple. We do not want the county to get away with using false allegations to divert attention from its misconduct," Minter added.]

Spaulding admitted that county's Public Guardian office violated state regulations by confiscating and selling off Scull's and Greene's possessions without seeking permission from the court.

According to state law, public conservatorship agencies can sell their clients' property and use the proceeds to pay for the clients' care, but they must get court approval for property worth more than $5,000. The contents of the couple's home brought more than $25,000 at public auction.

Spaulding said county officials didn't realize the value of the men's possessions because their house was "unkempt and in disarray" and many of their things were packed away in boxes. Friends of the men have said their house was filled with antiques and works of art from Scull's years in the film industry and as an artist.

Todd-Gher said the settlement sends a message that all elders must be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their sexual orientation.

"We urge every citizen in Sonoma County to demand more oversight of the Public Guardian's office. They need to be watched," she said.

However, attorneys on both sides agreed that legalizing same-sex marriage, and encouraging same-sex couples to file for domestic partnership until that happens, would help gay and lesbian couples retain control over their lives as they get older.

"It [the settlement] also highlights, in the absence of gay marriage rights, the benefits to couples to register as domestic partners," Spaulding said.

Greene and Scull had executed both mutual powers of attorney for medical and financial decisions and wills naming each other as beneficiaries.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Yet another crop update!

Align CenterHOLY COW!! Once these things started growing there was no stopping them! Makes me wonder if the soil is radioactive or something.

Anyways, the seeds were planted Feb 27th and they have been growing in the greenhouse, not outside. The greenhouse is unheated but warms up very nicely with all our sunshine, sometimes too warm! The one in the top picture was harvested for dinner salad tonight.

Let the games begin, albeit a bit ahead of the schedule we had in our heads!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Crop update.

Here are photos of the tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse. I swear some of the cukes will be ready to pick within a week. Amazing!!! Oh, had to toss in one of the dog from Sunday morning as we sat on the front porch having coffee and tea.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This can happen anywhere!

This is yet another reason that I am no longer living in the US. To think that something like this can still happen, and in California, leaves me speechless. So much for CA being a progressive state.

A Devastating Loss: Clay and Harold and the Rights of LGBT Elders

California | Pending
Greene v. County of Sonoma et al.

Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. As long-time partners, they had named each other beneficiaries of their respective estates, agents for medical decisions. As 2008 began, Harold was 88 years old and in deteriorating health. Clay, 11 years younger, was physically strong, but beginning to show signs of cognitive impairment. The two men lived in a country home with too many steps that required much work to keep up, but the men loved the views and being surrounded by nature and living a quiet life with each other and their cats. As Harold’s health declined, it became apparent that they would need assistance, but the men resisted outside help.

One spring day, as the men were preparing to go out, Harold fell down the front steps of their home. Clay immediately called the ambulance and Harold was taken to the hospital. There, the men’s nightmare began. First, county and health care workers refused to allow Clay to see Harold. Then, while Harold was hospitalized, Deputy Public Guardians went to the men’s home, took photographs, and commented on the desirability and quality of the furnishings, artwork, and collectibles that the men had collected over their lifetimes.

Ignoring Clay entirely, the County focused on Harold, going so far as to petition the Court for conservatorship of his estate. Outrageously referring to Clay only as a “roommate” and failing to disclose their true relationship, the County continued to treat Harold as if he had no family. The County sought immediate temporary authority to revoke Harold’s powers of attorney, to act without further notice, and to liquidate an investment account to pay for his care. Then, despite being granted only limited powers, and with undue haste, the County arranged for the sale of the men’s personal property, cleaned out their home, terminated their lease, confiscated their truck, and eventually disposed of all of the men’s worldly possessions, including family heirlooms, at a fraction of their value and without any proper inventory or determination of whose property was being sold.

Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from their home and confined him to a nursing home against his will—a different placement from his partner. Clay was kept from seeing Harold during this time, and his telephone calls were limited. Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died. Because of the county’s actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property or his beloved cats—who are feared dead. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.

With the help of a dedicated and persistent court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis of Santa Rosa, Clay was finally released from the nursing home. Ms. Dennis, along with Stephen O’Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O’Neill, Barrack & Chong, now have been retained to represent Clay and his partner's executor in a lawsuit against the County, the auction company, and the nursing home, with technical assistance from NCLR. A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.

Clay and Harold

Friday, April 16, 2010


An elderly Floridian called 911 on her cell phone to report that her car has been broken into. She is hysterical as she explains her situation: 'They've stolen the stereo, the steering wheel, the brake pedal and even the accelerator!' she cries.
The dispatcher tells her, 'Stay calm. An officer is on the way.'
A few minutes later, the officer radios in- 'Disregard.' He says.
'She got in the back-seat by mistake.'

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The original.

OK, the Chinese kid is OK, but NOBODY will do this song like Whitney did. I just had to post.


Sunday, March 28, 2010


OK, I just had to post an updated photo with corrected spelling. I laughed so hard when I drove by and saw that they had fixed the sign!

We met a new neighbour who is renting the house on 30 acres next to us. Apparently it had been abandoned for two years and the new renter is a local tradesman. We heard all kinds of stories about the building and he is going to be rehabbing it and bringing it up to code. Oy, not a job I would want!

All seedlings are now in the greenhouse and doing quite well. The cukes and spinach are doing particularly well with the tomatoes holding their own, so to speak. Work continues in the yard and gardens - is it EVER done? Me thinks not. I got a great idea book from a company that grows perennials and I now have all kinds of ideas and visions swirling in my head!

We visited a local building centre, to order a new front door, and I was astonished at the fabulous new selection of floor and wall tiles that they have! It struck me as being very European in style and more ideas/visions are filling my head. I NEED to win the lottery!

Things are great at work with a new project starting that will keep me VERY busy for 3-4 weeks, at least. The only bad news at work was that one of the little lambs in the owner's herd was killed and partially eaten by a cougar. Poor little guy. The local wildlife trackers were brought in with their bloodhounds but I don't know if anything has happened over the weekend.

I've been getting a few inquiries lately from friends in the US, asking what Canadian health care is really like. Of course this all is the result of the giant health care debate raging in the US. My take on Canadian health care is that for what we have needed it for and used it for we have had no problems at all. In a lot of respects it is quite a bit easier to use than what we had in the US and I don't think it is any more expensive. I just think there is a lot of negative press and false stories going around the US media and that really is a shame. Sounds like politics as usual to me.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Couldn't resist.

I saw this on the way to work and just had to snap a quick picture. Of course I smudged the phone number to protect their identity.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What used to be - update.

Well, I've been on a bit of a mission lately looking up names from my past on Facebook. (yes, I am addicted to it) I found a couple of guys from High School and have reconnected with one. I also located two cousins who I have not seen in something like 35 years, maybe more! We are now connected on FB and exchanging messages to bring each other up to date. It's fun looking at their pictures and reading their reactions to mine. So far so good.

I've made up my mind that if someone does not want to reconnect then no big deal. I will not get all upset over it, figuring they have been out of my life for a while so maybe it is best to let a sleeping dogs lie, so to speak.

On another note we are still charged up from the Olympics and have been doing a lot of work in the gardens. We've also been making a point to get out on hikes on the weekends seeing that there are loads of trails within 15 minutes of home. We can explore the forest, walk on the beach or do a combination. Although I have not had the luck of finding wild asparagus like someone in Spain has been doing as of late.

That's all for now. Thanks for tuning in.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Can we revisit what used to be?

I find myself in a bit of turmoil these days. I recently found a feature on Facebook that lets' one search for people from a school and also pick a graduating year. This got my interest/curiosity and I plugged in the year I graduated from High School. (no specific year will be divulged in this post) I found a few people but not very many. Now, part of this is, I am sure, because my particular age group may not really get into FB. Another reason is that in my sophomore year I was in a auto accident, missed a semester, and was then tossed into whatever classes had openings in January. I was not a happy camper but was at the mercy of the public school system. That Fall, instead of going into Junior classes I was set back a year, to catch up, so was in with all sophomores. Ya with me so far? Anyway, while on FB doing the search I plugged in the year that graduated after me, which were the kids I spent my last two years of High School with. Well, lo and behold, I uncovered quite a few names, some of which were in a group that I hung out with and, truth be told, turned out to be the best friends of my entire school experience. After graduating I went into the 'real world' and didn't have any contact with them. Me being an only child and a bit lacking in social skills, even for an 18yr old, didn't really know how to keep in touch, something I still have relapses of to this day.

My predicament, if you can call it that, revolves around the fact that I asked two of them to be my friend on FB. I find myself wondering which way that will end up and if I should have even bothered. I have fond memories of those school years quite a while ago and ask myself what I really expect to happen??? Can we really go home again, even if for a short visit? I think we can, if we don't analyze the crap out of it. Or is that a bit too simple minded in this complex day and age? Maybe the past needs to stay in the past, not be dragged into the present kicking and screaming against all common sense.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Can Cold Water Clean Dishes?
This is for all the germ conscious folks

that worry about using cold water to clean.

John went to visit his 90 year old grandfather
in a very secluded, rural area of Saskatchewan

After spending a great evening chatting the night away,

the next morning John's grandfather prepared

breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast.

However, John noticed a film like substance on his plate,

and questioned his grandfather asking,

'Are these plates clean?'

His grandfather replied,

'They're as clean as cold water can get em.

Just you go ahead and finish your meal, Sonny!'

For lunch the old man made hamburgers.

Again, John was concerned about the plates,

as his appeared to have tiny specks around

the edge that looked like dried egg and asked,

'Are you sure these plates are clean?'

Without looking up the old man said,

'I told you before, Sonny, those dishes are as

clean as cold water can get them. Now don't you

fret, I don't want to hear another word about it!'

Later that afternoon, John was on his way to a nearby town

and as he was leaving, his grandfather's dog

started to growl, and wouldn't let him pass.

John yelled and said,
'Grandfather, your dog won't let me get to my car'.

Without diverting his attention from the football game

he was watching on TV, the old man shouted!

'Coldwater, go lay down now, yah hear me!'

Meet Coldwater !

Friday, January 22, 2010

Engineering amazement.

Creeping closer inch by inch, 900 feet above the mighty Colorado River, the two sides of
a $160 million bridge at the Hoover Dam slowly take shape. The bridge will carry a new
section of US Route 93 past the bottleneck of the old road which can be seen twisting and
winding around and across the dam itself.

When complete, it will provide a new link between the states of Nevada and Arizona .
In an incredible feat of engineering, the road will be supported on the two massive
concrete arches which jut out of the rock face.

The arches are made up of 53 individual sections each 24 feet long which have been
cast on-site and are being lifted into place using an improvised high-wire crane strung
between temporary steel pylons.

The arches will eventually measure more than 1,000 feet across.
At the moment, the structure looks like a traditional suspension bridge.
But once the arches are complete, the suspending cables on each side will be removed.
Extra vertical columns will then be installed on the arches to carry the road.
The bridge has become known as the Hoover Dam bypass, although it is officially called
the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, after a former governor of Nevada
and an American Football player from Arizona who joined the US Army and was killed
in Afghanistan.
Work on the bridge started in 2005 and should finish next year. An estimated 17,000
cars and trucks will cross it every day.

The dam was started in 1931 and used enough concrete to build a road from New York
to San Francisco . The stretch of water it created, Lake Mead, is 110 miles long and
took six years to fill. The original road was opened at the same time as the famous dam in 1936.

An extra note: The top of the white band of rock in Lake Mead is the old waterline prior
to the drought and development in the Las Vegas area. It is over 100 feet above the
current water level.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spring? In January???

Late afternoon sun on the water. Clouds have since moved in. And Darkness.

Anderson Cove, which I pass on the way to and from work.

A broader view of Anderson Cove.

Morning sun through the trees as seen from my office window.

I think it is El Nino that is confusing Mother Nature. And this blog that has reversed my pictures!

Progress a comin' to East Sooke, BC.

Resort planned for East Sooke

B.C. helps band find investors

The Beecher Bay First Nation wants to break ground by the end of the year on a new destination resort on its waterfront East Sooke property.

The band is also looking at expanding and upgrading its existing 365-berth Cheanuh Marina and adjacent 125-site RV park in a bid to become more economically self-sufficient, said Aaaron Reith, Beecher Bay economic development spokesman.

The band's 307 hectares of reserve land is adjacent to East Sooke Regional Park and overlooks Juan de Fuca Strait.

"It's an incredible situation and it's one of the last untouched marine basins on the south coast of Vancouver Island," Reith said.

However, like many First Nations hoping to start tourism businesses, the band needs help finding private investors and funding agencies. Beecher Bay has signed a memorandum of understanding with the province to steer it in the right direction.

The agreement won't provide money, but it will provide support, Reith said.

"It is very hard for First Nations to take on a large project like this without provincial help."

Tourism Minister Kevin Krueger said the pilot program, which started last year, is helping seven First Nations, including Beecher Bay, expand tourism and develop resort properties on Crown and reserve land.

"We would like to see First Nations people be able to capitalize economically on the demand and opportunities," he said

The market for aboriginal-run tourism is growing among domestic and international tourists partially because of First Nations' unique connection with the land and wildlife, Krueger said.

"There are lots of people eager to invest with First Nations and we will partner with them in any way that can be helpful," he said.

The provincial program connects First Nations with banks and lending institutes and is linked to federal and provincial programs that help with seed money, marketing and training for band members.

Beecher Bay Chief Russell Chipps said decisions on tourism development will be made by the entire band, not just chief and council, adding that the project is bringing band members together in an unprecedented way.

"We want jobs for our community members so they can have a sense of belonging to something. Not just a reserve in the middle of nowhere," he said. "We really need something for the young people. That's the whole purpose of this."

The resort would not include a casino and would have the highest environmental standards, Chipps said.

The aim is to appeal to tourists drawn by walking trails, fishing, horseback riding, canoeing and diving, he said.

Neighbouring Metchosin has signed an agreement with Beecher Bay, ensuring matters of mutual interest are discussed, and Mayor John Ranns said a resort development could be beneficial to both communities.

Metchosin's rural lifestyle offers interesting food and art destinations, which would mesh well with a Beecher Bay eco-resort, Ranns said.

"They are looking at ecotourism and that fits in with what Metchosin is trying to do. I think their objective and our objective could complement each other," he said.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Modern Technology!

Turning wood into bones

By Duncan Kennedy
BBC News, Rome

A novel - and natural - way of creating new bones for humans could be just a few years away.

Scientists in Italy have developed a way of turning rattan wood into bone that is almost identical to the human tissue.

At the Istec laboratory of bioceramics in Faenza near Bologna, a herd of sheep have already been implanted with the bones.

The process starts by cutting the long tubular rattan wood up into manageable pieces.

It is then snipped into even smaller chunks, ready for the complex chemical process to begin.

The pieces are put in a furnace and heated.

In simple terms, carbon and calcium are added.

The wood is then further heated under intense pressure in another oven-like machine and a phosphate solution is introduced.

'Very promising'

After about 10 days, the rattan wood has been transformed into the bone-like material.

The team is lead by Dr Anna Tampieri.
An X-ray of the new bone fusing with the old
Within months, the real and artificial bone will have fused

"It's proving very promising," she says. "This new bone material is strong, so it can take heavy loads that bodies will put on it.

"It is also durable, so, unlike existing bone substitutes, it won't need replacing."

Several types of wood were tested before they found rattan works best.

That is because of its structure and porous properties, which enable blood, nerves and other compounds to travel through it.

Dr Tampieri says it is the closest scientists have ever come to replicating the human bone because, she says: "It eventually fuses with real bone, so in time, you don't even see the join."

The new wood bone is being closely studied at the nearby Bologna University hospital.

That is where orthopaedic surgeons like Maurillo Marcacci are monitoring the sheep tests.

The X-rays of the sheep's legs show the progress they are making.

Surgeon Mr Marcacci
A strong, durable, load-bearing bone is really the holy grail for surgeons like me and for patients
Maurillo Marcacci

Particles from the sheep's own bones are migrating to the bone made from wood.

Within a few months, the real and the artificial bone will be like one continuous bone.

Mr Marcacci says that existing bone substitutes, like metal or ceramic, or bones from dead bodies, all have their drawbacks.

He says for people with major trauma accidents or cancer, the current range of alternatives can be weak and do not fuse with the existing bone.

The new wood bones, he says, could be a major step forward.

"A strong, durable, load-bearing bone is really the holy grail for surgeons like me and for patients," he says.

The new bone-from-wood programme is being funded by the European Union.

Implants into humans are about five years away.

But with no signs of rejection or infection in the sheep, there is real hope here that a natural, cheap and effective replacement for bones is now possible.

Bones from wood could soon be opening up a new branch of medical science.