Pinky Winky Strikes Again

I have commented before on the embarrassing name of the hydrangea plunked beside our front step. I tolerate that defect because the shrub is so pretty when it flowers, because it flowers when most everything else in the garden has stopped doing so, and because it attracts wasps and butterflies. Oh, and an occasional bee in full sunlight.

Anyway, back to the Pinky Winky. This shot shows the ever-so-gradual progression from teeny white balls with just a hint of blush to pure-white blossoms to pink ones.

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Posted in Appreciating Deeply, Laughing Frequently, Photos of Fauna, Photos of Flora | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Wow, Yikes, Hmm

Keep sewage away from drinking water.

It doesn’t seem like an amazing idea, does it? I expect that you could get agreement on this point from all Canadians. It’s just something we know, you know? Hasn’t it always been this way?

No. It first started being a significant problem about 10,000 years ago when we stopped being primarily hunters/gatherers and began being farmers and dwellers in one fixed spot. Still, it was a long slog until someone had a better idea than getting excreta out of your dwelling by throwing it into the street – or, maybe, until they had the technology to implement that idea. It was 3000 B.C. before latrines were first linked to a city’s sewage system in what is now Pakistan, and it wasn’t until 100 B.C. that a Roman decree *required* city residents to use latrines connected to the sewage system that ran under the streets. Of course, in those pre-modern-medicine days, the incentive to use plumbing wasn’t better health: It was less smell.

However, progress is worse than slow: it’s fickle. After the fall of the Roman Empire, things went backward for quite a while. In mid-18th-century England, all the Brontë sisters died young from, at least in part, lifelong consumption of water contaminated by sewage. Oh, and by a local graveyard. Oh, yuck.

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Posted in Thinking Broadly | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Just How Miserable Are You?

Ah, sweet misery/mystery of life, at last I found you: the misery index.

The misery index was initiated by economist Arthur Okun, an adviser to President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960’s. It is simply the unemployment rate added to the inflation rate.

You can chart the US misery index by year since 1948 if’n you want to, with helpful dividers that show who was President when. Not that we’re into blame.

Some people say that unemployment causes more misery than inflation (1.7 times as much), but this fact — if fact it is — is not reflected in the index. It does, however, suggest where an individual ought to focus their own efforts to lower their personal misery index, especially since inflation seems to be out of anyone’s control.

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Posted in Laughing Frequently, Thinking Broadly | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

News and History

This week Twitter brought me the horrific news (and video if I had wanted it, which I did not) of Russian guards castrating a Ukrainian Army officer and prisoner of war before murdering him via a bullet to the head. While I allow for the fog of war and the power of propaganda, this story seems to be true. Indeed, some say this event was not a one-of, but just the first to have a widely circulated video.

News like this could make anyone despair of humanity altogether. I am tempted to weep. I am tempted to go spit on the Russian embassy. I am tempted to turn away from the news. How can I stand to even hear about such atrocities? How can any of us?

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Posted in Appreciating Deeply, Feeling Clearly, Through History | Tagged | 18 Comments

Shot by Shot

“Shot by shot it looks great,” Avakian [film editor] reported to Evans [head of production, Paramount Pictures]. “Kubrick couldn’t get better performances, but it cuts together like a Chinese jigsaw puzzle. We spent two days in the restaurant with Pacino, Sterling Hayden, and Al Lettieri. Each take was great, but nothing matches. The [expletive deleted] [Coppola, the movie’s director] doesn’t know what continuity means.” [emphasis added]
Fifty Years of The Godfather

Ooh, Mr. Kah-tuh, Mr. Kah-tuh!  *I* know what continuity means, but I’m lousy at definitions so let’s go with Merriam Webster again.

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Posted in Mortality, New Perspectives, Thinking Broadly | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

Whaddya See?

Write what you know.

What does Google turn up for this sentence? Various attributions — Twain and Hemingway most frequently — none of them validated. Various takes on its meaning. Various opinions on whether it’s good or terrible advice for would-be writers.

Inexplicably, what doesn’t turn up — unless it’s several pages down — is my memory of a mid-term exam in political philosophy a lifetime ago. Nor does any discussion of how this advice relates to photography, likely because it hasn’t been written yet. Let’s rectify that now.

The place? Prescott ON.

The scene? The St. Lawrence riverfront.

The day? Gray.

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Posted in Appreciating Deeply, Thinking Broadly | Tagged | 22 Comments

Airborne 1b

air•borne (adjective)

1 : done or being in the air : being off the ground: such as

      1. carried through the air (as by an aircraft)
      2. supported especially by aerodynamic forces or propelled through the air by force  // a plane becoming airborne
      3. transported or carried by the air  // airborne allergens

2 : trained for deployment by air and especially by parachute   // airborne troops

We’ve all had enough of airborne 1c lately, at least with respect to viruses, so today, thanks to Merriam Webster, let’s talk about another kind of airborne: supported especially by aerodynamic forces.

In this category, the Big Guy notices aircraft; I notice dragonflies and birds. A trip to White Lake last weekend offered all three but I only got photos of the latter two. That was enough.

Dragonflies are close to hand, but a little skittish. Identifying them is not my long suit.

Possibly a female Canada Darner.

Possibly a Widow Skimmer.

By contrast, ospreys hang out for long periods in huge messy conglomerations of branches at the tippy-top of tall conifers (Look waaay up!) on uninhabited shorelines, accessible only by boat. A gently rocking boat. So, although they stick around for longer than the dragonflies, they present their own photographic challenges.

Definitely two osprey.

The sitting-in-the-deep-nest part isn’t particularly striking but the getting-into-the-nest part can be spectacular, as the osprey transitions from being airborne 1b to being tippy-top-tree-borne. Merriam Webster is silent on this latter adjective but you get the idea.

Posted in Appreciating Deeply, Photos of Fauna | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Dwarf-planet Gazing

As you’ll see in the side notes, on Jul 12 we will see pictures from the new Webb Space Telescope for the first time. I respectfully suggest we haven’t dealt yet with the archive of data we have from earlier telescopes . . . and I think it matters.

Let me explain. In 2016, NASA published this video showing images of Pluto.Their website waxes eloquent about the former ninth planet.

Pluto – which is smaller than Earth’s Moon – has a heart-shaped glacier that’s the size of Texas and Oklahoma. This fascinating world has blue skies, spinning moons, mountains as high as the Rockies, and it snows – but the snow is red.

This week I saw this colour-enhanced photo.

Before we do *anything* else, and dwarf planet or no, I think we need an answer to this question: WHO MADE THAT FOOTPRINT?

Posted in Laughing Frequently, Through Space | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Cloud Face

This isn’t my photo: it was taken by Mark Gray, who lives in the town of Bonavista on the (wait for it) Bonavista Peninsula in Newfoundland and Labrador. That puts him near  Elliston, which is home to a puffin colony for several months out of the year. Puffins!

It also puts him near some spectacular scenery where the land meets the sea and the sky.

This atmospheric piece, as it were, caught my attention not just for its moodiness but also for its devilish face.

Not jumping out at you? Try this.

My thanks to Mark for his permission to use his photo here. If you’d like to see more of his work, you can find him on Twitter at @GrayMarker99.

Posted in Laughing Frequently, Photos of Faces, Photos of Landscapes | Tagged , | 6 Comments