Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cloud Contrasts

Same sunrise from Saturday - still some neat clouds and colours - so enjoy the picture.

Thoughts... too many of them today, but I'll share a select few. I promise to be concise today, at least relative to the weekend.

The first is that in spite of Calgary's reputation of being a redneck city they managed to elect someone who was all about the issues, and a minority and a Muslim to boot. (Good for them) Toronto, on the other hand, with one of the most liberal and socialist reputations in the country, elect a guy who ran more or less on a single sound bite and who is about to spend the next 4 years tearing down things that took years of building to put in place... I'm particularly worried about his plan to rip up street cars. It just sounds destructive for the sake of being destructive - and Toronto truly needs its public transit. Mayor McCallion is still our head of state in Mississauga - starting her 12th term at the impressive age of 89. I think, should I ever have a daughter, I might just add Hazel as a middle name - I think aside from being botanical (obviously a good feature in a child's name), it has come to represent tenaciousness and spirit.

Weather thoughts - we had lots of pretty snow today, and the forcast is full of it. There have been a few patches of time when you could see the sky, and while mostly over cast last night there were parts that seemed an odd colour, but again, I've had no luck seeing the northern lights.

Until tomorrow or the next time I get around to writing... J
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Sunrise and first ice on the lake

Today was the first day that I noticed large amounts of ice on the lake. Given the number of barges that were in and out this weekend, I guess shipping season must have just squeezed in - while the lake isn't entirely frozen and even the ice that was there in the morning was a lot less in the afternoon.

I still haven't had much luck with the northern lights, the numbers are good, but the clouds are still there and I think it is definitely time to go to sleep... so cheers all... Hasta Manana.
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gliding Silhouettes and a History of Spectacles

If you've never hear the eerie sound that a Raven makes - a kind of sound that brings to mind robots or computers more than living creatures - then you might not have been close enough to one to see how something with such plainly marked plumage could manage to be beautiful. The raven is an aerial ballerina who is amazing whether they are dancing solo or in pairs. Known for their cleverness, the corvid family, includes the thieving magpie, the strutting jay, the gatherings (called a murder) of crows, the charming Whiskey Jack as well as the Raven - who impresses both in its large size and its willingness to remain in the frigid barren-lands of Canada even in the desolate months of deep, dark winter to make stark, black silhouettes against sky for photographers missing the pretty plumage of snow buntings, snow geese, larkspurs, sand-hill cranes and even seagulls.

In unrelated exciting news, I found the clip-ons for my sunglasses which have been missing nearly a year (I don't think I had them last Christmas). They were the cupboard where I used to keep my vinegar, which was in the cupboard where I had thought I'd moved it (and thus looked first, but the briefly lost vinegar was carefully stacked behind something that didn't look large enough to hide a large bottle of vinegar), prompting me to look in the original location which currently only houses Styrofoam mushroom packs, paper plates, pie plates, egg cartoons, and a few books of crummy matches, which means I probably wouldn't have bothered to look in that cupboard until I needed recycled food containers for school or more likely matches. At any rate, I'm relieved that I won't need to replace them or buy sunglasses, as currently my options are a pair of prescription sunglasses that I bought my last year in Thunder Bay (I've lived in 4 different cities since then) and while the prescription is so slightly out of date that I can't even notice it, the fashion was probably out of date when I bought them, and hasn't come back in the intervening years - although on the upside, they are larger than any glasses I would choose nowadays. I suspect they are also not polarized, while my clip-ons are (and in fact, I never would have found or bought these glasses (which I love) if I hadn't noticed that my first choice had non-polarized clip-ons prompting me to search the entire store for glasses with polarized clip-ons - finally finding a pair of glasses I really truly liked. (I lost my old glasses prior while I had just begun the search for new glasses, turning a leisurely hunt for spectacles, into a somewhat more pressing issue - [where they went is an unsolved mystery - as they slipped out of my pocket on a walk with a friend on a paved bike path, which I immediately combed 4 times before darkness forced me to abandon the search]) The long of the story is that I hate buying glasses and always find it a frustrating and painful task, as my face is relatively small and my need for glasses sturdy enough to be occasionally slept in, dropped, fidgeted with, survive getting caught on a sweater being pulled off or my hair as well as intense shifts in temperature (preferably without fogging up - although, I've had no luck there). The answer is usually to buy glasses made for children and then find a pair that isn't bright purple or neon pink. The prescription sunglasses, a pair of children's glasses, have the words left and right stamped on the appropriate arms, handy in those moments when you forget which is which - and amusing to children.

In my life-time, a good portion of which I've worn glasses, I've lost only 3 pairs and broken two pairs beyond being usable and severely injured two, which remain usable in a pinch. My first pair were lost, probably in a restaurant where I ate with my mom while on a interior decorating mission. They could have been left in a store too, but I recall playing with them at the table at the restaurant. I think I still have my second pair ever, although I may have given them to the eye doctor to redistribute in Africa. My third pair were always too large, and always sat crooked on my face, and the frame broke at some point. The fourth pair were navy blue with tiny metal stars - I do still have those, and actually wore them 2 summers ago when mine broke, but their hideousness made it imperative that I replaced the lost pair quickly.

My fifth pair were bronze coloured wire-frames that broke between one lens and the nose-piece when I was trying to clean the fog off them. I still have them, brilliantly repaired with medical tape and a carefully engineered system of paper-clips, the taped drawn on with colour matched gel pen to make the repairs nearly inconspicuous, although they are no longer wearable as the nose piece broke off too at some point. This was actually the second time they broke, I had broken an arm off them while practicing for a first aid competition. I was playing a patient who was supposed to be crazy or something, and my team-mate hadn't seemed to have noticed that I wasn't firing on all cylinders (poor acting on my part). At some point she'd removed my glasses, and I hadn't noticed, which is unfortunate as I tried to make my point by climbing a book shelf (screwed into the wall above my bed in my dorm room), placing all my weight on a sprained ankle, which hurt. Seeing as I knew I was over my bed, I let myself fall (to save my ankle), but I landed on my glasses. Proof, I felt, that adult glasses were over-rated.

I replaced them with the twin of my current and only prescription sunglasses (2 for 1 children's glasses - $179) They were the second pair I lost. This pair has a good story too. It was the 2nd day of a 7 day canoe trip in Algonquin Park. I was a trip leader and did the final sweep of our first campsite to make sure nothing had been left behind. I sat down on the shore, on the root of tree, feet in the loaded canoe, and took out my sunglasses, putting my non-sunglasses on the shore, for some reason rather than in my case, carefully closing the case and zipping it into my knapsack, then hopping into the canoe on a beautiful sunny day and paddling for 8 hours. They were never to be seen again. I replaced them with an identical pair (which my mother ordered as I was living at camp.) In the meantime, I had 6 days on a canoe trip with only a pair of sunglasses, complicating my task of finding and bringing down the food bag; a difficult task in the pre-dawn twilight under a thick canopy of maple and beech trees, but otherwise, the situation was entertaining enough that my mother forgave me for a nearly new pair of glasses.

The next pair I would get were black wire frames - purchased before they were popularized by Harry Potter, which I still use as a spare pair, although the lenses are badly scratched at this point. (This was another case of first aid scenario acting related collateral damage.) They were replaced with a pair of angular, bright red kids frames, which were always maybe a touch small, but amazingly survived, after some surgery, being crushed by my bedroom window where I'd put them on the window tracks and then closed the window without looking, smashing them spectacularly. However, after Wal-mart kindly bent them back into shape, they no longer had the rubber ear parts on them anymore, which means that they dig into my head painfully. I had needed two pairs of glasses at that time as my new eye doctor felt that my previous eye doctor had given me too strong a prescription, and had wanted to wean me off them, while still allowing me to be able to read the blackboard until my eyes got used to the weaker prescription. This was the pair lost on the walk, carefully put in their case, but placed in a pocket without a zipper.

Now, I apologize for rambling on about glasses for paragraph after paragraph, but I figure I may one day enjoy rereading this, although I can't for a minute think why anyone else in the world would find any of this interesting - unless they remember that canoe trip, which included a wild lightening storm while we were camped on a tiny island, getting lost twice in a small lake (well, I knew where the portage was if someone else had been willing to listen me, rather than berating me for refusing to put my sopping wet bathing suit in my bedroll and insisting that my unwillingness to ensure that my sleeping bag was damp was childish and therefore affected my ability to read a map), a evening paddle (the first night) to nearby Arowhon Resort to purchase a forgotten tube of toothpaste, the best shelter ever put up by anyone ever (although that might be a biased opinion, but it was pretty), a campsite with a rock that looked like a chair, and a lot of rough water, some fun paddling down beaver dam infested creeks, a lost roll of toilet paper, salvaged Kraft dinner, a pitched battle about footwear, impressing the socks off a variety of other camp groups and individuals with our incredibly efficient portaging, nearly dropping a canoe on my head when I ran into a moose while crossing a board bridge when the canoe lead came loose can got caught between two slats as I hastily attempted to backtrack, some amazing sunsets, and somewhat unenthusiastic reception for tabbouleh and perhaps I'd better sign off as clearly I'm in a rambling story telling mood this evening and I don't want to bore you all away.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Solar Storm... and the sun is out :(

This is the current geomagnetic conditions/forecast and its not even totally cloudy, its just that its totally sunny.... I hope someone in Russia is looking upwards or maybe its still dark in Tuk.  You can follow the geomagnetic activity in all these stations by going to spaceweather.ca which is where I got the above image.

In the meantime, I'm now listening to a great rap about the transmission of nerve impulses - wicked!

Full Moon Magic

Since I'm currently exploring the lunar cycle and its impact on the Earth's tides, the full moon made an excellent subject, especially as it neared the horizon looking larger and larger. It was interesting photographing it against a light sky. You can see that the moon is in the opposite side of the earth from the sun as not only is the sunlight reflecting off the face of the moon, but also off the hamlet garage in the forground as well.
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A Sunrise with a Serving of Wild Clouds

I admit freely that I'm guily of tinting the yellow-white sky faintly pink in an attempt to bring out the clouds a bit more.
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A Gaggle of Prey

Unbeknowst to these winter white ptarmigan, they were under close surveilence by a 4 legged predator who was thinking that they looked like a delicious treat or an exciting challange. I woke up early this morning and discovered that the northern lights forcast was promising, it was still dark and there was only thin cloud. Sadly, no aurora borealis sightings, maybe tonight if it doesn't totally cloud back over - which it is likely to do according to environment Canada. Its been a frustrating month for Northern Lights watching, opportunities sun-wise and no cooperation weatherwise. Still, it looked promising for a nice sunrise and I feel like I haven't done nearly enough walking and spending time outside.... The sunrise was intersting mostly because of the clouds, it could have used a bit more in terms of colour, but you can't win them all.
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After what feels like years of cloudy weather, the sky broke open briefly for a nice sunset. There is a rumour that there are caribou just over the hills near town right now. I tried hiking up to the VOR to see if I could see them, although even before I left town I had confirmed with a student that they weren't there any more - I figured I still needed a hike and the sunset was nice.

Right now I'm trying to see if I can get some Aurora pictures, the numbers are good and the cloud cover thin enough to allow me to see a few winking stars and the full moon.

The next photo might just be sunrise.
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Farewell Fall - welcome winter

Its still warmer than the 30 year norm, but its staying consistantly below 0 C. The lake is still unfrozen, but puddles and the ground are definitely frosted solid. The snow geese have fled the north just ahead of the snow, and while the accumulation of snow is only a dusting, it is sufficient to give the land a wintery feel.

Breakfast was a vegetably mess of scrambled eggs and luke warm coffee which is better than it sounds - honest.

I'd best get a move on it - now that my printer is done printing stuff. I'm really happy with it, especially the part where it is reliable and doesn't need me to baby sit to make sure it doesn't try and run 25 sheets of paper through at once. I also enjoy the fact that it doesn't smear ink or take 20 minutes to print a page. I miss the colour, but colour isn't that useful when your printer has a tendency to leave random smear lines and I'm definitely glad it isn't an HP. My previous experience with my first inkjet printer (also the first I personally bought) left me incredibly frustrated. I'm not sure its fair to hold a brand grudge from over 10 years ago, but I guess companies should realize that abyssmal service can leave a lasting impression.



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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Yelp for Kelp!

The ocean is far away.... but still neat to study anyways.
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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Driving the Piles for a New Co-Op

The Sanvik Co-Op is finally getting their new building - it the mean time they are in the noisy process of driving piles into the rock to support the building. This is when the civil engineer in me finds myself keenly curious about the strucutural design, but the photographer in me, mostly after the light on the lake in the background - just liked the dust and the silhouette of construction equipment. I do find the idea of a large, new, modern store in town kind of exciting too. The current building reminds me a bit of a barn and its a third the size of the Northern (or less). It also manages to look closed most of the the time, with wood covering windows long broken and no sign, hours or lights near the door, and I didn't even know it was open for the first 4 months I lived here. They've worked hard the last few years to re-organize it and carry more stock, but its hard to compete in a small drab building that gives off the impression of being closed when the Northern is bright and modern looking and has the post office. In the short term, it could use a sign on the side of the building with a door, but I guess you figure out these things if you live long enough in a small town with 2 stores and 3 corner stores and 3 restaurants - its not like they need the sign - but it would definitely make it look more like a store - which might have some effect of reminding people to poke their head in there once and a while when they are looking for something.

It'll be interesting to see how things go. They are hoping to open before next summer and so I'm looking forward to see what they do with it. In the mean time, I'm having a hard time finding a store in Baker Lake that has Lemon Juice or Cinamon in stock....
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Neys Beach Sunset - Pencil Crayon Version

Its been too long since I've found much time to draw or paint.  The few paintings I've done this year have bits that I'm happy with, but a lot of bits that leave a lot to be desired. Hopefully, I'll get back into painting regularly, but for now, here is a drawing using the best part of back to school shopping - a pack of 60 Laurentien Pencil Crayons.
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The Calm

No storm coming as far as I know, however, I could lose Internet and possibly phone service this coming week as the ANIK 2 satellite is going to affected by the ROGUE SATELLITE GALAXY 15. I'll attach a few articles for anyone interested. Qiniq has emailed folks to warn them of potential problems. It also means there could be problems with the debit/credit system at the store as they use Internet communications to process payments. Hmmm. Better stock up on food, although, as long as I'm willing to live off rice and pasta, I can probably survive a week of not being able to go to the store. I'll miss having bananas and probably milk.

Weather-wise, it has been a strange week with lots of amazing skies. The weather system has been calling for consistent cloud cover, but we've gotten some rogue breaks in the cloud now and again. I meant to go back out about 40 minutes after this picture was taken to get the real sunset but I was distracted by making dinner. We've had snow, rain, wind, and the kind of calm that made the photo above possible. Its decidedly starting to stay consistently below 0 C, although, nothing above -15 C phases me anymore, unless there is a 60 km/h wind. Still, I'm starting to consistently wear a hat and bring mitts.

I don't want to jinx them, but as a long time fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, its very exciting to see them at the top of the league standings even if it is unlikely that they'll be able to hang on to that title for the season... it would be awesome if they did - but its nice for now to feel the glow of rooting for the winning team and even more exciting to watch them and see that they are obviously a much better team then I saw play in 2007 and definitely from last year.

I guess I'd better get ye olde to do list tackled. I'll probably throw up a few more posts including some recent artwork.
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Horizon on the Other Side of the Lake

I've never made to the far side of Baker Lake - certainly this is something I hope to do eventually, but currently, time and transportation are limiting factors. I think a canoe trip there next summer would be fun. One day...
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tulugak - ᑐᓗᒐᒃ

I'm not sure what this fellow has in his mouth, but I remain awed about the beauty of birds in flight.
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October Skies

There is something about an indecisive sky that makes the whole world interesting and something about older buidlings and photographs... they are so much more photogenic. I'm sure if I had skill with photoshop I'd make the power lines disappear... but then this post wouldn't likely ever come into existance.
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Crack in the Clouds

There seems to be some sunshine trying to get through these clouds... lets hope that I can get some northern lights pictures tonight
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Northern Lights hidden by clouds and lousy weather

Here are the current space weather conditions in Canada and unfortunately the weather is not cooperating.  There are, however, some lovely photographs of the northern lights on the The Canadian Nature Photographers website and also at Spaceweather.com.

You can check the current spaceweather at www.spaceweather.ca

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Snow Bush

Well, it is currently raining, but hopefully the rain won't last and won't make an icy base under the snow, since that isn't so good for anything that lives in a Subnivian environment or the caribou who with will have to dig through a layer of ice to get food.

My other major disappointment is that currently there is a geomagnetic storm raging and sadly it is not only daylight, but looking like there is no end of clouds in the near future. So, I'll have to wait a little longer for good northern light pictures.

In other excitement, I have a container of salad and some of the best pesto pasta I've ever made in the fridge. Okay, its a slow day.
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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Baker Lake's Iglu

Easily one of the most iconic buildings in Baker Lake is the large double-qansit hut that houses the main building for one of our 3 hotels. The restaurant inside is done in warm shades of wood and is a pleasant place to get lunch and I've heard incredible things about their fancier dishes, although I've yet to get a chance to try them out. Here are a few pictures for those of you who haven't been to Baker Lake - freshly covered in snow.
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Saturday, October 09, 2010

A Shot for my Friend in Tuk

Here is our Northern Store, dusted in fresh snow with a nice few trucks parked outside and the sun trying to shine through the clouds.....
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Wavy Waters

Here is a shot of the waves crashing against the shores... winds south southeastish.

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