Sunday, April 30, 2006


Inwood Manitoba for garter snakes is second to none. A friend posted some images from her adventure today and I though you all might like to see.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A free aquarium! :D

I love the internet. Like Freecycle this favorville is a good idea too.

I'm still a hacking mess, but finally submitted to a physicians care yesterday, so maybe things will turn around soon. The stress is killing me. I usually burn off my nervous energy running, but haven't done that in ten days or so. My lower back is where I carry the tension and I'll be crippled soon if I don't get back to running.

Manon's 4H achievement setup is tomorrow night and the small engine she rebuilt is almost done. It looks fabulous I must say. I've never been one for spending much time colouring between the lines, but I've out done myself on that level with this paint job on the old mower!

We bought it in Kleefeld when we first left the city behind in 1985. Now days the carburetors are throttled back with idiot switches so you need to use a 6.5 horse power engine to do the job a 3.5 horse power engine used to do. This little peach has no such limiters of course and a wide 21" cut. Those were the days of inch measurements too! heheh

Some of you may have noticed my interest in snakes recently. :P Those guys all talk in Fahrenheit degrees. It's been so long since I had to think in anything but Celsius that I've had to resort to an on line converter to get my bearings again. I find that comical. One step forward, two steps back.

Another blazing day in the sun for my garlic to leap ahead toward an early harvest. The truck is back in operation after I finally finished cleaning up all the terminals in the truck and Toyota, then charging and testing the four batteries I had. Two are on the way to the dump, including the one that was in the truck and the others are topped up and ready for service. Now maybe I can loosen my back up by hauling the flax bales from around the house to store them in the barn? Ya, that will help!

Coyote scat with nothing left but the rabbit fur. Life in the fast lane. < g >

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Mighty Meite


I always thought it would be Pierrette that suffered from empty nest syndrome, but I will too apparently. Meite is off in Ireland and not due back until the fifth of May. We've seen her seldom this winter as she does what stellar daughters must do, look after herself. She works and plays and studies and now travel is taking her.

I miss you Meite. This old curmudgeon is soft after all. This is my favourite recent image of you. It will have to hold me until you're safely home again.
Rave on dear.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Here is the video of the back yard. heheh The Roseau in flood can be fun in a canoe. Dangerous too, but what's a little adrenaline between friends.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I was waiting all week for this guy to slough. He is brilliant in his new skin, but to get a decent image of him is nearly impossible. He's just so active when in hand. I'll be looking forward to housing him in an enclosure where the front opens and he can take a more relaxed pose. The most challenging subject I've shot yet by a wide margin.





Images and a celebration of spring

Around this time of year I like to write a bit about the violence of spring on the northern plains. I'm nursing a respiratory infection so this one will have to be brief as I need my beauty sleep.

Two weeks ago the garden had at least foot of snow on it. Now my garlic is up more than six inches and the weeds are on a rampage. I expect to see asparagus any day now!

Manon and i went of a long leisurely walk today. Me with my new snake hook and Manon of course wondering off without thinking to bring her rubbers. Life is short. Play hard.

No doubt we are in for a slap somewhere along the road to summer, but so far everything but the Bur Oak have decided to show some interest in spring.

Below are some images from the day. It was a brilliant warm fresh day. If I was healthier I'd have that
telescope out tonight. Dang it all! I hate the smell of green snot.







An short video will be available if it ever finishes up loading. It's supposed to be a short video clip of the Roseau River from the bank at the bottom of our access road. The file is not quite 8 megs, but for some reason MTS is being lame. Surpised? NOT! Monopolies blow big chunks of dung. Oh Canada!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pickled King Snake? No, just another shed coming on.

Another shed on the way all ready. Diego has skipped a couple of meals now and last night the rejection was intense. He made it very clear with some violent spasms that he wanted no part of the food. I thought for second that he might bolt out of the enclosure. A hissy fit! A real live hissy fit! I'm an opportunistic writer, please forgive me. It was more of a rattler fit.

Shaking his tail madly in diamond back rattler fashion and then kinking his body quickly made me flinch every time thinking he was going to strike. I watched the situation with interest, then moved on to feed the others.

The first time this guy shed, I saw him in this soaking phase and missed taking some images. I've seen images of pickled snakes out of south east Asia packaged in clear jars so you can see the snake submerged in the wine. Given the deli pack container, I thought this guy looked the part of a pickle.





Saturday, April 15, 2006


Even Bonnie is getting into the swing of arachnids

Tom giving the eye. Can a bird dog be taught not to chase chickens? More will be revealed






The morning after the night before.

Meite thought she was safe with a missing memory card, but she was wrong.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

dead meat

Not sure what's up with this year. My respiratory system has been struggling since Christmas. For the last month I've been hammered, it's like allergy season began a long way ahead of schedule. My eyes have been killing me. I just want to rub them for itch all the time. This morning I awoke early to a power outage and the computer shutting down as the sun was rising.

My right eye had leaked so badly that my face was wet. What's up with this? Usually spring allergy season doesn't get rolling for another two weeks and I've been in trouble for months already. I can't imagine how the rest of the spring is going to go. On top of this allergy or whatever it is, I got a cold this week and now I can hardly tell which is which any more. Will this ever let up?

I ran on Sunday, and I'm supposed to run today. The pipes didn't show any infection on Sunday, but yesterday morning I choked up some colour first thing. I'm so sick of this crap! I don't seem to be able to have a positive impact on it at all. I guess I'm just not trying hard enough.

It did occur to me that maybe all the hog manure that's been spread here might be having some spore count spikes, but what do I know! I just want to race again and I can't do a damn thing other than long slow distance pace for fear of throwing myself backward so far that I can't run at all. Grrrr. Frusterrrratttting!

Ugly one

Ugly two

Ugly three - larger of the one below.

Mr. Feellikeabagodirt

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Mind + Body

It's been 16 years this spring since I sobered up. It's been a hell of a ride. Running is a good thing and I think I've found myself a good coach!

From Addict To Athlete

A former drug and alcohol abuser finds a new way to get high--with exercise
by: John Hanc & Todd Crandell

My legs felt like rubber as I stumbled down the road. I was nauseous, dizzy, and disoriented. Pain seemed to radiate from every part of my body. But I had to do this-it meant so much to me. I gritted my teeth, determined that I could tolerate the agony just a little while longer. The last few miles of the 1999 Ironman triathlon in Panama City, Florida, were excruciating. My weak legs, vacant expression, and fuzzy mind were symptoms I had experienced before-in another, darker life. But this time they were not due to wanton ingestion of outrageous amounts of illegal substances.

I was blessed with just about every advantage. I grew up in a nice, upper-middle-class community, and was fortunate enough to possess athletic talent and some smarts. But I was also cursed with a genetic predisposition toward alcoholism and my own emotional problems, stupidity, and bad judgment. I hit bottom. Fist fights with my parents. Jail. Homelessness. Attempted suicide. Lots of depraved and hair-raising incidents. Some of them are almost funny, in a sick way, such as the time I got drunk in Ohio and woke up in Georgia. My life was like the old party-hearty anthem stuck on a scratch on a vinyl record: "Sex, drugs, drugs, drugs, drugs...vrrrppp...rock and roll."

Some addicts specialize. I was a generalist, and I took a perversely democratic view toward drugs and alcohol: booze, weed, coke, crack, valium. If it could mess me up, I was for taking it. During my battle with drugs and alcohol, I lost everything-my family, a promising sports career, my self-respect, and nearly my life.

In April 1993, after 13 years of this, a long binge finally brought me to my knees. I was living with my grandmother in my hometown of Sylvania, Ohio. Over the course of two days, I passed out half-naked at a Guns N' Roses concert, urinated on a Jiffy Lube manager's desk, and was arrested. A friend bailed me out and took me home. I continued consuming vodka, beer, and crack, but my disgust over the past 48 hours grew. Instead of sentencing myself to slow death by poison-my usual, self-loathing response-I began to turn the anger toward the poison itself. I started to see that if I could control that, I could control my life. And I wanted a life, I realized, not death. I cursed the booze even as I was sipping it. At noon on April 15, 1993, I drained my glass of beer and declared, "I don't want this anymore. I am done." I knew at that moment I had taken my last drink. I was suddenly determined to get sober.

Starting Over

As with everything else in my life, I jumped into sobriety with both feet. I attended Alcoholics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous meetings, took classes at the University of Toledo, and picked up my goalie stick again. I was 28, so the idea of playing in the NHL, a real possibility when I was a teenager, was long gone. I started running and lifting weights, and went to a hockey camp in Montreal, and in 1994 was drafted to play for the East Coast Hockey League, essentially the minor leagues of the sport. I had a decent season, but when it was over, I decided to move on. I had achieved what I set out to do: prove that I belonged, prove that I could play, prove that somewhere in this body and soul was a spark that I couldn't douse despite a decade of trying.

That December, I watched the broadcast of the Hawaii Ironman triathlon and saw competitors swim 2.4 miles, ride 112 on a bike, then run a marathon. It was exercise excess on a scale an addict could appreciate. We need to route our addictive energies into something positive and away from the craving that still gnaws at us. Training for triathlons became that for me.

My days revolved around swimming in the morning, running at lunchtime, and cycling after work. A local paper did a story about my road to recovery, and the response I received was overwhelming. Not just from people I knew, but individuals with loved ones battling substance abuse. That's when it occurred to me that instead of doing these races just to feel good about myself, I could use them to help other people. Being an ex-addict gave me credibility with addicts who were still using or fighting hard not to. I knew what they were going through and could offer them an alternative. So in 2001, I founded Racing for Recovery, an organization that promotes substance-abuse education by encouraging others to use physical activity to prevent or escape addiction.

It's now 13 years since I put down my last drink. And although I've found sobriety, I still have not found peace. Who has? Instead of worrying about where to get my next gram of coke, I'm worrying about balancing the books for my foundation and training for my next event (in April I'll be competing in my 11th Ironman in Arizona and the Boston Marathon). Now five people-my wife and four kids-depend on me. Life is as stressful for me as it is for every other adult in America. But knowing that I don't have to reach for a drink to deal with it makes me proud.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006


What my last name means to some.

From John Steinbeck’s East of Eden (Penguin, 1992, pages 301–303):

[Lee said,] “The King James version [of The Bible] says this — it is when Jehovah has asked Cain why he is angry. Jehovah says, ‘If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.’ It was the ‘thou shalt’ that struck me, because it was a promise that Cain would conquer sin.”

Samuel nodded. “And his children didn’t do it entirely,” he said.

Lee sipped his coffee. “Then I got a copy of the American Standard Bible. It was very new then. And it was different in this passage. It says, ‘Do thou rule over him.’ Now this is very different. This is not a promise, it is an order. And I began to stew about it. I wondered what the original word of the original writer had been that these very different translations could be made ...

“My [elders] felt that these words were very important too — ‘Thou shalt’ and ‘Do thou.’ And this was the gold from our mining: ‘Thou mayest.’ ‘Thou mayest rule over sin.’ ...

“The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel — ‘Thou mayest’ — that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’ — it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ ...

“Now, there are millions in their sects and churches who feel the order, ‘Do thou,’ and throw their weight into obedience. And there are millions more who feel predestination in ‘Thou shalt.’ Nothing they may do can interfere with what will be. But ‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.”

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Hart House lecture

Did anyone happen to catch the lecture? I was aware of it, but dialup blues still dominates the local hinterland.

Micheal Geist - Hart House Lecture URLs

links o the day

Newswise — The Purdue Society of Professional Engineers defended their national title in complexity and inefficiency during Saturday's (April 1) 18th National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest with a machine that used 215 steps to shred five sheets of paper.

Purdue Defends Title in Rube Goldberg Nationals Thanks to Dvorak Uncensored.

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky on Iraq Troop Withdrawal, Haiti, Democracy in Latin America and the Israeli Elections

There are so few examples of minds with enough potent recall of history to succinctly make political points clear to me. Of course one has to retain a mind that is open to challenge in order to benefit from any change that might offer. I'm convinced that genetics play a big role in how many of us retain the ability to change views. It's so obvious to me through those differences that we are very much animals first and humans second. Bound by our instincts, in this case, to make decisions that support and adhere to what's perceived as a majority.

Noam Chomsky came to my attention early in life. I had the luxury of some powerful thinking friends from the time I was very young. Ruth was the first one to mention Chomsky to me before I was a teen. Her sister introduced me to the political nature of music before I turned twelve I think. It makes me smile to recall the vitality of those amazing family dinners at their place. John and I smoked grass and Ruth, the cerebral one, opened the door for my own development in thinking about the bigger picture. I'm forever grateful for that whole family's input to an otherwise problematic home life.

I went a long time before I actually read anything of Chomsky's. As a cedar top guitar came to the end of it's life, Daryl provided a wonderful winter of conversation in 1987/88, at the end of which was delivered a beautiful instrument. Along the way, I learnt about Chomsky through books of Daryl's and his experiences studying with Carl Ridd at the University of Winnipeg.

Chomsky's writing leaves a lot to be desired for the undisciplined like me. It's often cumbersome and convoluted, leaving me at sea as to what the threads that bind it all together might be. I don't have that experience with his spoken presentations thankfully. Like the link above, the oral tradition works well for me. Some of my earliest memories are of begging Mum to read to me. I love being read to and I learn well when the information is offered for my ears. That's likely why I'm such a strong supporter of our national treasure, CBC Radio One. My flag ship there is The Current. It makes it's U.S. counterpart NPR look like National Geographic to me, dummied down. I know that's harsh, but the Canadian skills with the documentary format, whether in film, radio or elsewhere throughout the arts, is the envy of the world, or at worst, should be. We kick butt on children's literature too, but that's another rant for another day. I'm not proud of where Canada seems to be going and I'm not proud of much of the ignorance that lives and breathes in the U.S., but there are people in both countries that are gathering their energies together in intelligent ways now. I thank the stars for the Internet.

Oops. How did that slip in there?

Other than clips like is linked at the top of this page, Power and Terror was good for me and a confirmation of the wisdom Chomsky offers. A Japanese film crew followed Chomsky around for a bit and called the resulting footage, Power and Terror. It's a close look at some amazingly clear, simple revelations about how history plays itself out in predictable ways and how so few are capable of, or maybe willing to is closer to the point of recognising the patterns. With all our so called culture, we fail to be empathetic. Humility, empathy, compassion would be the hall marks of culture to my mind. As it is, I see fruit flies, me included most days. Despair is never far off. Fortunately I have sharp kids and several wonderful friends to keep me on my toes.

Robert Fisk is another that seems to be emerging for me as a keen observer.

It's comical to me that there is even a contest in peoples minds between which is more enlightened writing generally, the left leaning reporters or the right wing advocates. The right is so predictable that it bores the hell out of me. It's true that I bore easily. I think that only servers to make my point stronger about the hard wiring of genetics haling back to a time where a cohesive community meant survival. Now it just means that the ever shrinking resources of this planet are being misused at an increasing rate with that formula.

Today's entry from left field = We all see what we want to see. I don't agree that equal is fair and fair is equal, never have done.

Images from the farm and "We stand on guard for powerful against weak"

A sad day for Canada. Harper gives me the willies.

"Early this month, Canada was the only nation to join the U.S. in voting against a resolution on Palestinian rights at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Now it has become the first nation after Israel to cut off contacts with and aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority."

Some of these are new, some older. Hope you all enjoy them.

Winter hair on a horse is amazing. My first was a hairy one for sure!

My man Tom. He's quite the dog. I'm so glad I missed all the teething issues with this guy. He's a bundle of fun.

3_31_062_750 Tom

in_the_grass_750 Rhea's young horse






rheas_shavana_750 Adri


self_750 Boo

Monday, April 3, 2006

Smart people's potential to be silly

This won't be for everyone. Especially the dialup users like me, but given that I'm a walking contradiction, I was highly entertained.

Can Smart people do burn outs....

Saturday, April 1, 2006

An Eternal Golden Braid

Consciousness In The Cosmos and threads involving the edges of our understanding have continued to play a role in my life. Thank heavens for that. I was out last night with some university students and the arrogance of youth was stunning. Stunning and as thin in substance as cling wrap and about as transparent. I have to find a better crew.

Thank the gods for aging. I never ever have that feeling I hear from others about wanting to turn back the clock. Don't get me wrong, I like this ride and want it to last forever, but go back? No thank-you!

Much of today I luxuriated in easing the blow of last nights horrors of social limitations by reading and pondering this entire thread. I'm always flattered when SB drops me a private message trying to tease me into the conversation. I'm flattered, because when I was growing up, I found very few people who could enter into such rational enquiry. So in my earnest ways I'd just spill it as best I could, often ending in a lot of glazed looks. Issues of the mind are still taboo. It's like it's defining the difference between the literal and the metaphorical for me. I'm thinking through Douglas Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid (commonly GEB)

Dances with Kipling's "Just So" stories are rampant in my imagination.

Try and remember that if we didn't have a role to play we'd have been bred out by now. < g >

Mum, you are so good for me. I hope you are spending some of your days writing.


The big surprise – Parthenogenesis!

The problem that Drs. Chizar and Smith had was a number of odd occurrences either in their labs or other locations/situations that they were familiar with. It was the same “problem” that has been recorded multiple times in populations of western fence lizards (believe this is correct) that were entirely female. The problem that had plagued scientists was how these animals were able to produce living offspring without the presence of a male of the species. This is known as parthenogenesis and was thought to be limited to this one species. (Of course, this was convenient because it didn’t disturb the current balance of their knowledge, which had reptiles reproducing using the same genetic model as mammals.) This way of looking at reptile gender encoding was totally disrupted when Dr. Chizar entered his lab one morning to find a female Timber rattlesnake, Crotalus horridus in her enclosure with a new baby rattlesnake. This female was a research animal and had not been with a male of her species for roughly 10 years or more!

At first, it looked like a record for reptile sperm retention. DNA samples were taken along with finally determining that the offspring was male, and the results shook the scientific world to its reptilian foundation. DNA samples from the mother and offspring looked basically identical except for a few minor coding signatures that were totally missing. Along with Dr. Smith, samples of other occurrences of the same thing were compared with quite similar results. Parthenogenesis in snakes had been confirmed!

The problem this now presented was figuring out exactly how this phenomenon happened. They had to look again at a number of offspring, a couple of which had survived and a good number that had been stillborn, and recheck the gender. It began to appear that all viable offspring had in fact been male with no complete female offspring produced.

If more information on this event, and other similar events, can be found, we will post it here as soon as possible.

I'm almost certain this little peach (Crotalus horridus - Timber rattlesnake) isn't bound for my collection even if it doesn't need a male to reproduce.