Ho-Hum Canadian Stories

– As the 2021 Canadian Election ho-hums along, (ho-hum as in we have to accept that something unpleasant cannot be stopped from happening), Prime Minister Trudeau may have got the hint that some voters think the election was totally unnecessary AND find his messaging unpalatable. He is being met at some campaign stops with boos, heckles, jeers and yes, even small stones lobbed his way! (Mr. Trudeau says he wasn’t hurt and compared it to the time a woman threw pumpkin seeds at him during the Hamilton mayoral race in 2018…)

– Also election related – Elections Canada has branded all their election material with the slogan “It’s Our Vote”.  Strange phrasing – did someone make a mistake and leave out the ‘Y’ from the normal slogan “It’s YOUR Vote!”


– Canadian tourists are still not allowed to drive into the United States. They can fly there, but they can’t drive there. Fortunately we have some Canadian ‘snowbirds’ in the USA (Canada Geese) to protest on behalf of their non-feathered friends.

– Last month, the Board of Governors of Toronto’s Ryerson University announced that the university would be dropping the name Ryerson. The University was named after Egerton Ryerson, who has been vilified in some circles for the role they believe he played in the creation of Residential Schools. Many scholarly publications refute these allegations. An article by Lynn McDonald in the Financial Post outlines who Ryerson was and the positive things he did for Indigenous people. This information matters little, of course, if individuals are only judged through the lens of the group they have been assigned to – white, male, colonist, racist… and so on.

– Alberta’s Municipal Elections are in October. Besides voting for Mayors and such, we get to vote on whether we want to adopt year- round Daylight Saving Time, which means we would keep summer hours all year round. I’ll vote for that.

It would be nice if we could have summer weather all year round too… of course, that would mean we would get to vote on whether we are ‘for’ climate change.

History of Daylight Saving (or Savings?) Time
Disturbingly, daylight savings time did begin in Canada. Thunder Bay, Ontario has the odious distinction of being crowned the first municipality in the world to implement daylight savings time in 1908, and we have never forgiven Ontario. Daylight savings time picked up traction during World War I when it was thought that by adjusting the clocks for the summer months would help preserve coal. It was also thought that it would encourage people to get out and about in the late hours of the summer days. By the end of the war, all of the major participants had adopted daylight savings time, and the collective madness of daylight savings time persists today in countries all the way from Australia to Uruguay.
– Ahlstrom Wright Law Firm –

So, what is ‘Ho-humming’ in your part of the world?

Police Car Moth – Black and White

The Police Car Moth gets its name from the overall black and white wing colouration and two orange-red spots on the collar (like a police car). It is a Diurnal moth (flies during the day) unlike most moths which fly at night. One way to differentiate between butterflies and moths is to look at the antenna. Moths have feathered antenna and butterflies have clubbed ends.


The Flutter Files

Name: Police Car Moth
Species:
Gnophaela vermiculata
Native to: A common western North American species found from southern British Columbia across to western Manitoba and south to northern New Mexico.
Date Seen:
August 2021
Location: North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Notes:
Adults feed on nectar from flowers such as thistle and goldenrod.

The problem with cats is that they get the exact same look on their face whether they see a moth or an axe-murderer.
– Paula Poundstone –

Color television! Bah, I won’t believe it until I see it in black and white.
– Samuel Goldwyn –

It’s an amazing thing to watch a lizard fold a moth into its mouth, like a sword swallower who specialises in umbrellas.
– Elizabeth McCracken –

If intelligence were a television set, it would be an early black-and-white model with poor reception, so that much of the picture was gray and the figures on the screen were snowy and indistinct. You could fiddle with the knobs all you wanted, but unless you were careful, what you would see often depended more on what you expected or hoped to see than on what was really there.
– Madeleine Albright –

White Lily

Lilium ‘Regale’ (Trumpet Lily)

Topaz Studio Painter filter

Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies for instance.
– John Ruskin –

Lily Stigma and Anther

Botany plants lately?

Stripes on outside of petals

Alexa, water the plants.

Gardening – It comes in handy when you need to hide the bodies.

If a plant is sad, do other plants photo-sympathize with it?

Sunny with a Chance of Being Not Sunny

On cable TV they have a weather channel – 24 hours of weather. We had something like that where I grew up. We called it a window.
– Dan Spencer –

Sometimes I want a broader perspective than what I can see out my window. For example, yesterday we were blanketed in smoke. I didn’t want apocalyptic media reports about forest fires and climate change, so I opened up my favourite site for weather information: windy.com It showed where the fires were and which way the wind was blowing. (Today it is hazy too – but it is fog…)

Fires

Weather is a literary specialty, and no untrained hand can turn out a good article on it
– Mark Twain –

When you open the site, you can click on the ‘More layers…‘ item on the right hand toolbar to see dozens of options including:

Temperature

Wearing a hoodie and shorts because you’re confused about the weather.
– Unknown –

Clouds

There is little chance that meteorologists can solve the mysteries of weather until they gain an understanding of the mutual attraction of rain and weekends.
– Arnot Sheppard –

Wind

Just wanted to warn you that tomorrow may set records for people talking about the weather.
– Unknown –

Here is a look at today’s Air Quality in the South Asia, Far East and North America (India and China rank in the top 14 for worst air quality in 2020.)

Air Quality

Weather forecast for tonight: dark.
– George Carlin –

For more fun weather quotes, click on my Weather and Seasons Quotations.

Dandelions – Too Many to Love

If you find yourself worrying, go outside, take three breaths, address a tree and quietly say, ‘Thank you.’ If you can’t find a tree, a dandelion will do… Nature is magic.
– Robert Bateman –

“A Dandelion.” Not millions of dandelions that blanket your yard and smother the grass and all other flowers…
A single plant can produce up to 20,000 seeds. The have a deep tap-root, up to 3 feet long (but usually 6-12”), which allows it to survive drought and competition with other weeds.

Photo on the left is one of our ‘dandelion fields’ (in 2011) when there was still more grass than dandelions. Today it is almost solid dandelions.

Dandelion seed head – original Macro Photo

The ability of dandelions to tell the time is somewhat exaggerated, owing to the fact that there is always one seed that refuses to be blown off; the time usually turns out to be 37 o’clock.”
– Miles Kington –

Cluster Filter

Some people need flowers, some people need dandelions. It’s medicine, it’s what you need at that time in your life.
– Sandra Cisneros –

Impasto Filter

Some ideas, like dandelions in lawns, strike tenaciously: you may pull off the top but the root remains, drives down suckers and may even sprout again.”
– Elizabeth Bowen –

Line-ink filter

By the time we left college, I had become my own image: a dandelion in the flower bed of society. Kinda cute, but still a weed.
– Anne Fortier –

Filter by Topaz Studio user Telbarin

Don’t hover around lives that you are supposed to touch only for a brief while. If you don’t know how to drift away, ask a dandelion and it will show you the way!
– Indhumathi –

Bruce Did It

Our resident moose: Bruce

I’ve been re-reading some of my favourite books. For the past month I’ve been immersed in the wit and wisdom of Robert Fulghum.

In one of his stories he describes how his family settled on a way to discuss the normal daily shortcomings and idiosyncrasies of family members  – in a playful, respectful way.

In my Seattle household there are seven of us: five core family, a housekeeper, and a large stuffed moose …

One morning when I was raging around the kitchen over who drank the last of the milk again and didn’t go to the store for more again, in walked Myrna with the moose. “John (the moose) did it, ” she said, ‘and he’s so very sorry.’ The moose did look guilty. We laughed. John took his chastisement gracefully. Milk crisis forgotten.
– Robert Fulghum in the essay ‘My Fault’

Well, we just happen to have a resident stuffed  moose too (we named him ‘Bruce’). With only two humans in our household, shall we say we are experiencing a certain degree of ‘testiness’ caused by 13 months of a lot of two-some-ness. The idea that all of our fumblings, mumblings, faults and foibles were actually the work of Bruce the Moose  seemed like a brilliant idea.

Everybody knows they could do better, but nobody feels bad getting reminded in a secondary loony way.
– Robert Fulghum –

It has worked very well. ‘Bruce’ is silently stoic, but you can sense he is  building a database of good things to remember, such as: buy crunchy peanut butter – not smooth –  always, not almost always; if you add a lot of beans to the family diet don’t comment on the ‘noisy response’ a few hours later; don’t stack three slippery, loosely covered containers on the top shelf of the fridge.

Have you and your family developed some new coping mechanisms in the past year?

‘Rona #32 – Efficacy and Straws

Straw efficacy: Tim Horton’s has retired their red plastic straws. In my ranking system, these straws had a 95% efficacy at removing the contents of a Tim Horton’s Iced Capp. The new white cardboard straw has only a 90% efficacy because it is wider than the ‘valley’ that holds the “good to the last drop” stuff at the bottom of the cup. The red straw has a 100% efficacy rate for durability. The white paper straw has a 75% efficacy rate because it starts to get squishy about 3/4 of the way through the drink.

The word ‘efficacy’ is very old. It dates back to the 1200’s! It didn’t enter my consciousness until this year, when the term was used in relation to COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccine Efficacy
A vaccine with an efficacy rate of, say 85%, means it demonstrated in trials that it could reduce moderate to severe disease by 85%. To do that, the vaccines initiated an immune response that  reduced the number of viruses in the lower respiratory tract. To date, the vaccines are not believed to be sterilizing vaccines that completely stop the virus in the upper respiratory tract too.

In time, the vaccine may prove to be a sterilizing vaccine in some or most of the population. Until then, some governments, such as the one in my province, explain the vaccine in terms of effectiveness in preventing severe disease, hospitalizations and death from COVID-19′.

Here is an excellent explanation of the Covid Vaccine: University of Colorado.

What about Mask Efficacy?

I somehow doubt there will be a mask efficacy rating for the products used by the general public during Covid. There are simply too many variables – material, fit, care in use; indoors vs outdoors; social distancing and other factors limiting people’s activities;  age, immunity, viral load and length of exposure of participants… Analyzing masking is going to be either a statisticians dream or nightmare.

In preparation for the (hopefully) soon removal of mask mandates, last week I performed a small test on public perception of an unmasked person (me). I had to drop a sample off at a medical lab. I walked two car lengths across a parking lot, stood in an outside lineup of one (me) for about two minutes then handed the sample (while still outside) to the masked attendant who, by protocol, stepped outside to receive it.

While I was being a line of one, there was, for a few seconds, a lineup of two – another ‘client’ arrived. Unlike me, she was masked. When the attendant moved to the door to summons me, the masked lady behind me swiftly moved forward to try to hand her item to the attendant. As she came up beside me, she suddenly drew back. I don’t know whether it was because she saw I was unmasked or whether she realized that I was handing a sample to the attendant too.

Either way, I didn’t learn anything about public perception because the attendant and the client were masked – I couldn’t read anything in their faces.

Efficacy of the Virus

Efficacy isn’t actually the term used to describe Covid mortality – it is called  Case fatality. In both Canada and the USA it is 1.8%. There are, however, an unknown number of people who have had Covid, but were not diagnosed with it, which drops the case fatality rate by some unknown amount. The fatality rate in terms of the entire population are .07% for Canada and .18% for the United States.

I’m hoping we aren’t invaded by a new and more deadly variant so that our province  can move towards full removal of restrictions by the end of June… inshallah…

‘Rona #31 – We Got Shot

Vaccines are in short supply here in Canada – so The Car Guy and I decided we would delay getting ours (we are retired seniors who can easily continue to shelter in place). We hoped  that ‘our shot’ would go to younger, but more vulnerable people. (That part worked well – our younger siblings got their shots a few weeks ago.)

We would have kept delaying ‘shot’ time for several more months if the various governments and venues hadn’t  fouled things up a bit. Our Province decided to delay the timing for the second shot by up to four months. Other governments and service providers started to talk about two dose immunization as a requirement to travel or take part in normal life again. We started counting the months until we’d like to visit our home and friends in Arizona and decided we should book our shots.

We ‘got shot’ last Friday. Just in time to be locked down again.

The Province of Ontario is in lockdown too. The Police can’t actually come to your house, of course, but I’m sure there are a few people who wish that officers could do removals…

Hard to forget early 2020 – toilet paper was a major issue. This year, in some places, it is lumber. Prices have gone up by as much as 50%.

Also in 2020 – remember Flatten the Curve?

The goal, you might remember, was to keep the health care system from being overwhelmed. Fourteen months later, we’re doing it all over again. It’s like trying to staple jello to a wall.

There have been a number of Anti-Lockdown Rallies in Alberta. Some people have been pushed to the limit of their endurance. There are concerns that these Rallies will be super-spreader events. The one that caused the most uproar was a Rodeo  that was attended by about 4000 people over the course of 2 days. It has been 10 days since it took place and no cases have been linked to the event so far.

Last June, 15000 people in Edmonton Alberta attended a BLM Rally. That rally, and all the BLM rallies across Canada did not result in an increase of Covid cases either, officials say.

I think many people understand that lockdowns are more damaging to some people than to others. The question being raised in some quarters recently – are lockdowns actually Systemic Racism?

I think we are going to see interesting ‘discussions about best pandemic practices’ once the virus and the world have come to a mutual understanding!

‘Rona #30 – Spike and the Variants

You can find many photos of ‘Spike and the Variants’ on the internet, but the pictures are kind of fuzzy and they make one variant look just like another. Not to worry. With a little imagination and a Pigma Micron No 03 pen, I think I captured their likeness very well.

My home province, Alberta, is currently a hot spot for the wild performances of the spike protein virus, SARS-CoV-2.

‘Spike’, having been booed off Alberta stages twice now, called for some fresh new faces to liven up the act. A group of  ‘Variants’ answered the call.

Experts say there are too many variants to count and most of them are functionally no different than ‘Spike’ the original. However, The WHO has clarified that there are seven variants “of interest” and three variants “with real potential”.

Variant B.1.1.7 from the U.K. has been the most active in Alberta; P.1 from Brazil has tried to make it onto the mainstage, but without much luck. Variants B.1351 from South Africa and B.1.617 from India have so far not been allowed to perform more than a handful of times.

On a more serious note, Government has reacted to ‘Spike and the Variants’ by locking us down for a third time (though in reality, we’ve been in some degree of lock down for over a year now.) Fortunately, the weather has improved considerably – we are ‘allowed’ to meet up with one other family, outdoors, social distanced, as long as there are no more than 5 of us…

All my other ‘Rona stories are at the virus link below.

Picture Perfect Flowers – Anticipation

Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.
– A. A. Milne –

In a month or two, my flower beds should look like this…

One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.
– W. E. Johns –

Before that, though, there will be lots of non-gardening weather…

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
– John Ruskin –

which gives me sufficient time to put the photo through my filter factory.

A Digital Marble
Topaz Studio Fantasy Filter
Topaz Studio Impasto Filter
Topaz Studio Quad Tone filter

A Spanish magician prepares the audience for his final trick…
He yells “UNO!”
The crowd falls silent in anticipation.
“DOS!”
Everyone’s eyes are wide, laser focused on the performer.
Then, the magician vanishes… without a tres.
– Author Unknown –

What are you looking forward to in the next few months?