Friday, December 31, 2004

Googling Paris Hilton

Last night's 60 Minutes feature on Google was bit of a disappointment. I probably wasn't in a very good mood when it eventually started, some twenty minutes late, due to an overun in an NFL match. Does time really run that slow in the USA? There was only 10 minutes left on the clock when we started watching, but it took 20 minutes of Canadian time for it to elapse. Star Trek has nothing on NFL when it comes to temporal anomolies. How Americans have the nerve to say that cricket is boring I will never know.

The Google show started off with an image search for Paris Hilton, which we discovered is not a hotel in France. Which of the two would be the most comfortable place to spend the night I will never know. Did you see their rates? The show went on to talk about some of the less well known parts of Google, such as Google Scholar. I must admit that I had not heard of Keyhole, a database of satellite images, but I learnt later that it is a property that Google purchased last November. Last night when I tried to check it out, the connection timed out. Maybe it had been brought to it knees by the publicity this show gave it? Blatant publicity can certainly bring many more visitors to a website than one normally gets. Yesterday I posted a reference in rec.crafts.woodturning to an article in my other blog, The Chipshop, and visits have escalated some thirty times above normal. I wonder what exposure on CBS would do for it?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot?

With New Year looming, are you ready to sing Auld Lang Syne, or will you be one of the many who don't really know the words, let alone what they mean? Well, help is at hand at There you will find both the five verse poem and the two verse song. Both include an English translation of the original Scots. The site also includes information about the origins of the poem which pre-dates Rabbie Burns by a couple of centuries .

I'm certainly looking forward to a guid-willie waught on Friday night. Happy New Year to you!

Newfoundland Tsunami, 1929

While searching for information about Canada's relief efforts for the Asian Tsunami, I learnt that tsunamis don't just happen far away. In 1929 a magnitude 7.2 tremor occurred on the Grand Banks, 250km south of Newfoundland, which triggered a tsumani which killed 29 and devasted the Burin Peninsula. The wave was noticed as far away as South Carolina and Portugal.

Geological Survey Canada has a great webpage about the Grand Banks Tsunami, with lots of information and links to photographs and other archives.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

More prominent than a punk band

The thing I like best about web statistics is looking at the search terms that have brought visitors to my site. When I wrote the article Calamity Jones, I did not know there was a punk band by the same name. There is also a quarter horse stallion who has sired numerous other little Calamitys. Which of these it is that brings all those visitors to my blog I do not know. I just hope they aren't too disappointed. At present my website seems to be number one for the phrase Calamity Jones which is fine by me, but those punk rockers may not be so happy.

When someone typed 'can shrews come into your house' into Ask Jeeves, they probably didn't have in mind a shrew entering the house in a cat's mouth (see- There Was a Murder in my Kitchen Last Night). But just in case that person ever comes back, the answer is Yes. Shrews do come into the house. There are of course pro's and con's of this. The real big con is that they smell skunky. The good thing about them is that they are good little fly catchers. I once watched one in our loft. It was on the window sill jumping up and catching the many flys that get in there in summer. It was most welcome to carry on feasting off those less welcome visitors.

The Kritters' Christmas

Every year my wife makes sure the cats and dogs don't miss out on Christmas. They each get a little gift wrapped up and placed under the tree. But their sense of smell gives the gave away, and their manners leave something to be desired. The catnip mouse had only been under the tree for a few minutes when Trixie was seen bounding up the stairs with the parcel in her mouth. Jenny soon figured that there were boxes of dog biscuits there, and took up guard duty by the tree.

This morning as we unwrapped our gifts, the wrappings were dropped into a box in an attempt to keep the place tidy. But Trixie had other ideas. At first she dived in and retrieved the plastic bag the catnip mouse had been in, but that must have seemed like such fun and before long the floor was littered with wrapping paper. The joys of youth I guess.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Be-el's sprained ankle

Towards the end of last week, Be-el, our big black lab cross, started limping. By Tuesday she was getting worse, so off we went yesterday to the vets. Doctor Brenda gave her leg a thorough going over and told me that the ankle was swollen, but she was unable to tell if it was a fracture. So poor old Bubba had to stay for an X-ray. Turns out that there was no fracture and it is probably just a sprain, and Bubba is going on to metacam for a few days. We already have a cheaper generic version of metacam for Jenny who has Hip Dysplasia, so at least the drugs didn't cost a fortune, but there was still the office fees and x-rays to pay for. Having pets is not cheap.

Be-el probably sounds like a strange name for a dog. It is short for Beelzebub which we choose because she was a little devil when she was a puppy. But like most of our critters she has other nicknames too. I usually refer to her as Bubba and Pat calls her Betty. We generally reserve Be-el for when she is being bad.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Cape George Hiking Trails

I took a day off yesterday and did a spot of walking on the Cape George Hiking Trails. The first trail I took started at Cape George lighthouse and looped inland and back to Ballantyne's Cove. There were some splendid views from atop the hills, due in part to the clear cutting that must have taken place there a few years ago. It is interesting to see the forest is rejuventing itself and I wonder what the views will be like in twenty years from now.

From Ballantyne's Cove I had to walk back along the road, not the best idea, but preferable to walking back along the same route. This gave me time to drive down to the trail head at Cape George Heritage Schoolhouse. From here there is access to several looped trails, and the route I took led me along small brooks and up through mature hardwood forests. At higher elevations the rivers were dry, but judging by some of the gullies I walked through there must be a good flow of water in the spring. I would like to visit again next May to see the landscape in a different season.

I took Maggie with me, the smallest of our four dogs. I wasn't planning to, but when she saw that I was packing my back pack she started getting really excited so I broke down and said she could come. She was very well behaved, and not at all like the hyperactive monster she is at home. She did very well on the 20km that we covered, though she curled up and napped at every rest stop I took, and slept on the back seat of the car nearly all the way home.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Calamity Jones

I was chatting with the wife about a week ago and had a premature senior's moment. I was wanting to refer to her as that famous landscape gardener, you know, wha'sis name, Calamity Jones? Well, I knew that wasn't quite right, and though Pat knew who I meant, neither of us could come up with the right name.

Today, as I was riding around on the lawn tractor, I recalled that conversation and the name came to me almost straight away - Capability Brown. Well, I guess I was close!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Snakes alive

I have gotten used to finding snakes in the garden, usually curled somewhere warm, and often in the compost heap. But today while I was moving lumber out of the solar kiln I came across one under a layer of boards. At 38 centigrade, the kiln must make a nice home for a snake. This Maritime Garter Snake is perfectly harmless, and indeed there are no venomous snakes in Nova Scotia. They have their young in late summer, so I wonder if there is a family in the kiln? I just hope it can find its way out, or get enough food in there.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The other patron saints of England

According to this article by Father Andrew Phillips, England has three patron saints. The first was St. Edmund, from about 869 A.D., as a result of his resistance to Danish invaders. After the Norman invasion in 1066, Anglo-Normans began promoting Edward the Confessor as a patron.

When Richard I defeated Saladin on April 23, 1192, St.George became the patron of the English Army, and within a few centuries he was venerated throughout the land.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

The dragon legend

One explanation of the dragon legend involves a large crocodile with wings. Basically the dragon would eat anyone who spent too long outside the city walls. A couple of sheep were sacrificed everyday to keep the monster satisfied. When there were no more sheep, they started on the children. But when it was time for the king's daughter to become the sacrifice, St. George steps in, does battle with the dragon and goes down in history.

It's quite plausible of course that George killed a crocodile, and the story got a little exagerated and spun out. Read the whole story and make your own mind up.

Friday, April 23, 2004

St. George's Day

April 23 is St. George's Day, Patron Saint of England, and slayer of dragons.

The Tradition of St. George's Day tells us what little is actually known about the man and the legend. He lived in the 4th century AD and was a Roman soldier. He expresssed his displeasure at the Emperor's persecution of Christians and totally lost his head on April 23, 303.

The only connection he seems to have had with England was that he spent time there during his military service. As for dragons, the only connection appears to be that the emperor was sometimes referred to as "the dragon", but the results of that fight are contrary to the legend.

St. George became Patron Saint of England in about 1344 or 1348. He is also the patron of many other countries, cities, boy scouts, sufferers of syphilis, and many others to boot.

Thursday, March 25, 2004


If you have any underwater trees that need harvesting, the Sawfish is the underwater robotic device for you.

The Sawfish swims up to your submerged tree, attaches an airbag to it and cuts the trunk with its 55 inch chainsaw.

It is estimated that there are 200 million trees at the bottom of lakes created by hydro dams.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

There was a murder in my kitchen last night.

It's not unusual for me to come home and find an anatomy lesson laid out on the door mat. Meadow voles, mice and shrews are the usual subject. But last night when I opened the door I was really upset to see a slender but bloodied white corpse laid out to greet me.

Although the body had been moved from the scene of the crime, it didn't take long to find the location of the dastardly deed. In the kitchen the garbage bin, recycling boxes and compost buckets had all been disturbed in the fight. My first instincts told me the cats were the prime suspects, but then I noticed a clue as the true perpetrator of the crime. Blood was splattered up the side of the kitchen cupboards and across the ceiling. This must surely have been the work of Hannah, who has been known to dispatch a hare with a quick back-breaking flick of her head.

This is no way to treat a house guest. The victim could well have been the same weasel that has been visiting our house in winter for several years. A much better rodent control operative than any cat we ever had. We used to hear it galloping through the ceiling space, but the renovation we had done a couple of years ago probably stopped its access to that safe haven. This year he took up residence behind the fridge, probably sleeping on the evaporator plate on top of the compressor motor. We had been concerned about what would happen if the cats cornered it, expecting the weasel to inflict serious harm, if not death, so for a week or so we kept the cats and dogs out of the kitchen unless supervised. But then the weather warmed up and we didn't see it for a few days and thought it had moved out. Unfortunately not.

Its hard not to feel sad about the demise of this lovely creature, but it had probably killed something every day of its life. Live by the sword, die by the sword.