Monday, January 30, 2012

Lily And Her Winter Bed

 Two years ago , I watched  every day while  a Black bear in Ely ,Minnesota made her den for the winter.  Then in January , 2010 , I saw her give birth to her first cub given the name Hope by all those who were also watching . Thanks to the webcam  at the North American Bear Centre, Lily captured the hearts of many people around the world and taught us much about life in a winter den.

A year later , with Hope by her side , Lily gave birth to a second cub named Faith , January , 2011. A den with three . This video shows the three of them later in that year .

All of life caught in bits by webcams and cameras for us to share with them. That's about as close as any of us could be . Now it is January 2012 and life has changed in the den.

Many of the preconceived notions about bears are dispelled very quickly when you spend time with these animals and on the NorthAmerican Bear Center website.

Web cans are capturing the lives of many different wild animals out there for us to watch and learn . There are eagles , hummingbirds , owls and who knows how many others to  see . Try Wild Earth TV .

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What a Busy Space It Is!

My brother , the skywatcher , telescope -to -be -someday builder and ham radio operator is always looking and listening to the skies . Ham Radio fellows need to know what activity is going on . When and where interference will be in the world is key to being able to communicate with others. This is one website used by these radio enthusiasts. It takes the data from many key websites and conveniently puts them in one place for easy access.

Do you have a cell phone, wiifii,satellite TV,internet... then you might want a heads up if you have important things to do . Just when will be the best time to make that important overseas call...or  post that blog.

Really , this is an interesting site with high science and math needed to fully understand but it fascinating . Click the links . There is a wealth of knowledge out there.

HF Propagation and Solar-Terrestrial Data

Friday, January 27, 2012

Todays Aurora Oval

Each day a map of the top of the world is posted . It is the Aurora Oval. Can you find where you are located in the oval? Even the most distant locations will have a light show . Weather permitting.

It seems funny to have all these modern conveniences to view the Northern lights.

We used to look for the lights after those bright crisp days in winter . The best time being at midnight. We were rarely disappointed.

Of course , we could always count on someone calling on the phone..." Are you watching the Northern Lights?" an excited voice cried out. And we would always race out to see what surprises it held this time.

It's funny how you never get tired of seeing them . Probably because they are never like the ones before. Always different. Always exciting.

Alternate Accommodation ???

I am sitting here on this icy winter day . Stranded by a coating of ice so thick that even to walk outside is a danger.   I wouldn't make it off the front step quite in a manner I would like.

This is the third ice storm in three weeks. The last one put the electricity out for 10 hours . It wasn't so bad. My home is well insulated . Much of which I did when we put on a second floor a few years ago. More than enough for 24 hours of survival without an alternate heat source.

After that length of time , some winter camping would be in order. I have done that . By choice. I have always thought any survival skills are worth learning . I take any opportunity I can to learn them . So if the grid goes down , we are moving into the tipi. Besides a prospector's tent , it is the next best thing for winter camping. That is if you don't have enough snow drifts to cut blocks to make an igloo. But , I am not in igloo country , so the tipi is it.

Meanwhile , I have filled the bathtub with water for flushing .
My largest pots / water containers are filled with water for drinking and boiling over a Coleman stove outside should I need it .
The house is stocked with can goods , preserves and dried foods.
There are enough candles and matches.
The first aid kit is full and always ready.
 The cell phone and other batteries are charged up for quick use.
The car radio will have to do for any updates. The gas tank is full.
I've checked with the neighbours to see if they are prepped.
Everyone is home and accounted for since no one could get to work or school this morning.
How Much Can You Take
We have plenty of winter gear to put on as is usual at this time of year.

Am I over reacting ?

Not really. Check out for a quick peek at the potential I am always prepared for. The Ice Storm of 1998 happened right here. Unforgettable. Always on our minds.

Alternate accommodation is a likely possibility.

Are you prepared for the freak storm in your area? With global warming , these massive storms are becoming more common than 'freak'.
Cities get the worst of it.

For now ...we have to wait and see. I think I'll go cook up a few bannock while there is still electricity. You never know...

This sentiment can become yours if you are not prepared for it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Murder of Crows : The Nature of Things with David Suzuki : CBC-TV

A Murder of Crows : The Nature of Things with David Suzuki : CBC-TV

With the recent talk of the intelligence of crows , I remembered this documentary from a couple of years ago . I thought you might be interested. Take a peek at the crow learning experiment to see just how close to human these amazing birds are.

Another place you might like to visit is 

If you type 'The Crow Paradox' in the search window you will see a post on Krulwich Wonders Blog about crows with a particularly challenging interactive game that puts you against crows when it comes to face recognition.  I can honestly say I failed miserably. Try it . And tell me I am not a total wash up.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Aurora Max

The Canadian Space Agency has an ongoing project recording the northern lights . It  is what you could call a 360 degree video cam of the sky over the north pole. You might like to visit after dark and see what is happening. Remember , you are looking right up from the top of the world.

There is also an extensive archive and photo gallery that only adds to the appreciation of one of nature's magnificent gifts.

Well I was gone for one day and what a pleasant surprise to see so many people have dropped by to take a peek here. Thank you Emma at Nature Centre Magazine blog for sharing this blog  with your friends/viewers. 

I hope everyone enjoyed the view from Aurora Max. One day I hope to get that far north to see it in real time. What I have seen in Edmonton , Alberta  ( the furthest north I've been during a light show) was most spectacular.  Apparently it is only a small taste of the far north. Lucky for all those countries facing north. 

Snowboarding Crow

My blog friend Ratty over at Nature Centre Magazine posted a so cool video on winter sports .  Crows (internationally) are very intelligent and entertaining birds . This video proves it. He has better problem solving techniques than a certain teenager I know.

Oh no! Now I just have to go looking for more intelligent crow videos to watch.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Blogging Tips From a Blogger and Writer

I have been following one particular blog for a year now

Back then she had posted about things she had learned about blogging for one year. Now she is back with a second post after two years at it. Twelve more great tips that will help any blogger , including you.  As well as sharing her everyday life with readers , blogging and raising young children , this woman has written a book which is in its last moments before publication. She has a common sense way of approaching things , or  perhaps realistic is more the word I am looking for.

Take a quick look. It's worth your while.

Life In A Pink Fibro

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winter Without Light

A place I love to visit to experience the inspiration of others is Animalarium . It is one of the most beautifully presented blogs . Just the images of animals that have inspired artists worldwide . It is a feast for the eyes.

Today, the post features a little animation film from 1936 Russia called  The Returned Sun by Olga Khodatayeva .

I have reposted the film here , but do take the opportunity to visit just for looking at some  of the most wonderful graphic art collected together for your enjoyment.

Don't forget to press the cc button in the bottom right for the English translation.

For a larger view go directly to youtube for Russian animation- the Returned Sun.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lost on Track

I was just over visiting Ratty at the Nature Centre Magazine  blog . Nature Centre Magazine  Ratty posted a little winter poem that sparked a memory in me and a chuckle. Visit and read to see  from where inspiration can come. On with the story that jumped into my conscious mind.

Back in the late 70's/early 80's , I frequently visited and helped where I could at The Community. This was located on a tract of land that had been purchased by a handful of young families. It was out of the way of highways and cities in rural northern the grid . No electricity- kerosene/coleman lamps; wood heat ; coleman stoves were the biggest luxuries. No running water- a community pump and hauling what you consumed. Outhouses and washbasins took care of essentials.

Many of the people had experience and a variety of survival skills for this kind of lifestyle. If no one had the know how , they were plenty willing to learn fast. Others however had few. In some cases common sense escaped them.

Peter was an intellectual type totally in love with the romance of getting back to the land.

One morning after a wonderful fall of fresh snow , Peter felt inspired to don his snowshoes and take a little walk in the bush ( forest ). Off he waddled from the back of his house into the woods with his romantic thoughts of being the first to place his mark on the 12 inches of soft fluffy white.

Breaking trail on deep fresh snow is no easy task. Even snowshoes sink. Every step forward lifts a load of snow. It wasn't long before the whimsey of snowshoeing in the bush abandoned Peter. And the pain of breaking trail alone with no partner to spell him off set in.

On bright sunny days in the thick bush , one's sense of reality can get confused . The affect of flickering sunlight through the branches plays tricks on your central nervous system. With the shadows and bright sunlight constantly in motion , it acts like a strobe light. It can disorient even the most seasoned.

Peter , new to the effect and labouring hard,  got 'turned around' . He began to panic.Soon he had convinced himself that he was lost. He began screaming for help.

Another community member, who lived i in a house a few hundred yards down the road, heard the cries and shouted back. "Where are you?"

"I don't know. I'm lost."

"Well come over here."

" Where are you? I can't see you."

"Just walk toward my voice."

"Okay. Keep talking."

After a few minutes, Peter emerged from the bush "with eyes the size of saucers" , to quote his neighbour.
He thanked him profusely and explain how he got turned around. That he was scared and panicked.

"How can you get lost in winter? All you had to do was follow your tracks back home."

" Oh! I never thought of that."

On cold winter evenings , Peter's story joined the others in a collection of amusing experiences and misadventures of folks from The Community.

I don't  think that he thinks there was anything amusing in the situation. Still...more than thirty years later.

Oh well ! I do.

By the way , Peter had been walking more or less parallel to the road about fifty feet in the bush. He had gone only a few hundred yards in distance as the bird flies. 

Never go into the bush without common sense.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Science Daily: News & Articles in Science, Health, Environment & Technology

Science Daily: News & Articles in Science, Health, Environment & Technology

This is the home page on my computer now . A friend who likes to keep on top of things pointed it out to me over the holiday visit. I'm hooked . You will find the most current news in all aspects of science . Articles and information before it hits main media streams . Take a look , you will be surprised at how approachable science can be . Enjoy, but watch the clock. It is easy to get lost in the explorations .

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Cremation of Sam McGee - Read By Johnny Cash

With all the winter weather and associated activity , I cannot help but think of Canadian poet Robert Service when the snow, ice and wind chill me deep to the bone.

This poem in all its morbid humour  is a wonderful childhood memory from one of those PTA meetings . Our grade 7/8  class acted it out for parents , complete with props, in January 1962.

I particularly like this version for the beautiful art in Aboriginal-Arctic style with all its beautiful colour and motion.

Thinking of the poem always reminds me that the storm is never as tough as Sam's friend had it. May as well suck it up and bear it.

Photographer Ron Wassink's post on yesterday's blizzard in Iqaluit , due east of Sam McGee's Yukon and little further north, gives a sense of how Sam may have gotten a slight chill.

Since I am a thousand miles further south  , I only get to tough the cold of the far north for short periods during the winter. This past week has been a little taste...-20C with wind  chills to -35C for a couple of days. What a wimp I am becoming with age!

Enjoy DrSwarly well as other renditions of The Cremation of Sam McGee .

The post in  called 'Robert Service With a Smile' has a great examination of this poem - separating fact from fiction. Worth a look.