Archive for the ‘canada’ Category

Late Fall at the Wye Marsh

November 19, 2013

The school groups aren’t doing much at the Wye Marsh this month.  We were incredibly busy in October but there are only occasional groups coming until, I guess, next year when cross country skiing starts up.  A coworker and I felt the need to canoe and see what the marsh looks like in mid-November.

First, I found this wonderful swan-foot print and needed to compare it to my own hand.  Sure, my foot is longer, but this is huge for a 12 kg animal.

DSC09976 b We were using a smaller canoe so we explored areas we couldn’t earlier in the giant ten person canoes.  Here, the edges of the channel were so narrow, we just pulled our boat through.DSC09971 b Did I say, November?  I meant Movember.  Squint or click on the image to increase the size if you cannot see my luxurious mustache!DSC09971 cWe had passed this beaver den almost every day for around five months.  After three weeks away, we arrived to find a cache of small trees and branches with delicious bark for the beavers to access through the winter in front of the den.
DSC09968 b This kestrel is the Marsh’s newest resident of the Birds of Prey program.DSC09966 c

I guess this back end of a cheetah needs a little explanation.  My son loves cheetahs and this is around half of a Christmas gift I am working on for him.  There is more, and another mustache shot at Creativiti Project.  Midland Wood Carvers is a group of carving hobbyists that I sometimes join to beg for assistance and wisdom.  Their workshop is at the Wye Marsh. DSC09981 b

Cycling, in October, and more

October 4, 2013

I’ve been trying to cycle to work every other day, weather permitting, and really enjoying it.   I’d always been an early riser and my son really is so I am definitely up and ready in good time.  The weather has been cooperating, too.  It hasn’t always been sunny, but it has been obviously poor or obviously great in the morning so I haven’t been caught in miserable conditions.

One fly in the ointment is my weekend work.  This weekend are two rides I’d like to be involved in but I am scheduled to lead some cub scout activities at my workplace.  On Saturday, in Nobel, a village near Parry Sound is a 7.6km ride.

October 05th (Saturday) Parry Sound Area Active Transportation presents a “Fall Fun Ride” starting at the Parry Sound Mall and wrapping up at the McDougall Recreation Centre (7.6kms). It’s a free event with registration from 09:00 am to 10:00 am, with the ride starting at 10:00 am. Register and ride for an entry into a bike draw. The Rotary Club of Parry Sound will have a BBQ at the finishing point. For information call 705 746 5801. www.psactivetrans.org

This would be a great event for my son and I, again, if I were not working.  While searching for online info about the Nobel ride, I found the Sudbury Cycling Union page, which has information about work to create bike trails around Georgian Bay.

On Sunday,  the United Way is running a series of rides from 25 to 100km in Simcoe County near Barrie.

 

On Facebook, friends shared two videos that fit with today’s topic.  One is about a man who was fined for not riding in the bike lane in New York and so wen tout of his way to show how dangerous the bike lanes were  The video is interesting but his method - crashing into obstacles left in the bike lanes - seems a little too personally costly to me.

The second video was made by a Dutch visitor to the US and compares the cycling culture in the two countries.  Briefly, he feels that the way cyclists locally (Canadian bike culture is nearly identical to American) dress up and prepare for riding shows it is not yet normative or entirely accepted.  I get this: one doesn’t really need spandex and lycra to ride.  The situation reminded me of hiking in Korea.  Korean hikers often dress in brand name hiking clothes and boots, and with poles and packs suitable for Nepal when shorts and running shoes are entirely sufficient.  Perhaps Thorstein Veblen’s views on conspicuous consumption are still relevant.

Back to the video.  The Dutch rider also compares infra(structure) in the two countries and this is fair although I think geography is at least equally relevant.  I don’t know much about the Netherlands but my impression is that it (they?) are pool-table flat and so more bike-friendly from the get-go.

 

Two pictures from recent rides I have taken.  The first can be found in a previous post but is worth showing again.  It is a Dekay snake or Northern Brown snake that I shooed off the bike trail.

DSC09531 bThe colors are just turning around Midland and the views are only going to get better in the next two weeks.  I predict an incredible Thanksgiving next weekend.  The bike trails around Midland, Penetanguishene, Tay and Tiny Townships will be the places to go!DSC09564 b

Ethiopia is using the water flowing through it.

June 15, 2013

Four years ago, I wrote about trans-boundary water issues in Korea and about one flood that killed six in South Korea.  This slight familiarity with international treaties on the subject made this article in Scientific American about Ethiopia ending a decades-long agreement with Egypt over water use catch my attention.  Ethiopia is part of a new treaty involving five other Nile Basin countries that gives them greater autonomy over water use and leaving Egypt’s 84 million people in some jeopardy.

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi said on Monday he did not want “war” but would keep “all options open”, prompting Ethiopia to say it was ready to defend its $4.7 billion Great Renaissance Dam near the border with Sudan.

Ethiopia and five other Nile basin countries – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – have now signed a deal effectively stripping Cairo of its veto, based on colonial-era treaties, over dam projects on the Nile, source of nearly all of Egypt’s water.

Canada and the US continue to have good relations regarding water use.  If the subject interests you, here are reports on Great Lakes Water and the Columbia River treaty.

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Added a week later:

 

“Some pronouncements were made in the heat of the moment because of emotions. They are behind us,” Mohamed Kamel Amr, Egypt’s foreign minister, told a joint news conference with his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom in Ethiopia’s capital.

As the ice leaves, so do the animals

April 10, 2013

The ice melted around my home first, and now perhaps half of Penetanguishene Bay is ice-free.  When the only open water was near my home, I was treated to a wide variety of birds and mammals who had no other place to be.  I’m ready for warmer weather, but it was pretty cool to see both a muskrat and an otter only ten metres from each other – and even closer to me.  Not shown are the huge number of Mergansers that were too shy to allow me close enough to take pictures.april 9 (3) b April 10 Otter And Muskrat (2) b April 10 Otter And Muskrat (3) b April 10 Otter And Muskrat (6) b April 10 Otter And Muskrat (7) b April 10 Otter And Muskrat (8) b spring is here (1)b





Skiing Awenda in the Winter (Provincial Park Photo(s) of the day)

March 23, 2013

I keep saying Awenda is little known, but perhaps I have merely been there on quiet days. The Friends of Awenda page  seems well done.

I had a great ski there with my mother on Friday and want to go back.  I’m lucky to have gotten this day in so I doubt I’ll make it next week.

One problem with skiing there is there are only two ‘official’ trails, a short, easy 4 km or a long 13 km.  I’ve managed 10 km in a day, more or less, but didn’t feel up to 13.  So we followed a ski trail to the beach.  It was around 5 km as a 2.5 km in and out on the same trail -no loop.  The map showed the beach route, but I think it was only as part of the regular map, only the two trails above were explicitly described.

The skiing scratched an itch I didn’t know I had.  The silence was total and I felt like a church-farter when I yelled a comment to my mother.

among the giants

among the giants

 

 

 

 
winter awenda (10) resized

 

I think this is Christian Island.winter awenda (14) resized

 

The pictures above and below show how cold it can be.  You can see that the waves froze in mid-surge.winter awenda frozen wave blog ready

 

On the way to the park, we saw a fox run across the road.  The first I have seen in Ontario.  Midland Naturalists reported in February seeing 22 deer at one time in the park but we saw none.  There many tracks of many different animals but none actually seen.

I have decided to add a mark to the bottom of my pictures.  I have never previously worried about copyright or intellectual property theft (the benefit of being a poor photographer, I guess) and the writing is low enough to be cropped out if someone wanted to.  I welcome the idea of others using my pictures but want to keep some kind of identifying mark on them.  Suggestions? Ideas? Should I have the full url for my blog?

The closing of Springwater Park

March 19, 2013

On Saturday, my son and I visited Springwater Provincial Park. along with a few hundred others, to show support for the continued existence of the park which is slated to lose its status at the end of the month.  It is a great little park and everyone there had fun.

Springwater links:  Facebook, Barrie Examiner.

I will be sad to see the park go but I can’t claim to be heavily invested in it.  It is a great local park for Barrie but I have only visited it twice.  I guess I won’t be visiting it again as it will become a ‘non-operational’ park the beginning of April.  I think that means the cross country hiking or ski trails will continue to be open but the animal sanctuary, the unique part of the park, will be no more.

Animal sanctuaries are my thing.  I love seeing local wildlife close up and even as a young adult would call strangers walking down the street to see some raccoon or snake I had found.  The Robertcats (I convinced my son that it was too informal to call them ‘bobcats’) and lynx were the first I had seen ever. I even loved the “site vacant” signs with their explanation that the park did not buy or collect animals but only provide a home for those unable to return to the wild. This kind of viewing opportunity needs to be preserved.


The thing is, from a numbers standpoint, the park really should be shut down.  I said that several hundred people attended the Saturday gathering, but that is probably the same number as visited the park in two or three months last year.  This is a local secret that people only seem to learn about from word of mouth.

I hope Springwater stays open but I also hope other people and parks are taking a second look at marketing and public awareness.  I’ve been out of the country for thirteen years so perhaps my ability, or lack of, to name parks is no indicator of the average Ontarians’.  I looked at the Ontario Provincial Parks website and was happily surprised to see how many there are, and how many I didn’t know about in my neighbourhood.  Well, I might be a little upset, too.

Why aren’t these parks better known?  Springwater is a great park that I suspect no one knew about three months ago.  I only recently learned that Springwater has cross country ski trails.  Wish I’d known that in early February.

As I’ve repeatedly written, I’ve been away.  I am not sure what the responsibilities of a park are compared to the responsibilities of the “Friends of…”  Who is involved in marketing?  How professional are these groups.  Back in the nineties, I had thought “Friends of Algonquin Park” was a volunteer organization of enthusiasts.

The thing I want is for those responsible for Awenda Prov Park and Arrowhead Prov Park to be sure they are keeping their parks in the public’s eye.  These are two great places that I know about that don’t get much attention. I know nothing about Bass Lake, McCrae or Mara Provincial Parks even though I drive within 50kms of them twice or more a month.  Explorer’s Edge, are these parks are in your region of responsibility?

What advice can I give to the marketers?  Well, I have a few ideas.

First, when you make a website, Facebook page, Google+ or Twitter account, Keep Adding Content!  The Wye Marsh, a great place that also needs to be aware of its marketing, offers both a good and bad example.  The Facebook page Wye Marsh has four friends and five photos (all mine!).  It has been in operation for two years with no apparent support from Marsh management.  The Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre, another Facebook page, is full of what appears to be daily content.  Attention seems to attract attention.  Next to actual Wye Marsh generated content is more content made and prepared by the public.  Win-win.

Second, make sure you have accounts with the three media above (and more) and your own website.  Link between them.  Really, these two steps are all that is needed for basic Search Engine Optimization.

Third, plan some events and write about them now!  Don’t wait until news comes that your park will soon be shut down. Do it now.

North Korean aggression – an attempt at big picture thinking

March 15, 2013

This woman may have stolen my thunder:

Lately, the threats have been more jarring than in years past. However, like many Koreans, most of the expat community shrugs it off, likening the threats to whining from a petulant child.However dismissive we are to news of Kim Jong-un’s (김정은) newest tantrum, we quietly acknowledge that the threats are not completely empty. There is a danger of escalation. We simply keep an eye out for that email or phone call from the embassy telling us it’s time to go (or hope we will have the luxury of time and notice to do so).

———————-

I have been in the small town of Penetanguishene, Ontario for about six weeks now and feel settled.  The times I get confused here and have to explain that I have lived abroad for many years have decreased and I mostly understand how things work.
The opposite is not true. When people hear that I am from South Korea, and they have time to care and talk about it, they ask about North Korea’s recent belligerent threats.  Here is what I would tell them if my thoughts were properly organized and they really wanted a lecture on the subject.  People who have lived in Korea for any significant length of time may choose to skip the rest of this post.

For ex-pats with some experience in Korea, the USFK are a great comfort and much beloved.  Yes, individual soldiers do stupid things, but no more frequently than individual English teachers.  As a group, as a military force, they are on the side of angels.

I need to belabour this point a little.  I think the reasons behind the second Gulf War were petty, deceptive and have hurt America’s image worldwide.  The American-led attacks in Afghanistan started for good reasons but the military and political leadership are doing stupid things and their coverups are only making things worse.  Bush Junior started digging a hole to bury America’s reputation and Obama is using drones to deepen it.

There’s a lot I don’t trust about American foreign policy.

Regarding Korea, I believe nearly every word.  Often, I trust the American reports over Korean ones.

I have lived in, and watched carefully, Korea for about a quarter of its sixty years of armistice.  What I have seen in sixteen years is an excellent example of the whole.  I arrived in Korea just after a North Korean submarine ran aground near Gangneung,a place where I would work for seven years.  The crew and their cargo of commandos slipped inland and evaded capture for two months before being killed or captured.  They killed many South Koreans during this period.  More recently, the North Koreans sank a South Korean naval vessel and fired artillery shells at an island of civilians.  The BBC has a timeline of attacks but it is outdated as it does not include the Baeknyeong Island shelling of 2012.

Now, they are making threats of more, and more violent, action.  My Canadian friends don’t understand why.  To some extent, I join them.  Nobody really understands what happens in North Korea.  This is what my friends and I think is happening.

From 2000 to 2008, presidents Kim Dae Jung and Roh Mu Hyun pursued a ‘Sunshine Policy’, that of giving North Korea vast amounts of aid and not watching to see where it was going.  Kim won the Nobel Peace Prize for it.  However, many felt that the lack of oversight meant that the aid was going nowhere or nowhere useful.  Now, I must admit to descending into rumour: I have heard that when bags of rice are sent into North Korea, the bags are labelled “Product of South Korea” or “A gift from the USA” and the rice then either emptied into new bags with North Korean labels or described as war reparations from these countries.  I place slightly more stock in the latter scenario but both are believable.

From the New York Times:

Tired of giving billions of dollars of aid and trade to the Communist North but getting little in return, South Koreans in 2007 abandoned the policies of Mr. Kim and his successor, Roh Moo-hyun, by electing Lee Myung-bak, a conservative leader who promised a tougher stance on Pyongyang.

With Lee Myung-bak came restrictions on aid and a return to violence by North Korea.  Although not precisely admitted as such, it sure appears that the North Korean government is saying give us aid or we will kill South Korean citizens.  This is a protection racket writ large.

The Daily Maverick has it right in an article titled North Korea: Eccentric, yes; Irrational, no.

Contrary to what is often said about North Korea’s leadership, it is not irrational. The Pyongyang leaders pursue highly rational goals in a highly inhospitable environment. They are not zealots of a mechanistic ideology or religion; rather, they are a hereditary oligarchy where a young king, Kim Jong-Un, is surrounded by aging lords whose forefathers once served the kings that came before,” writes Andrei Lankov in Asia Times. “These people have not the slightest desire to initiate a nuclear holocaust and bring the threat of nuclear annihilation merely for the pleasure of killing a few ten thousand Americans, Japanese or South Koreans.”Lankov argues – and it’s hard to disagree – that the real point of the nukes, and the bravado, is self-defence, and diplomatic blackmail. “Without nuclear weapons it would be virtually impossible for them to attract international attention and squeeze unconditional aid from the international community,” continues Lankov.

 
Finally, this account has caught up to current events.  North Korea has threatened to tear up the armistice agreement and attack both the US and South Korea.  Is this the same ol’, same ol’?

I think so.  The novel part of the situation is that we have two new players or perhaps two new leaders of the original players.  Both North and South Korea have relatively inexperienced leaders and who can say what the testing will reveal.

From the above-linked Daily Maverick article:

Park Geun-hye was inaugurated just a fortnight ago, and already she’s had to deal with an opposition that keeps blocking her cabinet appointments, plummeting opinion polls and a major escalation in hostilities with North Korea. It’s been less a baptism of fire than a baptism of impending nuclear apocalypse, and so far it is her equally inexperienced North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-Un that seems to be holding all the cards.

Lee Myung Bak claims to have been held back by the Americans and Southern generals appear prepared this time to retaliate rather than merely bluster.  Nobody calls an evened scale revenge.  You always have to reply with interest and who knows how quickly that interest will compound?

Kim JongUn and Bak GeonHye are new to their posts but their respective military leaders aren’t.  My prediction is caution with a chance of stupidity.  I rate the possibility of localized violence over the next year as around 10% and wider action as well under 1%.

Arrowhead Provincial Park and more (Second week in Canada)

February 21, 2013

Feb 11 to 15 was TLG’s first (and only, as yet) full week of school as his first and third weeks both had snow days.  He has settled into school and enjoys it.

We are still working on finding food for him and getting him to try new foods.  He likes ham sandwiches and peanut butter sandwiches and has eaten great amounts at supper but we can’t find much in the way of fruit that he will eat.

The weather has continued interesting with bitter cold followed by thaws, driving snows followed by rain.  Indeed, this week (really our third) there have been two snow days with the latter one entirely justified but the former a poor example of prediction.  The house quickly becomes cramped and boring for a seven year old so he prefers to go to school, nearly as close as the one in Korea and less than ten minutes on foot away.

Penetanguishene’s Winterama was on the weekend and we watched the parade Friday night.  The parade was short as many school teacher unions are recommending against participating in after-school events.  Also, some schools had problems with the theme “The War of 1812″.  In watching the parade, I saw a lot of references to local history but none specific to our War of Kicking US Butt.  I do understand, in a general way, that we shouldn’t glorify war but it is also local (European, and so recorded) history and this region has more of that than much of Ontario.

Anyway, we enjoyed the carnival Saturday morning and TLG saw his first bit of hockey.  Although I am thoroughly Canadian, I was too uncoordinated to enjoy playing the game and so never pushed the sport on him.  I did enjoy the camaraderie and sportsmanship I saw on Saturday, but TLG was non-committal.  He rode a pony, a hay-wagon and a snowmobile and we watched some of the “polar plunge”.  I think the Busan Polar Bear Swim has spoiled me for lesser events.

That afternoon, we went to Bracebridge and visited with friends.

On Sunday, we went to Arrowhead Provincial Park to skate and tube. Good times but would have been great -and still well below freezing – if it had been ten degrees warmer.

We also swam at the fantastic Bracebridge pool, enjoying a slide, a full size pool, a kids pool and warm-tub.

Monday was “Family Day”, a new holiday that allowed us to spend more time with my Bracebridge friends.  We tobogganed at Kerr Park in Bracebridge and loved it although I had a bad landing and really felt it the next day.

Tuesday and Wednesday (today) are snow days here.  Yesterday threatened freezing rain but was only warm and dry.  Today, there is a lot of blowing snow.  I like it.

A rant about rants

February 13, 2013

While in Korea, I listened to a lot of CBC radio and TVO audio news.  Here in Canada, I have been too lazy to search for the local CBC station.  The strongest, clearest station that I don’t mind is 95.7FM from Barrie.  On it is segment called “the Cheap Seats” in which a man rants about various a new thing every day.

This sounds like a  tough gig.  Each day, he has to be angry or upset about something.  Actually, now and then, he goes out of his way to applaud someone’s actions and I admire that although that too would become boring after a few repetitions.

Gosh, I feel like a bad man for admitting that.  I want to hear good things about people every day but I expect I would have to work at it to keep listening after the first week.

Anyway, finding five things to be angry about every week is a tough job.  Rick Mercer does a good job of it, and is usually very funny in the process, but he only does it once a week.

At The Cheap Seats, some recent rants were about Canada Is Cold and Tough, and Cars Don’t Have Cool Shapes Anymore and both bugged me.  Ah, these weren’t consecutive releases, so I am open to the charge of nitpicking.

“Canada is Cold and Tough” discussed how well our country functions with snow while the southern US and other locations are paralyzed by dustings of snow.  This is likely true.  My recent home cities of Busan and Sokcho (both in South Korea) suffered greatly by snowfalls that I found comforting.  On the other hand, they have managed very well with typhoons and moderate water shortages that would terrify and infuriate Canadians respectively.

“Cars Don’t Have Cool Shapes Anymore” was a rant about the boring sameness of cars these days.  He seems uncaring about gas mileage or economy and unaware of the current variety available to buyers.  From Smart Cars to Nissan Cubes to trucks and SUVs, I think there is similar variety to the heyday of the El Camino.

finding things to complain wittily about is tough.  Good luck to The Cheap Seats and pick up your game, man.

Our first week in Canada

February 11, 2013

Here is a brief look at our first week in Penetang, Ontario.  I am on my mother’s computer and don’t want to take too much time on it so a lot of this post will be terse to the point of being cryptic.  I am writing this post more for my memory than for international scrutiny.

Just before coming to Canada, I had one last hike on a small, local mountain and finished the hike in my T-shirt. The day before leaving, The Little Guy (TLG) and I rode our bikes to Eulsookdo.
last mountain

 

Jan 31: Long slow drive home – often terrible visibility.  Went to sleep early, up at 3:30 for the day

Sat Feb 1: Midland winter Carnival.  Candy cannon and dog-sled ride

 

winter carnival saturday (4)

 

Here, re-enactors fire the Candy cannon, much as the originals would have done to fight the Americans in 1812.  Britain had access to sugar cane and so worked to rot the American’s teeth.

Sun Feb 2.  Visited the Wye Marsh where my mother volunteers.

 

feb 3 (10)

 

feb 3 (28)

 

Mon, Feb 3: First day of school, chose a cat

 

big snow (3)

Tues, Feb 4: picked up cat “Colino7” from the SPCA.  Colino7 is a four-year-old neutered cat that apparently lived outside for a month or two before being brought in to the SPCA.  I say apparently because the volunteer at the pound pointed out that she only had the drop-off person’s word to go by and that wasn’t always trustworthy.  The cat is amazingly laid-back and has quickly adjusted to living in our home.  TLG, who loves the number seven, named the cat.

catWed, Feb 5: I drove to Toronto to Korean Consulate, and Barrie Drive Test for Ontario drivers licence

Thurs, Feb 6: Vet checkup for cat. All good

All this week, TLG watched a whole lot of TV – Treehouse channel

Fri, Feb 7: Big snow, buses cancelled but TLG went to school -only 20 students total.  Lots of fun.  We met Alex’s teacher, Mrs D.  She called TLG “Brilliant” regarding math.  She repeated that he helped his classmates on the math problems.  She had started him on Grade one spelling, which he is motoring through.  I thought it strange that he learn those words at a slow rate -I considered pushing him in that regard -but they are the basics of letter sounds and phonics.  I guess she knows what she is doing.  He has a good friend in class, Tyson, but is quiet in speaking to the full class.
skiing feb 7 (4)

feb 3 (1)b

 

 

Saturday, Feb 9: Big tobogganing day at Midland’s little lake park hill.

snow fort (8)

 

  TLG dressed in his hanbok and we recorded a bow and new years greeting in korean for YN and family.

 


lunar new year facebook (2)

 

 Made a snow fort and played inside.

 

Sunday, Feb 10, played in snow fort.  We shopped for Valentine’s Day card stock and a ‘ministick’. This is a tiny hockey stick that the kids use at recess at his school. Full size sticks should not be brought to the school but similar sticks are available for gym class. TLG was surprisingly quiet and cranky at the time.

He is still watching a lot of TV -no friends to visit or evening activities organized yet.  Perhaps due to the move and the changes, Alex needs me to hold him and sing lullabies to put him to sleep.
TLG has been uncomfortably interested in death and pets.  His questions have put my and Nana’s faulty memories on display.  We have told him about the cats Little Man, Blackjack, Tailor and Mums and the dogs Midnight, Misty, Buddy, Kingkong, Mr Mugs and Snoopy and I am happy to relive the good memories of these pets.  Still, he has asked how long these pets lived and how they died.  As I noted in our last visit to Canada, he asks similar questions many times possibly to ensure he knows all the details and understands them clearly.
Now that he has a pet of his own, he seems to be preparing for that time, probably when he enters university, when his cat will pass away.


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