Blogging

Shortly after I came out to British Columbia in early 2006 I had a case of severely high blood pressure. It wouldn't have been fair to an employer for me to work for them until I got my health situation sorted out. I was on medications to lower the blood pressure and it took until early 2007 to find the cause. I finally went to a naturopath who found that a microscopic parasite was the cause for all this.

While getting my health in order, I took up blogging to share my photography. This way I wasn't wasting time and others got to enjoy the photos, not just me and those close to me.

In May of this year I had a mini-stroke cause again by severely high blood pressure. I may end up gong to the naturopath again since the specialist and other MDs can't seem to find the cause. This has only been a problem out here. Before that in Ontario, the blood pressure was only marginally high, not severely high like in BC.

Knowledge is good because being forewarned is forearmed!

All that said, enjoy this blog and all the photos I share with you.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Snow in the Mountains

Well, the lower Fraser Valley may be green, as the above photo of Hastings Park in Vancouver will attest, but the mountains certainly have snow. The image below is of Grouse Mountain on the north side of Burrard Inlet. There is certainly enough snow to make the skiers happy! These photos were taken a week ago today (Monday). It was sunny, above freezing temperature-wise but there was a cold wind blowing which made it feel much colder than the thermometer would suggest.

In the Heights, a suburb of north Burnaby founded in 1909, I found a beautiful Monkey Puzzle tree back in October and couldn't resist taking a few more photos. The first image is of the crown and the second is of the whole tree on a side street. It's not the largest specimen I've seen (there are much larger ones in the area) but it will give you an idea what the tree looks like. There will be more photos later since I plan a trip to Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver where large trees are found.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas!!!

Christmas is fast approaching, so to get you in the mood, here are some lights from St. Paul's Hospital on Burrard Street in Vancouver. These photos are from last year though but they're up again this year as bright and beautiful as ever. My work schedule (and the weather) doesn't allow me to get around as much as the previous year unless the days off and the weather co-operate. Enjoy these images just the same.


Merry Christmas - Joyeux Noel - Frohe Weihnachten - God Jul
However you say it and however you care to celebrate the Holiday Season, have a wonderful, safe Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Boundary Road Photos

Last week during a break in all the rain and before the colder weather with snow came, I got off the bus early and decided to walk the rest of the way home after a night of work. The fresh air and the walk did me good. Despite the approaching winter, all is not dead and lifeless yet. There are some shrubs in flower and colurful berries to see. Note the holly berries below.

I believe this is a larch tree but the photo below is of the crown of a Monkey Puzzle tree plus a close-up shot. The Christmas season is fast approaching! Perhaps these images will help inspire you.

Autumn Colour on Burnaby Mountain

After just over two months without the internet, I'm back. Toward the end of October I took this photo of a grove of cherry trees in colour. They are on the western end of Burnaby Mountain behind the Horizon Restaurant. Enjoy! There will be more to come.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Shoo Fly! Shoo! Those are my Amanitas!

For years I've only seen the Fly Agaric [Latin: Amanita muscaria] in photos or illustrations. The earliest illustration was in a German language edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales (Grimms Maerchen) that my mother brought back from Germany as a gift in the early 1960s. Then after a week of rain in October I spotted a number of these Amanita fungi. This mushroom is very beautiful to look at but also very poisonous. It's early button stage can be confused with other edible varieties which would be why this mushroom has ended up in the odd culinary dish with unwelcomed results.

Here is a series of photos taken Hastings Park on Renfrew south of East Hastings Street in Vancouver. There was a break in the rain which provided ideal conditions for the growth of fungi, mosses and other organisms.


The two varities of fungi below were also seen but I have not been able to identify them as yet. I am including them just the same. Feel free to comment if you can identify these last two. Meantime, please enjoy the images!

Monday, October 1, 2007

German even the Germans don't like

This article below appeared in the Los Angeles Times back in August of this year. German is my first language and English my second. Language instruction can be a challenge with any language but particularly German with all the rules and such (remember Latin???). I remember starting grade school not knowing a word of English. Now my German is suffering from non-use. English has long since surpassed it. The only language skill worse than my German is my knowledge of written and spoken French. So you would think simplifying the rules would improve matters. Der Hot Dog??? What's wrong with 'heisse Wuerstchen?" Ach du lieber! Think again!

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-blechman22aug22,0,5740831.story?coll=la-opinion-center

From the Los Angeles Times
German even the Germans don't like

Think rules to simplify a complicated language would be well received? Think again.
By Andrew D. BlechmanAugust 22, 2007Dusseldorf, Germany

As of this month, the German language is officially "reformed." After more than a decade of bitter debate, new grammar rules for the world's 100 million native German speakers are now set in stone.

That may sound like big news, but chances are you haven't heard ein wort about it. Even in Germany the event has been met with something akin to a news blackout, but then again, the vast majority of Germans detest the reforms.

I learned about them by accident while grilling bratwurst and complaining about the language's user-unfriendliness. "No problem," my bemused German companion assured me, "as of Monday, it will be easier."

As of Monday?

"Beginning Monday, the rules will have changed for good," he continued. "And everyone must follow them."

With the smell of sausages wafting in the air and the Rhine a stone's throw away, I had little doubt that I had left the U.S. and was now living in Germany. But nothing cemented the fact quite like a discussion of German language reform and its "mandatory" adjustments. I was already having difficulty putting together simple sentences; would I now be fined for my ineptitude? Thankfully not, I learned; only children would be penalized! The government-mandated changes will be incorporated into their textbooks.

To anyone who has suffered through German's torturous grammatical rules, the concept of language reform is probably music to your ears. Every noun in the German language is deemed masculine, feminine or neuter and is preceded by its appropriate article. Depending on a word's "case," or construction, Germans have more than a dozen different ways to say "the" and "a." When I asked my German teacher why a fork is feminine, a spoon is masculine and a knife is neuter, she just shrugged her shoulders.

Even more mysterious are the verbs, which frequently reside at the end of a sentence or are split in half and placed as far away from one another as possible. And one must not forget the compoundwordsthatareaboutthislong. Given these complications, I've found myself in the unenviable position of trying to communicate without nouns or verbs. But adjectives get one only so far.

The Germans have known for a long time that their grammar is confusing, even for native speakers. The first attempts at reforming the language of Schiller and Goethe occurred more than 100 years ago, when grammarians worked to standardize it. Nearly half a century later, the Nazis planned to institute their own language reforms, but the war cut those efforts short.

The impetus behind the reform is the German-speaking world's penchant for grammatical rules and the difficulty for students to learn them. Many of these rules for spelling and punctuation, developed over centuries, have been deemed ambiguous and unsystematic, let alone unnecessarily complicated. The latest reform, begun in the early 1990s and led by expert grammarians from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, set out to simplify the language: Grammatical rules were reduced from 212 to (only!) 112, and those governing commas dropped from 52 to a mere nine. The changes mainly addressed written grammar, and -- to my chagrin -- have little effect on the spoken word. Perhaps the most important change is that der Hot dog is now der Hotdog.

Nevertheless, the so-called grammar simplification, which was adopted by the three governments' education ministries in 1996, faced stiff opposition from the public: Several German states and regional newspapers refused to adopt the measures. A number of authors, including Günter Grass, rebelled.

Until the German supreme court ruled in favor of the reforms in 1998, they appeared headed for the big chalkboard in the sky. But doubts persisted, and yet another group of experts was assembled to "reform the reform." As one German friend put it: People wanted their commas back. The new rules were instituted in 2006 with a one-year grace period that has just ended.

In the meantime, it's the German schoolchildren who will bear the brunt of the changes. It is not enough for a child to hand in a well-written essay; it also must be grammatically flawless. Teachers are instructed to count every misplaced comma and misspelled word, multiply them by 100, and then divide the resulting number by the total number of words in an essay. Enough errors, and one's grades can drop precipitously.

And I thought I had it bad.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Burnaby Mountain and other posts coming

Posts have been far less frequent now that I am back to work full-time but I have been busy taking photos on my days off (weather permitting), so there are a number of new ones to post once I find the time to download them from my Sony camera. Its a challenge trying to fit everything done before into a much smaller time frame. The photo above shows Burnaby Mountain off in the background just to the right and the one below shows Metrotown in south Burnaby off in the distance. You can also see Mount Baker, a volcano, in that one. So the next post will be about Burnaby Mountain in north Burnaby, BC. If you've loved my other photos, you'll love these (and the view) as well. Something to look forward to.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Crows, Twa Corbies and whatever

Since I relocated to the west coast in February of last year from southwestern Ontario, I've seen a lot of crows (Latin: Corvus) but especially in the last few weeks. I work near Main Street, the divide between Vancouver's east and west sides. The photos shown were taken recently about an hour or so before sunset. The large flock of crows is flying east towards Burnaby and beyond. The scene brings to mind Alfed Hitchcock's movie called The Birds but these are nice, harmless birds. I couldn't resist the photo opportunity. Below is a closer shot of the birds as the fly east with Burnaby's Metrotown in the background.
Now this scene also brought to mind a poem that I remember from grade 9 English class years ago. That was the fall of 1969 until the spring of 1970. The poem was called "The Twa Corbies" or The Two Crows. The poem appears below. Go to http://www.twocrows.co.uk/twa_corbies.html to read this poem and the English version as opposed to the Scots. There is also an analysis of both.
The Twa Corbies

As I was walking all alane,I heard twa corbies makin a mane;The tane unto the ither say,"Whar sall we gang and dine the-day?"
"In ahint yon auld fail dyke,I wot there lies a new slain knight;And nane do ken that he lies there,But his hawk, his hound an his lady fair."
"His hound is tae the huntin gane,His hawk tae fetch the wild-fowl hame, His lady's tain anither mate,So we may mak oor dinner swate."
"Ye'll sit on his white hause-bane,And I'll pike oot his bonny blue een;Wi ae lock o his gowden hair We'll theek oor nest whan it grows bare."
"Mony a one for him makes mane,But nane sall ken whar he is gane;Oer his white banes, whan they are bare,The wind sall blaw for evermair."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Video Clips - SkyTrain - Greater Vancouver

video video

Here are a couple of short video clips taken from the SkyTrain in the Greater Vancouver area over the past week. The first one is north bound from Scott Road to Columbia Stations going over the suspension bridge over the Fraser River. The second clip is south bound from 22nd Street to New Westminster Stations. Sorry for the quality of the videos. There were smudges and dead insects on the glass at the time. Both clips are 2 minutes long. I will have others from time to time to give you an idea of what the area looks like and what life is like. This will be in addition to the still photos that I have been posting up until now. Enjoy them and feel free to comment.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!"

William Shakespeare wrote about horses. The quote above is from the play Richard III (1591), Act 5, Scene 4, Line 7. Unlike Richard III's experience, there seem to be more than enough horses in Vancouver's Stanley Park. Take a tour of the park on a horse-drawn trolley, wagon or wagonette the next time you are here for a visit. You can find information about the tours online. The wagons may be drawn by Grey Shire horses, Clydesdales, Belgians or Percherons. For those horse lovers out there here are a few lovely photos of this magnificent animal called the horse. Enjoy!





Roosters

Chickens, Gallus gallus, are a type of domesticated fowl believed to be descended from wild Indian and south-east Asian Red Junglefowl. They're usually found at farms and not associated with parks but the one above, a rooster, was found wandering the garden beds at Stanley Park's Rose Garden earlier this summer. I am not certain of the breed though. A peahen was following along as well. Both were raised at the nearby Children's Animal Farm. So next time you are in a park, expect the unexpected!


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Summertime at Lost Lagoon

Summertime is when we see the Canada geese with their young charges and mallard ducks with their young all around the Lost Lagoon in Vancouver's Stanley Park. Unfortunately, it's also the time of algae bloom in the water which gives the water a greenish colour and an off aroma. The droppings from all the water birds give the algae a perfect catalyst for growth. Just the same I enjoy seeing the wildlife in its various forms. This might include the great blue heron, the swan, Canada goose, mallard ducks or turtles. This was certainly the case a couple of weeks ago. Enjoy these photos starting with the great blue heron above and a photo of the lagoon below.

I've been visiting Stanley Park for over a year since moving to British Columbia and this was the first time that I noticed that the swans were banded as can be see in the photo above and the close-up below.

The image above shows the water fountain in the lagoon and the photo below shows turtles lined up on a log sunning themselves.

I found a heron on the hunt for food and below are a couple of swans with a close-up below that.


There is another view of the Lost Lagoon from the west side looking toward downtown Vancouver. Below are photos of Canada geese, including their young goslings. I hope you have enjoyed these images. There are more to come!

Video Clips

I've started taking short video clips of wildlife, preferably with some action, and other scenes of interest in the lower mainland in and around Vancouver, British Columbia. One such clip with a peahen and a rooster was the first to be posted here. You will find that one, and future clips, in the sidebar. If you care to comment, these would be appreciated.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The flowering annuals are at their best now...

Recent trips to Vancouver's Stanley Park have shown the annual flowers giving a great show of colour. This is from the entrance on Beech Avenue between the main beach at English Bay and the Second Beach plus the rose garden and other sources of interest. Above is one such bed of annuals with English Bay in the background. The photos below offer close-ups of the flowers with visiting honeybees and bumblebees.



Then there is the blue of the hydrangea in the photos above and below. Although this is a flowering shrub, the flowers are lovely to look at. It's so nice to see some blue.

There are fuchsia-type flowers above and artichoke buds soon to flower in the image below.

Reds and orange are lovely colours to see in any garden planting. Sometimes there are some surprises, such as this Rufous Hummingbird seen in the photos below.



Yellow seems to be a common theme this year as can be seen in the image above and those below.


As seen in a previous post, the horse-drawn trolleys pass through filled with sightseers. Then below the palm tree seen in an earlier post is now partly hidden by the annuals overtaking it.


Canada geese can be seen on the grass in the rose garden area. The roses are not at their best at the moment but there are some pleasant surprises.

A close-up of a yarrow flower, Achillea millefolia, with a wild bee is shown in the image above and that of a dahlia flower with a bee below.

There are more photos to follow. Please enjoy these and comments are gladly received.