thursday, march 28
Rain Barrel is now dead.

Long live New Jack Almanac!
(template pending)

tuesday, march 26
On Sunday I took part in the Essex Country Field Naturalists Spring Excursion at the Ojibway Park and Nature Centre. I’m not a naturalist, but after spending a Sunday afternoon, normally fitfully spent indoors, walking and listening to a sea of chorus frogs singing well, I’m seriously considering becoming one.

I did used to go birding occasionally with my mother and so I know a little bit about bird watching. I’m not a birder yet, but I’m comfortable with birders and most of the people on the walk were of that ilk. We spotted a pair of redheaded woodpeckers, a pair of red-tailed hawks, some bluebirds and some sparrows – which I still can’t get myself excited about, even if the fox-red sparrow is a “good bird”.

You hear this when birders talk among themselves. I spoke with my mother on the phone later on that evening to reported on the birds that I had seen. “Bluebirds! And a red-headed woodpecker!“ Mom exclaimed, “Oh those are good birds”. I’m still not experienced enough to know which bird sightings are worth bragging about – my secret definition of what constitutes a “good bird”.

After I reported on what I had seen that day, my mom gave her report: she had recently seen a pilated woodpecker in Canatara Park. There had never been a known sighting of a pilated woodpecker in the park and my mom got the tip that the bird could be found there from a fellow birder who got word of its presence from an email bird-alert list. My mom and her friend met in the park and searched for two hours until a third birder they had met there had found the woodpecker and then found them to tell them where it was lurking.

You would know that that a pilated woodpecker is a “good bird” – it’s a woodpecker the size of a crow. I saw one myself in when I was living in Peterborough. Its size was almost menacing.

I think to outsiders, bird watching sounds like walking in a park and watching whatever birds happen to cross your path. But the sad strange appeal of birding is that the scarcity of wildlife and natural areas has made nature-watching oddly scalable. Some naturalists know how many breeding pairs of certain birds live in their city or even their county. I remember listening to “The Nature Guy” on CBC Windsor Radio One and was both impressed and scared that he knew exactly how many bald eagle nests were in Essex County and how many had eagles in them.

There are lots of bird watchers in Canada. There was a piece I read somewhere sometime ago that suggested that the number of bird watchers was growing so high, that the author speculated that birders could become a political force for the environment if they could only recognize their own clout.

That’s another reason why I think I’m considering becoming a naturalist.

sunday, march 24
Friday night I was in the University of Windsor CAW Student Centre among a small group of audiophiles for this:

An evening of innovative radio works. In an informal concert setting, hear some of the finest radio productions being done today.

The concert will feature radio works by many composers and producers, with a special emphasis on contemporary documentary productions.

This public informal concert was the beginning of a weekend radio documentary workshop and was supposed to be held in a nearby concert setting except the adjacent auditorium was filled with singing and hand-clapping Christian revivalists and their loud joy drove us elsewhere. So we sat around a large boardroom table in an administrative meeting room and listened to some examples of documentary radio.

When I left for the evening, I noticed that someone had photocopied a list of things that the reader MUST DO. I didn't take this list with me (although now I wish I did) but I do recall several of its instructions:

- become vegetarian
- be comfortable with your body and do not fear nudism
- spend time with nature... real nature, not just a park

I do not know who wrote this but I would like to tell her this: if you want to create change perhaps you may find it more effective to employ a means other than a shopping list. Perhaps you could try to create art instead.

Art can change you. Such is A Change in Farming.

sunday, march 17
For some odd reason I find this story about trees growing on the roofs of the fabulous ruins of Detroit very reassuring somehow.

monday, march 11
Saw the movie Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain last night and noticed that the artwork in Amelie's apartment was that from Michael Sowa. I've only know Michael's work from postcards I have bought in bookstores in Toronto but even from such limited exposure I have grown so fond of his paintings. As described by his publisher, Sowa is "a cross between Magritte and The Far Side." Examples of his work currently reside here ; and here.

I want to read this book that he has illustrated: Esterhazy : The Rabbit Prince

According to Amazon, similar books to Esterhazy : The Rabbit Prince are of the subjects :
- Rabbits
- Fiction
- Berlin Wall, Berlin, Germany

Now if I select all subjects above, no other book matches the same profile. In fact, if I select to search for books under the subject "rabbits" and "Berlin Wall, Berlin, Germany" no other book matches the same profile.

But what about When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit?

sunday, march 3
Rats! Rats! Rats!

Mere days after I make the switch to Blogger, I receive an email from the folks at Yahoo!Geocities that informs me that access to their FTP server will now cost "just $4.95" (USD) per month.

Right now on blogdex there's a Bruce Sterling speech entitled Information wants to be worthless. But the conclusion that I am relucting coming to is that while internet users are unwilling to pay for ingesting content, many of us are willing to pay for the opportunity to provide content.

So I'm trying to get in touch with my ego, examining my dwindling writing output and currently weighing all my options: moving to my local isp space, coughing up coin to do geocities ad-free, coughing up coin to go Blogger Pro, coughing up coin to get my own domain name, and even dropping out of the game completely and dedicating myself to the arts that does not encourage carpal-tunnel syndrome. Let's see what happens.

tuesday, february 26
In the latest UTNE Reader (March-April 2002) was little factoid (p. 20) that absolutely blew my mind:

Everyday Anthrax
The anthrax scare that dominated the news last fall would have been barely worth mentioning in Haiti, where as many as 500 people contract the disease each year. As the investigative newsletter CounterPunch (Nov. 1-15, 2001) reports, anthrax has been prevalent in Haiti since the mid-1970s, a result of government apathy and drug company greed. Sick animals are slaughtered and fed to desparately hungry families, who ingest the bacteria and fall fatally ill, because neither the government, nor the drug companies have provided access to cheap vaccinations.

Two things came to mind:

First, I have a new image of anthrax. Originally, I thought it was something as rare as smallpox....

Smallpox presently has only two known forwarding addresses: the first is two padlocked freezers in the Atlanta headquarters of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the other is a Russian virology institute known as Vector, or the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology, in Novosibirsk, Siberia. Once the pride of the Soviet scientific enterprise, Vector is now a decaying facility desparately trying to convert its work from developing biological weapons to more peaceful pursuits. Depending on your politics or state of mind, you could lose sleep thinking about either of these facilities....
(from "Germ Culture" by Howard Markel, Harper's Magazine March 2002)

Second, I think the Canadian government should send a fraction our stockpiled Cipro to the Haitain people who evidently could use it right now.

What? You thought I was going to write about Canadian Hockey gold? { blissful sigh }





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