Showing posts with label Newfoundland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Newfoundland. Show all posts

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sir, With Much Respect, I Encourage You To Keep This Up!

A rite of spring - the calving of an iceberg

I'm from Newfoundland, known not only as the place where the events portrayed in the hit musical Come From Away take place, but also one of the best places on earth to view an annual parade of icebergs.

Newfoundland's icebergs "calve" off the glaciers on the west coast of Greenland. They break off in late winter/early spring, and make their way via the Labrador current out into the north Atlantic ocean. Then, they hug the coastline of the island of Newfoundland, gradually losing mass as they enter warmer waters below the 49th parallel until they melt entirely away - usually at some point just south of the Grand Banks.

Historically, the number of ice bergs that can be found in the northwestern Atlantic varies from year to year. In an average year, the peak of iceberg season (usually late May) would see a few hundred ice bergs drifting in the transatlantic shipping lanes. As of the first week of April, 2017, more than 400 ice bergs had already been counted in the area. The average for early April is about 80 bergs.

A warning by USCG ice patrol Commander Gabrielle McGrath notes that, early this month, three icebergs were found outside the boundaries of the area the Coast Guard had advised mariners to avoid and she is predicting a fourth consecutive “extreme ice season” with over 600 icebergs in the shipping lanes during the peak of the 2017 season. 
John Konrad, gCaptain, April 19, 2017.

People who deny the reality of global climate change can spew their pseudo-science but Newfoundlanders know this is not normal. The effects of all that sea ice and the hugely increased number of ice bergs are numerous and not limited to just the ice. The increased ice keeps the ocean temperature offshore colder later into the year, too. Apart from a longer colder spring (and in Newfoundland, spring is an often miserable, foggy, wet, cold season), the colder ocean temperature means that the annual capelin spawning season has been pushed later and later into the summer. The capelin roll that used to happen in early June every year, is now occurring in mid July and even as late as early August. Whales travel to Newfoundland in summer to feed on the capelin and it is not yet known how this altered capelin season may effect the whales migratory habits and wellbeing.

Global warming is the cause of many similar cascading effects around the planet. The effects of global climate change on ice, capelin and whales are just the tip of the iceberg regarding how planetary ecosystems may be disrupted by the changes. Some we already can predict and it is possible that there will be many more effects that we cannot yet foresee.

Some people, like William Happer, you'd think would be able to grasp science - being a physicist and all -but no. Maybe, since his discipline is physics and not climate science, the professor simply cannot comprehend the overwhelming conclusions of the vast majority of climate scientists that global climate change is real and it is being accelerated by human activity.

Then again, his penchant for comparing the work of climatologists to Nazis (WTF!) throws up a vaguely familiar flag. Happer has been vying for a position in the Trump administration. So, there's that to consider.

The world is a complex ecosystem and sometimes we just need someone to explain things in plain language to help make sense of things. Enter Bill Nye, the science guy! Nye is well-known for making science fun and interesting to kids, so he is probably the best possible person to explain the danger of ignoring climate change to the ignorant - and the willfully ignorant - in the Republican party.

"Sir, with some respect, I encourage you to cut this out..." 
Bill Nye to William Clapper

A mechanical engineer, Bill seems to be about as qualified to speak about climate science as Happer the physicist. More trustworthy, too, since Nye is not vying for a job in a corrupt, science-denying administration and has little to gain by it. Of course, a couple of minutes of air time and even less for each member of the panel, didn't give Bill much time to get a message across about the science of global warming, so he used his time in an even better way: to school Happer on his willful ignorance and misleading of the public, and to draw attention to the false equivalency that various media perpetuate in their eagerness to appear to be "even-handed".

Check it out:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Design 'Er B'ys!

Beautiful Quidi Vidi Gut, the setting for Design 'Er B'ys

Is HGTV one of your guilty pleasures?  Are you secretly convinced that if you only had the chance, you too could perform miracles of home improvement? More important, have you ever rolled your eyes a little skeptically and wondered about what may have been going on off-camera for who knows how long which never made the cut for a 26 minute show format? Then, read on! This blog post is for you!

From time to time every human being enjoys a moment of the purest pleasure; a sublime interlude when the stars align to bring a couple of the elements closest to one's heart together in a sensational synthesis that comes close to perfection. For me, the niftiest imaginable confluence of awesomeness would be anything that combines my love for decorating shows, my love for salt of the earth Newfoundland and my love for great comedy. I never thought it could happen.

Until yesterday...

... when a Facebook friend (actor and singer, Robert Power) posted the link below.  It is a "proof of concept" trailer for a potential new TV show in Canada (apologies to the rest of the NiftyUniverse; you might be out of luck.  However, activism pays off, y'know - start "liking" the youtube video and spreading the word and perhaps you, too, can make this happen on a tv channel near you!).

They did a good job - but
three months! That's too long
to be without a kitchen and a
bathroom. You know
what I'm saying'...
Here's the concept for "Design 'Er B'ys" straight from the keyboard of Unstoppable Urges Productions:

For Dan and Jimmy, 2 gay men living in the Quidi Vidi area of St. John's, "the Gut", NOTHING is more important than finishing their ambitious renovation projects. Nothing that is, except pretty much everything... friends, family, dogs, school, pickling - they might be living in reno hell forever. And now their well-meaning friend and huge fan Doris has entered them in a contest to host their own reno show. But that would mean finishing the reno...

An appealing couple surrounded by an assortment of genuine (and hilariously frank) friends and beloved dogs, mired in a never-ending renovation project - I ask you, what's not to love about this concept?

Featuring legendary Newfoundland actor and comedian, Greg Malone , the cast draws on a rich range of musical, acting and comedic talents with RenĂ©e Hackett, Blair Harvey,  and the b'ys* Craig Pike and Miles Sharp. The trailer is a pitch perfect fusion of Newfoundland humor, wonderful comedic acting, refreshingly authentic Newfoundland settings and a marvelous tongue in cheek send-up of the current mania for interior design by Everyone! We could all be designers and the B'ys can too!

Enjoy the trailer and then LIKE it and SHARE it! Nifty Readers -- ENGAGE!!

* b'ys -  Newfoundland for two or more friends (usually male).  e.g.. "Me and the b'ys are going down to the pub!"

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thorsday Tonic - On Little Cat Feet


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday Tonic - Find Yourself

via NewfoundlandandLabrador

I'm on the road, so posting will be light over the next couple of weeks.

Here is a few minutes of beauty to tide you over!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thorsday Tonic - Now This Is A Mayor!

This week, the northeastern United States and Eastern Canada are bracing for a snowstorm projected by some news sources to be "historic" in snowfall and disruption. While nor'easterners are battening down the hatches and preparing for the coming excitement, The Weather Channel and its affiliates NBC and Weather Underground have gleefully "named" the storm Nemo, and have wallpapered the internet and TWC with hysterical "reports" about the possible magnitude of the storm. 

This naming of winter storms is an effort to equate (in the public psyche) regular winter events with massive, life-threatening but far less regular occurrences such as tropical cyclones. So, let's talk about that.

The northeast has endured wicked winter storms for centuries. 
The people really do know what to do and how to handle themselves.

Winter storms are a pain. They also have the potential to cause life-threatening conditions, but nearly always of the sort that can be avoided by sensible people preparing for normal winter events. Slippery roadways and cold, while potentially deadly, are nearly always avoidable or manageable - unlike 120mph hurricane winds taking the roof off your only shelter or massive flooding caused by a cyclone which inundates every shelter for miles. Except in rare circumstances, winter storms are just a costly nuisance. That is the reason why very little is being made of the possible aftermath of "Nemo" - because the truth is that it will cause a lot of headaches for a couple of days and then nearly everyone will get back to normal life. 

In this age of easily roused rabbles and the 24-hour panic-of-the-week news cycle, it is a refreshing change to come across an elected official who behaves like an adult, calmly assessing the situation and then sensibly describing the reality instead of throwing out hyperbolic statements to score political points. Upon learning that a similar storm was bearing down on his city a few weeks ago, Mayor Dennis O'Keefe of St. John's advised the citizens to be prepared for a lot of snow and possible power outages, stay off the roads and try to enjoy the unexpected day at home. 

 Mayor O'Keefe: leading by example

“Enjoy the day and 
get ready for the clean up. 
Don’t panic, 
don’t sweat it. 
The power will come back.” 
Mayor Dennis O'Keefe

Solid advice. Most valuable, however, was the Mayor's calm demeanor. You've been through this a hundred times, he seemed to say. You know how it goes. There is nothing to be gained from scurrying around in a panic. There will be plenty to do later. Get ready, then relax and rest up for the work to come. That night, the storm came and the storm raged and there was, indeed, a "heavy snowfall". Nearly two feet fell over most of Mayor O'Keefe's city. The wind howled -  blowing heavy wet snow in front of it. The power did go out in a lot of places, but people were mostly prepared.

People hunkered down, lit candles, fired up the grill and made hot beverages. They joked with their neighbors, embraced the unexpected long weekend, griped about losing power or rejoiced about power restored. Facebook friends offered to deliver hot food and drinks to friends without power, and everyone kept tabs on everyone else in case help was needed. People settled down for a long winter's night. As they have done for years.

And in the morning, the clean up began. The power did come back - not as quickly as some people would have liked, understandably - but it did come back thanks to the efforts of linemen and power crews who braved the elements to repair lines thrown down by the gale force winds. Neighbours and friends worked together again to shovel driveways and dig out cars and clear a pathway to the front door.

"Nemo" may dump up to two feet of snow on parts of New England before it finally pushes off to the north Atlantic. But, like Newfoundlanders, northeasterners are used to winter storms. They know what to do!

Whipping people into a frenzy with hyperbolic projections of "historic" storms is really not helpful for anyone but those who stand to benefit from increased viewer ratings (ahem, NBC). The northeast has endured wicked winter storms for centuries. The people really do know what to do and how to handle themselves. The damage and the scope of the coming storm may indeed be greater than most storms in the past, but not so much greater that it should be used to pad TV ratings, stoke the panic machinery and drive storm-related purchases. The stuff you did to prepare for the regular old snowstorms before the naming nonsense began in 2012 is still the stuff you will always need.

It's probably going to be a blizzard. Judge yourselves accordingly. Stay informed and stay prepared, but don't let the panic-mongering of modern commerce rattle you. You know what to do. Do it.

Preparedness tips from Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency here.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thorsday Tonic - Find Your Place

                      (viewing both videos - in full screen - is highly recommended)

"Finding yourself out here on the very edge of the continent; waking up to the first sunrise in North America - it's hard to believe that most people still wake up to an alarm clock."

There really are places like this in the world. They are rugged shorelines whose rocky cliffs are pounded by thundering Atlantic waves. They are wide green plains whose graceful grasses softly brush the horizon or breathtaking mountains where the cold, clean air thrills as it chills your face, your throat and your lungs. They are noisy, busy, vibrant cities whose colorful, energetic populations pulse with creativity and life. They are every place that speaks to the heart and soul of the people who live there.

You don't have to go to any one place to find the serenity and the sense of awe that this video depicts. It is the relationship between a person and a place that endows one spot on the planet with that magical source of water for the mind, body and spirit for that person. Some people are born into a place which nurtures their inner life from cradle to grave. Others choose theirs as adults; sometimes instantly with a shock of recognition - this is my place! - but more often it happens gradually. Sometimes we just grow into the place - perhaps having arrived by chance and always expecting to move on again - until one day there is a whispered realization of contentment - I belong here.

There really are places like this in the world. 
Go out and find yours!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday Tonic - Ode to Newfoundland

This post is in honour of my amazing daughter who was born on this day 
        in this beautiful place, during a shimmering white snowstorm. 
                                     Happy Birthday, J!!

Ode to Newfoundland

1. When sun rays crown thy pine clad hills,
And summer spreads her hand,
When silvern voices tune thy rills,
We love thee, smiling land.
We love thee, we love thee,
We love thee, smiling land.

2. When spreads thy cloak of shimmering white,
At winter's stern command,
Thro' shortened day, and starlit night,
We love thee, frozen land.
We love thee, we love thee
We love thee, frozen land.

3. When blinding storm gusts fret thy shore,
And wild waves lash thy strand,
Thro' spindrift swirl, and tempest roar,
We love thee windswept land.
We love thee, we love thee
We love thee windswept land.

4. As loved our fathers, so we love,
Where once they stood, we stand;
Their prayer we raise to Heaven above,
God guard thee, Newfoundland
God guard thee, God guard thee,
God guard thee, Newfoundland.

--Sir Cavendish Boyle

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Edge of the Earth

via Newfoundland Labrador

"The people of the Flat Earth Society believe that this place is one of the four corners of the world...

... the very edge of the earth.

Ah now, that's just foolishness.

Isn't it?"

This beautiful brief video is balm to the weary spirit on the first day of autumn.  I wonder if, when the late-20th century murmurings of revisionist history and anti-science began, did people similarly think it was not something to be taken seriously?

The lure of myth, legend and what the heart wants to believe when overwhelmed - with beauty or with fear or with awe - is a very powerful thing. What is true often hasn't a chance when it is held up against what people prefer to believe.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday Tonic - Take A Deep Breath

via Newfoundland Labrador

The cooler fall days are sweeping in on a fresh autumn breeze.  Soon the whale season in Newfoundland will be drawing to a close as the humpbacks head back down to the Gulf of Mexico to over winter. But before they go, there is always time for a little more exuberant fun in their northern playground!

These are busy times - take a deep breath and relax for a minute!

(This is a great video to view in fullscreen)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thorsday Inspiration

                         (full screen viewing strongly recommended)

via Newfoundland and Labrador

Some days, you just need a little awesome.

Visual and musical inspiration.

Balm for the weary spirit.

Happy Thorsday, All.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tuesday Tonic - EnCouraging Non-conformity

                      (full screen viewing strongly recommended)

A little Tuesday Tonic for people everywhere.

"In a world oddly bent on conformity, there's something strangely
en-COURAGE-ing about a place that is anything but."

Apropos my post earlier this week: Look at this video and remember 
that finding the courage not to conform can have magnificent results.


Monday, June 11, 2012

565 Million Years...or More

Balm for a weary mind.

I'm off to the dentist with a broken tooth. I hope this video will sooth you as much as it calms me!

Mistaken Point

Parks Canada

The Drook, Portugal Cove South

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Time For A Little Color!

I'll take that cerise-colored house, please!

We are having a very dry spring here, after an extremely dry and mild winter.  I noticed the other day that the pine tree in our yard is showing signs of stress, it's needles faded and slightly rusty looking.  Today I saw that the grass in the local parks is dry and yellow like the end of July in a hot summer! Our spring flowers were forced out too early by the unseasonable heat in March and their colors faded within days - sometimes hours - of first blooming. When I was planting some summer annuals this weekend, the earth in some places was so dry it collapsed like gravely sand. I've never seen anything like it here before.

I hope we get rain soon and plenty of it!

Anyway, all of this dryness and wonky weather made me long for spring showers, the soft caress of cool damp fog on the cheeks and the sweet, clean fresh air heavy with the fragrance of lilacs after a late spring rain.  I am longing for deep, bright colors and cool refreshing damp air. And I know just the place to find that!
(via Newfoundland on facebook)

Some houses are wide.
Some houses are thin.
Some are so thin
you can hardly get in.

But wherever you go,
you will hear someone say,
"Come over to my house.
Come over and play!"

Come over to my house.
The fishing is great!
They bite all the time
and you don't have to wait.

Come over some day
and bring plenty of bait.

You can play on my roof, 
but my house is so tall,
it's a long way downstairs
to go after a ball.

My house is bright pink
and it's happy and gay.
Our streets are wet water.
We like it that way.

Every house in the world
has a ceiling and floor.
But the ones you'll like best
have a wide-open door.

Some houses are rich
full of silver and gold.
And some are quite poor,
sort of empty and old.

Some houses are marble
and some are just tin.
But they're all, all alike
when a friend asks you in.

There are so many houses
you'll meet on your way.
And wherever you go,
you will hear someone say  . . .
"Come over to my house!
Come over and play!"
From Come Over to My House, Theo.LeSieg (Theo. Geisel)

And, just for good measure - one last dose of color and glory - and an iceberg!
You're welcome!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

To Understand Newfoundland

Sunrise in St. John's, Newfoundland

Writer's block is a bastard!  I have at least ten posts in the pipe in various stages of incompletion, and two nearly done but damn it, they are just not ready to go up yet.  And I am fresh out of words at the moment.

Luckily, I have a small stock of really great stuff to show people when this old hag descends. Today's selections include a nice little write-up about my birthplace complete with an impossible-to-pry-loose (grrr!) video featuring Simon Calder (I'm sure I've heard that voice before - on Planet Earth perhaps?),  and a video of a walking tour of St. John's, including lots of video of hiking a (tame) part of the East Coast trail system.

The NiftySpouse picked up the secret SOS signal I emitted around noon-ish -  we atheists can send secret SOS signals (via evil mind waves, of course) to our significant others (bet you didn't know that, hm? Come over to the dark side - we have SSS's!) - and he sent me the link to a story post haste as a restorative. It did the trick! Read and enjoy!

And, since I was unable to rip share the video from that link above, I found an even cooler one for your viewing pleasure.  I have some hiking/climber friends who would enjoy some of these trails.  I also walked the Signal Hill one with a California friend and our assorted offspring -  it was fun walking along that low cliff edge - thoughtful of the city to provide that handy rope to hang onto in the places where the ledge is only a couple of feet wide!

Watch and enjoy!