Scene-stealing squirrel

This squirrel, photographed in Banff (Canada), is the latest internet phenomenon:

crasher squirrel_1

The photo is from the Globe and Mail. Jackson and Melissa Brandts were taking a photo of themselves in a scenic location, when the squirrel developed an unwonted interest in their camera. The Brandts were able to take a series of photos of the interloping squirrel because the camera is equipped with a remote-controlled shutter.

Melissa submitted the photo to a National Geographic competition. From there, the photo was picked up by BuzzFeed, which started a photoshop contest for its readers.

Here are three of my favourite entries from BuzzFeed:

photoshopped squirrel

(click to enlarge — or proceed to BuzzFeed and scroll through dozens of entries)

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Northern lights

The Globe and Mail published photos taken in Canada, submitted by their readership. Here’s my favourite from the nine best-of:

northern lights, Yellowknife

It’s a photo of the northern lights, taken in Yellowknife.

I’m a bit puzzled by a couple of the other selections featured by the Globe and Mail. A reflection of the Royal Ontario Museum in the side mirror of a car? I guess it’s technically clever, but it’s not as stirring as the other photos in the series. And the name is, Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) — not the Ontario Royal Museum, as it says in the Globe’s caption.

I saw the northern lights during one of my flights back from Manitoba. Not with the spectacular colours of the photo above, but still very distinctive and fascinating.

Now that I have an iPhone, I’ve been snapping the occasional pic out the windows of airplanes. The iPhone camera isn’t very good — but it’s convenient to have a camera on me at virtually all times.

I took this one just before we landed at the Ottawa International Airport one day. I like the maze-like appearance formed by the rows of houses seen from above, from a distance.

houses viewed from the sky

Here’s another interesting photo, taken during a flight back from British Columbia. We might have been flying over Alberta at this point. It makes me think of veins in the earth.

veins in the earth

Whenever I take a photo with dramatic lines in it, I like to play with it in Paint Shop Pro. Here’s a kaleidoscope effect (with some other enhancements) :

kaleidoscope

And my favourite version, with a “weave” effect:

woven veins

Granville Island goslings

I spent several days in Vancouver this week, at the Granville Island Hotel.

Astonishingly, we had three consecutive days of bright sunshine. Here’s a view of the harbour from the bridge that crosses to the island.

harbour view from Granville Island bridge

Granville Island is a bit too touristy for my tastes. But the market is a nice bonus (fresh fruit and bread) if you’re going to stay right on the island.

The Canada geese added some colour to my visit. There were two pairs of mates; one of them was caring for eight goslings.

Canada Geese goslings

The geese are accustomed to having people around. Although the parental geese were usually watchful —

watchful

— I was astonished to see how close they came to me when I was sitting quietly on a bench!

ducks in a row

Pastel glow

Happy Easter!

Easter Egg candles

Ilona is so craft-y!

Where’s Waldo?

I see I haven’t posted anything new since March 7. That may be the longest gap between posts since I started blogging in April 2005.

I haven’t lost the will to blog. I’m just overwhelmed with work at the moment, and I’m too fatigued to write blog posts when I get home.

I’m in the final weeks of negotiations on a self-government agreement with a First Nation in Manitoba. That’s about as much information as I can provide, for reasons of confidentiality.

As we approach the point at which we can initial the final agreement, I’m suddenly negotiating on multiple fronts:  with the First Nation (of course), with the legal-technical working group (the lawyers who evaluate the text from a legal drafting perspective), and with the Department of Finance and other government departments. This means that I’m continually revising the agreement and then presenting the revisions to the other interested parties.

Sooner or later, there’s got to be an end to this “iterative” process. It only seems endless.
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White Christmas everywhere in Canada

A white Christmas in Canada? What are the odds of that?!

The odds are lower than you might suppose! In fact, this will be the first one since 1971. But the standard we’re describing is a white Christmas in every region of Canada. From today’s Globe and Mail:

Winter walloped Vancouver on the official start of the snowy season Sunday — and it was the same story across the country as Canada approaches its first coast-to-coast white Christmas in almost four decades.

Snow piled up in Vancouver, slowing down traffic and pedestrians.

Snow in Vancouver, November 2006. Photo by Flickr user Ms. Melch; all rights reserved.

Vancouver is certain to have its first white Christmas since 1998, when there was 20 centimetres on the ground. The temperature is predicted at or below zero through the week.

A white Christmas in Vancouver happens about once a decade and John McIntyre, an Environment Canada meteorologist in the city, said British Columbia’s Lower Mainland could have a “perfect Christmas,” which the government weather agency defines as snow on the ground and snow falling.

It also looks like Canada will have its first coast-to-coast white Christmas since 1971. Vancouver is generally without snow and on the years it has it, other areas such as Southern Ontario aren’t under the cold blanket.

“It’s a white Christmas, everywhere,” said André Cantin, an Environment Canada meteorologist in Quebec City.

Indie’s tennis ball relocation service

Indie with tennis ball

As anyone can see by looking at this photograph, Indie* just loves tennis balls.

Except it’s a lie. Indie is not a retriever. She finds tennis balls thoroughly engrossing for perhaps 20 seconds. Then she casts them aside and goes looking for squirrels, or sniffing at interesting smells.

Indie is a hunter and a sniffer. But tennis balls are among the things she sniffs out.

The local park, where dogs are allowed to run off the leash, also has two tennis courts. Between tennis players who’ve lost their balls (hmmmm… there must be a better way to say that) and dogs who’ve lost their balls (nope — I can’t think of any) — well, let’s just say there are a lot of stray balls lying around.

Tennis balls, I mean.

So finding a tennis ball in the dog park isn’t such a remarkable trick. But one day, as we were walking through the neighbourhood, Indie started sniffing at someone’s lawn. She appeared to be tracking something — a small animal, presumably — with her nose scanning back and forth as she walked forward, tugging at the leash. Right over to a hosta plant —

hosta

— whence she pulled out a tennis ball. You already guessed as much, but it came as quite a surprise to me.

This morning, Indie pulled off an equally impressive trick:  she ducked her snout down into a snow bank and pulled out a buried tennis ball. Like Little Jack Horner doing that trick of his with the Christmas pie and the plum.

Smelling a tennis ball through a layer of snow is a pretty neat trick, I think.

Once Indie finds a tennis ball, she carries it proudly for the next twenty seconds or so. Just long enough to show it off a little. Maybe even as far as the next block where — ptooey! — she will spit it onto some stranger’s lawn.

“Indie’s tennis ball relocation service”, I call it. Kind of like a random act of kindness:  wake up one morning, step out onto the porch to collect your newspaper, and spy the tennis ball in your yard.

“But I don’t own a tennis ball,” you think to yourself.

You do now! Merry Christmas, ho-ho-ho!

It’s too bad there’s no money in tennis ball relocation. If only there were, I’d have a very valuable dog on my hands.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*I first introduced Indie a couple of months ago, with a different name:  Aero. That’s the name the Humane Society had given her.

“Indie” is my little joke:  it’s short for “indefatigable”, because it has proven impossible to tire this dog out.

Alternatively, the name evokes independent “indie” music; or the Indianapolis “Indy” 500 race; or Indiana “Indie” Jones. Take your pick:  I like pet names that have multiple referents.

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