the_vulture: (tvhead)
Early last week, my girlfriend and I headed out on a four hour drive to visit her family in Cape Breton for a few days. We managed to make it just ahead of a storm of freezing rain that we figured would clear up the next to allow us to phototrek around the island. Unfortunately, the ice storm front 'stalled', according to the weather experts, pinning us down inside her mom's house for most of the trip, often without power. We even wound up missing a day of work waiting for the road conditions to improve enough to let us get back home safely.

So, no, I didn't get a chance to take many photos and I didn't get to play with the Canon Rebel T5i at all, on account of not wishing to expose it to the freezing rain. But you're welcome to peek at what I did manage to photograph:

More under the cut... )
the_vulture: (Man/Vulture)
Okay, granted the Canada Day fireworks I went to see on Sunday night were not worth the mosquito bites I suffered for it. I'm not sure if it was a matter of cutting back on the budget, but it was kinda lacking. However, the afternoon preceding was quite pleasant. I spent it with my folks, first going to a rather nice brunch buffet at the casino and then sitting outdoors at a pub on Main Street, enjoying a pint and watching the interesting characters gathered to celebrate Canada Day. Of course, in amongst all that was a bunch of Canada Day related spamming on AVEN and Facebook.  In particular, I shared my thoughts from this post I wrote two years ago, which still hold true for me.

Yesterday, I finally got out to a local beach and spent the afternoon embracing the Ocean and Sun (and then enjoying a chicken poutine, afterwards). It was a very restful and relaxing day, good for the spirit. Today (yes, a long weekend), I've got nothing on the agenda but doing some cooking in the kitchen and perhaps going to Kung Fu, if my shoulder is up to it (I injured it last week and it's still quite sore).

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 [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith  has written a deeply and spiritually meaningful poem, titled "The Death Tenders", based, in part, on a prompt I gave for her current Poetry Fishbowl. This month's theme is "wild animals". Go check it out and leave a prompt!

For more of my thoughts on vultures, please read my very first LJ post.

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Inspired, in part, by conversations with [info]swankivy , I've decided to put some effort into maintaining seasonal displays. I've put up displays for specific seasonal holidays such as Samhain, Yule, and Ostara before, but I've never put up anything for Midsummer. That changed not long after my Midsummer stay at the beach.

Below is my first Summer seasonal display, featuring sea shells, gathered during my Midsummer vacation, and one very cute stuffed lobster toy:

the_vulture: (Man/Vulture)

I will be performing rune casting for charity beginning 12:00 AM (AST) and ending midnight on April 22nd. During that time period, if you purchase a charity v-gift (see the list of available ones below), and reply to this post with a link pointing to the profile for which it was purchased, I will consult the runes with a 3-stone draw to respond to a question you pose. The question can be for you or someone of your choosing. Please specify if you want the response to be delivered privately. I will be popping in and out through the course of the day to cast runes and respond to queries. (As this will be my first time doing this kind of event, I will be limiting my responses to the first 30 queries.)

As a bonus (and 'cause I want to support this particular charity on Earth Day) , for the first fifteen responders (NO DONATION NECESSARY), I will purchase one of the Gulf_Aid_Now v-gifts (with the cute seabird and turtle). (Make sure that your profile will accept v-gifts!) Heck, you don't even have to bring a donation and a question to receive one, just show up and say "Hi."

Rune casting is CLOSED.  HAPPY EARTH DAY!!!  :D

List of charity v-gifts here... )

Retrospect (shortly after): Well, that didn't work out as planned...

Hrrmm... ) 
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This is a fairly simple one to answer: a good, solid knife. It's your most essential survival tool. With that, you can fashion the rest of the tools and weapons you need to survive in a wilderness. 
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Here's another post I've been meaning to do for a while.

It's a little photo essay on one of my houseplants, a croton petra. I call it my Crayola Croton, for obvious reasons.  :)

More pics under the cut... )

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As many of you are aware, last evening's Lunar Eclipse, in occurring on the day of the Winter Solstice, is quite a rare event. Sadly, I could not participate in it as I would have liked: the weather was just too foul to see anything in the night sky (and, in actuality, I even had some difficulty seeing some of the city's taller landmarks). I did, however, shared a few words with the Goddess and laid out a number of my female aligned altar and ritual items on the windowsill to absorb a bit of the extra Female energy that was about. 

Later on today, of course, I will be having a private Yule ceremony in which I will be honoring the rebirth of the God. For me, it is a time of new beginnings, as the energies of the world shift from building potential to beginning action. As such, I've chosen this evening to consecrate my new sword, which will finally see ritual use, as well as reconsecrate a number of my other implements. 

In her article for The Washington Post, 
Out of darkness, light: Solstice and the lunar eclipse, prominent Pagan author Starhawk wrote:

More of what both Starhawk and I have written about the Solstice... )

May the promise of the returning Light fill your hearts with warmth, joy and peace this holiday season!
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I just downloaded a funky moon phase calculator app (titled MoonCal) to my Crackberry. I noticed that it listed November 21st as a 'blue moon'. As it is NOT a second Full Moon in the month of November, I was a little confused.

A little Google Fu later and I came upon this at

Although the full moon that you will see on Nov. 21, 2010, looks like an ordinary full moon, it is actually a bit extraordinary—a blue moon.

What is a Blue Moon?

There are in fact two definitions for a blue moon. According to the more recent definition, a blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month. For a blue moon to occur, the first of the full moons must appear at or near the beginning of the month so that the second will fall within the same month (the average span between two moons is 29.5 days).

The Other Kind of Blue Moon

The older definition, which is recorded in early issues of the Maine Farmer's Almanac, states that the blue moon is the third full moon in a season that has four full moons. Why would one want to identify the third full moon in a season of four full moons? The answer is complex, and has to do with the Christian ecclesiastical calendar.

Some years have an extra full moon—13 instead of 12. Since the identity of the moons was important in the ecclesiastical calendar (the Paschal Moon, for example, used to be crucial for determining the date of Easter), a year with a 13th moon skewed the calendar, since there were names for only 12 moons. By identifying the extra, 13th moon as a blue moon, the ecclesiastical calendar was able to stay on track.

So, yes, my app is indeed correct in keeping with the older definition. BTW, it also calculates the lunar phases, the solstices, the equinoxes, the Chinese New Year and what Zodiac sign the moon falls under. It's a really funky app!


Aug. 29th, 2010 09:47 am
the_vulture: (Default)
Taken using a Canon Powershot A700 and using a fluorescent daylight spectrum bulb for lighting...

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I've always adored octopi. It might be my inner Cthulhu worshiper expressing himself, but I've always found these creatures absolutely fascinating. One of the qualities I really admire about them is their intelligence, which surpasses that of many vertebrates, let alone other members of their invertebrate brethren.

Just to give you an idea of how smart our little eight legged friends are, I present to you the following account of a film documented experiment (with some gratuitous personification added in for flavour). Two octopi are in adjoining aquariums, separated by an opaque divider. A crab in a screw-on lid jar is thrown into each tank.

Octopus 1: Yay, a crab snack! Hey, wait! What's with this hard bubble? I can't get at the crab, dammit! Can't break it, can't bite through it, ARGH!

Octupus 2: Yay, a crab snack! WTF? It's stuck in a hard bubble. That's weird! Hey, if I twist this bit that looks kinda like a sand dollar (the lid), it gets a little loose. If I keep twisting it... YES! Sweet crabbity-goodness is MINE!

The opaque divider is removed and another round of crabs in jars are tossed in.

Octopus 1: Yay, cra... Aw, damn. It looks like it's in one of those hard bubbles again. Stupid air breathers are probably having a laugh. I'm not gonna even go near the thing: no point. Wait, what's Joe doing with his?

Octopus 2 (Joe): Woohoo! More crabbity goodness! Just twist and OM NOM NOM! *bliss*

Octopus 1: Damn, why didn't I think of that? Okay, grab the bit that looks like a sand dollar, twist it around and, YES, the damn crab is MINE. Thanks, Joe! And I bet those silly air breathers thought I wasn't capable of observational learning. Shows them, don't it!

So yeah, they're smart, really smart.

Still, I was quite surprised, when following a link found in the article presented in
[info]wtf_nature , to find evidence that THEY ARE USING TOOLS!

according to this article, some of the little guys are selecting and carrying around coconut shells to construct a handy armoured shelter to sleep in. That puts 'em into a category of intelligence normally reserved for mammals and birds, and at the higher end of the spectrum at that!

Imagine what they could accomplish if they had a lifespan that lasted more than a few years at most...
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I'm such a bad boy! *chuckle*

Today I did the Run for the Cure. I was quite pleased with my time for 5k (3.1 miles), which was 32 minutes 4 seconds. That put me at 10 min 31 secs per mile, a big improvement over the just under 12 minutes per mile I used to be at about this time last year.

The event was well attended. It was certainly a festive atmosphere with many guest speakers, a high energy warm up, and a rock band greeting runners as they finished their run. But beyond all this was the beauty of the path itself. I had been looking forward to this run, in part, because it would be a great opportunity to check out a park I hadn't yet been to. Fall had blessed the scene with a glorious dressing of reds, oranges and yellows. The path itself wound through beautiful woodlands and criss crossed a cheerful creek. The run was an absolute delight! I can't believe I've only just recently discovered this park, let alone explore its beauty!

You'll have to forgive the quality of the pics. Not only was I taking them on the run (literally), but, alas, the camera on my Nokia sucks rather harshly in that it has poor photo quality and it's way too damn easy to get one's finger in the way (hence the cropping).

the_vulture: (tvhead)

Power Washer WINS!!!

(Serves the little bastards right for stinging Mom on the nose!)

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 I do so love receiving heart warming tales of human and animal friendship, such as the following, in my e-mail box:  

In 1986, Mike Membre was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. 

On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air.  

The elephant seemed distressed, so Membre approached it very carefully.  

He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it.  

As carefully and as gently as he could, Membre worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. 

The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. 

Membre stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Membre never forgot that elephant or the events of that day. 

Twenty years later, Membre was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. 

As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Membre and his son Cantri were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Membre, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man. 

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Membre couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. 

Membre summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. 

The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Membre's legs and raised him high into the air and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.


Probably wasn't the same elephant.

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Yes, I finally got to a beach this summer! I don't recall the name of this one; it was one that my uncle led us to, but it was a reasonably pleasant beach, if a bit too warm for my taste. I even got to dunk myself in the ocean, though, sadly, I didn't stay in long as it's kinda hard to relax and float there when you realize that you have to be on the lookout for roaming jellyfish. Still, it was a pleasant and relaxing day.

In other news, I finally made it to the third (and final) temple in Zuma after many repeated attempts (made very frustrating by coming 'this close' multiple times). Yay me!

Sadly, tomorrow will be spent counting trucks. Ugh.

PS: I apologize for the crappy quality of the photo; it was shot with my phone. Shots taken with it also sometimes include my finger (which this one appears to have the tip of). I used the phone because I wanted to text the photo to a bunch of my friends in the UK, but alas, I just don't have stable enough coverage to transmit the photo. Silly phone network.

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For the last few days, my life has revolved around the activities of the contractors I've been assigned to keep track off. They are currently grading the roads, as specified by the engineer, into my uncle's future subdivision. I've been noting start and stop times for various pieces of equipment, in particular the bulldozer (henceforth, the Cat) and two dump trucks (nicknamed Red and Blue (though blue is really red, white, and blue, but I digress...)). I've been pretty much fixed to staying in visual contact of Red and Blue so I can keep track of how many loads of dirt they take and where they take them. The task has it's inconveniences, but, at the same time, it gives me a lot of opportunity to catch up on various stationary activities, like blogging, for example. 

Of course, having to continually focus at least part of my attention on the trucks may have slightly deleterious effects upon my sanity, as demonstrated by my rather one sided conversations with the trucks ("Red, where are you? Ah, there you are. What the hell took you so long? Blue, did you just head out the other way when I wasn't looking?!?")

My dad gets to play with a loader and an excavator whilst I sit around all day; that's not fair.

Meanwhile, the exercise regime has been shot to crap over the last week and a bit. I'd been doing well establishing a routine of running, cycling and yoga over the last several weeks, but that ended early last week when I came down with a rather nasty chest cold. At the same time, my right knee started acting up again. I think I may have moved oddly in my sleep, as I woke up in the middle of the night with it being a bit sore. I attempted to end the lack of cardio yesterday with a bike ride out on the property. That lasted all of ten minutes. Granted, I hit the road hard and fast, but I didn't expect to soon be coughing hard enough to see spots. Nope, cardio, at least hard cardio, will have to wait for a while still.
The job hunt isn't going as well as I would like. A call centre job I had an over the phone screening interview for has declined to offer. I strongly suspect that I'm 'overqualified'; few people will hire someone they think will be moving on very soon, as I suspect they think I would. I wonder how many people have been stuck unemployed simply because they were 'overqualified' for all the work that was actually available. *sigh* Still, I'm fairly hopeful I'll pick up something fairly soon; I'm just trying to keep from settling for minimum wage work.

With lots of time available for things like blogging, I've started the transfer of entries from to here. I've been posting them using the Date Out of Order function, so they'll be in the appropriate chronological order. I've also begun putting tags into my past entries. I've become quite fond of tag clouds in my other blog and was pleased to discover that I could use them here, as I was selecting a new theme for my LJ blog (Do you like?). It's going to take a long time to get things sufficiently tagged, methinks.

(What is Red doing now?)

Other odds and ends:

  • I've purchased and arranged for the delivery of [info]1grl_revolution's birthday pressie.
  • I've recorded a chapter of the novel I've been reading to my girlfriend. I'll have to get that burnt to disk and sent out sometime soon, as well as the really cute pressie I picked up for her. 
  • I've been seeing coloured balls rolling around in spirals and such whenever I close my eyes, courtesy of playing way too much Zuma.
  • I've discovered that Chucky really, really doesn't like the utility jeep. He'll let you walk up pretty close before ducking into his hole, but he bolts for it on hearing the jeep.

And that's about it for now.


Jun. 7th, 2008 08:00 pm
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I remember watching the film Danny, the Champion of the World. It was a very British film adaptation of a very British story that strongly featured a very British animal, the pheasant. 

How is it that, in just two short bike trips, I've seen far more pheasants in Eastern Canada than I had ever seen in well over three years of living in Britain?!? 

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 The other night, as I lay me down to sleep, I was looking at the rather large picture window that takes up most of my outside wall and realized that, in the event of a zombie holocaust, I'd be zombie bait. (Don't ask me why I think about such things; maybe it's just the gamer in me trying to find a way to express itself now that I'm no longer playing D&D.)

Essentially, not only is my room fairly indefensible against zombies (or anyone armed with a brick, for that matter), the entire house, as beautiful as it is, would have as much resistance to invasion as a greenhouse in a field of rocks. My former single room flat has more defensibility.

Granted, the property has one thing that my flat does not - the garage. Now much of the garage, too, has far too many windows to even keep a rabid gang of hoodies at bay for long, but the middle bay can actually be closed off from the front and provides far more defensive value. Furthermore, it's got a few things I wouldn't have access to in my former flat, like the spade, the machete, the chainsaw, the gas powered scythe, the axes, the pitchfork, the TRACTOR (with enclosed cabin), the other chainsaw, the pick axe, and other goodies (did I mention the machete?). Yep, a veritable arsenal of zombie destruction... if I could make it to it after the house got overrun. *chuckle*

In other news, I completed another 3.5 mile run. The thighs were a bit unhappy about that to begin with, but shut up soon after the run began. The nipples, sadly, took up the cry of complaint as they got chaffed. Yerg! Add in a bit of surveying that involved climbing over windfalls and you've got a fairly physically active day.

Final musing: camouflage is not always such a good thing. After spending an hour or so riding around on the lawnmower, I commenced with trimming the odd bits of uncut lawn with the battery powered strimmer (also from the arsen... err... garage). At one point I looked down as I saw what I initially believed to be water running along a bit of concrete. A second glance revealed the movement to actually be a baby garter snake that just narrowly avoided getting snicker sneed by the weed wacker. The wee thing made good its narrow escape and fled into what remained of the grass, disappearing from view within moments. 

Yep, that's the salient bits that have run through my mind today, only to continue without stopping...

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 I'm finally settling in to what will be my home for the next few months. My parents and I are staying in a house, owned by my uncle, that is on the edge of the property that he and my father are developing for residential subdivions. The property is located a number of miles from the city of Moncton. It's nestled in a green, grand forest filled with the sights and sounds of birds and forest critters (and, sadly, the bugs).  

I've been quite busy over the last week and a bit, helping my parents settle into the house and such. In terms of actual work developing the land, I haven't been involved in much, save cleaning and organizing the garage (no small task!) and several bits of yardwork (including taking down and rebuilding a small garden wall). However, more work will be coming, eventually.

As for the long run, I'm actually considering moving to and teaching in Fredericton, New Brunswick. From what I've seen of it, it's a lovely university town. Granted, it's not quite as a magical as Victoria, and it's perched on the banks of a river, rather than an ocean, but it may do just fine, especially given the serious economic downturns in BC (damn pine beetle!) that will likely result in migration away from there (and, consequently, falling school registers).

Meanwhile, as you may have guessed, I am now computer enabled and have ready access to the internet. That means I can soon start into the backlog of photo blog entries that I've been needing to do. I'll start with pics of where I'm living now.

Yep, even on a riding lawn mower, that front yard takes a while to mow. *chuckle*

In this shot, you can see the front end of the garage (which is monumental), a bit of the back yard, the trailer (caravan for the Brits (btw, that 'caravan' is over 34 feet long and features three tip out sections)), and, in the background, the barn.

Here's another view of that trailer.

This is the house from the back. Yes, the building on the right is the garage.

The original wall of the garden feature was falling apart as it was set improperly, allowing the stones to bulge outwards. Furthermore, there wasn't actually enough stones to complete the wall as it was originally intended. I took it completely down, shrunk the oval, set the stones at a slight inward incline so they press in together, and even took an artistic liberty or two with the arrangement. I'm rather pleased with the overall effect. Not bad for my first dabbling with landscaping, eh?

And now for the interior of the house:

The kitchen is quite spacious with plenty of storage. It opens out into a number of rooms and a corridor.

The house features a sunken floor living room and features open architecture, large windows, and a fireplace.

My room is the smallest bedroom in the house, but, like the rest of it, is bright and airy, with a vaulted ceiling.

In general, the house features a lot of large, open areas and huge, bright windows. The house is set along a north/south axis, so sunlight (when it occurs) pours in from one side or the other. The overall effect is one of airy brightness.

Finally, here is one of our 'neighbours':

He lives under the corner of the barn. This woodchuck is one of many bits of wildlife we see on a regular basis, which includes a bunny, a large woodpecker, and a bald eagle. Around the property, one can find signs of other wildlife, such as deer tracks, and the woods are always filled with sounds of birds, frogs, and insects.

Yep, overall, not a bad place to spend some time. *grin*

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Whilst doing an image search on "Saturnalia", I came across this image. It reminded of tales told that domestic turkeys have been so dumbed down by in-breeding, that they'll drown in a rainstorm as they always look up when rain touches their head and that their beaks are so malformed that they let water in.  

After a little looking around, I discovered this wasn't quite the case. They don't look up because they're dumb, they look up because of a nervous disorder, and only for up to a minute. So if it's a light rainfall, I guess they'll live. 

But there are some extraordinary differences between wild and domestic turkeys. The domestic variety are now so large and cumbersome that they are pretty much wholly dependent on humans for survival, as they cannot fly or escape predators.  

In fact, they can't even breed without human help, as the males (toms) have such large breasts that they can't umm... get in there, so to speak. Yes, this has led to the creation of one of those ever so amusing jobs, performed on farms around the world, turkey masturbation. 

As side note, not all turkeys are the result of sexual reproduction; some turkeys arise from unfertilized eggs, which is known as parthenogenesis. Yes, you've got it right: virgin birth turkeys! Hallelujah! 

If that weirds you out just a little too much, you'll be pleased to know that some wild(er) versions of turkeys are still being farmed. They're pricier, but apparently have a rich flavour to them (domestic turkey is so bland, it has to have flavour added to it). 

For way more information about turkeys than you'll ever need to know, read here: d_turkey




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