Archive for March, 2008

Has spring sprung?

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Last week someone at the office emailed us all stating that he’d heard and seen a crow, therefore spring had arrived in Prince Albert. We were having some warm weather, so I didn’t have the heart to argue with him. Then this morning I woke up to the weatherman informing me that the outside temperature was minus 23 C.

I emailed my co-worker informing him that his crow had died of exposure.

Someone else pointed out a piece of folklore which states that spring arrives seven snows after the first crow.

When does spring actually arrive? Having a somewhat analytical inclination, I rather like the precision of Canada’s National Research Council, which states that spring will arrive this year on March 19 at 11:48 p.m. CST (i.e. March 20 at 5:48 a.m. UTC) which apparently is the minute the sun crosses the equator from south to north, i.e. the Vernal Equinox.

However it just seems wrong to call it spring when the temperature is minus 20 C, so I’ve decided that, for me, spring will arrive when the ice breaks on the North Saskatchewan River at Prince Albert. I’m predicting that event will happen on April 12 this year (which is likely to coincide fairly closely with seven snows after the first crow).

(Does this flexible view of the true arrival of spring mean that I’m adopting a post-modern worldview?)

Gopher control with the Bun-Vac 6000

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

The farmers in Saskatchewan are once again grappling with how best to control the gophers (more correctly known as Richardson’s ground squirrels) that are over-running their croplands. Not many people, including myself, are entirely happy with even a temporary relaxation of the rules on using the pesticide Strychnine. Shooting gophers could make a difference, but there aren’t enough shooters in Saskatchewan to make a dent in the gopher population. Apparently there is a device on the market called the Rodenator that is considered a humane way to kill the varmints, basically by blowing them up by igniting a mixture of oxygen and propane in their tunnels.

Apparently $380,000 has been committed by the provincial Agriculture ministry to research the problem.

For the National Post story click here.

Perhaps the most fascinating solution mentioned in that article was proposed by an animal-rights activist from B.C.

“There are vacuums that can suck them out of their holes without harming them, and you could set aside some Crown land or farmers’ land for gophers to use,” she said. “Then you could use vegetation they prefer, or radio frequencies to keep them on that land.”

I can’t help but wonder whether she’s thinking of the Bun-Vac 6000, featured in that documentary Wallace & Gromit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit …

Kick the sand right back in their faces! Kick! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Charles AtlasOne of the advantages of growing up in a big family is that one or more of your siblings is likely to be eccentric, which makes for some lasting memories. One of those memories is of my brother Dan laughing maniacally while listening to his Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band double album.

The song Mr. Apollo had special meaning for me, a 97-pound weakling who actually at one time ordered the Charles Atlas bodybuilding course.

I have seen Mr. Apollo
Uproot trees with his bare hands
I have seen Mr. Apollo’s
Body building plans

He’s the strongest man
The world has ever seen
And if you take his courses
He’ll make you big and rough

Oh! And you can beat up bullies ’til they cry
“Oh lah! Oh, crikey! Let go, you rotter! Don’t punish me!”

When you’re tough, you’re very fit
Your voice is rough, it sounds like grit
You are so strong, and proud of it
Thanks to Mr. Apollo


So for Dan, and if by chance there are any others out there who remember the Bonzos, here they are, in an old clip with terrible quality …

Ice fishing

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

After our recent cold weather, it was great to get a warm weekend. Fiona, Michel, and I took advantage of it by heading up to Little Shell Lake yesterday for a few hours of ice-fishing with Marv. The fish weren’t very cooperative (we only caught four small pike), but just being out of the city was good for the soul.

I’ve uploaded a few pictures to a gallery … to view them, click on the pic below.

Ice fishing

This is my rock n’ roll confession to you

Friday, March 7th, 2008

Bay City Rollers - Rock N' Roll Love LetterWhen I was young and impressionable I bought a Bay City Rollers LP.

This is my rock and roll love letter to you
This is my rock and roll love letter to you
Gonna sign it, gonna seal it, gonna mail it away
Gonna mail it today

After a few listens, and a change of environment, the album started to collect dust, and eventually it disappeared.

However the shame has lingered.

I believe that confession is good for the soul. I feel better already.

A sign of spring

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

It must be March because the newspapers have started the annual rite of running pictures of celebrities cuddling up to newborn seal pups.

Actress with seal pup

I don’t question actress Alison Steadman’s sincerity, but I do question the tactics of the animal-rights activists and media who knowingly mislead the public every year. Surely they must be aware of the fact that Canada has not allowed the harvest of white-coat seals in more than 20 years.

The fact is that by the time the seals have moulted, and can be legally harvested, they just don’t have the same media appeal. However the image of an attractive actress with a cute white-coated seal pup trumps scientific fact about this sustainable harvest.

Learning from nature

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

I received this picture in one of those forwarded emails from a friend, with the subject, “What to wear when the wife has chores for you …”

Couch Camo

Hey, it works for other species, so it’s worth a try.

Hello in there

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Linea has been posting about her Auntie Florence’s latest health problem. She makes the statement, “I wonder who will be caring for me in another thirty years. I hope they look at me with love.

It made me think of John Prine’s “Hello in There”, a song about ageing and loneliness …

Me and Loretta, we don’t talk much more,
She sits and stares through the back door screen.
And all the news just repeats itself
Like some forgotten dream that we’ve both seen.
Someday I’ll go and call up Rudy,
We worked together at the factory.
But what could I say if asks “What’s new?”
“Nothing, what’s with you? Nothing much to do.”

Ya’ know that old trees just grow stronger,
And old rivers grow wilder ev’ry day.
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello.”