Archive for October, 2008

I learned a new word yesterday

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Coltan.

I don’t recall ever hearing the word until it came up yesterday in a conversation with Gerard about the renewed fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  I mentioned a news story I’d seen, and Gerard matter-of-factly stated that the fighting was in an area where he has family.

He then stated that a lot of the fighting is about coltan.

I managed to get from him that coltan is a mineral that is highly valued for use in electronics including cell phones.

I thumbed through my Canadian Oxford Dictionary but it didn’t have an entry for coltan.  Likewise I struck out with Webster Online.

So of course I tried Googling it, and I hit the jackpot.  Try it for yourself here.  Read some of the stories about why so many people are dying for the mineral wealth of the Congo including columbite-tantalite (coltan), and try to figure out why the people of that hurting nation are receiving so little benefit from their country’s abundant natural resources.

Even if like me you don’t fully understand the complexities of that country’s political situation, please take time to say a prayer for the Congolese people.  May they soon come to a place where coltan and the other natural resources of their country will contribute to building a prosperous and healthy democracy, not to funding more wars.

And may we in the rest of the world figure out a way to ensure that the coltan in our cellphones and Playstations doesn’t have blood on it.

Mining coltan

(Photo credit – Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting)

The Prince Albert Hillbillies

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

A scene from the current season of The Prince Albert Hillbillies …

Ma:  Well Pa, I reckon tonight it’s your turn to cook supper.

Pa:  Doggone it Ma, I’ll be hogtied if you ain’t right.

Ma:  Did you think to take anything out of the freezer last night?

Pa:  Naw, but I was figurin’ on mebbe just cuttin’ the tenderloins outta the deer that’s hangin’ in the garage.

Ma:  That sounds mighty fine Pa.

Our conversation wasn’t exactly as above – I’ve used a bit of artistic license.  For one thing, Janet still retains her precise British grammar in addition to a hint of accent.

But she did comment on how some people would consider it strange to cut a meal’s meat from a carcass hanging in one’s garage. 

I on the other hand think it’s normal.

(By the way, the stir fry was mighty fine, if I do say so muh self)

Goodbyes said

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

After more than ten and a half years of serving Gateway Covenant Church, Pastor Randall, Lauralea and Micah are off to Alberta.  Although the big formal farewell event was held last Sunday, we had a last chance to say goodbye this morning.

I’m terrible at saying goodbye, as I am at anything that might involve showing emotion.  Curse this Norwegian reserve.

I wish I could be as expressive as Marc, Sharon, or  Linea.

Despite the lack of bear hugs, I will miss them.

Carbon bomb?

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

As reported in various news media earlier this year, Greenpeace recently put out a report calling Canada’s boreal forests a “carbon bomb”. Interestingly, this article seems to assume that the instant a tree is harvested, all its carbon is instantly vaporized into the atmosphere.  There is no mention of the long-term carbon sequestration in wood frame houses and other wood products.  There is also no serious analysis of the natural role of fire in the boreal forest.

For some balance, click here for a science-based article on boreal forests and the carbon balance.

The bounty of the Lord

Monday, October 13th, 2008

It being Thanksgiving Monday here in Canada, I’ll just point to this song that I stumbled across on a compilation CD.  It’s by a folkie-sounding singer-songwriter named Claire Holley, of whom I’d never heard before.

I have wandered from my home
My lips are dry, my feet are worn
My eyes are blinded by the dust clouds in the road
But I’m looking for the day
when the rain will come and pour
My hope is in the bounty of the Lord

Oh, I’ve traveled far away
Like a reckless, running train
Bound nowhere, racing in the night
Now I’m gathered in the hands
That formed the meadowed land
I am resting in the bounty of the Lord
Yeah I am resting in the bounty of the Lord

I can hear the people singing
And the sound of tambourining
Every member of my distant family
It’s the place that I believe in
Even though I’ve never seen it
I’m believing in the bounty of the Lord
I’m believing in the bounty of the Lord
My hope is in the bounty of the Lord

————

I can’t say I’ve ever heard the word “tambourining” before, but I do like the song.

A Google search turned up this YouTube clip … someone has combined the song with photos – mostly vintage black & white ones … you might think it’s a bit too sweet, but I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.

A different ecosystem

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Being most accustomed to the ecoregions of Saskatchewan’s Boreal Plain ecozone, I am not very familiar with the prairie ecosystems.  The area we were in for our short mule deer hunt is in the middle of the Mixed Grassland ecoregion. I’ve hunted there several years ago, but it still took awhile to remember to check for cacti before sitting or kneeling on the ground.

We were in close proximity to the South Saskatchewan River, and the waterfowl migration was in full swing.  I have never seen so many sandhill cranes.  We saw lots of pronghorn antelope, sharptail grouse and other prairie species.  I even managed to shoot my first pheasant.

It’s a very scenic area, especially the breaks beside the river.  Apparently the Canadian made-for-TV movie “The Englishman’s Boy” (I haven’t seen it but now I’d like to) was filmed in the area.

I even learned a new card game.  Ken called it “The Card Game With No Name”.

And between the four of us we managed to get five deer, so this omnivore won’t be going hungry for awhile.

Busy week

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

It seems like this week has been even busier than most.  Part of the reason is that I’m getting ready for a short (2-day) Antlerless Mule Deer hunt with the muzzleloader.  Ken and Charlie have a good area where they hunt most years.  They started hunting today, and Eric and I will drive down to the area after work tomorrow, and will hunt Friday and Saturday.  It’s in Wildlife Management Zone 14, close to the South Saskatchewan River near Kyle.

Yesterday was particularly busy, since I’d scheduled an “Energuide” home evaluation which took a chunk of the afternoon.  I also made a batch of goose jerky, and racked two batches of fruit wine (chokecherry and saskatoon) that were finished their primary fermentations.

Janet has this unreasonable expectation that since we both are working full-time now, perhaps I should do a bit more of of the cooking than I have in the past, so tonight I cooked supper.  We’ve had some ruffed grouse taking up room in the freezer for a year, so that was the meat.  It went over well with the kids.

Now I’m waiting for the maps of the hunting area to finish uploading to the GPS.  I’d like to get a newer model with USB interface … 24 MB of map data is taking about 2 hours to transfer over the serial connection on my aging Garmin GPSmap 76S.

(After writing that last sentence, I checked the progress, and found that there was an error communicating … “please check the connection …”  Can’t spot anything wrong.  Re-started the transfer, and will leave it running overnight.)

At least I think I’m pretty well packed for the hunt, the tags have been purchased, etc.

Enough rambling.  G’nite.