Monday 31 December 2012

What a glorious day it was!

100m of driveway done! 

Outdoors I went, to use the snowblower yet again. The sun was brilliant. It is gorgeous being outdoors. I prefer snow at this time of year to the rain.

This is where Buster like to hide,
waiting for the birds!
Processing the photos, I noticed the chickadee upper left!
I was too slow.
By the time I lifted the camera,
the 5 deer took off into the bush!
Hi, Bambi!
I figured out how to get the snowblower on the lower deck!
I love the railing under the snow
Front lawn under a foot-high
 carpet of snow!

Sunday 30 December 2012

Walkies, sleepies, eatsies

First I took a walk in the forest, beginning in the meadow. We've had 28cm of snow on the 21st/22nd of December. No sooner did I clear it all then several days of light snow, and another 18 cm (7") falling December 27th.

Screen captures show the precipitation.
The first is Dec. 26, the next is Dec. 27th. Huge storms, with many over whelmed citizens! 
  The kittens were NO help! They seem pretty tired. Then they helped themselves to the frige for a snack! AFter I stopped laughing and took a photo, I had to peel them away from my birthday shrimp!

Saturday 29 December 2012

Men fined $53,000 for damaging snake habitat

Can you imagine?
A hermit thrush who lives on the edge of the wetland.
I spotted it last spring.
Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. 
-Milan Kundera, novelist, playwright, and poet (b.1929) 

I often read the Ontario MNR News Releases. It isn't amusing and it is shocking. People with no respect for a wetland, or the critters that inhabit it.

pond puppy
There are many who violate not only common sense laws of the land, but the specific details. Thing is, the latest report is of these people sentenced in Parry Sound, but they live in south west Ontario. That is a distance of more than 460km (285 m)!

This latest report is of a pair who apply for a work permit in 2010 in spring, to build a trail across Crown Land. They are denied the permit. The reason is that this land contains an endangered species, including the eastern fox snake. They are endangered because they are similar to rattle snakes, and people feel obliged to kill those. The thing is, there aren't just snakes, but many critters the snakes keep in check.

baby watersnake
They go ahead anyway, and on July 8th rent a backhoe and begin. The MNR issues a stop work order July 9th, which they violated. Back they were, July 12th they were reported and caught having done work all weekend. The fines are substantial. How dare they? An enormous lack of understanding of habitat, the importance of ecosystems, and the cycle and the balance of life.

 Paul VanErp, of Bothwell, Ontario, and Kyle VanDeven, of
Kerwood, Ontario, were convicted and fined a total of $53,000 for offenses under the Endangered Species Act and the Public Lands Act.

Justice of the Peace Diane Lafleur heard the case in the Ontario Court of Justice in Parry Sound on October 22, 2012.

The fines for VanErp:

  • $20,000 for damaging endangered species habitat
  • $8,000 for constructing a trail on Crown land without a permit
  • red snake
  • $5,000 for violating a stop work order. 
The fine for VanDeven:
  • $12,000 for damaging endangered species habitat
  • $4,000 for constructing a trail on Crown land
  • $4,000 for violating a stop work order. 

dock spider

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf and take an insect view of its plain. 
-Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)

garter snake
To report a natural resources violation call 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667) toll-free any time or contacting your local ministry office during regular business hours. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Friday 28 December 2012

Surveillance cameras in Canadian cities

G8 2010 surveillance at the Muskoka Airport
The next time you walk down an urban street, look around. Chances are you’ll see surveillance cameras pointed at public spaces. In Canada we have laws about this. They can install CCTV, but they must post information about it.

  • Can you tell who is operating those cameras?
  • Why are they there?
  • Do you know what is happening to your image?
  • Are these surveillance networks compliant with Canadian privacy laws?


    Signs should at a minimum clearly tell you: who is operating the camera who you can contact if you have questions the purpose(s) of the surveillance.

    A study conducted in 2010-2011 by researchers at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information found that most privately operated video surveillance networks in the Greater Toronto Area (approximately 70%) did not display any signs at all, even though they are required to do so. Of the signs that did exist, not a single sign was found that met all basic requirements under

    Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

    Vancouver Loses Track Of Who's Looking At CCTV Footage ... The City of Vancouver is rapidly losing track of who accesses closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage. That's according to the Georgia Straight, who reported that the city doesn't always log who accesses footage from CCTV cameras or how often.

    Store video cameras failing to comply with privacy laws 28, 2012  Most retailers in Canada are failing to follow new federal rules when it comes to operating video surveillance cameras in their stores and businesses, according to a study by a professor of information studies at the University of Toronto. 
    Andrew Clement, co-founder of the Identity, Privacy and Security Institute, found that not a single video camera in one of Canada’s largest malls complied with the signage requirements of the federal PIPEDA.

    Guidelines for the Use of Video Surveillance Cameras in Public Places
    by A Cavoukian - 2007 - Cited by 1 - Related articles
    Commissioner. September 2007. Information and Privacy. Commissioner of. Ontario. Guidelines for the Use of. Video Surveillance Cameras in Public Places 

    Snow, snow, snow - grumpy cats

    I love comparing photos from seasons. The same tree, Dec. 4th vs. Dec. 27th!
    Dec. 4th I put lights around my spruce
    By Dec. 27th you cannot see the lights!

    The same huge pine tree in March, and this week! Stand up tall, tree! The ice rain weighs down the branches.

    One snowflake at a time!

    Long-form census in Canada

    I wrote about this issue in July, when the government first indicated that they were against the collection of data. The people who will be hardest hit are those living in poverty or our working poor.

    SATURDAY, 17 JULY, 2010

    Then, an interesting editorial by a pollster...

    MONDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER, 2012

    Well, they are finding that the lack of information affects many of us, primarily it affects those who most need government services. People who otherwise slip through the cracks: new Canadians, people who need direct services, those who want to be able to access services but cannot read government brochures, on-line information, or talk to someone on the phone.

    2011 Census of Population: Linguistic Characteristics of Canadians

    In total, 58.0% of the population or 19,225,000 spoke only English at home, while 18.2% or 6,043,000 spoke only French. Both proportions were down slightly from 2006.
    The use of multiple languages at home has increased. In 2011, 11.5% of the population reported using English and a language other than French, up from 9.1% in 2006.

    Cancellation of long-form census begins to take a toll on Statscan data

    OTTAWA Citizen -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cancellation of the long-form census has started to take a toll on Statistics Canada's data.
    The agency released its final tranche of the 2011 census last week... "Data users are advised to exercise caution when evaluating trends related to mother tongue and home language that compare 2011 Census data to those of previous censuses," Statscan states bluntly in a box included in its census material. Officials have undertaken a thorough investigation, with a report to be published shortly.

    Thursday 27 December 2012

    If you do not bend, you break

    I took a walk yesterday. We had a ton of rain last week, then it turned to freezing rain, and then snow fell on top of that – all on the same day. The branches are heavily laden. Many are bending with the weight of the snow that sits on the branches.

    These are life lessons. The trees, like the massive pines, bend with the weight of the snow. It was sudden. It took hours for each snowflake to fall. Each stuck to another, until the branches are heavily weighed down.

    Like this 200-something pine tree with bent branches
    Our forest holds many trees, some with branches broken off, others that have simply given up and snapped off.

    Either you bend or you break
    Most, however, are bent over like hunched over little old women whose lives have been a testament to how much they can change and bend. They have faced their life experiences and survived.
    The birch trees, with their fine, ice-crusted outer branches,
    bend with the weight. They are fragile.
    Wednesday, Dec. 26th
    Dorah wanted to play with the red ribbon.
    Can you see her?!
    She changed her mind. The snow is up to her armpits!
    Spruce are disappearing in the snow.
    This is Thursday, Dec. 27th
    The blue spruce shelters many animals, with its burdened branches.

    The cats hide in there; birds perch, keeping an eye out for cats and have their snacks; mice hunt for lost bird seed. 
    I spotted wolf tracks on the driveway. I'm wearing hubby's size 9 snowmachine boot! 

    Mourning doves hunker down in the bird feeder, whilst Bambi seeks scattered seed.
    Bambi looks mournfully my way!

    Are you a helper?
    “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” 
    ― Fred Rogers

    Wednesday 26 December 2012

    Today I turned 'Shifty-six'!

    My dance costume
    I took lessons at the National Ballet
    That's what my granddaughter, Josephine, told me during
    our Skype call today! She is excited because she is taking ballet lessons! We pretty sick, still, so no party. Hubby's in bed. Thank goodness for sappy Christmas movies!

    Today is my birthday. Yes, Boxing Day.
    But I didn't meet my mother until I was 6 months old. I was adopted at this tender age, having been in foster care prior to this, where my foster mother called my Cookie rather than giving me a permanent name!

    My kitten, and ballerina wallpaper when I had measles!
    Another Christmas
    Nanny, Mom, Dad - 1970
    It helps to write about life, love, happiness, and putting language to our lives. I am fortunate in that I have had three mothers, all told. My adoptive mother told me I was chosen. I was treasured. As a relinquished child, I was blessed. We had a book we read about an adopted child. It was a wonderful read. We usually spent Boxing Day visiting my Dad's side of the family. We saw Mom's side on a more regular basis. Nanny babysat us every Thursday while Mom and Dad went to choir practice, and she fed us lunch when Mom went back to work in 1961!

    Christmas 2001 - one of the last turkeys Dad ever carved!
    Santa's Village in Bracebridge in summer
    My birth mother gave me up. I was illegitimate, and those times were different. Enid was living in Toronto with a foster family until my birth. She was from a farming family in south Ontario and I was the result of a one-night stand. Not exactly a Hallmark moment, but it is the truth. My father doesn't even know he is my father! I never had a chance to ask my mother about him. We only met once and she insisted on going to a movie!

    I was doing griefwork with my late friend, Kaye, and she said that when she awake in the night, in those last few weeks of her death, she kept reliving her horrible mistakes she had made. We spoke of this, how we perseverate on this, and not our shining moments. This is why I do a Life Review with most of my clients. It is an opportunity to be positive, and to honour who you are before you are gone. This is why many of us write and blog about our lives.
    Christmas 1980 = Me, Caitlin,
    Serena Moffat (a young girl I babysat!)

    My eight birthday
    Christmas - Barbie and the angel (1960s)
    I still have that angel!
    Do not focus on one's day of death, or the place of their death, focus on the day of their birth. This is what I tell those who mourn. I now loathe those Roadside Memorials, or the newspaper remembrances on the day the peson died. Most of us die peacefully, and it is possible to have a good death.
    Winter on Walker Ave., Toronto

    Cookies, milk for Santa!

    When old words die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the heart; and where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with its wonders. 
    -Rabindranath Tagore, poet, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter, educator, composer, Nobel laureate (1861-1941)