Archive for July, 2012

July 31, 2012

Laugh of the day – July 31, 2012

For all you bookworms out there. ūüėČ


Speed Bump comic for July 31, 2012.

Source:  Speed Bump by Dave Coverly.


July 30, 2012

Why I love B.C. – Umbrella vending machines!

Yes, there are actually umbrella vending machines at the Vancouver International Airport:

Umbrella vending machine in YVR.


Look at all the plastic-wrapped, retractable black umbrellas inside…. Just $5 a pop!

Umbrellas inside an umbrella vending machine in YVR.


The best part is that this machine was out of service, and the folks at YVR thought it prudent to post a sign apologizing to rain-wary travellers and directing them to an alternate umbrella-purchasing location.  Heaven forbid that a person should have to venture out-of-doors without the proper protection!

Out of service sign on an umbrella vending machine in YVR.


Actually, if you’ve ever been to Vancouver, you know: ¬†when it rains, it doesn’t just pour, it drizzles. ¬†Constantly.

Maybe that umbrella isn’t such a bad idea…. ūüėČ

July 23, 2012

A shout out to female inventors

Today I learned that a woman invented each of the following:

  • windshield wipers
  • the space helmet
  • the hydrometer (a scientific instrument for measuring the relative density of liquids)
  • the signal flare
  • non-reflective glass
  • Liquid Paper
  • drip coffee
  • Scotchgard
  • Kevlar

Awesome! ¬†To all the creative, inventive women of the world — you go, girls!

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July 20, 2012

Your ten square feet of personal potential

Charlotte Gill writes in her book Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe:

If you dig out ten square feet of dirt from an old-growth forest, you might find embedded within it a thousand seeds.

One thousand seeds. ¬†In ten square feet of soil. ¬†“Seed rain,” Gill calls it — a veritable downpour of seeds from trees of all ages and lifetimes and locations lying together in the forest floor. ¬†Some of these seeds have fallen from the forest’s current occupants — the trees that stand above and around and about right now. ¬† Others are from trees long gone; these seeds have lain dormant in the soil for decades — sometimes centuries — just waiting for the exact right conditions to come along so roots can burrow and shoots can grow. ¬†Still other seeds have been blown, carried or otherwise transported to this patch of soil by winds, animals, weather, water or myriad other circumstances.

Only a tiny fraction of these seeds will actually germinate, Gill suggests.  But what a beautiful potential they together represent.

Perhaps, like that ten square feet of soil, we too are a bed of seeds all waiting to take root and reach skyward. ¬†But maybe, in contrast to the trees, we don’t have to wait decades or centuries for the right conditions to finally come along. ¬†Maybe we can create those conditions ourselves. ¬†If we water our soil accordingly, our potential for growth is virtually limitless.

July 18, 2012

Words from Shawn Atleo

Collected quotations from Shawn Atleo, who was today re-elected for a second term as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada:

On education:

First Nations youth are the youngest and fastest-growing segment of our population. Their share of the labour force will triple over the next 20 years. ¬†First Nations youth who complete high school are twice as likely to be employed, and those who get university degrees triple their earning potential. ¬†Increasing their graduation rates to match those of other Canadians [40 per cent of First Nations youth graduate from high school, compared to 80 per cent of non-First-Nations youth]¬†would inject an additional $71 billion into Canada’s economy over the next 10 years. ¬†This would help eliminate the employment gap, adding another $160 billion to the economy over a 10-year period.

Investing in First Nations is a long-term, sustainable stimulus plan for Canada’s economy. ¬†And yet our learners languish. ¬†First Nations children receive $2,000 less per year than non-aboriginal students. ¬†Schools lack libraries, computers, even heat and drinking water. ¬†Some of our communities lack permanent schools. Simple fairness dictates that we address this intolerable inequity.

When we open a door to a school, we close a door to a jail cell.

On resource development: 

First Nations can and must have a say in designing more sustainable resource development within our country and in our territories. . . . Together, we must plan what a sustainable future looks like.

On awareness and working together:  

Learning is all about . . . listening for understanding [and for] what each each others’ perspectives are. ¬†Somehow we [in Canada] strayed, and it’s time to return to that sentiment.

The consciousness of [First Nations’] history is starting to become well known. ¬†There’s a real sense of resilience. ¬†We have come through a most unbelievably challenging time where most of Canada has not understood. ¬†Now we are welcoming [Canadians] into this conversation.

Let us turn the page to a new chapter, together.

July 16, 2012

How many trees does it take to fuel your SUV for one year?

Consider this statistic from Tree Canada:

Over the course of their lives, 12 trees absorb 1.9 tonnes of carbon — the same amount produced by one SUV that has been driven 20,000 kilometres.

Let’s put that figure in some perspective, based on Canadian data:

  • Natural Resources Canada derives its yearly vehicle fuel consumption costs from an annual driving distance of 20,000 kilometres. ¬†Therefore, we can assume that the average SUV produces 1.9 tonnes of carbon per year, and that the lifetimes of 12 trees are required to absorb one year’s worth of SUV carbon emissions.
  • According to the web site¬†GoodCarBadCar, Canadian car dealerships sold 1,587,434 new passenger vehicles in 2011, 463,184 of which¬†were SUVs. ¬†Therefore, 29 per cent — or just under one third — of vehicles sold in Canada in 2011 were SUVs. ¬†From this, we can infer that SUVs account for roughly one third of vehicles owned in Canada.
  • In 2009, Statistics Canada counted a total of 19,876,990 vehicle registrations for road motor vehicles weighing less than 4,500 kilograms. ¬†Most SUVs fit into this category; the Hummer H2 —¬†one of the largest SUVs on the road — has a gross vehicle weight of just under 4,000 kilograms. ¬†Assuming that one third of Canadian passenger vehicles are SUVs (see the previous calculation), we get an estimated total of 6,625,663 registered SUVs eligible to drive Canadian roads in 2009.

From these data, we can draw the following conclusions:

  • 6,625,500 Canadian SUVs, each driving an annual average of 20,000 kilometres, together pump 12,588,450 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each year. ¬†
  • It takes 79.5 million trees a lifetime of work to absorb the carbon produced by Canadian SUVs in just one year. ¬†The next year, those same SUVs will require another 79.5 million trees to do the same work. ¬†After ten years of driving, those SUVs will have engaged the carbon-absorbing lives of almost 800 million trees.
  • Since beginning operations in 1992, Tree Canada has planted over 77 million trees. ¬†That’s not quite enough to absorb the combined carbon emissions from all SUVs driven in Canada in 2009. ¬†
  • According to the¬†Ecology Global Network,¬†some 11.4 billion trees are harvested each year worldwide. ¬†Left standing, those trees would have the capacity to absorb 143 times the amount of carbon produced by Canadian SUVs in 2009. ¬†

Now consider all the other types of vehicles motoring around on Canadian roads, and on roads in countries all over the world. ¬†Consider that not all vehicles are up to North American emission standards. ¬†And consider the carbon emissions from other sources — industry, utilities, waste burning, etc. — that we assume trees will also absorb and cleanse from the air we breathe, even as we continue to harvest those trees at an unsustainable rate. ¬†What conclusions do you draw?

Get planting.  Cut driving.  Reduce your footprint.

Now is the time.

Source list:

July 13, 2012

“You are not a label, you are a sentence.”

These empowering words came from spoken word artist Jenna Tenn-Yuk at the Art by Afghan Women Silent Auction and Learning Event this evening in Ottawa, Ontario.  Says Jenna:

Jenna, you are not a label.  You are a sentence.

Aren’t we all…. It’s just that we so often forget it.

Another inspiring quote, this one from Afghan artist Sheenkai Alam Stanikzai, a member of the Center for Contemporary Arts Afghanistan:

What method of work I may possess in the future doesn’t matter to me much. ¬†What matters is what I have to say, and how I can respond to my inner needs.

Here’s to speaking your voice, and to creating your own wonderful string of sentences.

July 12, 2012

Illusions vs. truths

From Lawrence Seldon in Edith Wharton’s novel The House of Mirth:

“Why do we call all our generous ideas illusions, and the mean ones truths?”

Why indeed…

What might happen if we reversed the labels?

July 9, 2012

Laugh of the day – July 9, 2012

This one is for my vampire-crazy friend (you know who you are)!


Sherman's Lagoon comic strip for July 9, 2012

July 4, 2012

Secrets vs. storytelling

I recently read the novel The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd, and this quote jumped out at me:

They say you can bear anything if you can tell a story about it.

The concept here is that even the worst experience you’ve had — the deepest, darkest secret you hold — loses its weight if you are able to speak openly about it.

Kelly Winters also writes about this idea in her book Walking Home.  From her perspective:

Secrets carry power, but too often, if you keep a big part of your life secret, it gives people power over you. ¬†The power of fear, the fear that they’ll take your secret away and expose you. ¬†It’s better to expose yourself, and do it early on.

I think we’ve all had moments like these in our lives: ¬†something “big and bad” has happened to us, but we are afraid to speak out about it — to share our story — for fear of being judged, or appearing “weak,” or alienating people, or whatever. ¬†But the act of carrying that secret around on our own weighs us down, and the longer we do it, the larger our associated fears become. ¬†Eventually, a part of us crumbles under the burden of it all.

Speaking out under such circumstances might seem impossible, absurd, like emotional suicide. ¬†But do it, and everything changes. ¬†All that accumulated pressure evaporates into the air. ¬†Our secret, we find, wasn’t so big or bad after all. ¬†We are still standing, people haven’t deserted us, and — most interesting — some folks have had similar experiences to our own, and they share those experiences with us, and we learn that we are not alone in our fear or shame or guilt or sadness or what have you. ¬†We are left lighter, fresher, cleaner and more connected to the people around us, our anxieties unfounded.

To quote author and philosopher Howard Thurman:

You must go through some things crying all the way if you’re ever going to live with them without crying.

A catharsis worth risking.

Be well.