Thursday, January 31, 2019

A rear-view kind of day

That rear-view window isn't the view from a racecar, though that might have been fun, as racecar is a a palindrome, one of those words that are the same, whether you read them forwards or backwards.

It's just a rainy day shot I took from the back window of the SkyTrain, I think not too far from Metrotown in Burnaby. Since SkyTrain cars are driverless though, I have to wonder why there's a windshield wiper. But, whatever.

My reason for this backward glance is that today is National Backward Day -- not exactly a big cause for celebrating, but kind of fun sounding anyway. And I suppose if you poke around, you'll find that just about every day puts a focus on some kind of cause or event.

End of the month, already. Time to turn the calendar to February, the shortest month, which will likely zip past even more quickly than this first month of the year has.

Still, looking back can provide certain insights. Sometimes it's by looking back that we get a better idea of how we might go forward.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Backyard astronomy

Last night's lunar eclipse was pretty spectacular. The nice thing about an eclipse of the moon is that it takes place over a few hours and -- even better -- you can look at it without the risk of eye damage.

You can tell from the photo that I didn't have access to a tripod, so the slow exposure required meant that I moved, blurring the image. No amount of breath-holding or trying to 'freeze' seemed to make any difference. Still, I am pleased with the way the camera captured the bright red colour. No PhotoShop enhancement, I promise.

This hue is the obvious reason it's called a 'blood moon' and there are plenty of explanations available online about that term, as well the longer title applied to last night's manifestation (super blood wolf moon), including prophecies that might scare your pants off if you believe them.

I'm just glad we had clear skies last night and that it was warm enough to keep popping outside to look at it. Among quotes attributed to Snoopy is one where he refers to the moon as looking like a "dirty beach". That certainly wasn't the case last night.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

There's a word for this mess

And I'm not referring to this blog of mine as a mess, or even the pile of dictionaries all askew on my table. Rather, to the state of things going on -- or, actually not going on -- in the U.S.

Weird though it may seem, one of the books I've been reading is all about words. Ammon Shea did the rest of us a favour and devoted a year to reading all twenty volumes of the OED. His resulting book, Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages is more entertaining than its title might suggest.

But back to the current mess, and the word I found in Shea's book: Kakistocracy. Its literal meaning: government by the worst people.

And to go with this new-found word (new for me, at least), a piece of newly penned doggerel:
Trumpty Dumpty wanted a wall,
so he shut down the government, paycheques and all.
No one in Congress or on CNN
could get him to start things over again. 

Monday, January 07, 2019

Rule of three

Not just because today is Orthodox Christmas (which is part of it) but for several other reasons, I'm celebrating.

One cause to celebrate is that today was garbage day in our neighbourhood. As you can see, we have three separate bins -- and ours (unlike most everyone else's) come in three sizes which I suppose you could call Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear.

Because we always have plenty of green waste -- branches and other debris from the many trees in our yard -- as well as food scraps from the kitchen, we have the extra-large size for organics.

The middle-sized one (standard issue from the city) is for recyclables. Because we still subscribe to a print news source, there's always plenty of paper. Tins, plastics, cardboard... well, there's always plenty of other items to put in there too.

The littlest one (a rarity, was even difficult to get from the city) is out and out garbage. Like the recycling, it only gets collected every two weeks.

This week, it was Mama's turn, the blue bin. Pretty much overflowing, mainly due to the crazy amount of (over)packaging from Christmas gifts. It got me wondering when all this plastic and cardboard and styrofoam nonsense began.

For sure, it had something to do with trying to prevent shoplifting. Remember those oversize containers for music CDs? A lot of that had to do with making it awkward for you to walk out of the store with a handful of them under your jacket, something that hadn't been such a problem when albums were still on vinyl.

And then there were the crazies who thought they were clever by messing around with bottled pills. Tampering with pain meds was the big one that got companies scared enough to add safety measures (packaging).

And the most recent excuse seems to be our addiction to online shopping, with the resulting packaging required for shipping.

When the blue bin went out this morning, it wasn't the only one on our street that looked to be overflowing. My resolution was to get rid of stuff, but this wasn't the kind of 'stuff' I had in mind. Still, I am grateful that the city has trucks that pick it up and take it away. As for where it goes, I can only hope.

But really, my main cause for celebrating this sunny Monday? For sure, my best reason of all is that a friend's cancer is beginning to retreat (yay!).

Tuesday, January 01, 2019


The start of a new year, arbitrary though its 'newness' may be, based as it is strictly on the calendar, always seems a good time for taking stock.

Looking back at 2018 is sure to bring some sadness, but hopefully joys as well. There's plenty to be glad about having behind us -- for those of us here in BC (as well as for people in California) the wildfire season was horrific, one we certainly hope won't be a repeat. 

Although some predictions are zanier than others, looking ahead generally seems to inspire hope -- at least that's the direction I'm looking in.

As for resolutions, mine (probably be a repeat) is to get rid of stuff.

In my case, that's mostly old clothes and too many books. Something I'll have to report on twelve months from now. In the meantime, I need to get back to sorting the items I pulled out of my desk today -- everything from stamps and coins to unusable floppy disks!