Rants, Observations & More

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August 20  Need a good laugh? If the constant bad news of world events is getting you down, head over to one of my favourite sites The Oatmeal. This bit on dogs walking humans hit close to home and is Wilson approved.

And this one for an informative and funny look at Nikola Tesla, possibly the most brilliant inventor ever. It slams Thomas Edison, possibly the worst scientific invention pirate ever, the PT Barnum of the electric age.

I published the answer to the What Is It? puzzle further down this page. Scroll down for the answer.

Speaking of puzzles, I learned another new word that I will probably never use:

cruciverbalist a person who enjoys or is skilled at solving crosswords

I qualify for the enjoys part of the definition, not so much the latter.


August 16  Dogs get the blame. I have been AWOL for a while. I do not like being indoors in the summer. I cannot write outdoors as I only have my desktop computer. I do have an iPad, the first generation which Apple have kindly made obsolete for me- no more OS upgrades, and the current system cannot operate on today’s platforms. Thanks, Apple.

The best excuse for my laziness is the ‘dog days of summer.’ Curious how dogs have been blamed for so many things by way of expressions:

a dog’s breakfast
crooked as a dog’s hind leg
sick as a dog
barking up the wrong tree
bark is worse than his bite
dog eat dog
call off the hounds
every dog has his day
in the dog house
see a man about a dog
top dog
tail wagging the dog
work like a dog
shaggy dog story

There are many more, some involving other animals:

dog and pony show
fight like cats and dogs

Wilson agrees- it’s downright degrading. There must be other ways to express things, but I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I’ll shut up now.


August 6 A new photo added to the gallery. This image was requested by a family member. Took a while to find the slide. Here is a preview.

Hawk.jpg      Red-tailed Hawk  1990  Note the hook at the back of the tongue. It is used to prevent captured prey from escaping.

I was fortunate to partake in a hawk capture, banding them, record the weight and length, then release. The Sharp-shinned Hawk, if my memory serves, has a wonderful perfumed odour. Not something I expected when invited to smell it.

I don’t recommend sniffing a Turkey Vulture, although it’s not necessary to get very close to smell carrion eaters. A rider on a motorcycle forum reported hitting one. He stopped to inspect the damage, and vomited when he attempted to photograph the corpse. The worst smell he had encountered. I’ll take his word for that.


August 4   Nature’s nasty side. Many images of peaceful, bucolic images include butterflies, but I witnessed another side of their behaviour yesterday. A black swallowtail butterfly was feeding on the nectar in a purple clover patch, flitting from flower to flower. A monarch butterfly came from above like a jet fighter and scored a direct hit on the swallowtail. The attacker drove the enemy up and away from the clover. It then chased it a very long way over the adjacent bean field. Satisfied that the offender was scared off, the monarch returned to claim the prize- solo feeding rights to the clover.

Hummingbirds are also portrayed as gentle birds, but anyone with a feeder will likely have witnessed a hard-fought battle of males. They attack rivals at the feeder, driving them off. It’s quite a sight to see them circle, charge and counter-charge, fighting far up into the sky. Those long bills become daggers and male hummingbirds have been known to kill enemy males.

What next? gangs of marauding doves dropping explosive guano? Don’t be fooled by their gentle cooing, they might be psycho killers. Happy dreams.

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco,
this ain’t no foolin’ around”

August 2  What is it? No correct answer to the ‘horse head’ yet. Maybe this ‘elephant head’ will help, as they are the same but different. Does that muddy the waters for you?

Hmmm, muddy, waters- now I’ve got to listen to some blues. For your internet listening pleasure, I highly recommend Austin Blues Radio– a good mix of interesting and uncommon tunes. You’re welcome!

Elephanthead                                                  Elephant head?

July 28  I didn’t win the lottery again last night. If you won, how about gifting me?

What is it?  Once again it’s time to guess. This one is easier (I think) than the previous one (scroll down the link). As before, the winner gets 15 minutes of ECW fame and a nod from Wilson. Hint: not a horse head silhouette. You probably can’t see anything else now I said that.

HorseHead042                                                   Horse head?

For answers scroll down

















Heard of the flowerhorn fish? I hadn’t either until I read this and I regret it. Some things are better left undone and radical breeding of new species is disgusting in my view. The flowerhorn “is a man-made carnivore, a hybrid, created around 20 years ago in Southeast Asia. It is notoriously aggressive, even towards potential mates and is, to some eyes, unspeakably ugly. Where climates are tropical, it can be a threat to native cichlid species, not to mention to other, meeker fish.”

Why do humans do such things? Money, that’s why- some are reputed to sell for thousands of dollars. The same motivation that brought Asian Carp to the rivers of central USA and is now threatening the Great Lakes.

Pure folly. Not to mention hideous.


July 26  A lazy post on a lazy summer day. As usual, I’ve been reading quite a lot lately. Currently, I’m reading “Dead Writers in Rehab” by Paul Bassett Davies, an inventive and funny novel. Allow me to share a paragraph with you.

“…and the best chance I’ve got of finding out is going to the ‘communal meeting’. And I know what that means. It means the dreary, balls-aching orgy of solipsistic navel-gazing, petulant resentment, impotent rage, whimpering guilt, denial, and lachrymose self-pity that is the wonderful healing miracle of group fucking therapy.”

Despite having to turn to the Oxford dictionary for the meaning of ‘solipsistic’ (self-centred, the theory that the self is all that’s known to exist) and  ‘lachrymose’ (tearful, given to weeping), a wonderfully descriptive and funny bit. What else to expect from a Brit writer? Plus I don’t mind learning some new words, it’s never too late in life for knowledge.

Have a good Faxe Friday, sports fans.

Speaking of sports, I’m beginning to learn what it must feel like to be  Toronto Maple Leafs fan. The Blue Jays are halfway through a disastrous season, the worst ever. I fully expect that Mark Shapiro will continue to destroy the heart of the team, trading Marcus Stroman along with some other highly talented, experienced players. He will leave a team of mostly rookie players with no on-field and locker room leadership, a critical ingredient for success.

The man is a menace to the team. I would not be surprised if he sold Vlad Guerrero too. How can he be tolerated as the replacement for Paul Beeston? Perhaps because Rogers, owner of the jays and the SKYDOME (I refuse to call it Rogers Centre) are complicit in the quest for short-term profits. Greed, in another word.


July 15 Last week was a fine time spent on motorcycle and foot. The motorcycle rides through the Grey Highlands and Grey/Bruce counties were uplifting. We based in Owen Sound, a city that I’ve wanted to explore since passing through a number of years ago. I’ve added three new signs to the Signs & Grafitti gallery.

Owen Sound is a prime example of old Ontario brick architecture, a port city with the Sydenham River (noted for trout and salmon) running through the downtown. There are numerous walking paths and serious hiking trails. The downtown homes are well kept, many with flower gardens to the sidewalk. We found row housing as it should be- intricate brickwork features and inset doorways- a beautiful building.

A half-day walking tour of buildings, stores, a damn and fish ladder (excellent descriptive information provided) plus art galleries and, of course, a good coffee.

The Tom Thomson gallery was on the top of my list. Around two dozen oil on panel studies painted on location, with some serving as studies for later oil on canvas studio paintings were displayed. Also included were early paintings, commercial art and his studio palette with earthy and natural colours in abundance.

Panel1.jpgTom Thomson A personal favourite image, please excuse the lack of title and poor quality phone image.

The main gallery featured Earth Etchings, a showing of Richard Watts unique life-size latex and gauze mouldings from nature. The back-lit frames glow with texture and form. See the link.

Trains, Planes and Automobiles, in a third gallery, is a self-explanatory exhibition featuring many well-known Canadian artists and photographers.

The lower gallery has By the Light of the Silvery Moon with some evocative nocturnal paintings. All four galleries are worth a visit.

On 2nd Ave East (main street) we found the Owen Sound Artists Co-op in a large old store with hardwood floors and a pressed tin ceiling (ex grocery store?). They have a vast array of paintings, drawings, sculpture, jewellery etc. and have been around for 25 years- a huge success in art market terms. They are following a proven path- help them keep it going, pay them a visit.

Strictly by chance (historic plaques), we found Tom Thomson’s grave in his home town of Leith near Owen Sound. A quiet, pretty rural hamlet. As friend Larry said, it must have been a culture shock for Thomson attending art college in Toronto.

Momentoes left on his stone attest to the respect Thomson commands 102 years after his death. How many of us will be remembered 100 years from now? David who?

ThompsonGrave.jpgInteresting description: ‘Landscape Painter’




July 7 This next week will be spent on a motorcycle tour of Grey and Bruce counties. Riding with friend Larry, we will be based in Owen Sound- I want to see the Tom Thompson art gallery and other sights the small port city offers. I hope to find some new signs to photograph and other weird things that I seem to find. See you next week.

FrontRight.jpg          Kawasaki Versys 650

See the drop-down menu under Rants for older posts.

5 thoughts on “Rants, Observations & More”

  1. It’s sad that many people will never enjoy the pleasure of the family enjoying the evening meal together. It’s even sadder that they will never know what they missed.


    1. Even friends getting together in a restaurant cannot seem to set their phones aside and converse. We’ve all seen the photos of a group around a table with every person on their screen. Funny, but also sick.

      I walked out of a situation like that. I found it insulting to be the only person at a table of six people, every one of them on the phone.
      I said, “It’s obvious that you all would rather be somewhere else or you wouldn’t be on your phones. See ya later.”

      Just another grumpy man.


  2. Damn those beetles!

    Yes Paul should give it a go and write a blog. I would love to read a third family member’s blog!


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