Friday, August 29, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Beautiful


I think I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and I was planning on highlighting Vancouver for this theme. But it seems I don't have anything that I have not posted before so this is Plan B.

My garden has become quite shady over the years and it is not great for growing roses. One by one I have reefed them out till there was none. But this year I was suckered into buying a new one on a visit to the nursery and it is in a container in a spot that might get enough sun to do well enough. It is called Hot Cocoa. How weird is that? It has no scent to speak of which is a shame. But it is certainly floriferous and is very beautiful as you can see.

The 'Hot Cocoa' rose is an award-winner with a blossom characterized by a smoky, almost chocolate color, and it blooms in a cluster. But what colour is it exactly? Maybe it's chocolate. Maybe it's smoky or brick or russet, the colorful hues vary with different climates.

Oh and check out my header before you leave, in case you have never noticed it. Beautiful Vancouver.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Book Review + Social Comment

Fresh from the triumph of her first post and the accompanying public acclaim ^_^ Moggsy is left with a dilemma…

Of course one has to follow up, or be judged a “one hit wonder”… As before I am seeking inspiration… while I wait for it ^_^ I thought I would mention a book I just read and really enjoyed.

This may be more a post for the girls in general, to start, but should turn out to have something for everyone, so don’t despair guys.

Now I am an avid reader and I do like a nice feelgood romantic novel. Life is so full of bad stuff anyway that I find gritty drama, where everyone has a horrid time, just a bit like more of the same.

So anyway, a while back I found myself browsing my local RL bookstore and came across a book called Miss Pettigrew lives for a day by Winifred Watson. (ISBN-10: 190646202X, ISBN-13: 978-1906462024).

It is a reprint, originally published in 1938, set in London, England. A world that was on the brink of war, but did not seem to realise what it was in for.

The book follows one day in the life of Miss Pettigrew, like a fly on the wall documentary. Sort of if you had described the idea of a Michael Crichton TV script to Noel Coward and asked him to write it.

A day it turns out is pivotal for many of the characters, including the heroin Miss Guinevere Pettigrew.

She is a down on her luck Governess who, having suffered a sucession of dreadful employers and short on her rent, accidentally gets sent by her agency to the wrong job interview.

As a result she turns up at the door of night-club singer Miss LaFosse, under the mistaken belief she is looking for a governess…

Well as soon as she arrives, and before she can get a word in edgeways, she is plunged into a situation that she handles brilliantly ‘by the seat of her pants’, saving Miss LaFosse from certain disaster.

The story continues at this pace as Miss Pettigrew uncharacteristically throws caution to the wind and is plunged/dragged helter-skelter into the pre-war in crowd, by Miss LaFosse and her friend Miss DuBarry, proprietoress of a beauty salon, solving seemingly impossible problems for them as she goes, using a mixture of luck and common sense.

It would not be revealing too much to say that this is a delightful feelgood read that keeps the pace and interest up throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed it, I do recommend it.

It has been made into a movie, but I have not seen that so can’t comment.

The only slight jarring note in the story, from my point of view, rather rammed home the concept that the past really can be another country in some ways.

And now some ‘hard edged political’ comment that should also reward any guys still with us for their heroic persistence. Yes. I know. I am being mean stereotyping, slapped hand *Ouch!*

This pleasant little story hinted a couple of times at an underlying assumed prejudice of the time in relation to Jews, and ‘foreigners’ in general, that are quite alien to, at least my, general experience today, though it could be others might not have the same experience.

Maybe that alteration in attitudes is something positive that came out of WWII.

It worries me to think that, possibly justified by the situation in Palestine, such attitudes may be becoming acceptable again, within certain religious, political , and academic circles, even actually promoted.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dim Sum, Anyone?

My twin YK, who is Chinese, says on occasion, we must go out for lunch. Despite the fact she has been married to a Caucasian for almost forty years she prefers Chinese food. Lunch to her means Dim Sum. But Dim Sum is hopeless with two people since you can try so few items before you are stuffed, so we usually go to some other style of restaurant and she mutters a bit.

But yesterday was the last day in Vancouver for Kazuko, our Japanese friend and she loves Dim Sum so we gathered together 6, the perfect number, to go for Dim Sum.

Steamed shrimp ball with pea sprouts or har gau. The thin wheat starch noodle is almost translucent. The items are either served in small steamers
or on plates with three portions on each.

Now one in three in Vancouver are Chinese so there are many fine Chinese restaurants here. Luckily there is a Chinese restaurant, the Golden Ocean, quite famous for its Dim Sum close by and since Monday is a relatively quiet day we could make a reservation, for 11.30am: "Before it gets too busy," said my friend. Definitely a bit early for lunch to my mind, but she's the expert.

The har gau cut in half

Now I know you did not follow the link, so let me tell you that Dim Sum is a wide variety of Chinese light food, served in small portions, with tea, lots of it, usually Jasmine. It is served from morning until lunchtime and is also called Yum cha which means tea drinking.

Salad roll, well that's what YK calls them. A deep fried wrapping
with a rather sweet filling of shrimp and fruit

Service for dim sum is as follows: the different types of food circulate on warming carts pushed around the restaurant by the servers and they stop at the tables and you choose whether you will take this dish or that or none at all from that cart. Each table has an account and the server stamps your bill with the Chinese symbol for what you have chosen and you call for the addition when you have finished ordering.

Haam sui gok, or deep fried dumplings made from rice flour and filled with pork and mushroom and quite salty

Rice noodle roll which can have many different fillings,
in this case barbecued pork

Siu mai, steamed dumplings made of wheat flour noodles filled with mushroom, pork, shrimp and the yellow is fish eggs on top, usually crab roe

Pan fried tofu flour noodles filled with shrimp and vegetables, or fu pei gyun,
rather similar to a spring roll

The tofu roll cut in half and the item on the right is a deep fried
shrimp ball coated with almonds

Despite the fact that there are many types of Chinese desserts YK does not have a sweet tooth but she always orders these egg tarts or dan tat, a flaky pastry with a baked custard filling, for her Caucasian friends and we are grateful for any kind of dessert at all. Actually they are delicious and a fine light finale to Dim Sum. They are also very popular and go fast so they are the first thing she orders. In fact when I arrived at the restaurant with Kazuko they were already in the centre of the table along with the Jasmine tea.

Jasmine tea served in the typical handleless cups

Now I want you to appreciate that these photos and the information were obtained with great difficulty. As soon as the dishes arrive on the table my friends want to dive right in before the food gets cold. Understandable I know, so I get maybe one quick shot before a hand crosses the field of view and the plate is quickly emptied. Consequently the focus is not always the sharpest.

"You are not going to put this on your blog, are you?" I am asked suspiciously. "Maybe," I answer. "It depends on the photos." "But the food is so blah," they say. "So beige." True enough.

So there you have it, as a blog post it's a mess but as a lunch it was delicious. And cheap. For the six of us, the total with a tip was $55.

I hope you have a Chinese friend who can guide you through the intricacies of Dim Sum or maybe you can order for yourself. Just make sure you don't get the chicken feet, deep fried, boiled, marinated in a black bean sauce and then steamed. Ugh!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Little bit of History -- Pharmaceutical and Personal

Quite a few people commented on the ring on my hand, which appeared for the Photo Hunt theme, Wrinkled recently. One even commented: "Are you a pharmacist? I should get one for my husband." Obviously he is one too.

I'm afraid it's a one-off, custom made, although not for me specifically and as you can see it features the Pharmacy symbol, an upper case R with the tail made into an x.

The Rx symbol, which traditionally has been part of a prescription and thus written by physicians, was adopted as a symbol of pharmacy long ago and although it has some varying explanations as to its origin one of the most commonly accepted one is that Rx is an abbreviation for the Latin word Recipe or "take thou," used before listing the ingredients of the prescription, with x probably standing for the variable as each was different.

While most prescriptions these days are written for commercially manufactured products, except for creams and ointments which pharmacists still mix or compound extemporaneously quite often , every prescription traditionally begins with the Rx symbol. To complete the Latin lesson for a prescription, Mitte or M appears before the number to dispense, which stands for Send and finally Sig, an abbreviation for Signa which means mark or label the prescribed item with the following directions which still are still often written with Latin abbreviations on the prescription.

But back to the ring, which consists of a large flat oval of black onyx with the Rx symbol inlaid in gold which is held in a gold setting. The ring belonged to a very dear friend, one of the first people I met when I came to Canada. She was a professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy where I worked as a lowly lab instructor for a time and she always wore it on her hand. Everyone admired the ring greatly and it held a very special meaning for her. Her specialty was Manufacturing pharmacy which she had taught for some years and when she was doing graduate studies in Eastern Canada she came into contact with the owner of a pharmaceutical manufacturing company Charles E Frosst* and did some consulting work for him. Unpaid, of course, but he did show his gratitude by having this ring made and presenting it to her.

Sadly my friend died of a brain tumour in 1986 at the age of 62 and her husband gave me this ring to remember her by and since I was a pharmacist too. I wear it often, although not all the time, since it is large and occludes the skin from air and traps moisture underneath so sometimes causes a rash. But I love it and I always think of her when I wear it, for she was like the older sister I never had.

The ring does not have a very long history, from the early to mid fifties I would say, although I think it is an interesting one. I hope I can find some pharmacy person to pass it on to who might appreciate it both for its interesting history and because it is a very special ring which portrays the symbol of our profession.

Just for completeness, a little about Charles E Frosst* who was actually born in the USA but came to Canada to live, however don't feel obliged to read it.

*When Charles E. Frosst & Co. was founded in 1899, the Canadian pharmaceutical industry was still in its infancy. From the start, Charles E. Frosst and his four associates made it clear that their company was an innovator, rapidly introducing new products such as the famous numbered analgesics known as 217® and 222® — products that are still used in Canada. During the 1920s, the company became family-owned and, as it grew, it consolidated its reputation for innovation. During the mid-forties, Charles E. Frosst pioneered nuclear medicine in Canada by developing the country's first radioactive pharmaceutical products, for sale here and abroad. In 1965, Charles E. Frosst & Co. joined another, even more venerable pharmaceutical dynasty, Merck & Co., Inc. of New Jersey or Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) as it is known outside of North America.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Wrinkled


Now you did not seriously think I would post a photo of my wrinkled face, did you?

When I was twenty I had the hands of a forty year old. At forty my hands looked sixty but now I am 70 plus I have grown into my hands. Still wrinkled and very freckled but age appropriate now.


Moggsy's First Post

OK. I am being nagged by people to try my hand at blogging. You know who you are people. *She mutters accusingly*

I even got an award for commenting from ‘Crushed’ , TY crushed. Now what is that? Except maybe a fancy way of saying I like to chat?

Not at all sure what to blog about. So I’ll just put what comes to mind. Almost cheating really, what do they call it? Stream of consciousness?

Now I suppose I am really in this pickle because of JMB and Stainless, mostly JMB.

There was I, not so innocently ;-), going about my business in SL (Second Life). I am a Second Life Avatar really, and Stainless, who is a resident of Renaissance Island in SL, and is also a blogger introduced me to JMB.

Note: Renaissance Island is a pretty good sim (simulation) of a generic town, or part of one, as it would have been in Tudor England, complete with a replica of the Globe theatre of Shakespeare fame.

..And yes I do know theatres developed from inns and so outside of Southwark in London there would have been very few at the time, but It is a nice replica. Worth a visit if you ever get to SL.

Oh and if you don’t know, in this case an Avatar is an in world ‘body’, a virtual substitute for your body in Second Life, or other games. Your ‘character’.

Any questions ask after the lecture... ^_^

So... I digress. JMB and I became friends. We visit, gossip, go shopping, swap details of good stores and bargains and have been known to go dancing and hang out in bars together. Dublin has some good bars.

Anyway, as anyone reading this post on JMB's blog, and at this point I would like to thank JMB for kindly hosting my Post, will know, JMB is also a blogger.

One of the things we chatted about was her blog, and blogging. I was curious, and she did invite me to look, so I visited and followed links. Naturally I was curious about her blog and others she told me about.

Of course, once you visit you read… and if you are like me, occasionally just absolutely have to comment ^_^. So I got myself a blogging identity to do that. All of this had to be as my SL avatar Moggsy, as that was who JMB knew me as. I keep SL and RL (Real Life) completely separate.

So now Moggsy sneaks out of SL to visit blogs ^_^. I still think this blogging may use up perfectly good time I could be spending having fun in SL, so I will have to see if this is a ‘one off’ or not.

I have no master plan like Crushed. I figure I will post about whatever comes into my head, maybe SL, but there are a lot of blogs about SL out there, I googled to check ^_^. Blogs other Avies have put a lot of effort into by the looks of it.

Oh and if you are curious about Second Life. It is run by Linden Labs . The program is free to download and you can join up for free, so it is totally free to go check it out.

It is very flexible. You want to race cars like in a game? You can do that. You want to be in a first person shoot ‘em up game? It can do that. Like swords and sorcery, be an elf with a silver sword? It can do that. Fancy being a Vampire? You can do that. Be a gunslinger in the old west? Yes you can go there and do that. Imperial Rome? Ancient Alexandria? Tudor England? They are all out there.

Go dancing? No problem!

Hang out in the 1880’s the 1920’s, 40s, 50s? You can do that.

Be a surfer dude/chick, hang out at the beach, catch a wave? You can do that too and a hundred other things. Fed up being human? Become a Neko (cat person) an animal or an alien, go live on another planet.

Just remember. All the Avies you meet and interact with are people, not computer controlled.

OK enough of the plugging. Here is a something that happened the other week. My friend ‘D’ called me up.

“I am looking for a costume. There is a witches and wizards ball. They are having a prize for the best costume, lots of Linden$. You must come with me.” 'D' has managed to net $1000L worth of vouchers in prizes in the last week to assist with recreational retail therapy.^_^

So, as soon as I could, we met up and went hunting for costumes. We found a place that did quite a few outfits. We both got one, changed and got set for the ball.

We turned up at the venue… and guess what? We found we were having a ‘Bridget Jones’ moment. No-one-else-there was dressed as a witch is what.

“You’re way to early for the contest”, we were gently advised by people at the club.

Well we figured we may as well make the best of it, stayed and enjoyed ourselves, with the occasional person admiring our outfits and helpfully telling us we had mistimed our arrival.. I couldn’t make the actual ball as it was waaay to late for me, time zones are such a nuisance.

Still I have an outfit if I need one, found a good costume store, a good club, and had some fun out with a friend ^_^I guess we came out ahead.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Yes! The Mounties return the Rest of the Loot

Imagine my delighted surprise to sign onto to my email this morning and find a message from the Museum of Anthropology. Yes, the last two pieces by Bill Reid which were stolen from the Museum have been found and returned to them by the RCMP.

Object Title: Brooch*
Artist Maker: Bill Reid

Materials: Gold

Unfortunately while the gold eagle brooch was recovered intact, the carved argillite pipe below was recovered with approximately two inches of it broken off. But the search will continue for the missing piece. Those mounties never give up!

Object Title: Panel Pipe**
Artist Maker: Bill Reid
Materials: Argillite stone, lacquer

Photo from the MOA site

Sad to say that they will not be on display for some considerable time as the Museum is closing for six months on September 2nd for the final stage of their big renovation project. But on the bright side they are having a big closing party on the last day, with eats and drink and dancing to live music so I should go to that. My membership to the Museum has been extended for six months so I will not be losing out on that but I will miss going to visit, especially to get my fix of the Raven and the First Men and I will miss the shop which gets such a lot of my business when I am looking for gifts.

Photo * is from the UBC site,

Photo ** is from the RCMP in BC site.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How does the World View the US Presidential Elections?

Trust me, that title is totally misleading if you think that you are going to read the last word on that question here. But that is this week's topic for the Blogpower roundup, as posed by the American host of the same, BP member, the Fake Consultant. Being the only Canadian, well CanAussie, in the group, I feel obliged to post something but writing about politics is way out of my bailiwick and I have been mulling over the whole thing and naturally have left it to the last minute.

First of all, let me say that I live on the west coast of Canada, not thirty miles from the US border and we west coast Canadians probably have much more in common with our southern west coast neighbours than we do with our eastern Canadian brethren. The USA is a very big presence in our lives, not the least of which is that we watch so many of their TV channels via cable or satellite. We know what is happening there just as well as we know what is happening in Canada and often are better informed about the USA.

Despite the fact that Canada is a physically larger country than the USA we have only one tenth of the population, yes, one tenth. So it is no wonder many people think of us as being the same which of course we Canadians fiercely deny. On so many fronts we are so different, with one of our major differences being our more liberal ideas, especially on social programs. For example, despite lots of grumbling when our universal healthcare shows some cracks we fiercely defend it and have higher tax rates than the Americans do in order to fund it.

Again, not the least of our differences are our governing systems and we look on in amazement as every four years the circus of electing the President of the United States of America, the leader of the free world, as the holder of that office was once called, takes place. It goes on for literally years before the actual election, as one after another candidate rises and falls back into the pack, the whole process funded by the most incredible amounts of money and effort by so many people. It literally is a whole industry in itself, employing thousands and thousands, maybe even millions, although temporarily to be sure.

I've watched these hooplas take place since 1964 with great interest as do all Canadians. This one was going to be the most interesting to my mind because of a serious female candidate and one from an ethnic minority, in the race to be the same party's candidate no less, so one barrier or the other was likely to be broken. At least one of those on the ballot in November would be an astounding first to represent one of the two major parties. I wanted so much that a woman would finally be President, but I had so many doubts about Hillary being the right one, as it turned out others did too. But Obama? Just because he has the gift for the gab, well they like to make it sound more high fallutin' than that, does not mean that he will make a good president. It would be nice to see more experience under his belt, as well as some good ideas and innovative policies. And what the heck was all that travelling abroad about, as if he were already president? But will he be any worse than some others have been if he is elected President? A lot will depend so much on who his advisors might be and his cabinet. Arnold Schwarzenneger? she asks shaking her head. Schwarzenegger, a Republican who has endorsed McCain and is also a bit thin on experience himself, might serve as an energy and environmental adviser to Obama, according to this report. Well only time will tell and besides McCain is gaining on him lately so it is not the sure thing that many thought earlier. But then besides being a Republican, and if I were an American I would certainly be a Democrat, he is definitely past his "best by" date for that job in my opinion.

But what do other Canadians think? Earlier this year in a poll of Canadians:

Forty-six per cent of those surveyed in January by telephone said it matters a great deal to Canada who wins the November 2008 U.S. presidential election. Another 35 per cent said it mattered somewhat, while only eight per cent said it doesn't matter at all.


While 34 per cent of those surveyed said they would like to see a Democrat win the next election and five per cent said a Republican, a whopping 56 per cent surveyed said it makes no difference to them whether the next president is a Republican or a Democrat.

While this is a bit of a shocker in the same poll:

While Canadians see the United States as important, when asked what countries stand out as being a negative force in the world, 52 per cent of respondents named the U.S.

Neuman (from the polling company) said other studies have shown that people's opinions of the U.S. are negative because they are uncomfortable with the country's foreign policy, including the invasion of Iraq. They also cite discomfort with U.S. President George W. Bush, who took office in January 2001.

Also interesting is this conclusion which is a bit strangely worded to my mind.

"I think the fact that Canadians pay so much attention to the U.S. election is a sign that they really care about the United States, a sign that they want it to get back to where it was before," Neuman said.

Of course we Canadians care about the US election. How could we not? We are so intertwined economically. But what do we want the US to get back to I wonder. Peace and prosperity, yes, but how about they get down to solving some of their other long standing issues: for example, the crisis in their healthcare system, which I see daily on the medblogs I read. Yes it's time for universal health care in that country. In 2006 47 million Americans were without health insurance while 25 million were underinsured, and even those who have it, and the medical personnel who treat them, are at the mercy of the private insurance companies who decide who or what is covered. Then there's George W with his cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Is this an overall Republican policy or a George W. initiative? Will McCain continue along those lines if he is the next president? Sorry a personal beef of mine and a worry as I have a daughter who lives with her family in the USA.

Well, FC, I am sure you had something else in mind other than this rambling post when you posed your question. I do hope that others will give you a different and more erudite, educated, knowledgeable, wise, sapient point of view.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Blogpower Roundup --August 18th, Mutley Style

No, I am not promoting smoking on this blog, quite the contrary if you really knew me. But this image taken from Blogpower member Theo Spark's blog post, which is so beautiful, has been used to illustrate this week's roundup of Blogpower which was prepared by Mutley the dog in his own inimitable way, from the LGBT point of view. Yes google it, I had to the first time I saw it. I think he is joking, mind you. He is a bit of a trickster like Raven.

Pop over and enjoy not only the round up itself but the posts for which he provides the links.

Regular programming will resume here soon, but real life is taking a bit of a priority at the moment.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Colourful


Sorry tnchick, but I cannot spell the word without a U. So much to choose from this week but I have gone with something man-made, a beautiful art quilt seen at the Vancouver Museum during a show of the work of BC Craftspeople. How colourful is this?

But then colour is all around us and Nature does colour better than anything.

A garish corner of my garden in Springtime, where Vancouver shines with the greatest displays of rhododendrons and azaleas in the world. Mmm. Notice the preponderance of red in this post, wonder what my favourite colour is?


Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Thursday Walking Group does Japanese Lunch

I think one of the remarkable things about my Thursday walking group is the diversity of the origin of the women who belong to it. Going down the membership list, I find we have members from Wales, England, Germany, France, Spain, Turkey, Macao, the USA, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia (that would be me) and yes we do have a couple of Canadians. It makes for a very interesting group of well travelled women who have much to share with and offer each other by way of different experiences. However we do have two very important things in common, we are all married to those very unique individuals, academics, and we all have undergone the immigrant experience, for even the Canadians have come from other provinces.

As well, the group seems to be popular for women who come for short periods of time or for year long sabbaticals. We have a regular visitor who comes from Russia twice a year and at the moment we have a Scottish pediatric psychiatrist, now living in Australia, spending a year with us. Another lifetime honorary member from Japan spent several years with us but has since returned to Japan. She wrote a book about her experiences in Canada, but of course we can't read it, although we do recognize ourselves in the photos which illustrate it.

Kazuko loves to cook and we love to eat so we were all very happy today

However every year she returns with her husband to Vancouver, to visit the many friends she made while she was here. Currently she is with us for a few weeks and today she decided to cook a Japanese lunch for us to share together after walking. One of the members who lives near Granville Island offered to host it in her apartment and ten of us gathered there after walking.

Most of the lunch she prepared in her temporary apartment beforehand and I went to pick her up and transport the food to the lunch location before we went walking today. Above we have Smoked Salmon, marinated Japanese style.

On the left we have green beans with peanut sauce and on the right gomai spinach salad with sesame seeds. At the rear we have the sauce for the main dish and stirfried soba or buckwheat noodles.

A closer look at the soba noodles which the hostess made for us. Sorry I think they are slightly out of focus now I look at this photo.

The pièce de résistance was omurice* bundles, a very popular dish in Japan now, being found all over in special restaurants and is considered like Japanese fast food.

*The dish typically consists of chicken rice (rice pan-fried with ketchup and chicken) wrapped in a thin sheet of fried egg. The ingredients that flavor the rice vary. Often, the rice is fried with various meats (but typically chicken) and/or vegetables, and can be flavored with beef stock, ketchup, demi-glace white sauce or just salt and pepper.

Finally for dessert we had these little Japanese cakes made of bean curd I believe. They are a very soft texture and each has its own little package of drying agent inside, saying do not eat.

All in all, a very enjoyable experience and many thanks to Kazuko for providing this delicious lunch for her friends.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tick tock, tick tock --- Boing, boing, boing!

The sound of a grandfather clock as it sounds the chimes on the hour. I'm quite fond of grandfather clocks although they were almost unheard of in my childhood in Australia. I certainly did not know anyone with one and they would have been too large for our modest houses in any event.

Although I have a large house now there still isn't just the right place for one. My friend with Alzheimer's disease had a lovely one which he had had for many years and when the Trust company was selling off his household items I bought the clock for my son who had been intrigued by it since he was a child.

The clock had not been in working order for some time since my friend had neglected its upkeep in his latter difficult years so it was valued at only $500. A clock of that quality would retail today at over $6000 I discovered later, but I simply wanted to find it a good home. I found an old German clockmaker and for another $500 it was restored to perfect working order and every Saturday my son faithfuly winds the clock by pulling on the weights. Sometimes I'll be talking to him on the telephone and hear it chiming in the background. He has it set to chime every fifteen minutes and sound out the hour.

So I couldn't easily have a grandfather clock in real life, but once I set up house in my Canadian log cabin in Second Life, I went shopping for one there. I found quite a few that kept time, Second Life time which fortunately is my time zone, and went tick tock, tick tock and chimed on the hour, boing, boing, boing. Yes the pendulums do swing back and forth. But most of them were of dark wood and often ornate. Not quite the style for a log cabin. On my rounds I happened into a store when the owner, Fuene Nishi was there and we began to discuss her grandfather clocks. She said, I'll make you one to suit. She took me to her workshop and began to build a sample. We discussed the type of wood, I thought cherry might be a nice wood rather than pine which would disappear against the walls of the cabin. Give me a few days, she said and I will send you a message when it is ready.

Sure enough, several days later she sent me an instant message. Your clock is in my shop, go take a look. Well I did and for 480 Linden dollars, or less than 2 US dollars I purchased the clock and hurried back home to install it. Well easier said than done, I'm afraid.

When I was unpacking it, it totally disappeared as is often a problem in Second Life. But no matter where I looked, in and around the cabin, I could not find it. Usually such items are returned to your inventory within a day, but not this time. Very distressed, I sent a message to Fuene who lives in Tokyo. She immediately refunded my money and said come to the store and buy it again. So I dutifully went there, where she met me and after I purchased it again she accompanied me to the cabin where she installed it herself, as you can see above. So now I find its tick tock sound a very comforting one when I spend time there, sitting by the fire, listening to music or reading a book or rearranging the furniture.

Now my clock is a regular feature in her store

Meeting Fuene that day in her store was very fortuitous and the trouble she took, both in making me a custom clock and installing it for me after my initial problem, is an example of the wonderful people one meets in Second Life. Such customer service is rare in real life but this person took genuine pride in giving satisfaction to her customer for she surely did not do it for the money, less than 2 US dollars. Thank you Fuene, it was a pleasure doing business with you.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Out and about in Whistler Village

Click on any photo to get an improved view

I seem to be rather remiss in getting the rest of my photos organized from my Whistler trip, two weeks ago now. Good heavens, what have I been doing?

While the two "old scientists" went up Blackcomb Mountain on the chairlift to do a hike, my friend and I decided to go into Whistler Village to check out the weekly Farmers' Market which is held from June to the middle of October in the Upper Village.

Before we went to the market we visited the brand new Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre seen above. This museum documents the history of the two local area First Nations bands but since the entry fee was rather expensive at $18 and we did not have time to do it justice, we left it for another day. In conversation with the people the front desk, we were informed that totem poles were not part of their culture but only welcoming poles, with two fine examples at the entrance, one of which is below.

There were many local people selling their wares at the market, from extraordinarily fresh produce, herbal preparations, jewellery, carvings, hats, both summer and winter, while this lady was selling some of her photos of the surrounding area.

During our conversation we learned that she lived very close to my friend's ski cabin and the photos of the bear which she had made into fridge magnets were taken at the nearby Meadow Park I showed you in an earlier post.

Yes, that is indeed a man with ski poles in the centre of the photograph, even in July for Blackcomb Mountain is open for skiing all year round at the very top, on the glacier.

Here are a few facts about the Whistler ski area which is on the two side by side mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb which together form the largest single ski area in North America at 8,171 acres (33.07 km²). Their combined areas also boast the highest "vertical drop" in North America, with Blackcomb being the highest at 1564 m (5,133 ft), but often rounded to one mile (1.6 km) for marketing purposes, Whistler is only slightly "shorter", at 1530 m (5,018 ft), making it the second highest vertical drop. The highest lift elevation, on Blackcomb, is 2240 m (7347 ft).

Perhaps you would like to buy a carved wooden bear to hold your address number or your bottle of wine or whatever you fancy. The hanging baskets in the background of this photo are a traditional display in the village at Whistler.

The village itself has very much the flavour of a European ski resort with similar architecture although much newer, and in summer, when there are almost as many visitors as in winter, they enjoy the beautiful outdoor restaurants where you can watch the passing parade as well as take in the splendour of the mountains which surround you. Fortunately there are no cars in the village itself and it makes for a pleasant experience browsing through the many stores where you can buy whatever your heart desires.

In the village is one of the four branches of Rocks and Gems Canada and as you can imagine one of my favourite places to visit. I thought you might enjoy this rather large fossilized ammonite they were featuring on display, a kranaosphinctes from Madagascar, along with some splendid bones and even a full skeleton of small animal (about the size of a dog) whose name I did not note, however I did note the price at $25,995.

As you can see it was a splendid day, quite warm in fact. So warm that I was tempted briefly to put my feet into the cool water along with the others at this refreshing looking spot.

All in all, a very pleasant afternoon, as we wandered through the market buying a few things here and there and enjoying the ambiance that is very special to Whistler Village.

I hope you enjoyed the photos taken from among the 125 I took that afternoon. Thank goodness for digital cameras. Imagine having them all developed at great expense and discovering half of them are less than stellar. Now all I have to do is to decide which ones to delete. Thank goodness for technology is what I always say.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Saturday Photo Hunt --- Dark


It's not often totally dark. There is some light every you go it seems, from one source or another. My only experience of total darkness is being in the windowless basement Pharmacy Department at the hospital where I worked when the power went off. It takes about thirty seconds for the back-up generator to kick in and they are the longest thirty seconds you can imagine. It absolutely paralyzes one and fortunately it only happened on rare occasions.

Far out at sea, it is almost totally dark except for the moon over the water. Taken from a ship on a cruise to Mexico earlier this year. Click to enlarge.