Tuesday 31 December 2019

A past balcony and impressionable youth

Two years ago - and also 2 months ago, scenes from Act I, maybe, although usually between 4 and 5pm when the characters were on stage.

The characters. The plot was unsalted nuts.

A choir of Jays?


Long and longing memories

There have been so many balconies and so many scenes that I have been paralyzed. So before the end and the new beginning here are some thoughts, recent and not so recent.

Thank you,


Saturday 2 November 2019

Reflecting thoughts

Memories of a pleasant walk:

Time to "fall back" into the arms, or hands of time - WOB

I had this gnawing thought ...

OK, I thought this might grab some attention - men don't think, and what about wise old birds, then? So our friend, Kathleen is camera-shy but can read a watch and so around 4pm she told me to get out and photograph "her" porcupine who, as we all know, can read time, especially dinner time.

So I usually do as I am told - being successfully domesticated for some time - and set out to trod where dangerous beasts of the forest dwell - like bear.

I was terrified?  What - me?  No Christmas cake in danger.

I was not an apple so I stood my ground:

(I hid behind an apple tree!)


Friendly fellow -

So how did you do carving pumpkins?


Friday 1 November 2019

First of Snowember!

It was a dark and stormy night after all the ghosts and goblins had been whisked off to bed.

Not much for Santa to go on and the air temperature was above zero.

And toward Rama:

The winds - over 50kmh at times, making it difficult to sleep - must try harder!


Sunday 6 October 2019

Alternative Travel for Santa

OK, the CO2 emissions would rise as well:

It is not right for the water levels to rise, no snow, no flying reindeer and I am not allowed to fly.

A bird with a bill to pick?


Friday 4 October 2019

Story Telling for today

Now this is the 6th year for this blog - how  I look today?

OK, I might look a little better than this photo - but maybe not!

The blog gets its inspiration from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: 40 years of parody and predictions I have to thank Jens, again, for setting up this piece to master.

But the real point about today is what happened on this day in 1957 - Sputnik I was launched and I gave a little pep talk. And the rest is history.

I don't think I could throw from third to first any better now than I could then when I broke the 2 windows from the outside while trying to become a better fielder for the Ledbury softball team. Ah, such is life - an opportunity to be honest. The Principle laughed - he had thought it was vandalism!

Wise Old Bird

Tuesday 24 September 2019

Story telling - wise old bird style

The sun comes up every day and sets.
At night we see the moon - sometimes - and are aware that it moves from night to night.
We become aware of the stars around the moon.
And in March April we become aware of the Moon among the Pleiades. That was how I began my astronomy many decades ago and I suspect that humanity has behaved similarly over 100s of  millenia.

I grew into astronomy in North York in the 1950s. I have tried to date this - the partial solar eclipse on June 30th 1954 I remember - I tried to photograph it - $8 for a roll of Ektachrome 620(?) format. Took me months to save up for it and ditto to pay for the developing! Poor childhood, money did not grow on trees, had to collect a lot of pop bottles for 2 cents refund. Did help a friend, Richard, deliver newspapers. I recall see Uranus with my naked eye when there was a conjunction with Jupiter - I think May 1955 and that would have been a familiar part of the sky. That means to me that a) I had good eyes, and b) that North York was not heavily light polluted. I would have known the Pleiades and by the IGY in 1956-57 (18 months long year!) some of the meteor showers that were then known.

1972 - 1981
Fast forward to May 1972 when I arrived in Chile, the Atacama Desert, for the first of what would become over 400 days in the next 10 years (July 1981). After 1 month I encountered El Niño ,
 El Niño–Southern Oscillation
For the month of June there was 8/8 cloud cover just about every night. At sunset the horizon was approx 200km away, La Silla at 2200m elevation  - frustrating to see a green flash and yet not be able to observe.

It was while I was in Chile that I became aware of the following story:
Poor visibility of the Pleiades in June caused by an increase in subvisual high cirrus clouds is indicative of  an El Niño year,which is usually linked to reduced rainfall during the growing season several months later:
"Forecasting Andean rainfall and crop yield from the influence of El Niño on Pleiades visibility"
Benjamin S. Orlove*², John C. H. Chiang² & Mark A. Cane²
letters to Nature Vol 403 Jan 6m 2000 pp 68 - 71.
Sorry I do not have a link for you but if you write and enclose your email address I can send you the pdf.

I do not know the stories that would allow these observations to be passed along generation after generation. There are anthropological accounts of indigenous Aymaraand Quechua-speaking farmers of the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes .The observations are made in mid June to forecast the weather during the growing season from Oct to May and to estimate the harvest between March and May in the following year.

In the 1990s, following the reunification of Germany it was possible to visit East Germany and in particular Thüringen and Saxony-Anhalt.  In 1999 the Nebra Sky Disc was discovered by treasure hunters.  In 2009 Vicki and I saw the disc personally, quite impressive. There is even less known about this tradition but surely we are looking at a crescent moon among the Pleiades - a Springtime observation - time to leave Winter quarters to find migrating wildlife, birds, animals
and fish.

This brings me to the present. One could have used the Moon among the Pleiades to remind the Anishnaaabe or Anishinaabe that the time to leave the  Algonquin Highlands was approaching, time to return to the Mnjikaning Fish Weirs  This is wonderful.

And now let Spider Woman lower humans to Earth from the Pleiades and hope that humans do not forget their origins.

Remembrance Day is every day; Thanksgiving is continuous -

Wise Old Bird

There was one other outside influence - a movie I have yet to see - that is similar to the idea of Spider Woman looking in, and that is "The Truman Show"
We are more similar than we are different. We are all immigrants if only history were better  taught.


“This sense of purpose, the sense of hope, this lifeline, that each person is connected. To the bigger whole, the universe, the stars. Those stars are more than just balls of gas. When we do indigenous science, those stars are our oldest relatives.”

Monday 5 August 2019

Meteors over Killarney

For the past 9 years, excepting 2016, Vicki and I have been presenting our insight into astronomy at Killarney Provincial Park (Ontario.CA). We have used the  Perseid meteor shower  to introduce campers to the night sky following the examples of Bruce Waters and Bill Gardner. At the beginning of each year I check the phases of the moon for August. This year something curious happened: there was a total lunar eclipse on the night Jan 20-21. And if that were not enough, there were 2 meteorite strikes during totality. There are reports here , here , and  here.

Now this gave me an idea because the moon is around full for the maximum of the shower. Let us try citizen science and observe the moon, the part in shadow between the crater  Copernicus and the limb, toward the crater  Aristarchus  a region noted for transient phenomena.  Can we see impacts on the moon?

In addition to the Perseids, there are 2 other showers that are active, the Kappa Cygnids, and the Delta Aquarids. I am pleased that Vicki and I noted the Kappa shower all on our own after 2 seasons in Killarney  - there were just too many meteors radiating from one spot for it to be an accident. The shower shares a characteristic with the December Geminids in that the source appears to be an extinct comet, minor planet 2008 ED69.

There is one more point of interest and that is the Taurids have a swarm that is just outside the Earth's orbit but close enough to interact. And as if on cue there have been 3 boloides reported within 24 hours. There maybe a connection between these events and Tunguska, June 30, 1908 and Comet Encke

In addition, 2 fine telescopes will also be available for the campers. During the daytime the 25cm may be used on the sun along with the 4cm Coronado H-Alpha telescope. At night we shall use the 40cm telescope to look at Jupiter and Saturn. Between 22;30 and 23:30 weather and the public permitting, we'll try to  see if we can detect any flares on the moon caused by impacts. There may be several independent groups looking at the same time to rule out cosmic rays and chance telescopic meteors.

Let us hope that the weather at least co-operates.

Best wishes,

Wise Old Bird

Saturday 22 June 2019

Summer has arrived = Summer Solstice

A small taste of light and sound from the Anishnaaabe:

Since sound travels at about 3sec/km and the fireworks are 10km away, the sounds from the first burst don't arrive until the end.

wise old bird

PS At Plus 19C this was much much warmer than on New Year's eve/Hogmanay/Silvester, maybe proving "native" intelligence?

Thursday 20 June 2019

McGee Creek Revisited

June 24th, 2016:

June 18th, 2019:

Difficult to believe!  That was looking west, down stream from the bridge. Now let us look  upstream on July 2nd 2016:

And on Tuesday June 18, 2019:

Evidently the cattle have not been using this pasture recently this year - maybe one ought to contemplate growing wild rice or "manoomin "   and let the beaver help. Would the Conservancy enter into a partnership with the grower to help sell the rice? Maybe one could encourage the beaver to build the dam upstream from the bridge to increase the flooding- However, from time to time, the dam would have to be lowered to maintain a flow of water needed by the "manoomin". Let global heating come!

Wise Old Beard

Wednesday 29 May 2019

American Pie

These impressions, and there are many, have been filed under UFO. However, I think the bird is an American Tree Swallow, maybe playing in the mud.

I think there is only one and the same bird appearing in all the photos although last year there was definitely a pair. I suspect our "season" is  a couple of weeks late since there is also no sign of the Baskettails hatching - will check again today.


Monday 27 May 2019

Dear Wawa - at foot-bashed-in, a year later

I was returning to the scene of a year ago when I saw a pair of Canada geese and a large number of goslings -

Later I saw a third adult was also swimming near by:

In response to my "Wawa" I have changed the captuon/header from knee to foot.

Wise Ol' Wawa Dad ( aka WOB)