I was thinking about the passage of time today. Marveling at just how quickly it goes by. I was out enjoying the day, using the car as a blind trying to capture a photo of a Snow Bunting, that I thought would be special, and fighting a losing battle to stay awake in my comfortable little set up. As I listened to the Snow Bunting pouring forth his song from every prominent place but the one I was set up for (where I'd seen him last weekend during a count), I was surprised by a bird I did not expect to see. Not yet, and it wasn't where I was planning on looking for it. But up in front of me popped a pair of Northern Wheatears (Oenanthes oenanthes). Surprising me enough that I watched them and didn't try for a photo until they'd moved farther along.
I wondered about their journey, which took them from Africa, up into Europe, Greenland, before finally settling in here. The urge to breed driving them each year, to make that trip up, and then back. Does a year pass quickly for them? Or do they even know?
Years pass quickly for me now, for today is the House and other Arctic Musings' fourth blogoversary. Only a heartbeat ago I was writing up the third blogoversary post, and now the Earth has made another trip around the sun. Traditionally, I write a little of the origins or inspiration for the blog, and offer up a selection of past posts from each month.
But events have distracted me today, and it is hard to keep focused on this celebration. And as I watch the clock tick closer to midnight I will quickly run out of time to get this in on my blogoversary, which I suppose is the point.
There was a time this year when it appeared that I wouldn't make the fourth anniversary of this first post. Ennui had set in, it seemed as each year came around I was trying to write something fresh about something I wrote about the previous year, I paid too much attention to stats and wondered if the dropping visitor numbers meant people felt the same way, and there were things happening in my non blog world that demanded my attention. But shortly into my hiatus I realized something critical, that I enjoy this.
I enjoy the writing, the challenge of seeking out a way of saying something that you might be interested in reading. I enjoy the communities I've found through this, and the friends I've made along the way. Most of whom I've never met face to face. Incredibly though, those I have ended up meeting, such as the inimitable Townie Bastard (the other Godfather of Nunavut Blogging), are still friends. The friendship survived the face to face encounter. Incredibly he (at any rate) turned out to be pretty much the person I thought he was. These on line friendships have become very important to me, and give validity to this endeavour. Probably more than any other, I value the online friendship I have with my inspiration for blogging, nuthatch. She (and her husband) remains the blogger I'd most like to meet in person, and I hope I one day will. There are many on that list of friends to actually meet one day, in the north, in the birding community, in the other blogging community, and I hope by not naming you all you won't be bothered. You know who you are.
I while back, I noticed that another milestone would fall roughly the same time, two actually. One of them, the 200,000th visitor happened a month or so ago. The other today. I wish I could say it was coincidence, but trust me I made a big effort to have this milestone happen today. For in addition to this being the start of my fifth year of blogging (about one hundred and ninety-seven in "people years"), this is my one thousandth post. Who knew I could stick with one thing this long? Certainly not my English teachers in High School.
So if you've been with me from the beginning, or just happened upon the House, thank you for stopping by. I hope you've found something entertaining in those 1000 bits of blather. I've said it before, but what a long strange trip its been.
Gavage is the practice of force feeding ducks and geese, usually associated with the production of pate de foie gras. The force feeding produces a disease called hepatic lipidosis, which results in an abnormally large liver, up to three pounds in weight. Animals involved in the production of diseased liver, er, pate de foie gras, are frequently penned up in cages little more than the size of their body. A description from wikipedia describes the process, and the amounts that each animal is force fed.
In modern production, the bird is typically fed a controlled amount
of feed, depending on the stage of the fattening process, its weight,
and the amount of feed it last ingested.
At the start of production, a bird might be fed a dry weight of
250 grams (9 oz) of food per day, and up to 1,000 grams (35 oz) (in dry
weight) by the end of the process. The actual amount of food force-fed
is much greater, since the birds are fed a mash whose composition is
about 53% dry and 47% liquid (by weight).
The feed is administered using a funnel fitted with a long tube
(20–30 cm long), which forces the feed into the animal's esophagus; if
an auger is used, the feeding takes about 45 to 60 seconds. Modern systems usually use a tube fed by a pneumatic pump;with such a system the operation time per duck takes about 2 to 3
seconds. During feeding, efforts are made to avoid damaging the bird's
esophagus, which could cause injury or death
This agricultural practice for the production of food is common in at least one EU country, France and produced in others. To be fair a number of EU countries have banned Foie Gras production.
Gavage is not to be confused however with Garbage, an example of which is the false controversy of a visitor to the Canadian Arctic (in this case the Governor General) partaking in a traditional meal that consisted in part of sustainably hunted seal, a huge part of the 100 mile or local food diet, in this part of the country. A controversy generated by the Europe based International Fund for Animal Welfare, but in a climate created by the EU decision to ban seal products (and inexplicably reported on as "news" by Canadian News Organizations, whose job doesn't include parroting what every "official" tells them to "create balance"). These seal are taken in a humane, sustainable manner: no cages, no growth hormones, no pesticides (apart from those that are accumulating in the north thanks to southern agricultural practices and industrial pollution).
I suppose if the EU wishes to take away their citizen's ability to purchase seal products that is their prerogative. Even if it is misguided and led by problematic charisma. But really it is no business of theirs what a Canadian, even one of the Governor General's stature and profile, eats while in Canada, with Canadian products. Perhaps if they need something to occupy the time they spend on this nonsense they might turn their attention to several member countries of the EU, whose constant over fishing is helping to empty the worlds oceans.
In a box of books that arrived today (courtesy the wonderful Indigo - Thank you) was a Winter 1959 edition of The Beaver, with an article about Arctic Bay written by Margery Hinds. Hinds was one of the earliest teachers up here, and the article contained several photos taken by her. Including this one... Now I'm not sure, but I believe that this is a photo of a friend of mine, Lew Philip, who retired recently from the RCMP, and lives in Iqaluit. I just heard that he is in town, having snowmobiled up from Iqaluit. I'll have to try and track him down.
I've processed several more images in HDR, and in general I'm liking what I'm seeing, although in some ways there seems something, I don't know, unnatural about the image. But it is fun. One thing I've found is that even though I've bracketed a lot of my photos (and inexplicably kept all of them), many are handheld which leads to sharpness issues when you're combining three or more images. At any rate, out of the dozen or so I've done here is one I like.
One of my clients is a photographer and does a little HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography. If you visit Kluglanoch Corner you'll be familiar with this type of photography. He was kind enough to let me try out some of my old bracketed photos with his HDR software. Here are the results of the foray into HDR photography. I may just have to do more of it. (click on the photos for a better look at it)
"Imagine that you're standing at the edge of cliff, looking down at the water far below."
I know that I am a lucky man, in many, many ways. One of the strokes of fortune that I enjoy is a family with no major health concerns. I look around at others and wonder if I could handle the challenges they face. I like to think I can, but I don't know for sure. I have no idea what it is like to have a child with autism (as friends of mine do), or to have ALS (as a friend of mine does), or a child with seizures (as other friends of mine do).
I have a little better understanding what that is like today, because of the powerful voice of one of those friends. If you do nothing else today, go here, and listen to Meandering Michael.
Because I haven't really seen much blue sky lately, here is a patch of it that I photographed the last time I was out to the Gyrfalcon aerie. Environment Canada promises sun in a day or two, much like they've been promising for well over a week now. Andrew?
I meant to post this photo of Leah's at the end of the post of her other photos from the weekend. Here is the fish that almost won the $1000 prize. Leah's fish was less than an inch shorter than the winning fish from Kugarjuk.