Saturday, 22 September 2018

Saturday Photo: Canal in Kochi....

I have no idea if this canal still exists in Fort Kochi, Kerala State, on India's southwest coast, but I hope it does despite the recent catastrophic monsoon that flooded the area this summer.  But I like the photo because it combines two of the projects I've been working on.

The first is my book about the wonders, menace and history of concrete, Rock of Ages: How Concrete Built the World As We Know It.  The second is Frenemies:Why Some Places That Should Be Alike Aren't Alike.  Kerala  and Tamil Nadu, the state immediately to the east, are two of the pairs I consider in that book. 

Until last week, the plan was to publish the concrete book in 2019, and the one about unidentical twins some time later.  But the world is moving fast, and now it looks like Frenemies will be out sometime next year.

So at the moment  I'm pedaling fast to make the necessary changes, since the manuscript actually was finished about a year ago.  The memories of my time in Kerala are just that, mental souvenirs of a very interesting trip....

And now to get back to work.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Saturday Photo: The Bees Are At It, Thankfully

 One of the advantages of the kind of Darwinian gardening I do is that bees like it.  No pesticides or chemical fertilizer, just a lot of compost, some composted manure and a little bone meal.  The result is interesting--I'll share a photo next week--but the really important things is that bees love it.

All summer long they've been floating around.  Some of them must belong to hives like the one pictured here which sits in the Champs des possibles, vacant land along the railroad track through Montreal which has become a nature park.  There's only hive a couple of blocks away on the second story balcony of a classy house facing Parc Outremont.  Perhaps there are ones closer too that are hidden from casual view. 

Whatever, I'm glad to help out the busy pollenizers by providing environmental flowers....

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Saturday Photo: Tomato Time...

This is the best time of year for  lovers of real, ripe tomatoes.  What you get the rest of the year just does't cut it!

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Saturday Photo: Rideau Chapel and 40 Voice Motet

Highlight of a trip to Ottawa: a visit to the National Gallery of Canada to see the exhibit of Impressionist painters there until Sept. 9.  Nice, but what really was great was an installation in the Rideau Chapel  of a 40 Voice Motet by Joyce Cardiff based on music by Thomas Tallis.  Really amazing!  Go see/ hear it!

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Saturday Photo: Electric Cars, Only as Clean as Their Source of Energy

The folks a couple of blocks away have not one, but two electric cars.  Each cost a pretty penny, I'm sure.  But so did their house, which they've spent a lot of money on refurbishing.

I must say that I'm of two minds about giving subsidies to those who can afford these cars.  At the moment in Quebec you can get  a rebate of up to $8000 on the purchase of a new one, and $600 toward installing a recharging station at your home.  In Ontario, the new PC government is doing away with that province's subsidies which were considerably higher than Quebec's. 

Unless the electricity to charge these vehicles comes from a "green" renewable source, like solar, wind or hydroelectric, there is very little environmental good coming from them since emissions from traditional generating plants are extremely CO2 intense.  Furthermore, just adding more cars to the roads will not solve the other problems of our urban centers.  Better, probably, to put money into public transportation, including inter-city buses and trains. 

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Saturday Photo: Irrigation, or Another of the Things that Concrete Has Wrought

This was taken last summer near Chief Joseph Dam on the Columbia River.  It shows dramatically the effect of irrigation on the dry lands of the region. 

Concrete made this possible.  It has also contributed mightily to the problems of climate change that we are seeing this summer. 

I've been thinking a lot about this as I reflect on what concrete has wrought for my book Rock of Ages: How Concrete Built the World As We Know It. Lots of good things...but also some very questionable ones.  More about that later.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Saturday Photo: La bicyclette rose...Enduring Whimsy

It had been a while since I walked down Lajoie (great name) during summer, but I did this week.  What a delight to see that the folks who own the Pink Bicycle have put it out again, and decorated it with nifty plants.

Above is what it looked like on Wednesday, while below you'll find what it looked like in 2007 and 2011.  So nice to see that people continue the lovely, whimsical tradition.