People shooting people


Shutterbug photographing the Moondust Band at the 2013 Dancing With The Stars Final Round.

Contestants to follow:


But first, the annoucements…


Paul filming from above…


Prizes provided by…


And now they dance!!!














To find out who the winner is, you’ll have to wait until the blog entry…meanwhile…



That pale blue dot (no, not the DOT (dept. of transportation) that keeps us going)

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. From Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.”

What did you do the day Earth smiled?

Love is academic

Many a former lover once told me that, although my love and devotion was incomparable, I was susceptible to falling in love with everyone I meet.

Thus it is so.

And probably always will be, considering how internally perfect every one of us tends to be, being ourselves in our particular peculiarities, and perpetually attractive to me.

My three semesters as a post-secondary school instructor taught me that I need not teach because it’s difficult to assign low/poor grades to my wonderfully unique students.

However, unlike the characters in these reviewed books, I never consummated my love for students in those three short school cycles.

Liken likin’ lichen like in lye kin

Our mailbox at the street resembles a small wooden house, a look similar to our main house.

On the “chimney” of the mailbox house grows a small patch of lichen.

Do you like lichen the way I do?

Lichen falls onto our driveway almost everyday, attached to bits of tree — twig, branch, bark — that break away and follows gravity’s path onto the concrete surface.

One species of beard lichen in particular, but not this one.

As our climate gradually warms, lichen is migrating north, bringing symbiotic organisms along.

As with the variety of tree species in our yard, we have a multitude of lichen species.

Same with mushrooms, algae, bacteria, ants and other organisms I won’t encounter together on Mars.

What will migrate with us when we live off-Earth?

What will survive without us and adapt to new environmental conditions?

How many organisms on Earth didn’t originate on our planet?

I owe our next-door neighbours a copy of books on trees and edible wild plants so they can identify which plants not to kill in their yard to protect their curious one-year old child from eating less-than-nutritious green stuff.

I see the Trees book in front of me, under a pile of “French Idioms,” “Russian for Everyday,” “The New College French & English Dictionary,” “Peterson Field Guides to Stars and Planets,” “The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual,” “2004 Far Side Desk Calendar,” and “The Yale Book of Quotations;” on top of “Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid,” “RE/SEARCH #8/9: J.G. Ballard,” “The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker,” and a spiral-bound copy of my book, “The Mind’s Aye,” not to forget issue #500 of MAD magazine.

Speaking of books, I have a few to finish reading, including “The Big Questions” by Steven Landsburg and a hyperreality book, “Travels in Hyperreality,” by Umberto Eco.

I wonder, which set of beliefs, particularly in the realm of religion, makes one more likely to approve of government/private industry spying?  In Christianity, God is always watching, just like Santa Claus, ready to mete out rewards and punishment for our behaviours/thoughts.

Does our general culture encourage us to believe in seeking our fifteen minutes of fame, even if it’s only on a hidden security camera or set of IM chat logs?

Does lichen care about our meme-ridden upper brain functions or our labyrinthine specialty tasks and hobbies that spin out of a growing economy?

Likely not.

That’s why I like lichen — symbiosis that doesn’t require ritual or dogma.

Cultural scientists today argued their proof that silicon-based organisms such as computers are living beings.

I thank my living being for letting me write this blog entry on its plastic key skinned surface.

Enough meditative humour for the day — time to eat lunch and read a couple of books loaned by the public library.

Where is Def Leprechaun when you need ’em?

I am a woodsman in that I am a man who lives in the woods.  I respect the right for private property ownership such that if we are all responsible stewards of the land we own, then our community benefits us, providing us good health, space for happiness and time to prosper.

I also believe that good fences, even virtual ones, make good neighbours — keep your eyes out of my business, including drones, network snooping/spying and next-door peeping Toms — in other words, I believe I can trust my neighbours to do the right thing, even when evidence points to the contrary, thus leaving room for education, instruction, advice and creative/constructive criticism to steer us toward being good neighbours, regardless of the past.

My next-door neighbours, Robert and Lauren Justice and their child, Olivia Grace Justice, like to keep their outdoor lights on at night — it adds an aesthetic value as well as provides a sense of security; however, when I sleep in the sunroom at night, their lights are disturbing, or, when I want to look at stars, planets and moons, their lights are a distraction.

Thus, I am led here, to this moment, where I begin documenting the privacy fence I’m constructing that simply blocks our back deck and sunroom from our neighbours, allowing both of us to use our private property as we please while leaving as much as the woods open between us.

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A few years ago, a subcontractor built a sunroom attached to our house.  During construction, I added a “French drain” under the sunroom to prevent water running off the hill behind our house from flooding our crawlspace.

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After they finished the sunroom, I built a new wood deck.  At that time, the lot next to ours was undeveloped so our deck extended out into the woods.

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Eventually, the lot next door was developed, making us feel crowded in by suburbia:

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Before our sunroom was built, I disassembled the old back deck where the sunroom would go, cutting down a tree to make room for the new back deck.  I piled the pieces of deck wood on the ground, eventually moving them to the side of the house, where they sat for almost ten years.

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Now it’s time to design the new privacy fence.  First, I need some architectural inspiration:

Creating-the-Inspired-House Desiging-for-the-homeless Fences-Walls-and-Hedges-for-privacy-and-security Landscapes-Decks-and-Project-Plans Masterpieces-of-American-Architecture Slat-wood-fence-page-33 Trellis-fence-page-96


Basically, I need a 12-foot tall fence.


So, the bottom six feet will be a louvered fence and the top six feet a type of trellis.

But I want a trellis design that reflects my background, but not overtly.  Some inspirations from Celtic crosses:

Celtic Presbyterian cross

First “cut” of the design:



…followed by iterations…

Trellis-fence-with-cross-only Trellis-fence-with-cross-only-with-circle Trellis-fence-with-cross-only-with-two-circles

I have at least one stained glass piece to add to the fence:



This is the final version I hope to achieve (taking into account the best-laid plans of mice and men, unlevel posts and all that, of course):



The whole fence will be backed by reed fencing from Lowe’s:



But first, time for a beer!  😉

Book review

First time reading a romance novel May 30, 2013

By Rick
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book was sent to me as a gift. I am not a romance novel reader — neither a fan nor a hater. My preference for books tends toward science fiction, business philosophy, biographies of fiction writers/business leaders/military figures, and science. Therefore, opening “How to Pursue a Princess” was opening a new world of fiction to me.

My exposure to tales of heroines and damsels in distress comes from Disney movies, my sister telling me about the books she read as a child (“Anna Karenina” and “Nancy Drew” series), and my wife watching books-adapted-to-cinema such as “Sense and Sensibility.”

I suppose in some of the science fiction and fantasy books I’ve read, there were the heroines as damsels in distress, although, for the most part, the women in the stories were just as strong and technically proficient as their male counterparts.

Working my way into the storyline of “How to Pursue a Princess,” learning about a matchmaking duchess intent on pairing a woman in financial straits with a man of financial means, I made it to page 69 of the 383 pages in the paperback edition, having in my thoughts a clear picture of 18th 19th century Scottish upper-class society — to that, I credit the author with painting sufficient pen strokes to describe the countryside, mannerisms, architecture, fashion and food of the times that I need not have worried about how much she researched 18th 19th century Scotland and the accuracy of her portrayal of the times that I might accidentally remember as history I would mention in casual conversation (but the written dialogue made me wonder if Scottish aristocracy spoke with an English accent or with a bit of Scottish brogue [e.g.,

Page 69 is as far as I got.

I tried to imagine this story being told on Mars in the 24th century, in 20th century wartime Europe, or in another galaxy far, far away (a la “Star Wars,” substituting Princess Leia for Lily Balfour, for example) to see if I would have read this story in the science fiction or military history genre.

But I could not.

I cannot say whether the author’s writing style influenced my decision to stop reading.

I can say that the plot was not of interest to me — a woman, manipulated by another, having to decide between two men to marry, who would then be expected to support her and her family financially — it’s like having to sit through a marathon viewing of the television reality show “Say Yes to the Dress” with my wife…zzzz…getting sleepy…think I’ll go outside, trim the hedges and earn my mancard points for the day.

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[Disclosure: Karen Hawkins was in the same high school together with me. We were not close friends but were acquainted with each other so this review is biased even if I want to pretend it wouldn’t be.]

Karen, I wish you continued success in your writing career. My wife has asked to read this book and provide her own review from an unbiased woman’s viewpoint. I’ll then pass it on to my mother, who enjoys romance novels, and get her opinion for you.


In recalling the slightly unmentionable moments of my Boy Scout years, I remembered a phrase that Joey (the tickler) used to describe himself: polymorphously perverse, because, he admitted, he liked the thrill of tickling girls and boys his age and looking at their reactions.  He also liked being tickled.

Funny, how quickly a childhood can be forgotten and remembered.

Time for lunch — fresh peaches (first of the season!), fresh strawberries (last of the season!), potato chips, potato chip butter (i.e., sour cream) and a hummus sandwich.

Have a great day!  I have books that wait to be read and I an urge to read them.