From the world pool: May 27, 2016


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After a bit of a hiatus, I’ve got a lot collected.

Socio-political commentary


On a plate: a wonderful explanation of privilege.

On white privilege.


In other words, they weren’t waiting to “have it all” – they were waiting to have enough.”

Can we talk about Susan’s fabulous adventures after Narnia?

#WhoWillYouHelp Good on you, Government of Ontario.

Historically authentic sexism in fantasy. Let’s unpack that.

Media screwups:

Captain America is a Nazi, it turns out.

The straw that breaks the camel’s back: within a period of 30 days, four lesbian or bisexual female characters on TV were killed off. And one of them was killed literally two minutes after a long-simmering relationship was finally consummated. Which may be why there’s been a lot of discussion about the narrative laziness and implied homophobia of the dead lesbians trope in the media recently. Ya think?

Odds and ends

What has the European Convention on Human Rights ever done for us?

When “local” isn’t local. At Tampa Bay farm-to-table restaurants, you’re being fed fiction. I have a funny feeling this story applies everywhere. “This is a story we are all being fed. A story about overalls, rich soil and John Deere tractors scattering broods of busy chickens. A story about healthy animals living happy lives, heirloom tomatoes hanging heavy and earnest artisans rolling wheels of cheese into aging caves nearby. More often than not, those things are fairy tales.” (via @UrsulaV)

On the perils of IP mapping (via Tiro) How an internet mapping glitch turned a random Kansas farm into a digital hell (via @TiroTypeworks)

Art + Design

Free art book downloads from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

And more free books are listed in the endnotes and sidebar to this article.


When in drought: the California farmers who don’t water their crops. I suspect we on Gabriola could benefit by learning more about this. “Bucklin’s Old Hill Ranch, purchased by his stepfather Otto Teller in 1980, claims to be the oldest-rooted vineyard in the area. Teller fell in love with the vineyard because it was one of the few that still “dry-farmed”. Dry farming is a method that bypasses artificial irrigation, relying instead on seasonal rainfall and working the soil in such a way that it holds on to water for the drier months.”

Resources for the young entrepreneur. (Via Alice MacGillivray)

Just cool

The Insect Portraits of Levon Bliss

Hortum Machina, B (or, plants go walkabout)

Treehouses in houseplants!

Tumblr linguistics

Just for fun

I don’t want nobody… (nsfw)

Designing a really practical font: Sans Bullshit Sans

Scottish trad music genres 

Tree trimming




It’s a BIG willow. Very green and willowy.


An enormous amount of it overhung the garden, rendering said garden rather pointless.


Really overhung the garden.


There was a significant difference in light once they finished. Which is not surprising, considering the quantity of debris on the ground.


It’s a LOT of debris.


And that overhanging stuff… isn’t. It looks pretty raw and nasty, but this is a willow. Within a week that trunk will be covered in green.


And from other angles it doesn’t look as bad.


But there’s a lot of willow on the ground. A dog could get buried in it.


But the next morning….

stages of trimming a willow tree

…it was all gone.

Tree falling


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arborist up a tree

It’s a long way up, even when the top is gone.

So… last summer we had a drought, and by the end of the season it was clear that we’d lost some trees. So today Tom the arborist and his assistant came in and took out four cedars and one fir. They were about 80 feet high.

arborist leaning back on climbing belt

(He also whacked a whole bunch off the willow over the garden, but that’s a different story.

chainsawing through trunk while hanging on climbing belt

Usually they take them down in woodstove-sized pieces, but we need them for a project, so they took them down in bigger lengths, aiming for 20 to 30 feet.

It’s sad to see them go. Our yard is… quite different now.

arborist pushing over top of tree

Once you’ve cut most of the way through it just takes a push. (And a rope to make sure it falls in the right direction.)

Even sadder is thinking that if this weather pattern of summer drought keeps up, as it seems to be doing I’m betting there likely won’t be any cedars to speak of on our island in ten years. Our forests are already full of dead cedars, mostly youngish, but not all. They tell me the taking-out-dead-trees part of their business has been insanely busy since last summer. And it looks like the fire hazard will shut everything down even earlier than last year; we were lucky to get them here before the ban on powered equipment starts.

From the world pool: April 15, 2016

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Socio-political commentary

Silencing Tactics and You  (via @eilatan)

Things My Male Tech Colleagues Have Actually Said to Me, Annotated.  “You don’t mind if we call you a ‘chick,’ do you?” I say nothing, because you’re onto me. You’ve guessed it. I am actually a socialist collective of 112 baby chickens dressed in a trenchcoat. Curse your perspicacity. 

All That Isn’t Said: Kaye M. talks Islamophobia in YA.  (via @eilatan)

digitization: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. A thoughtful look at some potential impacts of digitizing material that was never intended for a wide audience.

Brutal honesty vs loving honesty

How my disabled son has changed my mind about political correctness. (via @PennyRed)

Groundbreaking nonprofit for women in tech, the Ada Initiative, to shut down.

Art + Design

Designing Glasses That Fit Individuals With Down Syndrome. Of the approximately 6,000 children born in the U.S. with Down Syndrome each year, more than half will need glasses at some point. Some of the physical traits associated with Down Syndrome, including close-set eyes, a low nose bridge and small ears, mean that glasses tend to slip down individuals’ noses, wing out too wide in the temples and not stay centered on their ears. The glasses that are available are uncomfortable, uncool, and, since the optical center tends to be off, not very helpful, vision-wise. “The standard solution for the slippage was a cable around the back of the head,” says Dellapina, “but parents who put them on their kids have never tried them themselves.” Since she was already familiar with optics and frame design, Dellapina started sketching out alternatives.

The Resurrection of a Zither Banjo.

The Harvard Library That Protects The World’s Rarest Colors. The history of pigments goes back to prehistoric times, but much of what we know about how they relate to the art world comes from Edward Forbes, a historian and director of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University from 1909 to 1944. Considered the father of art conservation in the United States, Forbes traveled around the world amassing pigments in order to authenticate classical Italian paintings. Over the years, the Forbes Pigment Collection—as his collection came to be known—grew to more than 2,500 different specimens, each with its own layered backstory on its origin, production, and use. (via @eilatan)

Glas Glas won master film maker Bert Haanstra a well-deserved Academy Award® for Best Short Documentary in 1959. The film contrasts the production of hand made crystal from the Royal Leerdam Glass Factory with automated bottle making machines in the Netherlands. An industrial film with a bebop heart, its lyrical use of light and sound still looks and sounds fabulous, nearly 60 years after it was made. 

Just cool

Hungarian Chef Turns Ordinary Cookies Into Stunning Embroidery-Inspired Art. And it’s all done freehand: watch the video. (I have to say, apart from the initial omg reaction, my first thought was: Just how much does one of these cookies cost?)

Just for fun

It’s downhill from here. #if anyone ever asks me about female fantasy and some of the ways it differs from perceived female fantasy #i am just going to cite this post

Cat burglar.

Pet emu playing fetch. Such joy!

Well, hello there.


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long-tailed salamander in gravel

So today I was getting some of last year’s leaf litter off the gravel paths in the veggie garden. I lifted up the first lump, and my eyes said, “Anomoly!” because of course gravel paths don’t usually have yellow stripes. So I put the leaf litter back and ran off and got my camera.

long-tailed salamander on hand

Here’s one with my hand, for scale.


And this is the best one I got of the little guy. It’s a Long-toed Salamander, Ambystoma macrodactylum. I’ve never seen one of these before; apparently they’re quite secretive, hanging out near ponds in breeding season (April and May). So maybe we’ll be lucky and have more of them!

I love our yard.



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Well, not all of them are odd, but certainly there were some on a recent walk.

split tree trunk

This was the first one. Why had someone chiseled 3 holes into this tree trunk? It was done by humans, not animals; I know pileated woodpeckers peck rectangular holes, but they aren’t quite as rectangular and smooth-sided as this. And it looked like it was a few years old, and dug in rather than being a simple blaze.

But here’s the other thing—the tree originally caught my eye because it was so obviously 2 trees nestled together; the trunks stood out because they were differently coloured.

top of treetrunk that's not split

Except they weren’t. Higher up, they were clearly joined, and in fact the split doesn’t go through to the other side of the tree.

old burned out stump

This burned out stump wasn’t an oddity, particularly, but the hole was like an eye to the rest of the forest.

tree stump hanging in air

Another oddity. When trees fall over I’m not used to seeing the end with the roots suspended fifteen feet up. (It had fallen into the space between two other trees and jammed fairly high off the ground, and the weight of the crown had pulled the root ball into the air.)

mushrooms on treetrunk

And this isn’t an oddity at all, just some nice fungus.

details of underside of mushrooms

And a detail, because I can.

From the world pool: March 18, 2016


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Socio-political commentary

The Turn-Around Guys: White Hetero-Patriarchy, Wealth, Paternalism, and the Willful Destruction of Public Education (via @tressiemcphd)

How my disabled son has changed my mind about political correctness“There is an inevitable backlash … to ‘political correctness gone mad’. And it’s true: prissily expressed PC attitudes do often look silly. The problem is that, broadly speaking, they’re also right. I know this with immense certainty. Without the prevailing wind of political correctness my life would be very different. The life of my son would be unrecognisable.”

(And… wow, the comments. Talk about illustrating the writer’s point.)

In the news

President Obama I’d love the log trucks.”

Just for fun

I’m not at all sure “fun” is really the right category for this video, but none of the others were either. Someone on Twitter made a comment about Sigur Rós, an Icelandic group I’d never heard of, pointing to one of their videos, and I just kind of fell down a rabbit hole for an hour or so. Ekki múkk is one of an experimental series of films made for their valtari album. It’s quite indescribable. I will warn that it has images of death and decay, if you’re squeamish about such things, but in context I found it quite beautiful.   You can find all the videos for the album here.

This is the greeting we all want to get when we come home. Warning: be prepared to adjust your volume.

Today I walked a new trail.


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dog on very overgrown trail

This, however, is not it. This is an old trail that I walked first. It’s, erm, a little overgrown at the moment.


Does Our Dog care about that, though? Nah!

dog foot in moss

Gratuitous photo of Our Dog’s foot in moss, just because both are so pretty.

trail through moss

And okay, here’s a picture of part of the new (to me) trail. It’s a pretty one.


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