Thursday 25 April 2013

Compos mentis (or not) and home.

"Gimme a string bean, I'm a hungry man.
Shotgun fired and away I ran."                                                                                 Up, Down.                       Full Moon 

Snowdrops, Galanthus: Greek gála/milkContents:   Boto, Watershed:(Cognitive Maps, Muskoka Watershed, Internet Odyssey, Try Again, Bala Falls, Layers), Home, Tar Sand Terrorist, Cracked Pot.

The April full moon (with a partial eclipse this year but not visible from North or South America - I wish I were clever enough to understand such wrinkles) is known as Pink Moon, Sprouting Grass and Egg Moon - spring in full swing imagery; that lovely & desireable 7-ball, the pink one, coming just before the dreadful black one. Shoures soote/sweet showers. 

Boto, river dolphin.Boto, river dolphin.Boto, river dolphin.
Sometimes we found a dolphin had gotten into our cod trap (in Placentia Bay) and not been able to get out again. Rarely they were OK and we would let them go but mostly they had beaten themselves up so badly on the twine that they were exhausted and near death. Surprising to learn how delicate their skin is. We called them 'puffin pigs' and when we brought one in there was celebration because in a community with a limited diet they were a delicacy.

Little ditties like: "You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."
  ["Abraham Lincoln said that. 'You can be in my dream if I can be in yours,' I said that." :-) ]   have a certain symmetry; there is a name for this kind of figure somewhere I am sure.

Join that up with 'feet of clay' and the ubiquitous foolishness (stupidity) in human lives if you can - that's the exercise here today. 
Cognitive maps:   It was a new and powerful paradigm when I learned of it from Glen; and I have embroidered it just a little since then to a view of how sense comes to be - that there is stepwise integration involved.

When it comes to a 'watershed' (which is of itself a largeish notion) the essentials (it seems to me) are naming the beginning and end; preferably recognizable names for where the water comes from and where it goes to. 'Algonquin Park' & 'Georgian Bay' are a start to be sure, even sufficient, but they (seem to me to) need qualification, specification. Since there are at least several sources in Algonquin Park and two outlets into Georgian Bay, four names are a minimum; and not in the descriptive text - on a map, in a picture (given that it is now the 21st century).

'From sea to shining sea', 'do Oiapoque ao Chuí'; from Islet & Rain lakes; from McRaney, West Harry, Little Joe & Burnt Island lakes; from Big Porcupine Lake; to Moon & Musquash rivers and Go Home Lake (and if 'Moon River' isn't evocative then perhaps you are too young to know the film Breakfast at Tiffany's or Audrey Hepburn singing the tune). 
Muskoka watershed object lesson:   From a rich 'umwelt': comprising travels with my father into many of its corners, and on my own, and a family anchor in the midst of it; I set out to follow the 'Friends of the Muskoka Watershed' thread mentioned in Peter Sale's presentation on Saturday; an Internet Odyssey ...

Well to consider Nicholas Carr's essay from 2008 and his 2011 book The Shallows before casting off. I like to think I find some of the best of it ... but then, cocaine addicts often talk that way too eh?

It does quickly turn up the Muskoka Watershed Council website where the 'Watersheds' drop-list takes me to the Muskoka River Watershed, and two maps: an overall 'impression; and a schematic - but neither sheds much actual light and less heat. 
Odyssey:   Following their link to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Muskoka River Water Management Plan List of Documents, and assuming (incorrectly) that Section 3 - Physical and Biological Environment (.pdf) will have the best maps ... download and 19 pages in come three large-scale, low-resolution, out of focus (what to call them?) images? - shedding almost no additional light or heat. Illegible.

So Google around until some Ontario Ministry of Transportation road maps emerge - large-scale, high-resolution AND the rivers and lakes are mostly named. Here they are:
Muskoka Watershed Council map.Muskoka Watershed Council schematic.Muskoka Watershed Council schematic.Muskoka River Water Management Plan sample.Ontario Ministry of Transportation road map.
[But assumptions taken for granted, even apparently elementary ones, are always dangerous.] 

Choked and frustrated (but lucky); only going back to the List of Documents looking for provenance: authors and dates and the like, just to tidy up the crumbs that had fallen out; turns up Section 2 - Introduction containing what follows as well as the original schematic from above:
Muskoka Watershed key.Muskoka Watershed map.Muskoka Watershed map.
Taken in order: key, schematic, and detail; they now tell an almost sensible story (if the north arrows were all pointing the same) and comprise a set of inputs to a plausible cognitive map.

Many hours - about a full 10-hour day - spent digging and delving to find the little that is here gentle reader; and another hour or two translating it into more-or-less presentable HTML. My daughter says such things are done 'for yourself' (she views it as a sort of 'journaling' activity, a diversion) but it ain't so; and for all the closeness we share I cannot get this point across.

I mentioned this the last time I remember. Is there is a Karma? A magical balance cosmically enforced as a reward for adherence to the Golden Rule? It just doesn't seem to me to work like that. "Kicking at the darkness till it bleeds daylight," (as Bruce Cockburn says) is more like it. 
Muskoka Watershed Council schematic, Bala detail.Bala Falls:   What the loop around Bala (on the schematic) means I am unable to clearly understand. Nothing anywhere corresponds to it for me. A diversion of some kind possibly? A mistake?

I digressed briefly into finding out what's up with Bala falls: a 3-5 megawatt power plant near the south end of the existing north dam; I have paddled across and around the immediate area and still can't picture it. Imagine! (But I was drunk at the time. :-)

These aerial photographs make some sense of it:
Bala Falls.Bala Falls.Bala Falls.Bala Falls.
Or (if you feel like some abuse) you can try consulting Google Maps.
There has been (and continues) some political controversy around this issue. The best (nearly perfect) summing up I heard (in a conversation not on the Internet) is, "If the palaces they are building on the shores of the lakes were mandated energy-neutral there would be no need for it."

Why would a legal lever even be needed? These people can certainly afford it. 
Layers of bafflement:   If the plant is unnecessary then one wonders how many ergs dynes and joules of (very well paid-for) mental energy have gone into deciding its fate?
Alice Murphy & Tony Clement.Tony Clement & John Klinck.Tony Clement & Norm Miller.
There are layers upon (superfluous) layers: federal, provincial, county (district), and town (and township); not to mention various (competing) ministries on several of those layers, electoral boundaries, institutions to promote tourism, Chambers of Commerce, native communities & 'First Nations' etcetera etcetera etcetera ... each of them getting their 10%. I gave up in the end trying to make sense of it, not because I am unable but because (even for me) it is too depressing - except maybe for largely volunteer groups like FMW.
Ontario Counties.Parry Sound-Muskoka provincial electoral district.District Municipality of Muskoka.
A few links:
        Bala Falls Small Hydro Project, Alice Murphy the Mayor of Muskoka Lakes,
        District Municipality of Muskoka (Wikipedia), District Municipality of Muskoka (their website),
        and a rather good (and accessible) GIS of the District Municipality of Muskoka
        (on an iCompass platform - for a good slice of someone's 10% no doubt). 
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
they have to take you in.”                         Robert Frost, The Death of the Hired Man ~1915.
Birthday party.Birthday party.Birthday party.
My father was an American, somewhere along the line he read Frost I guess, or his father did, probably both, and this was a central pillar in our family life, the central pillar for as long as he lived. He died one summer. I have a letter from him just before Christmas the year before; not to me, a copy of a letter to someone else.

He says, "Our children have been a tower of strength." This is such a lie. His children ignored him and abandoned him to his fate. He died alone on his birthday.

He would not come to our house for Christmas that year so we went to him - and it was a debacle: our dog illegally in the apartment, a fire so the dog was revealed, and finally, ructions that led to our leaving for home on Christmas afternoon. Desperate. He also says, "... the hope that in whomever you believe will shower his blessings upon you." This makes me smile because he himself imagined no 'whomever'. 
These kinds of lies seem to have an affinity for bourgeois foundations. They migrate subtly to essential structural positions and await their moment to fail. I believed the one from Robert Frost; easy to do since like I said, it was true, he made it so as long as he lived. But it died with him and (such is the power of belief) it has taken thirty years to figgure out.

The poem may be misconstrued without some appreciation of subtlety: primarily the relief at the death, if not explicitly in the protagonists then in the reader - though how much of this is Frost's intention is unclear.

Or - taking a more cynical view - maybe that's the best to be expected: a place to die and nothing more. ... In that movie ... the samurai with the bamboo sword ... ? ... Ah! Harakiri 1962. I can't remember if he goes through with it ... (watched it again) ... sort of. 
Peter Kent & Diana McQueen.A report comes from the Vancouver Sun on Earth Day: Oilsands pollution levels not a concern say Ottawa & Alberta.

Toxic Canada, bittersweet.Peter Kent doesn't look very happy about it - maybe there is a vestigial scintilla of conscience still operating in there somewhere. He (or his minions) say, "Overall, the levels of contaminants in water and in air are not a cause for concern," with a wide range of weasel words in support.

Toxic Canada, bittersweet.I am a simple man so I just reply straight: "That's a damned lie!" I know it's a lie because I worked on a tar sands project - Kearl Lake - and all of the commissioning engineers I worked with knew. We didn't speak about it very often but sometimes we did.

Cooler heads provide better scientific and rational analysis of this ridiculous nonsense. While I weep because I know time is running out.

There are more reports of terrorist activity by Canadians this year: the Amenas hostage crisis; and the recent 'planned derailment'. But for me they bring up memories of the RCMP blowing up a tool shack during their war on Wiebo Ludwig; and of the general incompetence of the 'Toronto 18' and nevermind Judge John Sproat on entrapment.

Toxic Canada, bittersweet.I guess it is a matter of time for a zero-tolerance regime to bust me for posting images of our flag as a toxic symbol. Represented as it is by intellectual giants such as Joe Oliver who calls environmentalists 'terrorists' and is ready to drink the water from tar sands tailing ponds (I really wanna be there for that - the whole cabinet should do it). The mass media style book is coming back 'on message' - at the Vancouver Sun at least - to 'oilsands' from ' tar sands'; but, you know ... a rose is a rose eh? 

Boto, river dolphin.Boto, river dolphin.A cracked pot gentle reader, my beloved aunt used to say, "Why you're nothing but a crank!" ... so sorry, but just possibly a tiny step up from ... spam? Can't say. And :-)yes, I now identify with that river dolphin there.
Be well. 

André Dahmer: Malvados.André Dahmer: Malvados.André Dahmer: Malvados.
The life and work of Terêncio Horto:
        I am completely unhappy but I can manage a forced smile even in the worst moments of depression.
        I dissemble, right? Yes, but saying that causes me even more suffering.


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