Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Free National Park Admission!

Canada’s national parks will be open to the public free of charge for two very special days in July (every July, in fact).Parks Canada | Parcs Canada

First, on Canada Day (1 July) the parks will be opened up in celebration of Confederation.  Then, as in every year since 1990, Parks Day will be celebrated this on the third Saturday in July – this year it is on 16 July.

Take advantage of these days to get out to your nearest national park and partake in the festivities.  You can check out for more information as the days get closer.  I will also post a reminder near the end of June.


Winter Fun

My sister and I are visiting our mother in Morinville, Alberta.  They have a quad/ATV and a snowmobile, so we went out for a bit of play time on a frozen stream.  Holy man  that was a blast!  When you’re not used to it, it is very hard on the right thumb, which is used for the throttle.  But when you’re dressed for the conditions a little pain is nothing.  I just push my way through the pain and muscle fatigue to keep going, or to go faster.  We all love to go faster, no?

Most Active/Popular Post(s) for 2010

With only a short time remaining in 2010, I thought I’d fill in what the most popular posts were on this blog for 2010.  I know I was surprised.

The single most common search term was “navy shower”, leading to my article on household water conservation, written back in June.  I find it reassuring that so many people are interested in using the navy shower to conserve water at home.  Sometimes it can be the simple things that can improve peoples’ green conscience.

Next up is the article I wrote about our trip to the Crowsnest Pass area for Thunder in the Valley, a spectacular, annual fireworks show in Blairmore.

Probably the third most searched for topic would be the lunar eclipse / winter solstice conjunction that just recently made news headlines.  It is unfortunate, though, although not entirely surprising, that the common search was for the “mystical properties” of the eclipse.  It is, of course, absurd that something so benign and simple as a lunar eclipse should have mystical properties.  It is also unsurprising that people would look for such things.  Eclipses and other celestial phenomena were thought to have magical/mystical properties, being portents of doom or victory (depending on the observer’s perspective).  Thankfully, Newtonian and Galilean physics have successfully explained away the phenomena and allow us to accurately predict when other such events will occur.

Field School Day 2

We have had a busy second day.  Well, half of us have.  The other group had a nice, easy morning of  identifying vegetation, and a wet afternoon of free time.  My group spent the morning sampling soil at Wasootch Creek, and the afternoon collecting water samples at Sibbald Meadows Pond.

Soil sampling was both fun and difficult.  The difficult part was hitting rocks and gravel in the creek bed/floodplain.  My partners and I ended up digging a small pit (“but, the walls kept caving in… really!”) while the other sampling groups managed to dig narrow boreholes.  All in all it was good fun and interesting, though.  We found a shallow organic layer (O-horizon) in the creek bed (this makes sense) followed by a thick and gravelly A-horizon.  At one point in our digging, we came across pebbles about 5-10 cm in diameter, but at about 50 cm depth we found the gravel was much smaller, only about 1-1.5 cm in  diameter.

After we were finished with the gravelly soil in the creek bed we moved up the slope about 20 metres to collect samples from there at similar depths.  The digging was much easier here, as the organic layer was much softer and thicker thanks to  all the decaying material on the forest floor.  Walking up there felt like walking on a luscious, soft carpet.  It sort of was, since it was covered in sphagnum moss.  Anyway, we dug from 0-60 cm depth and found basically all organic material and sandy loam of the sort that would be perfect for gardening.  Below 60 cm we started to encounter the A-horizon, which was a light gray clay-based soil (Dave actually rolled a small piece of the clay into a ball to throw at Eric…).

This was followed by lunch (chicken wings & pasta salad), after which we went off to Sibbald Meadows Pond to collect water samples.  It was really wet, raining steadily until about 3:15 or so, at which point it cleared right up and the sun came 0ut to warm us up.  I got some pictures of Dave and Eric each wearing the hip waders, each out about 10 metres from shore.  From these points we collected a subsurface water sample and a bottom sediment dredge sample (to be used in another project back at home).  Samples were tested on site for pH, electrical conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity.  We also took a sample to be tested for hydrocarbons, and a sample to be tested for metals – these will be done by the chem tech students back at SAIT.

Anyway, dinner was spaghetti & meat sauce, chicken (shake-n-bake style), salad, and ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert.  So yummy.  Now for the evening we have had our meeting with the instructors and many are working on lab work to get ready for tomorrow and complete calculations for today’s work.  There were card games last night and this afternoon, and a wee bit of drinking, too.  As far as I’m concerned, I’m pretty tired and not terribly interested in drinking every night anyway.  Working outside definitely takes its toll and it’s easy to get tired out.

Tomorrow my group has a free period in the morning, so I’m planning to go for a hike up the barrier lookout trail.  A group of three went today and they didn’t go all the way to the fire lookout, so we’ll see how far I can get tomorrow.  I don’t know if anyone else is interested in coming with me, but that’s what I plan to do.

Summer is Here!

Solstices and Equinoxes

Positioning of the sun for each of the equinoxes and solstices.

Happy Summer Solstice, everyone!

Today is the longest day of the year.  It is the day that the sun reaches the Tropic of Cancer, the northernmost extent of the sun in the equatorial zone.  The sun is highest in the Northern sky; lowest in the Southern sky on this day.


Welcome to the Adventures of a Green Gopher.  I’m just getting started, but plan to post articles on everything from geophysics (environmental and otherwise) to environmental technology, vermiculture/vermicompost, gardening, and a whole lot more.  So please stay tuned.  I’ll make sure to post something more interesting soon.