Sunday, 26 June 2011

Thursday, 16 June 2011

POND SCUM OF MY DREAMS

Slimeball…a derogative term to be sure, from the modern usage, but before it was ever dragged down to the world of insults and verbal nastiness we know it for today, the scum of which we speak and the small bacteria that form them were simply the catalysts for the many beautiful colours we see in hot springs. While a whole host of thermophilic (heat-loving) microorganisms are responsible, it is the cyanobacteria, one of the more common fellows from this group, which form most of the scum. Cyanobacteria grow together in huge colonies (bacterial mats) that form the delightfully colourful scums and slimes on the sides of hot springs.

You can tell a fair bit about the water temperature and chemistry by just looking at the colour of the pools… as cyanobacteria, while not considered picky pool dwellers, do prefer one pool to another. A fear of slime actually has a term, blennophobia, a term told to me by a very savvy 12-year old -- child not scotch. The next time you hear someone flinging this insult your way, stop and tell them how attractive scum make this world.

Monday, 6 June 2011

KOREA: KIM CHI AND DINOSAUR TRACKS

Many years ago, I was working for a Canadian/Norwegian company that sold log homes to Japanese and Korean buyers eager to have a taste of the "traditional" Scandinavian mixed with the West Coast experience. Young and willing to work for pennies plus my living allowance, I'd always thought I was hired for my language skills.

It was years later, upon looking at old photographs, that it dawned on me that my actual job, the one I was hired to do -- was stand at the from of the room flipping large photographs of log homes during afternoon presentations. I was a Canadian/Norwegian Vanna White doing much the same task, only in budding Japanese. Conichiwa!

This photograph was taken on a trip to Seoul, Korea, where we were meeting up with wholesalers and business folk eager to expand their networks. I spend a lovely afternoon visiting and enjoying a sizzling hot barbeque complete with beetles (yes, beetles!) and ample kim chi. Some of the staff agreed to join me outside for a photograph. As we posed, I thought how sweet the girls were in their traditional garb and how little. Upon seeing the final photograph, however, I was shocked to realize I was shorter than all but one. Apparently I'm taller in my mind's eye.

While in Korea, I did get to see some of their impressive Cretaceous dinosaur trackways, one of which is now proposed as a World Heritage Site. South Korea also boasts impressive trackways of shore birds and bountiful petrified wood. I've included coordinates for a few additional sites well worth a visit.

Fossil Sites of Korea:

Uhang-ri, Hwangsan-myeon, Haenam-gun, Jeollanam-do:
(34°45' N, 126°25' E)

Bibong-ri, Deungnyang-myeon, Boseong-gun, Jeollanam-do:
(34°45' N, 127°10' E)

Sado-ri, Hwajeong-myeon, City of Yeosu, Jeollanam-do:
(34°34'-37' N, 127°31'-34' E)

Seoyu-ri, Buk-myeon, Hwasun-gun, Jeollanam-do:
(35°09'51" N, 127°36'31" E)

Deongmyeong-ri, Hai-myeon, Goseong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do:
(34°54' N, 128°08' E)

Saturday, 4 June 2011

REFUGE COVE: HEART OF DESOLATION

Those who make regular treks to Desolation Sound on British Columbia's west coast know the wee gem of Refuge Cove. Friendly faces, fresh seafood and hot showers bring folk back year upon year. Only a few hardy families call Refuge home year-round. The rest of the inhabitants are sun soaked sailors and power boaters stopping in to top up supplies or rest soundly in their well-sheltered bay on their Desolation travels.