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Canadian National Parks: Something To Be Proud Of

7 Nov

It was 100 years ago that the National Parks system was created in Canada. The first of its kind in the world, the National Park system has grown to encompass more than 42 National Parks, 4 National Marine Conservation Areas, one National Landmark, and 167 National Historic Sites. Managed by Parks Canada, these areas have been set aside by Canadians to protect them from development, and to preserve the natural landscapes and wildlife of the country. With that I find it fitting to include a gallery of photos of some of the countries national parks, you can see the photos below.

 

Starting with the first national park in 1885, Banff National Park was merely a stepping stone into the network of terrestrial and marine areas in the park system today. By 1911 the Dominion Parks Branch was created, the beginning of our current system, and by 1930 the National Parks Act was put into legislation protecting all National Parks. These parks play a familiar role in the lives of many Canadians, from canoe trips on great rivers, camping in thick boreal forests, to skiing and snowboarding one of the world’s most spectacular mountain ranges. The expansiveness and the privilege of the natural beauty can often be overlooked, however it is important to value what so many other places on earth do not have, a natural beauty that attracts visitors from all over the world to see.

2011 is the anniversary of this century old system and the Royal Canadian Mint is commemorating the milestone with special coins that you might just come across in circulation and a pretty cool commercial as well. So the next time your find yourself in one of Canada’s Parks, take a minute to appreciate not only the wilderness around you, but the effort involved to create such an icon of sustainability in our great country.

Photos courtesy of National Geographic, you can view the gallery on their website here.

You can also visit the Royal Canadian Mint website here.

Chicago Style Hot Dog & Home-made Coleslaw

5 Sep

So it may not be a poppy seed bun, and it may not have the sport peppers, but here’s my take on a Chicago Style Hot Dog, complimented with some easy to make home-made cole slaw. For this dish you’ll need:

Hot Dogs/Smokies

Buns

White onion (diced)

Red onion (diced)

Green onion (chopped)

Sweet Peppers

Dill Pickles (Sliced)

Tomato (Sliced)

Red Cabbage

White Cabbage

Eggs

Celery Seed

Paprika

Vinegar

Best to start off making your coleslaw first, as this will need to cool in the fridge for some time. Add vinegar, sugar, salt, paprika, celery seed, ground mustard or a heavy spoonful of real mustard in a sauce pan. Separate a few egg yolks and add them in as well, pour a little water in and let the mixture simmer as you mix or whisk it all together. While that’s happening time for the main component in any cole slaw; cabbage. You can now chop up your cabbage, or use a grater and shred it depending on how you like it, I used red and white cabbage, but your free to use what you like. Once ready, you can add your sauce you just made and mix it all together, this is where I added in some green onion as well. And your done, easy right? Make sure to get the coleslaw in the fridge to let it chill.

Now everyone knows how to make a hot dog, but here’s a few key ingredients to get that Chicago style taste. Slice up dill pickles, tomato’s, and prepare your onions as well. Grill the hot dogs on the BBQ, and prepare your buns. If you have poppy seed buns great, if not I used large sesame seed buns. Garnish your bun with sweet peppers, tomato, red and green onion, relish, and the king of all condiments; mustard, and please, refrain from using ketchup! Finish with a small pinch of celery salt and your ready to chow down.

Coupled with your home-made coleslaw, some chips, and a beer, you’ve got a fantastic meal that is sure to please everyone. Enjoy!

911-10 Years Later

31 Aug

It was 10 years ago that I woke up to goto school, and flipped on the television only to realize that it would not be an ordinary day. 911 2001, will always be one of those moments when people think back and can pinpoint exactly where they were when they first heard of what was happening in New York City.

As September 11, 2011 approaches, and with a coming trip to New York on my horizon, I was curious as to what the site was like today. Currently the site of the once massive World Trade Center buildings holds a host of memorials and busy construction activities. It seems there is no stop to the movement, constantly building, rebuilding, never replacing, but creating something new in a place so needlessly destroyed. Even as hurricane Irene pushed through the city, the site was flooded, but the construction activity continues.

There is one man who see’s more than a mess of construction on the site, but rather a beautiful process of rebuilding. Marcus Robinson is an artist and photographer who has been documenting the world trade center site for the last 6 years. And with those horrible events 10 years in the past, maybe we can bring some good and beauty to the world. Take a look at the video, and check out his website.

http://marcusrobinsonart.com/

http://cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2011/08/29/robinson.ground.zero.cnn

Egypt Protests: Memories of Tahrir Square

29 Jan

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Egypt is not like it was one week ago, Cairo is in chaos, protests in Alexandria and Suez, the country is changing. Egyptians want change, and the target of their frustration is President Mubarak. For the past 5 days the situation has gotten increasingly tense, the police force is virtually non-existent, stations burned out, even the National Democratic Party’s building is burned and looted. Tanks and APC’s are rolling into the city as the military is  brought in for the first time in decades to deal with a civilian situation, in an attempt to restore order.

But perhaps the most fascinating thing about the protests, is the ability to watch them unfold though videos and photos, and accounts of people on the ground. Only recently has it been possible to witness history as it happens, it may not seem like it now, but this is history. Go to any major news website and you can watch videos coming through almost constantly, this type of information sharing having only been possible recently.

As crowds filled Tahrir Square, and I scanned images of burned out army vehicles and street fires in the square, I couldnt help but think about the last time I was in Cairo. During my month in Egypt, when in Cairo I would stay at a little hotel right on Talat Harb, one of the streets connecting to Tahrir Square. We would grab a drink at the north end of the square and walk a couple of minutes back to the hotel. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be there now. Everything has changed.

As the situation in Egypt unfolds, take a minute to witness some of those changes, for history is not always confined to books.

Joshua Tree Experience

7 Jan

 

This week I had the opportunity to finally goto Joshua Tree National Park, while visiting my mother down in Palm Springs. Having been to California numerous times before I had never been to the Coachella Valley, so I was eager to explore the desert surroundings, and the famous Joshua Tree. Not just because its featured in a favorite episode of Entourage of mine..

Theres 3 access points into the park, the west Joshua Tree entrance, the north 29 Palms entrance, and the Cottonwood entrance at the very south end of the park. We drove up the 62 to the west Joshua Tree entrance, it took us about 45 minutes from Palm Springs, but was well worth the drive. The park itself is massive, with some very well maintained but limited roads through it. We checked out the Keys lookout, where you could look into the Coachella Valley, picking out Palm Springs, Indio, the mountains, the I-10, and even the Salton Sea far to the south-east.

We then hiked up Ryan mountain, a 3 mile in and out hike up the mountain. Southern California desert is very interesting in January, you can be hiking in the heat of the midday sun, and encounter frosty snow-covered sections of the trail on the backside of the mountains. Either way, making for an incredible experience as we pushed up to the top of Ryan mountain for extensive views of the park. We then drove through the park to the southern Cottonwood entrance for a rip up the I-10 back to Palm Springs.

One of the most interesting aspects of Joshua Tree is the changes you experience in the terrain and the flora and fauna with each ridge you pass over. The iconic Joshua trees giving the park its name spanning much of the higher elevations on the Mojave Desert, and the Cholla Cactus gardens blanketing some of the lower elevations. A dried up wash in the shade will host tall Junipers, while areas 20 feet away in the sun hosts a different flora altogether. With the help of a car, you can witness the scenery changing drastically as you descend down from the higher elevations on an ever winding road.

When I have more time, I’d love to head back into the park and spend a couple of days, doing some more hikes, but for now it was a great introduction to the park itself. I took my camera along with me, so all the photos you see I took myself. Needless to say, my time there was everything I hoped it would be, it may be just piles of rocks, but at the same time so much more.

Home

7 Oct

I just finished watching a documentary called ‘Home’. It’s a film about our home, not the roof over your head but the planet you live in, earth. I sat in my dark living room learning about our planets extraordinary beginnings, and its progression through its own life. Then came humans, you and I, and as the music and images build tension, you start to lose faith in the role of mankind. The film paints a gloomy picture of the effects of humans on the planet, and it builds up to a climax where you think the film couldn’t get any more depressing. But luckily there is a turning point in this film, as the good things that mankind has done, and can do are outlined, leaving you with a spark of hope in a dreary mind.

Here is some of the good and the bad, according to the film:

Over 50% of the grain traded around the world is used as livestock feed or biofuels.

13 million hectares of forest disappear every year.

100L of water produces 1kg of potatoes, 4000L produces 1kg of rice, 13000L produced 1kg of beef.

Since 1950, fishing catches have increased from 18 million to 100 million metric tonnes per year.

The average global temperature in the last 15 years is the highest on record.

1 in 10 rivers in the world no longer reach their delta’s for months at a time due to heavy irrigation.

95% of soybeans produced in Brazil are used to feed livestock and poultry in Europe and Asia.

3/4 of the varieties of crop developed through mankind’s history have been wiped out.

Antarctica has immense natural resources which no country can use for themselves.

2% of the worlds territorial waters are protected, not much, but thats 2 times more than 10 years ago.

13% of the continents of the world are covered in natural parks.

South Korea restored 65% of its depleted forests through reforestation.

The U.S, China, India, Germany and Spain are the biggest investors in renewable energy.

Although the dialogue and text may be a little rough around the edges, the imagery is stunning, and the message is important and clear. We must change.

Whats wrong with an Orange mini-skirt?

17 Jun

FIFA 2010 is now in full swing as teams begin their second rounds of games this week, but the star players aren’t the only ones creating media buzz during the king of all soccer tournaments. If you’ve been reading up on your news, you may have noticed this story.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/soccer/dutch-mini-skirt-marketers-1-south-african-police-0/article1606825/

I was reading a copy of the Globe and Mail on my flight home today, and I found this article particularly interesting. Here is the quick breakdown; Dutch brewer Bavaria NV paid for 2 attractive dutch girls to fly to South Africa for the tournament. Once there, they successfully recruited roughly 36 other girls for their mission. The mission? Disguise themselves as Danish fans and attend Hollands first game of the tournament against Denmark. Once inside, the girls stripped off their Danish outfits leaving only tight orange miniskirts and tops bearing the Bavaria NV logo on the back, as they danced together in the crowd. Flaunting the dutch colors and promoting Bavaria NV all at the same time, it didn’t take long for this youtube video to pop up soon after the spectacle.

The girls were quickly escorted out of the game by local authorities and the two dutch girls were charged by south african police with ambush marketing.

As we all know, advertising rights for the 2010 World Cup is a lucrative gig, Adidas and Budweiser pay massive amounts of money for exclusive rights to promote their products during this tournament. Budweiser is claiming it had no part in the events that took place at the dutch game on Monday. The girls have been released on bail, but the story is growing in complications as a british TV commentator recently lost his job when the tickets the girls used were traced back to him. Apparently Robbie Earle, the commentator and former player himself was sacked as it was discovered that tickets issued to him were used by the girls at the Netherlands-Denmark match.

Ambush marketing it may be, but do these girls really deserve to be kicked out of the game and charged just for wearing certain clothes at a soccer match? When did world cup games have a dress code? Is there really that much damage from some attractive women in tight-fitting orange outfits dancing in the stands? I think not.