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Rideau Canal, Parliament and the Peace Tower

This is the second post in a series. Jenna and I went to Ottawa for a weekend in the middle of October, finally–neither of us had yet been there, even after several years in Canada, and considering that Ottawa isn’t really that far away from Niagara. Jenna wanted to go to a conference on global health so it was a good excuse to go.

This picture shows the Rideau Canal (somewhat low on water ahead of winter) and the Houses of Parliament in the background, with the Peace Tower proudly flying the maple leaf. I took a lovely little walk from there along the canal.

Rideau Canal

Jenna and I went to Ottawa for a weekend in the middle of October, finally–neither of us had yet been there, even after several years in Canada, and considering that Ottawa isn’t really that far away from Niagara. Jenna wanted to go to a conference on global health so it was a good excuse to go.

We had tremendous luck  with the weather and with the choice of weekend; fall colours were at peak. Well, I was lucky: only the Sunday was nice; the Saturday was gray, dull, cold, wet and foggy, and that was the only day Jenna had for sightseeing.

Ottawa is a really nice city, with its location of the city over the Ottawa River and with the Rideau Canal running through it. In the picture, you can see the Rideau Canal going through a number of locks down to the Ottawa River. Parliament is on the bluff to the left, overlooking the river and the canal (a spectacular location for a spectacular set of buildings, if you ask me).

No place worth fighting for…

I read old Calvin & Hobbes comics every day — I still love this series, it is timeless.

I hope it will never come to this, however:

No place on the planet worth fighting for

I’m taking my chances posting this image, while pointing you to the source, on, where you can read more C&H, and strongly encouraging you to buy the complete C&H box set on Amazon… and if you’re buying it, maybe you could get me a copy too… as a gift… I really want this set… Calvin is my hero.

**Update** Jenna got me the C&H box set for christmsas :)

Geoengineering and the Arctic


Desperate times, desperate measures: Advancing the geoengineering debate at the Arctic Council

I’m pleased to announce that the result of my internship at IISD this summer has been published; my first (real) publication! I worked on it for about a month and a half, and I’m quite pleased with it (if I may say so). It was co-written with Henry David (Hank) Venema, with me as lead author. I owe a lot to Hank, however, who helped me out, jogged my brain circuits, gave me the idea for the paper, and wrote a few crucial paragraphs I was struggling with.

Read the paper:

Abstract and download-page at


The Arctic is like the canary in the coalmine, warning us about the increasing impact of climate change, which is felt first there. In 2007, the Arctic ice cap shrunk to its smallest size ever recorded, 37 per cent below the recorded average. Its abrupt decline, which deviates widely from the largely linear and predictable trend observed over the past few decades, has alarmed the scientific community and suggests we may be closer to a dangerous “tipping point” than previously anticipated. At the same time, economic globalization is coming to this marginalized region at last through increased resource exploitation, leading in turn to further emissions of greenhouse gases and further climate change.

As unsavoury as it may be, this paper will argue that we must investigate geoengineering as an emergency option in case the mitigation regime fails. Given the dramatic consequences of climate change in the Arctic and the role of this region in the global climate, the Arctic countries have a special responsibility to lead this investigation and the debate surrounding it. As the only circumpolar governance forum on environmental issues, the Arctic Council is an obvious venue for this process. The paper explores the state of global geoengineering governance and how it should be constructed, and how the Arctic Council can contribute.

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Icelandic Days (Islendigadagurinn)

Manitoba has a fair amount of Icelandic influence, owing to a bunch of settlers that came over in the 19th century and founded a town called Gimli. Naturally, Gimli has to have an Icelandic festival every year, the highlight of which is a viking camp put together by various “living history” groups.I went there with a couple of colleagues form work; it was really cool, very well done. Sadly, we missed the highlight — the fighting demos. But we did get to try archery, that was fun.

Manitoba Legislature

The Manitoba Legislature, home of the provincial parliament, is a pretty impressive building, and a monument to the ambitions this city had in the early days of the 2oth cewntury. Winnipeggers owe a lot to the people of that day, whose entrepreneurship ensured that the city now has a lot of historical buildings with lots of character, and not just urban sprawl and blight.

We got a free tour of the building, but strangely enough, among all the trivia our tourguide had to offer (fossils in the walls — that’s pretty cool), she didn’t mention it was heavily influenced by freemasons who may have intended it to be a replica of King Solomon’s temple… The CBC produced a very interesting documentary about this, see it on youtube (quality isn’t very good).

The prairie

I had to have a memory also of the incredible flatness and vastness of the prairie. Of course, there was fairly much vegetation in the corner of it that we saw. And we truly only saw a corner! The prairie stretchess thousands of kilometres to the south, all the way to Texas if I’m not mistaken more or less without stop, through the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. In short, tornado alley. But it was a pretty corner we saw, with all the rapeseed fields.


Jenna took this picture of me :P I have to admit it’s a good representation of me–always with a camera!

The picture was taken at Winnipeg Beach–not in Winnipeg–with Lake Winnipeg in the background.

Assiniboine Night

I went out to take pictures of the sunset, and finally try out my Cokin graduated neutral density filters. I bought them back in April, and I still hadn’t had an opportunity to use them. I found out that I just had to make myself an opportunity, so I went out.

I took this picture of the Assiniboine River around 10:30PM, long after the sun had set. The picture was taken with a 10 second shutter speed, but with max aperture. To control the light I used all three Cokin filters, which darkened the sky while letting through all the reflection from the river. Hence the camera picked up lots of red wavelength from the sky, and the the water looks like a vibrant blue veil. I’ve not done any post-processing at all (let me know if you think it needs it!).

Notice the family of geese in the lower right corner!

Maskwa sunset

See the previous post, Maskwa.

Here’s a sunset shot. It was so incredibly clear, the colours were really stark. And it was completely quiet… except for the rustling of the wind, the tweeting of birds… not a manmade sound to be heard… very tranquil. I miss that.

Around this time we saw a beaver swimming past. It came back several times. I followed it upriver, and as I came through some bushes I was right on the riverbank, and I saw bubbles right by the shore. I point my camera in that direction and the beaver surfaced, scarcely two metres away! It was more surprised than I was; it made a big splash and disappeared. I got a great picture of the splash. Fun though.


Ahh, it’s been too long since the last post. Get ready for a flurry of pictures.

I went with some colleagues from work to a cabin at a place called Maskwa. It’s a couple of hours north of Winnipeg, east of Lake Winnipeg, on a small river. This was a few weeks ago, mid-June. This being Manitoba, spring was just starting to really get under way. It was the first really warm weekend; until then it was rather cold.

We had a really good time there, canoeing a little on the river, sitting by the fire grilling hot dogs and enjoying the first hint of summer. It was beautiful there, and it reminded me a great deal of Norwegian nature. This is the first I’ve seen of Canadian wilderness (I know, it’s a shame… I’ve been here for five years now).

This picture shows some rapids. Yes, actual rapids. Manitoba is pretty flat, but go a little north and you’ll at least get some ‘gentle sloping’. And — totally off-topic, but can you believe it — Winnipeg has a ski hill! Yes! It’s located on the inside of the giant floodway that circles the city, with a drop of something like 30 metres (I’m guesstimating). Saw it on our way back.