Archive for September, 2009


September 30, 2009

Et au revoir

Down on Dallas Road

September 22, 2009


A sunset

Freemasonry and Bad English?

September 20, 2009

Kind of says it all. This had to have something to do with Dan Brown…

Via Arts & Letters Daily.


September 18, 2009


Glass is the New Black

September 10, 2009

A couple of links for ya’. Boing Boing on glass bacteria, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has an interesting exhibit of glass. And, finally, Bunk on, well, confusing glass

Context, Cryptozoology and the Cadborosaurus

September 8, 2009

Cadborosaurus willsi, the famed Cadboro Bay sea monster, is a fascinating example of the strengths and failings of the “science” of cryptozoology. An ideal case study.


This image, culled from the public archives of the CBC, is of the Cadborosaurus, one of the most representative of a cryptozoological archetype — the sea beast. An ancient legend. From the Loch Ness Monster to Champy to endless other cases of things from the deep, it’s undeniable that mystery washes over the world’s oceans. And sometimes even laps up on quiet Vancouver Island shores…

To understand Cadborosaurus you have to understand the context of this area, and how culture and history mix. Cadboro Bay is located north of sleepy Oak Bay, a cozy community on the edge of the city of Victoria, and every bit the English country town…Fossilized into a rustic western landscape.

It’s easy to imagine seeing things in Cadboro Bay. Heck, it’s easy to imagine oddities by any shore. Perception is a strange thing. Especially when it comes to water and perspective. A case in point…


A sea monster? Or a rock?

Furthermore, there are a whole variety of species swimming along these shores. From otters to harbour seals to the occasional killer whale (Orca). And possibly stranger beasts. You can see all sorts of things moving around out there…


An otter, or a sea monster?

Who knows? This is the allure of cryptozoology. Beyond the many fine websites devoted to the subject, there are of course “hard facts”. We only know and have categorized a tiny (1/10th, perhaps) percentage of the species on earth, and new species, like the giant squid, are regularly discovered as we churn the ocean’s depths.

It’s tempting to think ancient dinosaurs still swim the mysterious abysses of earth, but is it really that likely we overlook so monstrous a beast? Perhaps…

One has to wonder at the convenient timing. Recall that Cadborosaurus was first spotted in the 1930s and popularized in the 1940s and 50s, when the community came into its own. Patterns of settlement matter here, as Scottish legends of mysterious monsters in the Loch could be easily transported to the sleepy Georgia Strait. More recent attempts to find and observe the Cadborosaurus have been made, as recorded in this CBC news piece from the 1990s.

Beyond mythology, when spending time sitting by Cadboro Bay, it becomes something else entirely — a natural space with a lively, vital aura. Add imagination, and one can easily envelop it in mystery. It has its own particular quality…Hopefully captured here…


That it’s also (possibly) home to a mythical beast only adds to the allure. A little more sparkle to this simple beauty.

Friendly or fearsome, Cadborosaurus is a fascinating and too little known example of a well-established cryptozoological mystery, and a local legend worthy of serious consideration. Worthy even of levity too…


And, most important of all, some good, clean fun! Science can be many things, but it’s at its best when you find the fun factor…


What’s There to do in Parksville?

September 7, 2009


On the eastern edge of Vancouver Island on the shores of the Georgia Strait, Parksville’s a sleepy little summer resort town lost to time and space. Modern amenities overlaying a beach front community, it has a really 1950s bungalow kind of vibe (one of its famed attractions is a sandcastle building competition). There are two miniature golf courses and a bowling alley…everything you could want.

The stunning beach, Rathtrevor, also the site of a Provincial Park, has dramatic tides as the strait shallows on a sheltered sandy bay, perfect for wading, beach combing, or just walking along.

The real surprise of Parksville, however, comes when you turn your back to the sea, heading uphill, into the interior of the island. Following the Englishman River upstream, you come upon as series of stunning spots. There’s a newly built suspension footbridge in Englishman River Regional Park. Upriver another 15 Km (you could hike, but this weekend we drove) you come to the Englishman River Falls, another Provincial Park. The falls, featuring lovely riverside trails and a nearby campsite, are as a diminutive Victoria in Africa. A wide shallow flow tumbles into a deep crevice in the earth cut by glacial melt and water. Spectacular. Just watching the falls tumble into fresh spray is dazzling — the rocks are slick and moss grows everywhere. To give you an idea…


Leaving Englishman River, one can go further afield and head up island to the mysterious and magical Horne Lake Caves, yet another Provincial Park a little over half-an-hour away. Surely one of the most intriguing natural spaces on the island and even the country, this park affords the visitor a rare opportunity to explore a fascinating phenomenon. Caving is not something one does regularly, but it’s an unforgettable experience. For obvious reasons, there’s no pictures of this…

Sheltered in a unique way, Parksville experiences the contrast of blazing heat in summer and sometimes significant snowfall in winter. But any time of year — whether you swim and sun yourself on a beach or walk deep into the dark heart of the earth — it affords a variety of amazing possibilities…


September 2, 2009

I once noted on this blog how depression can be a positive boon, a spur to creativity and a channel into what can been characterized as the “romantic mind”.

I’m not sure about this anymore. There have been times when I’ve used sadness and depression as a path; towards introspection, creativity, whatever. Sadly, I think as the process ebbs and flows in the mind there is an overall negative cumulative effect. One moves towards isolation, hopelessness, even nihilism. It’s like digging a hole — sometimes you strike gold in the process, managing to throw nuggets out into the world, but you yourself remain stuck in the hole. And as you dig, it gets deeper and deeper…

Most people seek help, turn to modern medicine. I was struck recently by how exceptional I am in this regard — when I noted my struggle to an old friend, she responded by saying I may have been the only adult man she knew who was not on some kind of prescription drug. Are we that medicated or, as Foucault would have it, “medicalized”? Has the plague of happiness at all cost spread that far? Perhaps…

Perhaps it’s also a reflection of my stubborn nature that I insist on not seeing anyone about my “problem” or not taking prescription drugs. Maybe it’s because of my background — as a historian of medicine I am skeptical of the modern craft, avoiding it when I can. Since I also study the history of psychiatry, the talking cure has limited allure too. Hoping social links are more organic and informal, it galls me that you would pay someone to listen to your problems. I mean, it’s all so coldly economic. Priests aren’t so appealing either.

Does this mean I’m doomed? Resigned to be sad? Maybe.

I feel like there is something staring me right in the face that I’m completely missing — the healing power of universal love or some such. Like the alchemists and occultists of old, all I’m really doing is trying to figure stuff out. But as is suggested by those who’ve come before so many times over, it isn’t in finding an answer that one is made whole. It’s in being satisfied with the process of looking.

And right now that’s just making me sad…


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