Archive for July 2013
Apologies if this doubles as the “Summer Vacation 2013 Hodge-Podge.”
My daughter, writing in her journal.
We at a lot of arepas. Three different restaurants! We need more Latin American choices in Cincinnati!
Our favorite place was in Montreal.
We visit two pen stores. Paper Papier, in Ottawa, was recommended to me by @gourmetpens. My daughter got some stationary for a letter to her teacher.
In Montreal, we visited Essence du Paper. It’s where my anniversary present came from. I dug this shop.
Even though it’s obvious that digital photography is rapidly displacing film, I was still surprised to see SanDisk co-equal to Kodak at tourist shops.
Fencing at the Montreal Jazz Festival…notice the cat-notes.
While on summer vacation in Nashville last year, we discovered Chuy’s, a Tex-Mex restaurant. We liked it so much, we stopped at one in Bowling Green on our way home. We were excited when one opened in Florence, Kentucky (near the Cincinnati Airport). In August, one will be opening in Cincinnati. We won spots to the “Red Fish Rally,” which gave folks a chance to sample their food, get free t-shirts, and hang with The King.
Ready for our next adventure.
Taken at the Canadian Museum of Aviation and Space. I’m rather proud of this shot.
Here we are on July 31. We’ve had a lot of posts with cats in them: canadian lynxes, jaguars and white lions, tawny lions, cheetahs and snow leopards, even a whole day for tigers.
No, Beso. You’re not really a Siberian tiger.
It seems like I might go the whole month without a post about Eddy, Beso, and Luna. Perhaps you don’t miss it. However, I wanted to try something with my camera, and they are (mostly) tolerant models, most of the time. It wasn’t Eddy’s night for that, however.
Luna was simply sitting on the bed.
Beso, however, never lets anything bother him. Just takes it easy.
All in all, a good end to July.
Last weekend, we went up to Dayton for the Dayton Celtic Festival. Our main purpose was to see Gaelic Storm, our favorite band. You’ve seen them play. It is held at Riverscape Metropark, where they have a great statue honoring the Wright Brothers, with Wilber in flight…
…and Orville on the ground (with a helper).
We did enjoy hearing Gaelic Storm, though we didn’t have the best view. Still, it was a fun time.
Since 2010, July 29 has been observed as International Tiger Day. It is a day to call attention to the plight of wild tigers, which may be my favorite big cat species*. In the past hundred years the planet has lost 97% of the tiger population, going down to just over three thousand of these cats today. In fact, there are more tigers in captivity in the United States than in the wild (though only a small percentage are in AZA accredited zoos).
Why have we lost so many tigers? A number of reasons. Climate change and habitat lose are key factors. The cats have lost 97% of their habitat over the last century. Tigers are finding fewer and fewer places to live. Poaching is another factor. The parts of the tiger are used as trophies, as well as in “traditional” medicine.
I encourage you to support conservation efforts for these wonderful cats! The world would be much worse off without them.
*Snow leopards have characteristics of both small and big cats, so it makes that murky.
As I’ve mentioned, my house is over a hundred and twenty years old. It was built with a stone foundation–the basement looks like a dungeon in the right light. Stone basements, by design, “seep” moisture. For the most part, this is not a huge deal–we may get a bit of moisture around the edges of the room. However, if we get a lot of rain, such as we had over the week of the Fourth of July, it gets very wet.
This presents a few challenges. Since the cats’ litterboxes are in the basement, it makes it less-than-pleasant for them. My clever wife has kludged around the problem on occasion, but it wasn’t perfect. Also, since the clothes washer and dryer are in the basement, it makes it difficult to work–you can slip carrying down a full basket of clothes, and if you drop a sock going from the washer to the dryer, it’s not good. We’ve looked for a solution, but never found anything that was both functional and cost effective.
However, we were walking through IKEA last weekend, and came across the Platta decking. Meant for outdoor decks, it is sold in packs of nine one-foot squares. The squares snap together almost like LEGO, and can be rearranged. It was similar to other solutions we considered, but much cheaper. We guestimated the area that would cover a strip from the bottom of the stairs to in front of the washer and dryer, and got four containers.
Installation is fairly easy–as I said, you simply lay one square on the other. The bottom of the square has pegs that go into loops on the edge. There was an open box at IKEA, and we set up a floor in about two minutes to check out (which several other couples checked out as well). Setting up the four boxes took about fifteen minutes for the initial pass.
The four boxes covered the area we wanted, with some left over–we may reconfigure it, or possibly get another set to expand it. For a couple of reasons, I’m not keen to do the whole basement (a combination of cost, and wanting to be able to do work on the cement floor). However, it looks good. As of this writing, I can’t say how it will perform with serious rain–we simply haven’t had any (perhaps it will get mentioned in a hodge-podge). One thing I like is that I can pull the floor easily if it is causing a problem with drainage.
However, it looks like it may be a great solution to our basement issue, and perhaps the end to the cat bridge.
Easy Sunday morning ride.
The Cincinnati Zoo opened up their new “Africa” section while we were on our trip. One of the older parking lots was converted to a large exhibit space, between the rest of the zoo and the Cathryn Hilker Running Yard. Some parts of Africa, such as the flamingos and giraffes, have been there for a while. Other parts, such as the hoofed animals, will be joining next year. This year, we got tawny lions. The first to come out was John.
He was one of the “Magnificent Seven” born at the National Zoo in 2010. No word on if he knew Rusty.
He’s still exploring his enclosure, and making it his. Here is an example of some of the marking behavior he did to some trees.
Could someone get a kitty a scratching post?
This handsome young man will be joined with a female from another zoo, as part of a Species Survival Plan. As I keep telling Renji and Nubo, Cincinnati is a great place to raise kids.
Or just spend an afternoon dozing back-to-back.
The snow leopards are still in Cat Canyon…I just had a good segue.
While there have been cheetahs running continuously, since they closed the old cat canyon, none have been on exhibit until the new Africa section.
Paws up, y’all!
Speaking of kids, the nursery had a baby skunk!
Baby skunks are cute.
Pygmy Falcon Babies are cute, hanging out next to the skunk. Are they plotting an escape?
Are they consulting with the red panda? Probably not–looks like he’s getting his nap on.
…Or that’s what he wants us to think!
We stopped by Night Hunters to check on the little ones there. The pallas kittens were dozing in a “bowl,” showing how their coats camouflage them.
The ocelittle was being groomed by his mother.
Mom! Not in front of the primates!
Sand cats aren’t worried about it.
The black footed cat didn’t care, and was right up in front to let us know he didn’t care.
Another day with a bobcat but no caracal. I hope “Miss Lop-Ears” is OK.
We enjoyed checking out the Africa section, seeing old friends, and making new ones.
Our summer vacation was my first trip outside of the United States since 2003. While cell phones were common, they could do little more than make a phone call. In the intervening ten years, SmartPhones have become ubiquitous. While I’m constantly pulling out my iPhone, I can go days without actually talking to someone on it. Every time we’ve traveled, it served as our map, guide book, restaraunt guide, travel agent, camera, and occasional pacifier. It’s hard to imagine going on the road without it.
During our trip, we were forced to.
Most carriers’ plans will work in the US, but not, by default, outside of the country (likewise, a Canadian plan won’t work, by default, in the US). As it was a driving trip, I wanted to at least have phone service for emergencies, as well as for the odd work call. I also wanted data for all the reasons already mentioned. WiFi is pretty common, especially in hotels, so we could use our phone in a lot of places. To cover us outside of that zone, I set up our “overseas data plan” to give each of our phones 100 MB of data–a fraction of our usual data plan. In an average week, we each use 200 MB. On one hand, that includes work e-mail and other things we could shut off. On the other hand, we were in unfamiliar territory.
Conservation became the watchword. First and foremost, I held off my social media participation. My wife figured out how to cache map directions when we had WiFi, to reduce our data dependence. Guidebooks from AAA found a place in the car. In short: for a week, we had to revert to a pre-iPhone state. Could we do it?
We could. For the first day or two, while standing in line, I would pull out my phone and refresh twitter, only to be reminded that data was turned off. Eventually, I found other ways to occupy dead spaces–cleaning my camera lenses, talking to my wife, or just looking around. As noted, we had to plan a bit more carefully. We relearned a few truths. We grabbed any map we could, to help navigate absent clear directions. We were reminded that guidebooks are far from comprehensive in their listing of food offerings. When it came to hours and prices of activities, they are only as up-to-date as when they are printed.
I could certainly tell when we had the data on. Without the data, we were more likely to wander aimlessly looking for just the right restaurant. With data on the phone, we had plenty of options, and could navigate there confidently. We knew what direction we were heading, and waht was around every corner. When driving from Montreal to Toronto, it was a nice failsafe for finding a hotel. We went from mere mortals to omniscient superbeings.
Does this mean we’re too dependent on data? I’m not sure that’s an accurate characterization. The limitations on guidebooks and maps is inherent to the medium. Maps only work if you have them with you. With a bit more effort, we could have survived without mobile internet, but I think we would not have been as smart about where we were, and would have missed out on opportunities for some great things. The limited data, however, helped balanced some of my worst habits around checking twitter (or, worse, work e-mail). By the end of the week, pulling out my phone idlely was dramatically reduced.
We don’t have any trips scheduled in the near future, much less internationally. But the next time we do, making sure we have some level of international support for our SmartPhones will be on the packing list next to “dig out our passports.”
Our last vacation stop on our big road trip (as opposed to just an in-transit stop) was Niagara Falls. We crossed the border on the sadly named “Rainbow Bridge,” after about twenty minutes in line. We parked at Niagara Falls State Park. We did the Cave of the Winds tour, which let us go down near the base of the Bridal Veil Falls.
The Magic Hour was just about hour as we got back to the top. We took a look at the Horseshoe Falls as the sun set.
One last look at the Falls, and we began our drive back to Cincinnati. It was a great vacation, we saw and did a lot, and made some great memories.
The afternoon of our last day on vacation we spent walking through Toronoto’s Kensington Market and Chinatown.
I’m not the most confident at street photography, so I didn’t take too many photographs. There was some sort of dragon dance, but we thought that, by the time we made it across the street, we’d miss it.
In the Kensington Market area, we saw some moose on the roof.
It was a good afternoon.