Saturday, June 28, 2008

Flora from a Walk in the Park

Here are a few pictures that I took of flora during our walk in the park earlier today:

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The back field has a million little mushrooms poking their heads up from under the grass.

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This is the seed head from Common Plantain.

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The flowers of the Narrow-Leaved Plantain.

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An awfully small blue flower. Look at the clover leaf for a size reference.

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Flowering head of a Narrow-Leaved Plantain, and departing Hover-Fly.

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Flowering head of a Narrow-Leaved Plantain. As above.

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A 'Little Brown Mushroom', as they call them.

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White Clover.

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An awfully small yellow flower head. I don't think this is Pineapple Weed. But it might be.

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Tiny purple flowerettes. This is small.

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Pink Clover.

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I don't know what this is, but it flowers from a creeping vine-like body.

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Here it is again - closer up.

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The leaves from a seedling Purple Sandtree Cherry tree.

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I'm not sure what this is.

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I pulled a burdock leaf out of the ground to show the purple Rhubard-like stalk. This is the first year growth of the biannual organism. In the second year, a central stalk grows high and develops the burs that stick to your clothes - hence the name BurDock

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A small insect on a green leaf.

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The seeds of Shepherds-Purse.

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Not sure what this is - possibly the flowering head of Burdock.

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As above.

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Insect on a flower head.

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Leaves of a Purple Sandtree Cheery seedling.

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The amazing colours of lichen on a pine tree.

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And finally - one last LBM - or "Little Brown Mushroom".



A Walk In The Park

It has been good and warm today - I took Monty for a walk in the park.

We had a good walk around and then sat about for while.

When we got back, we went into the basement where the cool air settles.

Spring and I went for a drive about town later on.

We stopped at 2 movie theatres to see if the movie 'Wanted' was playing at a convenient time.

It wasn't. We'll go tomorrow.

Yours briefly,


Friday, June 27, 2008

My Perfect Birthday Day and Night-Vision Fun

It's my birthday today and I'm having a terrific one... Work went well, I went out for a great lunch, and when I got home, Spring ordered some take-away and the food was perfect. We're both taking next week off for holidays.

We had a great evening, watching silly television shows and chatting away.

I am in the basement at the moment - I had the computer monitor switched off and it was totally dark down here. But that's okay, because I'm playing with a birthday present that I got from Spring's dad: a Stealthview Night Vision Monocular... basically it is a night-vision pair of binoculars (without the binocular vision) that uses either passive infrared or an active infrared spotlight to illuminate the darkness. A moment ago I was watching a light switch and a plant and Monty in the darkness through the illuminated video screen window within the eyepiece. The light switch, the plant and Monty didn't realize I was watching.

I can't wait until I get outside in the dark - in the valley - and sit and watch deer and other wildlife wander about in the darkness. What a COOL present! I'm totally taking this on my next camping trip.

The website has this little information about the device:
"No telling how you’ll react when faced with what lurks after dark, but with Bushnell® Night Vision, time will never again dictate your hours of operation. These optics turn night into day with built-in infrared illuminators and advanced light-gathering technology. We even added a new StealthView™ digital model that uses an infrared spotlight for long-range brightness and clarity. The entire lineup is perfect for camping, caving, wildlife observation, surveillance – any time or place you think you’re ready."
Images comparable to Gen 2+
CMOS vs image-intensifier tube
In-view B&W micro display
Adjustable eyepiece
Powerful infrared spotlight
600-feet viewing range
Weather resistant
Video output
Built-in tripod mount
Operates on 6 AA batteries
2-hour continuous run time w/IR on and 8 hours without IR
Night Vision Uses
Scouting game
Security and surveillance
Camping fun / Exploring caves
Nighttime navigation
Night fishing and boating
Wildlife observation
Search and rescue

Well - hope you had a great day, back to playing with my new toy!



Monday, June 23, 2008

Quick Banana Bread - Bannock Practice

Following up on my rice and bacon from last week, I decided to practice a bit of baking.

This is a recipe that wouldn't exactly work when camping, but it is close enough to a bannock recipe. Spring is fond of bananas, but has been nibbling on plums and peaches this past week. As a result, the bananas in the kitchen were beginning to get a bit ripe.

So using highly unorthodox baking and measuring procedures, I grabbed 3 handfuls of flour, 3 eggs, 3 spoonfuls of margarine, 1 pinch of salt, a larger pinch of baking powder, and 3 palmfuls of sugar.

I set the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and mixed all of my ingredients in a bowl. Then I chucked it all into a greased and floured bread pan. After about 45 minutes or so (I wasn't paying attention), I checked on the loaf of banana bread. I stuck a toothpick into it and it came out clean. The banana bread was very tasty.

My next step is to make bannock in the oven. Bannock is a quick bread a bit like this banana loaf.

But it isn't generally a sweet bread. My recipe will be as follows:
  • 3 handfuls of flour
  • 1 handful of milk powder
  • 1/2 a handful of sugar
  • 1 big pinch of baking powder
  • 1 small pinch of salt
  • 1/2 a handful of dehydrated egg powder
  • 1/2 a handful of raisins
Then some water to moisten it all and then chuck it in a pan and bake it for a while.

To cook it outside, I'd put it in a pan, tilt it up beside a fire and leave it there for a while to bake. Trouble is, I don't know where to get dehydrated egg powder. Anyone?



Tall Ships

My parents went to Toronto's Harbourfront last week to see the Tall Ships.

They saw Bluenose, Pride of Baltimore and The Niagara, amongst others.

They took these photos and I thought I'd share them.



Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mozilla Firefox 3: How To Selectively Retain & Delete Cookies in Firefox 3

Selectively retaining and deleting cookies in Mozilla's newly released Firefox 3 allows you to maintain privacy around your browser sessions by eliminating browsing trails and removing sensitive information and passwords, and permitting you to retain only a few useful cookies such as ones for Google, news sites that you frequent; social networking sites like Digg, Facebook, and Flickr and web utilities such as Statcounter and more.

Firefox 3.0 doesn’t seem to have a ‘Delete all cookies except the following’ feature under a fancy button entitled ‘Delete all cookies except the following feature’. But here is the way to do it without installing any add-ins or extensions:

First of all - set up the 'Private Data' feature of Firefox 3 in the following way. This will allow you to delete your Browsing History, Download History, Saved Form Information, Cache, Cookies, Saved Passwords and Authenticated Sessions - either on demand (i.e. by clicking the 'Clear Now' button) or when 'I close Firefox'.

I set my privacy settings on Firefox to clear the following data elements when closing (see image below):

  • browsing history

  • download history

  • saved form information

  • cache

  • authenticated sessions

Leave the following unchecked:

  • Cookies

  • Offline Website Data

  • Saved Passwords

Before I figured this out, when I needed to log into Gmail, maintain my Google search preferences, keep my or New York Times, or Blogger login active, I had to re-submit my credentials each time, if I wanted to clear all my private data.

Select the Options feature from the Tools option in the File Menu, and under the Privacy region, look at the Cookies and the Private Data regions.

Check the checkbox 'Accept cookies from sites', and select 'keep until I close Firefox' in the drop-down beneath it. Then check the checkbox 'Always clear my private data when I close Firefox'.

Now, here’s the good part. The Exceptions button beside the ‘Allow sites to set Cookies’ option contains the important elements. The dialogue box reads 'You can specify which web sites are always or never allowed to use cookies. Type the address of the site you want to manage and then click Block, Allow for Session, or Allow.' (see image below)

I exclude the subdomains and just use the root domain - i.e. only type and not,,, etc...

I have added several domains for which I wish to have the cookies retained on my system, and you will see how I am adding ‘’ to my list. Choose ‘Allow’ to add this domain to your list, and then click ‘Close’. Then click ‘Okay’ on your Options window, and then exit out of Firefox.

Once you open it again, you will be able to visit the sites for which you have allowed cookies to be retained and you won’t need to log in again - i.e. the cookies remain, while all others are deleted or erased on closing Firefox.

If you find this useful, or have some corrections - feel free to use the comment feature at the bottom of this post.

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Cooking Rice & Bacon for Camping & Hiking

Well, yesterday afternoon I was back at it again. Last week I cooked rice over the camping stove, and sliced some preserved Chinese-style bacon into it.

But last week the rice was not seasoned enough - I had figured that the bacon would do it.

So this time I followed some commenters' advice and added an OXO-type bouillon cube and some seasoning and pepper to the mix.

I grabbed a 1 liter Nalgene bottle full of water, my butane/propane camping stove, my Light My Fire scout model ferrocerium rod, a stainless steel bowl, a wooden spoon, my Mora knife and the ingredients.

All of this pretty light and you really don't need much more than this for a few days worth of meals - assuming that you have enough rice, and additional ingredients to build out the meals.

I crumbled the bouillon cube into the dry rice.

I crumbled it into 1 cup of dry rice, into which I had already mixed salt and pepper. In retrospect, I should only have used half a cube - the rice was too salty in the end.

I sliced up the bacon. It was a bit too fatty for me in the end - I think I would do well to cook the bacon over a fire to remove some of the fat, or fry it up a bit and save the fat on the side for other meals.

The stove is a good one, but of course I wouldn't want to bring it on an extended trip, just for an overnighter. The trouble with this type of stove is that it performs poorly in cold weather, and of course the canisters are not refillable, and the waste cylinder is bulky to trek out.

The bowl serves as a lid and eating surface. I'm not sure if it was because of the level of heat I had set the stove at, but I actually had to cook the rice for about 35 minutes instead of 20, before it was ready.

In the end, it was *alright* but not great: the bacon was too fatty, the rice was too salty. But at least I'm experimenting at home so that I'm not stuck with an unappetizing meal out in the bush.

That's all. Don't worry. I won't post about rice and bacon cooking next time.