Tag: Environment

Chinese Students Write Exam Outside in Polluted Air

Students forced to write exams on their school field in suburban Tangshan, Hebei province, when the government closed their school. Terrible.

Students forced to write exams on their school field in suburban Tangshan, Hebei province, when the government closed their school. Terrible.

I‘m not sure why the principal of this school would believe that it is Ok to force students to write their exams outside on their field, when the government closed their school. Some people don’t think. I would be livid if this happened to my kids.

Why would the principal of the school defy government orders for the school closure? He should be reprimanded for risking the health of the students.

The Fallacy that Canadians Want Smaller Cars

As a nation Canadians talk large about the need to conserve energy and treat Mother Nature with more respect, i.e. let’s not continually hurt her. In many examples, recycling of food and consumer packaged goods comes to mind, here in Toronto I feel we are doing a very good job. Yet when you look around out streets I continually see a large proportion of very big personal vehicles such as SUVs. These new vehicles, while professing energy efficiency, do the exact opposite when used only by a single driver.

The Walk to School

The ritual of Walk to School is an important one, long unappreciated.

The ritual of Walk to School is an important one, long unappreciated.

Neither difficult nor excessively long, the walk to school has always been an excellent way to start learning for the day. In a way I am thankful I am able to participate and guide. We neither rush nor dally, allocating sufficient time to allow for the mind to wander at will. The environment, grass, trees, the weather and sky are our teaching aids. There is the important skill of safely crossing the street to learn, one which needs to be learned well. Handling vehicular traffic is also covered. There is the final wave. I then return, thinking of how to plan my day.

Squirrel Acrobatics

Squirrel hangs upside down to eat birdseed

Squirrel hangs upside down to eat birdseed


A neighbour has a couple of birdfeeders that are always stocked with birdseed. I always see local squirrels hang upside down in order to eat the birdseed, dropping excess seeds to the ground for the birds.

___There are many squirrels that use this feeding station, jumping from the neighbour’s roof to nearby tree branches, slowly shimmy backwards down the birdfeeder and hang by their hind legs. This allows them to use both hands to eat at their leisure. Maybe only young squirrels are able to feed this way.

Female Cochineal Beetle and your Food


Interesting. Here’s an organic additive that creates deep and rich reds for your food or cosmetics. Ground up female cochineal beetles. I’ll be looking for these 5mm critters the next time I go shopping and begin reading packaging ingredients.

___Yes, the ingredient is called cochineal, carmine (carminic acid), or E120. Because beetles are insects it is not considered kosher, halal, or vegetarian. Some people can have allergic reactions to it, as was televised by “60 Minutes”. Yes, this kid almost died of anaphylactic shock. I’m always amazed at what is put into our food that we don’t know about. As usual, Canadian labeling laws do not give you any indication of its origins. While I do not have an aversion to eating bugs (they make a great supplemental protein source), I know most other people do. Cochineal can also be used as organic ant repellent.

___It is interesting that “60 Minutes” omitted to tell us of the long history of this dye and its stellar safety record. There was much sensationalism in the story, as if this was a new additive used by evil food manufacturers to poison us all. So much for unbiased reporting.

Female cochineal are flat, wingless, 5mm long, oval shaped scale insects. Dried and crushed they make an all natural, deep red dye for food and cosmetics

Female cochineal are flat, wingless, 5mm long, oval shaped scale insects. Dried and crushed they make an all natural, deep red dye for food and cosmetics

CFL Bulbs Made and Sold in China are Defective

GE Compact flourescent bulb, Made in China

GE Compact flourescent bulb, Made in China


My brothers in China have purchased 2 Philips brand compact flourescent bulbs from Walmart China, one which burned out after only a month and another which burned out in less than a week. These bulbs should last for 10,000 hours, or over 6 years. His case is well documented.

___He paid 30.80RMB each, for a total of 61.60RMB, for which he received 1 month and 1 week’s worth of light, all in an effort to be more environmentally friendly. Due to terrible quality control in Philip’s China factory these bulbs were shipped to Walmart stores in China, where my brother purchased them and was cheated. That is a lot of money to lose.

Snow Happiness


This morning the sun arose just a little bit earlier. It was brighter outside than usual. The kids were just a little happier, and walk with a little more skip in their step. They are more eager to go to school and play with their friends. In fact we are all a little brighter than usual. It snowed last night.

___It’s magical that a sprinkling of 5 cm of new snow can transform our landscape, and with it the spirits of our neighborhood. New snow is pristine, covering everything with a whitewash of, well, white. It’s as if some gigantic bottle of baby powder was evenly sprinkled on everything. A landscape of white greets your senses, with only a hint of green showing from our evergreens, who have the ability to partially shed their coat of snow.

Icicles Hanging Down


They are so very interesting. Icicles look like they have concentric rings, but are formed by single drops of melted water that refreeze as it gets to the tip. The wind and temperature influence their shape. Don’t they look like limestone stalactites, the ones you find in caves? They have a screw shaped design. Quite pretty and very organic. One icicle at the side of the house is quite long and needs to grow only about 3 feet before it becomes an ice column.

Maybe we should call them winter carrots because of the resemblance. The kids want to eat them.

Snow Day, 20cm accumulation

Gonggong's bicycle snowed in

Gonggong's bicycle snowed in


A whole lot of snow has fallen in Toronto, and I’ve been shoveling once last night and twice today. While the temperatures are -4C and the snow is fluffy, it looks like around 20cm, which builds up and becomes heavy. It is not cold outside.

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Crabapple tree in winter

The trees have snow but not ice.

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Icicles by security light

We have some icicles growing from various parts of the eavestrough that are melting, so there’s a constant drip, drip onto the snow outside. They will freeze solid tonight. The kids want them to eat, but they’re too high up and when you crack them off you don’t want to be underneath when they fall.