Late “End of the Year” post

I mean, totally late 🙂

I planned to make it some time during last week, but we were away, the weather was snowy and cold, and all the other excuses that I can’t think of at the moment 😀 Well, here it is…

If I can summarize it, in a short sentence, it would be: It was busy! Company I am employed with, had few big contracts that came to realization at once, almost all of them, enough to keep us constantly on the edge. Luckily not too many overtime days for my department, but the rest of my colleagues worked really hard. I mean, it is good to have a job, salary and security, but I wished the tempo was a bit slower. And now we were told it will continue in 2018, as well. Oh well, it is just a job…

Due to a snowy and rainy spring, San and I didn’t have as many opportunities to go for mountain hiking as previous years – at the end of June there was still a lot of snow on mountains and our favorite hikes – and then a dry summer came with forest fires. That meant that our decision to go to kayaking trip in August proved to be a good one. Broken Group Islands, on the west side of Vancouver Island, is in a fog zone, with temperatures rarely going over 17C at that time of year.

Day 1 - the rest on Hand Island

This short video may be enough to help me explain the overall feeling of the 3 days trip:

Really a unique place where we hope to return some time in the future. The rest of the photographs you can find here. I will just add, that I was happy to see starfish again, because a virus that, apparently, killed millions of them during last few years, make them completely disappear along the west coast areas where we were hiking.

It was a nice contrast to a smoky and hot Okanagan Valley where we spent a week before, trying to do some hiking but ended doing wine tours due to a smoke and forest fires 😀 We spent a lot of money buying some excellent wines 🙂

A big thing for me was a premiere of  Blade Runner 2049, a sequel of a cult Blade Runner movie from 1982, that, some of my friends already know, I’ve seen more than 60 times (what can I say, it just blew my mind). Impressions on the sequel are different, depending on the person you are talking with, but I was very satisfied and I can say that Denis Villeneuve, the director, proved to be a new star in a movie industry. If you have seen his movies Arrival and Sicario, you will understand what I’m talking about. I hope I don’t have to mention that I wore a t-shirt that San gave me for birthday and that made the experience complete 😀

What are the plans for 2018? I can’t say much except that we are planning to go to Newfoundland and Labrador some time during summer and that we will have to start planning that trip immediately. Popular hiking spots all over Canada are experiencing a big visitors’ boom, and if you don’t find a spot in certain places at certain times, you might as well spend your holidays at home. It doesn’t make me happy but there is nothing we can do about it except to adapt…

Broken Group Islands foggy mornings

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Blade Runner Theme Presents

It was my birthday the other day. Usually, I would get up early in the morning, make myself a mug of coffee, open some news web site and spend about an hour slowly waking up. This time was a bit different because on top of my laptop there was a small pile of presents, wrapped in some nice paper with origami unicorn on top of it.

Of course, I was intrigued. As some of you know, I’ve watched Blade Runner movie more than 60 times and origami unicorn scene is very familiar to me. So, I unwrapped the pile…

Blade Runner Theme Presents

These are all presents from San and I couldn’t be more surprised and in a better and more pleasant way. Even though I’ve seen… things… you, people, wouldn’t believe…

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Frisky Flickers

Yesterday was a first nice day after what felt like an endless rainy season. It feels like, when it started raining at the end of September, it didn’t stop until yesterday; that it was just switching between rain and snow. This winter was very long.

Anyway, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, yesterday was gorgeous day, all sun and blue skies. We took a long walk, around North Vancouver, Mosquito creek to Edgemont, Westview and back home. Along a way, on some of electric power poles, we’ve seen some frisky flickers (Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus) doing their love dance.

Frisky Flickers1there were four of them on that pole, one is on the other side

Then one unexpectedly took of…Frisky Flickers2…but then it returned, so they could do their lovey dovey dance…

Frisky Flickers3…right…

Frisky Flickers4…then left…

Frisky Flickers5…and, generally, enjoyed the day 😀

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Anniversary

A small anniversary for me. On this day, December 7, 1986. I started practicing Kendo in Belgrade, Serbia. Thirty years of very interesting and self fulfilling path.

kendo-beograd-1990members of Kendo Club Belgrade, May 13, 1990.

Some people from this photograph are still in Martial Arts. Dejan is teaching Nakamura Ryu Battodo in Belgrade. Nebojsa, Vladan and Dragan are teaching Kendo. Others left Martial Arts (to my knowledge) but will always remain as a part of the history.

For me, Kendo was a beginning that led me further, into Iaido, Aikido and Battodo. Since 2012 I am teaching Nakamura Ryu Battodo in Vancouver, BC.

hidari-gyaku-noto-in-kata_bwfrom Nakamura Ryu Battodo presentation in New Westminster, April 2014.

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Ice

“Compare the torrent and the glacier. Both get where they are going” – Ursula K. Le Guin

 

When we left Vancouver that Friday afternoon, rain was following us all the way to Merritt; our goal was to get to Mt. Robson Provincial Park, some 700km toward north-west, roughly. We knew that July is not the perfect time of the year to go there – ideally it would be August, less rain – but I couldn’t get my holidays at other times. And, as someone said, the rain doesn’t matter, just pack and go.

After spending the night in Merritt, morning brought some sun and blue skies and a little hope that weather forecast was wrong. But it is Okanagan, it doesn’t rain that often during summer. Once we came closer to Rockies, rain returned. It was not that bad though, good enough to have a glance toward the highest mountain of Canadian Rockies.
Mt Robson - a view from visitor's centre Mt. Robson 3954m, big enough to make its own weather

A plan was to hike to Berg Lake, behind the mountain in a back country and spend three days overall on that trip. If we just knew how beautiful there is…Berg Lake - Berg and Mist glaciers - Mt Robsonthanks to a tip from a couple of hikers, we took a camp site with a premium view to Berg (left) and Mist (right) glaciers;
Nature is stunning over there and if we knew how many additional one day hikes are available, we would plan to stay longer. But what we’ve seen made a big impression and we decided to come back, as soon as possible. Maybe even next year.
Our next destination was Jasper, less than 90km to the east. A number of tourists that “greeted” us felt like a shock; after spending a lot of time in back country with alike minded people, insanity in Jasper felt almost repelling. But the main advantage of Jasper is that so many natural beauties are within a reach of a road. We didn’t plan to go to back country (there are some beautiful places there, all require several days of hiking), but did some smaller hikes or enjoyed a scenery that could be reached by car.
Mt Edith Cavell glacier1Mount Edith Cavell glacier; a viewpoint is on about 2100m, most of it accessible by car

The last part of our trip was in Columbia Icefield, more precise Athabasca glacier. Months ago we decided to pay for a guided 3 hour trip over the glacier. A bit pricey but worth every dollar we payed for it. We walk on the ice, drank the water from it, enjoyed the fact that big rain storm moved away just in time 🙂Wet facedrinking from the stream of the cleanest water on Earth

Standing on 200m of icestanding on 200 meters of ice, this is how thick a glacier is at that point

Columbia Icefield, atop of continental divide, is famous for the fact that waters, that come out of its glaciers, eventually end up in 3 oceans – Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific. And if you take a look at the previous photograph, on right side, behind me is a mountain ridge and the continental divide is right there.

Even though for most people, summer means sun, beach, ocean, etc, etc… for us it meant ice, this time. Rain was there just as a spice to overall feeling, not welcome but something we could live with. And I can’t tell the ice was unusual. Quite contrary, it was welcomed.
Ice - Berg glacier

 

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“Panama Papers” or how to explain this to your 5 year old kid (or yourself)

Sandy has found this link on CBC’s web site today, laugh her ass off and sent it to me so I could post it over here. It actually came to her mind while we were watching Edward Snowden talking to audience in Vancouver’s Queen Elisabeth Theatre through SFU Public Square You Tube channel. One thing leads to another – even better, one secret leads to another, so she, as I said before, sent me this link:

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-tuesday-edition-1.3521507/how-to-explain-offshore-banking-to-a-five-year-old-a-reading-1.3521514

There is a “Listen” button on the left side, just under the photograph. Enjoy 😀

Cleo1
our cat Cleo doesn’t care about Panama Papers; all her assets are safe and hidden 🐱

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The Story of Stuff Project

This is an e-mail I got two days ago from The Story of Stuff Project’s executive director, Michael O’Heaney. I don’t know Mr. O’Heaney but The Story of Stuff Project is the organization that is doing their best to prevent pollution and fight corporate greed through making short movies about the issues.

“Dear Darko,

Today is World Water Day, honoring the important role water plays in our lives. That’s one reason I’m excited to share our latest movie with you, which tells the story of one town’s fight to protect its water from Nestlé, the world’s largest water bottler.

Cascade Locks, Oregon is heaven on earth—a small town nestled in the awe-inspiring Columbia River Gorge. But when Nestlé came to town several years ago with a proposal to bottle their water, citizens launched an all-out effort to protect it.Our Water, Our Future tells the story of these amazing activists and shares their advice for other communities facing water grabs around the world.

If these changemakers win, they’ll change history by providing an innovative solution to Nestlé’s attempts to privatize public water. What we need now is for Story of Stuff Community members around the world to listen to their story, and spread their message by sharing this film, so that together we can amplify the movement against Nestlé.

Nestlé may have immense resources, but we have a global community of active citizens like you on our side.

In California, Nestlé takes water from public lands affected by a historic drought. In Michigan the corporation drains lakes and rivers and fights any attempt to lessen its footprint. In Pennsylvania it bribes communities with ‘community development funds’ and tries to buy politicians to change zoning laws on the down low. But in all these communities there are brave citizens fighting back, and with your help we can give them the power they need to win.

Thank you for being part of our community!

Michael O’Heaney, Executive Director”

And their latest project about a fight one small community in Oregon started against endless corporate greed.

Nestlé did the same thing in British Columbia, bottling water for free and then selling it all over the world. Last year CBC wrote about it in this article.

Unfortunately, someone… khm, khm politicians khm government khm khm… let them do that. Knowing how hard it is to fight bureaucracy, I’m afraid that name of that person will remain hidden from a public. I just hope times will change, political situation will change and someone will step up and stop companies like Nestlé abusing our natural resources.

Today, most of the wars are fought for the control of production and distribution of  the oil and gas. Tomorrow, it will be about water. And that tomorrow might come sooner than we expect.

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We Are All Accomplices

I rarely post articles from newspapers but this one got my attention. 

Children as young as seven mining cobalt used in smartphones, says Amnesty

“Amnesty International says it has traced cobalt used in batteries for household brands to mines in DRC, where children work in life-threatening conditions.

Children as young as seven are working in perilous conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to mine cobalt that ends up in smartphones, cars and computers sold to millions across the world, by household brands including Apple, Microsoft and Vodafone, according to a new investigation by Amnesty International.

The human rights group claims to have traced cobalt used in lithium batteries sold to 16 multinational brands to mines where young children and adults are being paid a dollar a day, working in life-threatening conditions and subjected to violence, extortion and intimidation.

More than half the world’s supply of cobalt comes from the DRC, with 20% of cobalt exported coming from artisanal mines in the southern part of the country. In 2012, Unicef estimated that there were 40,000 children working in all the mines across the south, many involved in mining cobalt.

In a joint-investigation with African Resources Watch (Afrewatch), an African NGO focusing on human rights in the minerals and extractive industries, Amnesty International says it interviewed 90 adults and children working in five artisanal cobalt mine sites. Workers spoke of labouring for 12 hours a day with no protective clothing, and with many experiencing significant health problems as a result.

The report says that child miners as young as seven carried back-breaking loads and worked in intense heat for between one or two dollars a day without face masks or gloves. Several children said they had been beaten by security guards employed by mining companies and forced to pay “fines” by unauthorised mines police sent by state officials to extort money and intimidate workers.

The human rights groups say they traced the supply chain from these mining sites to Congo Dongfang Mining (CDM), one of the largest mineral processors in the DRC and a wholly owned subsidiary of Chinese mineral company Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Ltd (Huayou Cobalt).

The report says that Huayou Cobalt sources more than 40% of its cobalt from the DRC and processes the raw mineral before selling it to battery makers, who claim to supply companies including Apple, Microsoft and Vodafone. This supply chain has not been independently verified by the Guardian.

Responding to the allegations, Huayou Cobalt told Amnesty International that “our company has not been aware that any of our legitimate suppliers has hired child labour in their mining sites or operated in unsafe working conditions … CDM has rigorously selected its ore suppliers to ensure the procurement of raw materials through legitimate channels”.

Of the 16 companies listed in the report as sourcing from battery manufacturers using processed cobalt from Huayou Cobalt, two multinational companies denied sourcing any cobalt from the DRC and five said they had no links with Huayou Cobalt. The remaining companies either accepted Amnesty’s claims or were investigating the claims.

In its response to Amnesty’s allegations, which Amnesty has published in full alongside responses from the other named companies, Apple said it was currently evaluating whether cobalt in the company’s products originated in the DRC.

“Underage labour is not tolerated in our supply chain and we are proud to have led the industry in pioneering new safeguards,” it says.

Vodafone, in its response to Amnesty, stated that the company “is unaware as to whether or not cobalt in our products originates in Katanga in the DRC … both the smelters and the mines from which the metals such as cobalt are originally sourced are several steps away from Vodafone in the supply chain”.

Amnesty International and Afrewatch claim that despite the denials by some of the named multinationals, none of those companies named could independently verify where the cobalt in their products come from.

“What is very worrying is that none of the companies that we identified through our research and named in investor documents could trace the cobalt they use in their products back to the mines where it originated. Around half of all cobalt comes from the DRC, and no company can validly claim that they are unaware of the human rights and child labour abuses linked with mineral extraction in the region,” says Mark Dummett, business and human rights researcher at Amnesty International.

He said that some of the company responses to Amnesty’s assertions were “staggering”. For example, when asked by Amnesty International whether it sourced cobalt from CDM or Huayou Cobalt, Microsoft responded by saying: “We have not traced the cobalt used through our supply chain to the smelter level due to the complexity and the resources required.”

“These are some of the biggest companies in the world, with combined profits of $125 billion and there is no excuse that companies aren’t investing some of that profit into ensuring that they can trace where the minerals they are using are coming from,” says Dummett. “Anyone with a smartphone would be appalled to think that children as young as seven carrying out back-breaking work for 12 hours a day could be involved at some point in the making of it.”

The DRC has a long history of bloody conflict fuelled by the region’s mineral wealth and the region still has an estimated $24 trillion in untapped minerals.

Global demand for cobalt is increasing, but the global cobalt market remains largely unregulated as it falls outside “conflict mineral” legislation regulating the extraction and sale of other mineral such as gold, coltan and tin from the DRC.

Amnesty and Afrewatch are using the findings of the report to call on multinational companies to conduct investigations of their supply chains for lithium-ion batteries, to check for child labour or labour abuses and to be more transparent about their suppliers.”

source and original article: The Guardian

By buying smartphones, laptops, etc, we all indirectly support that kind of business. This is not like when it was discovered that some famous clothing brands are using slavery in south-eastern Asia – in that case you can just chose not to buy a product with certain brand. But here we don’t have much choice, all major players on the scene seem to be involved. I understand that technological development is the future of human society (even in poor countries of Africa), but take a moment and think about those kids next time you check the status on your Facebook….

 

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Supermoon

Supermoon 2015
Only 356,877 km away 😛 But on November 14, 2016 it will be even closer: only 356,509 km 😀 And on December 6, 2052 it will sneak in to only 356,425 km, the closest in 21st century. I will be only 83 years old, probably waiting with camera to catch the moment.
Hope it won’t rain!!!

***

Data taken from EarthSky web site.

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New Old Me

Maybe I asked you before, but did you ever had a feeling like the life behind you feels like a distant dream sometimes?
Bridal Veil Falls - detail bw
When I think of my life, I can remember all the way back to that rainy November day – I think I was 5 or so – when my parents took me to my grandma in Croatia to spend almost a year in a small village that was the special place for me in the decades to come; or one hot summer day, probably the same year, when my other grandma and I went to my first ever riding in a tram ( I was so little I couldn’t take a look through a window even while being on a wooden seat); or even earlier, but memories of my parents in our small house are too blurry that I can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality. When I go through all those years behind me, it often feels like a few different dreams I had. Everything feels so distant and like it belongs to someone else, yet I am very aware that it was me and my life behind.
Alone in the waves
First part was my early childhood, careless years full of everyday’s wonders that suddenly turned into my teenage high school life. Sometime during the autumn of 1984. I got that feeling for the first time in my life – a feeling that everything before looked like a dream, a dream of someone else’s life. I didn’t spend too much time thinking of that, I guess I was too young for serious thoughts about life. Until it happened again, almost ten years later, when my ex-homeland was deep into the way of disintegrating itself in a war. I remember I thought about the time before the war and it suddenly felt like it never happened to me. That it was something I read about or seen in a movie. Like in a dream, as I said before. Back then I gave it a little bit more thinking, trying to search for moments that would prove that it was all just a dream – or that it was not, proving that everything, actually, happened. And there it was, all the details that I could remember were still there but, nevertheless, it still felt like it was not my life. How could it be when it was all so different at the time (later, during NATO campaign against my country in 1999, I had the same shocking feeling that I could not remember what the life was like before bombing started). In the early years of 21st century, the same feeling was there again. Life changed so much that “dark 90s”, as some call that decade in Serbia, felt like it never happened. Or like it happened to someone else. By now, I guess you know what I’m talking about 😛
Pacific & the rock - Juan de Fuca trail
Interesting thing about that feeling is that nothing really happens at once; sometimes I can feel the change coming but usually “the feeling” comes years after a change(s) starts. All the little changes blend together in a big one and I become aware of the here and now and some time of past and what will come in future. But everything else feels distant and detached from my present I. Why is it happening?
Olujni dan
One big change happened in my life just a few days ago. I became Canadian citizen; some things changed, some remained the same. But when I look back at last 5-6 years and all the things that happened in my life, I have that feeling again. Like everything between 2000. and 2009. was not my life. Or, better, it was and it wasn’t, at the same time, like my consciousness split and I am looking at that time from two different points.
20150908_124449_resized
Waiting for the next time when I will have that feeling again, I will end this post with my favourite quote from Hagakure:

“It is a good viewpoint to see the world as a dream.
When you have a nightmare, you will wake up and tell yourself that it was only a dream.
It is said that the world we live in is not a bit different from this.”

Kentucky lake10

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