Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My neighbor, the diplomat

My house in Ottawa shares a driveway with the house next door.  This is pretty standard in the older neighborhoods in Ottawa.

The driveway is a deeded right-of-way.  Three feet of the right-of-way is on my property, and five feet is on my neighbor's.  It leads to our respective parking spaces at the backs of our houses.  It's to remain clear to allow passage of people, vehicles, and animals (it's over 100 years old, so animals actually get a mention in the deed.)

My neighbor has never been happy about this right-of-way, and he's convinced that since he owns the wider 5 foot share, that he calls the shots on use of the driveway.  I should note that the neighbor doesn't actually live in his house, it's always rented out.

Well, my house was also rented out for a few years.  My neighbor moved back into his for a couple of months in 2007 (he does this periodically, followed by a rent increase for his new tenants), and took a disliking to my tenants.

Now, for all I know, my tenants could have been annoying (I never met them, an agency rented the house for me.).  However, he was very upset at the fact that my tenant's kids would play in the driveway.  The kids once left a toy wagon in the driveway (I know, because he sent me a photo of it), and I guess that was the final straw.  Previous offenses had included toys left in the kid's own back yard (he didn't like the sight of them), and one of the kids asking his adult daughter once if he could borrow their hose to wash his bike.

To try to keep my tenants off "his" turf, he painted this:

It's faded somewhat in the intervening years, but yep, it is what it looks like.  It's a "do not cross" line.  Right down the property line.  Even though the driveway is a right-of-way, and residents of both houses (as well as the utility companies) have the right to use it to access parking and the back yards of their houses.

Want to know what my absentee neighbor does for a living?  He's a diplomat with Foreign Affairs.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Running the urban trapline

My house in Ottawa had been rented out for the past 7 years, and when I took it back this past month, I found it some of the previous residents were still living there, and had no intention of leaving.

These occupants were very cute, but very tenacious... this house has always attracted the occasional mouse, but I had more than one this time.

I actually like rodents.  If it wasn't for their incontinence, I'm sure we could work something out to their benefit.  Heck, if they'd agree to poop outside, I'd probably even agree to feed them out there.

Rodents, however, are very stubborn, and unreceptive to logic.  They had to go.  Luckily, someone has invented, or at least improved the availability of, some better mousetraps since I was last in the market for them.

I had some luck with these:

I caught five mice with the plastic snap trap shown above.  (I also caught myself several times... the neighbors to my semi-detached house probably wonder why the otherwise quiet lady next door lets out intermittent blood-curdling screams.)  If the mouse chucks himself in head first, it looks like it's an instant kill as well, which is important- I want to exterminate them, but not hurt them.

Unfortunately for both him and me, mouse #5 did not position himself correctly and was not yet deceased when I found him the next morning.  I decided I couldn't do this any more, but was still unwilling to share the house with a still undetermined number of rodent poop factories.  I needed a more certain and just as instant kill.  I found this at the hardware store:

It's electronic.  There is a little maze that they follow to get at the bait (peanut butter... organic even!), and then when they get there they get instantly electrocuted.  I haven't caught any yet.  I haven't seen any trace of new mice, so it's possible that mouse #5 was the last of the current infestation, or that the mice are too smart for this expensive and humane trap I have laid for them.  We'll see.

A friend might lend me a live trap too- I am a bit skeptical about these, as the research I've done indicates that a released mouse will probably just die in the wild, as house mice are treated harshly by wood mice when they try to live outdoors.  So my mice would either be moving into someone else's house, or dying a more natural death at the hands of rodent relatives.  Not a great solution, although I haven't ruled it out.

I also bought four of these:

These are ultrasonic mouse repellant devices- they supposedly emit a loud high-decibel noise that rodents (but not other animals) can hear but can't stand, so once you have them under control, these can be used to repel new occupants, as well as herd existing mice towards traps.

So, we'll see how it goes with these new devices.  I hope it keeps the local mice away, and that they all live long and prosperous lives, with gentle, natural deaths, surrounded by their closest friends and family.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ice abstract

A week ago (March 13) I stopped by Rideau Falls here in Ottawa as I was passing by.

Very cool ice formations at the side of the falls!  Reminds me of the caves in Virginia.  I guess these would form the same way, only in the course of a season instead of over thousands of years.

Here is a pile of the river ice sitting in the Ottawa river at the bottom of the falls- looks like cut stone:

Here's the Ottawa river:

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wildlife encounter

As I was hiking in Baldwin Park in L.A. at the end of February, I ran into this little guy taking his own hike on the trail:

What a cutie!

This one's a bit blurry, but show's a snail's eye view of his natural habitat:

I'm glad I didn't accidentally squish him.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Clogging your arteries, with a cosmopolitan twist

This fast food sign on Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles caught my eye:

Unfortunately, it was the day before I left so I will have to wait until my next visit to pay a research visit. Jollibee seems to be a burger joint from the Philippines.  That's something that's interesting in L.A., you get chain restaurants from other countries too, not just the American stuff.  The Yumburger and / or Chickenjoy is on my list of things to try.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Elysian Park

Just a few photos taken at Elysian park in February.  It's a beautiful park in a hilly area not far northeast of downtown L.A.  There are lots of big trees in this park, I loved it.

View of downtown:

This beautiful trail looks so peaceful, but scroll down to see the highway (Interstate 5) right below it:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Infrared me

I went to the science museum in L.A. a couple of weeks ago.  They had an infrared light camera.  My fingers look gangrenous.  I've always said the blood doesn't go into them very often.

One of the temporary exhibits was on human reactions to fear.  In one station, they strap you to a padded table and then drop you backwards.  They then play your reaction on a video screen for visitors to watch.

Yep, I reacted.  I must say, most of the others who went before me were super cool, and just smiled and laughed as they dropped.  Reminds me a bit of those photos they take of you on Disney rides.  I'd be in a group of 8 or so in a roller coaster photo: the others would all be laughing and I'd be screaming.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I still have some photos and stuff to show you from my trip to L.A.

This tank had been sitting beside the Pacific Coast Highway for some time.  Recently, the British "underground" artist Banksy has been doing some street art in L.A.  You may remember Banksy from the dark intro he did to the Simpsons last year.  The tank was one of his recent targets:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Back to the Great White / Greater Whiter North

I head home to Canada today, on a plane this time, my car having made it's own way back (I hope!) without me.

Then, in a few weeks, I am off to one of my favourite places to work... Grise Fiord!  For April, May and June.  I'm really looking forward to it, but I have so much to do to get ready, having been out of the country for almost six months.

I took the photo below of Grise when I flew out the last time I was there.  See the authentic window smears.  It was a spectacular day for flying, I hope my next trip in is a smooth one too.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Choppers, choppers! M*A*S*H hike part 2

So here is the site of the outdoor set where they did the exterior scenes for both the M*A*S*H movie and TV show.

This mountain was in the backdrop of many scenes in the show:

See?  (Internet screen capture from M*A*S*H movie opening credits):

This is a replica of the signpost:

This is one of the ambulances from the show.

It would have looked like this back in the day (Internet screen capture from M*A*S*H movie opening credits):

Here's one of the jeeps:

This is looking down on the tent site from the helicopter pad.  If you enlarge the photo, they have the site of some of the tents marked out with rope behind the ambulance.  The dip in the foreground would be around where the steps were that Hawkeye and company used to run up to meet the incoming wounded:

This is the helicopter landing pad, taken from above it.  The road the ambulances took is out of the photo to the left.  It's still there, but couldn't get a photo of it due to it being in the shadow.

Here's an aerial shot of the area from the opening movie credits 40 years ago:

This is the path up to the helicopter pad from the camp.  It was backlit so it's a crummy photo.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A reasonable facsimile of Korea: M*A*S*H hike part 1

The outdoor scenes for M*A*S*H were filmed at the 20th Century Fox ranch, which has since been combined with other land previously owned by Ronald Reagan (his ranch) and Bob Hope to create Malibu Creek State Park.

You can hike to the site of the M*A*S*H camp.  I've been meaning to do this since last year and finally got around to it.  I finally did on Feb. 21.

This park is beautiful.  Here are some photos from the trail.

Can't you imagine Klinger coming around the corner here driving a jeep?

These are the mountains the helicopter flies by in the opening credits:

The clouds were beautiful the day I hiked:

This is pretty close to the site:

... and, if you want to see the photos from the site itself, you'll just have to wait until the next post.   I take so many photos on these hikes, it takes me a while to go through them all!