Monday, August 22, 2011

Saving Shelter Pets fundraiser!

Just a quick blog post to let everyone know that from August 22 to 31, I'll be participating in my third annual Saving Shelter Pets fundraiser, where 20% of the proceeds from my nature-inspired jewelry shop during this time period will be donated to help fund low-cost spay and neuter clinics. As a veterinary student, this is a cause that is pretty close to my heart, for many reasons. An intact female cat, for example, can produce over 100 kittens over her lifetime - and that's not counting her kittens' kittens, or the number of kittens that a male can produce with multiple females. Most of these kittens or puppies won't find homes, and will end up on the streets or euthanized in a shelter. We adopted our cats from the SPCA, and sometimes I think about what might have happened to them if nobody had wanted them, and it makes me pretty bummed.

Spaying and neutering is also in the best interests of both you and your pet - it can help eliminate unwanted behaviours such as urine marking by toms, howling during heats, and blood spotting by female dogs. Additionally, health benefits for your pet include reducing mammary tumors and reproductive tract infections - some of which I've seen first-hand, and are really painful for the animal and just gross for us.

So, if you're interested in supporting this cause, please check out some of the great shops that are participating in this fundraiser over the next two weeks:

And to find out more information about Saving Shelter Pets, check out their site.

Thanks guys!

Oh, one more thing: how do you know I'm actually going to donate this money? Last year I had some questions from buyers about how to know that I was donating the money as promised. I assured them I would send them a copy of my donation receipt at the end of the fundraiser, but forgot, which is terrible. So, here is a screen shot of my Paypal receipt:

And a newsletter after the fundraiser, acknowledging my participation (my name is Victoria, by the way).

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I can now die happy a.k.a. peregrine falcon

Alaksen National Wildlife Area, Delta BC, August 2

Peregrine falcons are among my favourite birds - I can't say they're always at the top, but they do spend a good deal of time there. I'm not sure why I love them so much - it might have started when I learned to fly a falcon to a lure while I was working at a raptor rehabilitation centre. Her name was Bertha, and we taught her how to chase a bird-shaped piece of leather with some meat on it in order to test her flight and hunting skills. Afterwards, she would sit on my glove and snack on chicken bits. Even though she was recovering from injuries, her eyes were still fierce and she was happy to take a chunk out of your finger if you got any crazy ideas like stroking the top of her head.

Afterwards, I read a book on the peregrine falcon recovery project by Jim Enderson and wrote a lit review on adaptations of the peregrine falcon for a natural history class. When the peregrine hunts small birds, it ascends high into the sky and comes plummeting down at speeds conservatively estimated at 252 km/h but could be as fast as 560 km/h. The impact of the falcon on its prey is usually enough to kill it instantly.

This is the first peregrine I've seen in the wild.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Light painting

Things you will need:

* digital camera capable of long exposures or, preferably, a bulb setting
* tripod
* light source (i.e. flashlight)
* dark area (a room, a park far from the city)
* remote shutter release for your camera (not strictly necessary, but makes life easier)
* friend

Set up your camera on its tripod, and make sure it's on bulb and set to your remote. Get your friend to stand approximately where they will be painting, and make sure you're properly focused.

Right before you start painting, open the shutter using your remote (you can do this without a remote by just pressing the shutter release, but there might be some blurriness due to the camera shaking). If there is any ambient light at all (like there was in our pictures) you'll need to paint fairly quickly, or have a smaller aperture (these photos were all f2.8). When you're done painting, close the shutter.


Here are our efforts, done at Iona Beach after an aborted attempt at photographing stars. It's still a work in progress.

Now here it is, done right:

credit: rafoto

credit: minamac88

credit: The Areographers

credit: Atton Conrad

Monday, August 1, 2011

Powell Street Festival

This Saturday, Davis and I went to the Powell Street Festival, a celebration of the Japanese community in Vancouver.

On our way, we passed this beautiful mural in Chinatown:

with a very thought-provoking quote

The festival is held in Oppenheimer Park in the somewhat infamous downtown east-side. But families and locals were mingling and enjoying the sunshine, music, and food.

I just noticed the colourful and interesting houses behind the tents in this photo - I wish I'd had a closer look!

Davis of course was mainly interested in the martial arts demos, but a fairly large crowd had already assembled by the time we got there, and it was hard to get a good look.

So, we headed over to the food area! These are called manju, and they're a variation of a Chinese pastry that contains red bean paste.

A similar item is the fresh imagawayaki, which is also filled with red bean paste.


As, uh, fascinating as it seemed, we did not visit this tent.

But we did try some tofu yaki with Asian slaw, and matcha smoothies.

As we left, we were serenaded by Nish Rawks, a Toronto-based rapper of Japanese descent.

I was pretty impressed.