A Foggy Sunday Morning in Vancouver

This morning, we awoke to the sounds of foghorns. Vancouver, BC is generally not a foggy city—certainly not compared to a town like San Francisco—but we’ve had our share this winter. I enjoy the fog and the intimacy it brings. Traffic is quieter, the wind is still and the air has a tactile, three-dimensional quality that I enjoy. And as I lay there waking up, […]

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The Moods of Coal Harbour

Vancouver’s Coal Harbour is one of my favourite spots to watch the seasons change. Late this afternoon, I was walking towards Stanley Park for a meeting at the Stanley Park Ecology Society, where I volunteer. (You should support them—they do kickass work.) Anyway, walking out of downtown into the park is always a pleasure. You leave the noise of Georgia Street behind and feel the stress […]

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Hollandse Appeltaart- Dutch Apple Pie Recipe

Here’s my take on the Netherlands’ wonderful thick, cake-like traditional apple pie. It’s easy as een-twee-dree. First, purists beware: I made two innovations here. I added cinnamon to the crust, which you may choose not to do, and I used candied citrus peel instead of fresh lemon zest and raisins. See my notes in the recipe. You’ll need a six-inch springform pan. If you want […]

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The Other Side of Amsterdam

Despite its reputation as a hedonist’s delight, Amsterdam is charming, refined, diverse and beautiful. You just need to know where to go. Whenever I tell people I’m off to Amsterdam, I get pretty much the same reaction:  “Oh, Amsterdam. Off for a little fun, are you? Nudge, nudge.”  Please. First of all, I come from Vancouver. I can have pretty much any kind of “fun” […]

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When in Rome, take your time.

There is not one square metre of Rome that is not interesting. “Rome will wear you out.” I don’t remember which of my traveling friends issued this particular warning, but I shrugged it off at the time. Rome was a kind of dream for me. Having visited Europe four times and northern Italy once before, I still hadn’t made my way down the peninsula to the […]

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Pants by Bluffworks.

These Pants by Bluffworks Kick Ass.

A Review: Bluffworks don’t wrinkle, they don’t rip and they don’t stink after one day’s wear. Take that, Unnamed Company That Rhymes With Tockers. Every once in a while, I like to check out Kickstarter.com. As you probably know, it’s a site where you can invest in up-and-coming products by promising entrepreneurs. There’s some really exciting stuff there (and some truly weak ideas), but one […]

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From St. Petersburg, With Love (And Reservations)

Visiting St. Petersburg by cruise ship feels like a bit of a tease: so much to see, so very little time. All cruising is like that, of course, and you learn to make the most of the time you have. But the Russians add a layer of complexity to the issue: you’re not allowed to explore Peter’s great city on your own. That is, not […]

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Sex and the Single Chickadee

I’ve been a naturalist long enough to know that as soon as you project human values on the animal world, it’s going to come back and bite you. Let’s face it: eagles are far from noble, no matter how much they look the part. Owls are no wiser than any other bird of prey, and swans are far less dignified than they seem, oinking and […]

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Seagulls

They’re loud, greedy, invasive, polluting and aggressive. They eat anything that moves and a lot of things that don’t. Hate them if you will, but seagulls are 100% badass. Here are the secrets to their astounding success. 1. Communicate. Loudly. Oh, I know what you’re thinking. “They screech and they squawk; you call that communicating?” Actually, yes. We may not be sure what they’re saying, but clearly […]

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Don't leave home without your binos.

Nikon Monarch Binoculars: Replacing the Eye Cup

A couple of years ago, I damaged the right eye cup of my beloved Nikon Monarch birding binoculars. Ever since, I have been unable to adjust between naked-eye viewing (eyecup extended) and eyeglass viewing (eyecup retracted.) It was a pain in the butt—I switch between contacts and glasses all the time. Finally I got tired of procrastinating about it and decided to fix it, and […]

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