Weird, Wrinkled and Wordy

May 27, 2008

Lucky Strike

Filed under: LIFE,Travel — Valorie Hoye @ 7:51 pm

Plane hit by lightning in JapanI’m wondering if I should buy a lottery ticket.

I read a fact online that every plane in service will be struck by lightning once per year. I’ve flown a fair amount in my time, but my most recent trip was the first time I’ve been on a plane that was struck by lightning in the air. We were ascending out of Vancouver at about 24,000ft when it hit. I was reading a book and didn’t see the flash, but I certainly heard and felt the impact even though the plane did not physically move. It felt like something had happened to the bottom of the plane and my first thought was that the landing gear had malfunctioned or we’d lost some poor guy’s luggage.

My second assessment was that the plane still had power and the engines were still on, so I cautiously went back to my book. About a minute and a half later, the pilot came on and informed us that the aircraft had been hit by lightning but that all systems had been checked and the flight would proceed as planned across the country. As he put it, the Boeing 737 was designed to take just such a hit. And, he added, since the strike hit his side of the cockpit, he figured he got the worst of it.

It was all too much for one passenger, who was quite overcome and had to be given oxygen and TLC for the remainder of the flight. I’ve got to hand it to the Westjet crew, they did a very good job of caring for that person and the rest of us still got our normal beverage service.

If I’m ever going to be within 10 feet of a lightning strike again, I hope I’m in an aircraft.

I just hope I haven’t used up all my luck….a lottery win would be nice!


September 26, 2007

Should Art Last Forever?

Filed under: Art,Travel — Valorie Hoye @ 5:06 pm

Public ArtThe Seattle Art Museum has something to learn about creating a satisfying artistic experience. I am not an accomplished artist, art critic, or an influential art patron. But I am a member of “the public” and therefore feel quite justified in commenting on Public Art.The Olympic Sculpture park in downtown Seattle is filled with a number of very interesting large-scale pieces of outdoor art. They use a variety of materials, shapes and themes. They are all interesting. And nearly every one of them has a sign nearby that says, “Please do not touch. You could harm the art.”

This is public, outdoor art. It is giant metal structures that get battered by the elements and pooped on by seagulls. Just how long do they expect it to last?

Yes, the oil and dirt on human skin could conceivably shorten the length of time these pieces are enjoyed, but the present enjoyment of these works is dramatically lessened by the “don’t touch” signs, at least one of which is on a hideous blue sandwich board and mars the overall display. A small sign is not going to deter someone intent on vandalizing the piece; it will only discourage someone who wants to get closer to enhance their own experience.

It seems like the SAM is more concerned about amortizing the cost of these pieces over a longer period than of the actual enjoyment the public gets out of them. I would be curious to know if any of the artists who created the pieces ever intended for them not to be touched.

If a piece of art is too fragile or too historically important to risk contamination, put it in a glass case in a controlled environment. If you want to bring art to the masses and therefore increase your audience, don’t put limits on the experience. You will turn more people off that way.

To answer the question — no, I don’t think art should last forever. Nothing else does. Humans age and the earth beneath our feet erodes constantly. The changes we see in us and around us give us wisdom. Knowing something will fade or crumble one day makes it precious and worth the time out of our day to pause and appreciate it. A permanent fixture is easy to ignore.

August 15, 2007

Marco Polar Bear

Filed under: LIFE,Travel — Valorie Hoye @ 10:06 am

Polar Bear LostSome people actually say that this Polar Bear captured recently more than three hundred kilometers south of the usual hunting grounds in the Arctic was just out for a walk, feeling the need to expand her horizons. She wandered along a well-used highway and into a populated area. Luckily, she was captured and transported back to the shore of the Beaufort Sea.

I  don’t think this bear got lost. I seriously doubt she felt the need to go where no polar bear has gone before. She was hungry and changes to the ice conditions meant she couldn’t get out onto the ice to hunt for seals. Global warming is having a devastating effect on the Far North. It is such a shame that these magnificent creatures are among the first to suffer thanks to world leaders who have taken far too long to accept that change is necessary.

Sadly, political inertia could doom these bears. If more of them develop the Marco Polo instinct, they might be capable of adapting to a warmer climate further south, but further south means more contact with humans and we don’t have a good track record when it comes to bears. We admire them without respecting their wild nature, so we get too close. Then they become a threat and someone has to kill them.

If only we could keep them safe, in a frozen North. Wishful thinking, I know.

July 23, 2007

Towel Animals

Filed under: Elephants,Travel — Valorie Hoye @ 10:06 am

towelelephantOne of the best elements of our recent cruise was the service. The staff were friendly and had a sense of humour.  Every night when we got back to our suite after dinner, there was a towel animal waiting on the bed: an elephant, a crocodile, a stingray, a monkey, a swan.   Our Stateroom Attendant was good humoured enough to laugh at our attempts to make our own version of a crab in return.

In the dining room, the wait staff came up with a new magic trick nearly every night to keep my seven year old nephew intrigued during the two hours it took for the adults to have a full gourmet meal.

We were treated like royalty during the cruse, waited on at every turn.  It felt a little uncomfortable at first, frankly.  But I got used to it just because it seemed so genuinely offered.   We tried to get to know the staff we saw every day.  Many of them were far away from home and had been on the ship for many months.  They were doing their jobs, but I think it takes a special kind of person to make others feel so pampered.

Sometimes it’s just a little extra touch that makes you smile.

July 19, 2007

Power and Majesty in Frozen Form

Filed under: Travel — Valorie Hoye @ 2:16 pm

I never could have imagined the sound a glacier makes. Like the deep rumble of a train punctuated by sharp cracks as it bends and shifts over uneven ground. When part of it breaks off in a process known as “calving,” you get a loud boom and a splash as the pieces hit the water. Then you watch nervously as the resulting wave spreads out over the water. I felt fairly secure sitting in a giant cruise ship weighing 90,000 gross tonnes, but I cannot imagine what it must have been like approaching such a behemoth in a canoe or a wooden sailing ship two hundred years ago.The Hubbard Glacier dominates the north end of Disenchantment Bay off the Gulf of Alaska. The bay was named in 1792 by a Spanish explorer who hoped to find the North West Passage and instead found an impenetrable wall of ice.

Hubbard Glacier

Even in the summer, it is a desolate place. Cold wind comes down off the glacier and icebergs spill out into Yakutat Bay and drift off into the Gulf of Alaska. Tall evergreens cover the sharp mountains surrounding the bay, making it very quiet and the water very still. Serene, and yet frightening. You can sense a powerful force of nature right in front of you.

I was profoundly sad to leave this place. To be in the presence of a natural wonder is inspiring, but to know it is rapidly disappearing and at some time in the future it won’t be there to inspire future generations is heartbreaking.

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