Monday, May 21, 2007

Aerial Helicopter Attack Over our Home

She a laughing giggly whirlybird
She got to be obscene to be obheard

I really think its about time that she came down
--- XTC, Helicopter

At 6:09 a.m., a helicopter flew 15-30 metres above our trees spraying noxious chemicals. We're in a war. We stayed inside with our windows closed. The enemy is the Gypsy Moth, which invaded Toronto 20 years ago. Our neighbourhood is a battleground.

Once the Gypsy Moth is widespread and established in an area, they are impossible to remove. So drastic action is needed. Luckily, the City of Toronto has been following the advances of this predator and retaliating with aerial sprays, ground sprays and manual removal of eggs.

The Prize
We have a Linden tree, which is a favourite of the Gyspy Moth. We haven't seen caterpillars crawling over it, but they might be there.

The Helicopter
The aerial spraying is surprisingly sophisticated. The twin-engine helicopter uses an ultra low volume spraying system. Spray boundaries have been set in the helicopter's GPS. So the flight path follows the areas to be sprayed.

Another spray day is planned, as the chemicals used lose potency within a few days and with exposure to UV.

The Planning
Considerable planning has taken place. Hats off to the city. It's good to know that the
city has been attentive to the Gypsy Moth problems. They provided a nice detailed glossy booklet which answers more questions than we had. There are phone numbers for additional information and a website

Noxious Chemicals
The chemical used (Btk) is made from a bacterium that occurs naturally on dead/decaying matter in the soil. It should be safe for us, the water supply and our garden. Even so, we're not planting our vegetables just yet.

The thought of hordes of caterpillars crawling hither and tither is not pleasant. Let's hope the battle is over.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Spider-Man 3 and Making Money From Your Blog

(Minor spoiler alert: references to some minor events in Spider-Man 3)
Watching Spider-Man 3 today got me thinking. Yes, there's more story than needed, but not too much to cause confusion. It's worth watching.

Peter Parker has such appeal because he's so real. You can relate to his problems. He faces many hurdles in class, such as being bothered in class by spit balls and having light reflected into his face. He wants to buy Mary-Jane Watson an engagement ring but doesn't have the money. He rides an old scooter. He lives in a dumpy apartment. He can't even afford a telephone. Luckily there's a payphone in the hall.

The Money
But he's Spider-Man too --- or should that be "3" ;). New Yorkers love him. He's not unsung, but he's unpaid. He could certainly use money but he doesn't ask. If he were offered money, would he take it?

Is money fairly distributed? According to Business 2.0, the first two Spider-Man movies grossed $1.6 billion US. Marvel comics received about $75 million in licensing fees. Their cut of DVD sales is less than 1%. Tobey Maguire, who plays Spider-Man, earned $4 million for #1, $16 million for #2 and #3. The studio, Sony, makes most of the money. But they take most of the risk too.

Connection With Blogs
Recently, I've read several blogs whose owners are looking for ways to make money. That's fine, but that's not what Spider-Man would do. He'd do what's right regardless of the payoff. Even when wearing the black suit.

So maybe bloggers need to write about what they know and like, measure results and then finetune. This way they're true to themselves, like Spider-Man. Maybe Peter Parker should start blogging and selling his photos online. That's using spidey-sense.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Tired of Waking Up Tired

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep
--- Edgar Allan Poe,
A Dream within a Dream

Time keeps slipping away. We could do so much more if we could discipline ourselves better. We could improve our well-being physically, emotionally, financially. Where to start?

I don't get enough sleep. Put another way, I'm great at staying up late. Or rather my brain is and it drags my body along. There are so many things to do. Blogging is one. A few more minutes, a few more minutes, a few more minutes. Pretty soon the minutes turn into hours.

The morning alarm clock makes no adjustments for the shorter sleep time. The body tries, but soon starts rebelling. Yesterday was such a day. After dinner, I had to snooze. I woke up refreshed and wasn't feeling tired at at 11 p.m. or midnight or even later.

Guess what happened? The cycle repeats.