Sunset at Peggy’s Cove

Visited Peggy’s Cove on a cold and windy but clear November day to catch the famous historic lighthouse at sunset, and walk around town a bit to see what was open in the off-season.

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

Also enjoyed a meal of lobster roll and fries at The Sou’Wester restaurant and gift shop, sitting by the window watching darkness settle over the lighthouse and the Atlantic Ocean.

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

More photos from Peggy’s Cove, plus GoPro video of the walk to the lighthouse (remember to stay off the black rocks near the waves!), and a live webcam of the lighthouse from the Sou’Wester.

Christmas Tree

For our first Christmas in Canada we purchased our first real live Christmas tree from the IKEA Halifax parking lot for $25 (which got us a $25 gift certificate valid after Dec. 26). I think it’s a balsam fir. I had it sawed down to about 5’8″ to fit in our rental Kia Soul and stored it on the deck.

IKEA Halifax Christmas Tree Lot

While I was away Amy got the tree into a stand and decked it out with a skirt, ornaments, and battery LED lights. It smells wonderful in the living room, and adds a delightful holiday ambience of pastoral simplicity. Plus, so far the cats have not wrecked it or tried to climb it or munch on the needles.

Christmas Tree

Merry Christmas.

Moving to Halifax, Canada

We have moved to Canada! Specifically we have attained Canadian permanent residency through the Express Entry process and moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

View of Ferry from Murphy’s Restaurant, Halifax waterfront

Yes, it has been cold and snowy; yes, we have eaten donairs, poutine, and donair poutine; and yes, we have had Timbits and double-doubles at Tim Horton’s (although I find I prefer a single cream and sugar, which they term a “regular”). No, we have not sampled Beavertails or Alexander Keith’s with Clamato…yet.

Fisherman’s Cove, Eastern Passage, NS

Why Halifax, you ask? Originally our plan was Toronto (one reason we were there to scout it out last summer), but it’s a pricey city and we wanted someplace cheaper, on the East Coast, closer to the ocean, somewhat remote but with urban amenities, and still relatively accessible to Amy’s family in New Jersey. Halifax fit these criteria nicely, with friendly people, good seafood, salt in the air, and fully subsidized universal health care.

Halifax on World Atlas

Plus, ever since I was a child I would look at world maps and “Halifax” just jumped out at me as an amazingly cool name. (Apparently derived from Old English “halh-feax”.)

Crab Claw on Pier

On our first trip up here in October we found a nice house to rent in Cole Harbour, a suburb of Dartmouth, Halifax’s sister city across the harbour, though still part of the Halifax Regional Municipality. (Hockey fans may know Cole Harbour as the birthplace of Sidney Crosby.) We sold most of our furniture, shipped the rest of the stuff up through international movers (still en route at the time of this writing), and flew up with the cats early this month. I’m back and forth a few more times to get our old house ready to sell, drive up the cars, and wrap up work and other loose ends around DC. Amy has been furnishing the house with stuff from Kijiji, Canadian Tire, and IKEA Halifax. Ezra has been enjoying the snow. We’ll of course have to find some work.

Ezra in Snow Ezra in Snow

This wasn’t an easy decision, a new step out into the void, but it seemed like the best course of action given this whole situation. The Lord has not steered us wrong in this and we have faith he’ll land us on our feet. Meanwhile, the lobster flows like wine, and we get some nice Nova Scotia sunrises on clear mornings from this new house.

Cole Harbour Sunrise
Live and Plush Lobsters at Halifax Stanfield International Airport

More photos from our first months in Halifax as we get our bearings and learn more about Nova Scotia and Canadian life.

State of Things

He wants to end birthright citizenship with an executive order, a violation of the 14th Amendment that would render me non-American. The day after he said that, he was still president like it was okay.

A significant chunk of the country has actively decided to be represented by belligerent ignorance and bigoted ethno-nationalism, ripe for a wealthy grifter to leverage populist conspiratorial frenzy into an obnoxious and obvious con job. Cultural, economic, environmental, and social effects of this administration and its policies, appointments, and nominations will not end with it, and will be felt for not just years but decades and generations after. I have little confidence the new Dem majority in Congress will be able to do much.

It’s not just the US: global fascism is on the rise and authoritarianism is trendy again in places where populations are prone to nationalist populism that appeals to their worst instincts of fear and hatred of The Other. I’ve read too much history not to know what comes next.

Dark clouds over the Capitol

It’s hard not to despair, hard not to have faith. I’m in a fairly insulated position where I am, but I know that can change fast. Sometimes there’s a ray of hope, sometimes I see shadows coming closer. So we are going to make a change.

Update: We made a change.

Social Media Regret

Short version: I’m not on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram anymore. Get me on this site, on Flickr, or on Mastodon.

In case you were wondering why my Facebook profile has looked like this for the last few months:

Blank Facebook profile

Five years ago in “Re-owning” I lamented that social media sites incentivized us to post our content to ephemeral walled gardens rather than our own web spaces. We spent years feeding our souls in short bursts to marketing data aggregators, in exchange for the momentary thrill of a fave or a retweet — or just because that was the online space where our family and friends had gone.

And then it got worse. These days posting to Twitter or Facebook feels more like being complicit in their own crimes of negligence against society as social media matures into a viral disinformation amplifier rather than an authentic communications medium.

Given all this I decided the best course of action would be to stop posting to Twitter and Instagram, and use the Social Book Post Manager plugin to “blank” out my Facebook profile, deleting all posts, tags, likes, comments, and other FB content. (I don’t want to delete those accounts, at least not yet, while certain logins are still tied to them, and to keep public permalinks active. And hey, maybe they’ll clean up and I can go back.)

For quick and whimsical status updates I’ve moved over to Mastodon, and for pictures Flickr has always been a steadfast paid service. Given time I’d like to set up my own Mastodon instance and tie it in to WordPress somehow. I think should have some time to try that in about *looks at watch* 16 years, so around 2034.

“Spider” Donut

"Spider" Donut

This seasonal Halloween Dunkin’ Donut was called “Spider” and I think it was supposed to be a lot more involved than just “munchkin in hole.” Sure enough, the official press release shows frosting eyes and spider legs, but eh, it was a donut and I ate it.

"Purple Potion" Halloween donut

“Purple Potion” was another seasonal Halloween donut which I consumed with my mouth.

Halloween 2018

Ezra was an astronaut for Halloween, his first time trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, Grandpa and Grandma coming along for the fun of it.

Ezra as astronaut for Halloween
Ezra as astronaut for Halloween

I also let him be a creeper for a bit but that box head is not well-sized for toddler use.

Creeper Son

Soyuz MS-10

Scary launch failure on Soyuz MS-10 as a booster anomaly led to an abort, with the crew of two returning to Earth via ballistic descent and landing safely in Kazakhstan.

Expedition 57 Launch (NHQ201810110017)

NASA ISS Expedition 57 photo album includes this photo taken around the time of the anomaly — note only 3 of 4 strap-on boosters can be seen separating from the core stage, consistent with the explanation that a separation motor valve failed on one strap-on, resulting in violent recontact with part of the launch stack.

While the launch failure is a frustrating event, it’s at least comforting that launch escape systems worked and kept the crew alive; there has been at least one past incident where the outcome was lethal. Sadly no trip to the ISS for NASA rookie astronaut Nick Hague.

Update: More on the incident, with Roscosmos onboard video of the anomaly, from Scott Manley.

Hurricane Michael

Got another hurricane in the South, Michael, first Cat 4 to make landfall at the Florida Panhandle.

Orbital view of Michael from the ISS. Helicopter video of flattened homes in Mexico Beach, FL. Photos of the aftermath from Apalachicola Times and The Atlantic.

As of this writing the remnants of Michael, now a tropical storm, are over us in Virginia. It’s raining pretty hard and the soil is nicely soaked so I threw some grass seed out on the lawn to let the storm water it.