The last frontier

Deep Rover Photo Credit- US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Deep Rover
Photo Credit- US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Forget space travel. I wonder what it would be like to dive 1000 meters into obscurity, surrounded by pulsating bodies of bioluminescent sea beasts – the darkness enveloping you in the most comforting, yet terrifying hug you could imagine.

Now imagine how these remote areas would look 30 years from now.

I’ve been going over my post about the documentary Mission Blue and the work of Sylvia Earle. Since writing that original entry, I’ve done some more research and thought it appropriate to adjust the focus. While Sylvia Earle is an amazing, intrepid researcher and conservationist, I think we should be looking to the ‘guardian within’ in order to affect real change when it comes to ocean conservation.

So, why should we care what happens to our blue regions?

71% of the earth’s surface is covered in ocean. These waters regulate climate and weather, and support life on earth through the cycling of vital gases and nutrients. It’s no surprise, then, that our water regions play a huge role in our future. However, as with all things, there is balance at play: knock one element off-kilter, and another inevitably reacts.

Let’s consider our relationship with water on a cellular level. The human body comprises a range of water between 50% to 75%. Babies and children have the highest percentage, followed by adult men, then adult women. Water is the primary building block of cells. It also works as an insulator, regulator, lubricator and shock absorber within the body. Water is fundamental to our survival because of our cellular makeup and our dependence on the larger bodies of blue which regulate earthly forces. Once again, the microcosm meets the macrocosm.

The interconnectedness of life above and below water is highlighted by some alarming statistics. For instance, coral reefs cover only 0.2% of the ocean floor, yet they support an estimated 25% of all marine life. At the present rate of destruction through pollution, damaging fishing practices, tourism overuse, and coral bleaching, it’s estimated that 60% of the world’s coral reefs will be destroyed within 30 years.

Ocean dead zones: areas that no longer support sea life due to oxygen depletion, are owed primarily to agricultural run-off. The sludge produced by agriculture seeps into our waterways and eventually ends up in our oceans, creating large areas of algal blooms which eventually diminish the amount of concentrated dissolved oxygen in the water. This lack of oxygen suffocates marine life and essentially reduces biodiversity.

When you delve deeper into the issue, it becomes more and more apparent how our daily habits can affect change. What I’ve learned to date certainly makes me question my personal contribution to the issue. So how do we find balance? What can we do as individuals to help protect our oceans?

Perhaps we should start by paying close attention to what we consume, to know the origin of our food and to educate ourselves in conservation.

What I admire about people like Sylvia Earle is their ability to maintain an almost childlike love and enthusiasm for the subject of their cause. Our oceans are certainly worth the admiration. But we need more than admiration to affect change. It will take effort by each of us: a sacrifice of things we consider convenient. Industrialization has not only polluted our earth, it has deluded us if we think our daily burger isn’t part of the problem. Just do the research; it will shock you. Did you know it takes 600 barrels (BARRELS) of water to produce just one hamburger?

Research, education and conservation work are crucial because we don’t see the effect of our oil-spills, ocean-dumping, over-fishing and consumption habits apart from what we observe on the surface. And even then, all is quickly forgotten. What’s happening below the floating ship should concern us all, and that’s the message. “No water, no life. No blue, no green.” – Sylvia Earle

Even so, I wonder which route is more effective now that awareness is growing: to back leading environmental groups through donations, which gives us a warm fuzzy feeling while allowing us to keep a safe distance from our actual role in the issue, or to take responsibility for our daily habits and current beliefs. Perhaps a bit of the first and a whole lot of the second…



‘Mission Blue’ and ‘Cowspiracy’ documentaries on Netflix


‪(Video) To be or not to be

‘Touching the secret of life’ is the key motivation behind an artist’s work according to Dutch artist, Karel Appel.

Appel was one of the artists who comprised the CoBrA art movement during the late 1940s. Although the members’ initial intention was to question hierarchies through various media, the movement eventually gained recognition for the childlike, primitive imagery of the artists. The CoBrA acronym was derived from the initial members’ home towns of Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam.

During a time when the Netherlands was recovering from war and its inhabitants were suspicious of Communism, these artists weren’t well received in Karel Appel’s homeland. In 1949, Appel’s commissioned mural in Amsterdam’s city hall canteen caused such an uproar that it was almost immediately covered. The mural, titled Vragende Kinderen or begging children/questioning children was too hard a reminder of wartime for the civil servants. Soon after – together with fellow artists, Corneille and Constant – Appel packed his belongings and moved to France. The mural remained under a layer of wallpaper for 10 years.

Appel and his counterparts didn’t receive much homeland praise for their work until the 90s. Fellow CoBrA Dutchman, Corneille, even gained commercial exposure through a popular Dutch retailer who offered collectible porcelainware imprinted with his artworks. Today, you can find these collectibles at just about every secondhand store and fleamarket in the country. Yours truly even has a couple of the small, shallow bowls in her kitchen cupboard.

In addition to his paintings and sculptures, Karel Appel was also an acclaimed author and poet who, on several occasions, collaborated with Beat Generation writers, Gregory Corso and Allen Ginsberg.

There’s an oddness to this clip of Karel Appel sharing his views on being an artist and ‘being present’ that, if you’ve been following this portion of the website, shouldn’t be a surprise. I really enjoyed the imagery. I also appreciate the time taken by the uploader to translate Karel Appel’s words from Dutch to English. There’s one translation, in particular, that I would have adjusted. At the 2:50 mark, it sounds as though he’s saying, “Every theory, every story, every intellectual approach is redundant.” Haha, dear youtube poster, I get the point!

(Video) Powwow, heimwee and the present

There’s something so deeply moving about Native music. It encourages any necessary purging of frustration, weakness and disconnection and rallies listeners with a renewed sense of belonging — as does all great music in its purest form, I suppose.

For several minutes, I’m transported through sound to my home town in beautiful Northern Ontario and back to the present in appreciation — admiring the bright yellow forsythias outside, sipping my mint tea as I write this entry. The Dutch have a word to describe this feeling of nostalgia: heimwee — but it’s a passing awareness.

This video of drum group, Young Spirit, from Alberta, Canada is a great example of Native American culture at its finest. You may want to skip forward to 1 minute 40, since the MC makes announcements until that point. Enjoy!

D’Angelo’s new album, Black Messiah















D’Angelo has been out of the spotlight for quite some time but has resurfaced after 15 years with an album too luscious to ignore. It’s easily my new favourite — a thick, deep funk, sprinkled with brilliant strings and dirty vocals. Imagine Prince in the 80s and Funkadelic in the 70s spawning the most magnetic raw sound baby and you get D’Angelo’s, Black Messiah. Take a listen on Spotify. If you don’t have an account, you’ll be prompted to create one when you click on the Spotify link below. The album is also available through iTunes.


photo credit: IMG_1852 – Version 2 via photopin (license)

(Video) Popo-Chan — the shapeshifting owl

Aren’t owls amazing? Check out this feathered beast.

The Southern White Faced Owl employs some rather cool defence mechanisms when faced with potential threats. The star in the video, Popo-chan, displays two distinct postures: he either flares his feathers, glares, screeches and bobs back and forth in order to make himself look more intimidating, or he takes on a rather bizarre Dracula-like concealing posture, referred to as Tarnstellung.

Is that Dracula pose really meant to conceal? The first thing that came to mind was, “Don’t mess with Popo-chan, he’ll f*ck you up!” Let’s face it, he didn’t have much to blend into. But then again, maybe it was just a nice tree branch attempt.