A rock hunting I will go this summer

A rock hunting I will go this summer

Photo of boulders dug out of a construction site in Toronto but too big for rock hunting souvenirs

I’m going to go rock hunting this summer. “What’s that?” I hear you asking, “rock hunting? That sounds random”.  My brain is sometimes like a flea on a mitt – hopping from one interest to another. So many fascinating things to explore and so little time on this world to do it. One can never have too many hobbies. 

Lately I’ve been lurking around rock hound sites, admiring the diversity in … well, the rock world. ‘Rock world’ – not sure if that is a thing, but we’ll stick with it. I’ve been picking up random pebbles and stones for a long time, wondering what they are.  “Oh here’s a grey one. And here’s another grey one. This one has a pink seam. OHH this one is black. No, wait, it’s just muddy”.

I’ve been staggered by how varied rocks are and now I’m eager to learn a bit more about what’s here in Toronto. The ravine system is a short stroll from my place so that should be a good starting point. I can wander for miles poking around the mud and rocks, looking for anything interesting. As a bonus, I can take my camera along and get some decent photos of the ravine. I’ll have to get a pair of gloves though, because I really hate getting my hands dirty. 

Another choice spot might be along Lake Ontario with it’s rocky shores. It might spit up a fossil or two, as well which would be cool. I remember days spent looking for trilobites while growing up.  We called then ‘stone bugs’ because we didn’t’ have a clue what they were. I’ve often wished I’d saved some of the better ones, but we chucked them back out into the water when we finished oohing over them.

If all else fails, I can go to the ROM – their rocks and minerals are all carefully labeled so ID-ing them will be easy.

I’ve been using Mining Matters rock identification guide to spot some of the more common rocks around here.  Fleming College in Lindsay, Ontario has a good YouTube video titled Rock and Mineral Identification that is fun to watch. 

WeatherCan – Environment Canada’s weather app now available

WeatherCan – Environment Canada’s weather app now available

Enviroment Canada's WeatherCan iconEnvironment Canada’s new app WeatherCan is a must have for Canadians. Last week  the app moved out of beta testing and is now available in the Apple Store and Google Play. A quick note: this is an app geared towards Canadians and not applicable outside of our borders. 

I’ve been using WeatherCan for a few months now, since it was in beta. It’s run on two phones – both budget smartphones –  and worked flawlessly.  I’ve played around with dozens of weather apps over the years, usually tearing them out quickly because they are resource hogs or heat the phone up (on two occasions, dangerously so). I’m pleased to say this one does neither.  It’s fast response time, even on a low end phone, was a surprise. Another positive, WeatherCan doesn’t drain the battery, even when allowing notifications and real time updates.  

 There isn’t a lot to be said about the app – it works, it doesn’t crash, and it’s pleasing to look at. The visuals are crisp and easy to understand. If you’re familiar with the Environment Canada website it’s pretty much the same. The big bold images, and lack of clutter makes WeatherCan one of the better weather apps out there. 

Screen capture from Enviroment Canada's WeatherCan app showing current temp

Screen capture from Enviroment Canada's WeatherCan app showing hourly temp changes

WeatherCan packs a lot of information on each screen. 

Screen capture from Enviroment Canada's WeatherCan app Screen capture from Enviroment Canada's WeatherCan app

The only flaw I could find is the lack of ability to turn off weather notifications for other regions/provinces. For a few weeks, I was hammered with weather alerts for Sask. On the upside, I learned to appreciate how truly bad Sask. winters can get. Maybe it’s part of Environment Canada’s cunning plan.  

Look for the WeatherCan app in Google Play and the Apple Store  or go directly to Environment Canada’s page   –  WeatherCan. If you download the app, drop a note in the comments and let me know how it runs on your phone.

Still using Google+? Going, going, gone

Still using Google+? Going, going, gone

Google+ logo

Are you still using Google+? Hopefully you received the note about it’s pending demise.  Google is putting an end to their social media experiment on April 2nd.  G+ has limped along for years, never really taking off with the public. Forbes magazine ran an article back in 2015 titled Five Reasons Why Google+ Died. It’s taken another 4 years for Alphabet to bury the corpse. 

Google Plus, the company’s social network, is like a ghost town. Want to see your old roommate’s baby or post your vacation status? Chances are, you’ll use Facebook instead. Feb 14 2014 The Plus in Google Plus? It’s Mostly for Google by Claire Cain Miller behind a NYT paywall article. 

The New York Times was right. People may have signed up for an account, but they weren’t visiting it on a regular basis, like they do Instagram or Facebook – people just didn’t take to the platform. I played around with Google+ for a bit but quickly gave up because it was just too messy to work with. I didn’t enjoy posting or looking for new material. And quite frankly it was more bother than it was worth. I saw very little return for my effort. 

So what does this mean?

1 – If you have a lot of photos on your G+ page, think about  moving them to a safe place because they will be deleted after April 2. Google will allow you to download & save your content  prior to the close date – see this article for help Download your Google+ data.

NOTE:  photos stored on Google Photos will not be affected. This is a separate entity.

2 – Using Google+ to sign in will no longer be an option after April. Any + sign-in button will become non functional. Google will be replacing the feature with a basic Google sign-in option. 

3 – Comments will vanish. Sorry folks, but any comments you left while signed in with your Google+ account will simply go away. This is already happening on Blogger sites, so if you are a Blogger user and start seeing comments disappearing, this is the likely culprit. 

If you missed the email notification, visit the Google page Shutting down Google+ for consumer (personal) accounts on April 2, 2019

** Evidently some people think Gmail accounts will be closed. This only affects Google+, the social media platform. It will not touch Gmail, Google drive, Blogger, or Google Photos. 

Spring is in the air – eventually. Canada Post’s gardenia stamp

Spring is in the air – eventually. Canada Post’s gardenia stamp

Spring is in the air for stamp collectors, courtesy of Canada Post.

Photo of winter storm in Toronto

Maybe, but not today. To help break up the winter doldrums and usher in Valentine’s Day, Canada Post is offering a pair of gardenia stamps.Feb 14 gardenia stamps from Canada Post

Their annual flower offering doesn’t disappoint. Designed by Andrew Conlon & Lionel Gadoury, with artwork by Chantal Larocque, the stamps offer two views of Cape jasmine gardenias (Gardenia jasminoides).

You can pick them up in many formats, as expected – rolls, FDC, souvenir sheet, singles, strips of four and ten and booklets.

Feb 14 gardenia stamps from Canada Post Souvenir Sheet Feb 14 gardenia stamps from Canada Post Souvenir Sheet

Feb 14 gardenia stamps from Canada Post booklet

They go on sale Valentine’s Day across Canada. If your local post outlet doesn’t have them, you can purchsase direct from Canada Post’s online store.  

Canada’s Bee Stamp 2018

Canada’s Bee Stamp 2018

I’m not sure if Canada Post will have a new bee stamp for International Bee Day for May 20th, but they issued a couple of interesting ones last year.  Scan of 2 Canadian postage stamps with stylized bees

These two stylized permanent stamps (forever stamps) were released May 1st 2018 and they’re kind of cool. Designed by Andrew Perro and illustrated by Dave Murray, the stamps show a bumble bee (currently on the endangered species list in Canada) and a metallic green bee, which is a type of sweat bee in all it’s vivid colours. 

The stamps come in singles, a booklet of 10 stamps and a First Day Cover:

Picture of Canada Post bee stamps in booklet format

The cancel on the FDC is great! They did a good job on this set although there isn’t a lot of room for the address. 

Picture of a First Day Cover for the bee stamps

They can still be purchased via Canada Post’s online shop.  

If you want to learn a bit more about bees and International Bee Day, and look at a couple of bee photos, check out the article I wrote to accompany this post – International Bee Day is Coming