Thursday 31 October 2019

Halloween Be Gone

    While I am sure a multitude of kids eagerly await the arrival of Halloween, I on the other hand, can’t wait for Halloween to be over.  Every year we make sure we buy lots of candy to give out to Trick or Treaters, and for a decade, not one has shown up at our door.  It’s a terrible problem, because we then have all of the candy we bought left over, and to prevent it from going to waste, someone has to eat it all.  
    Nevertheless, we have to be prepared in case some kid in a costume shows up.  We have already tested a few of the chocolate bars to make sure they are suitable for the kids and found out that they are. 
    After the witching hour is over tonight, we will have to face our responsibility, and finish off all of the candy that wasn’t given away (probably all of what you see).  I know it’s a sacrifice, but we will force ourself to do it.

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Wednesday 30 October 2019

Another Jam Over

    It being Wednesday means that I have to wait another whole seven days before our Tuesday Night Jam session at the McBride Library happens again.  We had a big turnout last night, as you can see from the photo, but we are on the verge of loosing three of the musicians.  One is going back to her home in France, another winters in Mexico, and the third is in the process of moving to Valemount which is an hour’s drive away.  Nevertheless it is still a far cry from the four or five people that used to show up when we first started the jam in 2014.
    Last night we played our typical wide range of songs:  Folk, Rock, Country, Bluegrass, and Gospel.  We played “City of New Orleans,” “House of the Rising Sun,”  “Life’s Railway to Heaven,” “Early Morning Rain,” Joni Mitchell’s “For Free,” the bluesy gospel: “Take My Hand Precious Lord,” Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” Randy Newman’s “Rider in the Rain,” and Gillian Welsh’s, “Tear My Stillhouse Down.”  We also played “Stewball,”  “Wagon Wheel,” “Good Night Irene,” “Long Black Veil,” and some others that I don’t remember.
    The whole idea of our jam is to have fun playing music, and I do every Tuesday.  The participants and songs change every week, but I find it always enjoyable.

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Tuesday 29 October 2019

Clear Skies

    Yesterday we chose to take our afternoon walk on Jervis Road.  There was just a tiny nip in the air (2C, 35F), but there was still some warmth in the sun.  The leaves are gone and the grass is brown, but the surroundings were still awe inspiring.    

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Monday 28 October 2019

Lexi Camouflaged

    Lexi and the weeds along Horseshoe Lake Road are now the same color, and whenever she catches a scent of something and goes into the weeds, you can’t see her.  During the summer when she went into the heavy foliage you could till see bits of her tan fur through the cracks in the green weeds, now however, she totally blends in.

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Sunday 27 October 2019

Instruments of Destruction

    The Robson Valley, where I live, is a fairly pristine place that still has some large wilderness areas that have never really been impacted by humans.  Forty years ago, when we moved here those pristine areas were a whole lot bigger.
    That is the problem with living in areas that are pretty much naturally intact; over time you see more and more of those wild areas destroyed, in our case by logging.  While the rate of logging has decreased due to economic conditions, every year we still come upon new cutblocks, and see a constant stream of logging trucks barreling down the highway carrying away what used to be a forest.
    During the Spring and the Fall there is a break in the logging, because the conditions in the mountains become to muddy to operate in.  That is why all these machines are sitting there in the photo.  They are getting repaired and ready for the winter logging season to come.

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Saturday 26 October 2019

Snow on the Slopes

    This is how the slopes of McBride Peak looked this morning after a day and night of rain/snow.  The Birch and Aspen look furry with the spikes of Douglas Fir sticking out to give the scene accent.

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Friday 25 October 2019

Oops, I Guess It's A Cat Bed Too

    When we got our dog Lexi, she right away started to take advantage of all the soft napping places that belonged to our cat Lucifer, so I guess Lucy thought it was only fair to take advantage of the dog bed that we had just bought for Lexi.  The two are pretty tolerant of each other, and only take over the bed when the other is not using it.

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Thursday 24 October 2019

Spoiling Lexi

    It seems we can’t help but spoil our dog.  Yesterday we were up in Prince George for a shopping run and couldn’t pass up this dog bed.  Our house is all ready full of soft snoozing places for the dog and cat, but nevertheless, we ended up bringing yet another one home with us.  It didn’t take Lexi long to figure out how to use and claim the her new bed, as you can see.

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Tuesday 22 October 2019

Day-Glo Alder

    I had an Red Alder tree blow down and lay sprawling in my pasture for several weeks.  The other day I got out my chainsaw to buck it up into firewood.  When I cut up the chunks I saw nothing unusual about the wood, but a few days later I went out and I couldn’t help but notice how orange the wood had turned.  I have seen this before with Alder, but I am always surprised at just how intensely orange it turns when the wood oxygenizes.
    Alders are related to Birch trees, but are short-lived and never grow to be the size of Birch.  Their leaves and catkin seeds look pretty much the same as Birch.   Red Alder trees take a lot of nitrogen out of the air and fix it into the soil so they help enrich forests.  Their roots make nodules to do this.  Living Alder trees don’t burn very well so they make good firebreaks in the forests.

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Monday 21 October 2019

Highlights Beside Rainbow Canyon

    I am constantly on the lookout for interesting light.  The other day while walking Lexi, I noticed the way the sunlight was highlighting both sides of the canyon that cradles Rainbow Creek.  As you can see the the leaves of the deciduous trees have disappeared, and there is snow up on top of McBride Peak.

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Sunday 20 October 2019

There's Still a bit of Autumn Color

    The colors of the Robson Valley landscape are becoming more and more subdued as things evolve into hues of browns and grays of winter.  In one of our flower gardens, I did find these leaves of a Cranesbill geranium still showing off the reds, oranges, and yellow of autumn. 
    Cranesbill geraniums are pretty much a pest plant around here.  They grow so vigorously that they overpower everything else, so you have to periodically pull them up to give the other plants a chance.   Normally I tend to have a negative feeling about them, but this time of year it’s nice to have them around because they do provide some rare color when it is disappearing everywhere else.

You can get an eyeful of color in my paintings:

Saturday 19 October 2019

Tree Surgery

    We have a Russian Olive tree close to our driveway.  I planted it years ago after hearing that the birds liked to eat it’s berries.  In all these years, I have yet to see a berry on the tree, but nevertheless I let it be.  Unfortunately over the years it started leaning more and more over our drive way.  Last winter after a heavy wet snowfall the tree was so overburdened that it leaned so low over the drive that we couldn’t get past it with the car.
    I knocked most of the snow off of it, and it did straighten up enough for us to get by, but over our really wet Spring-Summer-Fall, just the weight of the rain started it lowering itself to the point where when we drove the car past it, one branch was midway down to the passenger window.   That was not a good sign with winter and heavy snow on the horizon.
    I feared that the coming weight would just totally knock the tree over, so yesterday I got out the chainsaw and cut the low hanging horizontal branches off of it, leaving those that were growing upright.  Hopefully that will relieve a good deal of stress on the tree so it makes it through the winter and it will adapt to its heavy pruning and survive.
    Below is a photo that I took of what the area under the tree looks like now.

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Friday 18 October 2019

A Re-read: Michener's Hawaii

    For September, the McBride Library book club had us re-read something we had read in the past to see how our perceptions of the book might have changed.  I chose to re-read James Q Michener’s Hawaii:

       In 1969 I spent two and a half months on the Big Island of Hawaii.  It was quite a sensual awakening for a boy that grew up among the corn fields of Indiana.  I was gobsmacked by the intense colors of flowers and the greens of the lush tropical plants, the volcanic topography, and the blues of the Pacific Ocean.  It opened up a great sensuality in me that I carried forth for the rest of my life. 
      That time I spent in Hawaii also created in me an immense interest in the Hawaiian Islands and so when I later ran across Mitchener’s epic novel, I eagerly set forth to devour it. 
      Rereading Hawaii was a treat.  During my initial read of the novel I remember with fondness the long first chapter in which Mitchener delves into the 40 million year birth of the islands from their conception as volcanic vents on the sea floor, slowly building with lava until they broke the Pacific’s surface, forming islands,  one of which grew five miles in elevation from the sea floor to the top of its volcanic peak. 
      Then once established those isolated chunks of hardened lava rock, slowly evolved to be able to support the plants and later, insects and bird life, all of which miraculously found their way across the Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands. 
      The second section of the book told of how some of the natives of Bora Bora blindly set out on large sea-going canoes, packed with everything they might need to survive on some unknown shore, onto the unchartered immensity of the Pacific and after more than a month, managed to hit the Islands of Hawaii, there they were able to survive and establish a home in the middle of the vast Pacific. 
     As was his style, Mitchener populates the chapters of Hawaii with memorable characters, drama, and cultural and religious practices. 
     The third section the novel follows Abner, a haughty, fundamentalist Christian from Massachusetts, who as a missionary, goes to Hawaii with his wife of a week, to save the natives.  After a horrible six month voyage on a sailing vessel, he and the other missionaries arrived at the islands.  There Abner, forgetting love and understanding, uses blind determination in an attempt to turn the native Hawaiians into Christians in all aspects of their lives.   While he succeeded in some things, in the end his racist prejudice toward the Hawaiians condemns him to a wasted life. 
       Michener then gives the reader background on two different ethnic Chinese groups and tells how a couple from each of these two differing Chinese cultures join together and are transported to Hawaii to work on sugar plantations.  But once there the couple are clever enough to get work as cooks for a prominent wealthy white family and are thus able to make money on the side through other enterprises.  
       When the husband gets leprosy, they leave their children with a native Hawaiian family, and the wife joins her diseased husband on a leper colony island where she cares for him and other lepers.  After many years of struggle, the husband dies and the wife returns to find she is no longer considered “mother” by her children, but her descendants thrive. 
     Thus Michener continues in the novel, creating stories around the various waves of ethnic groups that end up in Hawaii, often imported to supply labor for the large sugar and pineapple farms.  Their vast cultural and racial differences created conflicts, which they are foto deal with and they find the strategies that help them to survive and thrive.  The novel is full of anthropology, sociology, as well as history.  
    The underlying themes that Michener has stitched throughout the book is racism, bigotry, and prejudice.   The novel shows how throughout its history those negative characteristics were slowly overcome or diminished by intermarriage, economic realities, and law. 
      I thoroughly enjoyed rereading Hawaii, and rediscovering those things that impressed me so much during my initial reading of the novel. 

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Thursday 17 October 2019

A Troubled Sky

    Although the day is turning out to be pretty useable, this morning when we took the dog for her early walk, the sky looked pretty unsettled and troubled.  It did give me a bit of hope seeing that there were at least a few open breaks in the clouds.

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Wednesday 16 October 2019

WIndy Politics

    Canada is in the midst of it’s forty day election campaign.  As you can see, the edges of roads are littered with lawn signs.  Those signs were struggling to remain upright yesterday against the strong gales that were gusting, making it easy to see which way the political winds are blowing.

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Tuesday 15 October 2019


    I had an inquiry from a reader who wondered how my firewood situation was, and since I didn’t really have any other thing to blog about today, that is my subject.
    I think I now have enough to get me through the winter.  The photo above is a bit deceptive because there are actually two rows of firewood, one behind the other.  It certainly looks like a lot of wood, but all firewood isn’t created equally.  A lot of it is spruce, pine, and some cottonwood.  Those burn quickly and don’t put out much heat, so we go through them pretty quickly.  The other half is birch which I save for the coldest nights because it burns slowly and puts out a lot of heat.
    Another big variant is the winter temperatures.  If we get a really cold spell (below -25C or -13F) then we really start going through the firewood rapidly, and my stash of wood starts to shrink pretty quickly.
    A lot of the wood you see is insurance, just in case we get a really cold winter.  I just about always have a lot of firewood left over by the time Spring arrives, but I like to put up more than I will probably use, because I don’t want to be caught without on those cold winter nights.

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Monday 14 October 2019

Canadian Thanksgiving

    Today, Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving; a time when we are all supposed to look at our lives and be appreciative of all that we have.  Traditionally a big chunk of what we look at on this day, centers around food, and to be sure, I am very thankful of the food that we have grown ourselves and have stored away for the winter.
    The photo shows the tomatoes, beets, and zucchini relish that sitting on our pantry shelf.  We also have beans, chilis, and peas in our freezer, and lots of potatoes that are about to be put away under the house in our “root cellar”.  All that food will help us get through the winter.
    I am thankful for my family and friends, and the good life Canada has provided.  Later today we will be joining some of our friends for a big Thanksgiving feast.

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Sunday 13 October 2019

Steller's Jay: Fall Visitor

    The other day when I was digging my potatoes, I heard a raucous call and looked around to see a Steller’s Jay on the compost pile, where I had been throwing my rotten potatoes.  The Steller’s Jay is a beautiful blue and black bird that lives around here in the forested mountains year round, but they only seem to show up at our place during the Fall.

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Saturday 12 October 2019

Biodiversity in the Robson Valley

    Last night we attended an engrossing talk on Biodiversity in the Robson Valley by Darwyn Coxson, a professor from the University of Northern BC, that was presented by the McBride Museum and Library.  While most of us that live here know the Robson Valley is a special place, I think the fifty people who attended were still blown away at just how diverse our environment really is.  
    We have plants growing here that are very rare and only found in small isolated pockets in other places in the world.  He gave an example of a fungus that is only found in the Himalayas, a section of Africa, and a few scattered places in Asia.  Its mystifying how the spore of that plant found its way to the Robson Valley.  Coxson gave several examples of such sparsely scattered plants that are found here, as well as species of plants that have been discovered here that are unknown to science.
    He spent a lot of time speaking about the reason for these rare ecosystems:   the unique shape of the valley and the constant flow of water flowing underground downslope, largely from the snowmelt, but augmented by frequent rain, that enable these rare plants to grow here.  In the Ancient Forest which contains the giant Red Cedar trees (some of which are probably 1,500 years old) they have found no evidence that there has ever been a forest fire there.
    Computer simulations have shown that the biggest threat to these rare ecosystems from climate change will be the lack of snow, which would disrupt the year round flow of water.
    It was a fascinating and enlightening evening.

In answer to the comment below:  
      The snow that falls through all the months of the winter, does not melt, but piles up on the ridge above the valley.  Then when the temperatures warm in the spring, that mass of snow slowly melts and trickles underground to feed the trees and plants downslope.  The water from that melt lasts well into summer, and is augmented by all of the rain and showers.  
      If in the future it warms and just rains during the winter, all of that water will be lost to the plants which will not use it during the winter.  It is the lack of all the slow melting snow during the spring and summer which will cause havoc in the temperate rainforest.

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Friday 11 October 2019

Tipi on the Shoreline

    The other day when we were driving home from town we were surprised to see this tipi on the far shore of the Fraser.  I don’t know anything about it, but it sure added a scenic touch to the river.

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Thursday 10 October 2019

Ice On The Pond

    It feels to me that we are rushing way too quickly into winter.  This morning there was ice on the pond.  In the past that has happened at the very end of October.  This onset of cold weather has left me with a lot of outside jobs yet to do.  The garden is dead, but I still have to move all of the dead plants to the compost pile.  
    I am hoping that it will warm up a bit and give us some nice mild sunny days so that I can get those jobs done.

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Wednesday 9 October 2019

More Sandhill Cranes

    Last week we when we drove up to Prince George we were surprised to see, just outside of McBride, a whole field full of Sandhill Cranes.  It was early morning with a mist hanging over the field and it was a stunning sight.  Since then, every time I think about it, I kick myself for not stopping to take a photo of the scene.  
    Yesterday afternoon, returning from yet another trip to PG, we noticed that the huge gathering of Sandhills were still in the field feeding.  Again I didn’t stop to take a photo, but this morning I drove out to the field in the hopes the Sandhills were still there, and finally did take a photo, although there no magical mist to give the photo atmosphere.
    I guess the cranes are here in the field, spending time bulking up before their migration south.  They migrate fly to Texas, New Mexico, Mexico, and Arizona for the winter.  Often they fly so high that they can’t be seen.
    The cranes were all spread out so I couldn’t get them all in one photo with out making them the size of pinheads, but I figured there must have been about 150.  Below is a photo showing about half of the group.  

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Monday 7 October 2019

Robson Valley Fall Colors

    Because so many of our deciduous trees lost their leaves before they had a chance to turn, this year’s Autumn display is not a spectacular as some, but it is still a treat to see.  These shots were taken around Horseshoe Lake, outside McBride, BC.

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Sunday 6 October 2019

More Potato Digging

    I took a break from digging my own potatoes yesterday, to help the community garden dig theirs.  Every year they plant potatoes as a fund raiser.  A good group of diggers came yesterday so it didn’t take much longer than an hour to get all of the potatoes out of the ground.   The potatoes were planted at Vern’s place.
    The organic potatoes, as well as garlic and carrots will be sold this Friday, Oct. 11th at the community garden in McBride starting at 1:00.  

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Saturday 5 October 2019

Ten Cent Potato

    A few years ago I read a quirky news story about a gardener who pulled up a carrot that had grown through a diamond ring.  Yesterday while I was out in my muddy garden digging my potatoes I had a similar experience, although not so enriching.  I dug out a potato with a dime stuck to it.
    I don’t know how it got there, but suspect dime must have fallen out of my pocket sometime in the past and this year a potato grew up beside it.  It was sure good to get my money back.
     Who says that growing your own vegetables doesn't pay.

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Friday 4 October 2019

Footprints of Death

    In the morning after our -8C (17F) killing frost we took Lexi for her walk at Koeneman Park.  There was still frost on the ground, but we made the round as usual.  In the days that followed, I noticed that everywhere I had stepped on that frosty morning, had caused the grass underneath to turn black and die.  
    Those footprints I later thought, were symbolic of Humankind’s journey on the Earth.  It seems that everywhere homo sapiens treads, a path of destruction and death is left behind.
    Sorry to be so morbid, but take a look around you at what little we have left of the natural world we inherited.

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Thursday 3 October 2019

Hemp Farm

    If you look closely at the photo, you can see the very bright yellowish lights glowing through the walls of the plastic greenhouse.  This photo was taken in the afternoon, so you can imagine what they look like during the night.  Then you can see the lights from across the valley.  According to the McBride grapevine this is a hemp operation used to make CDB oil, the non-psychoactive compound in marijuana that is a hot commodity used in a lot of self medications.
    What I really find interesting about this operation is all of the heat and light used.  I can’t imagine that any money at all could be made considering the cost of all the energy they must be utilizing.  
    Last year the field you see in the foreground was full of hemp plants sticking up through black plastic film to keep the weeds down.  That to seemed doomed from the start because they planted too late in the season, and they plants were still small when fall came around.  Everyone local knew that cold weather was going to kill them all, which it did.
    I admit that all of what I know about this operation is 2nd or 3rd hand information, so I don’t guarantee anything I have said.  Still it is all very interesting.

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Wednesday 2 October 2019

A Reread: The Hab Theory by Allan W. Eckhert

The theme for September’s Book Club at the McBride Library was to Re-read old favorite and see how you felt about it now.  Here is what I had to say.
      The Hab Theory by Allan W. Eckert
             I guess the biggest revelation that resulted in my rereading of The HAB Theory, was just how bad my memory of the book was.  I remembered that it concerned the reversal of the earth’s magnetic poles, something that does happen.  I have always found research of this phenomenon intriguing and so I thought it would be interesting to revisit  what The HAB Theory had said about it.  
             I first read this paperback sometimes in the early 1980’s.  Years later when I came across a used copy of it, erroneously remembering it was about the magnetic reversal, I bought it and it stayed unread on my bookshelf for decades.  I figured this month’s book club theme would be a good excuse to reread it
      The storyline begins with ninety-four year old Herbert Boardman loading a revolver with custom-made wax bullets and heading out to shoot the President.   Amazingly the old guy does manage to succeed in shooting  the President and of course is immediately captured on the spot.  Surprisingly this attempt on the President, which seems like it should be a dramatic high point of the storyline, instead takes place within the first part of the book, leaving the bulk of the story yet to be told.
       Boardman’s plan was that such an attack on the President would give him an enormous amount of publicity, thus drawing attention to his theory, which had been ignored by the scientific community.  The attack on the President worked as Boardman had planned.  Because of the wax bullets, the President’s wounds were superficial, ninety-four year old Boardman was still alive, but in the hospital after being roughed up by the Secret Service men.  There he was questioned, but refused to give any answers, until he was allowed to be interviewed by John Grant, a popular writer.  Boardman vowed to give answers to all the questions to Grant. 
       It took the Secret Service some time to locate the writer John Grant, because he had lied to his wife about where he would be, trying to hide from his wife the fact that he was having a secret love affair.  This discrepancy caused the Secret Service to suspect that he might be somehow tied up in the attack on the President, but he wasn’t, so they proceeded to allow him in to hear what Boardman wanted to say.  
     John Grant began his interviews with the hospital bed ridden Herbert Boardman and after fourteen hours of listening and recording, he understood the basic premises of Boardman’s action and theory.  Boardman’s scientific theory postulated that as the earth cooled (this was before global warming became evident) the polar ice caps were becoming so heavy that their weight would soon cause the earth to flip sideways on its axis, moving the polar ice to the equator and tropical areas to the poles. This quick flip of the Earth  would cause an existential threat to civilization.
       At this point in rereading the novel I was appalled.  The theory was total bunk, and was not, as I had remembered, about a magnetic reversal.   The “evidence” given for the theory was so ridiculous I found it embarrassing to read.  Since my university days I have always hated all those pseudo-scientific theories about vastly intelligent civilizations (like Atlantis) being wiped out and mankind having to start over from scratch, so I don’t really understand why I remembered I liked this book in the first place. 
      Anyway, after Boardman spills the beans about his theory, the 94 year old dies of a massive heart attack. The storyline then follows John Grant as he tries to uncover the rest of Boardman’s theory and Boardman’s solution to save civilization from this impending disaster.  Working at the request of the the President, Grant tries to save the earth, while at the same time struggling to come up with a solution to his growing personal problem: should he stick with his steamy extramarital affair partner or remain with his wife and children.
       While some science fiction novels are somewhat successful in predict ing future situations (The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984), others fail miserably.   I am afraid The HAB Theory is one of those failures.   I think it is a stretch to even call this book science fiction since it really wasn’t based on science in the first place.   Now with the fact of global warming, the storyline becomes even more ridiculous.
        It was interesting to see how much our lives have changed in the forty years since this book was written.  In the novel many things are mentioned that have now pretty much disappeared from our lives:  reel to reel tape recorders, carbon paper, everybody smoking, (even in hospital rooms), pay phones, telephone operators, and typewriters, to name a few.  Many of the tasks done manually and slowly in the novel are now done with ease and speed using computers and cell phones. 
    Forget this book, it isn’t worth the time it takes to read the 700 pages of small print.  Because of what we can now see of global warming, I don’t think the weight of the polar ice caps are going to cause the earth to flip anytime soon. 

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