Happy Birthday Manfred! Niagara Falls (from the air), Ontario, Canada

Today is my father’s 75th birthday and my (ever generous) sister bought my parents a helicopter flight over Niagara Falls for his birthday.

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Since my parents live in Hamilton Ontario, which is nearby Niagara Falls, they are truly sick of going there every time somebody from overseas visits them. Flying over the falls in a helicopter is completely different matter. 

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 They loved it.

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Hot time in Nagoya, Japan

In 2005 my wife and I went to Nagoya to visit the Expo near the end of summer. In the southern parts of the island of Honshu it gets quite hot and very humid in summer. Heat is usually not so bad; it’s the humidity that makes one uncomfortable.  Give me the dry heat of the desert any day over the humidity of the tropics. Not that Japan is in the tropics; it just feels that way in the summer. Everyone was walking around as if they were exhausted. The common greeting that the locals were exchanging was, “atsui neh?” (hot isn’t it?).

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Back in the summer 1976 when I was living in Tokyo, it was so hot and humid, some long (about 1.5cm or 1/2 inch) hair-like fungus grew all over my boots in one night.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Colorado USA

If you are interested in paleontology, a trip to Denver isn’t complete without a visit to the excellent Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I went through the dinosaur enthrallment stage that many kids go through when they are between 7 and 10 years old and I still find fossils very interesting. I find evolution fascinating and was elated to see so many fossil exhibits in one place. The variety and depth of the fossil collection at Denver’s museum is vast and it helps one see the variations on a theme that nature has experimented with. Two exhibits in particular caught my attention. One was a diorama of a dinohyus (Dinohyus hollandi ) and the other was the fossil remains of a gomphotherium. 

The dinohyus (meaning “terrible pig”) was about 3m (10ft) long and 2.15m (7ft) at the shoulders and lived in North America between 29 million to 16 million years ago. It was basically a bison sized omnivorous super pig that looks like it was crossed with a wolf. I wouldn’t want to come across a live one in real life.

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The 3m (10ft) gomphotherium is an early relative of the elephant and it’s thought that they lived in swamps. What struck me about the gomphotherium was the specialized shovel shape of its lower jaw.

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Also of couse, there are enough dinosaur fossils to keep the little kid in us all, happy for hours.

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