The lake caught this weekend

Ice on the Bras d'Or copy

A thin skim of ice formed on the Bras d’Or Lake this weekend, and the forecast week of bitter cold and light winds promises to deepen and strengthen its wintery cover. Forty years ago, this was an all-but-annual occurrence. In the middle decades of the 20th Century, Victoria County’s legendary physician C. Lamont MacMillan routinely crossed the lake in a homemade half-track to reach ill patients in the depths of winter. But as our climate has changed, the frozen lake has become a rarity.

Consider this a placeholder for a compilation, coming soon, of the outraged comments that flooded in from defenders of the “wind chill” notion, in response to Contrarian’s (and Scientific American’s) repudiation of the concept.

(I will just note in passing that it is an absence of significant wind, as much as extreme cold, that allows the Bras d’Or freeze over. Quelle ironie!)

Real world vs. Facebook’s world vs. Google’s world — Updated

Black Island Kempt Head

Facebook continually pesters me to entrer the “city” where I live, but rejects Kempt Head, Ross Ferry, Boularderie, and Cape Breton all of which are more-or-less accurate. It will allow me to enter Halifax, Sydney, or Baddeck, none of which is accurate.

Contrast this with Google, which embraces locations with admirable granularity. Google effortlessly adopts islands, villages, hamlets—even micro-locations like Frankie’s Pond and Parker’s Beach—as long as it sees real people using them.

This may seem a small thing, but it strikes me as a profound difference in the cultures of the two organizations. One constantly cajoles you into ill-fitting pigeonholes. The other looks at what you and those around you are actually doing, and continually updates and adjusts to this new information.

(Photos: Above: Black Island (in Gaelic, Island Dhu), Kempt Head, in the real world. Below: Black Island, Kempt Head, on Google Maps.)

Black Island


Marla Cranston points out the Purcell’s Cove dies not exist in Facebook World.

If Calvert, NL, native Jenn Power were so inclined, she could list Ferryland as her home town, but this would be like asking her to accept Big 8 in place of Diet Coke. Far worse, actually.

Newly minted Margaree Centre resident Stephen Mills cannot list that village as his current residence, but Facebook World does allow “Margaree,” a community that, as Mills points out, does not actually exist.

There is no plain “Margaree” —— just the directional or topographic variations: North East Margaree, Margaree Valley, etc.

Interestingly, Mills contends that

[A]ll the Margarees were a bureucratic decision at some point. Names like Frizzelton and Fordview described the locations at one point.

And now, Halifax — updated and corrected

Having already photographed Kempt Head, Cmdr. Chris Hadfield turns his attention to less important parts of Nova Scotia:


Hadfield has now photographed both of Contrarian’s official residences. The universe is unfolding as it should.

[UPDATE] Oops! A Twitter user with a Suessian pseudonym points out that Hadfield passed over, and photographed, Halifax on January 2:


[Click these images for larger versions.]

Kempt Head from the International Space Station

Less than an hour ago, from his perch aboard the International Space Station, Cmdr. Chris Hadfield posted this photo of Contrarian’s Kempt Head, Boularderie Island, home.

Hadfield-Baddeck copy

(Just incidentally, the photo also shows the ice of Baddeck Bay, from which Alexander Graham Bell’s research team flew Canada’s first powered aircraft, the Silver Dart, in 1909, a factoid Hadfield happened to mention.)

For the geographically challenged, Boularderie Island is the slender finger of land extending in from the right edge of the photo. Kempt Head forms the island’s southwestern tip, and is the name applied to the community that occupies the portion of the island shown here.  The picture was taken from an altitude of 370 kilometres.  Cmdr. Hadfield has since moved on, at a speed of about 7.71 kilometres per second.

Click here for the full-sized image.

H/T: Marla Cranston