Monday, May 26, 2014

For Iceberg Lovers Everywhere

As I mentioned in my last post we are going to Newfoundland this summer and one of the things I'm really looking forward to is seeing icebergs.  I have been reading about them, Googling them, and generally developing a full on iceberg infatuation. 

Anyone else keen on icebergs?  No, eh?  Well just in case you want a new addiction, here are the websites I check daily (and I do mean daily):

The Iceberg Finder is a website run by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador tourism department and tracks icebergs both by satellite and by reports from people living in the area.

Iceberg Finder
The ice chart (below) is put out daily by the government of Canada and is used for shipping ( ... and iceberg addicts).  Do you see the red areas - that means those stretches of ocean still have 90-100% sea ice.  The screen shot I took was from yesterday, so yes, there is still a lot of ice around Newfoundland.  There are icebergs embedded in the sea ice which helps to keep the icebergs from melting and being broken apart.   If you feel you have had a cool spring where you live, you need to pause for a moment and think on the hardy Newfoundlander who is living beside an ocean full of ice cubes.   

By the way, do you know the difference between icebergs and sea ice.  I didn't.  Icebergs are chunks of frozen fresh water that have drifted down from the glaciers in Greenland, while sea ice is frozen salt water that formed over the past winter. 

Government of Canada Ice Chart

The webcam from Forteau Bay is from Labrador which is across the straight from Newfoundland, but the weather is close to where we are going so I check it out daily.  At the end of the day you can watch a time-lapse video of the days weather, ocean tides, and until recently the ice.  If you go on soon you can see the ice bobbing around the bay in the videos from earlier this week.

Forteau Bay Webcam

And I Google for any news about icebergs and find articles like this:

The Telegram, May 24, 2014

And one of my favourite Newfoundland blogs is called Newfoundsander.  He takes amazing photos of wildlife, scenery, and ... icebergs.

So there you have it.  My full and complete description of iceberg info.  I can't wait to see some of my own.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Newfoundland or Bust

Adventure Newfoundland

It's a yearly cycle - enjoy New Years, savour a week or two of snow and winter weather, and then spend the rest of the winter and much of the spring dreaming about and planning our summer vacation.  So, it is my pleasure to let you know that after considerable deliberation we are going to Newfoundland this summer.

And by "we" I mean my mother, the husband, and myself.  And by Newfoundland I mean only the Great Northern Peninsula (the part in green on the map below).

Northern Peninsula

This area is rugged and wild and known for its icebergs, 


and whales, 

Langford Adventure Co

and Viking settlements, 

L'anse aux Meadows via please take me to

and fjords.

Gros Morne via National Geographic
We've got the plane tickets bought and accommodations booked so I guess that means we're really going.  I'm excited to be staying in a lighthouse keeper's house on a remote island off the northern tip of the peninsula.  I'm looking forward to the hiking, and smelling ocean breezes, and listening to waves, and eating seafood.

Newfoundland is such an interesting province.  I've been there twice before, but never to the Great Northern Peninsula which has not one, but two UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Gros Morne National Park and L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site.  

Newfoundland is so different from the rest of Canada.  I've gathered together a couple of interesting tidbits about The Rock (as Newfoundland is known as) for your enjoyment.

Did you know ... that every year icebergs break off from glaciers in Greenland and float down along the Labrador current to Newfoundland.  The 400 - 800 icebergs that reach Newfoundland every spring and early summer have given the area the area the name "Iceberg Alley".  They even have a website dedicated to locating icebergs (see Iceberg Finder).  Because of the cold winter and spring, a bumper crop of icebergs are expected this year.  At least something good will come out of that long cold winter!

Did you know ... that Newfoundland is famous for its accent and homespun turns of phrase.  Have a listen to this interview to hear some of them explained.

Do you have your summer sorted out yet?  Do you like organizing your trip or do you prefer to wing it when you are there?  It's always difficult to strike a balance between free-wheeling and rigidly organized, isn't it?  I hope we've struck a balance between the two.


PS,  Have you been voting for the project to help develop improved speech therapy training programs (which you can read about here).  If you have, I send you hugs and kisses.  If you haven't, then click on over and give the project a thumbs up.  It's as easy as that.  I've discovered that you can't vote every day, but after a few days the button seems to work again. Thanks again.  You're the best.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Your Thumbs Up Can Make all the Difference

This post is a little different than my usual, but it concerns a topic that is near and dear to my heart - namely, speech therapy programs in low and middle-income countries around the world.  I have a wonderful project to tell you about that you can help make a reality just by voting for it.

As many of you know my friend Kim and I went to Bangladesh in the summer of 2011 to teach Bangladeshi speech therapy students (yep, that's us in the photo above in all our sweaty tired glory on our last day in Bangladesh).  It was an amazing experience and opened our eyes to some of the difficulties of training speech therapists in poorer countries.  

Kim is one of those people who not only has great ideas, but gets things done and she has come up with a fantastic way to help improve the quality of speech therapy programs in low and middle-income countries around the world.  To help fund the project, she has applied for a grant through Grand Challenges Canada.  The grant would be used to develop computer-based learning modules to teach speech and language courses in developing countries.

At the present time these programs rely on foreign volunteers, such as Kim and myself, to do the teaching.  You can imagine that there are problems with this approach because it is difficult to ensure a steady stream of reliable, knowledgeable volunteers just when they are needed for the program, not to mention that the quality of teaching varies significantly.  

Using computer-based teaching modules would mean better and more consistent course content.  There would be other benefits as well, such as being able to include video demonstrations, explanations of technical vocabulary, and even the ability for the students to re-watch the lessons as needed.  These advantages would in turn mean better trained speech therapists.  

The computer-based learning modules could then be used around the world in any developing speech therapy program.  Interest has already been expressed by programs in Thailand, Ethiopia, and of course, Bangladesh.

Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) where we taught in Bangladesh

The grant application is accompanied by a video which you can watch on the website here.  For the next two months people are able to endorse particular projects by giving them a virtual thumbs up.  At the end of June, the committee looks at the applications and makes a decision as to who will get the funding.  Obviously the grant is not based solely on the voting, but we want to impress the panel by having a huge number of thumbs up, which is where you can help.

We would love to have you give this project a thumbs up after watching the video.  You do not need to log-in or sign up for anything, but just complete a captcha number to prove you aren't a robot.   Also you can vote every day which would really help the cause.  I try to remember to vote from both home and work to increase the numbers.  Also don't forget to pass this info along to any family or friends that could be willing to support the cause too. 

Please let me know in the comments if you have voted. This project means a lot to us and we appreciate you taking the time to give it a thumbs up.  

Me teaching the third year Speech Therapy class in Bangladesh

Kim teaching the third year class to do examinations of the oral structure and movements
(she's a blur due to the low lighting and the fact that she never stops moving) 

And just in case you are interested to learn more about my experiences when I was in Bangladesh, I have included some links.  You can read more about the teaching I did here and about my time in Bangladesh herehereherehere, and here.

PS,  The first three photos in the video were taken by me in Bangladesh

PPS,   Just so you can find the link more easily for voting - click here.