Once again, Ryan Neily and I met last month for our annual hike. This year, to give our aging knees a break, we visited the Salt Marsh Trail for the first time. For an added level of challenge and to access the trail by public transit, we started with the Shearwater Flyer Trail and finished with the Heritage Trail. It was a perfect day both for hiking and photography: cool with cloud cover and a refreshing coastal breeze. The entire hike was over 25 km and took the better part of the day to complete. Good times, great conversations, and I look forward to visiting these beautiful trails again!
Couldn’t ID this bush.
The berries are spectacular!
A pond to the side of the trail.
Different angle for dramatic lighting effect.
Rail bridge converted to foot bridge.
Reviewing our progress.
From the start …
Map of the Salt Marsh trail ahead.
Off we go again!
First glimpse through the trees.
Appreciating the cloud cover today.
Never far from rocks in NS.
Rocks all laid out in stripes.
Lunch & selfie time.
Ryan attacking his salad.
A bit of causeway coast.
Plenty of eel grass.
We head for the bridge next.
Impressed by the power of the flow beneath.
Snapping more marsh shots.
Gulls, and if you squint, a copter.
Swift current along this channel.
Until it broadens out and slows down.
Heron! Sorry it’s so tiny.
Heron again, before I lost it.
Ducks at the head of the Atlantic View trail where we rested and then turned back.
Attempt at artsy.
Nodding ladies tresses on the way back.
Several of them.
Sky darkening, but we still have time.
A lonely wild rose.
The last gasp of late summer.
Back across the marshes.
A short breather on the Heritage Trail.
This is a repost and update of my retirement letter sent privately to Debian last month, July 10, 2016. At that time I received many notes of appreciation and good wishes which I treasure. Now, I’d like to say goodbye to the broader Debian community and, as well, indicate which of the cleanup items have since been addressed in strikethrough style and with annotations. Also, I’d like to stay in touch with many of you, so I have added some comments oriented towards those of you who are interested in doing that after the letter.
When in 1995, on a tip from a friend, I installed Debian on my 386 at work and was enthralled with the results, I could not have foreseen that two years later, friends I had made on channel #debian would nudge me to become a Debian developer. Nor when that happened did I have any idea that twenty years later, I’d consider Debian to be like family, the greatest free software community in the world, and would still be promoting it and helping people with it whenever I could. Debian quietly, unexpectedly became a part of what defines me.
My priorities in life have changed over that time, though. I have shifted my attention to things that are more important to me in life, such as my family, my health and well-being physically and spiritually, and bringing all I can to bear on the task of preserving our local wilderness areas and trails. In the latter area, I’m now bringing all of what Debian has helped shaped me to be to the table, launching some ambitious projects I hope will bear fruit in the coming years, and make a measurable contribution to help us hang onto our precious natural preserves where I live.
Unfortunately, as I’ve poured more time and energy into these things, I’ve increasingly not been giving my packages the care they need. Nor do I have any roles or goals now for any of the Debian projects I was previously involved in. So, after much careful deliberation, and as much as it pains me to say it, it’s time to retire as a Debian developer. It has been a great privilege to work with you, and to meet many of you in New York at Debconf 10. I plan to be around online, and will continue to take an interest in Debian, lending a hand when I can. Thanks for all of the fun times, for all that I’ve learned, and for the privilege to make awesome things with you. I’ll treasure this forever.
So much for the soppy bits. 🙂 Now, business. These things remain to clean up upon my departure, and I’d appreciate help from QA, and anyone else who can lend a hand. My packages are effectively orphaned, but I haven’t the time to do any of the cleanup myself, so please speak up if you can help.
O: junior-doc. The junior-doc package has been awaiting an overhaul by whoever revives the project since I gave it up years ago. I’m still listed as maintainer and that should be changed to Debian Junior Maintainers <firstname.lastname@example.org> if they want it. Otherwise, it is orphaned.
I should also be dropped from Uploaders from debian-junior, the metapackages source.Fixed in git.
Tux Paint. This is a very special package that deserves to go to someone who will love it and care for it well. There are three source packages in all:
O: xletters. This is a cute little typing practice game and needs a new maintainer.
XPilot is co-maintained by Phil Brooke <email@example.com>, so he should replace me as Maintainer.Phil said he’ll pick up xpilot-ng and will also look at xpilot-extra.
O: xpilot-extra (recently removed from testing due to my neglect, and not co-maintained by Phil; it’s unclear if anyone really uses this anymore)
GTypist is co-maintained by Daniel Leidert <firstname.lastname@example.org> and should replace me as Maintainer.
My ruby packages. A group of packages that I brought into Debian as dependencies of taskwarrior-web, which I never completed. Maybe they’ll be useful in and of themselves, and maybe not. In any case, they are maintained by pkg-ruby-extras-maintainers, but I’m the sole developer in Uploaders and should be removed:Fixed in git.
Debian Live stuff: I am listed in Uploaders for live-manual (fixed in git) and debian-installer-launcher (fixed in git) and need to be removed.
O: eeepc-acpi-scripts. The defunct Debian EeePC project has just this one package. Recently, the mailing list was asked about its status, and it was recently NMU’d. To my knowledge, nobody from the original team remains to take care of it, so it needs a new maintainer. I should be removed from Uploaders, and since the Debian Eee PC Team no longer exists, it should be removed as maintainer. It is effectively orphaned unless someone speaks up.
There are also some Alioth projects / lists that are defunct that I’ll need to talk to the Alioth admins about cleaning up in the coming days. One of these is <email@example.com> and since it is still listed as the maintainer of eeepc-acpi-scripts, that needs to be sorted out before the list can be closed.
Thanks again, and see you around!
Stay in touch
For those of you who would like to stay in touch, here are some ways to do that:
Follow my blog:http://syn.theti.ca
If you already do that, great! If not, welcome to my blog! For the past couple of years you may have noticed a decrease in technical content and increase in local trails and conservation oriented posts. You can expect more of the latter.
Say hi to me on irc: SynrG (also SynrGy) on irc.oftc.net (irc.debian.org) or irc.freenode.net.
I still intend to hang out and offer support when I can, just no longer as a developer. Channel #debian-offtopic on either network is a good place to catch up with me socially.
Follow me on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/SynrG
For better or worse, a lot of the trails and conservation folks hang out here, and many of you in the Debian community are already my Facebook friends.
Look for my Bluff Trail posts on their site:https://wrweo.ca
Providing tech support to this organization is where much of my time and energy is going these days. I post here once in a while, but do most of my work behind the scenes as a volunteer and, newly this year, as a board member.
Before the rest of the family was up, I took a brief excursion to explore the first kilometre of the Bluff Trail and check out conditions. I turned at the ridge, satisfied I had seen enough to give an idea of what it’s like out there, and then walked back the four kilometres home on the BLT Trail.
I saw three joggers and their three dogs just before I exited the Bluff Trail on the way back, and later, two young men on the BLT with day packs approaching. The parking lot had gained two more cars for a total of three as I headed home. Exercising appropriate caution and judgement, the first loop is beautiful and rewarding, and I’m not alone in feeling the draw of its delights this crisp morning.
Click the first photo below to start the slideshow.
At the parking lot, some ice, but passable with caution
Trail head: a few mm of sleet
Many footprints since last snowfall
Thin ice encrusts the bog
The boardwalk offers some loose traction
Mental note: buy crampons
More thin bog ice
Bubbles captured in the bog ice
Shelves hang above receding water
First challenging boulder ascent
Rewarding view at the crest
Time to turn back here
Flowing runnels alongside BLT Trail
Home soon to fix breakfast
If it looks like a tripod, it is
Not a very adjustable tripod, however
Pretty, encrusted pool
The sun peeks out briefly
Light creeps down the rock face
Shimmering icy droplets and feathery moss
Capped with a light dusting of sleet
One of the greatest pleasures of walking and hiking is to appreciate all of the many living things encountered along the way. A big part of that appreciation for me is to be able to identify individual species and learn the relationships among them. To that end, I would like to introduce a flashcard deck I created, based on the glossary of the excellent, and also free, Nova Scotia Plants, by Marian C. Munro, Ruth E. Newell, and Nicholas M. Hill, so that I could more effectively use the book as an amateur student of our local flora.
Download my Nova Scotia Plants glossary flashcard deck for Anki.
InstallAnki for your platform and register at ankiweb.net.
Import the apkg deck file in Anki.
Enjoy studying the plants of Nova Scotia with these resources.
Comments are welcome here, and a review on ankiweb.net would be appreciated.
Creating the Nova Scotia Plants glossary for Anki
I authored the deck on Debian, using the free software utility pdftotext (from poppler-utils), the small shell script below to produce a rough draft, and a text editor to clean up any errors, inconsistencies, and artefacts caused by the conversion process, such as descriptions which wrapped to a second line.
The Anki flashcard deck is intended as a companion for studying Nova Scotia Plants, linked above, and available either as a single PDF file, or multiple, smaller PDFs per section or family. This ebook has been a constant companion to me on my tablet during my walks and to study in quiet moments of the day. It has enriched my enjoyment of nature in Nova Scotia immeasurably. I am indebted to the authors for the years of work they put into it, and for making it available to the public for free. I hope you get as much out of it as I have.
Anki for devices
One of the criteria I used in selecting Anki as my flashcard software is that it is available for Debian, but also should work on my devices. I use the free software, AnkiDroid, on my Android phone and tablet, available both in F-Droid and the Google Play store. I understand there is also AnkiMobile for iOS, but that is not free.
Please take the time to give me feedback. I spent an afternoon and a morning putting these materials together to share, and am eager to hear if my work has benefited you. Let me know if you have any suggestions for improvements, and don’t forget to leave a review at ankiweb.net.
My friend Ross Mayhew and I enjoyed a perfect Autumn afternoon yesterday, full of colours on the Bluff Trail. Not all of these photos do justice to the splendour and intricate detail I had hoped to capture, but I hope you enjoy them all the same. Click the photo to start the slideshow.
On my way to hike, the Canada holly hints of things to come
Canada holly berries bright red and close to the branch (vs. dusky red false holly berries on long stems)
Unsure which fern this is. Ross says Christmas, but the leaf margins aren’t serrated, but smooth.
Sheltered by this mossy stump, a pretty mushroom
Moss found climbing up a rotted stump, peculiar in that it has flat, fern-like fronds
Ross and I spent a while examining this peculiar flat-fronded moss
The reds of the huckleberries and maples were striking
A tiny fern by a trickle of water across the path
A familiar view overlooking Cranberry Lake, now in its fall splendour
Brilliant Canada holly berries along the bog at our hike’s end
A friend and I regularly meet to chat over coffee and then usually finish up by walking the maintained trail in the Halifax Mainland Common Park, but today we decided to take a brief excursion onto the unmaintained trails criss-crossing the park. The last gasp of a faint summer and early signs of fall are evident everywhere.
Some mushrooms are dried and cracked in a mosaic pattern:
Ferns and other brush are browning amongst the various greens of late summer:
A few late blueberries still cling to isolated bushes here and there:
The riot of fall colours in this small clearing, dotted with cotton-grass, burst into view as we round a corner, set behind by a backdrop of nearby buildings:
The ferns here are vivid, like a slow burning fire that will take the rest of fall to burn out:
We appreciate one last splash of colour before we head back under the cover of woods to rejoin the maintained trail:
So many times we’ve travelled our usual route “on automatic”. I’m happy today we left the more travelled trail to share in these glimpses of the changing of seasons in a wilderness preserved for our enjoyment immediately at hand to a densely populated part of the city.
Here is a photo journal of our hike on the Bluff Wilderness Trail with my friend, Ryan Neily, as is our tradition at this time of year. Rather than hike all four loops, as we achieved last year, we chose to cover only the Pot Lake and Indian Hill loops. Like our meandering pace, our conversations were enjoyable and far ranging, with Nature doing her part, stimulating our minds and bodies and refreshing our spirits.
A few showers quickly dissipated into light mist on the first leg of the hike
Ryan, enjoying one of the many beautiful views
Cormorant or shag. Hard to say from this poor, zoomed cellphone shot.
Darkened pool amongst the rugged trees
Late summer colours
A riot of life shoots up in every crevice
Large boulders and trees, forming a non-concrete alley along the trail margin
Huckleberries still plentiful on the Indian Hill loop
Sustenance to keep us going
Not at all picked over, like the Pot Lake loop
We break here for lunch
Just about ready to embark on the last half
We are surprised by the productivity of these short, scrubby huckleberries
Barely rising from the reindeer moss, each huckleberry twig provides sweet, juicy handfuls
A small pond on the trip back
A break on the home stretch
“Common” juniper, which nevertheless is not so common out here
Immature green common juniper “berries” (actually cones)
I had the wonderful privilege to go camping and hiking with my kids’ scouting group, the Pathfinders of Tantallon SDA church. The day started with a quick trip to Pugwash with one of the leaders to bring back some chairs to their school, and then we headed back out to Blomidon to meet up with the group. Click the photo below to start the slideshow.
The smudgy truck windows make an interesting filter
Still an hour or more away from our first stop
More funky filtering, this time with trees participating
Wentworth valley – taken over the cluttered dash
We disturbed a great blue heron’s breakfast at Wallace
The beach at Pugwash SDA Camp where we loaded the chairs
Trucking along past Truro
After dropping off chairs, finally approaching Blomidon
Getting very close to Blomidon
Some bikers out to enjoy the views
Interesting white berries
Interesting red berries
My first up close look at the point with my hiking buddy, Dave, on the first day
An experimental panorama. Not sure I have the knack for keeping the horizon straight.
We must bring the group out here tomorrow!
Fast ringneck snake! Hard to get a clear shot
Pre-dawn over the campground
The first blush of coming dawn
The Moon and Venus just before dawn
Evergreens surrounding our camp site, pre-dawn
Seems I’m still the only one up
Half of the tents on the spacious group site
Half of the tents on the spacious group site
My daughter, the artist
My two youngest and their best friend
Some relaxing down time after breakfast
Not sure who said what, but apparently they were hilarious. 🙂
The smoke was a bit much for my eldest
Geoff entertaining the troops
Dave making breakfast
Dave making breakfast
Breakfast just wrapping up
Relaxing while we finish breakfast
Looks like that needs some tweaking
A bit too smoky
The whole group
The whole group
Just goofing around
Enjoying the last embers of the breakfast fire before heading to Jodrey Trail
I admire this young lady’s great eye for photography
She has some sweet gear
A lot of old hardwoods out here
Dave did this hike with me yesterday – Excellent hiking buddy!
Words can’t describe how much more stunning these views are in person
All the cameras came out
Got to get that perfect shot!
A tree clinging to the eroding ground above the sheer cliff
A lookoff on Jodrey Trail
A lookoff on Jodrey Trail
Lining up her shot
/a> A lookoff on Jodrey Trail
A lookoff on Jodrey Trail
A lookoff on Jodrey Trail
A fern with sharply serrated sturdy leaves I’m not familiar with
Breaking camp at group site 404
One final chance to enjoy the view from the park entrance before heading home
Just came back from a wonderful time hiking with my daughter at the finale Hike the Greenbelt event at the Backlands/McIntosh Run! This photo slideshow is from my HP snapshot camera which unfortunately has dust in the lens. But I felt it was more important to get them up soon than to get them perfect, so please click the photo below to start the slideshow. I want to thank everyone who made this event a success, and not going to name specific names as I’m sure I’ll miss someone important. But thanks especially to Martin, the leader of our group.
Jack Pine in Jack Pine 😉
Part of the waterway