Despatie back with a vengeance March 19, 2007Posted by grhomeboy in Sports.
Popular Canadian diver Alexandre Despatie continued his comeback from a serious neck injury on Saturday with the reigning 1m and 3m world champion reporting a clean bill of health after training at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
Despatie competed in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, where he picked up three gold medals, but was then forced to sit out the rest of the year after being diagnosed with the injury in May.
“I’m happy with how I’m doing, my neck is going well, I’m taking care of it. The treatment is going right and there’s no pain,” Despatie said. “This is my first international competition outside of the Commonwealth Games, and having not competed for almost a year, it felt like I didn’t belong here, but I’m feeling really comfortable. Right now I have had more training than ever before and I’m very comfortable with my dives and how I feel (in the pool).”
Despatie is confident of his medal chances in Melbourne, but admits he will face stiff competition as he attempts to defend his titles.
“I always go into it (the dive) not thinking about the medal. But I feel good with training and I feel good with everything, and if I can keep that up everything should go well,” he said. “The 3m is very open. China of course have always been dominant. Australia also has a strong team, but by now some of them (the more experienced divers) have retired but they still have a good young team. The 3m is more of an event for me, although I still do the 10m simply because I like it. I love competing in the 10m and I love diving in the 10m.”
Having shot to prominence after winning the gold medal in the 10m platform event at the 1998 Commonwealth Games as a 13-year-old, Despatie has become something of a celebrity in his home country and shot his first feature film in August last year.
Despatie embraces his responsibility as a positive role model for youngsters and his popularity within the Canadian team has seen him nominated to carry his nation’s flag during the opening ceremony.
“It’s a great honour and it’s good to have someone young do it as the people who usually carry the flag are older and maybe on their way out, but I don’t think I’m on my way out,” he said.
Related Links > http://www.melbourne2007.com.au
Butterflies need a little coaxing for the long journey March 19, 2007Posted by grhomeboy in Ecology, Homes & Gardens.
Colourful and captivating, the Montreal Insectarium celebrates a milestone 10th edition of Butterflies Go Free, its popular passage into spring held in the main exhibition greenhouse at the Montreal Botanical Garden. This year’s theme is Myths and Legends.
“Butterflies have been around for tens of millions of years and have always been a natural curiosity,” Montreal Insectarium scientific educator Marc Sardi said. “They are a very festive mysterious subject, not just object of beauty.”
The press info offers lots of interesting butterfly myths, legends and fun facts. For example, the oldest known drawing of a butterfly is from Turkey and dates to 6500 BC. In ancient Greece, butterflies are said to have been the symbol of immortality. Greek philosopher Aristotle referred to the butterfly as Psyche, meaning soul, in one of his books. And many Greek coins bear butterfly designs. In present day Mexico, butterflies are associated with specific holidays like Days of the Dead, where Monarch butterflies are said to bear the soul of a departed loved one. A bilingual 10-minute butterfly myths and legends presentation is offered every hour in the main greenhouse.
Sardi says that the botanical garden recreates a natural environment for their temporary indoor tenants and takes into consideration factors like proper temperature and plant selection. “We match the environment as much as possible so the butterflies can accomplish their entire life cycle.”
In all some 15,000 butterflies will be released over the 10-week event. On any given day, some 1,500 to 2,000 butterflies will be present in the greenhouse. Sardi says many of the butterflies need a little coaxing to up and fly away at the time of release.
“They rarely fly out on their own,” Sardi said. “Some are just not ready. They’ve just gone through an extreme metamorphosis and their wings are very soft and fragile. They need a burst of energy for that first flight.”
What’s the first thing the butterflies will do? Probably grab a bite to eat in the form of nectar. “The butterflies are provided with a lot to eat,” Sardi said. On the menu: nectar from intoxicating lavender hyacinths and colourful lantanas. Sardi adds that different butterfly species have their own particular favorites. “For example, many butterflies like the nectar of the milkweed, but only the monarch caterpillars use the milkweed as a host plant.”
On many host plant leaves, visitors can visibly see the eggs that will soon turn into caterpillars. In fact, you can sometimes even see the butterfly laying the egg. The caterpillar will eventually turn into a chrysalis, and then a butterfly. “Some caterpillars complete their entire life cycle here,” Sardi said.
So even though their parents came from as far away as the Philippines or Costa Rica, many of these butterflies are true Canadians. “They’re born and raised here,” Sardi said.
The best time to come visit: sunny conditions, usually between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
“They keep a low profile on cloudy days,” Sardi said. “Butterflies take advantage of the sun’s rays to gather energy and fly about.”
Butterflies Go Free continues until April 29. Expect a crowd during Easter weekend.
The Montreal Botanical Garden is at 4101 Sherbrooke St. E. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday. Also open Monday April 9. Low-season admission until May 14 for Quebec residents costs $11.50 for adults, $8.75 for seniors and students, $5.75 for youths age 5 to 17, $1.75 for children age 2 to 4. Call 514-872-1400 or visit www.ville.montreal.qc.ca/jardin.