What is a Geologist?

Last Sunday was the first Sunday in April, known as Geologists’ Day, and rightly celebrated around the world by millions of people. It was originally designated a holiday by the Soviet Union under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev, a notoriously jolly chap with unbelievably big eye brows. I hope, wherever you live, you tracked down your closest geologist, and gave them a big hug and a giant sloppy kiss. We deserve it because we add so much to your lives, if only you knew.

Brezhnev once said:
Да, я люблю геологов
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It’s Crop Circle Time.

Spring is here in its inimitable, slightly-sodden Vancouver fashion. Growing up in Kent, in southern England, I loved it. Every year, the warmer weather brought profound changes to the ancient agrarian landscape around the cathedral city of Canterbury. To a bubbling soundtrack of larks high above, the farmers would sow their fields, bringing a riot of green and yellow to the chalk downs. And then, in another timeless annual rite, crop circle time arrives; the first circle is found smack in the middle of a wheat field in Wiltshire, and suddenly every idiot and conspiracy whack job in the country wakes up sporting their alien-spotter hard on, looking for 15 minutes of fame.

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A Point Grey Rant.

Death By A Thousand Cuts.


If you’re a non-resident of Vancouver, specifically my neighbourhood Point Grey, chances are you won’t find this blog post remotely interesting. Look away now.

Yeehaw. Point Grey Living is Here!

Every month, the kind publishers at Best Version Media, ensure that I‘m kept up to date with all the local goings-on by stuffing the shiny Point Grey Living Magazine into my mail box. Billed as An Exclusive Magazine for the Residents of Point Grey and West Point Grey (barf), this colourful publication is full of colourful articles about the colourful characters of our ‘hood. Lovely. And a big thank you to the publishers for including my house on the mailing list.

Point Grey Living Magazine. On its side.
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March Stock Picking Update

Shout out to Shovelnose

Greetings stock pickers,

What follows is an edited version of my monthly junior mining update to the members of the Hys and Lows stock picking club. All names of members have been removed. Which is a shame really. I’d love to leave them in so you can all see how bad our motley collection of mining experts and insiders is at choosing winners.

As the UK ponders a possible Brexit-related general election, and the UK’s electorate therefore have to ponder the real possibility of Jeremy Marx-Stalin becoming Citizen 1 in place of Theresa Won’t, I’d like to turn to happier things: the shitty resource junior market, a welcome constant in these turbulent times.

Down to business.

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I Signed A Tortoise.

Actually I autographed more than one.

See, if you thrash around in the bush in the warmer parts of Turkey and Iran for long enough, you’ll eventually find wild tortoises. Shy creatures, they mind their own business -as you’d expect- crawling languidly around, looking like rocks with legs, although rocks move a bit faster going downhill. They can’t exactly run away quickly, so once you spot one, you’ll definitely catch it. I found them all the time, particularly in Iran.

They don’t much like people, but their only active defence mechanism, other than retreating in to their shell and making some unbelievably non-terrifying hissing sounds, is to wee all over anything that tries to pick them up. Which for a while was me, until I learned my lesson.

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Stupid Baby Crows

I called my blog UrbanCrows.com because I naively planned to write lots of fascinating, insightful pieces about Vancouver’s urban wildlife. The new David Attenborough, that’s me, I thought. But the regular readers out there – all 6 of you including me, my mum, the dog, and occasionally my wife- will have noticed that I’ve drifted off topic and have written lots of biographical stories from my exploration days. All good and well, saves me from doing it when I retire I guess, but it’s high time for a trip back to the original theme of the blog; a quick return to Vancouver’s crows and their remarkable urban lives.

That’s the last time I read your blog.
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Impressions of PDAC, Part 2

The presence or absence of PDAC crowds is something of a bell-weather for the state of our industry. It correlates, in part, to how much money we’ve collectively raised in the last 12 months, and also how the coming year of global mineral exploration activity is going to look. Attendance matches the global exploration financing figures quite closely, albeit with about a one year lag. Which doesn’t bode well for the business of discovery in 2019. PDAC compile convention attendance figures on their website, which I’ve graphed below for 2010 to 2019, alongside the global exploration financing stats from 2011 to 2017.

PDAC attendees, 2009 to 2019. Mass delusion in action.
Source: PDAC website.

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Best Not To Hang Around.

My Iranian sojourn in the mid-1990s has become a rich source of travel stories for me. I spent the best part of a year in the country, over about a 3-year period, travelling extensively in the north, based in the small farming hub of Takab in West Azerbaijan province, 5-6 hours drive northwest of Tehran. The people of Takab are Turkic and Kurdish. The Kurds are easy people to spot, dressing far more colourfully than the Turkic or Persian people. There is also a small minority of Zoroastrians, one of the oldest known religions, who worship at fire temples and sometimes still leave the bodies of their dead in high places for scavenging birds to eat.

A “volcano” close to the Unesco site, Takht-e-Soleyman.
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Hormonal kebabs

Tehran, dateline mid-1990s. I was ensconced in the not-totally-fabulous Esteghlal International Hotel, biding my time, waiting for a drill rig to be released from customs clearance which was taking weeks. Fact is, there wasn’t a great deal to do in Tehran if you don’t speak the language, and you’re not in to strolling around the polluted streets or drinking tea in one of the many tea houses. I’d been to the carpet bazaar a few times and bought some antique rugs. I’d seen the crown jewels (they make the British crown jewels look like baubles). I’d visited the Shah’s palaces and the incredible carpet museum. The only thing left was to get to know the amazing food and try to get drunk, which is possible in Tehran with the right contacts.

The Hotel Esteghlal. Not so great after 6 weeks.
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Impressions of PDAC Part 1

The PDAC is over and I’m back home after the emotional trauma of Vancouver airport’s domestic terminal taxi line up. At 9.30pm last night, we passengers – we accursed passengers- were met by a 45 minute wait for a taxi. Whoever was handling the dispatch radio must’ve sent everyone home at 9pm for a nice bowl of hot soup. The Commissionaires, running around marshalling the traffic in front of the terminal, kept up a bravely-busy face with lots of whistling and shouting at cars, but studiously ignored us. Nobody did anything for the 200+ passengers standing morosely in line, staring blankly at an empty taxi stand, praying for a future that includes Uber.

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.
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