January 31, 2004

Refurbishing Byrne Creek Tags

A group of Byrne Creek Streamkeepers met this morning and spent a couple of hours locating, re-setting and re-flagging position tags along Byrne Creek.

A few tags had disappeared, several had become ingrown into the trees they were nailed to, and many were simply hard to spot. We pulled out and re-set ingrown tags, and put new flagging tape on the trees so that the tags would be easier to locate, especially in the summer when the foliage is dense.

What are the tags for?

We use the tag locations for several purposes: to note where we spot salmon that have returned to spawn; record changes in the creek such as slides and erosion; note the placement of traps we set to assess species and populations of salmon fry (baby fish), smolts (teenaged fish :-), and small trout; and to note where we take bug counts which indicate water quality.

Posted by Paul at 06:46 PM | Comments (0)

Raining Viruses

In the last 24 hours I've received at least three or four dozen emails with the W32.Novarg virus. Norton Anti-Virus appeared to stop them all, however a full-system scan nabbed four more copies.

I also get the feeling that a lot of major websites are slower than they usually are.

Posted by Paul at 06:33 PM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2004

Canadians Ripped Off

I think Canadian consumers are being ripped off, particularly when it comes to high-tech products.

Let's take an example:

A Canon Powershot Digital Elph S400 goes for around C$650 at major Canadian retailers and webshops. Try London Drugs.

In Japan you can buy one for as little as C$460. Check out Kakaku, a Japanese comparative shopping site. If you can't read Japanese, take my word for it :-).

Does it really cost C$200 per unit to ship 'em over here? I doubt it.

Posted by Paul at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

Send Doctors to Econ 101

BC doctors are demanding an 11% pay increase over 3 years, or about another $1.3 billion, when their salaries already are said to account for 10% of the provincial budget.

BCMA President Dr. John Turner was quoted as saying, ''The government has money if it wishes to find money.... The budget is a piece of paper that the government can do various things with."

No, doctor, the government does not have money, the citizens of this province work hard to earn money, which is then taxed away from them. Yes, the budget is a piece of paper, but it is based on the sweat of millions of people.

Online opinion polls are running about two-thirds against you. It's tough to get much sympathy for a group earning six-figure incomes.

You say doctors will leave BC for greener pastures? I say open up the borders, speed up the upgrading and re-certification process, and let in a couple of thousand Indian, Filipino, and Ukrainian doctors.

My father was a doctor. He also knew how to budget.

Posted by Paul at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2004

Norton/Win2K Headaches

I've always used Norton software including Anti-Virus, SystemWorks, and Internet Security, and have usually found them stable, competent products. However, I've recently had two cases of problems upgrading Norton software.

My wife and I each had Norton SystemWorks 2001 on our Windows 2000 work machines. My Live Update subscription expired last autumn, and as the product was getting long in the tooth, rather than just buying a new Live Update subscription, I decided to upgrade to SystemWorks 2004. To do the upgrade, I had to uninstall the old version first, and that's where the troubles began....

For some reason, trying to uninstall SystemWorks brought up the uninstall screen for Netscape Communicator! I couldn't see any obvious way around this, so I uninstalled Communicator, however then Windows complained that there was no uninstall information for SystemWorks. Argh.

I couldn't delete many Norton files and folders manually, even as Administrator, as they were considered to be "in use" by Windows. I ended up searching startup folders and the Registry, and manually deleting all the references to Symnatec and Norton that I could find. After an hour or two of zapping files and rebooting, I'd killed enough of Norton that I could delete the directories and install SystemWorks 2004. (And re-install Netscape).

Yesterday, I went through the whole routine again on my wife's machine to upgrade her SystemWorks. Same problem, down to the strange Netscape uninstall linkage, but at least this time I was smarter and used Windows 2000 Safe Mode to zap Norton and Symantec directories and files, which was much faster as fewer were running.

Posted by Paul at 07:55 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2004

Burnaby Booming?

I went to a Burnaby Board of Trade lunch today that featured presentations by Jock Finlayson, vice president, Business Council of BC; Jack Belhouse, director of planning, City of Burnaby; and Mary Cue, vice president, Anthem Properties Group.

It appears Burnaby is booming. All of the presenters were very positive about the business outlook for 2004 and possibly 2005, mentioning an ongoing low-interest environment, lower taxes, and booming real estate development. The main point of concern was the rising Canadian dollar.

While all this development is going on, including areas near Byrne Creek where I volunteer as a streamkeeper, Belhouse proudly pointed out that 25% of Burnaby is park space. While I'm all for business, and am happy that the economic outlook appears to be improving, I hope we keep our parks too. They are a huge factor in our quality of life.

Posted by Paul at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2004

Great Quote on Doc Searls' Blog

The Doc Searls Weblog : Tuesday, January 26, 2004

Loved this quote that Doc Searls put on his blog today....

They are the people formerly known as the audience. And they do not want your message.

Posted by Paul at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)

Being a Good Guest

A writer on the Editors' Association of Canada mail list asked for comments and horror stories on guests, so I came up with this list:

1) Never use your host's personal bathing items. When my wife and I were living in an apartment with a single bathroom, a female guest once helped herself to my wife's scrubbing cloth - I'm not sure what to call it, not a loofah, but a rough cloth. Anyway, my wife found it soaking wet and covered with hair, and was completely grossed out.

2) If there is only one bathroom, and you want to bathe or shower, ask if anyone would like to use the facilities first.

3) Clean your hair out of the shower/bathtub.

4) Ask before using household items, especially if you're going to use them for purposes they were not intended for. Another guest helped herself to a pile of wooden and plastic kitchen items so her young children could play with them in the bath.

5) Ask for, or if you and your host are comfortable with you poking around the kitchen, help yourself to a big glass of water to put beside your bed when you go to sleep. That way you won't be stumbling around in the middle of the night waking people up if you get thirsty.

6) Never poke around in private rooms that are not obviously public areas, or that you have been told are free to use. This includes the host's bedroom, the host's bathroom if there is a guest bathroom, home offices, etc.

7) Never use a host's computer without getting permission. And never, never, NEVER install software on your host's computer without getting permission, and this includes games for your kids!

8) Don't stay up watching TV after your hosts have gone to sleep. If you can't sleep, read quietly in your room.

9) Offer to help, especially if the visit is longer than one day. "Can I help set the table?" "Would you like me to peel those carrots?" "Can I give you a hand drying the dishes?" Don't just sit around like a pasha, give the host the opportunity to accept or decline.

10) Inform the host of any food allergies or vegetarian practices *before* your first meal. Relations can become strained if you're allergic to tomatoes or don't eat beef, but don't let your host know until the meat sauce for the pasta is on the table.

11) Do your best to eat what is served unless you do have an allergy or are a vegetarian.

12) Don't make long-distance phone calls without asking. If you do make a lot of long-distance calls, it might be nice to leave a thank you note and a gift certificate behind for the approximate amount when you leave. It's a nice surprise for the host. Cash is crass.

13) Be observant, and try to follow your host's house rules. No shoes in the house? No feet on the coffee table? Etc.

14) On the morning that I leave, I like to strip the sheets and pillowcase(s) on the bed I've been using, fold them up and leave them nicely stacked ready for the laundry. If I know the host well, and I feel comfortable doing so, I may even toss them in the washer and start it.

I think most of these are common sense, but it never amazes me at how many "senseless" people there are.

Posted by Paul at 04:18 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2004

Creative Rates vs Trade Rates

A plumber paid us a two-hour visit today, and the labor charge came to C$162.50. That's C$65.00 for the first half-hour, and then C$65.00/hour for the balance.

I don't begrudge paying a professional tradesperson to do something that would likely take me two or three times as long to accomplish, and perhaps with questionable results. What gets my goat is that while the average person swallows paying a plumber or car mechanic such rates, quotes for translation or editing that are anywhere near that hourly figure draw gasps of surprise.

I know a plumber has years of training and thousands of dollars worth of tools. So does an editor. I have a total of seven years of university, and thousands of dollars worth of computers, software, and reference books.

Dealing with companies or other people in the trade is fine, and in the end I gross at least as much per hour as the plumber does, and on many jobs even more. It's the calls from Jane Public who needs help with a resume that irk me. Why would she think she could pay me less than, say, an electrician?

Part of the problem is the hundreds of less-than-professional editors and translators out there who are willing to work for a pittance. By selling out for 8 cents a word for translation, or $15.00/hour for editing, they demean our craft.

Posted by Paul at 06:29 PM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2004

Interesting Books for Streamkeepers

Here are a few books I've read recently that I thought would be of interest to streamkeepers. Both were interesting, thought provoking, and well written.

King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon
David R. Montgomery
Westview Press, 2003.
ISBN 0-8133-4147-7

Montgomery is a Professor of Geomorphology at the University of Washington. The book is an excellent study of the decline of salmon, starting with Atlantic salmon in Europe, then moving across the Atlantic to eastern North America, and ending with the Pacific Northwest.

This well-documented book looks at the history of habitat destruction, and the repeated good intentions and the mistakes that have wiped out salmon runs. Legislation to protect salmon dates back well over 500 years (!), however poor enforcement and a lack of coordination between national, state/provincial, and municipal authorities abetted the decline.

He talks about what can be done to protect what we have left, and how to revive runs, with an emphasis on the Pacific situation. Highly recommended for anyone at all interested in streamkeeping, environmentalism, etc.

"Unlike our ancestors, those of us alive today comprise the generations running headlong into the limits of our use of natural systems while observing permanent loss of much of our natural heritage. The bottom line is that people have the freedom to change their behavior, whereas fish do not. If we are to save wild salmon, then some people will lose money or the ability to do things they wanted to do. But we all lose if we lose the salmon." (p. 245)

Cathedral of the World: Sailing Notes For A Blue Planet
Myron Arms
Doubleday, 1999
ISBN 0-385-49269-3

A book of short essays and thoughts about people and nature, particularly in relation to the vastness of the oceans that makes one realize how insignificant, yet damaging, humans are as a species. A wonderful, thought-provoking read, it is the kind of book that you can appreciate in nibbles. I kept finding myself staring off into space, lost in thought after reading each short section.

"...if we can silence our egos for a moment and set aside our preconceptions about who we think we are, we may begin to perceive some of the lessons that the rest of nature has to teach: lessons not of personality but of relationship, not of order but of complexity, not of private property but of shared responsibility, not of rationality but of mystery, not of the ultimacy of the human enterprise but of the interdependency of all life." (p. 47)

"... is the story we've been telling ourselves about our 'progress' as a species during the last ten thousand years really upside-down? Have we actually regressed, psychologically, from a state of harmony with our natural surroundings to a state of boredom, contentiousness, and alienation?" (p. 122).

"... we have learned to adapt, by increments, to the humanscapes around us until we can hardly remember what a natural landscape looks like any longer.... Most dangerous of all, we convince ourselves, perhaps because of the pervasiveness of the humanscape, that we are at the center of things -- that we are the controllers, the 'managers' of the planet."

If you've got some good reads to share, let me know!

Posted by Paul at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)

Trying out comments

I am going to post this with comments enabled, and then try posting a comment.

Posted by Paul at 05:35 PM | Comments (2)

Testing formatting

Let's see how using HomeSite for formatting works. This sentence should be bold, or strong. This sentence should be italic, or emphasized. This sentence should include a
link to my original website. This sentence should include a link to my original website that opens in a new window.

Posted by Paul at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

First MT Irritant

I have discovered my first MT irritant: the formatting buttons only show up in MS Internet Explorer. I was using Netscape because its tabbed interface is handy for keeping documentation open in one tab, my MT login in another tab, etc. So where were those buttons the docs talked about? I had to search the MT support forum to discover that they only show up in IE. It would be nice if that was spelled out more prominently.

I think I may get a front end to MT for easier editing, or perhaps use HomeSite and cut and paste....

Posted by Paul at 03:14 PM | Comments (1)

January 24, 2004

What to blog about?

I dislike "whatever-is-on-my-wonderful-mind-now" blogs, so I may create a number of blogs on specific topics. A few ideas include a blog for my volunteer streamkeeping activities (see the My Volunteer Website link), a blog on technology, a blog on being half of a Canada-Japan intercultural marriage and how I love both countries, a photography blog.... This will require some serious thinking. I think I'll just plunge in and see what works, and what continues to retain my interest.

Posted by Paul at 07:19 PM | Comments (0)

Hello World!

I installed Movable Type on my free 1and1 account on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2004. It was a bit intimidating, but I followed the instructions step by step, and it worked!

Posted by Paul at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)