February 29, 2004

Byrne Creek Babies

My wife Yumi spotted an itsy bitsy fishy today near the wooden footbridge that crosses Byrne Creek in the ravine. We eventually saw four little ones, about an inch, or 2 - 3cm long.

They're nearly impossible to identify in the water when they're that small, but it was exciting as they are likely chum salmon born from nests of eggs that we saw spawners making last autumn. It's uplifting to see them, particularly after heavy winter rains in the watershed scoured the creek and covered up many of the redds (as the nests are called) with sand and gravel.

Byrne Creek suffers from poor water retention in the upper watershed, with too much water flowing into storm drains too quickly.

We'll be keeping a close eye on the creek and hope to see the number of wee ones multiply.

Posted by Paul at 07:25 PM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2004

Review - The Bear and the Dragon

The Bear and the Dragon
by Tom Clancy
Copyright 2000

Why am I still reading Tom Clancy novels after he's strung Jack Ryan out about three increasingly preachy books too many?

New York Times #1 Bestseller, I guess that's why. Plus I didn't buy this one, a friend gave it to me over a year ago and I finally got around to plowing through its turgid 1,000-plus pages while I was under the weather recently.

It's sad that such a formulaic novel that blatantly stimulates all sorts of phobias and fears while banging the drum of American superiority can top the bestseller lists.

Never one to hide his biases, Clancy goes over the top in this novel with extreme religious and political views.

Tom, we know you're anti-abortion, we know you hold deep religious beliefs, we know you think U.S.-style democracy has no equal and that its military can never lose.... Lighten up, eh?

I admire much about the U.S., and I think Canada should be putting a lot more money into its military, but I found myself gagging at this novel's black-and-white take on international relations.

I also got sick of all the racist language. If that's really the way "our" leaders talk about "them," and how "they" talk about "us," we might as well give up hope for the human race.

All in all, a disappointing book.

Posted by Paul at 09:55 PM | Comments (0)

Those Pesky Bits and Bytes

The National Post screwed up bits and bytes in the Feb. 26 paper in an article on broadband ISP download speeds.

They took the data from broadbandreports.com which clearly states that it is measuring kilobits, however somehow all the references in the article became kilobytes. They further screwed things up by defining kilobytes per second as "kbps" which in fact is kilobits per second.

There is a good explanation of download "speed" on the broadbandreports.com site.

Posted by Paul at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2004

Society to Blame for Cult's Gas Attack?!

Chizuo Matsumoto, the leader of the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan who is better known as Shoko Asahara, received a death sentence Friday for multiple murders carried out by his followers, the vilest of which were sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system in 1995.

I am not a supporter of the death sentence, however an editorial in a left-of-center Japanese newspaper bemoaning the so-called faults in society that led to the murders of 27 people, and the injuring of thousands of others, enraged me.

So what if he had a rough life? So what if he was nearly blind? So what if he was a butt-ugly guy who needed guru status and mindwashed followers to feel loved? The bottom line is he is a paranoid sociopathic nutbar, which doesn't excuse him from responsibility for his actions.

Societies have always had disaffected elements -- people who just don't fit in. There is nothing "society" could have done differently that would have somehow magically prevented the formation of the cult.

Where does this liberal guilt come from? He made choices he was responsible for. They were horrific ones. His followers made choices -- stupid ones. How does that make society to blame?

I rode those subways. I knew people who ended up in hospital, and while nobody that I knew personally was seriously injured, I hear a few victims are still in comas nearly ten years later.

I feel not one inkling of responsibility for the actions of this mass murderer and his followers. What sane, logical person could?

What I did feel, when I used to see his followers dancing and chanting outside train stations in the area where I lived, was a shiver of unease crawling down my spine. If society was in any way to blame, it was for not stepping in earlier and shutting down his operation.

If society was in any way to blame, it was for being too liberal and too accepting.

That's a scary statement, but that's the real question here. Where does society draw the line?

Posted by Paul at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2004

Review - The Eye of the World

The Eye of the World
by Robert Jordan

Book One of The Wheel of Time

Where did I get this epic fantasy novel? I don't remember if I bought it in a second-hand bookstore or if someone gave it to me. Why did I read it? It started with a bout of insomnia that found me in my office around midnight, looking for something light to get lost in.

Did I like it? Well, I read the whole thing and got quite caught up in it, even though it had too many characters and scenes ripped straight out of Tolkien.

One of the blurbs on the back cover says "Women have a stronger role than in Tolkien."

Yep, Gandalf is a woman, served and protected by a Strider-a-like character. We also have the village bumpkin heroes, one of whom carries a special sword. We have Orcs (Trollocs), we have wraiths, we have a Dark One, we have a talking tree....

There are twists and additions to the tale, and it's not badly written, it's just unfortunate that one keeps muttering "this is just like Tolkien" too often for comfort.

Will I venture into the rest of this series that began to be released in 1990? Tough call. I have dozens of other books piled up unread that would probably be a more valuable use of time.

Posted by Paul at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)

SkyTrain Shops? It's About Time

The lower mainland's TransLink system has issued a request for proposals for retailing opportunities at SkyTrain stations. The idea is to generate revenue for the transit system while improving safety in and around SkyTrain stations by creating thriving retail communities.

I say it's about time.

Having coffee shops, convenience stores, dry cleaners, barbershops etc. at SkyTrain stations would greatly improve community life and safety. I lived in Tokyo for about 14 years, where train and subway stations are bustling hubs of activity.

I've never understood why that model has not been followed in the lower mainland. However, I would go further and implement more lessons we could learn from transit systems in Japan.

1) SkyTrain stations need gates. That would eliminate the flagrant abuse of the system as a drug trafficking and petty theft freeway. It would also recoup lost revenues.

2) Perhaps we don't have the population density for this proposal, but another feature of most train and subway stations in Japan is a "koban" police box that is manned 24/7 by officers who know their community. They take reports of lost and stolen items, do neighborhood bicycle patrols, respond to local incidents, and generally keep an eye on things.

Food for thought.

Posted by Paul at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2004

The Language of Visible Minorities

My Japanese (born, raised, and still citizen) wife and I have noticed that visible minorities in Canada often get tagged with an un-hyphenated label, no matter how many generations they've been here.

"My broker is Chinese." "My real estate agent is Filipino." "My hairdresser is East Indian."

I grew up being taught to be proud to be "Ukrainian-Canadian" and though I haven't identified myself much with that community for years, I find this strange.

Why don't visible minorities at least get the hyphen? "My dentist is Chinese-Canadian." Nope, it's: "My dentist is Chinese," even if his great-grandfather helped push the railroad through the Rockies over a hundred years ago, well before my Ukrainian ancestors arrived in Canada.

My wife and I have never said, "Our real estate agent is English." It's never crossed our minds to say, "We dealt with an Irish woman at the bank when we got our mortgage."

So what gives? I thought we were multicultural and colour-blind.

I've got a lot more thinking to do about this, and so do many other people I've encountered....

Posted by Paul at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)

How Did I Anger the Tree Gods?

I think I've done something to anger the tree gods.

A couple of weeks ago I was out with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers re-setting and re-flagging location tags. It's not an easy slog up the creek through the ravine. You scramble through soggy brush, slip and slide up and down steep banks, cross in and out of the creek on slimy, moss-covered rocks, and generally get a good workout.

I'm particularly careful, as I've had a fused spine and a couple of rods in my back since I was a kid, so I always move slowly and carefully in the ravine.

I was stepping over a fallen tree and somehow didn't see the broken butt of a thick branch sticking up vertically from the trunk at an angle. Whap! I smacked my right knee into it hard enough that I yelped, and got a red welt that bruised rather nicely.

Today I was in the ravine helping set Gee traps to survey fish populations, and, you guessed it. Whap! Right knee into an obstruction.... I looked down and stared in amazement. The same *&%! tree and the same branch!

Next time I'm scrambling up the ravine I'm taking a folding saw with me, er, I mean, I will make offerings to the tree gods before I set out.

Posted by Paul at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2004

Bugs at Risk

I had a choice of three meetings to go to tonight, an Editors' Association of Canada monthly meeting, a Burnaby Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission meeting, and the Invertebrates at Risk presentation at the Fraser River Discovery Centre in conjunction with the Douglas College Institute of Urban Ecology.

Seeing as I attended an EAC workshop last weekend, and have been to several Burnaby-related meetings recently, I chose the bug talk.

It was presented by Jennifer Heron, an entomologist who works for the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection as an Invertebrate Species at Risk Specialist. She is also known as The Bug Lady, and runs a bug museum in New Westminster and provides educational services. Check out her websites at:

www.thebuglady.com
www.thebuglab.com

Here are a few notes I took at the presentation (any mistakes in stats are mine :-).

There are about 50,000 - 70,000 species of invertebrates in BC.

There are 1,138 vertebrates

There are 2,790 vascular plants

Of the invertebrates, over 40,000 are insects.

There are about 195 species of butterflies, of which about 75 are endangered.

Burns Bog alone has over 4,000 insects of which 9 species have been identified as being very rare.

She emphasized that riparian zones along rivers and creeks are particularly attractive to plants and animals.

Ways insects become endangered: They're considered to be pests. They are hit by pollution runoff. Their habitats become fragmented by development. Areas of old-growth forest have been shrinking dramatically and continue to do so. Dykes and draining have destroyed wetlands. Use of agricultural and gardening pesticides. Replacement of native plants with non-native ornamental plants.

What can we do to attract insects? Have a variety of little habitats in your garden or on your balcony. Have an assortment of flowers and flowering plants that flower at different times throughout the year to attract pollinators. Have some sunny spots -- flying insects usually need temperatures of at least 12C to become active. Have plants that provide food for larvae and flowers that provide nectar to support butterflies throughout their life cycle. Have pools, birdbaths etc. She discounted the danger of West Nile (mosquitoes breed in standing water), saying only 1% of mosquito species carry it, and of those only 1% may be infected.

It was an interesting talk, and I think I'll check out her bug museum.

P.S. Byrne Creek Streamkeepers will be starting our annual early spring bug count this weekend, weather permitting. If you'd like to join in the fun, email the bug crew to get dates and times.

Posted by Paul at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2004

Reading Comprehension, Common Sense

People don't seem to read what they read anymore. Yes, I said, "read what they read." OK, comprehend. A fair chunk of the discussion I've seen lately on various email lists and newsgroups is of this nature. "You said...." "No, that's not what I said...."

People have also apparently become incapable of using common sense.

I hate to be a sourpuss, but over the last few weeks I've run into several examples, of which I will share two.

1) Our translation, editing and writing company recently received several unsolicited resumes by fax. The applicants were looking for jobs in the hospitality industry, food preparation in particular. Duh. I suspect they found us through our local board of trade listing.

Did I say "hospitality industry" and "food preparation"?

Cooks.

Is there any hope in hell that our company would hire them? Or if they were thinking that perhaps we'd pass their fax-spam on to our favorite restaurants, they are sadly mistaken.

2) I posted some problems we've been having with Norton software on a couple of email and news lists, along with this blog. I also posted how I'd resolved those problems, and thanked people who'd helped me.

A few days later, I received a long email message from someone I'd never heard of, who did not identify which list he'd found me on, regurgitating in his own words the steps I'd already taken and written about to solve the problem.

Double Duh!

All this wasted time.... Which I've just added to with my rant :-).

Posted by Paul at 10:11 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2004

Safety In Our Community

We went to the Safety In Our Community meeting tonight sponsored by the Burnaby RCMP and the Edmonds Town Centre Business Association.

The police made presentations on how they were dealing with the drug trade, prostitution and property crimes in the southeast section of Burnaby. They stressed that they needed the active support of the community, and that citizens needed to be their "eyes and ears" and report any suspicious activity.

They did their best to keep the meeting proactive and positive, however there were many complaints about slow or no response.

I have to give them credit for standing up there and letting people complain, however I was disappointed to see the superintendant go bureaucratic and avoid answering one simple question: "Are you understaffed and is there any way citizens can pressure government for more officers?"

There was no yes or no, just a rambling tale of 5-year plans, increased efficiencies, negotiating with the city and the federal government, and, and....

As for revolving-door justice, all of the officers were careful not to be too accusatory, however they did allow that they had issues with the justice system, and that citizens had to express their outrage to their MPs and MLAs.

One of the officers had responded to a call I made last year when my wife and I found what appeared to be a gasoline bomb in Byrne Creek -- it was a 2-litre plastic bottle with batteries and a contact switch taped to the end. After the meeting ended I approached him, and he remembered the incident. I gave him a Byrne Creek Streamkeepers brochure, and said we were in the ravine and checking the creek almost every day, and were happy to be "eyes and ears."

I also gave the corporal in charge of community policing in our district our business card, and said my wife was willing to do Japanese interpreting if they ever had a need for it.

As for CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Destruction :-), when members of our streamkeepers group complained to one of the officers about all the brush that had been clearcut along the creek, the response was: "Tough."

Ah, well, we'll continue working with the police, and gradually brainwash them into leaving the riparian zone alone :-).

Posted by Paul at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2004

Vancouverites Watch Tourists Like Reality Show

A Skytrain-load of Vancouverites delighted in the confusion of a pair of tourists today, and I found myself caught up in the conspiracy of silence at their expense.

I got on the train at Stadium station and grabbed a seat. Not long after the train pulled out from Main Street station, I heard a woman standing somewhere behind me say, "Honey, I wonder if we already passed Chinatown."

I nearly blurted out, "Yes, we just left the closest station," however I felt awkward, as they were behind me, and I figured someone with closer contact would say something.

Silence....

The woman asked someone standing behind me, "Do you know which station we should get off at for Chinatown?"

"Dunno," came a new voice, "I'm from Saskatchewan."

A conversation ensued about the cold prairies, while I squirmed in my seat as the train rolled further away from Chinatown. I scanned the people around me. Lips twitched, eyes shone, and eyebrows danced to the background music of soft whispering.

"Honey, it says Chinatown is No. 3 here on the map. Do you think we're there yet? Maybe it's the next stop."

It was too late. My silence had implicated me in the conspiracy. Several more stations and increasingly loud debate over the map passed before they finally figured out they were nowhere near Chinatown.

They got off at Joyce to catch a train going the other way, the doors closed, and seatmates chuckled. At least we didn't all roar with laughter, though I have to admit that when I got home and told my wife the story, we were both rolling around on the kitchen floor.

Shame! Why do we enjoy watching others blunder?

"Honey, do you think...?"

"Hee-ya-ha-ha....."

Posted by Paul at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

The Business of Writing & Editing

I gave my wife the best Valentine's Day present she's had in years -- the whole day to herself, while I attended an Editors' Association of Canada workshop :-).

John Vigna presented "Thinking Like an Entrepreneur: Growing Your Writing & Editing Business." As I recall, John has been running a writing and editing business for about three years now, and appears to have picked up a lot more business sense in that period than some of us who have been toiling away on keyboards for much longer.

Business plans? Managing cash flow? Marketing? Networking? All topics I suspect most creative types don't like to think about, yet that are crucial to success.

John told us about how he'd had a stellar rookie year, with gross sales that far surpassed his expectations, and then how in his second year he'd slacked off on his marketing and soon found himself pinching pennies.

By focusing on marketing basics, he pulled himself back up, and during the workshop he ran us through those basics, plus a number of excercises to see how we were doing, and where we needed to improve our business skills.

I can relate to John, as we too started out strong, had a stellar second year, and then became complacent, only to see sales slide for two consecutive years.

So it's back to the basics. We have to write a new business plan, and update it regularly. We have to devote more time to marketing instead of waiting for work to find us.

What a great way to spend Valentine's Day! My wife, who is also my business partner, got the day to herself, and I came home charged up with new plans for making money. How romantic :-).

Posted by Paul at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2004

What's CPTED?

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, or, as streamkeepers now like to call it, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Destruction :-).

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers had our monthly meeting tonight, and our guest speakers were from the City of Burnaby planning department. They came to explain CPTED to us, and tell us why substantial areas near the creek were clearcut recently.

While I don't think they convinced any of us that what had happened made any sense, we thanked them for listening to our concerns. We just wish they'd contacted us before they razed parts of the riparian zone along the creek.

The issue seemed to boil down to "perceptions of safety." The idea that if people "feel" safer in parks, they will use them more. I don't buy that. After dark, safety cannot be ensured in any park or on any trail, and widening paths or improving "lines of sight" ain't gonna improve security.

Bottom line? As part of CPTED efforts, city workers clearcut a swath 2 - 5 meters wide along a path that passes behind the townhouse complex that we live in, right above the creek. Does that make me feel safer? No. I still won't use that path late at night. Like any sensible person, I would walk on the major streets that are less than a hundred meters from the path.

There was talk about drug dealers, addicts, and prostitution... But what has that got to do with clearcutting in the small sections of forest that we have left around the creek? There was talk about making citizens feel comfortable walking at night, so as to "take back the streets."

Streets? OK. But did sensible people ever walk through forested parks in urban areas at night?

Why does nature always have to lose?

Posted by Paul at 11:06 PM | Comments (1)

February 11, 2004

Counting Birds and Beasts

A planner from the City of Burnaby recently contacted our streamkeeping group and asked us for any information we may have on wildlife sightings in the upper reaches of Byrne Creek.

This section of the creek has a very narrow riparian area, surrounded by housing.

My wife and I are new at this nature stuff, but we decided to go hunting for a few hours this afternoon. We spotted many nests in trees along the creek, birds including song sparrows, black-capped chickadees, crows, towhees, gulls, a mallard, a northern flicker, and two unidentified woodpeckers. We also saw several eastern gray squirrels (an introduced species), assorted spiders, worms and snails, and a single catterpillar.

The exercise also enlightened us as to how much we have to learn. While not a scientific study, I hope our report of our informal stroll will be useful.

Posted by Paul at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2004

Ants Rule at Start of New Year

It's early into a new year, so I sit and glumly stare at the bare-to-the-bone balances in our bank accounts, bled white by the twin spectres of registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and annual mortgage pre-payments.

You see, I've always been a grasshopper, while my wife is firmly, nay, fiercely, in the ant family.

Of course you know the story: The ant works hard all summer building a house and caching supplies for winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs, dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper, with no food or shelter, dies out in the cold.

Near eleven years of marriage have changed my thinking, but I still find the first few months of each year difficult. RRSP limits must be filled by the end of February to take advantage of tax breaks, and the sooner in the year that one can make one's annual mortgage lump-sum principal pre-payment, the more interest one saves.

I know all this coerced saving will do me great good when I'm too old to enjoy it, but jeez, I haven't bought a new computer in nearly three years! What about that new 8-megapixel Nikon digital camera that was just released? Toys, toys, TOYS! I'm becoming depraved, er, I mean, deprived....

The one thing that keeps me sane is Net Worth. Banks like Net Worth.

I must admit that it is nice to see Net Worth growing. Slowly.

I must also admit that with all our cash gone to RRSPs and the mortgage principal pre-payment, Net Worth will continue to grow, unlike if that cash had remained accessible to my flighty fingers.

Kudos to my lovely wife, who signed us up for life insurance on the day of our civil (near no-cost) marriage :-), and who has stuck with me ever since.

You're my rock....

Posted by Paul at 09:09 PM | Comments (1)

February 09, 2004

The Discipline of Working at Home

There was a business tip from local publisher and internationally known speaker Peter Legge in the Vancouver Sun the other day.

He pointed out that if you get up an hour earlier every day, that gives you 365 more hours a year, or 15 extra days per year, to accomplish your goals. Well, duh. But the simple math got me thinking -- and feeling guilty.

My wife and I run a home-based translating and editing business, and if there are no pressing deadlines, it's seductively easy to roll over for another hour when the alarm goes off. With no commute, and no fixed starting time, it's also easy to watch some 1 1/2-star movie on the TV past midnight.

We talked about this, remembering with amazement the days when we had full-time jobs in Tokyo and got up at 6:00, made and ate breakfast, packed lunches, and trotted out the door at 7:15 to catch the train downtown.

What's happened to us? Wouldn't we like to have 15 extra days a year? Hell, with our present level of discipline, we could shoot for 30 extra days a year!

I used to scoff at all the tricks people who work from home say they use to maintain discipline and to remain focused on work. I now realize we've been in a long, slow, nearly imperceptible slide that has accumulated over the years.

So it's back to business.

When the alarm goes off, I will get up.

Thanks, Peter.

Posted by Paul at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2004

Can't See the Perverts for the Trees?

City crews have been cutting down many trees and clearing out a lot of bush in our neighbourhood. They're doing this on the advice of the police, who think that widening pathways and opening up lines of view will protect people from perverts, rapists, and muggers.

While I can understand that argument, I prefer the approach of better enforcement, harsher sentencing, and much tougher parole standards to keep the nasties off the streets and out of our parks.

I'm biased -- I'm a streamkeeper -- and I hate to see trees and bushes that provide habitat and shelter being cut down.

Our streamkeeping group was out introducing new members to the creek one day, and stopped on a path that leads to a commuter train station. Our guide pointed out an area in which trees had been cut down adjacent to the creek so as not to interfere with electrical transmission cables overhead, opening up fish habitat to potentially damaging direct sunlight.

A woman passing by stopped and said, "Oh, are you talking about that forest? I think the whole thing should be cleared out. It's dangerous!"

We tried to point out that there were fish in the creek, birds nesting in the trees.... It went right past her.

What happened to common sense and personal responsibility? There is no way to ever insure 100% safety. Don't use the path through the forest after dark -- there are well-lit, busy streets you can take.

If we followed the "being able to see everything" logic, where would we stop? Perhaps we should remove mailboxes to eliminate those hiding places. How about prohibiting street parking? Gee, there could be someone lurking behind or between all those houses and buildings on my street. Perhaps we should raze those as well....

Posted by Paul at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2004

Chopping Up the Xmas Tree

We finally took down our Christmas tree today. The decorations and lights were removed a couple of weeks ago, but it was still in good shape and still had that zesty Douglas Fir aroma, so we were loath to see it go.

We carried it into the garage where we sawed the branches off and put them in a box for drying, and placed the denuded trunk along one wall. I'll saw the trunk into sections in the summer when much of the sap will have dried out.

Butchering a Douglas Fir Xmas tree is akin to giving a cat a bath -- as with the amazing shrinkage in the feline, the tree also loses its grandeur. The stick of a trunk that remains is a bit shocking.

We've been going through this process yearly ever since British Columbia stopped providing free firewood in provincial campgrounds.

I can see some rationale behind the change, and it certainly stopped people from mindlessly burning huge bonfires for hours on end. However, it also set off a rash of scavenging that has noticeably hurt the brush and forests in some campgrounds.

Education and enforcement need to improve. Meanwhile, we'll continue to personally recycle our Xmas trees, and scavenge for discarded construction material and woodworking waste to support our camping habit.

Posted by Paul at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2004

"Pending" Issues with Banks "On Hold"

I find it curious as to why when we transfer funds from one Canadian bank to another, it can take several days for the funds to appear in the destination account, and even then there might be a note with a "pending" or a "$XXXX on hold" qualifier attached. Initiate the transaction on a Friday just before the weekend, and it can add up to four, five or more days.

Of course banks will talk about "business" days, but once you initiate the transaction, I highly doubt if you're getting any interest on the transfer amount.

We regularly transfer business income from a Japanese bank to a Canadian bank, and that money usually arrives in our Canadian account, ready to access, in less than 24 hours.

What gives? I know banks make money on the transfer float, or whatever one calls it, but three or four days to shift a few digits from one computer to another from one financial institution to another in the same country? Computers don't sleep....

Posted by Paul at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

CD, Floppy Drives Reappear

Jim Tittsler pointed me in the right direction when he said it might be "overzealous" anti-virus software.

Sure enough, when I turned off AutoProtect in Norton AV, the floppy and CD drives became accessible again. Sheesh.

There is a document (the ID is 2003050715532006) on the Symantec site that says the problem has a "variety of causes" and "can be caused by a timing conflict between one of the features of Norton AntiVirus and another software program that loads on startup."

Nero software, in particular inCD is mentioned, and Symantec suggests upgrading one's Nero software.

I dunno, after being a loyal Norton user for years, in the past year or two I've been having increasing problems with their products. Time to investigate other options?

Posted by Paul at 02:11 AM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2004

CD, Floppy Drives Disappear

I tried to install QuickTax today to start entering data in preparation for filing our 2003 tax returns, and to see how maxing out our RSP contributions would affect our refunds.

When I popped the CD in the drive, nothing happened. I tried it on a notebook computer and on my wife's desktop and the install window opened, so the media was OK.

Back at my computer, I tried accessing the CD drive with Windows Explorer, only to get an "E:\is not accessible. Incorrect function" error message.

Music CDs played fine, and Windows 2000 claimed the drive was running just fine. Yet I had no access to data CDs.

I tried swapping the CD cable, with no success. I tried installing another CD drive I had sitting around, again with no success.

Then I noticed that my floppy drive was also not accessible. "A:\ is not accessible. Incorrect function."

Very strange. Is something wrong with the motherboard? It's an Asus A7V, which is known to have some issues, particularly with USB, however the CD and floppy drives had been working for years.

I still haven't figured this one out. I think I have a few more IDE cables and perhaps more old CD drives out in the garage...

Posted by Paul at 06:39 PM | Comments (2)

February 03, 2004

Joining a Nonprofit Board

A few days ago I was asked to join the board of directors of a local nonprofit society that was founded recently. I was flattered, yet uneasy about what I might be getting myself into.

I know, and highly respect, the people who started the society, which I won't name until this story plays out its course, however I asked for time to consider.

I wanted to know more about societies and directors' responsibilities.

I found the British Columbia Society Act online and read it.

Then I found a few good Canadian sites dedicated to the running of nonprofit groups, including Charity Village, which had a lot of useful material.

That site took me to a Fundraising Management program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology that looks interesting as its PR components appear to have a close fit with my existing business. (And I already have a couple of the classes under my belt from previous part-time studies.) Hmmm... Food for thought....

I know the founders of the society have been doing an excellent job for years and formed the society to formalize their volunteer efforts. They wish to get off the board so they can focus their energies on the actual activities of the society.

I've accepted, and I'll update this post with more info once I'm formally on the board.

Posted by Paul at 08:39 PM | Comments (0)

Musing on Blogs

About two weeks after starting this blog I'm doing exactly what I said I didn't like about many blogs - rambling on about multiplying numbers of topics in one blog.

In one of my first posts I said perhaps it would be more focused to have a blog on streamkeeping, a blog on technology, a blog on social commentary, a blog on writing and editing, etc. Then I discovered categories, created a bunch, and got sidetracked into throwing everything into this one blog.

So what am I going to do?

Dunno, yet.

I think I'll keep plowing along here using categories for a while. I still don't have a good feel for how often I'll be posting, or how prolific I'll be. It's been fun so far, but I'm far from developing a rhythm, or a guiding light.

It's also been a long time since I did a lot of writing. I've been editing almost exclusively for many years now, and I have to admit I find the blank page, or in this case the blank web form, a bit intimidating.

I used to enjoy writing columns and even got paid for some of them, so I suspect my blogging activity will continue.

Posted by Paul at 08:14 PM | Comments (1)

February 02, 2004

Wild Salmon Center

I ran across the Wild Salmon Center in a Wired News story called "A Commotion to Save the Ocean."

The site has Russian and Japanese articles in addition to English.

Posted by Paul at 06:53 PM | Comments (0)