January 29, 2005

Changing Face of Byrne Creek

We walk a loop through Byrne Creek Ravine Park nearly every day, and it never gets boring.

An unusually long-lasting snowfall here in the lower mainland of British Columbia shrouded the trees and covered the ground with satisfyingly crunchy snow for nearly two weeks.

That was followed the more usual rains, and the impact on the creek is amazing to watch.

Because we're in an urban area, all the water from roads, parking lots and buildings pours down storm drains that empty directly into the creek, resulting in very "flashy" behavior. The water level rises dramatically in a very short period, and the massive flows during storm peaks can radically change the creek.

The last series of heavy rains eroded the banks in some areas, broadened the creek in others and cut new channels.

It's also interesting to observe changes in wildlife behavior through the seasons. Even the fish move around -- while you can see dozens or even hundreds of cutthroat trout and coho salmon smolts in some areas during the fall months, they have now seemingly disappeared from the large pools. We know they're out there, they're just much harder to find now.

More bug life is also starting to appear, with lots of mayfly nymphs to be found, and even the odd batches of hatched mayflies on warmer days.

If you just slow down and look, there's always something new that Byrne Creek can teach you.

Posted by Paul at 08:05 PM

January 23, 2005

Review - The Enduring Forests

Review - The Enduring Forests: Northern California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Southeast Alaska

Edited by Ruth Kirk, Photo Editor Charles Mauzy

Soothing photographs accompany sparkling essays on the forests of the west coast of North America from California to Alaska.

Covering issues including logging, biodiversity, and our increasing knowledge that nature cannot survive in isolated pockets, it is a solid read in addition to being a feast for tired eyes.

Posted by Paul at 07:56 PM

January 22, 2005

Review - Designing Web Usability

Review - Designing Web Usability

by Jakob Nielsen

Nielsen is the Web usability guru, and his site is well worth checking out if you do any design work.

This book thoroughly covers page and site design, along with usability and accessibility.

While some may find Nielsen on the conservative side, his advice would help 95% of the sites on the Web to some degree.

Remember the user!

Posted by Paul at 05:47 PM

January 21, 2005

Review - Dreamweaver MX 2004 Missing Manual

Review - Dreamweaver MX 2004: The Missing Manual

by David S. McFarland

Another of the excellent books in the missing manuals series that I read from cover to cover. Yes, I know, there's something wrong with me :-).

It has comprehensive coverage of the powerful Macromedia Dreamweaver Web publishing program. I have yet to put Dreamweaver to use, though I've dabbled with it a bit, however I have a number of sites that I want to spruce up and make compliant with XHTML, so I'll be getting into the program soon.

Posted by Paul at 09:52 PM

January 20, 2005

Review - The Honorable Visitors

Review - The Honorable Visitors: The plot to assassinate Charlie Chaplin and other Tokyo welcomes...

by Donald Richie

"To visit Japan... even now, in the age of jumbo jets and package tours, a faint air of the exotic clings to the project. You are going to a land somehow strange, somehow other. This quality of the different, the unfamiliar, can be an attraction, something to be enjoyed, or it can be a discomfort, something to be complained about. It depends on you."

Richie puts his delightful insights and delectable prose to good use in this charming collection of stories about the visits of famous Westerners to Japan following the opening of its closed borders in the later part of the 19th century.

Ranging from Ulysses S. Grant to Rudyard Kipling to William Faulkner, we get a cross section of the cross, the enamoured and the factually observant.

A gem of a short collection, it should be mandatory reading for all prospective and practicing travel writers or cultural critics.

Posted by Paul at 07:33 PM

January 17, 2005

Review - The Ronin

Review - The Ronin: A Novel Based on a Zen Myth

by William Dale Jennings

This is a mind-bending tale. Violent and ribald, it is a pithy take on pride and human weakness. The language is taut, the perceptions of humain frailties are uncomfortable, the Zen mystique and way of the sword are thought provoking.

Not a novel for the timid, or those who cannot stomach a blunt, down-to-earth look at life, once hooked, you'll want to read it again.

Posted by Paul at 09:45 PM

January 16, 2005

Review - Winged Migration

This is an amazing, breathtaking movie with some of the best nature photography I've ever seen.

It took over three years to film Winged Migration, and the results are mind blowing. Yumi and I watched it on DVD, and wonder what its impact must be on the big screen.

"How did they film that!" The DVD extras are worth watching to learn the secrets.

Highly recommended for anyone who has any feeling for nature, or is inspired by the filmmaking art at its best.

Posted by Paul at 09:37 PM

January 13, 2005

DFO Wild Salmon Policy Stirs Streamkeepers

We had an animated discussion at our Byrne Creek Streamkeepers meeting tonight about the Department of Fisheries and
Oceans Wild Salmon Policy draft. If you have any concerns, please send comments and submissions to the DFO
by the deadline of Feb. 18, 2005. Instructions for email, fax and mail delivery are at this link.

I'll post my own take on the draft here when I have time to organize my thoughts -- while it's not a long paper, it is difficult to read between the lines to grasp what is really being said.

Posted by Paul at 10:14 PM

January 10, 2005

Sun Enhances Snowy Byrne Creek Scene

After we took many shots of the snow along Byrne Creek the other day when it was cloudy, we returned on a sunny day. Unfortunately, while the colors were much richer, a lot of the snow had dropped off the branches.

byrnecreek_footbridge_snow_200501.jpg

The footbridge in the ravine.

Posted by Paul at 05:58 PM

January 09, 2005

Stream of Dreams Kicks Off 2005

We had our first Stream of Dreams Murals Society board meeting of 2005 this afternoon, and it is shaping up to be an exciting year.

Our board has grown to nine directors, including new faces in charge of coordinating volunteers and bookkeeping.

The program is attracting ever-increasing interest, and we are still working on getting a handle on growth. There are many exciting new projects in the wings that I will report on as they take shape.

Posted by Paul at 10:01 PM

January 08, 2005

Snow Beautifies Byrne Creek

We've had lots of snow in Vancouver and the lower mainland for the past couple of weeks, and it's turned the ravine along Byrne Creek behind our place in Burnaby into a frosty visual delight.

Yumi_byrnecreek_stairs_snow_200501.jpg

Here's Yumi at the top of the stairs near Brynlor Dr. leading down into the ravine.

byrnecreek_snow_200501.jpg

The creek at the bottom of the stairs with the trees laced with snow.

paul_byrnecreek_footbridge_snow_200501.jpg

Me by the footbridge near where the creek is culverted under Southridge Dr.

We don't get snow that often here, so it was exhilarating to crunch our way down the trail, stopping to stare at the wonderful shapes and patterns.

Posted by Paul at 12:46 PM

Review - Marketing Your Service

Review - Marketing Your Service

by Jean Withers and Carol Vipperman

This is another book in the Self-Counsel Press series of do-it-yourself business books. I've used several of the books in our business, and for the most part they have been clear and helpful.

This book is an introduction to marketing targeted at service businesses. It covers the basics of defining your business and its goals, and then writing a marketing plan to achieve your goals.

About half of the book is made up of excercises designed to get you to think about your business and get your plan down on paper. At first I thought this was a waste of space -- it would be more efficient to simply point readers to a website where they could download the material -- however on second thought perhaps it is useful to be immediately confronted with those blank pages!

Speaking from personal experience, I know how easy it is to simply "wing it" when it comes to running a small business, and while that may lead to short-term success, it rarely leads to growth and expansion.

I've zipped through the book, pehaps it's time to fill in some of the blanks...

Posted by Paul at 10:25 AM

January 07, 2005

Review - The Canadian Writer's Guide

Review - The Canadian Writer's Guide, 13th Edition

This "Official Handbook of the Canadian Authors Accociation" is a collection of bite-sized articles on a wide variety of topics of interest to aspiring and published writers.

Ranging from prose to poetry, from the business of writing to finding an agent, it can be read cover to cover, or flipped through at leisure to find topics of interest. Articles range from a page to four pages in length.

It also contains extensive listings of writing groups, contests, and private and governmental funding sources.

Posted by Paul at 10:05 AM

January 06, 2005

Snowy Ukrainian Xmas in Vancouver

We've got snow in the lower mainland -- lots of it!

Fearing the foolishness and mayhem of the average driver, I cancelled a service appointment with Don Docksteader Subaru. The service rep was sympathetic, saying they had shut down their shuttle bus service and that one of their service rental cars had already been in an accident.

The blanket of snow is lovely, but you really have to watch out on the roads. I do not undertand why people do not slow down, no matter what the conditions are. There were numerous accidents on the evening news, several with multiple vehicles sliding into each other.

Not impressive to a Saskatchewan boy!

Posted by Paul at 10:51 PM

January 05, 2005

Byrne Creek Spawner Patrol - 2005.1.5

Byrne Creek Spawner Patrol 2005.1.5

It was a cold spawner patrol on January 5, with the ground hard with frost and the breeze nipping at our noses.

Yumi and I checked the area from the habitat (Tag 508) near Meadow Ave. up to the bottom of the ravine stairs (Tag 521), and saw loads of cutthroat in the sediment pond. There were two largish fish hiding in the turbulent flow right beneath the stop log at the lower end of the culvert, however we couldn't tell if they were simply larger-than-average trout, or possibly a small coho or two. Wishful thinking!

It's a letdown to think the spawning season is likely over. It's the most exciting part of the year for streamkeepers in an urban watershed like Byrne Creek. However we feel happy that the spawner count of 91 chum and coho sets a new record since the creek was wiped out by a toxic spill about six year ago.

It was sunny and clear, with an air temperature 0C - 5C from shady ravine to open sun, while the water temperature in the sediment pond was 3.5C.

Posted by Paul at 05:57 PM

January 02, 2005

Review - The Run of the River

Review - The Run of the River: Portraits of Eleven British Columbia Rivers

by Mark Hume

Hume weaves eleven tales about eleven rivers, convincingly showing that we are in the eleventh hour before much of what little wilderness remains may be lost. This eye-opening book is a must for anyone who is concerned about preserving our natural heritage and maintaining our fisheries.

"Long before the environmental stress on a river becomes obvious to most of us, it shows up in the fish. They are canaries in a coal mine -- but canaries that cannot sing. We must pay attention to what the fish are telling us, and to the whispering voices of our rivers, for they are speaking about our future."

Hume's first-hand experiences and research combine in moving prose that focuses on the human propensity to ignore environmental costs and fixate on short-term economic gain. Yet there are growing numbers of people from ever-broadening constituencies who are waking up to what we have been doing, and realizing that technology cannot solve everything.

"... while engineers can reproduce fish, they cannot replace nature. Hatcheries are technological marvels and they may be a necessity in the modern world, but they are not signs of progress; they are monuments to our failure to protect rivers."

Why does nature always have to come last in our scheme of things? "...fish have no legal rights to water. There is no base flow reserved for them."

People have been wiping out salmon runs for centuries, and B.C. and the rest of the Pacific northwest host the best that remain. We have learned that runs are genetically unique, and once gone, are very difficult to repopulate.

"The important thing is that the habitat be taken care of. Without that, no salmon can survive, for there is no genetic code that can overcome suffocation, pollution, or a lack of water."

Posted by Paul at 08:11 AM

January 01, 2005

Quiet New Year 2005 - Disaster Response

Yumi and I had a quiet New Year. No parties or big meals, no long lists of resolutions. I'm just happy to be on the mend following some health problems that put me in the hospital for a week in December.

It wouldn't have felt proper to celebrate anyway, what with all of the horrific events around the world.

I am amazed at the outpouring of global support for the victims of the south Asian tsunami, and appalled at all the government posturing. I'm proud of the response from countless individuals and businesses, and disgusted by the Canadian government that has the gall to talk about magnanimously "matching" donations from individual donors. Matching with what? It's our tax money!

I am also outraged by the dithering that has taken the government so long to decide to deploy the DART (Disaster Assistance Response Team), and embarassed by the fact that the Canadian Forces have been allowed to deteriorate to a state that they cannot even transport the team.

I know and admire certain individuals working for the government, however I am getting increasingly despondent about the overall political culture.

Posted by Paul at 12:59 PM