September 29, 2005

Autumn Rain Roars Down Byrne Creek

The first autumn rain of the season in the lower mainland of BC roared through Byrne Creek overnight and all day today, turning a trickle into a near-flood.

The heavy autumn rains are a blessing and a curse -- a blessing for they bring salmon back to spawn, and a curse because the development of the watershed has decimated forests and wetlands, resulting in destructive flows into the creek.

Of all the rain that falls on southeast Burnaby, less and less penetrates the ground each year, and more is directed by the storm drain system directly into the creek.

Here are a few photos of the creek taken this morning.
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Here's the creek at the base of the stairs that go down into the ravine from Brynlor Dr. Yesterday this was a series of shallow pools with riffles only a few centimeters deep.

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And this is the footbridge. I hopped across the creek in this vicinity yesterday in my hiking boots, easily stepping from stone to stone in shallow water.

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This is the sediment pond that collects gravel and sediment during heavy flows. The culvert in the background that passes under Southridge Dr. is usually completely visible to the bottom, with only a few centimeters of water flowing. My wife Yumi was standing on a bar in the pond a few meters downstream of the cement block in the middle of the photo two days ago!

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This is a new culvert being installed beneath 18th Ave. in the upper watershed. Streamkeepers and the city engineering department have been keeping a close eye on it because the construction is going on outside the usual "window" for such work. Normally in-creek work should not be underway now due to the onset of the salmon spawning season.

Posted by Paul at 06:49 PM

September 27, 2005

Tomatoes Grow in Byrne Creek

Yumi and I found tomatoes growing in the sediment pond in Byrne Creek today. The seeds or a plant must have floated down the creek and got hung up on the bar in the pond.

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Yumi jumped into the sediment pond to take a closer look.

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Here she's picking a few to take home.

Posted by Paul at 07:25 PM

September 23, 2005

Old Computers Donated to Schools

I finally tired of having three old computers in various states of assembly and/or cannibalization in my office and decided to get rid of them. I searched for computer recycling depots in British Columbia and came across Computers for Schools, which refurbishes old machines and gives them to schools around the province.

I gave them an AMD K6-II 400, a Dell PIII 450, and an Athlon Thunderbird 800. The K6-II had no memory and just a floppy drive, while I gave them 256MB of RAM and CD drives in the other two. I kept all hard drives for backup use in the two computers I have left.

I'm happy some kids somewhere may get some use out of them.

As of this date they are accepting PIII 450 and higher machines. Ones that don't meet that bar will be properly disposed of for a $6 fee. They'll take monitors and printers too, so don't let your old equipment gather dust! The organization has offices across Canada.

Posted by Paul at 07:40 PM

September 21, 2005

Edmonds Group Attracts New Members

The Edmonds Town Centre Business and Community Association held a breakfast meeting/membership drive this morning that was a great success.

Held at Boardwalk Gaming at Highgate Mall, the event attracted over 60 people, including many representatives from the Burnaby RCMP and Fire Department.

Mayor Derek Corrigan gave a rousing speech about how the Edmonds neighborhood was on its way to revitalization. We are expecting a new library and a swimming pool to be built in the area in the next few years.

The association has been doing great job working with the city, RCMP, firefighters and other groups such as the Emdmonds Lions in giving the neighborhood a boost. It was gratifying to see application forms for membership piling up as people left the meeting.

I suspect membership nearly doubled today!

Posted by Paul at 06:20 PM

September 20, 2005

New Refrigerator Saves Power

Our refrigerator was developing mysterious cracks in the liner of its freezer section, and seemed to be running a lot more than it used to, so we decided it was time to get a new one.

We settled on an 18.2 cubic foot Kenmore from Sears with an EnerGuide rating of 407 kWh/year -- about the lowest available in its class. We got a great deal as it was a discontinued model reduced from $949 to $599.

It arrived today, and after the deliverymen left we noticed a couple of problems. First, the upper shelf that holds a sliding drawer was broken. I called Sears and the guy who answered immediately said he'd get a new shelf out to us at no cost, and took the model and serial numbers.

Then later when I was reversing the doors to suit the layout of our kitchen, I noticed that there appeared to be a large 1/2" gap in the door seal at the bottom left side. Was this "deal" turning out to be a lemon?

I called Sears again and was assured that while there may "appear" to be a gap, if I couldn't feel cold air coming out, the seal was good. I'm not sure if I can feel cold air or not, but when the repairman delivers the new shelf next week, I'll have him take a look.

Overall I'm quite pleased with the responsiveness of Sears employees.

Posted by Paul at 07:32 PM

September 19, 2005

Interviewed by Salmonopolis

There's a new website out there for salmon stewards in BC called Salmonopolis.

An interview with me on how the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers use the Internet to our advantage can be found here.

Posted by Paul at 08:58 PM

September 17, 2005

Night of 2005 Lights

The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and Stream of Dreams Murals Society participated in the Night of 2005 Lights at the Shadbolt Centre on Deer Lake in Burnaby again this year.

I believe our lantern installation is getting better every year. To our usual complement of salmon we have added jellyfish, a frog, a turtle, a crane, an owl, a dragonfly and other weltand creatures.

Here are few shots of setting up, and a few taken at night.

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This is one of my favorite events of the year. I love how the atmosphere changes as the sun sets and the lanterns take shape, blooming out of the deepening darkness.

Posted by Paul at 10:41 PM

Safeway Raises $10K for Stream of Dreams!

The Safeway store at Royal Oak and Kingsway in Burnaby had a cheque presentation ceremony today, handing the Stream of Dreams Murals Society $10,096.83.

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As president of the society I was thrilled at the amazing job the employees did in organizing multiple events to raise that amount. It was a magnificent job.

I know the society enjoyed working with staff at the store, and we had a great time at many events. There are rumors we may be selected as the store's charity again, and that would be fantastic!

Posted by Paul at 10:40 PM

September 16, 2005

Computer Suddenly Dies

About a week ago the clock in my wife's computer became erratic. I figured it must be the button battery on the motherboard, and since my backup computer is identical and was purchased at the same time, I bought a couple of batteries.

I replaced the battery on my motherboard (mobo) without incident, but when I replaced Yumi's, something strange happened. When I shut down Windows 2000, the operating system began the process and then hung on a black screen. So I killed the machine by hitting the switch on the power supply.

I changed her battery, turned on the power supply switch, hit the front panel power button -- and nothing.

Huh? I checked all the connectors, tried again, and nothing.

I had an extra power supply, so I installed it, and again nothing. This was strange. The power LED on the mobo was lighting up, so it appeared to be getting power, but it would not boot.

With work pending, I ended up popping her hard disk into my old compter -- like I said, they were identical machines, so the switch went smoothly, and she was back in business.

We bought a "barebone kit" from NCIX to replace her lost machine, and I put it together and have been installing programs on it as time allowed over the last couple of days. It's a mATX mobo and case (smaller than the regular ATX), so Yumi is happy that it will take up less space under her desk than the tower case she's using now.

Still dunno why her old machine died, though....

Posted by Paul at 08:29 PM

September 11, 2005

Fishing Chilliwack Lake

Yumi and I worked all day yesterday (Saturday) and this morning, clearing the decks of several translating and editing projects. Done by noon, we decided to reward ourselves with an afternoon trip to Chilliwack Lake.

There were only a few people on the beach, and we tried some fishing from the shoreline. The water was amazingly clear, and while we didn't catch anything, we were able to see an occasional trout following our lures.

We started out in rubber boots, but when Yumi snagged her lure, I trundled back to the car and got my chest waders on to rescue it. With the obvious advantage of being able to get closer to the drop-off, I kept them on and in the hour we fished my legs got pretty cold!

There were quite a few people fishing the Chilliwack River for salmon, however we don't have the proper gear, so we didn't try.

This was my third fishing trip in as many weeks after a 20-year hiatus, and I'm really enjoying it.

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Posted by Paul at 07:19 PM

September 09, 2005

Burnaby Rainbow, Sunset

On our way home this evening we saw a gorgeous full rainbow. Unfortunately by the time we got to a place where we could stop and take some photos, it was already fading away.

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The sunset was also spectacular for the lower mainland. We don't get sunsets in the city here like in my home province of Saskatchewan, but this one was powerful.

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Posted by Paul at 09:09 PM

Fishing Alice Lake

Yumi and I went out to Alice Lake just north of Squamish this afternoon for a bit of fishing and didn't get a bite.

It was still a relaxing outing, and Yumi learned how to spin-cast. She quickly got the hang of it, and soon was casting more accurately than I was. I ended up losing three lures, two in bottom snags and one in a tree, while she was incident-free!

Alice Lake is stocked with trout, but it must get intense fishing pressure all summer long being so close to the lower mainland. I know the campground is full from July through August, though there were not many people there on this September weekday.

Posted by Paul at 08:59 PM

September 01, 2005

IBM T42 Notebook Looks Great

Recently I got a new IBM/Lenovo T42 ThinkPad to replace my aged Toshiba Tecra 530CDT that I bought at a "discontinued" discount seven (!) years ago.

I was still using the Toshiba occasionally on the road, but with a Pentium 166, 64MB of RAM, and a 2GB HD, it was pretty long in the tooth.

I got a nice package deal on the T42, with two batteries, a docking station, a snazzy case, two power adapters, a security cable, Windows XP Professional, and Microsoft Office Professional 2003.

So far I really like the new machine. I got the 1400 X 1050 screen and boosted the RAM to a gigabyte. While I haven't done detailed tests, it appears the Pentium M 1.8 GHz will last in the neighborhood of four hours on one battery.

It's also my first laptop with wireless connectivity, and I immediately added a wireless access point to our LAN. It works great, but the new mobility taking some getting used to.

Posted by Paul at 09:12 PM