December 30, 2005

VanDusen Gardens Festival of Lights

Yumi and I went to the VanDusen Gardens Festival of Lights this evening. Though we've been members for years, this was the first time we went to see the Christmas lights.

The display is beautiful. I tried to take some photos with my new Canon SD400, however I forgot to bring my tripod along, so of the 49 shots I took, only about a dozen were of decent quality.

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Yumi near the entrance.

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Lights across the pond.

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The pond from another angle.

Posted by Paul at 07:35 PM

December 29, 2005

Never Give Up, Salmon Are Still Coming

Yesterday I wrote a sad post about how the salmon spawning season appears to be over with poor results in the lower mainland of BC, and today I find two dead coho spawners in Byrne Creek!

That's the good news. The bad news is that they were both unspawned females, ripe with eggs.

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This one was a beauty, big and plump. Too bad she couldn't link up with a male. Where have all the boys gone?

While the overall coho run in the lower mainland has plunged this year, streamkeepers keep finding unspawned females, with few males to be seen. It's a disturbing trend.

Posted by Paul at 11:04 PM

December 28, 2005

Sunshine Enlivens Winter Spawner Patrol

I headed out on our regular Wednesday Byrne Creek spawner patrol today under a dreary overcast sky. I wasn't expecting to see much, as the creek was high and dirty following a heavy rain.

As I walked along I saw blue sky on the horizon, and I wondered if it would clear. I was feeling glum at the poor return of spawning salmon to the creek this year, however the band of blue kept expanding and gradually my spirits rose. By the time I got to the bottom of the ravine, the cloud cover was completely gone.

I searched the spawning channel and habitat in vain, and saw no fish in the ravine either. I think we're probably done for the season, but I keep hoping that the rain we've had nearly every day for a week may entice a few wayward stragglers upstream.

Here's a shot of sunlight bouncing off the water near the footbridge in the ravine.

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Posted by Paul at 05:23 PM

December 27, 2005

Canon PowerShot SD400 Review

My new Canon PowerShot SD400 digital camera was delivered a couple of days ago and I am very happy with the tiny, well-crafted marvel of technology. My old Kodak DC4800 looks huge compared to the SD400.

Smaller than a pack of cigarettes (are we still allowed to use that analogy?), or a deck of cards, it packs a 5MP sensor, a 3X optical zoom, a 2" LCD screen, and a wide variety of program options. It also shoots video at 640 X 480 at 30fps.

The accompanying 16MB SD flash card is next to useless, because it will hold only 5 shots at the highest quality setting. My wife Yumi bought me a Kingston 512MB SD card for Christmas that will hold 190 high-res photos.

I'm impressed with the quality of photos it takes, however I soon realized that you have to be very careful to hold it steady -- a difficult task with such a small, light unit.

I'd still like to get a super-zoom model or a digital SLR someday, however the SD400 is a perfect "carry everywhere" camera.

Posted by Paul at 05:45 PM

December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

Best wishes to family and friends. Hope everyone has a happy holiday season.

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Paul, Yumi, Choco the cat, and Dori the turtle.

Posted by Paul at 05:14 PM

December 23, 2005

Turtle Hibernates, Distressing Cat

We put our red-eared slider turtle Midori into isolation, er, hibernation, for the winter the other day, and Choco the cat went into mourning.

Choco is relatively new to the family, as we adopted her from the SPCA in August, while Dori has been with us for at least eight years. Their relationship began with turtle dominance, and gradually developed into cat attempts at play. Needless to say, this doesn't work very well, however Dori held her own with occasional adult intervention.

Dori was getting increasingly sluggish as the days shortened and the temperature dropped, so we put her into a deep tank that we placed in the tub in the spare upstairs bathroom to sleep for a couple of months.

Well... the next morning Choco went weird. She sniffed Dori's sleeping basket in the living room. No Dori. She went to the corner where Dori's tank and steps usually are in the living room. No tank, no steps. To our amazement, rather than relishing her sole presence as, uh, top dog, Choco cried.

Huh?

We let it go for a day, but Choco seemed genuinely distressed, so we finally brought her into the dark bathroom, and let her view Dori. Choco was amazed. She edged out onto the tank cover, she sniffed the water, she hunched down and observed the semi-somnolent Dori, and was rewarded with some sluggish movement.

We gathered Choco up, shut the door, and the meowker has been fine since.

So what do we know? What does Choco know?

What's going on in those little brains?

Posted by Paul at 11:23 PM

December 22, 2005

Cat Wearing a Lampshade Sitting On a Turtle

I took this photo a couple of months ago, and while I was taking my three-week MA residency at Royal Roads University I posted it on my personal page there. One of the profs came up with the title. I finally remembered to post it here.

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That's Choco in her coned state while a wound near her eye was healing, sitting on top of Midori, our turtle. Choco has been cone-free for over a month, and now includes Midori in her morning wakeup routine. First Choco gets us up with her meowing and roaming over our bed, and once we're downstairs, she starts poking at the basket that 'Dori likes to sleep in on top of a hot water bottle. Choco can't sit still until she has the entire family awake :-).

Posted by Paul at 09:32 PM

December 16, 2005

Frustrating Future Shop Website Order

I've had such a frustrating time with the Future Shop website over the last few days that I doubt if I'll ever order anything online there again.

Last night I decided to buy a Canon SD300 digital camera because Future Shop had it on sale at $299, down from $399. It's a teeny 4MP camera, not the latest model, but I wanted something I could easily carry in a pocket all the time to replace my aging and bulky 3MP Kodak DC4800.

I placed the order online, and chose the "pick up at a Future Shop" outlet option so I'd get my hands on it faster. This morning I received an email saying the camera was not available at the outlet I chose, so I should re-order. Well, the $100 discount was no longer available!

So this morning I decided to go for the 5MP SD400, which was on sale at $379 down from $429, and again chose to pick it up at my local outlet, which the website indicated had that model in stock. An hour later I received an email that no, it was not available at the outlet, so I should re-order yet again!

So I gritted my teeth, and re-ordered for a third time, asking for delivery to my house. An hour later, I received an email asking me to phone a toll-free number to confirm my order. Say what? I buy stuff online all the time and I'd never encountered such a request before.

Sigh. I called the toll-free number, and after asking for my order number, my name, and my address, was told the order would be processed. I don't get it. What was the purpose of this "confirmation?" I just parroted the exact same informationt that I had filled out in the online order form -- there was nothing new to add any extra security to the transaction.

Then, to top if off, less than a minute after I got off the phone, it rang, and I found myself listening to a bot telling me I had to call and confirm the order that I had just confirmed!

Arrgggh! I did receive an email that my order had been processed, but I wonder....

Posted by Paul at 07:38 PM

December 14, 2005

Royal Roads Lower Mainland MAAC, MAAC-IIC Pub Night

Half a dozen learners in the 2005 Master of Arts in Applied Communication program at Royal Roads University met at the Irish Heather pub in Gastown in downtown Vancouver tonight. It was great to see people again over a month since our initial intensive three-week residency ended. As the program continues over the next year online, we hope to get together every month or so for mutual support and exchange of information.

I've created a private Google group for any MAACs or MAAC-IICs in the lower mainland of BC, or anywhere in BC for that matter, to keep in touch. Shoot me an email if you'd like to join.

Posted by Paul at 09:22 PM

December 13, 2005

Hitting Three Community Events in One Evening

I took in three community events this evening, which I think is a personal record :-).

The first was an open house at the Burnaby Southeast District Community Police Office. I've been in touch with the local RCMP through my volunteer work as a streamkeeper, so I dropped by to say hello, chat with other volunteers, and partake of the tables ladden with food.

The second was the December meeting of the Edmonds Town Centre Business and Community Association. I represent three groups there: the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, and my own company, Cipko Consulting Ltd. The event was a Christmas party held at the funky Myles of Beans cafe on Kingsway. The cafe put on some great food, there were games and contests, and it was a lot of fun talking with members.

Last, but not least, was a rezoning hearing at Burnaby City Hall. Several streamkeepers and Stream of Dreams directors went to watch the rezoning of the site of the original Stream of Dreams fence mural. The corner of Edmonds and Kingsway has long been empty and will finally be redeveloped with a new public library and a mixed residential/commercial complex. Stream of Dreams will have to remove the original mural, and we are keen to have the dreamfish represented somehow in the new design. After the meeting we chatted with the mayor and the city planner -- it's good to stay in touch!

Posted by Paul at 10:53 PM

December 12, 2005

Burnaby South Green Team Presentation

I was one of two Byrne Creek Streamkeepers who spoke with the Green Team at the Burnaby South High School over lunch today. This is the second year that we've talked to the kids about the watershed, and what they can do to help protect it. It's always interesting to talk to young folk about what streamkeepers do and what issues we are concerned about. It's always a challenge trying to engage teenagers, and its great to see the Green Team getting involved.

Posted by Paul at 06:42 PM