April 30, 2006

Released Chum Fry Still Hanging in Byrne Creek

Several hundred of the thousands of chum fry released in Byrne Creek on Tuesday, April 25, by kids from Burnaby's Clinton Elementary are still hanging around in the creek. Chum start migrating toward the ocean not long after reaching the fry stage, so it's interesting to see schools of them five days after they were released.

Here's Yumi taking close-up shots.

(Netting fry is illegal, and streamkeepers do so under the auspices of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for identification purposes only.)

Posted by Paul at 02:21 PM

April 29, 2006

Safeway Pub Night Huge Success for Stream of Dreams

The staff of Safeway #148 on the corner of Kingsway and Royal Oak in Burnaby put on a great fundraiser for the Stream of Dreams Murals Society tonight. I don't know how they do it, but they outdid themselves yet again.

Held at the Burnaby Firefighters Club, it was a packed event with toonie tosses, a 50-50 draw, other draws and a silent auction. Safeway #148 has chosen the Stream of Dreams Murals Society as their annual fundraising charity for the second consecutive year, and we've had a blast working with them. They are an incredibly hard-working, creative and dedicated bunch.

SDMS founders Joan and Louise greet people at the door.

People picking up silent auction winning items.

Me wearing my "fish worship" T-shirt, and my much more elegant Mom :-).

Posted by Paul at 10:41 PM

Sun/Post Quality Control Goes Overboard

Today we received the fourth or fifth daily call in a row from the Vancouver Sun regarding supposed delivery problems. We've had calls asking if we've received our papers, we've had calls apologizing that the papers were left in the lobby (we don't have a lobby!), we've had calls explaining that the delivery person can't get into our non-existant lobby... And we've been receiving our papers just fine.

I think somebody is pulling a fast one on the Sun folks. We had a few similar episodes in the past where customer assistance would call us and ask if we were were receiving our papers again, when we had never had any trouble in the first place. But this week takes the prize.

The first couple of calls we just said, yeah, we got our papers OK. From the third call I began asking what the problem was, explaining that we didn't have a lobby, that we lived in a townhouse complex, etc. Today the caller (it's been someone different each time) said she would look into it and get our number off the trouble list.

I wonder if it would help if someone local would call? The call display shows what appear to be Manitoba numbers!

Posted by Paul at 02:51 PM

April 28, 2006

Cat, Servant Enjoy Cherry Blossoms

Choco the cat is an indoor feline, but she has grown to love poking her nose outside to observe the greater world. We adopted her last August from the SPCA, and initially she had little interest in the outdoors, preferring to explore and get accustomed to the security of her new home. We wanted to keep her indoors anyway, away from the beasts higher (and lower) on the food chain here near our relatively wild urban ravine...

She has developed a taste for being held in one's arms in the doorway, and will occasionally hang around the front door to indicate she'd like a peek outside.

We shared a few moments in the doorway late tonight, gazing at the fullness of the cherry blossoms on the tree across the path, lightly lit against the black, wet sky. Her body felt soft and heavy as she balanced alertly in my arms, her eyes darting about and nose twitching, occasionally glancing upward into my face as if to check that I was enjoying the air as much as she was.

I nuzzled her, and she ran her nose along mine in return.

Thanks for sharing, Choco.

Posted by Paul at 10:29 PM

April 26, 2006

WiFi in California Parks

Just discovered that California is offering WiFi connectivity in some of its state parks. Will have to check out how common this is. Usually when we go camping, we're trying to "get away from it all," but then again, we could go camping for longer periods if we could do a little work too. Hm. Have to think about this one :-)! Wonder if/when BC parks would have such service?

Check it out.

The information isn't all that clear to me, but it looks like you can get access for US$7.95/day.

Posted by Paul at 02:47 PM

April 23, 2006

Byrne Creek Teems With Life Months After Toxic Spill

Southeast Burnaby's Byrne Creek is burgeoning with life two months after someone dumped a toxin down a storm drain killing some 700 trout and salmon, along with other aquatic life. It's hard to keep nature down, life just keeps bubbling up no matter how our cruelly our supposedly superior, smarter species abuses it.

Yumi and I rambled through the Byrne Creek ravine this sunny, warm afternoon, and were rewarded with an abundance of bugs, birds and baby fish. We saw a pileated woodpecker, a finch, towhees, robins, chickadees and several species of ducks.

The female red-eared slider turtle that someone dumped in the spawning habitat a few years ago was out sunning on a rock--though she's an invasive species it was nice to see she had survived the toxin and come out of hibernation. As for how we can tell she's a female when she dives under the water as soon as we get within 10 meters of her, well, it's all in the tail. Boy turtles have noticeably thicker, larger tails than the girls do.

Insects abounded, some "good" some "bad." The good included bumblebees and crane flies, the bad were represented by tent caterpillars. I guess caterpillars are not really bad, but they do munch so heartily upon trees!

Here are a few photos we snapped:

A cutthroat trout fry hanging out in the creek.

A crane fly larva we spotted in the creek.

And a crane fly (?) that skittered along the ground and up my pants!

It takes patience squatting by the creek to spot some of these beasts.

A water strider.

Bright green algae appears in the creek in the spring.

Posted by Paul at 10:58 PM

April 22, 2006

Geertz on Theory

Here's a quotation on theory that brought a grin to my face and a huge, healthy chuckle from my belly late on this Saturday night as I worked on a paper for a class in my MA in communications program at Royal Roads University. Fellow learners of all persuasions, enjoy...

?Because theories are seldom if ever decisively disproved in clinical use but merely grow increasingly awkward, unproductive, strained, or vacuous, they often persist long after all but a handful of people (though they are most passionate) have lost much interest in them. Indeed, so far as anthropology is concerned, it is almost more of a problem to get exhausted ideas out of the literature than it is to get productive ones in, and so a great deal more of theoretical discussion than one would prefer is critical rather than constructive, and whole careers have been devoted to hastening the demise of moribund notions. As the field advances one would hope that this sort of intellectual weed control would become a less prominent part of our activities. But, for the moment, it remains true that old theories tend less to die than to go into second editions? (p. 27).

Geertz, Clifford. (1973). The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books.

Agree or disagree, read it out loud--it falls so deliciously from the tongue!

Posted by Paul at 10:41 PM

April 21, 2006

More Trout Fry in Byrne Creek

More cutthroat trout fry are emerging in Burnaby's Byrne Creek, not quite two months after a toxin poured down a storm drain killed an estimated 700 fish.

We returned this little fella to the creek after taking many photos. You can still see a bit of a tummy bulge left over from the alevin (hatched but still in the gravel) stage where the yolk would have been.

That's my index finger outside the jar behind the fry!

(As always when I post such photos, I caution readers that netting fry is illegal, and streamkeepers do so under the auspices of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for identification purposes only.)

Posted by Paul at 10:13 PM

April 19, 2006

Writing, Editing and the 2010 Olympics

The BC branch of the Editors' Association of Canada featured a presentation on writing, editing and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at the April meeting tonight.

Sam Corea, Manager of Editorial Services for VANOC, the Vancouver Organizing Committee, talked about communications, media relations, and editorial services required by the Winter Games.

The amount of paperwork in terms of manuals, guides, maps, brochures, media kits, reports, schedules, etc., that needs to be produced is staggering, though Corea hastened to add that with sustainability being a major goal of the Games, VANOC was exploring alternatives to printing as much as possible, and would ensure that all materials were printed using recycled paper.

VANOC is already contracting external writers, editors, translators and photographers, and will be handing out work to more in the future, so Corea encouraged attendees to keep an eye on the VANOC website.

Other ways to get in on the action include the 2010 Commerce Centre and BC Bid

Posted by Paul at 10:49 PM

EAC Report-Writing Workshop

I attended a report-writing workshop put on by the BC branch of the Editors' Association of Canada today. The presenter was Diana Wegner, who teaches in the communications program at Douglas College.

The workshop had a stimulating mix of presentation time and excercises, and even though I do not do a lot of report writing, I found the material useful. It started with a review of research report components followed by a comparison of the writing process as opposed to creating a final product for the target readers, and then got into the nitty-gritty of revising for coherence.

I found Wegner to be a knowledgeable and stimulating presenter, and would recommend the workshop to anyone interested in clear research and writing.

Posted by Paul at 09:49 PM

April 18, 2006

Mayor Addresses Burnaby Board of Trade

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan gave his annual State of the City address at a luncheon meeting of the Burnaby Board of Trade today at the beautiful Burnaby Mountain Golf Course.

Corrigan focused on the draft Burnaby Economic Development Strategy 2020, which can be found and commented upon here.

The city's population has increased by 43,000 since the 1990 EDS was released, and booming development is resulting in decreasing land supply and higher costs. Corrigan said that means there will need to be redevelopment of low-intensity land uses, and also spoke about the problem of roadway congestion decreasing usability.

Corrigan invited comments and criticism of the draft plan, saying Burnaby needs to be smart, prosperous and sustainable. We need to become more efficient without sacrificing standards.

One interesting point he mentioned was that he felt the city lacked urban, or neighborhood, character. We need to develop more character while striving for a greener community, Corrigan said.

While praising Burnaby's development and job growth, the mayor emphasized that quality of life was important, pointing to the increasingly influential and holistic concept of social, economic and environmental sustainability.

In conclusion, Corrigan said we must leave our children and grandchildren something better than what we have now.

Posted by Paul at 02:45 PM

April 14, 2006

BBC Says UK 'Eating the Planet'

There's an interesting article on the BBC website that claims that "if annual global consumption levels matched the UK's, it would take 3.1 Earths to meet the demand." It has estimates for other nations as well, with the US topping the list at 5.3 Earths. Sobering reading for even if the estimates are off by a mile, and of course many nations are way below "an Earth," total global consumption is unsustainable.

The BBC website also features a series of articles on the theme "Planet Under Pressure."

Posted by Paul at 10:06 PM

Trout Fry Found in Byrne Creek, pH Fears

More good news mixed with bad from Byrne Creek, which was devasted by a toxin that killed hundreds of fish about six weeks ago. In addition to the chum fry (salmon babies) that streamkeepers began seeing a few weeks ago, we're starting to see cutthroat fry.

Yumi and I saw several very small fry in the ravine portion of the creek around noon today, extending from just below the footbridge (T516) to the area near the monument (T519-520). We netted one from a pool about 3 - 4m downstream of the footbridge and it was a cutthroat. It was tiny, two-three centimeters long.

We released this tiny trout unharmed after getting some photos.

Assuming the normal time of around seven weeks for cutthroat to hatch and another week to emerge from the gravel (these figures taken from the BC provincial "Fish Facts" coastal cutthroat pamphlet), the eggs that these fry came from were perhaps laid about 8 - 9 weeks ago, or a week or two before the toxin killed fish in the creek. Nice to know cutthroat are being born!

A negative recording to offset the good news is that we got a low pH reading at T521 (the bottom of the Brynlor stairs) of around 5.5 - 6, which is definitely on the edge for fish and other aquatic life. We got 6.0 on our old pH paper and around 5.5 on new paper streamkeepers bought a few weeks ago. Water temp was 8.5C and air temp was 6.0C.

We're going to monitor the pH closely. Apparently fish need at least 6.5 to do well, and thrive at around 7.5. Try Googling "salmon optimum pH" and you'll find lots of good information.

Posted by Paul at 05:46 PM

April 13, 2006

Burnaby Draft Economic Plan Released

Burnaby has released its draft Economic Development Plan 2020 and all of the documents are available here, along with an online questionnaire. I've only skimmed the surface of this package, however I hope to find time to read it and comment, particularly on strategy G4 "Striving for a Greener Community."

Posted by Paul at 10:48 PM

April 12, 2006

Birding Intro at Elgin Park

Yumi and I zipped down to Elgin Park in South Surrey this morning to take in an basic birding event hosted by the Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society. Thanks to Jackie Pollard for an informative and enjoyable tour.

Yumi and I had driven past the park dozens of time but had never stopped in, and we'll certainly check it out again because it has a varied mix of habitats (freshwater marsh, saltwater marsh, river, meadow, forest) that allow one to see many kinds of birds in a small area.

Posted by Paul at 09:33 PM

Salmon in the Classroom Releases

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers have assisted with two Salmon in the Classroom releases of chum fry into Byrne Creek in the last two weeks. These events in which elementary school children release baby salmon that they have raised from eggs in their classrooms are always great fun.

Last week it was kids from St Francis de Sales and today it was a bunch from South Slope. It's wonderful to see these city kids get a taste of nature right here in Burnaby.

Posted by Paul at 09:25 PM

April 08, 2006

Edmonds Clean Sweep

The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers joined in the Edmonds Clean Sweep today and signed up an amazing 42 people who helped clean up the area around the Edmonds Skytrain station and along Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby. A big hand to everyone from the community who joined in to help our efforts near the creek, and the teams working on Edmonds and on Kingsway.

Thanks to the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association, Burnaby RCMP and Burnaby Parks for helping arrange and manage the event. And thanks to Burnaby Firefighters for providing refreshments after.

Thanking volunteers near an overflowing dumpster.

The Horizontes Explorers did a great job as usual.

It took just half an hour for Yumi and me to fill a heaping wheelbarrow!

Posted by Paul at 04:59 PM

April 07, 2006

Cherry Blossoms Near Peak in Burnaby

Some varieties of cherry blossoms are near their peak in Burnaby. Here's a shot taken in Ron McLean Park a few minutes walk from our place.


Posted by Paul at 10:10 PM

April 05, 2006

Deer Lake Signs of Spring

Burnaby's Deer Lake park was showing welcome signs of spring today, with lots of flowers and animals enjoying the sunshine.

A salmonberry blossom.

A bright red blossom.

A squirrel munching on what appeared to be cat food!

Frogs are appearing in the ponds.

The turtles were out in force.

We also saw a couple of eagles, a red-tailed hawk, a pheasant, and a cormorant, in addition to the usual assortment of ducks and songbirds.

Posted by Paul at 10:16 PM

April 04, 2006

Streamkeepers Never Surrender!

I was saddened to hear about the death of another creek, yet heartened that local stewards are not giving up. Reay Creek in the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island has had toxic kills for three years in a row, yet Sidney Anglers, Peninsula Streams and Friends of Reay Creek vow to continue restocking efforts. See this article (don't know how permanent this link will be) in the Peninsula News Review.

This case is particularly poignant for me because some 700 fish were killed by a toxin a month ago in Byrne Creek, the urban waterway in Burnbay, BC, on which I volunteer as a streamkeeper. That followed a massive kill of nearly 5,000 fish in Byrne Creek in 1998.

I wonder how many creeks are killed each year in BC? Canada? The world? There should be some means of keeping track of such events and comparing them over time.

Check out the Peninsula Streams Society for more info on the Reay Creek kill and rehabilitation efforts, along with coverage of other watersheds in that area.

Posted by Paul at 09:27 PM

Burnaby Mountain Blossoms

Yumi and I zipped up to Burnaby Mountain to check out the blossoms late this afternoon. The cherry blossoms were nearly in full bloom, and daffodils also added splashes of color, beautifully setting off the crane mural painted by schoolchildren taught by the Stream of Dreams Murals Society to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Burnaby's sister-city relationship with Kushiro, Japan.

Daffodils set off the crane mural.

Cherry blossoms with a totem-pole on the left.

Close-up of blossoms with some still to flower.

Posted by Paul at 04:26 PM

April 03, 2006

South Korea Zooms Ahead in Domestic Robots, Internet

Interesting article in the New York Times on South Korea's widening technology lead in communications and robotics.

"South Korea, the world's most wired country, is rushing to turn what sounds like science fiction into everyday life. The government, which succeeded in getting broadband Internet into 72 percent of all households in the last half decade, has marshaled an army of scientists and business leaders to make robots full members of society."

The initiative aims to get a productive robot into every home between 2015 and 2020, while one scientist would like to hit that goal by 2010.

As for Internet connectivity, "Since January, Koreans have been able to watch television broadcasts on cellphones, free, thanks to government-subsidized technology. In April, South Korea will introduce the first nationwide superfast wireless Internet service, called WiBro, eventually making it possible for Koreans to remain online on the go ? at 10 megabits per second, faster than most conventional broadband connections."

This is all well ahead of Canada, which is considered to be one of the most wired western countries, and way ahead of the U.S. Japan, too, is much more wired, and "wirelessed" than North America, and has a culture that is more accepting of robots. It will be interesting to see how this technology lead continues to play out in the future.

The NYT article goes on to say that there have been negative ramifications in terms of privacy, however the government is also developing "IT Ethics" curriculum for schools to teach online manners and respect.

Posted by Paul at 09:00 PM

April 02, 2006

Testing Qumana

I am testing the Qumana blog editor. It says "Content is empty. Nothing to publish."
Aha, but it worked after I added another sentence. Strange.
OK, but each time I modify this file and upload, it makes it a whole new post, instead of modifying the original post!
Ah, I have to double-click the post in the left window, and it opens up with an "Edit Post"  button.
OK, but can I save a draft and then change the time and date? I don't see any way to do so, and can't find anything in the help file.
Let's try inserting some tags.
Technorati Tags : ,
On the last update, Qumana froze and I had to use Task Manager to shut it down. This is supposedly the latest stable version -- Not very promising... And when I look at the code that Qumana is producing, it's throwing out bunches of DIVs with non-breaking spaces to create paragraphs, compared to the simple "p" tags used by Movable Type if I edit using the regular Web interface. Hmmm....
Posted by Paul at 10:14 PM

Testing Qumana

I am testing the Qumana blog editor. It says "Content is empty. Nothing to publish."
Aha, but it worked after I added another sentence. Strange.
Posted by Paul at 10:12 PM

April 01, 2006

Streamkeepers Release Report on Byrne Creek Fish Kill

Streamkeepers have released a report (500K PDF) on the fill kill in Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby on the Feb. 25/26 weekend.

Posted by Paul at 07:05 PM