June 30, 2007

Big Banana Slug

We ran across this impressive banana slug today on the Byrne Creek trail.

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Oh, that's inches, not centimeters :-).

Posted by Paul at 08:56 PM

June 28, 2007

Choco's Hobbit Paws

Here's a shot of Choco's hairy feet. Our cat has amazing tufts between her toes.

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Posted by Paul at 08:43 PM

June 27, 2007

Early Summer Plants, Flowers

A few shots taken on a Byrne Creek perambulation.

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And a dead swallowtail butterfly.

Posted by Paul at 08:36 PM

June 26, 2007

Vernon Sightseeing

After a hearty breakfast at our friends' place, we headed out to see some of the sights. Yumi and I have never spent any time in Vernon, though we've passed through on several trips, so it was nice to take a look around. There is a lot of development going on!

The first place we stopped was Planet Bee, which was very interesting. We enjoyed viewing the transparent hive and locating the queen bee who had been marked with a dab of white paint.

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Yumi checking out the hive.

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The queen amid a mass of bees.

Next was a visit to Davison Orchards. I enjoyed checking out all the old farm equipment while the others explored the fruit, gifts, pies and other products for sale.

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Davison Orchards.

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A 1949 John Deere M.

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A 1946 Mercury 3-ton truck.

Next stop was the Allan Brooks Nature Centre that provides an awesome view of the Vernon area. We enjoyed the vistas, and the wildlife.

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A view from the centre.

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Yumi stalking a marmot.

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Taking a closer look at the marmot.

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A swallow brings food for its young.

Our last stop before we had to drive back to Burnaby was the Gray Monk winery. It's a beautiful setting overlooking Okanagan Lake, and we had lunch at the outdoor restaurant. The food was excellent.

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The winery overlooking Okanagan Lake.

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A huge hanging basket of brilliant flowers.

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The sunny restaurant.

Posted by Paul at 04:34 PM

June 25, 2007

Ellison Provincial Park

We took an overnight trip to Vernon to visit some friends, staying at Ellison Provincial Park. After a great dinner, we headed back to the campground for what proved to be a short sleep -- some idiots kept chopping wood to feed their fire well past midnight, and then the crows began providing wakeup calls at 4:30 a.m.

We didn't have time to check out the park, but we did have visitors to our campsite.

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Posted by Paul at 04:26 PM

June 22, 2007

Canoe Shakedown Cruise

53 weeks -- yes, over a year -- since we got our canoe, we finally took it out on a shakedown cruise on Burnaby's Deer Lake. It's hard to believe where that year went. I was so busy with work and school, and it just sat in the garage gathering dust.

Today we cranked on the roof rack, strapped the canoe on, and drove the ten minutes to Deer Lake. When we got there the sunny blue sky was overshadowed with ominous black clouds, but it's a small lake so we headed out anyway. It was great fun slipping along watching the wildlife -- so much more approachable in a canoe than on foot.

Three-quarters of the way around the lake the wind began to rise, so we headed back to the beach and called it a day after less than an hour on the water. It was probably best to take it easy anyway, as I'm sure we used muscles that haven't been in action for years.

I'm looking forward to getting out on the water more often!

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Getting set up on the goose-poop strewn beach.

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Yumi in the prow.

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And me in the stern.

Posted by Paul at 07:14 PM

June 20, 2007

Manning Park Day 2

We had a modest campfire last night at our site at the beautiful Lightning Lake campground at Manning Park, burning wood we brought with us that we had collected from a "free firewood" pile after someone cut a few trees down on their lot near our place in Burnaby several years ago. It being nearly the longest day of the year, it didn't get dark until well after 10:00. That also meant that it was getting light by 5:00 a.m., and the birds were in full chorus by 5:30. We should have gone fishing, but instead we dozed until 7:30.

We had breakfast, broke camp, and loaded the car before we tried some spincasting from shore. I had rainbow trout following my lure several times, and even had one hang about just a meter or two offshore for nearly a minute, but we didn't get a single bite. It's frustrating to see fish jumping to feed and not get a bite. Perhaps we should learn how to fly fish!

After an hour of fishing we pulled out and hiked the short Canyon Loop on the Similkameen River. It's a beautiful walk. We then drove up to the lookout on the alpine meadow road before heading back home.

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A shot of the Similkameen from the canyon trail.

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Pine beetle devastation.

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Yumi checking out bugs in the river.

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A view from the alpine meadow road lookout with Manning Park Lodge below and Lightning lake in the background.

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A Steller's Jay harassed us while we picnicked at the west gate.

Posted by Paul at 08:14 PM

June 19, 2007

Manning Park Day 1

Yumi and I took a quick overnight camping trip to Manning Park. We stayed at the Lightning Lake campground, and took a walk around the lake in the evening. We were shocked at all the pines killed by pine beetles, and wondered what the park would look like in a few years. We saw lots of trout jumping in the lake as they fed, and planned to do some catch-and-release fishing in the morning.

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A view of Lightning Lake from the trail.

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Canoes at the rental dock.

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Inquisitive ground squirrels -- these fellers obviously expect food!

Posted by Paul at 08:02 PM

June 17, 2007

Spanish Banks, Vancouver

Here are a few photos taken at Vancouver's Spanish Banks on an overcast, drizzly day.

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Looking east toward downtown.

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Looking west.

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Yumi exploring pools left by low tide.

Posted by Paul at 07:16 PM

June 16, 2007

Finished Royal Roads MA Program!

I have completed my Master of Arts in Professional Communication at Royal Roads University!

My team submitted its final case study today, and that's it, that's all she wrote, the fat lady has sung, and (as one of my teammates put it) Elvis has left the building. See, I'm a much better communicator now :-).

After these last two intensive, stimulating years of getting a graduate degree while continuing to work, I feel lost. It will be lonely not reading and contributing to online discussion boards every day, and interacting with my cohort. I'll be in withdrawal for awhile.

Overall it's been a great experience, and I'd certainly endorse the program. It wasn't perfect, mind you, but with my cohort being just the third since the degree got underway, there were bound to be some kinks to work out. The faculty has many brilliant members, and I urge present and prospective learners to take full advantage of them.

The two three-week on-campus residencies on the beautiful RRU grounds were amazing -- an intellectual boot camp that in the first year quickly had us all pulling together, and in the second feeling like a Band of Brothers and Sisters :-). The residencies are one of RRU's greatest strengths. They bond learners with learners, and learners with instructors, and I don't see how the program would work without them.

It's been a hell of a ride and I'm going to miss you all!

As for the next while, I'm going to take it easy for a couple of months over the summer and decompress. I may even, ahem, finish some of the textbooks in which I just skimmed the "good parts." :-)

I remember stumbling into the lounge in the dorm at 5:30 a.m. one morning during the first residency to brew some tea and get an early start on some reading. A veteran learner from the previous year's cohort was already there (he was from another time zone and still adjusting) and we got to talking about the voluminous readings. He gave me some excellent advice: "The most important thing to learn is to quickly judge what you MUST read, and what you can leave for later."

Then come autumn, I aim to start putting some of my new knowledge to use.

Thank you fellow learners, thank you instructors, thank you RRU staff and librarians.

Posted by Paul at 07:29 PM

June 08, 2007

Bees Pollinate Byrne Creek Blackberries

Bees were out in force sucking blackberry blossoms near Burnaby's Byrne Creek today. I was happy to see them working away as I've been reading horror stories of how bees are disappearing and nobody knows why. They are incredibly important insects because so many crops depend on them for pollination.

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One in flight and one on a blossom.

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Another view.

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Getting even closer.

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A spit bug deposit. Dunno if that's the proper term :-)...

Posted by Paul at 08:00 PM

June 07, 2007

Unwinding as RRU Program Nears End

I have less than ten days to go in my Master of Arts in Professional Communication at Royal Roads University. One more case study to write up, and we're done! I wonder what it will be like to have a "normal" life back. Here's one indicator of how busy it's been the last few months -- a stack of unread magazines in my office :-).

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Once I plow through these, I look forward to reading books this summer that are not on an assigned list!

Posted by Paul at 01:33 PM

June 03, 2007

Burnaby Mountain

To celebrate submitting my master's project for my Master of Arts in Professional Communication at Royal Roads University, Yumi and I went shopping at Fujiya for Japanese food. We picked up a couple of bentos for lunch and sushi for dinner, and headed up to picnic on Burnaby Mountain.

The crane ecosculpture celebrating Burnaby's sister city relationship with Kushiro, Japan, was back up following a winter in storage.

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Posted by Paul at 07:20 PM

Submitted Master's Project

Yee-hah! I submitted my master's project today for my Master of Arts in Professional Communication at Royal Roads University. Whew!

After I uploaded it, I felt drained. We still have two weeks to go in our last class, and have one more team case study to complete, so it's hard to celebrate.

Two weeks to go!

I'm also feeling a bit bereft, because while it's been a tough slog the last two years, it's also been a blast working with so many great people, co-learners and profs alike. It'll be hard letting go. And moving on... And deciding where to go now in my career...

I just wish Mom was here to see me finish, and to attend convocation this autumn. She was looking forward to it. She was so thrilled that I decided to go back to school that she paid my tuition -- kind of embarrassing for a grown man in his 40s, but that's what she wanted to do for me and I appreciate it so much.

She'd be happy to know that I pulled through -- when she was getting sick this spring she kept insisting that I focus on my project, and while I fell behind on my initial drafts, I made the final deadline.

Thanks, Mom. I love you.

Posted by Paul at 06:55 PM