October 30, 2011

Japan Trip–Day 1

Here are photos from the first day in Japan on our Oct. 10-24 trip. We walked and walked, from our hotel near Ochanomizu, around the Imperial Palace, past the Diet building, Roppongi, and to Shibuya. From there we walked to Meiji Jingu and Shinjuku, where we finally hopped a train back to the hotel.


A view of the Imperial Palace moat


Nijubashi at the Imperial Palace




Yumi by the massive gate


Yumi in front of the Diet


There's always a hefty police presence near the Diet to deter fringe elements


Shibuya, famous for fashion


Moi with Hachiko, the famous dog that always waited for its master at the station


And in the Land of Cuteness, a Hachiko bus stop


And a Hachiko bus


Approaching Yoyogi from Shibuya


Yoyogi National Gymnasium designed by Kenzo Tange for the 1964 Summer
Olympics. It has held up remarkably well in appearance.




Entering Meiji Jingu from the Harajuku side. This shrine was one of my
havens when I was resident in Japan, and I walked through its grounds once
or twice a week on the way to work for several of the 14 years I lived in Tokyo.


Donations of casks of nihonshu (sake) to the shrine from all over Japan





The NTT Docomo Building as seen from Meiji Jingu


Pond in Meiji Jingu grounds



We love turtles!


One of Tokyo's impressive jungle crows


There were some pretty amazing spiders hanging about


And a grasshopper.


And some sort of wasp


Walking toward Shinjuku. Contrast between NTT Docomo
tower and one of the few remaining old buildings around


Our final destination on this day - Takashimaya Times Square in Shinjuku


Where this Wako tonkatsu outlet was my destination :-)



A happy Paul chowing down after a loooong day of rambling


On our last several visits to Tokyo over the last 12 years since
we moved to Canada, we've always stayed at a reasonable business
hotel near Ochanomizu Station. There used to be one holdout, lovely,
w0oden house on this corner lot. We often wondered how long it
would last in a sea of hulking business towers.

Posted by Paul at 07:47 PM

October 29, 2011

Photo Stats from Japan Trip Oct. 10-24

The final photo tally from my Japan trip from Oct. 10-24 is: Nikon D300 DSLR - 1,604 shots; Canon pocket SD780IS - 465 shots. I will start selecting and posting photos to this blog over the next week. Rather than attempting to match blog entries to the actual Japan dates, I think I'll just use a "2011 Japan Trip - Day X" format.

Posted by Paul at 10:07 PM

October 26, 2011

Great Presentations on Rain Gardens & Stormwater Pollution at Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

A few things that struck me today at the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver:

Rain Gardens & Bioswales

The City of Delta has an agreement with its school board to build two rain gardens a year on school property, with kids doing the planting. The woman speaking from Delta said, "We're done with pilot projects. We know these things work. We want to make green infrastructure standard practice." Delta figures it spends around $15,000 per school rain garden.

Kitsap County over the border offers residents up to $500 in incentives to put rain gardens on private property, along with free technical consultations, and has a dedicated "rain garden program manager." How cool is that? She said a private homeowner can put in a rain garden starting at under $1,000. From a target of 100 private-property rain gardens this year, they've already signed up 76 homeowners. She also has a database with each rain garden in it, its location, how large an area it drains, what watershed it's in, what kind of soil it's in, GIS mapping data, estimates of how much each site can infiltrate, etc., etc. Yowza!

Various counties in Washington State are training and deploying "Rain Garden Ambassadors" and "Rain Garden Mentors" to educate citizens and encourage acceptance of rain gardens in neighborhoods.

The Puget Sound area has a target of 16,000 rain gardens by 2016: http://raingarden.wsu.edu/

PDF of a Washington State University "Low Impact Development" manual here:

Effects of Copper Pollution from Road Wash on Fish

A researcher at WSU contacted me before the conference because she found stuff on my blog and on the Byrne Creek website about coho dying unspawned in Byrne Creek. She is researching that issue, and also the impact of pollution on coho smolts, and wanted to know if we could meet while she was in Vancouver for the conference.

I went to her session today and she's discovered that even minute concentrations of copper in water from road wash (brake lining dust, etc.) can impair or even destroy salmonid sensory organs including the lateral-line sensors, and the olfactory sense. The impairment happens quickly.

Posted by Paul at 08:47 PM

October 24, 2011

Back From Japan Trip Oct. 10-24

If any of my faithful readers are wondering at my silence, I was off in Japan visiting my wife's parents and doing some sightseeing for the last couple of weeks. There simply wasn't time to blog during the trip, but I'll slowly start catching up starting this week. Then again, I'm at the 2011 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver for the next three days, so it may be a bit longer before this blog gets active again.

Posted by Paul at 07:42 PM

October 08, 2011

Paradise Valley Road

After spending the morning editing, I had to get out and clear my head, so I took a quick jaunt up to the Squamish area. I like checking out a few creeks and rivers up that way for spawning salmon, and sure enough, I could smell them before I could see them.


Spawner seen through the Tenderfoot Creek Hatchery fence


Paradise Valley Road



Posted by Paul at 07:31 PM

October 05, 2011

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

I don't know if a major corporation has ever turned its Web landing page into a tribute to a founder before:


I won' t link to apple.com or apple.ca because this web page will be ephemeral, as Steve Jobs knew well.

I am far from a slavish Apple devotee. My Apple hardware as of this post consists of a still functional, but long archaic, monochrome PowerBook 145B dating back to the early 1990s, and an iPod Touch, but I do admire his drive and sense of purpose:

"For the past 33 years, I've looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself 'if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?'"

They say he was "difficult" but most geniuses are, and I agree he was one.

Here's to you, Steve. Thank you for having the strength to remind us that we all face death, and that we have a limited time to love others, and pursue our (work) loves. You said in the famous speech quoted above that death is one of life's greatest inventions because it clears out the deadwood.

I agree, but, death took you too soon.

Posted by Paul at 07:36 PM

October 01, 2011

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Assist in Edmonds Clean Sweep

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers participated in the biannual Edmonds Clean Sweep yet again. This event is sponsored by the Edmonds Business & Community Association in SE Burnaby the first Saturday in October, and the first Saturday in May every year. There was a bit of confusion this year as to organizational matters, but it all came together in a great event.

Thanks to Joyce Rostron, past prez of the Edmonds group, and Jim and Lindy McQueen of Gordon Presbyterian Church for pulling it together. The church did a great job of hosting the community with hot dogs, buns and condiments donated by Save-On Foods, and drinks provided by MLA Raj Chouhan.

At "our" end of the event, streamkeepers pulled in 37 volunteers! Thanks to all the Scouts Canada groups that participated.

And of course thanks to the City of Burnaby and its crews who provide this community cleanup with dumpsters and other support. Not to mention Burnaby RCMP and Community Policing volunteers who are always out in force for these events! And Translink security staff who help us out with our volunteer vehicles in the parking lot.


Signs pointing to our booth at the Edmonds Skytrain station


Filling the City of Burnaby provided dumpster to overflowing


Thanks to all the Scouts Canada volunteers!


Volunteers shoulder heavy loads to clean up the hood!


Streamkeepers and RCMP at the post-event social. No, the two
groups are not shunning each other, we get along great! Just didn't
grab a better photo. . .  The police know streamkeepers are eyes on
less-travelled parts of our wonderful parks, ravines, and creeks.
Burnaby has a great community policing program.


Edmonds Association past prez Joyce Rostron thanks sponsors and volunteers


Gordon Presbyterian Church volunteers feed the crowd


Moi center, with streameepers stalwarts Dave and Frieda

Posted by Paul at 10:51 PM