December 31, 2011

Salmon Spawning Season Ends on Byrne Creek?

Happy New Year everyone!
It appears the salmon spawning season on our beloved Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby may be over. I found one dead coho female yesterday (unusually late in the year), and today Yumi and I didn't see any salmon, dead or alive.
It was a good season, though. Over the course of 22 creek patrols from Oct. 15 to Dec. 31, streamkeepers tallied 36 salmon, 15 chum and 21 coho - those are fish that have been found dead (salmon die when they return to fresh water to spawn), measured, sexed, and cut open to see if they have spawned or not. That's the first upturn in several years on our battered urban creek, and nearly triple the count of only 13 last year.
There are also at least 14 redds, or nests of eggs laid by salmon in the creek, so we can look forward to seeing baby fry in the spring, assuming the water stays free of pollutants.
Thanks to all the volunteers!

Note: streamkeepers are trained to monitor spawning salmon, and collect data on live and dead fish. It is illegal to interfere with, or harm, spawning salmon.

Posted by Paul at 02:14 PM

December 30, 2011

Soap Enters Burnaby’s Byrne Creek

Here's a simple video I made when I ran across soap coming into Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby via a street drain today.

Posted by Paul at 07:07 PM

December 28, 2011

Let Us Not Forget Derek’s Last Post

As the year ends, I've been reviewing events of 2011 that moved me, and one was the death of Derek K. Miller, and his "Last Post."

I don't want to say much, because there are plenty of folks in EAC, and in particular EAC-BC, who knew Derek way better than I had the chance to. I heard him speak several times, and I followed his powerful blog, but we didn't have a personal relationship.

Derek's Last Post bears reading again, for it stares death, and life, in the face.

It's also a reality check. Are we spending the precious moments of our lives following our passions, and contributing as best we can to positive change in our world?

UPDATE: Dawn, another EAC member and editor, remembers this post as particularly moving:

For me, the post I most remember is Endgame
I never met Derek in person, just in emails and on his blog.
But his writing and his story really affected me.

Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

December 27, 2011

Low Eagle Counts Near Squamish

Despite the rain, Yumi and I went up to the Squamish area to look for eagles today. Glad we went for while it was pouring in the lower mainland, it was only drizzling around Brackendale.

Unfortunately, the volunteers at the eagle run pavilion said numbers were low yet again so far this year, continuing several years of declines. The eagles depend on salmon that return to spawn, and while apparently spawner forecasts are up this year, the volunteers said that hasn't been reflected on the ground, or, er, in the water, so far.

Here's a shot taken today:


Unfortunately is was overcast and raining, so not much snap, tonally or colour-wise. Also had to juice the ISO on my Nikon to 3200 to enable handheld shots at 300mm (450mm equivalent on a 35mm film camera).

Posted by Paul at 07:13 PM

December 26, 2011

A Blue (Yeti) Christmas

I got a Blue Microphones Yeti half price through the Apple Store and had Yumi wrap it and put it under the tree for me. She never knows what to get me, so this system works great : -).


I didn't know they were that big -- that's a 500ml beer can beside it for comparison. So what do I want with this beast? May try some podcasting, and may also experiment with video voice overs...

Posted by Paul at 07:06 PM

December 22, 2011

My Music Discovery of the Year--2011

A popular topic as the end of the year approaches is what's something you discovered over the course of the year.
I "discovered" Imelda May this year and can't get enough. An ear-boggling melding of rockabilly, blues, surf, jazz, and ??? powered by an amazing, lilting Irish voice, and a scrumptiously tight, luscious band.

I'm way out of touch with music trends compared to a few decades ago, but I love it when something like this penetrates my consciousness.

Thanks to the 2011 Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival for expanding my horizons!

Posted by Paul at 10:49 PM

Vancouver’s VanDusen Gardens Xmas Light Show

Vancouver's lovely VanDusen Botanical Garden is putting on its annual Festival of Lights, with reduced energy due to thousands of new LED lights. It's an amazing event, fun for the family, and though lines can be long, they move along at a good pace.






Posted by Paul at 10:00 PM

December 18, 2011

Burnaby Mountain Sunset

Sun setting over west Burnaby and Vancouver as seen from Burnaby Mountain. The "totem poles" in some of the photos are Kumui Mintara, or the "Playground of the Gods." They are Ainu creations from northern Japan.







All shots taken with my wee, pocket Canon SD780IS, because it was supposed to be a romantic evening with the wife so the Nikon DSLR gear was left at home. Needless to say, the wife, too, was soon snapping away with her matching SD780IS. Now that's romantic! : -)

Posted by Paul at 08:04 PM

December 17, 2011

Huge Shelf Fungus Found in Byrne Creek

While we were patrolling for spawning salmon on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, Yumi came across this huge shelf fungus. It had fallen off, or been washed off, some tree it had been growing on, and was on a small gravel bar in the creek. After a few moments admiring its size, we placed it in the forest to continue what was left of its life cycle, and its contributions to the environment around it. It might be "dead", but no point in taking it home as a trophy, when its own decay will contribute to the riparian zone.


Posted by Paul at 10:40 PM

Gulliver’s Travels in Japan

My wife Yumi likes to call these the "Gulliver" photos. That's me with her dad, and me with her mom on our last visit to Japan in October this year.

Yes, I need to lose a few dozen pounds. That's why I'm signed up for the BMO Vancouver Marathon next May. My goal is to power-walk the half-marathon, and to lose 10kg (about 22 pounds) as I train.

Here we go:



Posted by Paul at 10:17 PM

December 10, 2011

Rainy Refractions Through Car Windshield

I was in the car in a mall parking lot, waiting for my wife, when I took these shots of raindrops on the car windshield with my pocket Canon SD780.

Note: Aside from some cropping, these images have not been post-processed.





Posted by Paul at 09:02 PM

December 07, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 8 of Photos—Aomori

More photos from around Yumi's hometown in Aomori prefecture in northern Japan, taken in late October.


Yumi with Eito, the family pup


Eito on an access road out in the rice fields


Early morning sun breaks over a forest edging the fields




Colors get richer as the morning progresses



Meito, the goat


Reaching out for a nose scratch


Papi the cat and I, love at first sight : -)

OK, a big, warm lap.

Something that strikes me about these animals is how they all instantly accepted me.

Yumi went to Japan earlier and spent a week with her folks and relatives before I followed, so she got to know these animals, all of them new additions since our last visit. Now, I know many animals are good judges of character, of whether or not someone is comfortable with them, or is a threat to them, or to their "family." But they are also fast judges of relationships. They're Yumi's parent's pets, but obviously they quickly grasped Yumi's place in the hierarchy, and then when I came along, they immediately understood my relationship to Yumi.

So there was no fear, no anxiety, no protectiveness.

Now I'm a nice guy, but I suspect I'd have gotten a very different reception if I'd walked into the yard the first time all alone.

Posted by Paul at 08:47 PM

December 05, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 7 of Photos—Hirosaki

A few photos from the small city of Hirosaki in Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan, where my lovely wife Yumi went to university. I'm getting confused myself as to the numbering of these blog posts! I guess it's the 7th "day" that I've posted photos to this blog, but it doesn't correspond to the days of our October trip to Japan.


The old library, constructed Western style in 1906


Interior staircase


Yumi by a display of Hirosaki historic buildings at miniature scale


And moi by another model


And here I am in front of the actual preserved building just a couple
of blocks away from the miniature display.
I love these perspective changes.


Heading toward Hirosaki "castle." I put that in quotation marks
because while it's a lovely sight, it's not really a castle. It's one defensive


Still looks imposing, and beautiful


Posted by Paul at 09:17 PM

December 04, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 6 of Photos—Aomori Fall Colours

Continuing photos from our Japan trip in October, we finally made it up to Yumi's parents' place in Aomori, near the northern end of Japan's main island. We borrowed their car, and headed out to explore the autumn colours of the famous Oirase area.


There are usually a couple of swans hanging around in this river near
Yumi's parents' place












Yumi on the bank of the stream


Two bees, or not to bee : -)




A raptor soars near Lake Towada

Posted by Paul at 08:26 PM

December 03, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 5 of Photos

Back to posting more photos of our Japan trip in October. These are from Kakunodate, a town in Akita Prefecture that is known for its preserved samurai homes and thick-walled "kura" storehouses.












Posted by Paul at 08:01 PM

December 02, 2011

Fraser Foreshore Park in Burnaby

Late afternoon ramble along Fraser Foreshore Park in south Burnaby.








Posted by Paul at 07:27 PM

December 01, 2011

Does Ambivalence Increase with Age?

On the topic of increasing ambivalence as we grow older:
While to some degree I have followed the stereotypical trajectory of becoming more "conservative" with age, in some ways I've become more "radical." I don't think that's necessarily a contradiction.
I've come to see shades of grey and ambivalence as a good thing. Something that makes you think and question, instead of simply accepting, and relying upon, some dogma. Something that allows for creativity, for experimentation, for changing one's mind. Something that enables you to work with people that you thought you had nothing in common with, for the betterment of society.
That's why in my 50s I can be an "environmentalist" and "activist", and also contribute to my local board of trade. I don't think I would have been capable of that at age 20. Mind you, back in my twenties, boards of trade didn't have environmental sustainability committees...
Some may say shades of grey can become a moral quagmire. But over the course of history, I think black and white has done more damage to peoples and societies. It's the extreme manifestations of societies, be they left- or right-wing, that have killed the most.
I think age helps one to define the idiotic extremes that one can write off, while at the same time teaching one to be more tolerant. Hmm. Getting ambivalent again... : -)
So while in some ways as I get older I am more apt to call a spade a spade and f**k the consequences (perhaps because time is more precious as I age), in other ways I'm more willing to listen and to compromise (because time is often the only way to share and teach and reach consensus).
Ambivalent, eh?

Posted by Paul at 10:55 PM