December 30, 2012

Bountiful Birds at Boundary Bay

We zipped down to Boundary Bay to check out the snowy owls. There were still a few to be seen, but they were far off from the dike, so few shots to make. I was dismayed to see that some photographers are still heading way out into the marsh off the dike. Shame. These birds are starving, barely surviving, and thousands of people come down to see them. Ninety-nine percent respect the signs to stay on the dike. . . There is too much pressure on snowy owls, so please stay on the trail!

There were lots of smaller owls, and plenty of other raptors to photograph. One little owl on a fence pole attracted dozens of photographers, and every time it turned its head, shutters buzzed like rattlesnakes!

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Mt. Baker in Washington State in the distance

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Posted by Paul at 06:54 PM

December 29, 2012

Cool Whidbey Island Conservation District Advert

Just noticed this in a brochure we picked up while camping in Washington State earlier this year. Wow, this is so great! I'm not aware of anything quite like this in BC, and why not?

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image from Whidbey Island Farm Tour 2012 Brochure

WICD Mission Statement

The Whidbey Island Conservation District serves the residents of Whidbey Island by providing voluntary, incentive-based options for conserving natural resources through educational outreach as well as technical and financial assistance to provide a healthy environment for present and future generations.

WICD priorities and goals include:

  • Protection and improvement of surface and groundwater quality
  • Assisting good stewardship of Farm & Forest land
  • Watershed planning and implementation
  • Riparian restoration and enhancement
  • Fish and wildlife habitat enhancement
  • Conservation education

Posted by Paul at 08:36 PM

December 28, 2012

New Streamside Communication Business Cards

I picked up my new business cards today. Thanks Al for getting this done as the year winds down!

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So another piece falls into place. Now I have to get cracking on the website, as I'd like to have it done by mid-January.

Posted by Paul at 02:24 PM

Charities Irritating with Year-End Tax Pitches

It seems the charity email trend of the year in 2012 is pointing out the tax-year contribution deadline, with some even including deduction tables or calculators. Unfortunately, at least for me, the constant stream of solicitation has become an irritating, nagging flow.

I have received such "tax-year deadline" messages from several charities in the last week or two, and often each charity repeats the damn thing two, three, or more, times a week. Enough! You have my email because I donated to you in the past. That also means that I know who you are and what you do. I also know when the contribution deadline is - hell, between the lot of you I've been reminded of it over a dozen times in the last week.

I know the NGO world can be a tough place financially. I know from personal experience having volunteered hundreds of hours on the boards of several groups. But enough is enough: your tactics are backfiring.

One friendly reminder might get me to bite, but a barrage just turns me off.

Posted by Paul at 01:25 PM

December 27, 2012

Big Thanks to Al at Rosewood Printers

I want to thank Al Lam at Rosewood Printers on Edmonds St. in SE Burnaby for his excellent service.

I've had business cards printed by Al a couple of times, and he's also supported community events in the area. I have begun a rebranding exercise and was looking for a new logo and cards. When I approached Al recently, I was surprized to hear that he was selling his business to another printing company. Despite it being nearly Christmas, and the business being transferred by the end of the year, Al stepped up and did some graphic design work for me to create a logo for my new business name, Streamside Communication Co., and today he improved upon my design for a new business card in real time as I sat there amidst the chaos of an office in transition. The cards will be ready tomorrow, which I believe may be his last day in this business!

Thanks again, Al, and I wish you all the best in your future endeavours!

Posted by Paul at 11:13 AM

December 21, 2012

‘Deep Fish’ Revealed!

I was pleasantly surprised to be "revealed" as one of a local reporter's "favourite sources."

Every year, NOW reporters get a modest gift from the company to give to our best sources. While there were many this year, and it's difficult to choose, I've decided to give my present to Paul Cipywnyk of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers.

Paul is always available for a phone interview, and he has posed countless times over the past year (and in previous years) for photos related to all the salmon stories we've done. He's kept us abreast of the latest developments within the stream-keeping community, and he was the one who forwarded us the email from Otto Langer regarding the leaked documents about the Conservative changes to the Fisheries Act. That was a national story, and we got it online before any other news outlet, but we wouldn't have done so if it weren't for him.

So thank you, Paul. Your efforts have made my job easier, and it's been a pleasure reporting on all the hard work the volunteer streamkeepers have done to make our waterways a healthy habitat for salmon.

Thank you, Jennifer Moreau! I've enjoyed working with you.

Posted by Paul at 12:57 PM

December 19, 2012

Snow Falling in SE Burnaby

Here's a short video I shot around noon today of snow falling over our townhouse complex in SE Burnaby, BC, with the majestic trees of Byrne Creek Ravine Park in the background. Days like this really make me appreciate working from a home office!

Nothing fancy here, just my teeny Canon SD780IS pocket camera handheld with live narration.

Posted by Paul at 12:29 PM

December 18, 2012

Melting Snow, Byrne Creek Ravine Park

I wasn't able to get out for a creek ramble until after lunch today, so I missed the best of the snow in SE Burnaby.

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Ron McLean Park is the best thing we have nearby for tobogganing.
It isn't much of a slope, but enough to have fun!

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Predictions of more snow look accurate as dark clouds loom.

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Blue sky to the south.

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Someone made a cute snowman near the back gate to our complex.

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I love how melting snow beads on foliage.

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You can see an upside-down forest in this droplet.

Posted by Paul at 04:40 PM

December 12, 2012

Burnaby City Council Appoints Environmental Sustainability Strategy Steering Committee

I am honoured to be asked to work with a great group of people on the Steering Committee for the City of Burnaby's Environmental Sustainability Strategy.

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Image from City of Burnaby

Press Release from the City of Burnaby website

City of Burnaby ESS Website

Steering Committee members

Related Burnaby Now story

Posted by Paul at 04:19 PM

December 11, 2012

Restoring Salmon, Wildlife Habitat in Oregon Boosts Economy, Jobs

According to Ecotrust, restoring salmon and other wildlife habitat in Oregon over the last decade has had a combined effect of nearly $1 billion in economic activity and 6,400 jobs. You can download the succinct report.

I'd like to see such a clear, brief report for BC.

Posted by Paul at 01:46 PM

If You’re In ‘Customer Relations’ Why Won’t You Listen?

In the last week or two I've had three or four calls from the Bank of Montreal's Mastercard division. They keep asking to speak to my wife, and I keep telling them that she's at work, and can I take a message? They never want to leave a message. They immediately launch into a set piece about "don't worry, there's nothing wrong, we just want to speak to her about some options. . ." Then they say they will call back another time. And it appears that the next time will again be during working hours when she's not home. I once even offered to provide her work number, and  was assured "that wasn't necessary." So instead I guess they will just continue to bug me. Have they no tech genius who could add a "not home during working hours" field to their database?

Posted by Paul at 12:56 PM

December 09, 2012

Eagles, Salmon, Dippers Near Squamish, BC

We took a drive up to the Squamish BC area and back today, looking for eagles, salmon and other wildlife.
It was rainy and snowy, but we had a great time.

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One of our first stops was the bridge over the Cheakamus River on the way to the Tenderfoot Hatchery,
where we spotted this dipper, likely searching for salmon roe. We admired its hardiness against the
near-freezing water.

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A huge spawner.

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Eagle flying along the Cheakamus

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Masses of dead spawners near the hatchery

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And an eagle taking a break from foraging on the dead fish

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There were plenty of gulls taking advantage of nature's buffet, too

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There were around 100 eagles visible from the Brackendale site

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Wishing for a longer lens! : -)

Posted by Paul at 09:51 PM

December 08, 2012

Fallen Leaves, Tai Chi in Ron McLean Park in Burnaby

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Posted by Paul at 02:39 PM

December 07, 2012

Cat Moves In After Turtle Vacates Sun Lamp

I just went upstairs from my basement office to check on the "the kids." And who did I find under the sun lamp? Choco looks toasty, while Dori is heading back to her tank. I suspect Dori left on her own after sunning for several hours, and Choco took advantage of the situation. Earlier in the day, Choco had been sleeping on a register : -).

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Posted by Paul at 04:04 PM

Morning Moon Peeks From Behind Clouds

I happened to glance out the balcony window this morning and saw a lovely moon peeking out from behind dark clouds. I ran and grabbed my camera, ran outside, and fired off half-a-dozen shots before it disappeared.

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Posted by Paul at 08:33 AM

December 05, 2012

Reviving IMB T42 Notebook Yet Again

I bought a workhorse IBM (now Lenovo) T42 notebook computer back in Sept. 2005. With a whole 1GB of RAM and a 60GB HD, not to mention a lovely 15" 1400 X 1050 screen, it was the cat's meow - seven years ago. The original Windows XP got flaky over the years, and a few years back I got a much more compact ASUS notebook running Windows 7.

Over the years I upgraded the T42 to 1.5GB of RAM and a 160GB HD. I then tried reviving it with regular Ubuntu Linux some years ago, but while I could get it to run, I was having kernel problems. Today I tried an Ubuntu subset called the "mini.iso," and so far it seems to be working great.

I'm hoping to find space in the living room or dining room off the kitchen to house the revived unit. My wife and I both have home offices, but there are no machines on the main floor.

Posted by Paul at 08:35 PM

December 04, 2012

Santa Hubby Gets Smartphone for Wife

The wife is getting upgraded to a smartphone for Xmas so she can finally start texting and doing mobile Internet, and though Santa Hubby is the one who picked up the toy, he's getting phone envy. Santa Hubby's smartphone is an ancient three years old, and the wife's new phone has a much larger screen with better cameras and HD video... Oh, wait, this "environmental activist" Santa Hubby is supposed to shun crass consumerism. Sigh...

Hey, where's the romance, you ask? The gift anticipation?

We're both adults. We've both been adults for decades. We both have pretty much everything that we need, so we're into the "wants", or in other words the, er, crass consumerism.

We decided years ago that we would get each other one significant gift each Christmas, and that it was perfectly OK to discuss what we wanted. So one main gift each, and then we were free to add cheap, fun stuff, or things that we made ourselves, to the mix.

In all honesty, what got Yumi most excited about her Xmas present (to be rewrapped and put under the tree for the "big day") was that I got it for the magnificent sum of $0 through judicious use of upgrade incentives and rebates. That really turned her crank : -). No, I am not joking. The more I save, the happier she is.

So the "present" part of it is that I pay for her data plan that's added to our couple's wireless plan. The blades for her new razor. And no, it's not a Razor, it's a Samsung S series. Not the cutting-edge model, but way more advanced than what she had before. And the additional data was under posted rates after about half an hour of negotiation with Rogers. Folks, don't settle for the first offer, especially if you've been with a provider for years. There are always plans, and incentives, and upgrades, and downgrades, out there that are not advertised. Be polite, be friendly, and keep asking for more options. While the best deals always seem to be for new customers, I've been noticing that the wireless battleground has been shifting toward client retention.

Posted by Paul at 08:27 PM

December 03, 2012

Major Service Keeps Subaru Faithfully Chugging Along

I coughed up nearly $800 at Docksteader Subaru in Vancouver for a major service for our 1998 Subaru Outback today. But at 14 years old and nearly 242,000km, or close to 150,000 miles, the car is still as reliable as the day I first drove it off the lot. A quality vehicle with regular maintenance. I hope to get a couple more years out of it!

I initially leased the car in Saskatoon, and have had it serviced at Docksteader for the entire 14 years since. In all those years, I've never questioned the Docksteader staff, and have always felt they are worthy of my trust. I'm sure the folks on the sales side would love to sell me a new Outback, but it's the service folks that customers deal with most, and they've always been uniformly good. So I'll likely buy another Subaru from Docksteader. . . some  day :  -).

The next major service will be at 288,000km, or about 177,700 miles, and that will be a milestone decision, as it will likely run over $1,000.  But at the rate we're putting on the klicks, that should give us over two more years before we face that scenario.

Posted by Paul at 09:21 PM

December 01, 2012

Blogs and Copyright

I wrote a post awhile back, and I think it's worth re-posting in its entirety again. Because people are still ignoring the copyright notice that's sitting there, clear as day, that TEXT AND PHOTOS on this blog that I have created are copyright me. Legally, I don't even have to post such a notice, my blog is automatically covered by copyright.

Folks, the Internet is not a free for all. Just because you can copy some text, or snag a photo, doesn't mean it's free and in the public domain.

Here's the post I wrote back on June 18, 2012:

There was a good session by a copyright lawyer at the recent Northern Voice social media and blogging conference in Vancouver. What too many people do not realize, is that when you post original stuff on your blog, be it text, or graphics, or photography, or video, that material is automatically covered by copyright, unless you specify otherwise.

So even if you don't notice, or read, my copyright blurb (right there, at the top left corner of my blog), my material is covered, and you have to ask my permission to use it.

I've had material, both text and photos, lifted from my blog without my permission. Some folks have credited the source, but they still failed to ask permission in the first place. Chances are if you'll be using the material in a non-profit manner, I'll readily grant you permission as long as I'm cited. And if you want to make money from original material on my blog, well, we'd better do some negotiating. It's only fair, eh?

So it was refreshing to receive an email today from a staffer at the University of Victoria who wanted to use a photo from my blog in materials given to foreign students for free. I was so pleased that someone had actually asked, that I went back years into my photo archives and dug up the original shot, and sent her a higher resolution version than the tiny one on my blog.

While I'm a great fan of open source, folks gotta make a living, too. Or simply want to, and ought to be recognized.

Posted by Paul at 08:03 PM