January 25, 2013

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal

A few folks have asked me why there's nothing on my blog about receiving a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Shy? Um, not usually : -).

So here goes. I was honoured to receive a medal yesterday, and was pleased to have the presentation along with 23 other Burnabarians at Burnaby City Hall in an event hosted by Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian and Burnaby-Edmonds MLA Raj Chouhan. Thank you, Peter and Raj!

There were a lot of familiar faces there - folks I've volunteered with, or met through volunteer work, with various local organizations. Congratulations to all, and I'm proud to have been recognized along with you.

The medal was for my volunteer work with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society. I must thank all the great people in that group who mentored me over the years, and who connected me to the wider Burnaby community.

When we moved to Burnaby in 1999, life was pretty quiet for a year or two until my wife Yumi and I encountered the streamkeepers. Joining their volunteer efforts completely changed my life, as eventually I became what I like to call "an accidental environmentalist."

Streamkeeping led to joining other community groups, and I soon found myself on the board of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, where I served about seven years as president; the board of the Edmonds Business and Community Association, where I put in a couple of years as president; a citizen representative on the City of Burnaby Environment Committee, a member of the Burnaby Board of Trade Environmental Sustainability Committee, and a board member of the Salmon Enhancement & Habitat Advisory Board to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, where I am currently secretary and chair of the communications committee.

So I'd also like to thank all the City of Burnaby staff that I've worked with, BBOT members and staff, SDMS board members and staff, fellow SEHAB volunteer board members, and DFO staff.

It's been a crazy decade or more, and while I may grumble now and then at my ratio of volunteer-to-billable hours, I have to say it's been a super experience working with so many passionate, dedicated, hard-working citizens, from whom I've learned so much.

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MLA Raj Chouhan, me, MP Peter Julian

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Me with RCMP Staff Sergeant Major John Buis. I worked with John
when he was NCO in charge of our local Donald N. Brown Community Police Office
in SE Burnaby. John has been at Burnaby HQ for several years now, and we
still miss him in our neighbourhood.

Above photos by Yumi

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Photo by Brian Pound

And, of course, my lovely wife Yumi. This is really her medal, too, for I couldn't
have done it without her. Thank you for your love, and support, and patience.
And your volunteer hours with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers!

Thank you, Dad and Mom, for being community leaders and instilling in me from childhood
the ethic of citizenship as community service. I still miss you both. And Dad? Kinda cool
that you were a recipient of the Queen's 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee Medal.

Posted by Paul at 08:59 PM

Food Labelling Scams

The other day I read the nutritional info on a pack of Nissin Demae Instant Ramen - 2,200mg of sodium, or 92% of the recommended daily intake! No wonder this stuff goes down so good after a hike in the cold. A crack-like salt bomb!

I don't know why I'd never looked at the sodium before, mostly just concerned with calories, I guess. It's not like I eat a lot of instant ramen, and when we make it we always add veggies. But still, you have to wonder when one easy meal uses up nearly your whole recommended daily sodium limit.

For comparison, a Wendys Baconator with two patties and six strips of bacon is 1,960mg.

So today I looked at a different brand of ramen - Ichiban Shio - and the label said only 700mg of sodium. Wow, that's a third of Nissin right? So I scarfed it down, and came back to the computer to share my "healthier" find.

Taking another look at the Ichiban label reveals the numbers are "per serving" and that's defined as 1/3 of a pack! Who the hell eats 1/3 of a pack of ramen? What a scam. I can't believe food labeling regulations allow this sort of thing.

Posted by Paul at 12:15 PM

January 23, 2013

Edmonds Biz & Community Association Revitalized Again?

Here's an important announcement for folks living in SE Burnaby.

Longer text invitation follows the graphic.

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Please mark your calendar for an important Town Hall Meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at Edmonds Community School for the purpose of "Creating Community for Edmonds" . Co-hosted by the Edmonds Business and Community Association and Edmonds Community School, we invite all those who live and work in the Edmonds area to help visualize a more vibrant and flourishing community. It's a perfect time for you to know about upcoming commercial and residential developments being planned and, of course the anticipated opening of your brand new community centre and pool this spring. We invite you to embrace this opportunity to build, meet and share with members from your community.

The event itself is being driven by people who want to see the Edmonds area come together and transform or transition itself into something pretty special that will serve both the community and the businesses. It's time for Edmonds to flourish, but it must start by having a new vision and some realistic goals. It's our hope to bring some fresh faces to the forefront who have a strong desire to take a responsible role in listening to the needs of the community, discovering its potential and possibilities, and ensuring a thriving, sustainable community for all now and into the future. We want Edmonds to be the best it can be. With your input and sharing of ideas, and with the assistance of city planners, your civic leaders, health, safety and educational leaders, keen business, social and community leaders, we should be able to come up with a wonderful plan of action.

If you are a society, organization, business or institution that serves the Edmonds area and may be interested in having an informational or educational table display at this event (no selling, please), drop us a line at edmondscomm@gmail.com by January 29, 2013. Due to a limited space, tables will be designated on a 1st come, 1st served basis. In addition, please support this event by posting the flyer in a prominent location.

The event will include a presentation by the City Planner, a display of the new Edmonds Community Centre (opening soon), table displays, and an opportunity for you to meet your neighbours and create dialogue about the needs / wants / wishes from all participants. Light refreshments and childminding available (if requested by Feb.1).

Thank you and hope to see you there.

Creating Community for Edmonds Planning Committee

I laud Joyce Rostron and other organizers of this town hall forum in SE Burnaby to revitalize the Edmonds Business & Community Association. I was a member of the group for years, and president for a couple of years, before scheduling conflicts and too many volunteer hours spread over too many groups made me pull back.

At its best, this truly was a superb community organization that connected neighbourhood businesses, NGOs, schools, the RCMP, the Fire Department, and City of Burnaby staff. Why has it faltered off and on over the years? We ran surveys, we had open meetings, we did all sorts of things, but I think the bottom line was too few volunteers trying to do too much.

Please, community, step up and help share the load - - and the joys of participation!

Posted by Paul at 08:59 PM

SAD Cat?

Are cats susceptible to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)? As the relentless rain drags on, she's taken to sitting on a blankie on my desk right under the lamp as I work. Yeah, I know, she loves me and wants to be with me. OK, the lamp is warm even though it's a CFL. All of the above?

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Posted by Paul at 02:45 PM

January 21, 2013

Foggy Byrne Creek Walk

It was foggy across the Lower Mainland of BC today, and SE Burnaby was no exception. My lunchtime walk of the Byrne Creek ravine loop near Edmonds Skytrain Station was a phantasmagoria of eerie, soft, lighting.

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Swings at Ron McLean Park

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Ron McLean Park

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Sun barely visible just above the tree line at bottom

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In Byrne Creek ravine

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Playground equipment at Taylor Park

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The opaque "view" from Taylor Park

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Stairs at the Green development

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Japanese walnut on the old homestead

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Looking north across Byrne Creek ravine toward our townhouse complex

Posted by Paul at 08:51 PM

January 19, 2013

Wife Charging Ahead on another Home Reno Project

The table saw is whirring, the drill is whining, yes, Yumi is up to another home renovation project, this time tackling the master bedroom ensuite bathroom. She's putting on new cupboard doors and drawer fronts - and even reconfiguring things so there will be more drawers. That entails a bit of carpentry and cabinetry, but she's thought it all through. We redid our kitchen together last year, doing nearly all the work ourselves, so she's got some experience.

This project, I'm just mostly staying out of her way. I'm impressed that she's tackling it on her own, and it'll be a great sense of accomplishment to have done it without hubby pitching in, or "helping" with backseat driving.

Posted by Paul at 06:06 PM

January 13, 2013

Kitty Drops a ‘Dangler,’ Daddy Steps on It

Tonight the cat left what I call a "dangler" on the mat in the basement bathroom where her litter is. She is the cleanest cat I've ever had, and rarely does this, but a few times a year I guess some poop momentarily clings to her furry behind, or as she turns to cover her production, an unexpected latecomer slips out. 

And of course she can't pick it up and toss it in the litter, eh? All she can do is give the errant turd a sniff and slink away.

Usually it's no big deal. I find a small, dry, nugget on the floor and dispose of it. But tonight I didn't see it, and it was still fresh, and I stepped on it.

Eeuuwww!

The ensuing sock, mat, and litter-box cleanup was animated, and when I went upstairs when I was done, the cat was feigning sleep. (At this time of day she's usually chomping at the bit to run, and chase, and play.)

I patted her on the head and said, "It's OK, accidents happen."

She looked up with such a mortified expression that I nearly laughed, for fear of melting. Methinks these beasts are more aware than we often give them credit for.

Posted by Paul at 08:22 PM

January 12, 2013

Adderson Delivers Excellent Fiction-Editing Workshop for EAC-BC

I attended a workshop today on editing fiction sponsored by the BC Branch of the Editors' Association of Canada featuring Caroline Adderson.

An accomplished writer, Adderson provided lots of good information on opening pages, cutting, scenes, cutting, characterization, cutting, dialogue, cutting, plot, endings, and yes, you got it, cutting . . . : -).

Seems like my journalism training and work in which a key editing catchphrase is "if in doubt, delete" also applies to fiction.

Adderson was great fun, making for enjoyable learning.

I edit a lot of fiction in translation for Language Lanterns Publications, but that has constraints of remaining true to the original that an editor doesn't face when editing something fresh from a writer. Apparently the February meeting of EAC-BC will feature a speaker on editing translations, so I'm looking forward to it!

Posted by Paul at 07:55 PM

January 07, 2013

Heart Does Best Cover Ever (?) of Stairway to Heaven

Thanks to my Facebook friends who clued me in to the 35th Annual Kennedy Center Honors event. I completely missed it. Heart does Stairway to Heaven live with Led Zeppelin in the audience - Robert Plant is nearly in tears and Jimmy Page is grinning from ear to ear. Yowza!

Posted by Paul at 10:15 PM

January 04, 2013

Mushrooming Photo Files

Back on Oct. 19, 2009, I wrote on this blog that I had 45,330 files in 960 folders under the My Photos directory, for a total of 221GB.

As we get into the new year, as of today, just over three years later, I have 107,860 files in 1,716 folders under the My Photos directory, for a total of 777GB. Yikes! That means that over the last three years I've been adding over 20,000 photos a year!

And I never did get around to culling and tagging photos, as I was supposed to start doing over two years ago. I guess that's a project that must get underway in 2013, as I begin importing photos into Lightroom.

But before I start amassing a gigantic Lightroom database, I wonder if I should cull some of those 107,000-plus photos. Though I immediately trash bad photos after transferring them, I'd guess that somewhere between 5 - 20% of those 107K shots wouldn't be missed, if not more. . .

Posted by Paul at 07:58 PM

January 01, 2013

Foggy Foray to Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary

On a foggy New Year's Day afternoon, Yumi and I took a 3-hour tramp around the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta, BC. Lots of waterfowl and other birds, and the highlight was a tiny saw-whet owl tucked into an evergreen. There were lots of sandhill cranes - over a dozen spread out in several groups around the sanctuary.

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Is that ringwraiths I hear?! I was looking for birds!

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Wood duck and doppelganger

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Posted by Paul at 08:35 PM