March 31, 2013

Each Species’ Extinction Diminishes Me. . .

A FB friend of mine just posted that the Black Rhinoceros has been poached into extinction.

She cited this article.

I wonder when our supposedly superior species will stop killing animals for superstitious reasons.

Perhaps it's time to update Donne, and here is my humble effort:

Each species' extinction diminishes me,
For humans depend on nature,
Though little we know it.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Posted by Paul at 09:19 PM

Elgin Heritage Park Walk

One of our favourite places to walk and watch birds is Elgin Heritage Park in South Surrey. The combination of forest, meadow, ponds and estuary makes for a lot of varying habitat in a small area.





Note: this flower was not plucked, just held and tilted momentarily
to display the insects inside.





We saw three garter snakes in one small area. Perhaps a den nearby?
They seemed a tad less spooked than usual at the sight of humans - -
perhaps it was their first foray into the sun this year?





Posted by Paul at 07:37 PM

Herons Roosting Near Burnaby City Hall

A few years ago herons began roosting in a forest near Burnaby City Hall, and they're back building nests again this year. It's amazing watching these large, wading birds take to the trees with awkward grace.

NOTE: These shots were all taken at a respectful distance so as not to disturb during this key season. We never left the sidewalk.


They're not quiet going about their business.



There are lots of nests.


Coming in for a landing. One of a couple brings twigs to a nest.





A crow was also getting in on the nest-building action.

Posted by Paul at 07:08 PM

March 30, 2013

Lunch in New Brighton Park

We were out and about today running errands and ended up at Fujiya where we loaded up with ten musu (deep fried tempura prawn wrapped in sesame-oil flavoured rice and nori), chicken kara-age (breaded deep fried chicken), and a box of two of sushi.

We headed over to New Brighton Park to picnic in the sun, but it proved to be cold and windy.


Looking across to the north shore mountains


A lovely bee/waspy thingy - a yellowjacket?


Looking west from the park


Looking east toward the Ironworkers' Bridge

Posted by Paul at 08:50 PM

March 29, 2013

Mourning a Tree

The cherry tree that reached up beside our garage to grace our 2nd-story balcony, and that was the subject of many photo shoots posted to this blog, is gone.

The roots of the 25-year-old-plus beauty were causing problems with foundations and plumbing in our townhouse complex.


Choco le chat, enjoying that lovely tree several years ago. . .

Here's a post back from 2010 in its memory.

Wish they would have at least let it blossom with us one more time. . .  Just another week or two, but we must force nature into our work cycles.

I knew it was coming, and was tough when the chainsaws and mega-chipper fired up. . . But later I felt pretty misty.

Posted by Paul at 10:28 PM

March 26, 2013

Online Petition to Keep Page as Parliamentary Budget Officer

Last week I responded to an online petition to keep Kevin Page as the Parliamentary Budget Officer. As I recall, the petition was automated to send a message to the leader of each party in parliament, and to my local MP. I don't put a lot of stock in these things, I think individual written letters still carry more weight, but what's interesting was that only 2 parties responded: NDP (from my local MP Peter Julian) and Green. The response from Elizabeth May ran several paragraphs and contained links to press releases on the topic. Impressive. While I state, as usual when I touch upon political matters, that I'm not a member of any party, I'm reproducing the response from Ms. May's office here because I think it's an excellent example of clear communication. May punches well above her party's weight. (NOTE: Several updates below.)

Thank you for your email about the Parliamentary Budget Office.

I, too, share your concerns about Kevin Page and the PBO. I support Kevin Page and believe the PBO should be accountable to Parliament and a transparent body that provides Canadians with information about the spending of public funds.

Since being in office, Mr. Page has been subject to the Harper Conservatives intimidation tactics. In attempting to ensure accountability and transparency, Kevin Page has now found that his only recourse to do so is through a federal court case. It is deplorable that a civil servant, whose job is to provide accountability and transparency, is unable to do so.

I believe the PBO should be independent of Parliament yet also accountable to it. The Parliamentary Budget Officer should be elected by a majority of party leaders, and given adequate power and funding to carry out the tasks it was mandated to do. Accountability and transparency are paramount to democracy and I hope that the Parliamentary Budget Office can be a prime example of a democratic institution within Canada.

For more information on this topic, here are some press releases in English and French:

Thank you for writing me.


Elizabeth May, O.C., M.P.
Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands
Leader of the Green Party of Canada

UPDATE March 27, 2013

NDP Leader Mulcair is now running a close second with a lengthy response. The Conservatives and Liberals are still MIA.

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns about the termination of Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) Kevin Page's tenure. New Democrats pushed hard for the PBO to be created and continue to lead the push to make the Parliamentary Budget Officer independent.

Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer helps provide oversight for government spending, critical in a functioning democracy. Scrutiny over government spending is one of the primary responsibilities of MPs-the PBO helps Parliamentarians to make informed decisions and better choices for Canadians.

Under Mr. Page, the PBO has helped expose the Conservatives' gross mismanagement on vital issues such as the failed fighter jets, unnecessary Old Age Security cuts, and record setting deficits.

New Democrats believe Canadians deserve an independent budget watchdog. That is why I have put forward legislation to bolster the power and independence of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. You can read more about my legislation and follow its progress here:

Under the current legislation, the PBO serves "at the pleasure" of the Prime Minister. My legislation would remove the PBO from under the thumb of the Prime Minister and make the Parliamentary Budget Officer an independent Officer of Parliament, like the Auditor General.

New Democrats also had called for an extension of Mr. Page's term until a suitable successor is appointed. Peggy Nash, Official Opposition Finance critic, put forward a motion to this effect at the Standing Committee on Finance-but unfortunately it was voted down by the Conservatives - so we are now left without a full-time PBO in the middle of Budget season.

My legislation would avoid future showdowns and legal battles. That way, you'll always have a strong watchdog - not a Conservative lapdog - working for you in Ottawa.

We will continue to hold the Conservatives accountable for their attacks on fiscal accountability and the PBO. Ottawa is broken-but New Democrats are working hard to fix it.

Again, I appreciate hearing from you. I encourage you to share this message with your contacts.

All the best,

Thomas Mulcair, M.P. (Outremont)
Leader of the Official Opposition
New Democratic Party of Canada

UPDATE April 3, 2013

Bob Rae, leader of the Liberals, has weighed in. Still no response from the Conservatives:

On behalf of Liberal Leader Bob Rae, I would like to thank you for taking the time to share your views regarding the retirement of Mr. Kevin Page, Canada's first Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). Over the past five years Mr. Page has performed incredibly well at a very difficult job. Parliamentarians and, in fact, all Canadians were well served by him. The Liberal Party of Canada asked the government to extend his term until a new PBO could be found, but the Conservatives were clearly not interested in letting that happen.

The entire process of finding Mr. Page's replacement has been veiled in secrecy by the Harper Conservatives. Elected Members of Parliament in opposition parties have been told that they are not allowed to know the identities of the people who sit on the PBO search committee.

The Liberal Party of Canada has repeatedly asked the Conservative Chair of the Library Committee, Royal Galipeau, to convene a meeting so that MPs and Senators can find out how the search for a new PBO is proceeding. The committee has not met since early December and Mr. Galipeau has informed us that the committee will not meet to discuss the new PBO. He has also told us that the he will not allow Mr. Page to appear before the committee.

While Mr. Galipeau's actions are outrageous, not all Conservatives are against the PBO. Conservative backbench MPs like Brent Rathgeber have stated publicly that Canada needs a strong PBO to hold the government to account.

An effective PBO is in everyone's best interest, even the Cabinet Ministers whose departments the PBO examines. Transparency makes departments stronger over time. It is unfortunate that Stephen Harper prefers to have as few watchdogs as possible examining how he spends taxpayer money.

Thank you for taking the time to write to the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Colin McKone
Office of the Liberal Leader

Posted by Paul at 11:32 AM

March 24, 2013

Sunday Ramble in West Vancouver’s Lighthouse Park

Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver is one of our favourite place to get away for some rambling in deep woods near the sea. Yumi loves to explore the tidal pools, and there are lots of opportunities for photography.









Posted by Paul at 07:10 PM

March 22, 2013

Wow, I Read a Book on my Kobo Glo!

I am far from being a Luddite, I love my computers (yes, I have several), but though I've had an ancient  monochrome Kindle for years, and picked up a Kobo Glo recently, I've never read much on eBook readers. I have lots of paper books that I haven't gotten around to reading. . .

But I am learning how to create ePubs as part of my editing and communication business, so I figure I'd better start reading more of  them.

Today I read Head First WordPress on my Kobo, and aside from some formatting glitches and typos (hm, a bit disappointing for an O'Reilly book), it went well. But I certainly see why you have to be careful about formatting eBooks, as the ePub version of the book did have some problems, at least as displayed on a Kobo.

I attended an excellent all-day workshop on creating electronic books presented by eBound Canada a few weeks ago, and one of the things hammered into our heads was that you must test your ePubs on as many different readers as possible, because they will not render the same. That's why I got the Kobo to complement my Kindle. And as soon as the budget allows, it'll also be a great reason to get an iPad  : -).

Posted by Paul at 09:40 PM

March 18, 2013

Cat Love

Late in the afternoon, Choco the cat plants herself on the stairs to the front door and waits for Yumi to come home from work.

Today, Choco expanded her mommy-love repertoire.

She'd been lazing in the sun on her cat tower in an upstairs bedroom, and to take advantage of those rare rays, I'd moved up from my basement office to the living room, and was studying some research in relation to a job for a client. Suddenly I heard her bouncing down the stairs, eagerly meowking with every bound. She reached the bottom of two flights just in time to hear the key go in the lock.

I guess she saw Yumi coming. . .

I suspect many folks would think that's pretty impressive, for a cat.

But I've been blessed to experience deep cat love before. In my early teens I had major back surgery. I had to leave my hometown and travel to Toronto Sick Kids Hospital, and was away from home for nearly two months. When I returned, it was to a skin-and-bones cat that had almost pined away for me while I was gone.

It was amazing how the cat revived when I returned. I was in a cast from hips to armpits and he sat on me, slept on me, left me just long enough to eat and take care of his business. . . He was my best buddy.

Give and you shall receive. There's lots of love to go around, particularly when accompanied by respect and understanding.

Posted by Paul at 09:58 PM

March 17, 2013

Chum Fry Identified on Sunny Spring Stroll Along Byrne Ck.

Yumi and I took advantage of this sunny day to look for fry - salmon babies - in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby where we volunteer as streamkeepers. Pina, another volunteer, had seen fry nearly a week ago, so we knew they were popping out of the gravel where they'd been laid as eggs by spawning salmon last fall.

Please note that it is illegal to net fry, and streamkeepers do so for ID purposes only with permission from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Here are few shots of the chum fry we saw today, and the burgeoning spring colours.


My heart soars to see the creek running clear and bright.


A sighting of the blue-earmuffed, red-gloved, rubber-booted
Japanese-Canadian streamkeeper!


And there they are, a school of chum fry. Whew! This is so rewarding
to streamkeeper volunteers to see the salmon life-cycle perpetuated
in a troubled urban creek.






Posted by Paul at 09:39 PM

March 15, 2013

Marine Way, Marine Crossing Gridlocked this aft by Vehicle Accident

I happened to arrive at Marine Crossing in SE Burnaby around noon today, just in time to get caught up in a massive gridlock apparently caused by an accident on Marine Way. What was supposed to be a quick trip for groceries turned into over an hour of wandering around most of the stores in the shopping centre, killing time while waiting for the traffic to start moving. I saw no point in joining the hundreds of vehicles idly idling away, while inching along, wasting gas and spewing carbon.


Posted by Paul at 03:32 PM

BC Streamkeeper Workshop 2013 Registration Open

The biennial SEP Community Workshop is back for 2013. It'll be on Bowen Island from May 17-19. I've attended at least three of these over the years and they're always a great combination of learning and fun. In a first for me, I'll be speaking at this year's event on the topic of social media, public relations, and media relations for non-profit groups.

You can find out lots more, and download registration forms here.

Posted by Paul at 12:00 PM

March 09, 2013

Tenth Anniversary of my Dad’s Passing

My dad died ten years ago today. It's hard to believe it's been that long. I still miss him. In remembrance of his contributions to his community, his church, his province, Canada, and beyond, I am reproducing his obituary here. While his achievements were impressive, he didn't seek them, he rose to them.

Dmytro Cipywnyk, C.M., M.D.

Born: April 15, 1927  Died: March 9, 2003

With profound sadness the family announces the sudden passing of Dmytro Cipywnyk, C.M., M.D., 75, in Saskatoon, SK, on Sunday, March 9, 2003.

He is survived by his loving wife Maura; son Paul (Yumi), Burnaby; daughter Raissa (Bill) Choi, Los Angeles; and grandchildren Raya & Benjamin Choi. He leaves sisters Dorothy Cherewick, Matilda Allison & Iris Feist, brother Bohdan (Naddie) Cipywnyk, and many nephews, nieces and their children. He was predeceased by his father Panteleymon ('62), mother Anna ('94), brother Paul ('52), and brothers-in-law Pat Feist, Bill Allison, Bill Cherewick & Harry Papish.

An active community leader, doctor, educator, promoter of multiculturalism, and supporter of educational and charitable causes, he will be best remembered for his gentle humanity, empathy, and kindness. His sensitivity to others, and willingness to listen and help, earned him the respect and affection of people from all walks of life. Throughout his years, from breaking the soil, to resuming an interrupted education as an adult, to assuming positions of responsibility at the local, provincial, national and international levels, he never lost touch with his roots, his extended family, his many friends, and his community.

Completing primary education near Brooksby, SK, and high school in Winnipeg, Dmytro received his Bachelor of Arts ('55) from the University of Saskatchewan, Master of Science ('57) from McGill University, Doctor of Medicine ('63) from the U. of S., and Fellow in Social and Community Psychiatry ('71), Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx State, NY.

Beginning his career as a family doctor in the mid-60s, he was an Assistant and Associate Professor with the Department of Psychiatry at the U. of S. from 1971-1992. He was Director of Rehabilitation at the Saskatchewan Alcoholism Commission, and Medical Director, Saskatchewan Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission. Throughout his career, he headed and served on various associations and committees, among them the Saskatchewan Psychiatric Association, Canadian Addictions Foundation, and the Ukrainian Academy of Medical Sciences. In conjunction with solidifying the independence of Ukraine, he was appointed to the Canadian Society for International Health -- Partners in Health Advisory Committee (Ukraine).

Dmytro was committed to the betterment of the Ukrainian community. He served as president of his local church and was a director of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada. He also served terms as president of the Ukrainian Professional and Business Club of Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan Council and the National Council of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, and the Ukrainian World Congress. Most recently, he was chair of the Advisory Committee on Saskatchewan-Ukraine relations and co-chair of the Prairie Centre for Ukrainian Heritage. He served the Canadian Ethnocultural Council as board member and president, and sat on the University of Saskatchewan Senate and the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews.

In recognition of his significant contributions to society, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada ('92), received the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada ('92), the UCC Centennial Bronze Medal for Community Service ('92), the Shevchenko Medal ('95), an Honorary Doctorate in Canon Law from St. Andrew's College in Winnipeg ('95), Special Recognition from President Leonid Kuchma for contributions to the development of Independent Ukraine ('97), the International Association of Ukrainian Entrepreneurs Golden Trident Prize ('97) and the 1998 Nation Builders Award from the UCC Saskatchewan Provincial Council. In 2002, he received the Queen's 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee Medal, and the Order "For Merit" of Ukraine.

Posted by Paul at 09:02 PM

March 08, 2013

Hello Kitty? What You Got Kitty? You Go Kitty!

Yesterday I was sitting in the living room watching TV when the cat came up the stairs from the basement with something dangling from her mouth. My first thought was she had a humungo hairball and that she had come to me because she was choking, but I then realized it was a mouse. Being the strong, brave, 200+ pounder that I am, I yelled: "Honey, Choco's got a mouse. Help!"

No, silly, I wasn't afraid of the mouse -- I knew Yumi would want to rescue it, and for that we needed a net or gloves, because I wasn't going to grab a potentially diseased rodent with my bare hands.

Yumi came running with an aquarium net, and there ensued a game of "get the cat to drop the mouse, the mouse plays dead for 1.5 seconds and then takes off, Choco recaptures the mouse. . ."

On the third attempt we successfully separated mouse from cat while directing mouse into net. Whew!

We opened the front door, placed the net on the walk, and disentangled the mouse. It lay there unmoving.

"Oh, it's dead," cried Yumi.

"Give it another second or two," quoth I.

Sure enough, given another moment unhanded, the dead mouse miraculously revived and sprinted off into the bushes.

Good Karma is coming our way, eh?

The cat was peeved that we'd freed its new playmate, and after fruitlessly searching the living room, repaired downstairs to stand watch on the storage space beneath the stairs where she'd nabbed the invader.

I posted a synopsis of the above on Facebook, and several people assured me that the cat was just fixated on the site of her conquest, and her behaviour didn't indicate the presence of more mice.

We went to sleep last night with the cat still under the stairs.

We woke up this morning with the cat snoozing guard in front of the half-open door to the storage beneath the stairs.

Then tonight Choco came up the stairs with another catch. The net had been misplaced, but eventually another game of "drop the mouse, cat recaptures mouse, etc." resulted in another rodent being freed into the great outdoors. We lavishly praised the cat, for fear she'd stop bringing us any remaining mice alive, and would simply kill anything she found in private . . .

Which is what cats do, but she's a well-fed, well-loved, well-exercised and played-with indoor cat, so setting the mice free outdoors contributes to the natural, wild, foodchain, eh?

I've been surprized that she's been "gentle" enough with her recent catches to bring them to us alive. So is she honouring her "parents"? Or is she bringing us live mice to train her "kids"? : -)

Yumi found some dry Halloween gourds in the storage under the staird with gnaw marks, and we'll have to check what else may have attracted mice down there. We keep our camping kits there in plastic containers, but perhaps one has cracked open. There's also the earthquake kit right beside the back door in a large backpack. Will have to check if that's been breached, too. . .

But thanks, kitty!

Posted by Paul at 08:23 PM

March 07, 2013

Mason Bee Condo Presentation at Cameron Rec Centre in Burnaby

I received an invite from City of Burnaby Parks to attend a presentation on adopting mason bee condos installed in parks, and I snapped up the opportunity to learn more. There were two presenters from the Pollinator's Paradise program run by the Environmental Youth Alliance.

A few of their key points were that bees are in trouble due to development, pesticides, etc., yet through their pollination services, it's estimated that they contribute to 1/3 of the food we eat. Yes, a third!

The Blue Orchard Mason Bees used in the program are very docile and since the monitors do not work with them in their active stages, as honeybee keepers do, there is next to zero risk of stings. Basically monitors just keep an eye on the condos to see if they are being utilized, and at the end of the season they collect the nests and protect them in a cool, dark place, until setting them back out in the spring.

If I remember the figure, the economic value of pollinators is considered to be around $1 billion annually in Canada.

The City of Burnaby's mason bee program installs "bee condos" in parks, as long as folks step up to monitor and care for them. I was happy to see Burnaby City Councillor Anne Kang at the presentation, and she was excited to share that Taylor Park Elementary School was taking part in the program.

My wife and I are interested in joining the program, and perhaps getting other volunteers from the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers involved as well.

Posted by Paul at 08:34 PM

March 01, 2013

Nominations for City of Burnaby Environment Awards 2013 Now Open

The 2013 City of Burnaby Environment Awards nomination process is now open ( ).

Submission deadline for nominations: Monday, April 15, 2013

There are six (6) categories: Business Stewardship, Communications, Community Stewardship, Green Choices, Planning and Development, and Youth.

Posted by Paul at 12:55 PM