April 29, 2013

Balefire Says Goodbye to the Black Lion

Though I moved back to Canada from Japan over ten years ago, news like this blog post by a good buddy from my Big Mikan days still move me. Mike/Balefire and I used to tag team to produce the Tokyo PC Users Group newsletter for several years, and he's an excellent writer.

He says goodbye to a favourite pub in this post, a place I got to perhaps once or twice a month or so for a couple of years before I left Japan. I also remember D.B. Cooper's, another bar in the story. Yes, those were some wild and woolly days back when Tokyo seemed to float on wads of 10,000-yen bills, and I was younger and much less wise : -).

Posted by Paul at 12:39 PM

April 28, 2013

Alice Lake Spring Stroll

To take the edge off of my increasing wanderlust as spring progresses and the roads and trails call, we headed up to Alice Lake Provincial Park just north of Squamish, BC, today. We had only a few hours, but it was enough to get out of town for a bit, and take a stroll around the lake. From June through September this park is crowded, and sometimes the road is closed when the parking lots fill up. But in April we saw only half a dozen other people on the lake trail.

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Posted by Paul at 08:05 PM

April 25, 2013

Cherry Blossoms in SE Burnaby

We lost "our" cherry tree recently, one that graced our balcony in our townhouse complex in SE Burnaby, because its roots were causing damage. We still have some along the path in front of our place, though. Today Choco the cat was crying for a walk, and a nibble on the grass. She's an indoor cat, and has the harness routine down pat - she knows if she goes out that she has to wear it. She meows by the door, and then waits patiently as we snap it on.

Today as she meandered around near the front door - - she never goes far - - I took a few shots of the lovely blossoms.

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Posted by Paul at 02:56 PM

April 24, 2013

Test to Blog after Upgrading to MySQL 5

test

We (still) have fire!

Posted by Paul at 12:28 PM

April 18, 2013

‘Southgate’ Development Concept for SE Burnaby

The City of Burnaby and Ledingham McAllister are working on concepts for redeveloping the former Safeway warehouse lands in SE Burnaby - an area of nearly 50 acres. You can check out the Southgate Neighbourhood Concept online and contribute your comments.

I attended the Community Open House on April 18, and was impressed with some of the progressive ideas being put forth. I have volunteered with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers for over ten years, and we've been keeping a close eye on any potential development in the upper watershed. We've attended open houses on area development plans and parks proposals for years, and have submitted lengthy written responses to the City in the past.

Streamkeepers would like to see the creek "daylighted" or brought back up from pipes in which it was buried in that area over 50 years ago. Byrne Creek originally ran from near Kingsway and 10th, and passed through what used to be a thriving wetland in what is now Ernie Winch Park.

Several streamkeepers attended the initial open house, and chatted with the developer, and staff from Burnaby's Planning, Engineering and Parks departments. I was reassured that there definitely will be water features, but there is still some question as to how "hard" or natural they will be. "Hard" means things like concrete pools and channels rather than living, natural ones. . .

There is also some question as to how Ernie Winch Park will be added to. Years ago it appeared that there were plans to expand the park itself substantially once the Safeway lands changed hands, but now other options are in play as well, such as spreading smaller pockets of green space throughout the upcoming development. I haven't made up my mind which way I'd prefer. Need to see more plans.

The proposed development interests me not only from a streamkeeper perspective. I also have a passion for sustainability, particularly when it comes to the environment and urban planning. I sit on Burnaby's Environment Committee as a citizen representative, on the Burnaby Board of Trade's Environmental Sustainability Committee, and was recently named to the Steering Committee for Burnaby's in-progress Environmental Sustainability Strategy. Along with streams and urban biodiversity, we also need communities that promote walking, cycling and taking transit, and initial ideas regarding Southgate take such concepts into full consideration.

I think that Southgate, done well to its fullest potential, could become another UniverCity - the multiple award-winning green development near Simon Fraser University on Burnaby Mountain.

Now wouldn't that be something all Burnabarians could be proud of!

Posted by Paul at 10:03 PM

April 17, 2013

IABC Social Media Workshop

The International Association of Business Communicators BC Chapter hosted a workshop called Let's Get It Started: Creating a Social Media Strategy to Fit Your Company's Needs on April 17 in Vancouver.

I was a bit leery about signing up, because I've been to several social media presentations that I though were pitched way to low to keep their audiences interested. But Karin Basaraba of PR Associates did an excellent job of mixing it up so that there was something interesting for folks with a wide range of experience.

Participating in social media as a company, or other organization, is very different from doing it for personal reasons. Policy, branding, consistency, public relations, marketing and more all come into play. I've seen too many companies using social media ineffectively, and Basaraba had lots of good information to share on how to do it well.

The workshop was definitely worth the time and money.

Posted by Paul at 03:22 PM

April 11, 2013

Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver AGM and Spring Forum 2013

The ISCMV AGM and Spring Forum 2013 was an informative event with great networking held on April 11 at the Richmond Oval. There were lots of stimulating speakers and it was wonderful to see lots of capable folks elected to the board. It was also my first time to visit the Richmond Olympic Oval, and it's a very impressive facility.

I first became acquainted with invasive species through streamkeeping, as volunteers have their hands full with battling invasive plants that wipe out swaths of native vegetation along local creeks and streams, creating monocultures that have a huge negative impact on local ecosystems.

The ISCMV events provide up-to-date methodologies and case studies on various ways to manage invasive plants, and are also a great place to meet folks from municipalities, regional governments, senior levels of government, and volunteer groups. It's always interesting and educational to learn what approaches people are taking in different places, and hearing about their successes, and tips to avoid exacerbating problems.

Posted by Paul at 09:07 PM

April 10, 2013

Picked up Mason Bees from City of Burnaby Parks

I picked up a teeny box of mason bees from City of Burnaby Parks this afternoon. They have a cool "adopt a bee condo" program where they will install "bee condos" in City parks as long as citizens volunteer to monitor and maintain them. My wife and I are happy to play a small part in this. Bees are wonderful creatures that we cannot live without - seriously, their role as pollinators is hugely underappreciated by society. Without them we'd be sadly lacking in fruits and vegetables, not to mention all the other things that we depend on healthy plants for.

I was surprized at how tiny the box was. We're to keep it in our fridge until we have steady daytime temperatures of at least 11-12 C, and then we are to install them in the box in the park next door.

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Posted by Paul at 03:06 PM

April 09, 2013

Burnaby City Hall Cherry Blossoms

Leaving Burnaby City Hall after an Environment Committee meeting tonight I snapped this quick photo of the lovely cherry blossoms in the evening dusk.

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Posted by Paul at 08:12 PM

April 05, 2013

Interviewed by Burnaby Now on Fisheries Budget Cuts, Downloading on Volunteers

I was interviewed recently by Jennifer Moreau of the Burnaby Now in regard to more budget cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and how that's having a negative impact on habitat protection while downloading work to volunteers that the government should be doing.

Huge budget cuts worry local streamkeeper

Posted by Paul at 09:09 AM

April 01, 2013

Deer Lake Circumnavigation on Sunny Easter Monday

Yumi and I walked around Burnaby's Deer Lake today, enjoying the sunshine, and the flora and fauna.

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From the northeast with Metrotown and towers along Kingsway off in
the distance.

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Deer Lake Brook.

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Heron taking off at Deer Lake rookery.

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Towhee - these shy birds can be difficult to photograph.

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Playing "spot the pheasant in the bushes."

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Posted by Paul at 09:14 PM