May 12, 2014

DFO ‘Wins’ Code of Silence Award from Canadian Journalists

Let me preface the following by saying that for many years I've volunteered with many excellent DFO staff, and it saddens me that they are so hamstrung by Harper's minders in Ottawa. Here's yet another ludicrous example:

VANCOUVER, May 11, 2014 /CNW/ - Who would have thought a routine question on the salmon fishery on Vancouver Island would require navigating the hoops and weirs of the federal government?

Yet when a journalist working in Port Alberni asked, "How many Chinook salmon do you require for your annual egg take?" the answer would take four days and the assistance (sic) of a communications staffer over 4,500 kilometres away in Ottawa. To show how ridiculous this obstructive delay was, this is information Robertson Creek Hatchery's manager and interpretive staff members routinely share with visitors from local schools and youth groups.

The lockdown on that elusive number was implemented when the answer was prefaced by the journalist identifying himself and that he worked for a media outlet. It's symptomatic of the situation journalists working across Canada face whenever they attempt to interact with government staffers working in their local communities. For this reason, the CAJ awards its annual Code of Silence to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. . .

Read the entire press release here.

This obsessive centralized control is not only silly and anti-democratic, it's also a massive waste of taxpayer dollars. Can you imagine how many staff hours were devoted to this insane exercise?

For an example of how to do it right, simply look to our neighbours to the south.

Here are media guidelines for NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) staff:

Fundamental Research Communications

  • DAO 219-1 explicitly allows researchers to publicly discuss the results of basic or applied research in science or engineering - termed "Fundamental Research Communications" -- without prior approval from NOAA's Office of Communications. This includes media interviews.
  • In these discussions or interviews, you may draw scientific conclusions from your research. If your conclusion could be misunderstood as an official NOAA position when it is not, you should say that it is your individual conclusion and not the view of the Department or NOAA.
  • You are encouraged, but not required, to use your public affairs specialist to facilitate interviews. If a member of the media requests an interview on a Fundamental Research Communication through public affairs, and you agree, the Communications Office will facilitate the interview.

Media Interviews

  • You are no longer required to submit anticipated questions and answers prior to media interviews unless requested to do so by public affairs.

The Canadian federal government's stance is akin to that of a totalitarian system.

Posted by Paul at 10:32 AM

May 04, 2014

Burnaby’s Riverway Clubhouse Features ‘Live Music Thursdays’

My wife and I had dinner at the Riverway Clubhouse last week. The food was good. We went for the 3-course special (starter, main and desert for $33/person - PDF menu here), and found it a bit too much. I had the calamari starter and Yumi had the salt-and-pepper wings (it seems like they don't get too many folks asking for the dinner special, and they said we could have any starter from the day menu as well), with both of us following with steaks. Yumi finished with tiramisu, while I had the chocolate mousse. We're not used to that much food in one sitting, so felt somewhat "heavy" in the digestion department for the rest of the evening, but it all went down great : -).

It was that evening that we discovered the "Live Music Thursdays". Solo performers, 2-course dinner plus desert buffet for $19.95/person. That seems like a great deal. You can check out the summer 2014 lineup here: PDF download.

Posted by Paul at 06:32 PM

April 24, 2014

Wild Salmon Appear to Come Last in DFO Mission Statement

Hmm, was reading the Department of Fisheries and Oceans "Mission, Vision and Values" webpage today and found that

The Department:

supports strong economic growth in our marine and fisheries sectors by supporting exports and advancing safe maritime trade;

supports innovation through research in expanding sectors such as aquaculture and biotechnology; and

contributes to a clean and healthy environment and sustainable aquatic ecosystems through habitat protection, oceans management, and ecosystems research

So where would wild Pacific salmon fit on that list, which I presume is prioritized? Wild fish appear to come dead, no pun intended, last. . .

Posted by Paul at 01:10 PM

April 23, 2014

Last Year with City of Burnaby Environment Committee

Had an excellent meeting late this afternoon with other citizen representatives on the City of Burnaby Environment Committee. It's hard to believe that we've been serving for nearly six years, and that our re-extended terms end this year. Great group of folks, both volunteers and staff. I'm sure we'll be seeing each other around the community, but I'm going to miss meeting you regularly!

Posted by Paul at 08:17 PM

April 18, 2014

Getting Increasingly Frustrated with Aging Windows 7 Box

I've been getting frustrated with my Windows 7 box over the last few months. It seems to be slowing. I bought the current tower about 5-1/2 years ago, which means it's approaching senior status in computer years : - )

Computers tend to slow over the years as the programs and data pile up, and despite good care and attention, eventually one has to upgrade.

I've upgraded the box to two larger HDs over the years, a primary 1.5TB and a secondary 2TB, but the other specs have stayed the same.

It's the system RAM, at 6 GB, that's one factor in this machine starting to feel cramped and slow, and with a maximum configuration of 8GB for this motherboard, I don't think adding 2 GB will make a huge difference. The other factor is the 512 MB video card. That's also constraining my photo and video work.

I bought a refurbished Mac Mini about half a year ago, and topped it up to 16 GB of RAM, and it blasts through stuff. So I think there will be a new Windows 8.1 box in my not-too-distant future, with a state-of-the-art processor, at least 16 GB of RAM, and likely dual 4 TB HDs.

Posted by Paul at 07:51 PM

April 05, 2014

Took the Plunge, Signed up for MS Office 365

For some reason I had not been happy when Microsoft began moving toward providing software applications by subscription. I'd already bitten the annual subscription bullet with Adobe Creative Cloud, but I just don't see huge changes between iterations of Office apps.

Today I took a closer look at Office 365 for Small Business Premium, and I changed my mind. It's actually a good deal.

For C$159 + tax/year, you get 5 installations of the main Office apps on Windows and Mac boxes, plus 5 installations on tablets. With my main Windows 7 tower, a Windows 7 notebook, and a Mac Mini, that's three installs already.

And the subscription method also means that you're always being automatically updated to new versions of the applications, along with security updates.

Not to mention the ability to access the Office apps online through a browser, and share docs in the cloud. I've already got Dropbox and Google Drive for cloud sharing, but more space is always welcome.

You can now count me among the converted.

Posted by Paul at 08:08 PM

April 03, 2014

Culling Books, Buying New Kindle

Inspired by several folks who have switched nearly 100% to eReaders, I shall set myself a challenge/reward. A new Kindle Paperwhite goes for C$139. When I choose 139 books in my overcrowded office to donate, and actually drop them off at a selected charity, I shall reward myself with a new Kindle to replace the ancient, 1st-gen 6-incher that I rarely use anymore because the battery is on its last legs.

Several hours later: the car is loaded with exactly 139 books to donate : -)

I have to admit that this book-lover feels relief. I was becoming seriously overcrowded in my office, and the family was not into allowing more shelves to be installed in other parts of the home! I should probably donate another several hundred books. . .

Years ago I did a massive cull. I donated somewhere around 400-500 books to local charities. The bulk was from my collection of Soviet and Eastern European tomes. Dry, sad, violent stuff. At one point in my life I was leaning toward becoming a Kremlinologist, but with the (thankful) collapse of the USSR, that seemed moot.

But I wonder, now, with the rise of a new Russian Empire, built, and incorporating the worst of previous regimes. Perhaps I should have held on to those books. . .

Posted by Paul at 09:22 PM

April 02, 2014

Why, Oh Why, do software installs on Windows still require reboots?

I'm in the midst of installing TurboTax 2013 on my Windows 7 box. The install went fine until we got to the point of updating the software online, which for some damn reason, required a reboot after the TT files were updated.

I don't know if this is a Microsoft issue or an Intuit issue, or both, but you'd think that after decades of use, they'd have figured out a way to do this without rebooting.

Rebooting is a pain in the ass. I keep upward of a dozen programs up and running all the time. To go through a reboot takes close to ten minutes, if not longer, to shut everything down, and then get everything back where I left off.

Posted by Paul at 02:30 PM | TrackBack

March 27, 2014

Welcoming Edmonds Town Centre Redevelopment in Burnaby

I don't know how often watershed stewards welcome development, but as a volunteer streamkeeper I'm looking forward to some major redevelopment in the upper Edmonds area of Burnaby that impacts Byrne Creek.

Why am I excited? Because two huge areas -- the former Safeway distribution/warehousing site, and the present Value Village site -- are presently nearly 100% impervious. They are basically asphalt or concrete from corner to corner. Impervious areas are bad for urban creeks and watersheds because any rain that falls on them shoots directly into drains and into the creek. These massive flows cause erosion, and carry pollutants into the waterways.

Urban watersheds are much healthier when rain is allowed to percolate into the ground, where it is naturally filtered and passes slowly into creeks as ground water.

So I figure that with 2010s standards and best management practices, as opposed to 100% impervious 1950s and 60s standards, things can only improve.

The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society has been appearing at development open houses and forums, and we've made great contacts with the developers, not to mention our long-standing ongoing relationships with the City of Burnaby Planning and Engineering Departments. With everyone working together, I think we will see some fantastic, creek-friendly amenities happening along with the planned developments.

I'm excited about the opportunities that may include "daylighting" or opening up some of the upper creek where it was piped decades ago, and other potential benefits such as rain gardens, roadside swales, infiltration ponds and galleries, etc. These would not only be beneficial to the health of the creek, they would also provide beautification that would positively impact property values. Win - win, eh?

Posted by Paul at 03:59 PM

March 14, 2014

Burnaby Posts Impressive Public Engagement Schedule for Enviro Strategy

The City of Burnaby has had an Environmental Sustainability Strategy underway for some time now, to supplement the Social and Economic Sustainability Plans that it has produced over the last few years. I was named to the Steering Committee, and have greatly enjoyed the process, ably facilitated by well-organized Burnaby staff and consultants.

The other day I noticed that that an impressive list of public engagement events has been posted to the ESS website. With such a wide variety of venues over so many days, there's no excuse for citizens to say they aren't being consulted. Make your voice heard!

Check out the engagement opportunities here.

Posted by Paul at 07:43 PM

March 12, 2014

Toying With Writing a Couple of Monetized Blogs

I'm contemplating setting up a couple of blogs that I would attempt to monetize. I have been blogging off and on for over ten years, but I have never participated in any ad programs or other reward systems.

I recently bought the domain names, and in case I decide to try this. Those are my three passions: reading/writing/editing, photography, and music, and my middle name is Zenon, hence the "paulz" works on a couple of levels.

I'd most likely start with paulzbooks for book reviews, and writing and editing related posts. I make my living as a freelance editor, so it's a natural fit.

Of course such a venture would only make sense if I eventually earned an equivalent per-hour rate to my standard editing rate. There are those who claim (often those who are flogging blog-writing courses and programs) that good money can be earned in such ventures, depending on the quality of the blog and the audience that it attracts.

I'll give it some more thought and research.

Posted by Paul at 08:07 PM | TrackBack

February 26, 2014

Exports Must Replace Consumer Spending in Canada

I recently read an article in Business in Vancouver that said exports must replace consumer spending to drive growth in Canada. Here's the first para from the story:

When it comes to the engine powering future economic growth in Canada, prepare for a fuel switch: the indebted Canadian consumer is tapped out and will have to be replaced by an increase in exports, especially to emerging markets in Asia.

I have a few questions about this. Haven't Canadian consumers been driving massive imports from Asia? So if we start consuming less and exporting more to those Asian consumers, who will consume all those former Asian exports? Won't those Asian countries be expecting their own consumers to step up domestic consumption?

I also wonder why we intelligent humans still can't seem to figure out a way to have healthy economies that are not dependent on continuous pyramid schemes of endless growth.

Posted by Paul at 11:44 AM

February 06, 2014

Run of River Studies

I recently ran across a press release by the Wilderness Committee highlighting that the State of California has excluded British Columbia run-of-river (ROR) hydro projects as qualifying under its environmental standards:

"On January 15th, 2014, the California Energy Commission adopted a final report that excludes private run-of-river hydro projects in BC from the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). Basically, the report confirms what we have known all along: that BC river diversion projects don’t meet California’s environmental standards when it comes to producing electricity, because of British Columbia’s lax environmental laws and the significant impacts the projects have on our rivers, streams and fish."

There have also been a couple of other ROR reports released recently.

A review done by the Pacific Salmon Foundation (download PDF).

And a review by Watershed Watch Salmon Society (download PDF).

Trying to sort it all out, but my gut tells me ROR is death by a thousand cuts.

Posted by Paul at 02:13 PM

December 15, 2013

1998 Subaru Chugging Along

I love this.

Subaru has published maintenance schedules for its vehicles out to the 500,000 km mark.

Our '98 Outback is around 260,000 km, we just had some major servicing done, and the mechanic said it looks good to go for at least another 100K (with continued regular servicing). Says he's seen plenty of Subarus with over 300K on them, and one client is driving one with over 500K.

Posted by Paul at 10:25 PM

November 30, 2013

My Heart Goes Out to DFO Staff

As more and more bad news about Canada's politically hamstrung Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and new implementation of the recently gutted Fisheries Act and its new regs comes my way, I just want to say that I really feel for the fine, upstanding, hardworking DFO staff that I know and work with as a volunteer, on the ground, and in the community. I wish them well as they struggle to protect the fish, wildlife and habitat that I know they love, under the present uncaring political regime.

I guess that sentiment may put me on Harper's "terrorist environmentalist" list. So be it. I've probably been on it for years already anyway, just for volunteering as a streamkeeper, and caring about biodiversity in my community.

Posted by Paul at 10:38 PM

November 21, 2013

City of Burnaby Presentation on Proposed Pipeline Expansion

The City of Burnaby's Environmental Sustainability Strategy Steering Committee was briefed by City planning staff a week or two ago on the ramifications of the Kinder Morgan TransMountain Pipeline proposal.

Mayor and Council have directed that the presentation be delivered to all City committees, and I saw an updated version last night before an Environment Committee meeting.

Mayor and Council basically oppose the proposed KM TMP expansion, for several reasons. I'll try to recall some of the highlights of the presentation:

1) From an original plan to approximately double TMP capacity, the latest proposal is to triple it.

2) The terminus in Burnaby would triple Aframax tanker berths from 1 to 3.

3) The original proposal called for nearly all, if not all, new capacity to be built on the original right of way (ROW). The latest proposal calls for significant sections to be built in new ROWs, and it appears that parts of all of the proposed routes within Burnaby would run through residential and park/conservation areas.

4) The tank farm in Burnaby would expand dramatically in capacity. If I recall correctly, the capacity would be the highest of any tank farm along the entire route from, and including, Edmonton.

5) The added pipeline now appears to be designated nearly all for heavy crude, whereas previously a mix of products was proposed.

6) Nearly all, if not all, of the additional capacity is designated for export, and there are not even guarantees that the present Chevron refinery in Burnaby would get product (my understanding is that it has resorted to getting some product by rail shipment to keep itself at an efficient level of operation).

7) When you add up all the various levels of spills insurance provided by various organizations, they total $1.3 billion, and just one even partial Aframax tanker spill could be well over that amount. Any cleanup/compensation that exceeds $1.3 billion means that taxpayers pick up the tab.

8) The KM proposal calls for the City of Burnaby Fire Department to be first responders to any spill, fire, etc. The FD is saying they don't have the capacity, and that they are not told ahead of time what product is moving through the pipe at any particular time.

9) Burnaby already has experience with a significant KM spill (pipeline penetrated by backhoe) that was ruled as the fault of KM and a contractor, and was basically due to human error in conjunction with poor maps.

Posted by Paul at 12:14 PM

September 10, 2013

City of Burnaby Enviro Strategy Planning Rocks!

I'm on the City of Burnaby Environmental Sustainability Strategy Steering Committee, and as the ESS moves into its next stage, I will join the Ecosystems sub-committee.

The Ecosystems sub-com includes biodiversity, ecosystem protection & restoration, ecosystem stewardship, parks and open space planning and management, urban forests, stream protection and enhancement, water quality, rainwater management, marine and estuary shorelines, etc. Lots of other interesting sub-committees will look at land use & development, transportation, buildings & energy, climate change & air quality, food systems, etc.

I love volunteering with such a great group of citizens!

Posted by Paul at 08:51 PM

September 03, 2013

Stand up for Science Rally–Vancouver

Monday, September 16, 2013

11:00am until 1:00pm

Vancouver Art Gallery - North plaza on Georgia Street

Fed up with the erosion of science in Canada? Want our government to support science in the public interest? Think that decisions should be based on evidence and facts instead of ideology? Join us on September 16th to Stand up for Science!

It's time to stand up for science in the public interest in Canada. In recent years we have seen cuts to many important scientific institutions, science funding has shifted focus towards the commercialization of research, and government scientists have lost the ability to communicate their research to the public.

Science matters to Canadians. Good science, when coupled with good decision-making, keeps our water and air clean, keeps us healthy, keeps our food safe and prepares Canada for the future. Science in the public interest is crucial for our well-being and long-term prosperity.

To make the public aware of this, and to call on the Federal government to make a strong commitment to science in the public interest, Stand up for Science Vancouver will take place along with rallies across the country on September 16th 2013.

It's your future - make it your science.
Confirmed Speakers:
Dr. David Suzuki, Author, geneticist, environmentalist and award winning broadcaster.
Tzeporah Berman, Author, former co-director of Greenpeace International's Global Climate and Energy Program, Director Forest Ethics Advocacy
Alexandra Morton, Scientist, Researcher, activist
Fin Donnelly, River's advocate, Member of Parliament, Federal Critic for Fisheries
Joe Foy, National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee
Dr. Sarah Otto, Department of Zoology, population genetics and evolutionary biology UBC
Dr. Craig Orr, Scientist, researcher, Executive Director Watershed Watch Salmon Society
Dr. Thomas Kerr - Co-director Addiction and Urban Health Research Initiative, UBC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
Dr. Bob Evans, internationally recognized health economist
Everyone who cares about the future of science in Canada!

Posted by Paul at 10:00 PM

August 03, 2013

Computer Madness in my Office

It's been a wild and woolly few days in my office when it comes to computer madness.

At the beginning of the week I ordered a refurbished Mac Mini from the Apple Canada online store. (Check out the Apple Store refurbished/clearance section here.) It's the latest Mini iteration, with 4GB of RAM and a 1TB HD.

I haven't used a Mac in some 20 years, not since a Japanese System 7.1 on an ancient monochrome PowerBook 145B. A student of mine in Tokyo hacked the 7.1 interface so that the menus came up in English, for the most part.

I've continued to eye Macs, but Windows just kept getting better over the years. Windows 2000 was a major step in stability, while XP and 7 have been rock solid. And generic Windows boxen have been, and still are, way cheaper than Macs. And, I must admit, I was put off by the proselytizing, cultish attitude of so many Mac users.

But there are cool programs on Mac that I've been wanting to try, and I'm basically agnostic when it comes to the OS wars. I've happily run an Ubuntu Linux box for years in addition to my Windows machines, and Red Hat and other Linux flavours before Ubuntu. Not that I use Linux all that much, but I've always enjoyed playing around with other operating systems.

I recently added a Samsung T24C550 HDTV/monitor to my office, so had an extra screen to plug the Mini into.

So I took the plunge. I tracked my order via FedEx, and it was to arrive on Friday, Aug. 2. Great.

I got up Friday morning, and my main work Windows 7 box was wonky. I rebooted, only to get a dreaded BIOS message that the primary HD was fried. Well, the error message was somewhat more technical, but that was the gist of it.

Cue Twilight Zone music - obviously the Windows box was not happy that a Mac was arriving : -). I wasn't too upset because I use Image for Windows to image my entire HD once a week or so, I just wasn't looking forward to the PITA (pain in the ass) and time of having to install a new HD and reimage it.

I took the opportunity to replace the crashed 1.5TB HD with a 2TB unit, as I shoot a lot of photos, and gradually more video, so extra space is always welcome. I got the HD installed, and the image running, and then got to work on setting up the Mac Mini, and getting acquainted with it.

One issue, ugly, jagged fonts, was resolved with a bit of Googling. Turns out that often combo TV/monitors are not set up for optimal computer use. Sure enough, the "Sharpness" setting on the Samsung was at 50, when turning it down to 0 makes fonts look much nicer. Apparently the built-in Sharpness function and the Mac's own font shading/smoothing don't like each other.

The last day has gone better. I have my Windows 7 box back up and running (thanks Image for Windows!), and I have the Mac to play with. But it was pretty intense there for a couple of days.

Posted by Paul at 07:59 PM

May 29, 2013

Tracing Erosion of Stairs in Byrne Creek Ravine Park

I've been noticing active erosion along the stairs that go from Brynlor Drive into Byrne Creek Ravine Park the last several times that it has rained. Today I saw that the stairs are being undermined and eroded away in places, though just  a few days ago it appeared some repair work had been done to previous recent washouts on, and near, the stairs.

This has happened before, where (I think) Burnaby Parks repairs the stairs, but doesn't seem to locate and fix the source of the problem. I think that may be because pipes are Burnaby Engineering : -).

So today I backtracked the unusual flow to an area near where a storm-drain pipe had cracked a few years ago and had caused similar problems. This time I found water upwelling from a manhole cover on a storm-drain pipe in the same vicinity as the origin of the problem in the previous event. Water upwelling could mean various issues, but that's civic employee pay grade, not for a volunteer to guess at : - ). That upwelling was cutting a new channel down the steep ravine slope, hitting the stairs, and thereby channelling the flow along, and, under, the stairs.

I called the source of the flow in to Burnaby Dispatch, and within an hour they were on the scene and following up. Great response!

But I wonder why the initial problem was not detected before the first repair on the stairs. I hate to see my property tax dollars going to fix the same problem over again within days, without tracking or tackling the source. And, like I said, this happened before a few years ago, in almost the exact same way, with the source in almost the exact same place.


Upwelling manhole


Erosion where the unusual flow meets the stairs into the ravine


Another view of the erosion


A close-up shot of the steps being eroded

Posted by Paul at 10:22 PM

May 28, 2013

Double the Fun in SE Burnaby

So what happens when two community associations in the same neighbourhood have meetings on the same night? The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society sends board members to both: Edmonds Business & Community Association (EBCA) at the Tommy Douglas Library at 6:00 p.m., and Edmonds People in Community (EPIC) at Edmonds Community School at 6:30 p.m.

Posted by Paul at 11:40 AM

May 25, 2013

‘Development Study’ Far From Actual Development

Friends of ours going through their files ran across a "Development Study" dating back some 20 years or so for the townhouse complex that we live in. It was built years before we bought a unit and moved in, and it was eye-opening to see major differences between what was initially envisioned, and what was actually built. It was also educational, because as streamkeepers, we keep an eye on new developments in our watershed. Here are a few shots from the scanned document:


No such open waterway exists in the complex, nor did the complex ever have such a forested appearance.


There is no such "community building" overlooking a "conservation area" with an open waterway. None of those features exist. And no such trees exist, either.

Other features from other panels, such as a common open treed area in the middle of the complex never saw the light of day either.

Posted by Paul at 07:30 PM

May 16, 2013

Tiny Doses of Some Insecticides Fatal for Bees, Aquatic Insects

"May 15, 2013 - Neonicotinoid insecticides have adverse effects not only on bees but also on freshwater invertebrates. Exposure to low but constant concentrations of these substances -- which are highly soluble in water -- has lethal effects on these aquatic organisms."

One of the insecticides this article addresses is imidacloprid, the active ingredient in Merit. I fought a losing battle several years ago against using Merit in our townhouse complex (less than 20m from Byrne Creek) to combat chaffer beetles (and we had not even had an outbreak!).

Even Bayer's fact sheet for Merit states it is highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates, and says it should not be applied to water, or where surface water is present. It also says it can contaminate groundwater.

I contacted Environment Canada back then with the argument that the application ban should also extend to any ground that drains into a storm drain. They didn't buy it.

Posted by Paul at 01:14 PM

May 03, 2013

Wife Gets New ASUS K53 Notebook

Yumi is going back to school - taking accounting classes on weekends which will require her to have a notebook computer. Her desktop was also getting long in the tooth, as her tower was still running Windows XP on 2GB of RAM and a 500GB HD. So today she got an ASUS K53T with Windows 7, 6GB of RAM, a 750GB HD, USB 3, etc. She was not at all excited about the huge interface leap to Windows 8, so we were happy to find a Windows 7 machine on clearance. We got it at Staples for $449, minus a 10% coupon which nearly made up for the sales tax, so it was a good deal.

The plan is to replace the desktop with the new notebook, using her present 19" monitor when she's home, and she can also carry the new machine to class. I am now in the midst of setting up the ASUS. That means deleting unnecessary bloatware, installing MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials), updating Windows 7, and creating a backup image because manufacturers are all too chintzy these days to throw in a recovery DVD for a few cents. Grrr.

I've had a smaller ASUS for a couple of years that I've been happy with, but Yumi's machine is a lot larger, though only a pound or two heavier. I wanted something very portable so got a UL30 with a 13" screen, while Yumi's K53 has a 15.6" screen and the keyboard has a numeric keypad built in - a big plus when you're going to be taking accounting courses.

I will gradually install software and transfer data to the new unit over the weekend.

Posted by Paul at 09:51 PM

May 01, 2013

Presenting on Social Media, PR, Traditional Media at Streamkeeper Workshop

I recently received a "speaker information form" from the organizers of SEP Community Workshop 2013, the 12th workshop for British Columbia's streamkeeper/stewardship community since the first one back in 1991. The biennial workshop will also celebrate the 35th Anniversary in 2012 of the Salmonid Enhancement Program run by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, so it should be a great event. It will be held the May long weekend (May 17-19, 2013) on Bowen Island.

Since I'm speaking on public relations, media relations, and social media, how can I not toot my horn on my own blog? : -)

Here's the presentation description and bio that I wrote up for the information form.

Presentation title: Media and Public Relations 101

Presentation description and outcomes:

Get your story out through social media plus traditional newspapers, radio and TV. Get an overview of how Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs and other tools work, how to tailor your message to each medium, and how to develop relationships with journalists. Paul will share examples of how he's helped gain online, print, radio and TV coverage for a local streamkeeper group. Participants will come away with ideas on how to promote their stewardship efforts, educate the public, and influence media, and political policy, through PR, social media, and traditional media.

Please provide us with a brief introduction of yourself:

Paul has degrees in journalism and communication. He has over 25 years of experience writing and editing. He has a unique perspective that combines work at major media corporations with extensive board and executive experience volunteering with business organizations, community groups and environmental NGOs. Paul has volunteered with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers in Burnaby for over ten years, is a member of the Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board, is a citizen representative on the City of Burnaby Environment Committee, and is active on the Burnaby Board of Trade Environmental Sustainability Committee. Paul was named "News Source of the Year" in 2012 by Burnaby Now reporter Jennifer Moreau.

Posted by Paul at 03:28 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

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 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

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

February 27, 2013

Burnaby Board of Trade Supports Victims of Apartment Fire

I am taking the liberty of re-posting a letter here from Burnaby Board of Trade President & CEO Paul Holden because it epitomizes why I think the BBOT is one of the most progressive chambers or boards of trade in Canada, and why I volunteer time on a board committee. Way to step up!

Dear Burnaby Board of Trade Members,

A devastating fire destroyed a 35 unit apartment building on Smith Avenue in the early hours of February 17, 2013. Over 100 people were left homeless, most have low or moderate incomes and all are faced with the very expense task of rebuilding their lives.

The Burnaby Board of Trade is working to assist a number of organizations in helping these individuals get through this tough time.

Their biggest immediate need is to replace their identification which is very expensive. Without identification the fire victims cannot access their bank accounts or rent new accommodation.

Birth certificates are the first piece of identification needed to get every other piece of ID. Manitoba birth certificates take six to eight weeks unless you pay an extra $80.00 and there are several Smith Ave residents from Manitoba. Another fire victim was born in Alberta and Alberta requires their birth certificate applications to be notarized, which represents an additional expense. Every province charges a fee for replacements.

The Salvation Army at 6125 Nelson St, V5H 3J1 (604-437-1521) is accepting cash donations, clothing and household goods. Please consider donating whatever you can to assist the Smith Ave fire victims. Anyone willing to provide free notary services for those needing them to acquire their birth certificate should contact Burnaby-Deer Lake MLA Kathy Corrigan's office at 604-775-2414.

In addition, the Burnaby Task Force on Homelessness is assisting in helping find affordable housing as a crucial next step for these Burnaby residents. If anyone has an affordable place to rent in Burnaby please contact the Task Force Community Development Coordinator, Wanda Mulholland, directly at 604-317-8114.

Thank you to anyone who can provide some support in this matter, and please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any additional questions.


Paul Holden
President & CEO
Burnaby Board of Trade

Posted by Paul at 04:41 PM

February 26, 2013

Bought Kobo Glo eReader Following eBook Production Workshop

I attended an excellent all-day workshop on creating electronic books presented by eBound Canada last week. By the time I walked out my brain hurt from assimilating so much information so quickly : -).

Check out their website, they have great tutorials on all sorts of issues related to producing problem-free publications.

Anyway, one of the key points I learned is the importance of quality assurance, and testing publications on as many platforms as possible.

That led to buying a Kobo Glo, from a line of readers that is popular in Canada. I think I will like the Glo - the touchscreen is nice compared to my relatively ancient Kindle model which is hard buttons only, and the Glo is superb for reading at night or in dim conditions. Am busily downloading a ton of free, copyright-expired works to the Glo as I write this.


The old Kindle on the left and the Glo with its light on to the right
with both set to their library pages.

Posted by Paul at 07:26 PM

February 24, 2013

Streamkeepers Collect Trash near Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby

Nine volunteer streamkeepers showed up in the cold, steady rain this morning to pick up trash along Southridge Drive in SE Burnaby on a steep slope just above the salmon habitat.  We filled the hatch of a Subaru Outback full with bags of garbage.

The City of Burnaby long ago installed a lovely bin with trash, paper, and recyclable glass and plastic compartments at the bus stop there, but evidently lots of uncaring folks are still tossing their trash down the slope. A rough on-the-fly analysis shows that many of these uncaring folks are customers of McDonald's and Tim Horton's, just down the hill.


Posted by Paul at 08:07 PM

February 19, 2013

Waterborne Paint

I learned something new today. There is such a thing as "waterborne" paint. If you Google it, you get nearly 1.3 million results. It appears the usage is well established, yet I had images of paint being borne by water down a street drain and into our local creek. . .

Waterborne paint is actually much more environmentally friendly than solventborne paint (solventborne - another word new to me).

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary has this to say about waterborne: "1 (of goods etc.) conveyed by or travelling on water. 2 (of a disease) communicated or propagated by contaminated water."

Neither of those fits my image of what I thought was "water-based" paint.

Whoops! I was just interrupted by one of those canned phone calls: "Congratulations! You've been selected for a free cruise to the Bahamas!"

I hung up before I became waterborne.

Posted by Paul at 02:22 PM

February 16, 2013

Electric Vehicle Charging at MEC

I was impressed to see several electric vehicle charging stations at the North Shore outlet of Mountain Equipment Co-op today. Cool!


Posted by Paul at 08:20 PM

February 08, 2013

Wild Salmon, Sport Fishing Trump Fish Farms, Commercial Catch in Economic/Jobs Contribution to BC

According to this item in the Victoria Times Colonist based on BC Statistics' latest numbers, wild salmon and the sport fishery are way ahead of fish farms and the commercial catch in terms of economic value and jobs benefit to British Columbia.

So where is the Government of Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the wild salmon file? Why are habitat protections being gutted and habitat offices being slashed? Why is it taking so long to implement the Wild Salmon Policy? Why has there been no response to the Cohen Commission, that recommended major and immediate changes, with deadlines - several already passed unfulfilled - to realize the WSP?

Our present federal and provincial governments appear to base all of their decisions on purely short-term economic benefits.

Well, here you go. The preservation of wild salmon is a huge economic benefit in the short term, and as a protected renewable resource, in the long term.

And as this article points out, preserving and enhancing wild salmon and the habitat that they rely on would also boost the languishing commercial fishery, eh?

Posted by Paul at 10:27 PM

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.


MLA Raj Chouhan, me, MP Peter Julian


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


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.



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 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

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

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!



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 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.


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 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

November 29, 2012

Successful Language Lanterns Book Launch in Vancouver

The Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada Vancouver Branch hosted a book launch of several Language Lanterns translations of Ukrainian literature into English tonight at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Vancouver. Admission was free, and cookies, cakes and coffee were served. Thank you very much! And thanks to UWAC Vancouver Chair Lydia Huzyk for taking the lead!

Twenty-eight people braved the dark, rainy night to attend, and we sold over 40 books.

As editor for Language Lanterns, I talked about how the project began over 15 years ago, with my aunt, a retired professor of Slavic languages, translating Ukrainian literature into English, and my mom, Sonia Morris, a retired professor of Educational Psychology, editing them. Before my Mom passed away in 2007, the sisters produced 17 volumes. I helped complete three more that they had begun that were published with Mom as editor, and since then Roma and I have completed two more, with a third at the printer as I write this.

That makes a total of 23 volumes and nearly 10,000 pages!

I read from an interview that Roma had given on how she got started translating, and also from a speech my Mom had written for a book launch back in 2000. I then provided some historical background to the era and place where several of the recent books were written: Ukraine circa 1860-1935.

I capped the evening off with readings from the books Prometheus and Maria.

There were lots of great questions from the audience, and I thank the organizers again for putting on such a wonderful event.

I recorded the proceedings, so if you're interested in listening, you can download the 15MB WMA file here.

Thanks to my wife, Yumi, for taking photos and handling sales.



Posted by Paul at 10:30 PM

November 26, 2012

Ordered New Byrne Creek Streamkeepers ‘Business Cards’

A few years ago volunteers with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society in Burnaby, BC, thought it would be useful to make up a "business card" that would be easy to carry and hand out to the public when we're out and about on our activities in the park and along the creek. The cards proved to be handy, so we're printing another batch at Rosewood Printers on Edmonds St. in SE Burnaby - supporting local businesses.

Here's the proof for our latest double-sided card:


We leave a space for volunteers to write in their own name or email address. Works well!

Posted by Paul at 09:16 PM

November 23, 2012

Finally Upgraded Home Office LAN to Gigabit Ethernet

Dust bunnies!

Yes, discovering dust bunnies is just one of the benefits of upgrading your local area network (LAN).

Over two years ago, I got a D-Link DNS-323 NAS (network attached storage) unit, with a couple of 1.5 terabyte HDs. The 323 was capable of 1Gb network speeds, as was my main computer, so I began watching for sales to upgrade my network gear (router/switch) from 100Mb. I eventually got a Linksys E4200 wireless router and a D-Link DGS-1008D 8-port gigabit network switch. And then the new gear just sat in my office for many months, until today.

Aside from crawling around in dust bunnies under my computer desk, the installation was fast and smooth. LAN setup technology has truly become automagical. As I write, I'm synching my ~800GB of photo folders to the NAS, and the process is noticeably faster. I highly doubt it'll be 10X faster, due to network overhead and other factors, but even 3X or 4X faster is a huge difference.

Posted by Paul at 04:27 PM

November 21, 2012

Environmental Pledge Launched by Burnaby Board of Trade

As a member of the Burnaby Board of Trade Environmental Sustainability Committee, I am proud to help spread the word about the launch of the Board's Environmental Pledge. I am also pleased to say that my company, Cipko Consulting Ltd.,was one of the first ten companies to take the pledge in its pilot phase.

Now it's your turn. Spread the word and get your company or organization to sign up. It's a simple process, and it's based on the honour system, so there are no onerous reporting requirements. The Pledge website also includes lots of tips on how to make your organization more environmentally sustainable. Pitch in, and through all of our individual actions, we can make a big difference.

Here's the announcement:


The Burnaby Board of Trade is very pleased to be officially launching "The Pledge for a Sustainable Burnaby." It is very important to the success of this project that each and every one of you support us by signing up your organization, as well as championing the program on behalf of the BBOT.

Taking the Pledge is easy. Simply follow the instructions below. If you are not the right person in your organization to complete this task, please forward these instructions to the appropriate individual.

Step 1: Go to
Step 2 (optional): Peruse the navigation bar for information about the program, and Tips & Resources for ideas on how to reduce your organization's environmental footprint.
Step 3: Click the 'Take the Pledge' icon found on almost every page of the website. Tell us what actions your organization plans to take, and/or share your pre-existing initiatives. Filling in the form takes as little as 5 minutes.

That's it! If you would like a hand filling in the form, don't hesitate to ask staff for assistance.

After submitting your Pledge, your organization will be added to the Pledge Takers Directory (unless you select otherwise). Don't forget to inform your marketing/social media department so they can share the good news with your customers, networks and staff (#BBOTpledge).

Board and ESC organizations that have taken the Pledge so far:
Valley Bakery
Pacific Blue Cross
Strandberg Consulting
Electronic Arts Canada
Cipko Consulting
Investors Group

If our organization's name is not on this list, please sign up ASAP!

The Burnaby Board of Trade wants you to take the Pledge for a Sustainable Burnaby!

The Pledge is a great way to showcase your business and its sustainability initiatives. Taking the Pledge is easy: simply visit, peruse the tips in our 5 key resource areas, and pick a few actions your company or organization can implement.

Pledge takers will be added to our Pledge Directory and will be recognized throughout the year at Burnaby Board of Trade events and through our many communication channels!

If you already practice sustainability, we want to hear about it! Take the Pledge and tell us what you have done. Your accomplishments will serve as inspiration for others and provide even more great ideas. While you're there, you can choose to take on new initiatives - it's entirely up to you! 

So what have I, and Cipko, pledged to do?

Our Pledge:

  • Bicycle more often
  • Use digital devices more often for agendas and meeting notes
  • Combine trips when doing errands, attending external meetings
  • Put up reminders to turn off computer monitors at night
  • Put up reminders to completely shut down non-essential computers at night
  • Reconfigure office to connect cable TV to computer LCD monitor and recycle old CRT TV

Past/Ongoing Actions:

  • Installed low-flow fixtures
  • Installed dual-flush toilet
  • All light fixtures use CFL or LED bulbs
  • Printing set to double-sided, using FSC paper
  • Switched to email delivery of A/P invoices and statements wherever possible, and send clients A/R PDF invoices by email
  • Digital thermostat set at 18C in the colder months during working hours, 12C otherwise
  • All plastics, cardboard, etc., collected and recycled
  • On-site worm composting
  • Use software such as Evernote and Acrobat to save and file online documents rather than printing them
  • Switched from paper to digital delivery of newspapers, many magazines

Posted by Paul at 09:14 PM

November 15, 2012

Proof for Latest Language Lanterns Ukrainian > English Literature Translation Arrives

I received the cover and text proofs for our latest Language Lanterns translation of Ukrainian literature into English. Exciting! But it's also a bit nerve-wracking to see what you may have missed in previous editing stages.

This latest volume is called Fantastic Encounters and contains two stories by Oles Berdnyk: "The Eye Flower" and "The Illusionist", translated by Roma Franko and edited by moi.

Assuming I can get this proofread in the next few days, we should have the printed copies back well in time for Christmas.


Here's the description from the back cover:

"Bread is for the stomach, a tale is for the heart," says one of Oles Berdnyk's characters in these two enchanting stories, The Eye Flower and The Illusionist. Berdnyk addresses these works to "seekers of fantastic tales" who have "an openness to adventure." A charming mix of fantasy, science fiction, and bits of Ukrainian folklore, these stories can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Berdnyk says "we all live among miracles and wonders, we are all children of a fantastic tale and of the unprecedented, only we often forget about it. We awaken only sporadically." The common theme that runs throughout both works is that "there's no power greater than a flaming, loving heart--especially one that finds joy in a fantastic tale." Berdnyk encourages us to be open to the childlike wonder within us. "Seek and you will find. Look and you will see."

Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

November 02, 2012

Wild Salmon Policy Receives Boost From Cohen Commission

I am very pleased that the recently released Cohen Commission Report sets out strong, specific, deadline-driven recommendations for Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans in regard to the long-languishing Wild Salmon Policy. Created with extensive stewardship-community input, the WSP has had no funding and no one driving it within DFO. Yet it is clear that if you do not assess and classify salmon stocks, and do not protect their habitat, we will continue to see wild salmon in decline.

Justice Cohen came out with two basic recommendations regarding the WSP:

1) Cohen recommends the appointment of a "new associate regional director general" responsible for implementing the WSP, and,

2) that "The Government of Canada should establish dedicated Wild Salmon Policy funding sufficient to carry out the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' implementation plan and to cover ongoing operational costs."

If that's not clear enough to DFO's political masters, here's the entire WSP recommendation section from the Cohen report, and I suggest that the federal government would ignore these recommendations at its peril. Tens of thousands of volunteer stewards, First Nations, commercial and sport fishers, and tourism operators representing annual economic value in the hundreds of millions of dollars are watching very closely how the government will respond.

Cohen Recommendations in Regard to WSP

New position of associate regional director general

4  The Department of Fisheries and Oceans should immediately create a new position in the Pacific Region at the associate regional director general level with responsibility for developing and implementing the Wild Salmon Policy implementation plan recommended under Recommendation 5; and supervising the expenditure of funds provided under Recommendation 6 for implementation of the policy.

Wild Salmon Policy implementation plan

5  The new associate regional director general should, by March 31, 2013, publish a detailed plan for implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy, stipulating

what tasks are required;
how they will be performed and by whom;
when they will be completed;
and how much implementation will cost, as set out in a detailed itemization of costs.

Wild Salmon Policy funding

6  The Government of Canada should establish dedicated Wild Salmon Policy funding sufficient to carry out the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' implementation plan and to cover ongoing operational costs.

Annual report on progress in Wild Salmon

Policy implementation

7  The new associate regional director general responsible for implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy should, by March 31, 2014, and each anniversary thereafter during implementation, report in writing on progress in implementation of the policy, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should publish

that report on its website. Each annual report should invite responses from First Nations and stakeholders, and all responses should be promptly published on the DFO website

Wild Salmon Policy: strategies 2 and 3

8  By January 31, 2013, the new associate regional director general should decide whether the Habitat Management Program (Ecosystem Management Branch)* or the Science Branch should take the lead role in implementing strategies 2 and 3 and what support should be provided by the other branch. The new associate regional director general should also identify who is responsible for, and set deadlines respecting, the

following activities:

preparing habitat status reports;
monitoring and assessing habitat using the habitat indicators and benchmarks developed by Stalberg et al.;? and
finalizing habitat indicators and benchmarks where possible.

The new associate regional director general should coordinate with the Habitat Management Program to ensure consistency in implementing both this Recommendation and Recommendation 41.

Wild Salmon Policy: Strategy 4

9  In order to begin integrated strategic planning under Strategy 4 in relation to Fraser River sockeye without further delay, these key deliverables should be completed according to the following schedule:

By March 31, 2013, identification of red zone Conservation Units under Strategy 1, based on the Grant Draft Paper 2011.?

By September 30, 2013, preparation of overview reports for the Fraser River watershed and marine areas relevant to Fraser River sockeye salmon, based on the best available information at that time. Knowledge gaps of concern to the drafters should be identified in the overview reports and a plan developed to address those knowledge gaps.

By December 31, 2013, development of habitat indicators and benchmarks for assessment for the Strait of Georgia, Juan de Fuca Strait, Johnstone Strait, and Queen Charlotte Sound.

10  As part of the implementation of Strategy 4 in relation to Fraser River sockeye, these key deliverables should be completed according to the following schedule:

By March 31, 2013, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should complete a socioeconomic framework for decision making in the integrated strategic planning process; it should also integrate meaningful socioeconomic input into fisheries management decision making, beginning with planning for the 2014 fishing season.

By January 31, 2014, integrated strategic planning processes should begin for Fraser River sockeye salmon using the best currently available information and following the procedure outlined in Appendix 2 (A structured five-step planning procedure) of the Wild Salmon Policy.

By March 31, 2013, response teams should be formed for all Conservation Units in the red zone and for those that could significantly limit fishing and other activities.

By December 31, 2014, response teams should complete plans for the protection and restoration of priority Conservation Units, and in developing such plans, they should give full consideration to approaches beyond curtailing fisheries.

Posted by Paul at 08:18 PM

October 30, 2012

2012 BC Water Sustainability Grant Award to Stream of Dreams for Byrne Creek Project

Great news! Post from Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia:

The 2012 BC Water Sustainability Endowment Fund grant is awarded to Stream of Dreams Murals Society for "Mapping Where We Live," a project they are undertaking in collaboration with Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and Byrne Creek Secondary students in southeast Burnaby's Byrne Creek watershed.

Check out the cool video.

Posted by Paul at 08:23 AM

September 18, 2012

Green Chamber of Commerce of BC Founders’ Workshop

Not sure if I have room for another organization in my life, but this Green Chamber of Commerce of BC Founders' Club Workshop sounds interesting, so I've signed up.

Posted by Paul at 09:00 PM

August 20, 2012

Designers: Please Ensure Paper and Web Forms Match

Dear website form designers. When your company sends a notice to update credit-card details, please ensure that the order of the customer number and the subscription number on the paper snailmail notice are in the same order as the fields to be entered on your web form. Please don't reverse them, as this will annoy thousands of customers who will each take awhile to catch on as to why your online form keeps returning errors. Thank you.



In this case, not only is the order different, even the labels differ.

Posted by Paul at 03:15 PM

August 07, 2012

The Budding Entrepreneur

This was my first job, and it was also my first venture!

From around 1969-71 our family lived in New York City. My Mom was studying at Columbia University, and my Dad was specializing in psychiatry at a Bronx hospital.

I ran across this tiny piece of paper today, as I continue to sort through my late Mom's files in boxes in our garage.

This is the original advert I posted in the lobby of Bancroft Hall, the family residence we lived in, just across the street from Teacher's College. You can even see the holes from the thumbtacks.

Yes, I charged 50 cents an hour for babysitting. It was around 1970, eh? But I earned enough money over our 2-year stay in NYC to buy a Mamiya 35mm SLR camera and a couple of lenses, fuelling a hobby and quasi-business that continues to this day.

Mom, I had no idea you'd kept this. Wish I could share a giggle and a hug with you while caressing this fragile piece of paper. Thanks!


Posted by Paul at 10:13 PM

July 20, 2012

Am I in Communication or Communications?

I've been looking at rebranding myself recently. My wife and I ran a successful Japanese > English translation business for nearly a decade, but she's been working full time for a couple of years now, and I'd like to expand beyond my bread and butter of editing. I made the investment to get a master's degree in communication a few years ago, but have never capitalized on it.

Over the last few weeks I've been looking for available domain names (an increasingly difficult task as the years have gone by and squatters have bought up entire dictionaries of potential names), and have been running a few of the available ones past the name-approval process at the corporate name registry at BC Registry Services.

I finally found a combo I liked, and registered it:

Streamside Communication Co.

I will set up Streamside Communication Co. as a "DBA" (Doing Business As) under my present corporation, Cipko Consulting Ltd.

But then the doubts set in - should it be Streamside Communication, or, Streamside Communications?

My degree is in communication, sans "s". I have a Master of Arts in Professional Communication from Royal Roads University. I studied in the department of Communication & Culture.

Yet when I see many of my cohort on LinkedIn, and what they're up to these days, they are almost invariably in corporate or government communications, with that darn "s" at the end. Some Googling around shows this is a long-running debate, but I don't understand why, when every dictionary that I own makes a clear distinction: communication (sans "s") is the act of communicating, exchanging information, etc. Communications (with "s") is related to the technology used to relay information, such as telephones, satellites, etc.

My bookshelf bears me out. I have titles such as: International and Development Communication, The Bias of Communication, Organizational Communication in an Age of Globalization and so on.

So I shall boldly sail forth under Streamside Communication. (Though I have also bought the domain streamsidecommunications. . . just in case. . . : - )

Oh, yes, why "Streamside"?

Because I'm a volunteer streamkeeper, and streamkeeping has been my entry to, and my connection with, my broader community. Because I live beside a lovely urban stream, Byrne Creek. Because I like the sound, and the images it can evoke of flow, of rhythm, of rise and fall, of clarity, of clearing muddied waters. . . Lots there to play with for potential branding and marketing.

Posted by Paul at 11:26 AM

July 15, 2012

Debate on New Tires Settled by Lag Bolt

For the last month or two I've been thinking about buying new all-season tires for our 1998 Subaru Outback. It's been an outstanding car, but at 14 years and some 235,000km (~145,000 miles), I've been starting to wonder how much more to keep investing in it. It's still running fine, and I've always had it serviced faithfully and regularly according to the manufacturer's guidelines.  A month or two ago I had the winter tires switched for summer tires during a regular service, though the dealer warned the tread on the all-seasons was getting iffy, and doubted if we'd get much over a few months of safe driving out them.

The dealer quoted around $700 for a new set of premium all-seasons, so I said I'd think about it, and began checking out places like WalMart and Canadian Tire. I certainly didn't want to buy high-end tires for a car approaching the end of its life, but on the other hand, I didn't want overly cheap ones, either. Tires are not something you scrimp on. They are key to overall vehicle safety.

The debate was settled yesterday when a bolt was driven into the right rear tire during an errand. Thunka thunka thunka. . . Something had to be done about that immediately, and I wasn't thinking of plug-and-patch on a tire that already had nearly 100,000 klicks on it. We headed straight to Canadian Tire where they were having a 25% off sale on their in-house Motomaster brand (some of which to my understanding are made by Hankook, and higher-end ones by Goodyear).

Canadian Tire quoted me about $450 for four Motomaster AWs on "4 f0r 3" sale, installed, with tax, and enviro disposal fees for our old ones. They said they had nine in stock, and could get them mounted the same day. So I drove my wife home (thunka, thunka, thunka), and went back to get into the queue.

An hour later, as I wandered the strip mall, I got a call on my cell. The nine P205-70-15s supposedly in stock had resulted in only three turning up. And he'd called three other stores within a 20k-radius with no luck. So there was our car, up on the lift, with no wheels, and no tires, and the guy at the desk was saying they did have the slightly more expensive Motomaster SE2s available, also on sale at 25% off, for around another $70.

Now of course I immediately thought this was a bait and switch, despite all the "Reader's Choice" awards mounted on the walls of the service waiting room from local newspaper surveys.

But after calling the wife, and the manager offering to throw in their cross-Canada premium protection plan (which I had declined in the first place) at no extra cost "for my time," I bit the bullet. A total of $528 was still better than $700, and from all I'd researched online, the SE2s had better reviews than the AWs.

So we now have a new set of all-seasons that are rated at 110,000 km, plus a set of winter tires that likely have around 40-50,000 km left on them. Will the car do another 150,000 km? Unlikely, but as I said, you don't want to mess with being cheap on tires. . .

Posted by Paul at 07:41 PM

July 11, 2012

ESL Streets in Japan No Longer Paved with Gold

I occasionally get information and advice requests from friends whose kids wonder about going to Japan to teach English.

I went to Japan in 1985, taught for several years, and then moved into journalism. (I had degrees in Arts, Education and Journalism to back me up). After an initial tight year or two I eventually developed some great teaching gigs, all private contracts through personal connections. At one point I was teaching just three days a week (albeit leaving home at 6:30 a.m. and returning at 9:30 p.m.), averaging around C$60/hour, and enjoying four-day weekends.

That largesse is long gone. . .  In recent visits to Japan one and four years ago, I was shocked at the low wages on offer in ESL job adverts, accompanied by some high education requirements.

I've been back in Canada for over ten years now, so my knowledge of Japan's ESL market conditions are not what they once were, but when I got a recent request, I contacted a couple of buddies in Japan for insight.

Here is my initial stab at giving a Mom some advice for her daughter who was looking at teaching English in Japan:

It's been over 15 years since I was last in the English-teaching biz in Japan, and a lot has changed. A few of the leading chain ESL schools there have gone bankrupt over the last several years. I avoided the chain schools anyway (drudgery hours at low pay), lucking out with a private school that sponsored my work visa, and let me pick up my own contracts on the side. I'm not sure how well XYZ would get along without a degree -- that's been pretty much a minimum qualification for decent teaching work going back to the 80s. My sense is that TESOL qualification has also become more of an advantage since my heyday of the mid-80s/early 90s before I shifted to journalism. Please don't take what I say next the wrong way (but it's a fact of life, eh?) tall, attractive, young, blondish women have always done well in Japan... And while Japan is, relatively speaking, one of the safer countries in the world, it's also not that difficult to "stray" if you don't have a good grip on where you are, who you are, and, what you want.

To my gratitude, both friends in Tokyo responded to my e-mail plea for more up-to-date info within hours, confirming that the English-teaching boom that began in Japan in the early 80s and rolled along for 10-15 years, was over. The market is much tighter now, and higher qualifications are required for decent positions.

A succinct take from Kevin Ryan, a professor whose blog you can see at

Had a friend with a daughter who just graduated university. She got a job at a chain school, and it was very exciting at first. She was able to get set up in an apartment, but ended up using most of her salary for rent and food, paying the "company store". She worked hard hours, about 30 contact hours a week, in a suburb of Osaka. It was OK, but she didn't have any time to do much else but work and live. She left after about 6 months. You need a solid MA in TESOL for anything more than that. The market has tightened up tremendously since you were here.

And a broader response from Mike Lloret, recently retired from corporate communication and training at a leading Japanese electronics firm. His blog is

First, a quick response to the mother's points:

  • Experience working with children and tutoring is a plus; many schools, especially smaller private ones, derive more of their income than you'd think from classes for kids. Note that some of them can be very young kids, who may have little-to-no exposure to English outside the classroom.
  • Some sort of TESOL certification is becoming very important, as Paul notes. A degree is pretty much an unavoidable minimum requirement, and these days there is a strong preference for degrees in education, linguistics, TESOL, etc. Some employers are seeking those with Masters degrees.
  • There can be a little wiggle room with regard to the degree if the job-seeker has extensive experience, especially in Japan, but I wouldn't count on it, and that doesn't seem to apply in this case, anyway.

It might be instructive for the young woman to take a close look at, paying particular attention to the length of time the job offers have been there. Except for the openings in Fukushima and prefectures close to it--most of which are hard-to-fill replacements for teachers who fled what they saw as danger after 3/11--the openings represent employers holding out for better-qualified and/or cheaper applicants, not a lack of job seekers.

This might be instructive for background knowledge:

Your comments about attractive blondes are accurate, as noted in this anecdote:

and if the young woman is unaware of the Lindsay Hawker case, she should look it up.

The bottom line is that I don't think much of the young lady's chances of getting a decent job here, and definitely wouldn't recommend that she come over before getting a binding contract.

So, unfortunately, the good times seem to be over for "experience Japan by teaching a little English on the side." I'm not saying it can't be done, it just won't be as easy or fun as it was when money seemed to slosh around in abundance, and a ramen shop on the Ginza offered gold-dust garnish for your broth. . .

Posted by Paul at 08:34 PM

July 10, 2012

FB Update About Consolidating Late Mom’s Files Draws Flurry of ‘Likes’

Dunno how this hit a chord today on Facebook, but it did:

Consolidated 6 bankers boxes of my late Mom's files into 1 box over the last two days. She kept meticulous records! Tidbit for the day: in one of her first jobs as a substitute teacher for the Saskatoon Public School Board in the early 1960s she was paid $15 a day. Her first full-time instructor contract at the University of Saskatchewan was some $6,000/year... but over a 35-year U of S career she reached the position of assistant dean of the College of Education.

Posted by Paul at 09:11 PM

July 08, 2012

Should Check Website Analytics More Often

I hadn't checked the website analytics for my blog in ages, and while I was happy to see that I am averaging over 500 unique visits per day these days, I was surprised by some of the referral data.

In terms of operating system, 78% of my visitors use Windows, 13% use Linux, and just under 9% use a Mac.

As for browsers, Internet Explorer has lost its old overwhelming dominance, at 44%, with Firefox coming next at 17.6%, and then Chrome at 14.3%, and various others making up the rest.

So if you have a website that has certain features that work only with IE (and I still run across these now and then, usually govt.) you're likely pissing off over half of your visitors.

As for which search engines drive traffic to my site, Google has a near-total lock. The top one is at 67%, followed by at 20.5%, and then it drops off a cliff with Google UK, Google India, Google Germany and Google Russia all in the 1-2% range. The only non-Google engine to even appear in the list is Yahoo UK at 1.37%.

Posted by Paul at 08:30 PM

July 06, 2012

My Blog Among Royal Roads University Alumni ‘Featured Blogs’

Thanks RRU!

Check it out here.

Posted by Paul at 09:04 PM

July 02, 2012

First Annual Celebration of Safety & Culture on the Fraser River

I couldn't find a link to this event online, so I have taken the liberty of scanning the PDF and reproducing it, along with some of its information converted to text. Sounds like an interesting, educational, and community  building event.

The First Annual "Celebration of Safety and Culture on the Fraser River" will take place on Saturday, August 11, 2012, from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Island 22 Regional Park in Chilliwack. This Celebration is a family event hosted by the Fraser Valley Regional District in cooperation with the Fraser River Peacemakers and Fraser Valley First Nations' organizations.

The "Celebration of Safety and Culture on the Fraser River" is intended to promote safe river practices and highlight the many groups who use and are connected to the Fraser River. The event will feature displays, activities and demonstrations from a variety of river user groups and relevant organizations. Groups that will be on site at this event will include:

Please mark this event on your calendar to make sure that you don't miss this great opportunity to learn more about safety and culture on the Fraser River. Admission to this event is free, and food and drinks will be available.
If you have any questions regarding this event, please email

(Note: the hyperlinks tagged for the above  groups were researched and added by me, so any landing errors are mine. I could not find web pages for the two FN listings.)


Posted by Paul at 06:34 PM

June 29, 2012

Duelling Oil/Gas vs Enviro Ads on Facebook

This following combination of ads has been running on my Facebook sidebar feed today:

Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline
Canadian Wildlife Federation Water Challenge
Kennedy Stewart (NDP MP opposing Kinder Morgan pipeline)
Spectra Energy Corporation


Looks like we're entering a social media battleground, folks!

Posted by Paul at 02:46 PM

June 28, 2012

Slashing of Canadian Fisheries Habitat Staff So Wrong, So Sad

As the word spreads that our present government in Ottawa somehow sees fit to slash Department of Fisheries habitat staff by a third, I suspect tens of thousands of volunteer stewards across British Columbia, and the rest of Canada, are reeling.

Having volunteered for over ten years and hundreds of hours as a streamkeeper, this news is devastating.

Here is a synopsis from retired DFO biologist Otto Langer of DFO habitat staff cuts announced internally today.

Today all DFO habitat protection and management staff in Canada are receiving letters that they are now red circled ie they are being affected by Bill C 38 with it's budget and habitat legislation and program cuts (ie DFO downsizing) and many will soon not have a job. Yesterday all staff in BC - Yukon were advised of this happening in a telephone call from Pacific Regional Director General Susan Farlinger. Staff were directed to not discuss this with anyone and only DFO Ottawa was allowed to comment on the issue.

132 habitat staff across Canada will be fired (laid off) in the next few months in that many will have to compete for remaining jobs. In Pacific region they now have 92 staff and that is to be reduced to 60 staff - ie 32 will be laid off ie an approx. 33% cut in staff. Also all habitat office locations in Pacific Region are to be closed down with the exception of Whitehorse, Prince Rupert, Kamloops, Vancouver and Nanaimo. That means offices such as those in Mission, Campbell River, Prince George, Nelson, Williams Lake, Smithers, Port Hardy, etc are to be shut down. If the Enbridge and the natural gas lines go across northern BC there will be no habitat staff in Prince George or Smithers, etc and the closest offices will be Prince Rupert or Kamloops. The office in Part Hardy did look after salmon farming issues.

This puts DFO back where it was in the early 1980s ie 5 offices in BC and even less staff than they had in 1983 with many giant projects such as Enbridge, gas lines, gas liquification plants, New Prosperity Gold Mine, Site C Dam on the Peace River, Panamax tankers of jet fuel up the Fraser River, Roberts Bank Port expansion, etc. now being proposed and pushed along. Never in the pasts 50 year history of habitat protection have we seen such great cuts in staff the face of upcoming massive industrial development that can and will harm habitat and our fisheries of the future.

Finally, Ottawa has given all DFO habitat staff directions to remove their name Habitat Management Program title from their organization and from their offices etc. in that they are now to be called the Fisheries Protection Program.

In summary this puts DFO back to where they were in the late s1970s in terms of habitat staff numbers in Pacific Region but with next to no legislation to protect overall habitat and a greatly reduced presence in the field where the habitat damage takes place. Their efforts will of course be distracted over the next year or more in that staff will have to compete for the surviving 60 positions and put their minds to what do can do for a living when laid off and where do they move to to get a job to support their families etc. I am told the then very low morale of the staff was destroyed by Bill C 38 and now it received its final blow and morale and willingness and direction to do their jobs can now be measured in negative quantities. . .

Cheers Otto Langer

PS. All DFO habitat protection offices from Quebec to the BC - Alberta border ie Central and Arctic Region will also be drastically cut and all offices will be shut down except in Ottawa, Burlington, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Yellowknife. It is indicated that of 63 DFO offices in Canada with habitat staff (now - fisheries protection staff) most will be closed and the number of offices having 'habitat' type program staff will be reduced to 14 for a giant geographic area - ie Canada.

This will impact volunteers, but I really feel for the Fisheries field staff on the ground and on the water -- in my experience they are wonderful, hard-working folks with huge hearts who really care about what they do. I cannot imagine the impact this is having on them and their families, much less the morale and productivity of the organization as a whole. And Pacific region was already understaffed with unfilled openings in many positions before this latest round of cuts.

Posted by Paul at 09:16 PM

June 21, 2012

Saying Goodbye to the Paper Papers

Today I (sob!) cancelled my paper delivery subscriptions to the Vancouver Sun and National Post, and signed up for the digital versions. This will be the first time that I have never subscribed to a paper newspaper.

But the cost advantages are compelling. The Sun and the Post together were costing about $46/month, while I can access both online for $9.99/month. That's a savings of $432/year.

Not to mention all the carbon emissions avoided, and resources used such as paper (recycled or not) and ink. I work from home and run my main computer pretty much 24/7 anyway (with all power-saving options turned on for when I'm not at my desk), and have a lovely dual-monitor setup on which to view large docs, so why run those printing presses, delivery trucks, and delivery person vehicles?

Supposedly I get "everything" that appears in the paper papers, even an identical layout view if I so desire, not to mention other cool stuff like search and text-to-voice, etc.

It will be an interesting experiment, and will certainly be a lifestyle change. I read the paper papers in the living room, next to a big balcony, with lots of natural light. The office is in the basement, and while I have a decent window down there, it doesn't compare to the airiness of the main floor. I think I'll be in withdrawal for awhile, but I'm pretty confident that it will work out. I have already shifted many of my magazine subscriptions to the online Zinio service, and that's worked out well.

Posted by Paul at 01:54 PM

June 19, 2012

Building Community–Social Connections Matter–Metro Vancouver Sustainability Dialogue

I enjoyed the above event this afternoon, and there are a couple more in the same series coming along over the next few weeks, so sign up and participate if you can.

There were thought-provoking and succinct presentations from the following panel:

Opening/Closing Remarks:
Wayne Wright, Director, Metro Vancouver Board of Directors and Mayor, City of New Westminster

Facilitator: Peter Holt


This particular series of dialogues was prompted by a Vancouver Foundation study on alienation in society in the lower mainland of BC, which has been heavily reported on in the press over the last few days. The report can be found here.

Some of the results were troubling in the sense of many respondents reporting feelings of loneliness, disconnection from their community, difficulty in establishing community relationships, etc.

I may question what Metro Vancouver can do about such issues, but I laud it for confronting the situation and inviting the public to meet and share ideas along with experts in related fields.

There were lots of questions and comments from the audience, and I didn't have a chance to speak so I'll share a few thoughts here:

  • if I look at my own micro-community, a townhouse complex with 101 units, I can understand some of the concerns. People drive out of their individual garages in the morning, and drive back in when they return, and few linger on the streets and some seem to never use their front doors or the shared walkways.
  • the free local papers are delivered right to all 101 doors, and I'd guess that on a regular basis, about 90 of those end up flying around in the wind, accumulating in eventually soggy piles against those unused front doors, etc. Partly language issues, but mostly I think people don't care about their wider community and what's going on around them.
  • I was on the strata council for over five years, with, if I recall, three as president, so I know more people than most folks here, but I still interact with only three or four of those 101 units on a regular basis.
  • How do you get folks involved? Strata AGMs rarely attracted more than 10-15% of the ownership, with perhaps a maximum of 30% (including proxies) showing when special levies were in the wind.
  • In my neighbourhood, there are over 100 home languages in the local schools.
  • I think the immigrant experience has changed dramatically. When my grandparents came to Canada, they knew it was a one-way trip with no return. And, to bear this out, of the four of them, only one ever made it back to the "old country" for a visit, and that was 40 years or more after the initial move. Now, immigrants can readily access TV, movies, music and news in their home languages, video-Skype relatives and friends for free around the world at a whim, and travel back "home" from, er, "home", on a regular and frequent basis.
  • I have always been a proponent of multiculturalism, but I sometimes wonder at the linguistic shift over the last several decades. When I was growing up, the big linguistic issue was the loss of the "old country" language over the generations, but now the issue seems to be becoming the lack of learning the new/host country language.

So, I'm not a Burnaby native or even lower mainland native. I was born and raised in Saskatoon. I spent 14 years working in Japan, married a wonderful Japanese woman, and we moved to Canada some 12 years ago. So how did we integrate and make friends? Volunteering. Our first couple of years here were pretty quiet, but then we discovered streamkeepers, and that made all the difference. From initial contacts in streamkeepers, I joined the local business & community association, the Burnaby Board of Trade, became involved on City of Burnaby committees. . . 

You have to make the commitment, you have to give before you get, you have to learn about and respect your community's history, get to know its "elders", and then you can start to receive, and be embraced by others.

Posted by Paul at 09:19 PM

June 18, 2012

All Blogs are Covered by Copyright

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 09:16 PM

June 16, 2012

Cool ‘Lean Publishing’ Presentation at Northern Voice 2012

I attended the always stimulating Northern Voice social media/blogging conference in Vancouver over the last two days. One of the sessions was on "lean publishing."

The website is, and is a means to quickly and easily publish online in pdf, epub and mobi formats, while retaining ownership and earning royalties of around 90%.

The speaker, Peter Armstrong, "wrote" a "book" (basically a title and a few sentences), uploaded it, had it converted, published and ready to download with suggested pricing, all during his 45-minute presentation in live time.

Books are available for sale (or for free) in common ereader formats from the LeanPub website, and as I understood it, authors are also free to post their output mobi files to Amazon, ePub files to iBooks, pdf files to their own website, etc.

The other interesting part of the presentation is that he encouraged a "Publish Early, Publish Often" approach, in which writers share material in progress, and modify/tailor it according to reader feedback. I can see this working well with tech books and manuals, of which there appears to be a preponderance on the website, but Armstrong said the iterative process is also taking off with fiction. In fact, he said, in a sense this is nothing new, pointing to a long history of serialized works by famous authors from Dickens to Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Oh, yes, authors are also able to set a minimum price and a suggested price for each work, and buyers can choose to pay more than the minimum, with easy-to-use sliders that change the pricing and show how much the author gets... And apparently this has led to a phenomenon in which a significant portion of sales have gone at $11.67/book. Why? Because at that price, the author receives $10.00, and with this transparency, apparently quite a few buyers feel that's a fair price, even if the minimum was lower...

I have no experience with LeanPub aside from this presentation, and do not endorse it in any way, just thought it looked cool, and I will certainly be researching it further for potential use in my own editing and writing business.

Posted by Paul at 07:38 PM

June 14, 2012

Looking Forward to Northern Voice 2012

These annual social media conferences in Vancouver are always interesting.

Northern Voice 2012 is just days away!


Posted by Paul at 08:43 AM

April 29, 2012

Language Lanterns Book Launch–Toronto, April 29, 2012

It's my role here today to present the Language Lanterns trilogy Desperate Times, with its volumes Brother Against Brother, Between the Trenches, and Conflict and Chaos.

It is difficult to sugar coat one of the most terrible periods in human history, in a place that modern scholars of total war and genocide have begun calling the "Bloodlands."

I assume that many in the audience here today have Ukrainian roots. Some of you may have wondered why Baba had a Polish passport when she came to Canada, while Dido had an Austrian one. Some of you may have seen photos of great-uncle Fedir in one uniform, while his brother Petro wore a different one. Some of you may recall that great-granddad, or perhaps granddad, had mysterious gaps in his memories of the "old country." Years that he'd dismiss with an angry chop of his hand, and you knew not to press further.

The authors of the stories in this trilogy put faces to buried experiences and emotions. They stand witness to events that people of disparate nationalities, cultures and religions often want to forget. Roma and my late mother Sonia struggled with choosing stories in this trilogy, and when I was brought deeper into the process, I could see why. We didn't want it to be all horror, and doom and gloom, yet we also firmly believed that it was necessary to make the experiences of our ancestors more readily available to modern generations.

I am not going to discuss in depth the literary merit of the stories, or the strengths and weaknesses of individual authors. I shall focus more on the era, and the setting, in which they wrote. The authors are not all equally capable, and the stories vary in literary quality, but it is not the job of a translator or editor to "improve" works in translation, but to present them as closely as possible to the original, while also attempting to make the resulting English palatable to modern readers who have shorter attention spans, vastly different educations, and very different literary expectations than European readers had a century ago.

The trilogy focuses on stories written during the 1900 to 1930 period that encompasses the slide of the imperial Russian Empire into chaos, the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, World War I, and the subsequent upheaval in Eastern Europe fomented by the Russian Revolution.

As of the early 20th century, Ukraine had long been divided by other empires--with Russia controlling eastern Ukraine, and various European powers dominating western portions. In both regions the Ukrainian language, culture and distinctive Ukrainian forms of Orthodox and Catholic rites were at times severely controlled, or completely banned, and conditions for ethnic Ukrainians were harsh. There was little opportunity for education and advancement, and the rising revolutionary tide that began sweeping Europe in the 19th century, with its concepts of nationalism, democracy, and freedom, soon found fertile ground in traditional Ukrainian territory.

The stories in this trilogy depict attempts at reform and political activism, peasant uprisings, revolutionary and terrorist acts, and the flowering of the Ukrainian independence movement. This blossoming of culture, language and political idealism was soon trampled, however, with the First World War sweeping millions to death, along with the brutal and bloody consolidation of power by communists in the lands of the former Russian Empire.

We chose stories written from multiple points of view. While we had some qualms about including some works, in the end we decided it was fitting, for they are all part of the spectrum of beliefs that drove variously motivated protagonists of those times.

So we read about Soviet revolutionary heroes--and disillusionment with the new communist regime. We read about atrocities perpetrated by imperial forces, and the complete collapse of morality in areas controlled by anarchist groups. We experience the power of fiction that enables us to put ourselves into others' shoes, to witness events through their eyes, to feel their emotions. The results often are not pretty, but stories such as these actually happened, time and again, shaping real people. Shaping our ancestors.

While it is difficult to divide the stories into precise chronological order, we began with ones dating to the Russian Revolution of 1905 that revealed the rotten state of the empire. Russia was shocked by repeated defeats in the Russo-Japanese War, and revolutionaries of various political stripes--though mostly socialists and communists--saw that collapse was a matter of time.

The Russian Empire had attempted to impose the Russian language and church upon all within its territory. As military disasters in the Far East undermined discipline, the empire was faced with rising ethnically based national aspirations. The overwhelming human and economic cost of WWI piled on stresses that the ossified and increasingly fractious empire could not withstand.

For Ukrainians, WWI was really a time of brother against brother, and not by choice. Several of the stories in this trilogy depict the anguish as families were divided between empires, with Ukrainians conscripted into both the Russian army, and opposing Germanic-Austrian forces.

By 1917, a demoralized and near-destitute Russian Empire was ripe for revolution, and two exploded that year. The first, the February Revolution, saw the abdication of the tsar and the establishment of a provisional government. The second, the October Revolution, saw the Bolsheviks under Lenin sweep into power and begin the consolidation of a new, communist, empire that became the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or, more simply, the Soviet Union.

The great tragedy of this revolutionary era is that idealism fell by the wayside, with horrific years of civil war in which combatants of all political stripes plunged into an escalating cycle of atrocities. It didn't matter right wing or left wing, they met in extremism, mass murder, rape, torture, looting--and for extended periods--total anarchy. There was complete social, political and economic collapse.

The modern Western reader has little concept of such terror and utter helplessness. We have no sense of such ingrained hatred--hatred of the oppressive aristocracy and bureaucracy--followed by hatred of the perversion of Marxism and Communism into a new, even harsher dictatorship that blindly espoused totalitarian ends that justified the foulest means.

Yet we see in these stories that amidst the chaos there were flickers of humanity, of ethical, moral behaviour. Within that chaos, people still loved, dreamed, and hoped. It is heartening to find that within that chaos some people still adhered to humane and principled codes of behaviour, even sacrificing their own lives to save those of others.

While reading these stories I sometimes wondered how people could go on, yet they did. Many of us in this room here today owe our freedom and our prosperity to ancestors who had the courage and perseverance to survive those Desperate Times, and to selflessly forge a new direction in a new country for the benefit of their descendants - for us.

The issues central to these volumes of revolutionary stories are still relevant and some are yet unresolved. The short-lived Ukrainian governments of the revolutionary period planted the seeds of independence, and some partisans fought on for decades against the Soviets. Reverberations from those times still impact the ongoing development of democracy in a free Ukraine in the face of still widely entrenched authoritarian values, and resurgent imperialistic ambitions in Russia.

Is it better to forget, or better to remember? I feel that as human beings we must remember, we must honour our ancestors, we must learn about our past, and we must learn how to do better in the future.

Thank you

Posted by Paul at 09:17 PM

March 11, 2012

I No Longer Trust Acronis True Image

I hate to diss a product, especially one that I used for years, but it seems Acronis True Image done gone bad.

I've known folks who've successfully used Acronis True Image for imaging and backup for years. I did so for several years, too. Then when I got Windows 7 a few years back, I found the built-in imaging function fast and easy, so stopped using and upgrading my Acronis software. Then a few months ago, Acronis sucked me in with a great upgrade offer, so I downloaded it and installed it.

First thing I noticed was that it wiped out links to Windows Backup in the Control Panel. Hm. That is certainly not friendly behavior, and I don't recall the installation routine asking me if that's what I wanted. Oh well, Acronis True Image Home 2012 was supposed to be so much better.

First time I tried  a full image with Acronis 2012, it ran, and ran, and ran. . . I finally cancelled backup after some 24 hours had passed. I did successfully image my HD once with Acronis 2012, but it took most of a weekend. I tried it again last night, and 20 hours later, the image was yet to be completed. Worse, the "estimated time remaining" kept going up, not down.

So how to get Windows Backup back? I noticed that there was a link in the Acronis-hijacked Control Panel to turn it on, which led to some Acronis dialogue boxes, and a request to restart Control Panel. I repeated the process three or four times with no success. Acronis had sunk its hooks deep into the system.

I went to the Acronis website, which suggested running the software, and unchecking the "integration with Windows 7" boxes in its settings. I tried that several times, again with no success.

Finally I downloaded a file from Acronis that was supposed to fix the Windows 7 Registry. I wasn't too happy with Acronis messing with my Registry, but duh, I realized that Acronis messing with my Registry was what had started the mess, so I figured I had nothing to lose.

Success! I now have Windows Backup back.

And a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to Acronis. . .

Oh, yeah, and something else that comes to mind is Microsoft. How could you allow third-party software to modify access to a basic Windows utility?

Posted by Paul at 08:01 PM

January 19, 2012

Ah, Kodak, You Changed Society & Influenced Generations

I think this is the oldest Kodak camera I have. A Brownie Target Six-20 "Made in Canada by Canadian Kodak Co. Ltd." I gather it's circa mid-1930s to 1941. I'm not even sure whose it was. My late Dad's? My late Mom's? One of my grandparents on either side?


Kodak was an iconic company.

Photography was/is (think of more recent incarnations such as YouTube, Flickr) a socially revolutionary technology, and Kodak got it into the hands of the masses. Not to mention Kodachrome and other Kodak films being the basis for Life, Time, National Geographic, and on and on...

Later, following up on FB: These were/are memory machines. Families could afford to "freeze" snaps of their collective selves, and their worlds for nearly the first generation in history. Aside from aristocrats of the previous hundreds, perhaps thousands of years of recorded history who could afford artists, sculptors, etc.

Posted by Paul at 10:23 PM

January 18, 2012

Rick Mercer Tackles ‘Radicals’ & Northern Gateway Pipeline Issue

Hilarity, free speech, and democracy, ensue.

Hey, aren't at least the last two supposedly among conservative values?

Posted by Paul at 09:57 PM

January 10, 2012

Total Environment Canada ‘Enforcement’ Over 2o Years Less Than Toronto Library Fines in 1 Year

Is this for real?

I ran across this article with some astounding figures regarding [lack of] Environment Canada enforcement of the the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

In a single year, the Toronto Public Library levied more fines for overdue books ($2,685,067 in 2009) than the total amount of fines obtained by Environment Canada in more than two decades (1988-2011) of enforcing the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, ostensibly this country's most important pollution law ($2,466,352).

It's a powerful read.

Posted by Paul at 02:48 PM

January 07, 2012

PM Harper Worries About $ From Democratic Ally, Ignores $ from Dictatorship-Controlled Corp.

This Vancouver Sun story focussed on the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) of US NGOs providing some funding for Canadian NGOs to oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline.

The story began thus:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday he is worried foreign cash is being used to stall the hearing process for the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

and after several hundred words, ended with the following paragraph:

Enbridge has said it has 10 industry supporters for the pipeline project, each of which is putting up $10 million to back it through the regulatory process. Identified supporters include China's second-largest oil producer, Sinopec.

Isn't that what we called "burying the lead" back in journalism school?

Industry, including a company controlled by the anti-democratic Chinese dictatorship, is putting up a total of $100 million to back the proposal. And this raises no concerns for our nation's leader?

Yet he's concerned about donations by citizens of a fellow democracy that is our greatest ally.

Does Harper really fear Canadian citizens, and citizens of the US, more than a totalitarian-controlled corporation committing $10 million to influence Canadian policy?

Posted by Paul at 08:37 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 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

November 18, 2011

WordPerfect Supports Orme Than 60 File Formats

I was cruising the web tonight, and a sudden eddy of nostalgia made me search WordPerfect. You, know, WP! You don't know? Why, WordPerfect used to rule the word-processing roost on both PCs and Macs for years before MS Word gradually achieved a near-totalitarian dominance of the market. I cut my word-processing teeth on WP, and XyWrite. . . but that's another story. . .

To my pleasant surprize, WP Office commands 4/5-star reviews from major computer magazines and is way cheaper than MS Office. With holiday pricing in effect, and upgrade pricing allowed from MS products, I was tempted for a moment. But I have enough office suites on my machines, since I also install Open Office on all of them.

Anyway, as I perused the WordPerfect website, I noticed the following. Sure hope it's not indicative of WP's spell check. . .


Posted by Paul at 09:17 PM

November 15, 2011

Language Lanterns goes FB, Twitter

I've been working with Language Lanterns in various capacities for at least 15 years, but it's taken a long time for it to sink in that I have become one of the principals, following the passing of my Mom, Sonia Morris, a few years ago. Big, very big shoes to fill, and my Mom's sister--Roma Franko-- and I, still struggle at times without her. . .

So, Mom, we're going Facebook and Twitter!

I've been FBing and Tweeting for years, personally, but have never used either medium for promoting Language Lanterns or my own business. So this is uncharted territory for me.

Here we go, both works in their infancy, and in progress:



Posted by Paul at 10:02 PM

November 03, 2011

‘Free Radicals’–Leaders of the 21st Century

Interesting post.
Less Paperwork, Less Waiting, More Action. 
Information sharing, transparency, leveraging of social media...
Collaboration, shared resources...

This is not only for business. I know some "Free Radicals" in the NGO sector. We ought to cultivate them at all levels of government, too.

Thanks to @mamatweeta who RT'd @shaunacausey.

Posted by Paul at 08:59 PM

October 05, 2011

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

I don't know if a major corporation has ever turned its Web landing page into a tribute to a founder before:


I won' t link to or because this web page will be ephemeral, as Steve Jobs knew well.

I am far from a slavish Apple devotee. My Apple hardware as of this post consists of a still functional, but long archaic, monochrome PowerBook 145B dating back to the early 1990s, and an iPod Touch, but I do admire his drive and sense of purpose:

"For the past 33 years, I've looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself 'if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?'"

They say he was "difficult" but most geniuses are, and I agree he was one.

Here's to you, Steve. Thank you for having the strength to remind us that we all face death, and that we have a limited time to love others, and pursue our (work) loves. You said in the famous speech quoted above that death is one of life's greatest inventions because it clears out the deadwood.

I agree, but, death took you too soon.

Posted by Paul at 07:36 PM

October 01, 2011

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Assist in Edmonds Clean Sweep

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers participated in the biannual Edmonds Clean Sweep yet again. This event is sponsored by the Edmonds Business & Community Association in SE Burnaby the first Saturday in October, and the first Saturday in May every year. There was a bit of confusion this year as to organizational matters, but it all came together in a great event.

Thanks to Joyce Rostron, past prez of the Edmonds group, and Jim and Lindy McQueen of Gordon Presbyterian Church for pulling it together. The church did a great job of hosting the community with hot dogs, buns and condiments donated by Save-On Foods, and drinks provided by MLA Raj Chouhan.

At "our" end of the event, streamkeepers pulled in 37 volunteers! Thanks to all the Scouts Canada groups that participated.

And of course thanks to the City of Burnaby and its crews who provide this community cleanup with dumpsters and other support. Not to mention Burnaby RCMP and Community Policing volunteers who are always out in force for these events! And Translink security staff who help us out with our volunteer vehicles in the parking lot.


Signs pointing to our booth at the Edmonds Skytrain station


Filling the City of Burnaby provided dumpster to overflowing


Thanks to all the Scouts Canada volunteers!


Volunteers shoulder heavy loads to clean up the hood!


Streamkeepers and RCMP at the post-event social. No, the two
groups are not shunning each other, we get along great! Just didn't
grab a better photo. . .  The police know streamkeepers are eyes on
less-travelled parts of our wonderful parks, ravines, and creeks.
Burnaby has a great community policing program.


Edmonds Association past prez Joyce Rostron thanks sponsors and volunteers


Gordon Presbyterian Church volunteers feed the crowd


Moi center, with streameepers stalwarts Dave and Frieda

Posted by Paul at 10:51 PM

September 22, 2011

BC ‘Salmon-Safe’ Launch–PSF Invitation

I received the following from the Pacific Salmon Foundation today by email, and am reposting it here. The text and image are from PSF:

You're invited to the official launch of Salmon-Safe in British Columbia

Working with farmers to keep B.C.'s streams healthy for Pacific salmon to thrive

Wednesday | October 5 | 2011 | 3:00 - 4:30pm

At the Main Street Station Vancouver Farmers Market 1100 Block Station Street (along Thornton Park across from the VIA Rail Station and near the Main St Skytrain Station)

Complementary tasty creations generously prepared by Two Chefs and a Table, featuring seasonal produce from Salmon-Safe farms!

Salmon-Safe is a third-party certification program that recognizes farmers who adopt conservation practices that help restore Pacific salmon habitat in rivers and streams. The Pacific Salmon Foundation and Fraser Basin Council are the delivery partners for Salmon-Safe in B.C. The Salmon Safe initiative is funded in part by: Royal Bank of Canada Blue Water Project and the Living Rivers Trust Fund


Posted by Paul at 01:02 PM

September 20, 2011

Public Hearing on Condo Development & Byrne Creek Daylighting

I attended the Zoning Bylaw Amendments Public Hearing tonight at Burnaby City Hall regarding several rezoning & development proposals, including the consolidation of several single-family lots into a four-story condo development in the upper Byrne Creek watershed, including a proposal to daylight another 150 meters of the creek.

"Daylighting" means bringing a creek back to the surface from pipes it was buried in during urban development.

The plan looks good. I talked to a VP at Ledingham McAllister, the proponent, and he pointed out some creek-friendly features. A key one is that rather than having the usual concrete stormwater detention tank for a building of this size, they are proposing a wetland/rain garden between the building and the daylighted creek to slow and filter runoff. Cool!

I spoke to Mayor and Council that as streamkeepers we were pleased that the proponent and the City had come up with a progressive design that included higher density with daylighting and innovative stormwater management.

All in all it was great to come to such a hearing with praise. I think often environmental NGOs and various levels of government are viewed as being in conflict. Yes, sometimes that's true, and I will not shirk from some healthy criticism now and then, but I think it's also important to acknowledge when government and business get things right.

And I'm happy to say that this development/daylighting proposal looks right! This is all in the early stages, yet a lot of work has already been done, and kudos to all who thought about what was best for Byrne Creek during the process!

Posted by Paul at 10:36 PM

September 19, 2011

A Slew of Salmon-Related Articles

East coast fishermen protest #Salmon farms, want to protect sensitive lobster habitat from pollution.:

DFO not getting enough $ to properly study Fraser River salmon returns - Vancouver Sun:

Too many seals, sea lions shot at BC fish farms, say critics - Vancouver Sun:

Fish caught in BC show no Fukushima contamination - Vancouver Sun:

Salmon supported as BC Official Emblem - Vancouver Sun:

Article on coho salmon spawner mortality in urban streams. Similar issues on Byrne Creek in #Burnaby:

Sockeye Feel the Heat - how rising temps affect salmon - Tyee:

As Feds slash Enviro Canada budget, international scientists worry about impact on climate research - CBC:

How does climate-change research relate to salmon? Heat. Salmon become prone to disease and exhaustion when water temperatures exceed around 20C.

And a good news story! Fish return to once-toxic dead zone near Britannia in  Howe Sound:

Posted by Paul at 08:29 PM

September 07, 2011

Development Proposal in SE Burnaby Could Extend Byrne Creek 150 Meters

I came across some potentially exciting news for the Byrne Creek watershed in SE Burnaby, BC. A development proposal in the upper watershed in the Edmonds area could see as much as 150 meters of the creek brought back to life (in a process called "daylighting") from a section where it was buried and piped nearly 50 years ago. Thanks to ZoAnn Morten of the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation, who noticed the rezoning process mentioned in the Burnaby Newsleader, and who brought it to my attention. I got a copy of the report from City Hall today. It mentions ongoing efforts to restore and protect the creek by the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers. Here are a few highlights:

  • Requirement for a detailed Sediment Control System during construction
  • On-site stormwater management system for the new building
  • Environmental review re daylighting the creek
  • The report states that the creek was "enclosed in a storm sewer" in that area in 1962
  • The creek would be daylighted for about an additional 150 meters from where it now exits the pipe. (That's more than I expected, but they are planning to close chunks of 17th St. and 16th Ave. and turn them into greenways, so I guess that adds more length.)
  • The zoning is being changed from RM2 to RM3 to give the developer more height in exchange for the daylighting of the creek
  • There will be "necessary riparian planting adjacent the daylighted Byrne Creek"
  • Unfortunately, to allow for the daylighting, the underground parking and the larger building, all mature trees on the site will have to be removed

There will be a public hearing on Sept. 20, 2011, at 7:00 p.m. at Burnaby City Hall. If this is as good as it sounds, it would be a wonderful enhancement to our neighbourhood! I hope all goes well, and kudos to the City of Burnaby and proponent Ledingham McAllister Communities Ltd.

And if this daylighting could be extended further. . . : -). There's the huge Safeway property nearby up for development, and the ongoing enhancement of Ernie Winch Park, where the creek used to go. . . Yowza!

Posted by Paul at 02:39 PM

July 27, 2011

Metro Vancouver Ecological Health Action Plan–Open to Comment

Received the following interesting info from Metro Vancouver today (I've shortened it a bit):

Over the past decade Metro Vancouver has been working towards expanding and aligning regional efforts to improve our quality of life while supporting the integrity of our natural environment. The wide range of services Metro Vancouver provides the region and its related investment in public infrastructure and lands creates a unique opportunity for us to promote and support actions that improve our ecological health.

Join us to discuss our draft Ecological Health Action Plan.

The draft Ecological Health Action Plan is a pragmatic next step based on short-term actions clearly within Metro Vancouver's mandate. The document describes how Metro Vancouver has incorporated ecological health into our regional plans and strategies, four areas of opportunity for improving ecological health and 15 initial projects.

Link arrow Learn more about the Draft Ecological Health Action Plan

Open House: (no registration required)
Date: August 9th, 2011
Time: 6 pm - 8:00 pm (presentation at 6:30)
Location: Metro Vancouver Head Office, Information Centre
               4330 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC

We welcome your feedback. Please provide comments by August 15th, 2011

Posted by Paul at 04:53 PM

July 18, 2011

Computer Makers Need to Include HD Backup, Standard

Another friend just lost a bunch of data when a hard disk died. Yep, she had no backup. Me, I'm a backup fanatic because I've dealt with at least three dead HDs in my house/home office, and have helped clients with that many more, though I'm an editor, not a computer tech. I've had a multi-disk setup going for years now.

Whenever I buy a computer, I either order it with dual HDs to begin with, or add one myself as soon as it arrives. With 1TB HDs retailing for C$45-55 these days (so what does that price them at when ordered wholesale by the thousands? Ten or fifteen bucks each?) I wonder why the heck computer makers don't include dual HDs standard, with auto-imaging set up by default. Would save a lot of heartbreak.

Not to mention oodles of tech support time. HDs fail. That's a given. Customers are clueless and angry. That's a given. Why not, for $30-40, include imaging to a 2nd HD? Why don't Intel and Microsoft make this obligatory to receive certification?

Maybe I'm missing something. I guess a lot of computer techs make a lot of money off this. . .

Posted by Paul at 09:10 PM

July 13, 2011

Choices Supports Streamkeeepers Again

Choices in the Park will be having a by donation BBQ this Sunday, July 17, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with proceeds going to the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers. Thanks to manager Greg Goossens and all the Choices staff.

Streamkeepers will have our booth set up, with great maps of the watershed, and lots of info on how you can make a difference to water health in your neighbourhood. Come on out, have a chat, and something good to eat! It's just steps from Edmonds Station on the Skytrain, and also just steps from the creek!


Photo from Choices/Byrne Creek Earth Day event earlier this year.

Posted by Paul at 08:20 PM

June 05, 2011

Burnaby Business Excellence Awards 2011–Nominations Deadline June 24

Make sure you get your nominations in for the 12th Annual Burnaby Business Excellence Awards. Deadline is June 24. I sat on the nominations committee for a couple of years and on the selection committee one year (or was it two?), and this is one heck of an annual event, complete with the Hall of Fame and Nominees' Luncheon on Oct. 6, and the amazing Gala Awards banquet on Nov. 2, 2011.


Note that these awards are heavily community oriented, with categories including Burnaby Community Spirit, Not-for-Profit Organization of the Year, and the relatively new Environmental Sustainability category.

Posted by Paul at 08:28 PM

May 30, 2011

My Tweets from EAC National Conference

Here are my Tweets from the Editors' Association of Canada national conference Editing in the Age of E-Everything that was held in Vancouver from May 27-29.  Note that they appear in last-to-first order, as they appeared on my feed.

Grayson the story still exists, the book still exists, tho its form may be changing 

Grayson the core is storytelling - look at your career as a story - build a story around who you are and what you do

Grayson there is a dearth of critical thinking in socmedia, digital publishing

Grayson add value to the social media conversation - I don't care if you're having a cup of coffee

Grayson what makes me feel that I belong? that I'm part of the in group?

Grayson what's in it for the consumer? what do they want?

Grayson how do you become a great conversationalist? communicator?

Grayson global "niche" markets are huge

Grayson the beauty of the digital world is that there are no norms

Grayson perhaps editors should be called producers

Closing address with Rochelle Grayson

Harbeck copy editor is the ideal person to enforce styles, unless the doc is totally screwed up

Harbeck colour changes are easy in InDesign if you set up swatches

Harbeck wildcard symbols are bit different in Word than in standards-compliant apps

Harbeck wildcard reference for Word

Harbeck Using spaces in Word for layout purposes is true evil

Harbeck scan for two spaces between sentences, scan for hidden characters as part of import cleanup

Harbeck you can apply unique markers in a screwed-up Word file to note elements, and then apply consistent styles in InDesign

Harbeck you can make tables in Word - they will import fine into InDesign

Harbeck the things you need to do in Word are completely different from what you do in InDesign

Harbeck never try to lay things out or use text boxes in Word - leave that for the InDesign stage

Harbeck the best way to manage styles is to have same names in InDesign and Word

Harbeck you want a dtp style for any element that may be handled differently

Harbeck most important dtp workflow decisions are what styles to use and how they are related

Hilarious presentation by Harbeck what an entertaining approach to dtp!

Harbeck Use styles, styles are your best friend for dtp

Harbeck if you get your docs set up properly ahead of time, final DTP is nearly done

Next session Harbeck Well Begun is Nearly Done: DTP at Warp Speed

Little kids' language, tech use changes so fast, that we need new focus groups for each campaign

Little  Hard to explain to execs that you can't just "make something go viral"

Little  As a corp we stay away from FB status updates - too hard to maintain a relevant, consistent flow

Little  Twitter can be dangerous for regulated govt provider - so need consistency in use

Little  A wiki-based style guide is a living document, created/maintained by users, track changes

Little  WCB using corporate style guide Wiki

Little  corp/org editors need to work on templates, workflow

Little  for corp editors, days of sitting and working with text are over - need multimedia

Little  editors working with video games, online content to engage youth

Little  only place we could reach young people aside from school was online

Little  Taking real-life narrative & presenting on web to engage young workers

Little  Difficulty of adapting corp/govt policy to engage wide audience

Little  Corporate policy can lead to dry web content

Little New Tools and Emerging Roles for Online Editors

Nice to see my fellow @RoyalRoads MAPC cohortnik Terence Little presenting

Sloboda make sure youre website is visitor-centric, not your company centric

Sloboda In metadata, titles & descriptions still count, keywords not much anymore

Sloboda Freshness important, so mix of website, blog, Twitter feed is a good idea

Sloboda Search engines are starting to take copy quality into account

Sloboda Be careful about keyword density - overdo it and search engines will penalize you

Sloboda Keyword make huge difference - few searches for "reduced fares" tens of thousands daily for "cheap flights"

Sloboda Take a look at

Sloboda Writing web copy for 2 masters: search engines, people

Sloboda Segment website copy according to audience - language, interests

Sloboda Your website may be catering to multiple audiences

Sloboda Why have a website? What's your objective? Purpose?

Sloboda If you cater only to search engines, you won't convert readers

Next session "Writing for the Web - Nourish the Spider, Engage the Human" Sloboda

publishers need to interact with their audiences directly on the web @jmaxsfu

Maxwell Check out LeanPub

Maxwell MagFlow - magazine submissions & editorial workflow in Wordpress

Maxwell Pressbooks - Wordpress as an editorial environment

Maxwell The website is the real thing, and the book is a souvenir

Maxwell The book of MPub - a book built in WordPress

Maxwell Ickmull - bridge from web to print - reverse of prevailing systems

Maxwell The container is no longer the book - is it the iPad?

Maxwell Publisher still doing print first, then trying to repurpose for digital

Maxwell How do we re-imagine publishing as if the web matters? Digital cannot be an afterthought

Maxwell When content is cheap, that changes how we write, how we read, and the editorial process

Maxwell Content is cheap - supply skyrocketing

Maxwell We live a Wiki world of multiple sources

Maxwell Authority is no longer singular - The Book, The Author - long gone concept

Maxwell We now live in a world of way too much content about everything

Maxwell We've gone from an info-poor world to an info-glut world

Maxwell Too many publishers have heads in sand - hope the revolution is not really coming

Maxwell Periodical publishers are being crushed by free content

Maxwell Self-publishers are having interesting effects on the market

Maxwell Market of non-traditionally published books is exploding

Maxwell Publishers have never seen the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google - these guys are out for all the marbles

Maxwell Publishers increasingly at mercy of monopoly players

Maxwell Publishers need to figure out how electronic markets work

Maxwell Publishing in upheaval after a century of stability

Maxwell Many publishers operate as if the web didn't exist

Maxwell Web is dominant publishing platform of our time and future

Re-imaging publishing as if the Web mattered Maxwell

Newman any change is always frightening ro some parties in copyright issues

Newman copyright law is always playing catchup - sometimes decades behind

Newman authors, publishers need to figure out how Google Books works best for them

Newman be aware of final Google Books settlement - you can wait until things shake out

Newman Google Books does the heavy digitization lifting for publishers

Newman becoming Google Books partner may = exposure, more sales channels, higher revenues, revenues from older books

Newman publishers can set minimum price in Google eBooks

Newman Google eBooks not limited to any particular platform - not available in Canada yet - soon

Newman partners can access array of analytics through Google Books

Newman at this point Google Books is for discovery and limited display

Newman next phase of Google books settlement coming soon

Newman useful to revist Google books settlement & its influence on publishing

Everyone looks bright eyed & bushy tailed at Newman

Google Books - what is it, where is it going next? Newman

AGM Derek was a great supporter of EAC & contributed in many ways #weloveyouderek

AGM Derek lived E-everything

AGM tribute to Derek K Miller

AGM My tweeting of EAC AGM will be sporadic as I've been asked to photograph awards, certificates etc

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen Twitter is the modern, personalized wire service - can be tailored to your needs

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen we no longer follow the wires - I monitor Twitter

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen digital audience is accepting of minimal-quality video - they're used to YouTube

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen if you're not already living online, you'd better be if you want to work in digital media

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen if you want to get into media, have a blog, Tweet, digital media want to know you can do these things

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen if you can get someone to actually click a link or 2 on your website, you're doing very well

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen if you can keep someone on your website for a few minutes, you're doing well

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen onlinei people are generally looking for specific info & want it fast

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen jump in & get comfortable with video etc.

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen if you're an editor, you're likely good at finding what's good in text, video or audio - skills translate

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen spend a lot of time looking for open source/free/cheap photos

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen the web is a beast you constantly have to feed - always need something new

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen photo of digital editing session

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen not as much time for editing when working online

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen 2 of 3 presenters using Drupal

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen Province, BC Living, Vancouver Magazine represented

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen Editing in the Digital Media World - next session

Finkelstein / Morris considering XML-first workflow, but not quite there yet

Finkelstein / Morris most large conversion companies are offshore - they're affordable

Finkelstein / Morris have done electronic books enhanced with video depending on channels

Finkelstein / Morris we do publish in colour on screen, rate of adoption of colour devices increasing

Finkelstein / Morris still issues with making indexes useful with eBooks

Finkelstein / Morris if using images in ebooks, they need to be resizable for different screens

Finkelstein / Morris trying to make content easily flowable across platforms

Finkelstein / Morris we really try to understand how ePub tech is evolving & how folks may use it in future

Finkelstein / Morris of course you're trying to reach as many ePub forjats/readers

Photo of audience at Finkelstein / Morris

Photo of panel at Finkelstein / Morris

Finkelstein / Morris still a lot of work in file conversion

Finkelstein / Morris books still developed editorially in same way, but trying to innovate

Finkelstein / Morris Epublishing is changing quickly, in constant flux

Next session I'm attending at EAC Conf in Vancouver is on E-Publishing Finkelstein / Morris

Graves photo of seminar by Graves on collateral, content strategy

Graves always, alwaysa measure - downloads, click-throughs, page views etc., and revise, revise

Graves need a strategy for bringing your collateral into the 21st C - SEO, SocMedia etc

Graves break up text with subheds, if you can cover it with the palm of your hand & it's all text, it's too much

Graves tone & style hard to enforce. How would your company speak if it were a person?

Graves firm branding guidelines help avoid arguments

Graves youe collateral should be consistent, have personality, be brief

Graves collateral cannot be everything to everyone - write to a particular customer's needs

Graves have regular updating of collateral in your content strategy

Graves regularly retire out-of-date content

Graves content strategy requires narrowly defining your audience

Graves you need a plan to create useful, usable content, and everyone needs a different plan

Graves collateral represents brand, supports sales, keep company, jobs going

Graves works at Open Text on content strategy

Graves Winning Collateral: Writing & Editing to Fit a Content Strategy

Fralic clear communication is more important than it's ever been

Fralic the role of the editor as become more necessary, more compelling

Fralic web highlights gap between dreck and well-edited writing

Fralic customers want info they know they can trust

Fralic Vancouver Sun website gets 10s millions of hits because we have century of credibility

Fralic yet users of Web are getting smarter, better at wading through the tripe

Fralic glut of dreck on the web

Fralic we all know that everyone needs an editor

Fralic nobody is fact-checking blogs

Fralic most blogs do not get edited - makes my blood run cold

Fralic I may not like blogs, but they are effective in getting eyes on our website

Fralic our online readers are young - they like photos, sick dogs, cleavage and gangsters

Fralic blogs just fill up the e-hole

Fralic I hate blogs - stream of consciousness thing - I like my words to simmer

Fralic we're told to write for the web first

Fralic issue of digital rights, use restrictions on ebooks

Fralic books are still a big deal, libraries being used more, but conundrum ot ebooks

Fralic editors are not becoming obsolete, they are switching gears - need tech savvy these days

Fralic numbers of online editors is growing

Fralic new job description - online editor

Fralic press workpace has changed dramatically

Fralic interesting to see if paywalls are going work, because we're not making $ on Internet

Fralic trad media struggling to adapt, doing better job

Fralic young readers go online, shun trad press

Fralic increasingly difficult challenges for writers, editors in trad media

Fralic editors have saved my bacon many times

Fralic interviewed Dalai Lama 30 years ago, before he was Bono's BFF

Fralic having been an editor made me a much better writer

Fralic fear that once-venerated craft of editing is disappearing

Fralic audience of editors, so there are no hard copies of this speech anywhere

Fralic who is from Toronto? Love those #Canucks, eh?

Fralic happy to see so many women in audience

Fralic keynote speaker next

Auditorium packed for Shelley Fralic keynote

Posted by Paul at 09:54 PM

May 19, 2011

Why are Humans Rarely Included Among ‘Predators?’

Interesting article in the Burnaby Newsleader on predators being considered as impacting sockeye salmon populations at the Cohen Commission.

Salmon have coexisted with all the mentioned predators for thousands of years. I find it odd that there was no mention of the apex predator that's increased in numbers on the BC and US west coast from the tens of thousands to the tens of millions over the last century or two -- us.

Why are humans almost never considered to be predators?

Yes, of course human impacts are being presented to the commission, but I still think it's odd that we disassociate ourselves from other predators. We're fishers and farmers and managers, eh? We don't like to see ourselves as killers and eaters of other animals.

Posted by Paul at 09:18 PM

May 17, 2011

Burnaby Celebrates Environment Week

The City of Burnaby is celebrating Environment Week from June 5 - 11 with a series of events and activities on the theme "Waste Reduction - making a difference."

Schedule of Events here.


Posted by Paul at 12:30 PM

May 12, 2011

2011 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

Picked this press release up somewhere, and found it very interesting:

Announcing the 2011 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference

Set for October 25-27 at the Sheraton Wall Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, this not-to-be-missed event is the largest, most comprehensive research and policy conference in the region. The 2011 conference, co-hosted by Environment Canada and the Puget Sound Partnership, presents the latest scientific research on the Puget Sound Georgia Basin ecosystem.

This year's theme, "Many Voices, One Sea," provides a collaborative forum for discussing the latest environmental research and practices to protect this critical ecosystem. The conference brings together leading scientists, resource managers, government officials, business leaders, non-profit organizations, academia and other stakeholders. More than 1200 participants attended the last biennial conference in 2009. In 2011, we expect to include at least 800 participants, but hope for more.

The conference website, includes information on registration, sessions, the Call for Abstracts, sponsorship and exhibits. Abstracts will be considered for a range of topics, including water quality, air quality, climate change, species health, land use and restoration activities in the Salish Sea ecosystem. Abstracts are due May 27 and can be submitted online.

Sponsors will have ample opportunity to be recognized and demonstrate their commitment to a clean and healthy environment for our shared Salish Sea ecosystem.

Join us in furthering our collective understanding of Puget Sound and Georgia Basin. The program is packed with peer-to-peer interactions, field trips, cultural celebrations, knowledge transfer, and practical collaborations. Register now to secure your supersaver rate!

The SeaDoc Society will award its 2011 Salish Sea Science Prize at the conference ( Nominations for this award are due June 15. The $2,000 prize is given to highlight the importance of science in providing a foundation for designing a healthy Salish Sea.

We appreciate whatever you can do to help us spread the word about this important regional conference. If you have questions, feel free to contact Verney Conference Management, or Jennie Wang, Environment Canada, at

Posted by Paul at 02:35 PM

Metro Vancouver 2011 Sustainability Congress

2011 Sustainability Congress
Future of the Region: Building a Shared Roadmap

Saturday, June 25, 2011
9 AM - 2:30 PM
Fairmont Waterfront Hotel
900 Canada Place Way, Vancouver

Posted by Paul at 02:33 PM

May 05, 2011

Did I FB/Tweet Something Truly Original?!

I was talking with some friends on Facebook about ephemeral digital data, and individual "truth" vs "the mob," and I threw the following out:

"Is that a social-media tumbrel carrying my bits to the guillotine?"

And it struck me that after a beer or two, I may have uttered/written an original sound bite, er, socmedia byte.

I rather like it and Google apparently has nothing that matches....

An easily satisfied Paul, going to bed now before someone disappoints him.

Posted by Paul at 09:59 PM

April 23, 2011

Sunny Earth Day BBQ with Byrne Creek Streamkeepers at Choices in the Park

Choices in the Park held another annual Earth Day by-donation BBQ, with some of the proceeds going to the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers among other community environmental groups. Thanks, Choices! It was a lovely, sunny afternoon, and we enjoyed being out with our display. We chatted with people who dropped by, and while walk-by traffic was a tad sparse, likely due to the four-day holiday weekend, a good time was had by all.

It was great to chat with Choices CEO Mark Vickars, Park location manager Greg Goossens, and all the helpful staff.


Several folks who dropped by asked about the upcoming community Clean Sweep on May 7, and said they were looking forward to participating.

Posted by Paul at 07:19 PM

April 21, 2011

I’ve Missed Commercializing Easter, Can I Catch Mother’s Day?

Mother's Day is coming & another commercial onslaught begins. My email inbox is filling with "specials."

I'm an editor. A wordsmith. A writer. How can I take advantage of this?


Hey! Hire an editor to help you express your true feelings!! If you can't find any true feelings, we can make them up -- we edit fiction, too, eh?!

Mom will cherish the moment she opens your card, with well-crafted words from a professional editor!!!

Estranged? Disinherited? No problem!!!!

Mother-daughter spat going? Husband doesn't understand? (yeah, yeah, all HE has to do is scarf his mom's food, grin, and open himself up to huggies, eh?)

A professional editor -- like me -- can massage your message to get you back into the toughest Mom's good books.

Give me a call at 1-800....

Card was spat upon? Tossed in the fire? Sorry, but subsection 33 (A) [iv] of the client agreement disallows any refund or compensation.

Posted by Paul at 10:53 PM

April 16, 2011

Edmonds Clean Sweep May 7, 2011

Come one, come all to the Edmonds Clean Sweep on May 7, 2011, in SE Burnaby. Sponsored by the Edmonds Business & Community Association, this event brings people in the community together to clean up their neighbourhood.

Meet in the parking lot of the Gordon Presbyterian Church at 7457 Edmonds St.

Registration: 9:45
Clean up: 10:00 - noon
BBQ (free for volunteers): Noon

Alternative registration site with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers in the parking lot of the Edmonds Skytrain station - times the same.

See you there!


Posted by Paul at 08:29 PM

April 01, 2011

Choices Supporting Enviro Groups with Earth Day BBQs

Choices Markets has been holding by-donation BBQs for several years now, with partial proceeds going to local environment groups. I see in the April Choices Newsletter that Byrne Creek Streamkeepers are again being supported by Choices in the Park. Thanks!

Earth Day
Saturday, April 23,12:00pm-4:00pm at all locations
Looking for products that are made by companies with earth-friendly practices?
Saturday, April 23, in recognition of Earth Day, Choices Markets will be showcasing
samples of environmentally safe household items and delicious local and/or organic
foods. We'll also be hosting donation barbecues and donating the net proceeds to
five organizations that are all lending a hand to help the planet:

Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society
SOLEfood Farm
The World in a Garden
Byrne Creek Streamkeepers
Green City Acres.

Posted by Paul at 11:31 AM

March 28, 2011

Ways to Comment on Burnaby Draft Social Sustainability Strategy

Helping to spread the word!

To ensure that Burnaby will continue to be a great place to live, work, learn, play and visit, the City of Burnaby is developing a Social Sustainability Strategy.

A draft Social Sustainability Strategy has been developed by a 25-member Steering Committee, composed of Burnaby community members, and approved, in principle, by Burnaby City Council for public review.

Help Shape Burnaby's Future!

There are two primary ways to participate in the public consultation process:

1) By completing our survey

2) By attending one of our Public Open Houses

Read the draft Strategy: (If you require a hard copy of the draft Strategy, please call the Planning and Building Department at 604-294-7421. Limited copies are available.)

Take the Survey:

Attend an Open House:

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
Confederation Centre
7:00pm - 9:00pm
* Open for display viewing at 6:00pm

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
Cameron Recreation Centre
7:00pm - 9:00pm
*Open for display viewing at 6:00pm

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011
Edmonds Community School
11:00am - 1:00pm
* Open for display viewing at 10:30am

Monday, April 11th, 2011
Bonsor Recreation Centre
7:00pm - 9:00pm
*Open for display viewing at 6:00pm

All venues are wheelchair accessible.

Child-minding will be provided at the Open Houses.

If you wish to attend an Open House session and require interpretation/language translation, please arrange to have someone call us and we will try to provide that support.  Call 604-294-7421 and let us know which Open House you wish to attend and which language you speak.

Posted by Paul at 10:35 AM

March 22, 2011

Burnaby Empty Bowls–Nosh For a Cause

Burnaby Empty Bowls - A Food First Initiative
Nosh for a Cause, Help Fight Hunger Across Burnaby

Wednesday, April 20 5:30 - 9:30pm
Hilton Vancouver Metrotown

Sample World-Class Food by Burnaby's Top Chefs, Silent Auction
Receive a hand-thrown ceramic bowl

$60 includes your bowl

604-664-8708 or 604-664-8225

Event Poster:


Posted by Paul at 04:27 PM

March 02, 2011

Environment Canada Joke is Becoming a Tragedy

I really, truly would like to to be able to support Environment Canada. But in my experience, this Canadian federal department that's been a joke for some time, is rapidly becoming a tragedy. It appears to have no staff, no budget, no guts, no balls, no fiercely protective mother-love for the environment that it is mandated to maintain, regulate and enforce for present and future generations.

And with the present government's planned 20% slash-and-burn cut to EC's budget, what have we got to hope for?

I don't get it. What is more basic to human health and prosperity than the environment? Our water? Our air? Our land? Food, water, air are all elemental to human survival. And the survival of the entire food chain that we depend upon.

It's well past time that Environment Canada was a key ministry, with real powers and real teeth, and a concomitant budget and dedicated, passionate staff.

Shame on my federal government. Yes, shame!

And if EC Minister Peter Kent could still show a smidgen of the integrity that he was known for as a respected and honoured journalist, he would resign on principle at having the department that he is supposed to champion shafted like this. Equal cuts across the board are one thing, but EC is being targeted for dramatically deeper cuts than other departments. Why?

Posted by Paul at 09:59 PM

February 21, 2011

Could Earth be ‘Unrecognizable’ in 40 Years?

Some sobering research has been making the media rounds today. Here's Salon's take on it:

Scientists warn that Earth could be "unrecognizable" by 2050

Combined effect of surging population and depleting resources could cause an ecological catastrophe within 40 years. . .

The scariest line from the article is:

According to the World Wildlife Fund's Jason Clay: [To feed everyone] we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000.

Posted by Paul at 04:50 PM

February 16, 2011

Environmental Innovation Forum–March 2–Burnaby Board of Trade

The Burnaby Board of Trade is holding an Environmental Innovation Forum on March 2 from 5:30p at the Electronic Arts campus in Burnaby. This looks like an excellent event, and I'm not saying that just because I sit on the BBOT's Environmental Sustainability Committee : - ). Here's the lineup:

The panel includes:
Chris Corps, BSc MRICS, Asset Strategics Ltd.
Allen Langdon, VP, Sustainability for Retail Council of Canada
T.J. Galda, Chair, Electronic Arts Green Team
Member, Globe Foundation
Plus additional Panel Members TBA

Facilitator: Coro Strandberg, Principal of Strandberg Consulting and author of the Small and Medium-Sized Business Environmental Roadmap for Industry Canada.

The last BBOT environmental forum held at EA was a huge success, so don't miss this one!

Posted by Paul at 12:27 PM

February 11, 2011

Let’s Hear it for Plain English!

Singing for plain English

Found this via the Editors' Association of Canada mail list, which pointed to an
excellent post on the Writing Matters blog.

Posted by Paul at 04:23 PM

February 04, 2011

The Future of Publishing

This is a lovely little video - - be sure to watch all the way to the end, or else it doesn't work.

Posted by Paul at 01:35 PM

February 02, 2011

Stupid Mode = 1

Stupid Mode = 1. (1 meaning ON, 0 meaning OFF). Apparently that's a real Linux command option for an operating-system configuration file that controls communications with overly complicated modem negotiations.  Note that I am not a Linux guru, and I haven't independently verified this, but it sure sounds like the irreverent Linux approach to technology and freedom : - ).
I like it. I see endless applications in politics & life :-). New, needlessly complicated tax rules? I shall simply set Stupid Mode = 1.

Federal and provincial environment authorities fail to enforce pollution laws? Stupid Mode = 1, triggering an automatic barrage of letters to ministers, letters to MLAs, letters to MPs, letters to the editor. . . : - ).

I could go on. And on. And on. But I think I need give no additional examples of the beauty of

Stupid Mode = 1

Posted by Paul at 09:45 PM

January 22, 2011

Salmon Hazard Sign at Walmart in Bellingham, WA

On a cross-border jaunt to Bellingham, WA, I was surprised, and heartened to see this sign in a Walmart:


I know some folks have issues with Walmart, and while I have my qualms about big boxes and rampant consumerism, I have to say that Walmart is progressive on many green & sustainability issues.

I don't know if this particular signage is a Walmart policy, or a State of Washington policy for any retailers of pesticides. Anyone know? You can reach me at

Oh, if you're having trouble reading it, it says:

Use in urban areas of pesticides containing the active ingredients 2, 4-D, carbaryl, diazinon, diuron, malathion, triclopyr BEE, or trifluralin may harm salmon or steelhead.

Help keep our water resources clean. Apply pesticides only to your lawn and sweep any product which lands in the driveway, sidewalk or street back onto your lawn. Rinse applicator over lawn or garden area only.

Posted by Paul at 10:11 PM

December 21, 2010

Adding Japanese Support to Ubuntu on IBM Notebook

The other day I installed Linux Ubuntu 10.10 alongside Windows XP on an older IBM T42 notebook computer. The Ubuntu install was flawless, and I can now dual-boot into either OS. Everything just worked, including wireless, and sleep and resume.

We've put that laptop on station on the main floor for easy Web access while watching TV, cooking, etc. My wife and I have our own offices, hers on the top floor and mine in the basement, each with our own tower computers, but for years I'd been lugging notebooks around the house. . .  Now there's one dedicated to the main floor Smile.

Anyway, she asked today if she could use Japanese on the Ubuntu notebook. Oops, I had forgotten to install additional languages. It took all of 5 minutes to install Japanese capability, and, OK, a reboot and bit of poking around to figure out the input method, but it worked.

She can now write in OpenOffice, email in GMail, and surf on Firefox, all in Japanese. Yay!

Oh, yeah, if you haven't heard, Linux, OpenOffice, Firefox etc., are all free.

Yep, free.

I salute the years of dedication by countless Open Source volunteers who made, and continue to, make it so.

P.S. Ubuntu appears to be smarter than both Windows XP and Windows 7 in one respect: I have a D-Link DNS-323 NAS (network attached storage) unit on my LAN (local area network). To get the NAS to show up on a Windows machine, the easiest way is to run a utility on the accompanying D-Link CD.  Ubuntu? It found the NAS all by itself. . .

Posted by Paul at 11:03 PM

November 26, 2010

Local BC MLA Raj Chouhan Hosts Holiday Season Open House

I've had plenty of opportunities to meet with Raj over the years through my volunteer activities, and he and his staff have always been helpful, and very interested in what's going on the the community. So come on out and meet your Burnaby-Edmonds MLA.



Posted by Paul at 01:10 PM

November 06, 2010

Sustainability Makes Sense–Edmonds Association Biz Seminar

Business & Networking Seminar
$ustainability Makes $ense - Go Green and Save $$$
Nov. 16, 2010, 6:30 p.m. Tommy Douglas Library, Kingsway & Edmonds, Burnaby
Please pre-register at 604-522-3971
or email
before noon Friday, November 12th, 2010.

Business Seminar Poster

Posted by Paul at 09:17 PM

October 23, 2010

Metropolis Express Fundraising for Stream of Dreams

All aboard to save salmon!

The Stream of Dreams Murals Society is taking part in a charity event at Metropolis at Metrotown in which donations to ride the Metropolis Express train go to several charities. Today was the Stream of Dreams "challenge day" - - one day to try to raise as much $$ as possible to potentially receive a bonus donation from Metropolis.

Stream of Dreams founders Louise and Joan were out, along with a fantastic crew from the Byrne Creek Secondary Leos. Kids got to colour small foil fish that were attached to the train to create a "salmon run."

In addition, local elementary schools were encouraged to join another Stream of Dreams-sponsored competition to win blank Dreamfish to do an environmental education and community art project at their school.

Thank you Metropolis at Metrotown, and Byrne Creek Leos!











Posted by Paul at 05:25 PM

October 18, 2010

Condon Applies 7 Rules for Sustainable Communities to BC’s Lower Mainland

The Tyee today published the last article in a series by Patrick Condon, based on his book Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities: Design Strategies for the Post Carbon World. If you're too cheap to buy the book : - ), or don't have the time to read it, you should at least peruse the Tyee series. This is stimulating, solid material that's a must read for anyone interested in a liveable Lower Mainland. Highly recommended for politicians at all government levels, transit officials, city planners, engineers, environmentalists and concerned citizens - which ought to encompass all of us.

Condon is a professor at the University of British Columbia and holds the James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments. I had the pleasure to be a citizen representative on a planning charrette for the Kingsway corridor through Burnaby, BC, organized by the Sustainability by Design folks at UBC a few years back. It was a thought-provoking exercise that engaged City planners, engineers, academics, students and citizens in a sharing, respectful process.

The Burnaby Kingsway corridor plan was part of a larger study that also looked at a "node" in Langley, BC, and an "edge" in east Ladner, BC., and resulted in the publication Sustainability by Design: A Vision for a Region of 4 Million. I have always found Condon to be well-spoken and lucid with quiet, persuasive, rational arguments.

Too bad too many such studies appear to end up filed away in municipality, regional, and provincial filing cabinets, never, or rarely, to be referred to again.

If you care about your community, please read and share!

Posted by Paul at 02:18 PM

October 07, 2010

Congrats to Finalists in BBOT Business Excellence Awards

The Burnaby Board of Trade hosted a wonderful Hall of Fame luncheon today in which the finalists in the association's 11th Annual Business Excellence Awards were announced, and Global TV BC was named to the BBOT Hall of Fame.

As past president of the Edmonds Business & Community Association, I was happy to see several Edmonds-area finalists:

In the category for Burnaby Community Spirit:

  • CIBC Highgate - Acorn and Kingsway
  • The Mulberry Retirement Residence

In the category for Small Business of the Year

  • Fairhall, Zhang and Associates


Posted by Paul at 04:18 PM

September 26, 2010

Burnaby Board of Trade Proclaims Support for Rivers Day

The Burnaby Board of Trade is the first chamber in Canada to proclaim its support for World Rivers Day. Chair Dick Kouwenhoven read out the proclamation at the Rivers Day event in Burnaby, BC, today, shaking hands with Rivers Day founder Mark Angelo.

This is way cool! The BBOT is one of the most progressive boards in Canada, and I am proud to sit on its Environmental Sustainability Committee.


Rivers Day founder Mark Angelo, left, and Dick Kouwenhoven, BBOT chair.


Posted by Paul at 04:27 PM

July 16, 2010

LinkedIn Goes For the Bottom Feeders?

I was shocked to see this advert on LinkedIn today:


I cropped the screen capture so as not to identify the advertiser.

Um, that's not a living wage anywhere in the developed world. Not that I have anything against the developing world, but I thought LinkedIn was a website for professionals, charging professional, developed-nation rates.

Posted by Paul at 09:30 PM

July 15, 2010

Trilogy of Translations Nearly Ready for Printer

Language Lanterns Publications Inc. is almost ready to announce the publication of three more volumes of Ukrainian literature translated into English. The proofs are sitting on my desk, and as soon as I complete entering some corrections into the InDesign files, the three 416-page books will be ready to print!


This trilogy will bring the total of Language Lanterns books published to 20. That's quite the accomplishment for a tiny company that really ought to be a non-profit! It's been a labour of love for Roma Franko, the translator, and the late Sonia Morris, the editor. I've been copy editor, proofreader, and since the passing of my mother Sonia in 2007, the associate editor. It's been quite the experience!

Mom and Roma both took early retirement from careers as professors at the University of Saskatchewan, and poured their energies (and their pensions!) into Language Lanterns. They've donated thousands of books to libraries in Canada and Ukraine, with the aim of spreading the accessibility of 19th- and 20th-century Ukrainian literature.

Last year, they were awarded the inaugural George S. N. Luckyj Ukrainian Literature Translation Prize by the Canadian Foundation of Ukrainian Studies. The citation cites Franko and Morris

for their dedication to and tremendous efforts and achievements in translating Ukrainian literature into English and making it accessible to a wide reading audience. . . After taking early retirement from their respective academic careers at the University of Saskatchewan in 1996, the sisters embarked on new careers, Roma Franko as translator and Sonia Morris as editor. Together they founded Language Lanterns Publications dedicated to publishing works of Ukrainian literature in English translation. . . To date, 17 volumes have appeared translated by Roma Franko and edited by Sonia Morris. . . The names of the recipients will be inscribed on a plaque that will be permanently displayed in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Toronto.

While I have to wait to tell you more about the trilogy that will appear soon, I can say that there are many powerful and moving short stories in it. Stories that brought me to tears, even upon a third or fourth reading while editing and proofreading.

And you see that photo up above? That desk is my Mom's desk that I got after she died following many years of fighting cancer. I'm proud to have been able to assist in fulfilling her and Roma's goal of translating, editing, and publishing 20 volumes - -  on her desk.

P.S. I want to thank Don at Hignell Book Printing for his unwavering support, DTP advice, and assistance over many years. Don has been a rock, and his calm dealing with any and all "crises," and his (perhaps I shouldn't share this) tolerance for, um, extended deadlines, has been a lifesaver. Thanks too to Cori at Hignell for her great work on tweaking the covers of the forthcoming trilogy.

Posted by Paul at 08:23 PM

July 06, 2010

‘Retail Therapy’ Should be Struck From the Lexicon, Our Behavior

I hate the bandied-about term "retail therapy." I know we all do it. Gals do it with clothing, jewellery, perfume, shoes. . . Guys do it with sports gear, tools, gadgets. . .

Yet it speaks horribly of a total disconnect from ourselves and our planet.

How many of us living in "first-world" nations really need more stuff? More crap? We're already consuming wayyyy more than our share of the planet's resources. So how the hell can we really feel better by consuming even more?

It's morally ridiculous. You might get a little boost for a short while, but you're just adding to your psychological burden way down deep inside.

I've spent much of the last three days going through the garage and my home office trying to de-gunk my life. Purge! Even just a little!

And yet I'm still as gadget-lustful as the next guy. Just bought a new smartphone, would love a better canoe, perhaps a kayak for some solo excursions. And the darn car is just too small, wouldn't it be nice to get a mid-sized truck for camping and canoeing excursions?

It never ends.

But perhaps we could at least stop talking about it as something uplifting, eh?

P.S. I admire my wife, Yumi. She still gets her shopping hit regularly, but she does it at the Salvation Army, the Hospice Society Thrift Store, etc. She spends hours having fun (not my cup of tea, but I respect our differences), while spending tens of dollars instead of hundreds, comes home excited and happy, and feels great and looks great. That kind of "retail therapy" I can support :-).

Posted by Paul at 08:55 PM

July 01, 2010

Canada Day in Surrey

We decided to check out Canada Day in Surrey as part of our ongoing exploration of events on Canada's birthday. Last year we went to Canada Day in New Westminster and thoroughly enjoyed the cosy atmosphere in Queen's Park, the live music, etc. As Burnaby residents and community volunteers, we've been to many Canada Day events in Burnaby.

Our impression of the Surrey event was that it was much more corporate-sponsorship oriented than Burnaby events are. I'm not judging that as being either good or bad, but it was interesting to hear Surrey politicians lauding the corporate sponsors for enabling a "free public event." Hmm. Burnaby Canada Day events are free to the public, too, without all the banner ads, displays of cars and trucks, etc. . . Perhaps the Burnaby events are not on quite the same scale, but bigger is not necessarily better, eh?

I was impressed, however, with the strong environmental-sustainability presence at the Surrey event. Lots of displays on sustainable living, and booths on streamkeeping and preserving urban forests. Surrey actually hires university students over the summer to lead teams of hired high-school students to work on restoring urban streams, removing invasive plant species, etc. I have to admit that's way ahead of Burnaby initiatives. . .

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

June 30, 2010

Commercial Properties Still Using Pesticides in South Burnaby

I happened to cycle past the Ballard building on North Fraser Way down in the Glenlyon Development near Fraser Foreshore Park in south Burnaby over lunch today.

There was a guy applying something to the lawns on both sides of the street, so I asked him what it was: Weed 'n Feed. I asked him if he was aware that he was applying it right next to Sussex Creek (neither fertilizer nor pesticides are good for aquatic habitat), and he brushed me off saying it was an approved chemical.

I called the City of Burnaby, and staff confirmed that they couldn't do anything about it because it was commercial property and the City's Pesticide Bylaw does not apply to commercial properties. I also checked the Environment Canada website, and discovered that weed 'n feed (combined fertilizer/pesticide) products have been banned on a national level, effective 2012. So it seems a shame that landscapers are still applying the stuff.

It would be great if developers, property managers, and landscapers got ahead of the curve!

I've talked to people who say they've heard that landscapers are intent on using up stocks of products that face potential bans, or that have already been banned but the deadline hasn't been reached yet, and that seems morally reprehensible to me.

Perhaps chemicals manufacturers could be encouraged to take back such products with partial refunds, and governments could be encouraged to support such programs through rebates? Perhaps such programs are in place, but people don't know about them? There's a lot that could be done here!

Posted by Paul at 02:56 PM

June 29, 2010

D-Link DNS-323 NAS Initial Impressions

I am a firm believer in multiple backups of my computer data for several reasons:

1) As an editor, my livelihood/business relies on computers

2) As an avid photographer, ever since I went completely digital many years ago, I've accumulated over 350GB of digital photo files

For years I've had dual HDs in my main computers, and some time ago added an external hot-swappable USB2 HD cradle which works great.

But I've been hearing a lot about NAS (network attached storage) and about a week ago I picked up a D-Link DNS-323 NAS device from NCIX, along with a couple of Seagate 1.5TB hard drives. Total damage? C$299 before tax, so cheap for the additional backup peace of mind. I set it up as RAID 1, which means that the two 1.5TB drives in the D-Link mirror each other.

The salesperson at NCIX warned me that the DNS-323 would run only as fast as my network, but I didn't think much of it. I should have!

Backing up those 350GB of photo files took more than 30 hours over my 100Mbit LAN (local area network)! Mind you now that the initial backup has been done, updates will go much more quickly. Still, I now do have my sights set on a gigabit router/switch :-).

The other great thing about a NAS device is that any of the computers on my LAN can back up files to it.

The unit itself is compact, about the size of two fat paperback novels, but it does require an external power brick. I haven't set up or tested some other cool functions such as remote FTP access, or serving up music files across the network.

Posted by Paul at 08:23 PM

June 17, 2010

South Burnaby Safety Forum June 23, 2010

The 3rd Annual South Burnaby Safety Forum will be held on Wednesday, June 23, 2010, from 6:00 - 9:00pm at Eastburn Community Centre, 7435 Edmonds St.

I started out attending one of these forums, progressed into helping to organize a few more, and while I am no longer actively involved in the organizational side, I can assure everyone that they are useful events. So if you have any public safety or crime-related issues, I urge you to come out and participate. Community succeeds when people in the community make their voices heard!


Posted by Paul at 01:03 PM

June 11, 2010

RBC Blue Water Day Hosts Byrne Creek, Stream of Dreams

I was happy to represent the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and the Stream of Dreams Murals Society at the Kingsway/Walker RBC branch in southeast Burnaby for a couple of hours today for the bank's Blue Water Day. Several RBC branches invited streamkeepers and Stream of Dreams to participate, and we did our best to accommodate as many of them as we could, though it's tough to find volunteers during working hours.

Thanks to Veloy and the staff at the branch!


My Byrne Creek/Stream of Dreams display

All Drains Lead to Fish Habitat!


Serving clients cake!


Veloy and I - thanks!

Info on the RBC Blue Water Project here.

And thanks to the Pacific Salmon Foundation for matching our groups up with RBC!

Sometimes I feel a bit strange displaying front-page spreads of myself from the local papers, but I've discovered it's a great way to start conversations. People trundle by, glance at me, glance at the display, stop as recognition dawns, look at me again and blurt out: "Hey, that's you!" Yup, and now I've got you hooked for at least a minute :-).

Posted by Paul at 08:29 PM

June 10, 2010

Are Email Disclaimers Enforceable?

I noticed the following at the bottom of an email message:

This email may be privileged and confidential. Any dissemination or use of this information by a person other than the intended recipient(s) is not authorized. The sender accepts no responsibility or liability for any errors and omissions, loss or damage from use (including damage from viruses), or breach of any confidentiality related to the contents of this message which arises as a result of email transmission.

This strikes me as being so strange.

What does it mean, "may be privileged and confidential"? How do I tell?

How do I know who is the intended recipient? Sometimes that is not evident. How do I know for sure that I may not be an intended recipient? Isn't the onus on the sender to ensure the message is being sent to the correct address?

And what's this "damage from viruses" bafflegab? It's your responsibility to keep your computer secure, not mine.

As for the claptrap about confidentiality of information, email by nature is a wide-open medium. Messages pass through dozens of servers on their way across the Internet. If you want/need to ensure confidentiality, well, encrypt the message.

Posted by Paul at 11:24 PM

USGS: Effects of Urbanization on Stream Ecosystems

An excellent series of videos on how urbanization affects local streams. Thanks to the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation mailing list for this lead. These videos are great resources for explaining the function of urban watersheds to the public.

Posted by Paul at 02:40 PM

June 06, 2010

Burnaby Environment Awards Lunch 2010

The City of Burnaby's 2010 Environment Awards were presented at a lovely luncheon today.


Councillor Dan Johnston, chair of the Burnaby Environment Committee


The Wildlife Rescue Association of BC received the Environment Award
for Communication


Jennifer Atchison of the Stoney Creek Environment Committee
received an Environment Award for Community Stewardship


Brentwood Park Elementary School received an Environment Award
for Youth


Coro Strandberg and Phillip Legg received an Environmental Star
for Planning and Development

And Candace LeRoy of Simon Fraser University received an
Environmental Star for Business Stewardship


Group shot of the awardees

The reception is always a fun event. I've attended four or five times over the past years, first as an award recipient with my wife Yumi for our volunteer work on Byrne Creek, and now as a citizen representative on Burnaby's Environment Committee. It's always a great crowd with opportunities to catch up with old friends and make new ones. City of Burnaby staff do an excellent job on coordinating the event.

Posted by Paul at 07:27 PM

June 03, 2010

Vancouver Sun: Remote Alaskan sockeye salmon offer clues to long-term survival

An interesting read, though I find the overall conclusion to be a "Duh" moment:

The study shows the key to the health of the Bristol Bay fishery is a 'diversified portfolio' of hundreds of discrete populations of sockeye. Some of the populations like it when the surface climate is hot and dry, while others like it cold and wet. Some spend just one year in fresh water before heading to sea, others spend two years.

Researchers for the study, which appears in today's edition of the journal Nature, liken it to a diverse stock portfolio that spreads the risk around.

While this is a great explanation for the layperson, uh, haven't we long known the importance of genetic diversity?

Anyway, a key statement was: "The hope for the Fraser is that the fish can adapt to these warmer conditions and to the diseases that they've seen," says Hilborn. "We just basically have to give them time. And that basically means not harvesting them very much until they can solve the problem."

How about not harvesting Fraser sockeye at all? For several generations? Lower-Fraser First Nations have agreed to a complete sockeye moratorium and are doing only selective fishing, what about everyone else?

UPDATE: Another take on the same issue by Mark Hume in The Gl0be and Mail can be found here.

Posted by Paul at 09:53 PM

June 01, 2010

‘BC Waters Clean Up Challenge’ from Pacific Western Brewing

This is a good initiative by a key member of BC's corporate sector - Pacific Western Brewing.

"Proceeds from Pacific Pilsner and PWB will be used to support the clean-up of streams, rivers or lakes in beautiful British Columbia. We will be selecting one or more community water clean-up projects with funding and other tools this summer."

Community groups can apply here.

While I laud this initiative, I must also chide PWB for its tag line "Save Water Drink Pilsner."

While it's cute, and I do like my beer, brewing and bottling is a hugely water-intensive process in which far more water is used than in simply quenching your thirst from your tap, eh?

Posted by Paul at 08:24 PM

May 26, 2010

Ernie Crey Gives 2010 Fraser Assembly Keynote

Ernie Crey, Senior Policy Advisor for the Sto:lo Tribal Council gave a moving keynote address to the Fraser Salmon & Watersheds Program 2010 Fraser Assembly this morning.  These are my rough notes, so while the gist may be correct, they cannot be attributed to Ernie Crey as direct quotations . . .

We are undergoing profound, ongoing changes. Changes in the aboriginal community signal profound changes in the entire community, institutions, and policies.

Change is the constant that we all face and we can't hide from it.

Trying to hold back change doesn't work. Change is overwhelming and inevitable.

The best we can do and hope for is to flow with the change and see if we can direct it around the values that we have. That's all that we can do.

Get engaged, run for and hold public office.

People in Ottawa make policy for all aspects of our lives: the environment, taxation, health, etc. All those decisions are made there by a small cadre of males from the dominant community. Woman are largely absent. Aboriginals are absent. Policy is mostly made by white males.

It's best that we be the shapers of public policy in Canada. I've never been a believer in sitting it out.

We've entered a difficult place in the history of this province, particularly when it comes to fisheries.

120 years ago there were 100 million and more sockeye salmon coming back to spawn up the Fraser. We now consider a good year to be 10 million fish. Fish have been going missing from the Fraser for decade upon decade.

The DFO is not the saviour of salmon or its champion. This needs to change.

If we don't drastically change our ways, the chinook will all be gone. Will we allow that to happen? Will we sit it out?

What is the right thing to do? What is the ethical thing to do? For our children and their children, and the children of the white man.

Can't we respond to change?

The aboriginals have adjusted and have begun to fish selectively.

The Cohen judicial inquiry into missing sockeye salmon. I predict the hearing will transfix British Columbians. A good part of the world knows about the disappearance of the sockeye. Some say they are AWOL at sea. Nobody knows why. People blame different sources. Some say it's a scientific question. That may be the case.

Here's my take. It may be a question of science, to improve science, in-season management. But you know it's really a question for British Columbians like you and me. Post your opinions on the inquiry website.

I think communities should hold their own hearings. All of you together. In Merritt, in Kamloops, in Vancouver. Get the ordinary citizens to come forward with their observations and opinions as if they counted.

It's important not to be exclusive as scientists, politicians, and council members. We need to be inclusive.

Working together is what it takes.

We have a shot at not only preserving but enhancing salmon runs.

"Gramps and grandma restored the environment and the rivers." That's the vision that we can, and should, embrace.

Posted by Paul at 08:33 PM

May 20, 2010

Check out Environment Week in Burnaby


(Image courtesy of the City of Burnaby website - I figure they won't mind because I'm a taxpayer and I'm providing free publicity : -)

I love the bee on the graphic. Bees are essential to our food supply of vegetables and fruits because they are pollinators. Too bad so many people seem to be afraid of them.

Burnaby has a lot of great events lined up for Environment Week 2010.

Posted by Paul at 03:49 PM

May 08, 2010

Northern Voice 2010 Social Media Conference a Blast

I was happy to get registered for Northern Voice this year - last year by the time I heard registration was open all the tickets were sold out!

Northern Voice is a social media conference that has featured great speakers and stimulating discussion from its inception. This year was no exception.

Today I took in:

How (Should) Journalists Use Social Media?
with the CBC's Lisa Johnson and Vancouver Sun managing editor Kirk LaPointe 

More Drawing On Walls - The Power of Making Things Visible
with Nancy White

Flog Your Blog: How to Turn Your Blog Into a Book
with Angela Crocker, Kim Plumley and Peggy Richardson

Art and Social Media
with Rebecca Coleman, Rachel Chator, Deb Pickman and Sara Genn

If Machiavelli and Montaigne Grew Mushrooms
with Dave Cormier and Jon Beasley-Murray

I didn't want to lug my laptop with me as I've been having some back trouble the last several weeks, so I took only a few handwritten notes. I will try to flesh out this post, but right now, I'm tired!

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

May 05, 2010

Summit Logistics Hosts Streamkeeper Display

I had the pleasure of hanging out with staff at Summit Logistics in southeast Burnaby during a staff BBQ today, with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers display. Thanks to Rick LeBlanc for inviting us to the company's Health and Safety Week event. I chatted with people about how all storm drains lead to local creeks, and about the watershed. Summit has extensive spill-prevention and containment measures in place.


Posted by Paul at 09:57 PM

DFO Must Act Now to Save Pacific Salmon

". . .anglers who care about their sport and the stocks that sustain it are already putting their rods away. Only the greedy and the stupid squabble over who gets to kill the last fish for fun."

Good article from Stephen Hume on how several first nations are moving to stop fishing completely, while DFO still dithers on recreational and commercial fisheries.

Posted by Paul at 08:02 AM

May 02, 2010

CBC: Burtynsky's Oil images win photo book prize

"In 1997, I had what I refer to as my oil epiphany," Burtynsky said in a statement accompanying the book and exhibits.

"It occurred to me that the vast, human-altered landscapes that I pursued and photographed for over 20 years were only made possible by the discovery of oil and the mechanical advantage of the internal combustion engine. It was then that I began the oil project.

"Over the next 10 years I researched and photographed the largest oil fields I could find. I went on to make images of refineries, freeway interchanges, automobile plants and the scrap industry that results from the recycling of cars. Then I began to look at the culture of oil, the motor culture, where masses of people congregate around vehicles, with vehicle events as the main attraction."

Read more:

Posted by Paul at 08:18 PM

Photographer vs Volunteer

I was asked to photographically document a community cleanup the other day - an event that I was also involved in coordinating and actually getting out and working on.

Now that I am reviewing the photos, I have quickly realized that by splitting my attention among so many roles, the photography suffered. I was rushing here, rushing there, trying to cover all the bases, both event coordination and photography. It simply can't be done!

While I'm not a professional photographer, I am pretty good, but the photos I got of the event were not that great. I also did not get the accompanying information that is required for publication: names, permissions, etc.

Why? I was distracted. As I said, I was also an event coordinator, a volunteer organizer, and supposedly a garbage collector. Part of the time I was pitching in on the ground, part of the time I was coordinating various groups, part of the time . . .  I was taking photos, as requested.

You simply can't do it all. To take good photos you have to be in the zone. The viewfinder has to be your only focus.

Posted by Paul at 08:00 PM

April 23, 2010

Edmonds Clean Sweep May 1, 2010 – Come make a difference!

The Edmonds Business & Community Association will hold its regular spring neighbourhood Clean Sweep from 9:45 to noon on Saturday, May 1.

Everyone is welcome to join in -- families, individuals and community groups! Help make our neighbourhood cleaner, safer, and more attractive.

Equipment provided, along with refreshments.

Meet at the Eastburn Community Centre, 7435 Edmonds Street, Burnaby.

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers will be participating with an alternate signup site at Edmonds Sktytrain Station, and will lead a cleanup of the southwest Edmonds area, including removal of invasive plant species from Byrne Creek Ravine Park.

Edmonds logo


Posted by Paul at 11:44 AM

April 20, 2010

Spinning Garbage into Gold – Burnaby Board of Trade

An Innovative New Business Model for Managing Waste




The Burnaby Board of Trade is hosting a unique event which will showcase a fundamentally different approach to waste that can actually generate a dividend, if this model is adopted. Integrated Resource Management (IRM) is based on existing and well-proven technologies that require no lifestyle changes in order to achieve local energy generation, increased jobs and significant contributions to meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Chris Corps of Asset Strategies has pioneered the IRM approach and is now advocating amendments to Provincial policy, so change can occur. Chris' recommendations are based on an IRM pilot study his team is now completing on behalf of Metro Vancouver for the Lower Mainland. Chris will talk about the implications of IRM, as well as how businesses and Governments can benefit from both the adoption of the model and related changes to fiscal accountability.

Pricing & Registration:

Don't miss this exclusive opportunity to hear from a thought-leader in environmental innovation. Tickets are $35 (plus GST) for Members and $45 (plus GST) for non-Members.  Cash bar and light appetizers will be provided.

To purchase tickets call 604.412.0100. For more information email

Posted by Paul at 02:44 PM

March 13, 2010

Environment Canada ‘Responds’ to Streamkeepers

Here's what an Environment Canada spokesperson had to say to the Burnaby Now after yet another chemical dump into Byrne Creek that killed everything in the open watershed from top to bottom:

Raisinghani responded to recent criticism from streamkeepers that suggested Environment Canada was lax on enforcement of anti-pollution laws and failing in its job to protect fish and their habitat.

"Environment Canada takes its enforcement responsibilities very seriously," Raisinghani wrote. "If the source of contamination is found, an investigation may be launched."

WOW, Right!?

I'm sure polluters are shaking in their chemical-covered boots upon hearing that proclamation. IF. MAY.

How about WHEN. SHALL..?

Isn't action by default something that we should expect from those mandated to protect our health and our environment?

I feel for Raisinghani. He, she, is muzzled, handcuffed, and just spouting the "line" from someone higher up who doesn't have the balls to speak to the public.

What we need is swift prosecution, not purported tough talk. Hell, that ain't even tough talk. Them's bureaucratic-PR weasel words. IF. MAY.

I would like to point out that the IFs and MAYs have been spouted repeatedly in the past - and have never been addressed. That does not reassure anyone about Environment Canada's track record, eh?

There was a toxic spill on a tributary that feeds into Byrne Creek as recently as 2007  in which the "source of contamination" WAS found, and Environment Canada went into its usual "an investigation MAY be launched" mode, but ended up doing NOTHING.

So what gives us citizens, who pay Environment Canada salaries, and who trust you to protect us and our environment, any reason to believe this time will be any different?

This issue has been brought up again, and again, and again, and we don't need any more IFs and MAYs. We need ACTION.

The real sad thing about all this is that as volunteer streamkeepers we work with all levels of government: municipal, regional, provincial, and federal. We don't want to diss anyone, but . . .   We are giving up hundreds and thousand of hours of our time to volunteer. We are taking time away from our work. . . while we're paying through our taxes, for, apparently, nothing to be done by "our" government.

That's harsh..

Posted by Paul at 10:22 PM

March 10, 2010

Media Interest in Byrne Creek Kill Has Legs

The strength and duration of media interest in the recent fish kill in southeast Burnaby's Byrne Creek after someone illegally disposed of a chemical, likely down a drain on a street, is intriguing. The kill happened late Thursday afternoon, yet I was still receiving multiple calls for interviews and tours on Monday. Usually three- to four-day old local news is as appetizing to mainstream media as, er, rotting fish, but somehow this story had legs.

And we didn't send out a single press release or email, we didn't make a single phone call - we simply tried to keep up with the requests that poured in. We have no staff, streamkeepers are 100% volunteer. If anyone still doubts the power of Twitter, well, that's how this story started. . .

Perhaps it had something to do with public outrage. This story struck a chord. The creek is in an urban area, it is surrounded by public parks, and I think people are really getting the message that it's not only fish,  it's about the entire ecosystem and our health, too.

I've been monitoring the online versions of stories, and people have been responding with anger and disbelief that such a tragedy could happen - yet again - in a beloved creek. People have also been scathingly skeptical that anything will really be done by the federal agencies that supposedly are tasked with protecting our environment and our health.

The outrage is palpable, and I think that's what has kept this story alive.

Streamkeepers are making lemonade from the lemons handed to us by the thoughtless polluter - we've been getting calls from concerned citizens reporting suspicious substances on streets and in ditches, we may have a few new faces at our monthly meeting tomorrow (Thursday, March 11, at 7:30pm - coordinates here), we've been getting requests from businesses to come speak to employees about the watershed and how we all connect to it.

I hope interest remains high, but I understand that we have to get on with our busy lives and attention will quickly fade. Unfortunately, I've seen this cycle several times on battered Byrne Creek, and I hope that my sense that this time the response is noticeably stronger isn't just wishful thinking.

Thank you to all the media who covered the kill! And thank you to the public for expressing your feelings. If you really want change to happen, if you want to see enforcement, I urge you to write your local MLAs and MPs, and the federal and provincial environment ministers - without strong policy direction agency staff's hands are tied.

Posted by Paul at 07:50 AM

February 24, 2010

Burnaby Food Forum March 31, 2010

Join Burnaby Food First for a community forum on the future of food in Burnaby. Local community groups will showcase their successful projects, participants will discuss food issues in Burnaby, and plan for a resilient local food system. A healthy lunch will be provided.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
8:30 - 1:30 Shadbolt Centre
6450 Deer Lake Ave., Burnaby

Everyone is welcome. Please register by March 26 via email:


Posted by Paul at 10:47 AM

February 05, 2010

Money Collecting Machine


So where can I get one of these? :-)

Posted by Paul at 07:34 PM

February 04, 2010

Burnaby Board Environmental Sustainability Forum for Business

The Burnaby Board of Trade's inaugural Environmental Sustainability Forum for Business last night was a big success, with a stimulating panel of speakers who provided inspiration and examples to help companies get on the road toward reducing their environmental footprints while boosting their bottom lines.

Held at the magnificent Electronic Arts campus in Burnaby, the panel featured Peter Robinson, CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation; TJ Galda, chair of the Electronic Arts Green Team; David Moran, Director of Public Affairs and Communications for Coca-Cola Canada; and Maureen Cureton, Green Business Manager, Vancity. The speakers and ensuing Q & A were ably coordinated by facilitator Coro Strandberg, principal of Strandberg Consulting and author of the Small and Medium-Sized Business Environmental Roadmap for Industry Canada.

The event appeared to be sold out. The auditorium was packed, and the speakers were well received by a responsive and appreciative audience. The panel was a good mix in terms of age and experience, and represented senior corporate management, staff, and NGOs. The overall message was that the green-blue wave is well underway, and companies of all sizes must understand environmental sustainability, and implement it, to hire and retain excellent staff, and develop and maintain optimal relations with their supply chains and customers.

Advice? While you have to have commitment and support from upper management, imbuing an organization with the values of environmental sustainability requires that everyone gets on board. Simply setting up a sustainability team or section will not change behaviour - it will alleviate personal responsibility as staff think "I don't have to do anything, that other group will take care of things."

An interesting resource that was mentioned was the David Suzuki Ambassadors program that provides workshops for businesses "interested in greening their practices." That was another theme that was repeated by several speakers - there are plenty of NGOs out there that businesses can partner with to work together on environmental goals.

Posted by Paul at 10:19 AM

February 02, 2010

BC Artist James Koll Posts New Works to Website

I received an email from BC artist James Koll today about new pieces posted to his website. Coincidentally, the topic of art came up on the Editors' Association of Canada email list recently, with people sharing info about artists whose works they'd bought. I mentioned Koll and his website, and here are a few comments:

"Koll's work is beautiful and, from the photos, exceptionally well crafted. The next time I'm back in B.C. I'll make it a point to see some of his work; I'm in love with it, even via the Internet. A new slant on Internet dating?"

"Thanks so much for sharing this link."

"I like his Burrard Street at Night--lovely."

"Ooo--another great site."

Posted by Paul at 01:37 PM

January 21, 2010

Upcoming Burnaby Board of Trade Environmental Sustainability Forum

As a member of the Burnaby Board of Trade Environmental Sustainability Committee, I have been asked to forward this invitation to people in my business network.


January 21, 2010

On behalf of the Burnaby Board of Trade, I would like to personally invite you to attend the BBOT's inaugural Environmental Sustainability Forum for Business on Wednesday, February 3, 2010. This event will showcase a distinguished panel of speakers who will discuss strategies for reducing your environmental footprint and the economic benefits of sustainability.

The objective of this forum is to create an open dialogue within the local business community to explore the business case of going green. The panel includes:

Facilitator: Coro Strandberg, Principal of Strandberg Consulting and author of the Small and Medium-Sized Business Environmental Roadmap for Industry Canada

Event Details
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
5:30 pm Registration
6:30 pm Panel Presentation
Electronic Arts Canada, Ltd.
4334 Sanderson Way, Burnaby BC
$30.00 + GST
To register, please RSVP to 604.412.0100 or email by Friday, January 29, 2010.

Posted by Paul at 03:44 PM

January 20, 2010

Word Press Founder Mullenweg on Work

Ran across this great article on Inc. about Matt Mullenweg, founder of Word Press, on how he works and runs a virtual company.

I really like this quotation in the article:

People write a lot of comments on my blog, and I actually read and manually approve every comment before it gets posted. I think the broken-windows theory -- that a broken window or graffiti in a neighborhood begets more of the same -- applies online. One bad comment engenders 10 more. I'll happily approve a comment from someone who completely disagrees with everything I believe in, but if I get a positive comment with a curse word in it, I'll edit it out. My blog is like my living room. If someone was acting out in my house, I'd ask that person to leave.

I think that's a great approach, and I wish some major media outlets would get their monitors (do they even have monitors?) to follow it. When comments deteriorate into slanging matches, I'm gone.

Posted by Paul at 09:59 AM

January 19, 2010

Clearing the Decks for the Olympics?

All the newspaper and flyer boxes have disappeared from Edmonds Skytrain Station. Is it part of security measures for the Olympics? Beautification? A move to curb litter? I don't miss them, just curious. The mailbox is still there. . .


Posted by Paul at 02:35 PM

December 29, 2009

Getting Into Hot Water

In response to a series of negative posts regarding on-demand water heaters on a mailing list:

While we have a gas-fired tank hot-water heater in our townhouse, I'm a bit surprised at the number of negative anecdotes regarding on-demand heaters.

As mentioned, they have been in widespread use for decades in Asia and Europe. I had several apartments in Japan with on-demand heaters and never experienced running short of hot water, or being subjected to spurts of cold water. And no matter what the outside temperature, it never seemed to take more than 10-20 seconds to get a steady flow of piping hot water -- certainly not any longer than it takes now for us to get hot water in the upstairs shower from the tank heater in the basement.

My wife's parents' place is in northern Japan, and it gets bloody cold up there for 4+ months each year, yet the suitcase-sized on-demand water heater in their house has never exhibited any such negative behaviour in 20 or more years of use.

If I may be so bold, I'd also venture that Japanese are among the greatest lovers of hot water in the world, and most have a tolerance, nay, an affinity, for soaking in water so hot that simply dipping a foot in it makes me want to scream :-).

Many Japanese shower/baths have faucets with a colour-gradated blue-red dial, accompanied by degree C markings. The top end of the red zone abuts a safety interlock button, which one can depress to be able to turn the faucet even further.

I wonder if some of this can be chalked up to a lack of experience in NA? I admit that when our hot-water heater died several years ago, we replaced it with another tank heater, but that was mostly due to the limited availability and greater initial expense of on-demand heaters here, combined with seemingly little knowledge or experience with them in local stores and among local plumbers.

Posted by Paul at 09:26 PM

December 02, 2009

Water Act Forum Stimulates, Educates

Thanks to Watershed Watch for putting on a forum yesterday "to discuss how NGOs can work together to move the Living Water Smart (LWS) agenda forward, and how groups can help to modernize the BC Water Act." I enjoyed the presentations, learned a lot, and was impressed with the knowledge represented by the people in the room.

The organizers are asking for input so here goes: I'm not sure if "getting groundwater in" came up much in discussion, and that's crucial, particularly in urban watersheds like the creek that I volunteer on as a streamkeeper. The focus seemed to be on sucking groundwater out, which of course is very important, but we shouldn't neglect the "letting it soak in naturally" part of the cycle.

I'm not sure if a water act can include things like impermeable vs permeable surfaces, swales, rain gardens, infiltration ponds, biofiltration, street-edge alternatives, etc., but rainwater infiltration > groundwater infiltration is crucial in urban watersheds. Otherwise too much water is dumped into creeks through rain drains (trying to reshape the debate by getting away from "storm drains") during moderate-to-heavy rains, and not enough gets into the ground to maintain base flows in long, hot, dry spells.

I know we don't want to get too detailed or prescriptive, so perhaps as part of the preamble, or guiding principles, there could be something about the permeability-groundwater issue in regard to promoting watershed-friendly development and redevelopment guidelines?

Posted by Paul at 09:40 PM

November 25, 2009

Salmon Return to Japanese River

From the The Yomiuri Shimbun

This article is about salmon returning to the Chikumagawa river as flows improved after East Japan Railway Co. was directed to stop taking illegal amounts of water from the river to power trains in Tokyo.

Wow, amazing how one's life can change. When I rode the Yamanote Line in Tokyo on a daily or weekly basis for well over ten years from 1985 - 1999 I had no idea that some of the power was coming from a dam that was impacting salmon. Mind you I knew next to nothing about salmon, and nothing about streamkeeping back then.

Posted by Paul at 09:18 PM

Welcome New Edmonds Association Exec!

As outgoing president, I would like to warmly welcome the new executive of the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association. It's very exciting to have several fresh new faces, and to see the energy and ideas flowing around the table at the first meeting of the new board today.

Please welcome your new executive. I trust we'll all pitch in and help continue to move our organization onward and upward!

  • President - Joyce Rostron
  • Vice President - Darcy Schlechtleitner
  • Vice President -  Natalie de la Cruz
  • Treasurer - Allan Zhang
  • Secretary - Dave Fairhall
  • Warren Walker - member at large
  • Paul Cipywnyk - past president and member at large

Thank you to everyone who helped me learn the ropes over the last few years, and to all the volunteers who make our association the great group that it is. A big pat on the back to all of you!

Posted by Paul at 02:09 PM

October 26, 2009

Metro Vancouver Solid Waste Management Plan

I attended a Metro Vancouver luncheon on solid waste management on behalf of the Burnaby Board of Trade Environmental Sustainability Committee.

Here's my distillation of the presentation materials and the ensuing discussion:

Top priority is to reduce, reuse, recycle.

Now diverting 55% of waste.

Goal is to divert 70% of waste by 2015 (Metro Toronto has set this goal for year 2010 and is nowhere near achieving it).

MetroVan population projected to grow from ~2 million to ~3 million, so increasing diversion from 55% to 70% has little effect on remaining solid waste.

Even with a 70% diversion rate there will still be over 1 million tonnes of solid waste to dispose of every year.

Three scenarios:
1) waste-to-energy (incinerate)
2) landfill mechanically/biologically treated waste
3) landfill

Key point: When it comes to overall emissions, solid waste management contributes 1% or less in the Fraser Valley, under any scenario.

MetroVan says studies show no discernible health impacts from WTE (waste-to-energy) plants. Many EU nations have WTE plants located in major cities. EU no longer allows landfills.

Key point: What about the "fourth R" in addition to reduce, reuse, recycle? REVENUE (or cost).

WTE, because of heat and electricity generation, has a 35-year NET REVENUE of $20 million in the MetroVan scenarios. The other two options COST between $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion over 35 years.

MetroVan is strongly promoting WTE as the solution.

What about 100% diversion? It becomes uneconomical at a certain point - diminishing returns.

MetroVan feels it's not winning the PR/media war on WTE. Needs to present clear, understandable message to the public. In greater Vancouver, 60% in favor of WTE, but in Fraser Valley only 37%.

I used to question WTE, but I've come around for several reasons. I don't see 100% diversion as being achievable, I think the emissions/health impact from running diesel trucks up the valley to a landfill would be far more detrimental than a new WTE facility, and finally WTE is the only alternative (at least according to MetroVan's consultants) that makes economic sense. In fact it makes $ from producing electricity and heat, whereas the other options cost billions of dollars.

My other observation is that few people even seem to be aware of the WTE facility that has been operating in my home town of Burnaby for years. I'd say 80% of the people that I talk to don't even know it's there.

Posted by Paul at 05:55 PM

October 21, 2009

Apple Store Won’t Let Me Order

I'm trying to send an Apple iTunes gift card to someone in the US and I'm in Canada. I tried Apple's US website, but it would not accept my Canadian province and postal code in the purchasing address. I tried Apple's Canadian website, but it would not accept the US address as the shipping address.

Perhaps I'm just missing some option, but you'd think they'd make carrying out a transaction as KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid, er, Silly) as possible. Dunno if it's Apple being silly or I'm being stupid, but after a couple of failed attempts I guess I'm off to Amazon - at least I know Amazon's gift certificates work cross border, and that I'm able to place orders with both the US and Canadian Amazon websites.

Posted by Paul at 07:53 AM

October 16, 2009

Enjoying Book Camp Vancouver

Have had a great morning at Book Camp Vancouver, and am settling in for the afternoon sessions. This morning sat in on Open Source business models and publishing, and a session on newspapers, magazines and books in the digital age. Next up is Getting to Zero: Who Gets Paid When Books are Free?

Lots of people are covering the conference in real time on Twitter at #bcvan09.

Posted by Paul at 01:03 PM

October 15, 2009

‘Please RT’ Flags Messages to Ignore

I don't understand why people include "please RT" (re-Tweet) in Twitter messages. To me that's waving a red flag that the Tweet is likely spam, or blatantly commercial or self-promoting. It's gotten to the point that as I scan TweetDeck, I skip over messages with "please RT" in them.

If a Tweet is compelling, and stands on its own merits, it's a given that I'll RT it, eh? So why waste the nine characters just to irritate me?

I find this particularly ludicrous when I see so-called "social media experts" littering their Tweets with "please RT." Oh, please. Stop.

Update: @WritersKitchen tweeted a link to this study printed on Fast Company that shows that retweet pleas do seem to work. Thanks, but they still rub me the wrong way!

Posted by Paul at 08:00 AM

October 13, 2009

Turning Cities into Sponges

I never thought I'd be quoting a publication called the Daily Commercial News and Construction Record, but I'm willing to learn from anyone. An article entitled Philly's bold stormwater management plan leads the way caught my eye - it's an initiative that I'd like to see in more cities, and promoted by ones like my own Burnaby.

I love the following quotation from the article:

The plan reimagines the city as an oasis of rain gardens, green roofs, permeable pavements, thousands of additional trees, and more. The idea is to turn the city into a giant sponge to absorb as much rainwater as possible and delay the rest in its journey to the nearby Delaware and Schuykill rivers.

Now that's vision! Or simply going back to what used to be . . . Most cities were once giant sponges, because that's what most land used to be before we built on it. So it makes sense to return to what worked for Mother Nature for millennia, eh?

How about this?

The new plan announced last month would "peel back" a lot of the city's concrete and asphalt and replace them with plants - rain gardens, green roofs, landscaped swales in parking lots, heavily planted boulevards, and small wetlands.

Yes! Streamkeepers and other concerned citizens have dreamed of this for years. The main issues dogging urban creeks are massive flows during rains because of all the water that goes shooting off of roads, roofs and parking lots straight into street drains, and pollution from oil, antifreeze, brake-lining dust, rubber, soap, other chemicals, etc., washing off our streets. Rain gardens, ponds, swales - they would all help with both problems, slowing peak flows and filtering out pollutants.

I believe all municipalities in British Columbia are required to produce ISMPs (integrated stormwater management plans) for all of their watersheds, and Burnaby is no exception. The City has been working on a Byrne Creek ISMP for some time now, and I have sat in on stakeholder sessions as a representative from the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers.

Unfortunately, I haven't witnessed much imagination in the process so far. I get the sense that there's more talk about more pipes, than there is about rain gardens, swales, street-edge alternatives, trees and plants. More pipes? That's so 19th and early-to-mid 20th century, eh? Let's be forward-looking!

Posted by Paul at 04:25 PM

October 10, 2009

What’s Wrong With This FP Picture?

The joys of middle age: I can easily spot mistakes like this one in today's Financial Post:


That ain't no Monte Carlo!

Posted by Paul at 09:01 AM

October 09, 2009

Burnaby Now Interview on Edmonds Association

The Burnaby Now interviewed me about the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association a few weeks ago. Today I received permission from the paper to post the feature to my blog and to the association's website. Thanks!


Page 1 (3 MB PDF file)


Page 2 (2.3 MB PDF file)

Images and PDF files reprinted courtesy of Burnaby Now, which reserves all rights.

Posted by Paul at 02:14 PM

October 06, 2009

No More Address Labels, Xmas Cards, Notepads – Please!

Groan, I just got another pack of sample Xmas Cards in the mail today from an "environmental" group. Thank you for using up all that paper, coating it, printing it, spewing diesel fumes to truck it from place to place, just so that it could go into my recycle bin to be trucked, processed. . .

Enough with the address labels, the preprinted "From the Desk of Paul Cipywnyk" notepads, the Xmas Cards. I have an overflowing drawer full of them. I have enough address labels to keep me going for several lifetimes.

How many letters do I send these days anyway? How many do you send? All my bills are on scheduled auto-withdrawal/auto-charge programs, and I email, IM, Facebook, Tweet, or Skype family and friends.

I refuse to donate to groups that use this sort of marketing, and if you got my name and address from a previous donation, you will lose me as a supporter if you follow up with any of the above products.

Posted by Paul at 04:04 PM

October 03, 2009

Autumn 2009 Edmonds Clean Sweep

We couldn't have asked for a better morning for the 2009 Autumn Edmonds Clean Sweep. It was sunny and cool, with crisp autumn air invigorating the volunteers. Organized by the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association, Clean Sweeps take place the first Saturday in May and the first Saturday in October in the Edmonds area of southeast Burnaby.

I'm in my second year as prez of the organization, so it was my pleasure to welcome and thank participants. We had a great turnout, and I'll attempt to list participants here, in no particular order:

  • South Burnaby Neighborhood House
  • Eastburn Community Centre staff
  • District 3 RCMP and community policing volunteers
  • Byrne Creek Streamkeepers
  • Burnaby Firefighters
  • MP Peter Julian
  • MLA Raj Chouhan
  • Councillor Paul McDonell
  • Councillor Nick Volkow
  • RCMP Superintendant Rick Taylor
  • Burnaby Anti-Graffiti Coordinator Kathy Wipf
  • Dozens of citizens from the community
  • Rosewood Printers for beautiful poster design

Here are some photos I took of the fun event.

Eastburn Community Centre on Edmonds St.

Volunteers pulling trash pails apart

Gearing up in safety vests, gloves

Pickers 'n pails

Sharps boxes and anti-graffiti supplies

RCMP and community policing volunteers

The boys hit the street


The gals patrol the pavement

Targeting graffiti

RCMP taking out the trash

Firefighters charity volunteers fire up the grill

Councillor Paul McDonell

Councillor Nick Volkow leads a street gang

MLA Raj Chouhan hangs with some kids

MP Peter Julian with Eastburn staffer Leanna Rostron

MP Peter Julian put his back into it

Association Secretary Joyce Rostron (l) and buddy

Self-portrait in community centre window

And the cutest shoes in town!

Posted by Paul at 06:10 PM

September 29, 2009

Time to Put the Fax Machine Out to Pasture?

I stayed out of the last "do I still need a fax" discussion on the Editors' Association of Canada mailing list, but recent events are prompting me to comment.

We've used fax machines extensively in our work for around two decades. The amount of work that arrives by fax has tapered off over the last year or two, but the machine is still connected, still on.

When a fax arrives, there's a "distinctive ring," and since the machine was in my wife's office, if she wasn't home, I'd jump like Pavlov's proverbial pup every time I heard that signal. It occurred to me just now that when I hear that signal these days, I usually ignore it. Why? My initial reaction to this self-question was because we're getting way more spam faxes.

Upon further thought, I realize that, no, not really. We're not getting more spam faxes, we're just getting a tenth of the business-related faxes that we used to receive, but we're still getting about the same number of spam faxes.

Yet the result is the same: the signal-to-noise ratio of this particular communication medium has fallen to the point that I've lost the signal in the noise a few times in the last couple of days. I've ignored the distinctive ring until I happen to be passing by the machine on some other perambulation, only to find that -- Yikes -- there's actually a fax from a client and confirmation about something is needed ASAP.

The fax machine is crying wolf much too often. Perhaps it needs to be put down - or only turned on when a client specifically needs to fax me something. Or, perhaps, go completely digital with an online fax service.

P.S. Dear clients, if perchance, you somehow interpreted that last metaphor to mean that I consider you to be sheep, please be assured that was not my intent!

UPDATE: As I was writing this post, what did I hear but the distinctive ring. Not once, but twice. I have retrieved those faxes, and the first asked if I wanted to book a dinner cruise, and the second told me that "We can market your business at LESS THAN 1 cent per fax. Fax 100,000 businesses in the Lower Mainland for only $799." I kid you not.

Posted by Paul at 12:07 PM

September 18, 2009

The Big Notebook Computer Debate

There's been a debate on the Editors' Association of Canada mail list recently about what notebook computers people recommend.

As you can imagine, the thread has run wild. I love A. I hate A. I had a great B. What?! No end of trouble with B.

Do I dare get into the PC vs Mac minefield?

Some thoughts:

I suspect you deal with outliers when you ask people for recommendations. I think people tend to remember, and gravitate toward, their best and worst experiences, and the best and worst things that their peers have told them.

I lean toward doing some initial research with PC Magazine, and other trusted industry publications, because the reviews/results tend to jibe with what my friends and associates talk about. PC Mag rates some Dells great, some lousy. It rates some HPs great, some lousy. It rates some IBM/Lenovos wonderful, some weird. And though it's a Wintel-centric publication, it rates some Macs fantastic, some lacking.

And there are personal-preference intangibles such as keyboard feel -- I happen to love IBM/Lenovo notebook keyboards because to me they best replicate the full-size, full key-travel, clicky IBM keyboards of yore. I dislike "chiclet" keyboards, and soft keyboards, but some love them.

So be it.

And appearance -- I think the plastic white Mac notebooks are ugly, and like my matte black, businesslike IBM. But that's my personal perception. I think Macbook Pros look cool, though I've never had one.

So I think that people should check Consumer Reports, PC Mag reviews and surveys, and on that basis dump the worst-performing/reviewed 20% of all the available notebooks out there, and then go out and try a dozen or more machines in real life. Use them. For more than a minute or two.

And then decide what you want to interact with every day, what feels right, what moves YOU. You're going to be spending hundreds of hours with this hardware.

If you love it, and it lasts 18 months, you'll still remember loving it. You'll excuse its early failing -- because you loved that hunk of circuits and plastic.

If you're uncomfortable with it, and it lasts five years, you'll still give it at best grudging respect.

Happy Hunting, Paul.

Posted by Paul at 10:33 PM

September 08, 2009

PowerPoint Peeves

People should be licensed to use PowerPoint, and each copy should be registered as a dangerous weapon.

There should be a three-strike rule: if you hit the wrong button three times (going back when you meant to go forward, or minimizing the display, or whatever user-caused technical glitch), sorry, but your presentation is over.

If you ever say, "You can't really see this but. . ." your presentation is over. If we can't see it, why is it in the slide show?

If you ever read an entire slide word for word, your presentation is over. Well, OK, maybe it's an important quotation - but dang it, if you read three slides in a row verbatim. . .

If you have green text on a purple background, or vice versa, your presentation isn't even starting!

I could go on, but the boil is gone and I'm down to a simmer.

Posted by Paul at 08:15 PM

September 03, 2009

Wee Bit of Communication Goes a Long Way

It's not knowing that bugs me. In this case, not knowing why the plumber is not here when it's nearly 10:30 and he said he'd be here at 8:30. What makes this even worse today is that he was here - I saw him pull up at 8:20 so I ran downstairs to open the utility room and turn on the lights - and then he disappeared without ringing the doorbell. Huh?

He's been here twice before to work on the same problem - sand in the lines that keeps clogging up our pressure control valve - so I know he's a nice guy and does good work. The recurring problem is not his fault, and this time around he's adding a filter to our line to try to prevent it from happening again. We do have water, albeit at very low pressure, so perhaps he was called away on an emergency and figured we could wait.

I am willing to wait, but a 30-second phone call to let me know what's going on would be nice, and would instantly dispel my growing irritation. I hate to call him because I feel like I'm nagging.

I work from home, but I have errands to run, meetings to go to, a much-needed workout I'd like to squeeze in to my day -- and I'm stuck here. Not knowing.

So please, tradespeople, take those 30 seconds to let your customers know if your schedule changes. We can understand emergencies, we can understand traffic, we can understand a delay in sourcing a part. It's not knowing that weighs on the relationship.

Any business that takes the time to communicate, to keep its customers informed, will keep them happy.

Ah, a knock on the door. At last.

Posted by Paul at 10:37 AM

September 02, 2009

A Plague of Plagiarism?

There's been some discussion on the Editors' Association of Canada mailing list recently about plagiarism and how to detect it. Here are my perceptions of overall trends:

I believe there is an ongoing technological and cultural shift that is blurring the issue of plagiarism in people's minds. We have become a copycat, copying world, and the digitization of content has made it effortless to make exact copies of text, graphics/photos, audio and video. This is not by any means a new idea or concern, and I'm sure there is research on this trend, but here are a few words off the top of my head.

In my youth we learned relatively simple analog copying from LP to cassette, from TV to VCR; however, such copying took as much time to accomplish as the length of the original recording. Now everything is digital files that can be copied and transferred from medium to medium in seconds or minutes at the click of a mouse. Kids have grown up with digital audio players (iPods et al), personal video recorders (PVRs) that amass hundreds of hours of one's favourite TV programs, and computers and the 'Net.

This digitization also makes it easy to non-destructively break down files and use snippets of original works. Kids are now encouraged to do "mashups" using text, graphics, audio and video, and web designers "suck" and "scrape" data from all over the 'Net for inclusion in re-purposed or re-branded websites. It's par for the course for bloggers and Twitterers to copy and use ideas/data, though most abide by precepts of acknowledgment, including citation, mutual linking, blog rolls and the RT (reTweet) function.

When I did my MA a couple of years ago after a 20-year hiatus from the halls of higher learning, I was pleased, amazed, and finally shocked at how easy it was to "do research" by logging into the university library from the comfort of one's home computer, and copy and paste relevant bits from peer-reviewed papers in respected journals downloaded in their entirety from databases. I kept such notes and quotations in a different font to make sure they stood out on the screen as I wrote papers. A far cry from physically entering the library, combing through the card catalogs and stacks, and taking notes by hand on 3 X 5 cards!

I have encountered situations in which people have copied copyrighted and trademarked material wholesale and passed it off in their "own works" -- entire swaths of writing, not just a sentence here or there -- only to have them deny that they'd done anything wrong. Pressing the issue resulted only in anger, incredibly (to my mind) broad definitions of "fair use," or a blanket dismissal that I wasn't with it.

Now I believe there are upsides to this technological/cultural revolution. I'm a fan of open-source movements that originated in software development and are gradually encompassing photography, audio/video production, and publishing. I appreciate the benefits of "open-source learning," which entails a lot of collaborative group work in educational settings. The key here is that people who honestly contribute original work are recognized by their peers in a self-policing atmosphere of mutual respect, acknowledgment, and encouragement.

Whether or not the positive influences of such open-source concepts overcome the temptations of cut-and-paste plagiarism remains to be seen. The bottom line is not technology, despite my focus on technological developments. Technology doesn't set ethical standards, though I wonder if it can undermine them. It's the people using the technology that need to know better.

Perhaps the cookie jar of original research and artistic production has become too easy to access and copy. A strange statement coming from me, since I despise DRM (digital rights management) and censorship. But I realize that I am human, and when there are cookies easily accessible, I know I'll be tempted to gobble them up, though if I had to bake them from scratch I'd think twice about the effort. At least I know that I wouldn't pass off store-bought cookies, or the neighbour's muffins, as my own!

I see that my argument is getting mired down, and my mind is not keeping up with my fingers on the keyboard, so I'd better quit now before I get stuck. Time to get back to work. Perhaps I'll write another mini-essay extending this topic another day.

Posted by Paul at 12:39 PM

August 31, 2009

Quick Musings on Japan Election Results

Someone asked me for my take on the results of the recent national election in Japan in which the opposition DPJ was victorious over the long-standing rule of the LDP. I haven't lived in Japan for some ten years and had not been following the election very closely, but here goes:

While in a sense the results are dramatic, I wonder how much change there will really be.

Many of the head honchos of the victorious DPJ are former LDP members who jumped ship over the years, hoping to get a shot at leadership. Many of the elite in both parties come from long political and even former aristocratic lineages.

Plus with the Japanese penchant for consensus and compromise, it's really hard to implement radical change. You also have the entrenched bureaucracy run by another fiercely traditional oligarchy from a very small coterie of elite universities and old boy's networks, and they're not going to be easy to move either.

Perhaps the DPJ victory is psychologically dramatic, but whether or not the party will be able to accomplish much is questionable. From what little I've read of their platform, it sounds like they plan to continue the long tradition of economic stimulus that hasn't worked much for the last couple of decades. While the LDP is viewed as being toward the right, and the DPJ moderately toward the left, I think in essence they're both of the "let's spend our way out of trouble" bent, and at this point that's like pushing on a string.

Some of the issues the J govt faces are intractable -- the rapidly aging population, massive underfunding of the government pension system, etc. I don't think there's much wiggle room for any party.

I think one of the main things that's kept Japan afloat is the massive cumulative personal savings squirreled away, for most part, in low-interest Japan Post accounts. Cheap money for the govt!

On our last trip to Japan about two years ago I was blown away by all the massive commercial/office tower developments recently completed or underway all over Tokyo. You'd never think the economy had been in a terrible slowdown for decades, or that the population had actually begun to shrink! I wonder who the heck is going to occupy all that space. Is it all really economically justifiable, or is much of it stimulus and cheap money gone mad? I suppose much of this Class 1 office space is being taken by firms upgrading from older buildings, but still.... I have this uneasy vision of huge, empty towers dominating a Tokyo with a shrinking population like some dystopic manga movie.... The lights are burning, but is anyone home?

But then again perhaps those towers have all been filled in the two years since our last visit and are happily humming away with life. I haven't read any Tokyo real-estate articles in ages.

Posted by Paul at 12:26 PM

August 26, 2009

Buy, Eat Local, Support Canadian Farmers

Well-done :-) video on buying, eating local. Do you know where your food comes from? Sobering statistics on how much food we import, and how far it travels.

Hellmann's - It's Time for Real from CRUSH on Vimeo.

Posted by Paul at 03:33 PM

April 17, 2009

Streamkeepers at Choices Earth Day, Saturday, April 18

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers will have our booth set up from noon to 4:00 p.m. at Choices in the Park for their Earth Day BBQ. We will also offer tours of Byrne Creek, so come and sign up! This is in southeast Burnaby, near Edmonds Skytrain Station. Last year's event was great fun, and kudos to Choices for sponsoring and collecting donations for streamkeepers' efforts to preserve and enhance this lovely, but struggling, urban creek.

Posted by Paul at 01:46 PM

April 03, 2009

Edmonds Community Clean Sweep May 2

One month to go to the Edmonds Community Clean Sweep on Saturday, May 2, 2009, sponsored by the Edmonds Business & Community Association.

Mark your calendars, Burnabarians!

Meet at the Eastburn Community Centre to register at 9:45 am, or alternate registration available with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers at the Edmonds Skytrain station parking lot.


Thanks to Rosewood Printers for the great poster!

Posted by Paul at 05:09 PM

March 24, 2009

200km of Light Rail or 1 Bridge?

UBC sustainability experts say that for the $3.1 billion cost of a new Port Mann bridge "the government could finance a 200-kilometre light rail network that would place a modern, European-style tram within a 10-minute walk for 80 per cent of all residents in Surrey, White Rock, Langley and the Scott Road district of Delta, while providing a rail connection from Surrey to the new Evergreen line and connecting Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge into the regional rail system."

Read the full article.

Seems like a no-brainer, eh?

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

March 07, 2009

Punctuation, Mechanics Rock -- Really!

Who says punctuation and mechanics are boring? Frances Peck led a great session today on the topic at an Editors' Association of Canada BC chapter workshop. Frances works with West Coast Editorial Associates, and also teaches at Simon Fraser University and Douglas College. If you think editors don't need punctuation workshops, you'd be wrong -- a refresher never hurts as today's session proved.

Posted by Paul at 09:22 PM

March 05, 2009

Burnaby Board of Trade 2010 Biz Breakfast

Attended my second Burnaby Board of Trade event this week: 2010 Winter Games Opportunities Session - Presented by RBC. The presenters pointed out that there are still opportunities to sign up with the 2010 Commerce Centre and bid on Games-related product and service contracts. I also enjoyed the enthusiastic talk by Olympic hopeful Sylvia Kerfoot.

When I got back to the office I checked out the 2010 Commerce site and signed up for two free events: Demystify the RFP Bid Process Workshop at 2010 Commerce Centre on March 25, and 2010 Business Opportunities Workshop at BCIT in downtown Vancouver on April 2. Check out their events calendar.

The approach of the Winter Games reminds me of the Monty Python movie scene in which a couple of guards at a castle gate see a knight charging at them from far off in the distance, and charging, and charging, and then suddenly he is upon them and strikes them down. That's how I feel -- I've attended several 2010 Commerce events over the last couple of years, and now the Games are less than a year away!

Posted by Paul at 01:07 PM

March 04, 2009

Hong Kong Trade Breakfast with Burnaby Board of Trade

The Burnaby Board of Trade is pouring it on with events! I think they have four or five lined up for this week alone. This morning I attended a breakfast sponsored by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. Mr. Stephen Wong, HKTDC Regional Director for the Americas, presented an informative session on Hong Kong ? Canada?s Business Link with China. I was invited on the basis of my interest in Asia-Pacific business and my background in journalism in Japan.

Mr. Wong made an impressive case for why Canadian businesses would do well to partner with Hong Kong companies when looking at the Chinese market, ranging from a familiar legal system based on British common law, to an ideal geographical location with excellent transportation links. He spoke of Hong Kong's "four freedoms": free flow of money, free flow of products, free flow of people, and free flow of information. He said the HKTDC is the largest organizer of trade fairs in the world, located in the city with the world's busiest air cargo terminal.

Posted by Paul at 10:40 AM

February 26, 2009

Edmonds Association Biz Networking

Had a great networking/presentation session this morning with the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association. Thanks to the organizers! We heard from Debbie Zurowksi, manager of the local Scotiabank, on banking services. She also chaired the seminar. Cory Ostertag from the Burnaby Newsleader spoke about advertising, and S/Sgt. John Buis of the RCMP spoke about safety issues. We hope to hold these early morning sessions more regularly, and thanks to the Southeast Community Police Office for hosting!

We are also in the process of revising our brochure, and I have to get cracking on our website.

Posted by Paul at 10:47 PM

February 18, 2009

Setting Up a Business

Recently a student in the Print Futures program at Douglas Collage interviewed me about the freelance writing and editing life, and how I felt about future prospects in the sector. Today she followed up with a question about registering a sole proprietorship in BC (you go girl! :-), so I provided her with the following list of resources.

When I was setting up our company, I found the BC One-Stop Business Registry to be invaluable.

They have tons of great info, plus name search/registration, GST signup, etc. It might look a bit daunting at first, but it's actually not that difficult once you get into it.

Small Business BC is another great business resource. And it offers several guides, some downloadable as PDFs.

Another good resource is books from Self-Counsel Press that can walk you through the setting-up-a-business process.

They have several good titles including:

Start & Run a Consulting Business
Start & Run a Copywriting Business
Start & Run a Creative Services Business
Start & Run a Desktop Publishing Business
Canadian Legal Guide for Small Business

Many banks often have free brochures on setting up and running small businesses as well.

Posted by Paul at 12:18 PM

February 07, 2009

Adopt a Legislator

One of the interesting ideas that came out of the State of the Salmon 2009 conference was "Adopt a Legislator". Unfortunately, I don't recall which speaker said it, so I can't give it proper attribution.

Anyway, delegates from several countries agreed that the only way to get change going, and action happening, was to educate politicians.

So here you go, some protocol and forms of address when writing to politicians in Canada, at various levels of govt., from the CivicNet BC website (thanks to editor Shaun Oakey for pointing this out):


Posted by Paul at 12:42 PM

February 06, 2009

Summary of State of Salmon 2009

The State of the Salmon 2009 conference over the last three-and-a-half days has left me stunned -- long days and lots of information to process. I documented it as best I could in a running collection of Tweets on my Twitter account, and I've posted that entire flow of jottings to my blog here.

First let me say that the conference organizers did a tremendous job. I don't know if there was ever any panic behind the curtains, but there was nary a glitch to be seen by the audience. And thanks to the simultaneous interpreters who mediated the flow in English, Russian and Japanese.

This was the second State of the Salmon conference, and my first. It's mostly aimed at scientists and bureaucrats, but we had a pretty good volunteer presence from lower-mainland streamkeepers and First Nations from the west coast and north. I think such broad representation greatly added to the conference, but of course I'm biased :-).

One of the threads that flowed throughout was the need for more research on how to protect and conserve wild salmon, and there was excitement about the new approach to science under the new Obama administration. The research dollars may start flowing again!

It was interesting to see the rifts occasionally bubble to the surface between the geneticists, the hatchery promoters and hatchery critics, the "stronghold, or protect the best" advocates and those who feel all habitat deserves protection. As a streamkeeper working on the ground, I was part of perhaps a minority that felt that any available $$ need to go toward action and habitat protection. We know what the problems are, yet we continue to study the patient while he's dying. Any knowledge we gain in the end is still, as one participant put it, "looking at a construction site through a hole in a fence -- and we're standing ten feet back from the hole."

There was also an underlying sense that perhaps with climate change leading to ocean warming and acidification, there is no way to prevent the loss of southern salmon spawning areas. Which to my mind made the groaning buffet tables laden day after day with salmon, halibut, shrimp, pork, bison, chicken etc. seem an indictment of the principles of having such a conference in the first place. Of course I ate everything, so I'm as guilty as anyone, but it never ceases to amaze me at how difficult it is for us humans to make our actions even approximate our pious thoughts. When it comes to human gatherings, feasting is so ingrained in all cultures that I doubt we'll ever get away from such behaviour.

At one point I was dreaming about future historians studying the progression of conferences and seeing that at the first one participants ate crab and lobster, at the second salmon and shrimp, at the third tofu and beans... and finally they were chewing on switchgrass because that was all that was left :-). Oh, rats, I've trapped myself in an illogical story -- by that point there would be, er, no point, in holding another salmon conference. I digress...

Something that was strangely absent from any discussion was pollution. I think it came up once in passing in a comment from the audience, and perhaps was glossed over by one of the speakers. Yet pollution is one of the biggest issues when it comes to habitat preservation, and is a direct and deadly killer of urban streams. And what's it doing to ocean survivability? We humans have been flushing all sorts of chemicals down our rivers and into the ocean for centuries -- surely that must have some impact on the "mystery" of declining biodiversity. Yet it was never addressed.

It was refreshing to hear from First Nations representatives who spoke from the heart, and who gave a breath of life to the proceedings. You can throw up all the PowerPoint slides full of as many charts and plots, and dense statistical calculations, as you like, but to hear the simple words "We have no fish anymore," provides much greater clarity and grounding.

Well, I have to get back to work, and perhaps I'll find time for more analysis and synthesis later.

I'm glad I attended.

Now, how about some ACTION!

Posted by Paul at 12:02 PM

February 02, 2009

Twitter - Getting Up to Speed

I'm taking a second crack at Twitter, and am finding the experience much better than the first time 'round. I thank Gillian Shaw for her article in the Vancouver Sun that got me going again. The article lists several ways to find interesting people to "follow."

A few observations:

Don't be shy. People like to help and are generally friendly. As a fledgling Twitterer emulate what others are doing and how they are doing it (but be sure to give credit and cite sources.) Hint: read the little bits at the end of Tweets to see how people are accessing Twitter using various helpful applications.

Don't feel intimidated. I'm following several tech gurus, communications gurus, corporate leaders, authors of famous books... and they're all human. At least half of them were commenting on the Super Bowl yesterday :-), not discussing issues of earth-shaking importance. But they do share gems of info, too....

Don't feel overwhelmed. When you add people to follow you'll initially get a bunch of their tweets, and it can seem like a mass of info, but it will quickly settle down.

Don't feel compelled to Tweet. You don't have to post every hour. Once or twice a day is plenty, and people don't care if you post once a week if what you say is interesting. As with so much in life, it's not quantity but quality that counts.

When someone starts following you, check 'em out and follow them back even if you've never heard of them. Twitter is a massive conversation. If someone does end up boring you, or turns out to have texting diarrhea on inane topics, don't be shy about dropping those feeds, just like you'd politely disentangle yourself from someone at a party.

BTW, I'm paulcip on Twitter :-), and aim to stick around this time.

Posted by Paul at 08:10 AM

January 15, 2009

Speechwriting Course

I've signed up for a speechwriting course with Colin Moorhouse -- check it out here. I heard Colin speak some years ago and was impressed. If you're a freelance writer or editor, you should subscribe to his newsletter.

I expect the course will stimulate my brain, and perhaps add to my services.

Posted by Paul at 12:00 PM

January 13, 2009

Appointed to City of Burnaby Environment Committee

I've been appointed to the City of Burnaby's Environment Committee as a citizen representative. Went to my first meeting last night, and was pleased to see several familiar faces among senior staff that I've worked with through my streamkeeping volunteering with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and the Edmonds Business and Community Association. I look forward to learning the ropes and contributing toward making Burnaby a great place to live, work and play.

Posted by Paul at 10:08 PM

December 08, 2008

Steaming Mad at Dell

On November 21 I wrote about how I'd ordered a new notebook computer from Dell, and how the delivery was delayed for weeks. I was never informed about any delay, and my order status page was never updated to reflect any delay.

After complaining by email, I finally received a response from customer service on Nov. 4 that my order would arrive on Nov. 21 instead of the original projected date of Oct. 13.

Well, here it is Dec. 8 and no computer. When I checked my Order Status page for the umpteenth time today, there was a strange error message. I phoned customer service and wasted the usual time on hold, only to be told that due to some internal issue, my order had been canceled.

So why wasn't I informed?!

They have my email, they have my phone number!

The rep said he would transfer me to sales to refresh the order, but I said no thanks. Let it stay canceled. I'll take my money somewhere else...

Posted by Paul at 03:12 PM

December 06, 2008

SE Burnaby Community Policing Open House

Yumi and I dropped by the open house at Burnaby's Southeast Community Police Station today. We know several of the officers stationed there and a few of the volunteers, plus we ran into lots of other folks we know in the community. The RCMP has been doing a great job in the Edmonds area of the city, and is working hard to gain the community's acceptance and assistance. Southeast Burnaby is home to thousands of new immigrants from dozens of nations and ethnic groups, and some of them have no concept of Canadian policing. It's important for such newcomers to feel comfortable in going to the police with any problems or issues they may have concerning safety and crime.

Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

December 05, 2008

Burnaby Board of Trade Xmas Party

The Burnaby Board of Trade put on a great luncheon at the Diamond Alumni Centre on the beautiful mountain-top campus of Simon Fraser University today. I'd never been to the centre before and enjoyed its spectacular view to the north over Indian Arm and the north shore mountains. Participants were asked to bring an unwrapped gift for Burnaby's Christmas Bureau, and an auction raised additional funds for the worthy cause.

Posted by Paul at 03:00 PM

December 03, 2008

Kingsway Imperial Neighbourhood Ass'n Party

KINA put on a great year-end party tonight, with at least half of Burnaby City Council in attendance along with what seemed to be all of the top brass of the RCMP in town :-). The Kingsway Imperial Neighbourhood Association is doing a great job of getting businesses and concerned citizens working together to improve the somewhat neglected area in south Burnaby between Metrotown and the Edmonds Town Centre. Kudos to Diane Gillis and her crew for a job well done!

Posted by Paul at 10:50 PM

November 21, 2008

Waiting for Dell... and waiting... and waiting

Do I stay or do I go? A new laptop should arrive from Dell today, seven weeks after I ordered it, and nearly five weeks after the supposed original delivery date. So I'm hanging around the office, hoping... though I do have errands to run...

Dell's customer service appears to have collapsed. If you Google "Dell" in the news, the company is in trouble, and from my recent experience, rightly so.

Over the past ten years I've ordered several computers from Dell, and have never experienced the delays and breakdown in communication that have dogged this last order.

I specifically wanted the new laptop ahead of a two-week vacation, and when the order form informed me that the estimated delivery date was Oct. 13, and I was departing on the 16th, I went ahead, assuming I had a cushion of a couple of days for any delay. Right.

Despite Dell's avowed policy of updating customers regarding any delays, I did not receive any notification, and left on my vacation without a new machine.

When I returned, over two weeks past the original estimated delivery date, there was still no computer. So I fired off an email to customer service and a day later received a reply apologizing for the delay, proposing a new estimated delivery date of Nov. 21 (today), but no mention about why they didn't proactively inform me about what was (not) happening.

So I sit here, and I check my order page online, and it still has a projected delivery date of Oct. 13, not Nov. 21... And the progress bar indicates that the notebook is still "In Production." Yet what do I believe, the apparently never-updated order status page, or the email from the customer service rep?


How can you run a business like this? How can a company tumble so far?

Posted by Paul at 10:34 AM

November 18, 2008

Edmonds Association AGM Results

Here's my report following tonight's AGM for the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association...

Hello ETCBCA members and friends:

1) Here is your board of directors for the 2008-09 year:

Paul Cipywnyk (second year of two-year term)
Allan Zhang (second year of two-year term)
Rob Lamoureaux (second year of two-year term)
Dave Fairhall (acclaimed for another two-year term)
Joyce Rostron (acclaimed for a new two-year term)

Thank you very much to Joyce for stepping up, and to Dave for renewing. The board looks forward to working with everyone over the next year.

2) The motion to increase the annual dues to $40 from $20 passed. The new rate is effective from Nov. 19, 2008.

3) When I was preparing my president's report for the AGM, I was impressed with how much the association had accomplished over the last year, so I am enclosing the report here.

President?s Report
Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association
AGM, Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It?s been a busy year for our association. I will run through a partial list of some of the events that we have participated in since the last AGM. While I?m sure I?ve missed a few, it?s an impressive list!

November 24, 2007: Santa Parade

November 28, 2007: Executive Meeting

December 11, 2007: Year-End Party at Myles of Beans

February 2008: Survey/Strategic Planning meetings/mailed surveys & posted online

March 2008: Two Strategic Planning sessions facilitated by Deb Thomas

March 27, 2008: Joint KINA/ETCBCA Graffiti/Community Policing open house

April 23, 2008: BC Achievement Awards Victoria - Paul McDonell, recipient

May 3, 2008: Spring Clean Sweep

May 19, 2008: Taiwan Culture Show fundraising concert

May 30, 2008: Liberty Place open house

June 2, 2008: Executive Meeting

June 11, 2008: Urban Trail bridge and trail opening near Edmonds Skytrain station

June 14, 2008: Ground breaking ceremony for the new Edmonds public library

July 1, 2008: Canada Day

July 27, 2008: Spirit of Edmonds - Monica Mueller and Doug Harder

August 11, 2008: Spirit of Edmonds Volunteer Appreciation

September 14, 2008: City Fair in Richmond Park

October 4, 2008: Autumn Clean Sweep

November 13, 2008: ETCBA morning business networking seminar

I would like to thank Past President Dave Fairhall, Treasurer Allan Zhang, Secretary Jim McQueen and directors Kim Mostat and Rob Lamoureux for their contributions over the past year. I would also like to thank Monica Mueller for her invaluable work leading the Spirit of Edmonds committee for three years, and co-chair Doug Harder. Monica and Doug conducted numerous planning meetings and volunteer events in addition to the show itself, which was bigger and better than ever. Thanks also to Paul McDonell for his tireless work on the ongoing community murals project. Our group would be much the weaker without the constant presence of the RCMP, in particular Staff Sergeant John Buis, Ray Allen, and Jennifer Allegretto of the Southeast Community Police Office, along with their contingent of volunteers, and of course the Burnaby Firefighters who appear at nearly every community event with their BBQ equipment and ladder truck. I thank the numerous others who volunteered their time and effort, and beg their forgiveness for not being able to mention everyone by name in this report.

I would also like to recognize our ongoing relationship with the Kingsway Imperial Neighbourhood Association, or KINA. KINA Chair Diane Gillis was instrumental in organizing the joint KINA/ETCBCA March 2008 graffiti/community policing open house, and took the lead on a joint KINA/ETCBCA grant proposal to the City for additional community cleanup equipment and supplies.

As president, I have also had the honour of representing the association at other events and meetings including: the BC Achievement Awards at which Paul McDonell was a recipient, several City of Burnaby Byrne Creek Integrated Stormwater Management Plan sessions, several TransLink BC Parkway Upgrade stakeholder consultations, a number of Morely Elementary School Project Hope meetings, etc.

Early in the year we conducted a mailed and online survey of ETCBCA members, and held several strategic planning sessions facilitated by Deb Thomas of the Edmonds Public Library. We heard that members were willing to pay higher dues to assist the association in carrying out its mandate, that businesses wanted additional business-oriented events and benefits, and that our goal of attaining Business Improvement Area status was likely still a few years off in the future. There was also demand for an association website, and I have secured a domain name at and have set up a rudimentary site that will gradually be developed to include association and community event schedules, member information, community resources, perhaps an online community forum, etc.

Here?s to continuing our good works in the coming year!

Paul Cipywnyk

Posted by Paul at 09:10 PM

September 14, 2008

Edmonds City Fair a Blast!

I was a "celebrity contestant" and a talent contest judge at the 2008 Edmonds City Fair in southeast Burnaby today. It was great fun! Somehow I managed to win the celebrity contest, which involved racing in a sack, carrying an egg in a spoon, putting on a dress and hat, and sprinting to the finish line. I didn't think I'd prevailed over MP Peter Julian, MLA Raj Chouhan, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, and RCMP Superintendant Rick Taylor, but that's what the judges ruled :-).

How was I included in this cast, you may ask? One of my hats is president of the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association.

I was blown away by the contestants in the music contest, most of them young female singers ranging in age from seven to seventeen or so. Most were too shy to say boo to the MC, but once the music started they soared. Amazing. (And I've got some cred to be a judge as I sang in a youth choir for ten years, and won an award or two for singing a loooong time ago :-).

My welcoming speech.

Ronald McD grilling the celebrity lineup.

The contestants at the end of the race.

Me, Bonnie in the blue T-shirt, and Archie Rose, last year's talent winner, were this year's judges.

Thanks to the committee chaired by Burnaby Parks Chair Paul McDonell for organizing the event, and to all of the business sponsors whose contributions made it free to the public!

Photos by my wife, Yumi, and the judges photo by Edmonds Scotiabank manager and event organizer Debbie Zurowski.

Posted by Paul at 07:59 PM

August 12, 2008

Recognizing Spirit of Edmonds Volunteers

As president of the Edmonds Town Centre Business and Community Association I would like to thank Monica Mueller and Doug Harder for taking the lead on producing the third Spirit of Edmonds Car Show and Street Festival this summer. Last night was the volunteer appreciation event that wrapped up this year's cycle, and it was great to recognize all of the people who contributed.

I want to thank all of the businesses that supported the event in so many ways -- through lead and secondary sponsorships, with prizes, with products for the gift bags, with volunteer time, etc. You stepped up to the plate to make this third Spirit of Edmonds bigger and better.

I would also like to thank the dozens of volunteers who gave freely of their time. Without such volunteer effort, events like this would never get off the ground. You truly deserve this recognition.

Thanks to MLA Raj Chouhan, who represented the provincial legislature at the volunteer evening tonight, and who passed on regrets from MP Peter Julian who was unable to attend. Peter did sign several dozen recognition certificates that were awarded tonight -- thanks! Raj and Peter also spent several hours at the event on July 27.

The City of Burnaby provided generous in-kind assistance for the Spirit of Edmonds, and Mayor Derek Corrigan attended the festival to help promote the neighbourhood and to personally choose the Mayor's Award winner. Thanks! Kudos also to the hardworking Parks, Recreation and Culture staff at Eastburn Community Centre who provided so much assistance, not to mention the use of their facility and its assets. And did you get a load of that dragster eco-sculpture? Wow!

Thanks too, to the RCMP and auxiliary members who help so much to make everything go smoothly.

I also greatly enjoyed meeting this year's Spirit ambassadors, the Digneys -- a family with an amazing history in Burnaby. I loved watching Joyce and Ernie after they had cut the cake celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Digney Speedway, as people walked up to them, and they would light up and glow to see folks they may not have been in touch with for decades. It was heartwarming....

So now the challenge is preparing for the fourth Spirit of Edmonds. Monica is stepping down as festival chair after an overachieving three-year run, and she certainly deserves to take a break. I admire her drive and stamina! How will our association fill her shoes?

We will need a larger, stronger Spirit committee with more people taking on smaller pieces of the organizing pie to share the load. Ideas and suggestions are welcome!

Posted by Paul at 05:55 PM

July 14, 2008

Lotto Show Home Eco-Challenge

In this age of burgeoning fuel prices, water shortages, and rampant over-consumption, how about offering environmentally state-of-the-art show homes as prizes in hospital and other charity lotteries?

I'd much prefer a technological masterpiece, a well-crafted jewel, instead of the bloated, rambling, poorly finished, overdecorated monster houses that are par for the course for charity lotteries in the lower mainland of British Columbia.

I challenge these charities to take up the sustainability challenge!

Compete on the following features:

- Enviro-certified lumber and wood products
- Low/No-emission paint and carpets
- Low-flow water fixtures
- Dual-flush, low-flow toilets
- On-demand water heaters
- Passive solar water heating assist
- Supplemental active solar electricity generation
- The best in wall insulation and thermal windows
- Rain barrels
- Moisture-sensing drip irrigation
- Landscaping with no lawns
- Landscaping with native plants
- Vegetable gardens
- And on and on, the possibilities are endless

Any takers?

Posted by Paul at 09:18 PM

July 12, 2008

Lexmark Z816 Inkjet for $19

I picked up a Lexmark Z816 colour inkjet printer today at a second-hand shop for $19 -- the box had never been opened. I didn't know much about the printer, but I figured I couldn't go wrong for $19.

When I got home and checked the Web, I discovered the Z816 had originally been priced at $79, had already been discontinued, and had received middling reviews, but I tried a few test pages of colour text and photos, and was pleased with the results.

Heck, for $19, when the ink that came with the printer runs out, I could toss the whole thing in the trash anyway. Not that my anti-consumerism conscience would allow me to do so, but it's rather frightening to think of how easy it would be to do just that. What with the price of inkjet cartridges, it makes more personal economic sense to buy another $19 printer!

There's something wrong with this picture... What a wasteful society we live in. One that does not calculate the true economic costs of producing and trashing stuff like Lexmark Z816s...

Posted by Paul at 06:05 PM

June 20, 2008

Adera Donates $10,000 to Streamkeepers

Today Adera Development Corp. handed a $7,500 cheque over to the Pacific Salmon Foundation that is designated for projects by the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers. Adera has already printed colour brochures for the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, so the total donation is $10,000.


Photo by Cindy Sommerfield

Adera has built several developments in the Byrne Creek watershed, and wanted to give back to the community by supporting the efforts of the streamkeepers. Byrne Creek Streamkeepers plan to use the funds on stormwater management facilities such as rain gardens and biofiltration ponds that would naturally filter and slow flows into the creek, in conjunction with the City of Burnaby.

Posted by Paul at 07:41 PM

June 16, 2008

Canadian Govt Reclassifies Pristine Lakes as Toxic Waste Ponds

According to this CBC article, lakes across Canada are being classified as mining-tailings waste sites, using an obscure mining regulation to apparently trump the Fisheries Act that prohibits the dumping of toxins into any fish-bearing waters.

This is insane.

Both the government and the businesses involved must be confronted on this issue. The government for failing to protect the environment, wildlife, and everyone's health, and businesses for proposing this idiocy. I run my own business, belong to my local board of trade, my neighbourhood business association, and this sort of cavalier destruction sickens me. These companies are getting a free ride with no real accounting of the associated environmental and health costs. Where does the death of a watershed touch the profit-loss statement or balance sheet?

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Loyola Hearn should resign for failing his department's mandate to protect our watersheds and fish.

[Counterpoint, June 17] OK, I was riled and while I stand by my post, I should acknowledge that without the mining industry, I wouldn't even be able to have a blog :-). Think of all the metals in my computer... the coax cable that connects me to the Internet... the server farm that hosts my site... The electricity plants that make it all run. Not to mention the pervasive use of metals in all sorts of items I use daily. Would I give up my watch? My cameras? My shower?

Yet I do believe there is a huge disconnect between what we pay for products and what their true cost is. Some inputs into the raw-materials production and manufacturing processes are not accounted for, and neither are most unacknowledged outputs such as garbage and toxins.

Posted by Paul at 09:25 PM

June 14, 2008

New Edmonds Library Groundbreaking

The City of Burnaby held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new public library that is being built in the Edmonds area. The new library is part of the impressive revitalization of the Edmonds area that has been underway for several years now, and that will continue with many more projects including a new community centre and public swimming pool.

The Edmonds area was home to Burnaby's first City Hall, but has gone through a few challenging decades. The City, developers, businesses, the RCMP, and community groups have been doing a great job at turning things around.

L-R: Councillor Dan Johnston, Mayor Derek Corrigan, Library Board Chair Ruth Hardy.

Sorry, I didn't catch the name of the RCMP constable...

The Library Board in no particular order: Ruth Hardy (Chair), Gary Wong (Vice Chair), Andy Chiang, Iqbal Dhanani, Linda Eaves, Ernest Maitland, Karen Purdy, Mondee Redman.

L-R: MLA Harry Bloy, Councillors Garth Evans, Nick Volkow, Dan Johnston, Gary Begin.

L-R: MP Peter Julian, RCMP S/Sgt. John Buis, MLA Raj Chouhan.

I invite businesses and citizens to join the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association to help in the revitalization of the Edmonds area. The ETCBCA will have a website up soon. We are breaking for the summer, and our next meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008, at 6:00 p.m., at the Eastburn Community Centre on Edmonds St.

Posted by Paul at 06:00 PM

May 03, 2008

Edmonds Clean Sweep

Community members participated in the Clean Sweep sponsored by the Edmonds Town Center Business & Community Association this morning. The main meeting site was the Eastburn Community Centre, whose staff were very helpful in coordinating the event. It was a rainy day, so we had fewer volunteers than usual. The City brought one of its salmon eco-sculptures and participants were invited to help plant it.


Mayor Derek Corrigan and Councilors Pietro Calendino and Dan Johnston helped out.

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers also participated in the event, setting up a sign-up booth in the parking lot of Edmonds Skytrain station. Thanks to the Horizontes Scouts for assisting!

photo by Joan Carne

Thanks to Burnaby Firefighters for supplying a hot dog BBQ and hot chocolate!

All in all, volunteers reported that the amount of garbage had diminished from previous events, which is a good sign. I did manage to fill a 5-gallon pail just patrolling around the community centre!

Posted by Paul at 02:42 PM

April 10, 2008

Burnaby Mayor Speaks to Board of Trade

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan delivered an update on the state of the City at a Burnaby Board of Trade luncheon today at Eagle Creek Restaurant at the beautiful Burnaby Mountain Golf Course. The event was sold out and the mayor delivered another of his uplifting speeches on economic, social, and environmental sustainability in the city. I enjoyed speaking with City staff and councilors. The mayor's address is available here.

Posted by Paul at 06:38 PM

March 05, 2008

Crest Ad Tastes Bad

The Crest advert that's been running on TV for some time makes me laugh. The tag line is "It makes me feel like I just left the dentist's office."

Huh? I dunno about you, but when I leave the dentist's office, my mouth feels stretched and my lips are dry, I have the yucky aftertaste of a fluoride gargle that I'm not supposed to disturb for at least half an hour, and I've got bits of polishing grit on my teeth, chin and cheeks.

You won't catch me seeking that experience!

Posted by Paul at 11:03 PM

March 02, 2008

Public Safety Forum March 27, 2008


You are invited to attend an open community meeting on: Public Safety

Thursday, March 27, 2008
7:00-9:00 pm
Bonsor Community Centre
6550 Bonsor Avenue, Burnaby

For more information call:
District 4 Office at 604-656-3232 or District 3 Office at 604-656-3275

An update and discussion on Public Safety in Our Community

Speakers will include:

Mayor Derek Corrigan

Superintendent Rick Taylor Burnaby RCMP

District 3 and 4 Community Policing Representatives

Burnaby RCMP members and representatives from City of Burnaby departments and Burnaby School Board will also be in attendance.

Attendees are invited to bring their general concerns for the various departments. There will be a brief question and answer period.

A number of agencies and community groups will have displays of interest to all who attend.

Posted by Paul at 08:40 PM

February 29, 2008

Edmonds Association Sets Strategic Planning Dates

The Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association in southeast Burnaby has confirmed dates, times, and locations for two planning sessions on the future of the organization.

Both sessions will cover the same ground, so choose the date that works best for you.

1) The first (evening) session will follow our regular 6:00 p.m. monthly meeting and will start at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11. This meeting will be held at the Eastburn Community Centre at 7435 Edmonds St. Our goal is to wrap up by 8:15 p.m.

2) The second (morning) session will start at 7:45 a.m. on Friday, March 14, and will be held at Myles of Beans coffee shop at 7010 Kingsway.

Please think of ways in which we can increase our membership, particularly from the business community in the neighbourhood. How can we improve what we offer to the community? What sorts of activities and events would you like to see? And please consider one of the purposes of our group as stated in the Constitution -- to work toward becoming a full-fledged Business Improvement Area.

Posted by Paul at 11:56 PM

November 28, 2007

Community Group Surprises Me With President's Role

I was elected to the board of directors of the Edmonds Town Centre Business and Community Association at the AGM last month. I've been a member of the group for several years now, and it was my first time to sit on the board. Then to my surprise, today at the first board meeting following the AGM somehow I was chosen to be president!

I had hoped to get some board experience before taking on an executive position, but now that the gavel has been passed, I will do my best to fulfill the responsibilities. Past President Dave Fairhall, who has done a great job for many years, assures me the board works by consensus and other directors are more than willing to assist me as I get the lay of the land.

The group does a lot of good work in southeast Burnaby, and we aim to expand our membership and our activities.

Posted by Paul at 03:16 PM

November 24, 2007

C$ Rip-Offs: Apple Computers

I haven't bought an Apple computer in 15 years, but admit to technolust that drives me to visit the Apple website every month or two. Now that the Canadian dollar has been stronger than the US dollar for some time, I thought I'd compare prices on the Apple Canada and Apple US websites. I was not surprised to see that the Canadian prices were higher, because Canadian consumers have been ripped off by most companies for many years.

Base prices on the Canadian site.

Base prices on the US site.

Update on Dec. 4, 2007: OK, the Canuck buck slipped back below the US greenback by a smidgen today...

Posted by Paul at 09:17 PM

November 23, 2007

Subprime Crisis Explained :-)

A hilarious explanation of the subprime crisis on You Tube.

Posted by Paul at 08:04 PM

October 13, 2007

Off to Japan

I'm off to Japan today, and am not bothering to take a notebook computer with me, so this blog will be in hibernation for a couple of weeks. When I get back I'll start filling it in with photos and commentary starting from the beginning of the trip.

It's been nearly four years since Yumi and I were last in Japan. Since we moved to Canada some eight years ago, we've returned to visit family, friends and clients every one to two years; however, a series of events including my two-year MA in Professional Communication program at Royal Roads University conspired to make for a long gap.

I'm really looking forward to the trip. In addition to visiting Yumi's folks in Aomori Prefecture, we've got meetings set up with several clients in Tokyo (these short meetings and lunches are important in maintaining contacts and keeping the work flowing), and lunches and dinners scheduled with several friends.

We're also taking a week to ourselves to take a swing down all the way to Nagasaki on the island of Kyushu with several stops at key tourist points along the way. Neither of us has visited Kyushu and we're looking forward to it.

I'll start posting entries and plenty of photos starting around Oct. 29. See you later!

Posted by Paul at 10:57 AM

September 01, 2007

Garbage Blights Burnaby's Foreshore Park, Glenlyon Development

An early afternoon stroll along Fraser Foreshore Park in Burnaby provided lots to see along the river and in ponds; however, the beauty was blighted by plenty of garbage dumped on the outskirts of Glenlyon Business Park in the vicinity of the lower reaches of Byrne Creek near where it empties into the Fraser.

First the good...

A view of the north arm of the Fraser from the park.

A small tugboat passing behind a log boom.

It's hard to believe summer is ending.

There were dozens of small frogs in the pond near Byrne Creek.


A bright red dragonfly.

An acrobatic chickadee.

And the bad, and the ugly...





I do not understand how some people can be so senseless and uncaring. I also do not understand how the tenants of the business park can drive by this crap every day and not ask the developer or the city to clean it up. At least two of these sites have smashed TVs, one of them several, and CRTs and accompanying electronics contain metals that are harmful to humans, other animals, and the environment.

I know that several of the tenants in the business park have security guards, and I've also seen mobile units patrolling the roads. As good corporate citizens, they might consider having their guards keep an eye out for dumpers and send license plates in to police.

Posted by Paul at 05:27 PM

March 15, 2007

Burnaby Business Excellence Awards 2007

I am sitting on the nominations committee for the Burnaby Board of Trade Business Excellence Awards 2007. We are coming up with a list of businesses and non-profit organizations that deserve to be in the running for an award this year, and encourage people to nominate them. I am the president of the board of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society that won the Community Service award in 2004.

The Burnaby Spirit and Community Service awards have been combined into the category of Burnaby Community Spirit. This category is not open to non-profits. To accommodate non-profits and not have them run directly against businesses, there is now a new category of Non-Profit Organization of the Year.

The other categories remain the same and are open to both businesses and non-profits: Business Innovation, Entrepreneurial Spirit, Newsmaker of the Year, Business Person of the Year, Small Business of the Year (fewer than 50 employees and annual revenues of up to $5 million), and Business of the Year.

Please contact the board of trade at the link above if you have any ideas about Burnaby based companies and groups that you feel would be deserving of an award.

Posted by Paul at 07:40 PM

February 08, 2007

CNIB, Howie's Bistro Host Board of Trade Event

The CNIB and Howie's Bistro and Bar hosted a networking reception for the Burnaby Board of Trade tonight. The food at Howie's was good, and the CNIB presentation was informative, including information about hiring people with vision issues. The BBOT has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last year or two, and it was great to see lots of people out for the event. Unfortunately I had to leave early to get another meeting.

Posted by Paul at 10:26 PM

November 18, 2006

Salmon-Safe Certification -- Why Not in BC?

I first learned about the Salmon-Safe certification program at the 2006 State of the Fraser Basin Conference a few days ago. It's an intriguing program that certifies farms, vineyards, industrial sites and even parks as being salmon safe. I think this is a great idea, and one that would be excellent to transplant to British Columbia.

"Welcome to Salmon-Safe. Almost a decade after we first started certifying fish friendly farms in Oregon's Willamette Valley, Salmon-Safe has become one of the nation's leading regional eco labels with more than 50,000 acres of farm and urban lands certified. The Salmon-Safe retail campaign has been featured in 200 supermarkets and natural food stores."

Posted by Paul at 06:58 PM

November 09, 2006

Burnaby Business Excellence Awards

The 7th annual Burnaby Business Excellence Awards Gala tonight was a blast. Sponsored by the City of Burnaby and the Burnaby Board of Trade, the "Blues Brothers" themed event was packed.

I was on the nominations committee for the awards this year, and it was a great learning experience. I want to congratulate the two businesses that I nominated, Mr. Ho Wonton House and Mussio Ventures (Backroads Mapbooks) for being finalists in the awards.

I also want to congratulate the Safeway #148 employees who were finalists nominated by the Stream of Dreams Murals Society. They have raised over $23,000 for the society over the last two years, and as president of the society's board of directors, I cannot thank them enough.

Posted by Paul at 10:57 PM

April 19, 2006

Writing, Editing and the 2010 Olympics

The BC branch of the Editors' Association of Canada featured a presentation on writing, editing and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at the April meeting tonight.

Sam Corea, Manager of Editorial Services for VANOC, the Vancouver Organizing Committee, talked about communications, media relations, and editorial services required by the Winter Games.

The amount of paperwork in terms of manuals, guides, maps, brochures, media kits, reports, schedules, etc., that needs to be produced is staggering, though Corea hastened to add that with sustainability being a major goal of the Games, VANOC was exploring alternatives to printing as much as possible, and would ensure that all materials were printed using recycled paper.

VANOC is already contracting external writers, editors, translators and photographers, and will be handing out work to more in the future, so Corea encouraged attendees to keep an eye on the VANOC website.

Other ways to get in on the action include the 2010 Commerce Centre and BC Bid

Posted by Paul at 10:49 PM

April 18, 2006

Mayor Addresses Burnaby Board of Trade

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan gave his annual State of the City address at a luncheon meeting of the Burnaby Board of Trade today at the beautiful Burnaby Mountain Golf Course.

Corrigan focused on the draft Burnaby Economic Development Strategy 2020, which can be found and commented upon here.

The city's population has increased by 43,000 since the 1990 EDS was released, and booming development is resulting in decreasing land supply and higher costs. Corrigan said that means there will need to be redevelopment of low-intensity land uses, and also spoke about the problem of roadway congestion decreasing usability.

Corrigan invited comments and criticism of the draft plan, saying Burnaby needs to be smart, prosperous and sustainable. We need to become more efficient without sacrificing standards.

One interesting point he mentioned was that he felt the city lacked urban, or neighborhood, character. We need to develop more character while striving for a greener community, Corrigan said.

While praising Burnaby's development and job growth, the mayor emphasized that quality of life was important, pointing to the increasingly influential and holistic concept of social, economic and environmental sustainability.

In conclusion, Corrigan said we must leave our children and grandchildren something better than what we have now.

Posted by Paul at 02:45 PM

March 09, 2006

Vision 20/20 Opportunities Forum

Burnaby Board of Trade
Vision 20/20 Opportunities Forum

2009 World Police and Fire Games
2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

Chad Turpin
Deputy City Manager, City of Burnaby
Overview of the World Police and Fire Games

Burnaby is the main host of the 2009 World Police and Fire Games. The mission is to attract the most athletes ever. Games were founded in 1985 and are held every two years. Over 60 events. The next games in 2011 will be in New York, so the symbolism will be very strong on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. This will result in a lot more media coverage for the 2009 event in Burnaby.

There will be a symbiotic relationship between the 2009 Police & Fire Games and the 2010 Olympics. The two will work together in training 4,000 - 6,000 volunteers.

2009 P & F Games expect 14,000 athletes from 70 countries, three times the number for the 2010 Olympics. There will be 67 events in a total of 16 cities around the lower mainland, with 17 in Burnaby and 12 in Vancouver.

2009 P & F opening ceremonies will be at BC Place with 10,000 spectators expected. Some of the athletes are Olympics hopefuls. Games open to all age groups. Tickets to all events are free, and the event is heavily based on community spirit and volunteerism.

25,000 family members are expected to travel to the lower mainland along with the athletes. So nearly 40,000 visitors, with many expected to stay on after the event for holidays.

Economic impact estimated at $100 million.

Sports tourism is the fastest growing tourism segment in BC.

Stephanie Herdman
Communications Coordinator VANOC 2010
The 2010 Winter Games ?? An Update Post Turin

We were at Turin to tell people about the Vancouver Games.

VANOC is a non-profit but is also a big business. Huge logistical issues in putting on the Games.

OGKM ?? Olympic Games Knowledge Management. New system to collate and share information on running Games among host cities. Pass knowledge on to future hosts.

VANOC now has 200 full-time staff, many of them multilingual. This will increase to 1,200 full-time and 3,000 part-time staff, and 25,000 volunteers by the time the Games are on.

Athletes and officials 5,000
Countries 80+
Paralympic athletes 1,700
Countries 40+
TV Viewers 3 billion
Media personnel 10,000
Event volunteers 25,000
Event Tickets 1.8 million

Broadcast rights
International sponsorships
Domestic sponsorships
Ticket sales
Suppliers (in kind)
Licensing, Merchandising
Donations, disposal of assets

Capital construction budget $550 million
Endowment (legacy) $110 million

Want to have all new facilities built 2 years before Games start so kinks can be ironed out.

?Olympic Winter Games University" to gain knowledge. 40 observer tours of Torino to gain knowledge in 80 areas.

Start-to-finish spectator services ties into Integrated Transportation Planning.

2007 Cultural Olympiad kicks off
2008 Test events held
2008 observe Summer Games
2009 Torch Relay over North Pole and covering three coasts.

The 2010 Games will be a 60-day event: Jan. 15 ? March 24
Jan. 15 Press Center opens
Feb. 12 ? 28 Olympic Games
March 10 ? 21 Paralympic Games
March 24 Paralympic Village closes

Brian Krieger
Director 2010 Commerce Centre
The 2010 Commerce Center ? Your One-Stop Business Information Portal

Leverage Games for long-term benefits
Connect BC businesses to 2010

In addition to 10,000 accredited (official) media, there will be 5,000 - 10,000 unaccredited media coming to the Games. They will all be looking for stories.

People spend unbelievable amounts of money when they visit Olympic Games.

BC Canada Place in Torino was a $6 million project and was the most popular attraction in Torino. 80,000 to 100,000 people visited it. Incredible media exposure. ?The power to get Italian women to buy Canadian fashion" i.e. Canadian scarves and toques :-).

IOC was very impressed with BC Place. More than 80 BC businesses participated. Power to create a new world image. ?After 1988 even Americans knew where Calgary is" :-).

$580 million in venues
$1.35 billion in operations
$2 billion in sponsors, media, teams, tourists
$3+ billion in other opportunities

Be a supplier
Be a subcontractor
Think big
Have desire
Put in the effort
Be persistent
Provide quality and consistency
Deliver on time (?the dates don?t move on Olympics")

In Sydney, 80% of business went to local firms, and U.S. businesses are already looking at the 2010 Games.

Check out the 2010 Commerce Centre for tools and resources.
BC Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Secretariat
Ministry of Economic Development

Trevor Kier
Manager of Procurement and Business Opportunities at the BC Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Secretariat
Are You Thinking Outside the Box? Games Opportunities and You!

Offers 2010 Procurement Workshops
How to bid, etc.
Burnaby Board of Trade will sponsor such workshops in the future

Don?t let geography or size get in your way. (Presented several small business success stories related to Olympic Games.)

Huge media and PR opportunities

2010 Games emphasize sustainability as a core component, and this will factor into evaluation of bids.
Environmental sustainability
Social sustainability
Economic sustainability

Corporate social responsibility

In bidding, the best solution can be more important than the price.
Watch the 2010 Commerce Website and learn as others bid.
If you?re a small company, you can approach other bidders.

Posted by Paul at 03:44 PM

March 09, 2005

2010 Olympics Burnaby Luncheon

Brian Krieger is the general manager of the 2010 Commerce Centre, and he spoke at a Burnaby Board of Trade luncheon today.

The 2010 Winter Games are already bringing a lot of business to BC, and that will only increase over the next five years.

Krieger urged businesspeople in the audience to sign up for the site's newsletter, and once the functionality is added, enter their companies in an online database.

Posted by Paul at 07:03 PM

January 08, 2005

Review - Marketing Your Service

Review - Marketing Your Service

by Jean Withers and Carol Vipperman

This is another book in the Self-Counsel Press series of do-it-yourself business books. I've used several of the books in our business, and for the most part they have been clear and helpful.

This book is an introduction to marketing targeted at service businesses. It covers the basics of defining your business and its goals, and then writing a marketing plan to achieve your goals.

About half of the book is made up of excercises designed to get you to think about your business and get your plan down on paper. At first I thought this was a waste of space -- it would be more efficient to simply point readers to a website where they could download the material -- however on second thought perhaps it is useful to be immediately confronted with those blank pages!

Speaking from personal experience, I know how easy it is to simply "wing it" when it comes to running a small business, and while that may lead to short-term success, it rarely leads to growth and expansion.

I've zipped through the book, pehaps it's time to fill in some of the blanks...

Posted by Paul at 10:25 AM

August 31, 2004

Busy Summer Sees Blog Wither

Yikes, this blog has gone from near-daily posts to only nine so far in the month of August, and several of those have been rather short.

If I do have any "fans" out there, don't worry because in a way this is a good sign, for we've been very busy with work this summer. July and August both entered the list of top-ten earning months for our little company since we started it in February 2000.

It's nice to feel wanted, however we're back in the old home business dilema -- when you have plenty of free time you have little free cash flow, and when you're making money, you have no free time.

We have prevailed upon our major clients for a one-week camping vacation this autumn, and while we need the break, I also feel guilty as a few smaller clients are quite dependent upon our specialty of on-demand, fast-turnaround translation and editing.

I need a clone, or another translator-editor team I can trust to work to same-day in/out deadlines on occasion, using a variety of different style guides.

That's the other home business dilema -- at what point are you regularly earning enough to subcontract work out? Some months the hours pile up like crazy, however other months we've got plenty of time for streamkeeping activities and other volunteer work.

Well, the queue still has several items stacked up, so enough ruminating. Back to work.

Posted by Paul at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2004

Edmonds Reborn

Stream of Dreams co-founder Louise Towell wrote an eloquent letter about the rebirth of the Edmonds area of Burnaby that appeared in the Burnaby Now newspaper on Saturday.

It's a vision of hope, with the community, business and the natural environment co-existing and improving. It's a definite read for anyone who cares about our community.

Way to go, Louise!

Posted by Paul at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2004

Too Much Burnaby Development?

Several Byrne Creek Streamkeepers showed up for a rezoning meeting at Burnaby City Hall this evening.

There are huge development plans slated for the Marine Way/Byrne Road area, which is already congested.

Many citizens expressed concerns about storm water management, increased traffic flows in an area that already has traffic problems, and the drawing of shoppers away from established town centres.

They questioned the need for yet more malls and big-box stores, accessible mainly by cars, in an area that has few local residents. Why create more traffic flow, more pollution, and more impervious surfaces in an area that used to be a natural bog?

The city has been on a big kick to "revitalize" the Edmonds area, which is a 5-minute drive up the hill from these new developments. Developments which could starve Edmonds Town Centre and a lot of businesses on Kingsway.

I own my own business, we're members of the Board of Trade, I'd place myself slighty to the right of centre in the political world, but I think Burnaby is getting too much "building permit" growth on its brain.

The whole affair tonight had the feel of an act in a play, and I'm sure the development is a done deal. Sad.

Posted by Paul at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2004

Review - Starting and Running a Nonprofit Organization

Starting and Running a Nonprofit Organization
Joan M. Hummel
2nd Edition

A good introduction to exactly what the title states.

This well-written, concise guide covers a lot of the bases, with emphasis on setting goals and measuring results.

Whether dealing with setting up an effective board of directors, raising funds, running the office and coordinating volunteers, or compiling and monitoring budgets, this book offers sage advice.

While aimed at a U.S. audience, I found plenty of information to put to good use in Canada.

Posted by Paul at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2004

2010 Olympics: How Can My Business Get Involved?

The Burnaby Board of Trade luncheon today featured Ian Tate, former director of Community Relations for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation, and he was full of enthusiasm and ideas for how local businesses could captilize on the 2010 Olympic Games.

One of his major themes was turning 17 days (the actual length of the games) into 17 years of opportunity. That means businesses should already be doing their homework, finding and capitalizing on opportunities, and figuring out ways to make all that hard work continue to benefit them locally, and even globally.

Tate pointed out that we will be having incredible media exposure that has already begun, and that will extend through the games and beyond.

People want to come and see what Vancouver and BC have to offer.

He also talked about how the Olympics can be a catalyst for change, and mentioned social, arts and environmental aspects.

In summation, he told the crowd, "You're only constrained by your imagination."

Posted by Paul at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2004

Laggardly Income-Tax Receipts

Why in this day and computerized age do we have to wait until the end of March or even early April to get investment-related tax receipts from financial institutions?

We have to file personal tax returns by April 30, but for those of us expecting refunds, it would be extremely beneficial to be able to file much earlier.

I bought my tax year 2003 copy of QuickTax well over a month ago and began entering data to supplement what it automagically sucked in from the 2002 version on my hard drive regarding last year's return.

And then I had to wait. And wait, as the statements and forms trickled in. We received another one today -- do I have to wait for more?

This is ludicrous. I understand that stock sales/purchases need a few days to be settled, but why does it take months to send out a form?

I encourage anyone in the banking/brokerage sectors to elucidate me on this issue. Are we talking regulatory crap here, or simple laziness?

Posted by Paul at 07:28 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2004

Burnaby Mayor Gives Glowing Report

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan gave a glowing State of the City Address to a Burnaby Board of Trade luncheon today.

We have a lot to look forward to with Burnaby hosting the World Police & Fire Games in 2009, and being part of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Residential and commercial construction is booming, and the city is in the black with $260 million in reserves. A new Burnaby Tourism Bureau will open this year, and there is continuing focus on the Edmonds area where we live. The boarded up Burnaby Hotel has been declared a nuisance and is to be torn down within 31 days, and there is talk of a new public swimming pool in the neighbourhood.

The 117,000 sq. ft. of commercial space in the new Highgate (former Middlegate :-) mall that is under construction up the hill from our place is 85% leased. Condos in the first two residential towers in the complex are nearly sold out, so the developer is moving ahead planned construction of additional towers.

There are going to be a lot of changes in our 'hood.

Posted by Paul at 05:09 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2004

Review - Start and Run a Copywriting Business

Start and Run a Copywriting Business
by Steve Slaunwhite

Another how-to book in the Self-Counsel Press small business series.

Our business is mostly translating and editing, however I found this book a valuable read. Much of it applies to any freelance creative business.

Lots of good tips on setting rates, getting organized, marketing and promotion, and dealing with clients.

Posted by Paul at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2004

Reading Comprehension, Common Sense

People don't seem to read what they read anymore. Yes, I said, "read what they read." OK, comprehend. A fair chunk of the discussion I've seen lately on various email lists and newsgroups is of this nature. "You said...." "No, that's not what I said...."

People have also apparently become incapable of using common sense.

I hate to be a sourpuss, but over the last few weeks I've run into several examples, of which I will share two.

1) Our translation, editing and writing company recently received several unsolicited resumes by fax. The applicants were looking for jobs in the hospitality industry, food preparation in particular. Duh. I suspect they found us through our local board of trade listing.

Did I say "hospitality industry" and "food preparation"?


Is there any hope in hell that our company would hire them? Or if they were thinking that perhaps we'd pass their fax-spam on to our favorite restaurants, they are sadly mistaken.

2) I posted some problems we've been having with Norton software on a couple of email and news lists, along with this blog. I also posted how I'd resolved those problems, and thanked people who'd helped me.

A few days later, I received a long email message from someone I'd never heard of, who did not identify which list he'd found me on, regurgitating in his own words the steps I'd already taken and written about to solve the problem.

Double Duh!

All this wasted time.... Which I've just added to with my rant :-).

Posted by Paul at 10:11 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2004

The Business of Writing & Editing

I gave my wife the best Valentine's Day present she's had in years -- the whole day to herself, while I attended an Editors' Association of Canada workshop :-).

John Vigna presented "Thinking Like an Entrepreneur: Growing Your Writing & Editing Business." As I recall, John has been running a writing and editing business for about three years now, and appears to have picked up a lot more business sense in that period than some of us who have been toiling away on keyboards for much longer.

Business plans? Managing cash flow? Marketing? Networking? All topics I suspect most creative types don't like to think about, yet that are crucial to success.

John told us about how he'd had a stellar rookie year, with gross sales that far surpassed his expectations, and then how in his second year he'd slacked off on his marketing and soon found himself pinching pennies.

By focusing on marketing basics, he pulled himself back up, and during the workshop he ran us through those basics, plus a number of excercises to see how we were doing, and where we needed to improve our business skills.

I can relate to John, as we too started out strong, had a stellar second year, and then became complacent, only to see sales slide for two consecutive years.

So it's back to the basics. We have to write a new business plan, and update it regularly. We have to devote more time to marketing instead of waiting for work to find us.

What a great way to spend Valentine's Day! My wife, who is also my business partner, got the day to herself, and I came home charged up with new plans for making money. How romantic :-).

Posted by Paul at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2004

The Discipline of Working at Home

There was a business tip from local publisher and internationally known speaker Peter Legge in the Vancouver Sun the other day.

He pointed out that if you get up an hour earlier every day, that gives you 365 more hours a year, or 15 extra days per year, to accomplish your goals. Well, duh. But the simple math got me thinking -- and feeling guilty.

My wife and I run a home-based translating and editing business, and if there are no pressing deadlines, it's seductively easy to roll over for another hour when the alarm goes off. With no commute, and no fixed starting time, it's also easy to watch some 1 1/2-star movie on the TV past midnight.

We talked about this, remembering with amazement the days when we had full-time jobs in Tokyo and got up at 6:00, made and ate breakfast, packed lunches, and trotted out the door at 7:15 to catch the train downtown.

What's happened to us? Wouldn't we like to have 15 extra days a year? Hell, with our present level of discipline, we could shoot for 30 extra days a year!

I used to scoff at all the tricks people who work from home say they use to maintain discipline and to remain focused on work. I now realize we've been in a long, slow, nearly imperceptible slide that has accumulated over the years.

So it's back to business.

When the alarm goes off, I will get up.

Thanks, Peter.

Posted by Paul at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2004

"Pending" Issues with Banks "On Hold"

I find it curious as to why when we transfer funds from one Canadian bank to another, it can take several days for the funds to appear in the destination account, and even then there might be a note with a "pending" or a "$XXXX on hold" qualifier attached. Initiate the transaction on a Friday just before the weekend, and it can add up to four, five or more days.

Of course banks will talk about "business" days, but once you initiate the transaction, I highly doubt if you're getting any interest on the transfer amount.

We regularly transfer business income from a Japanese bank to a Canadian bank, and that money usually arrives in our Canadian account, ready to access, in less than 24 hours.

What gives? I know banks make money on the transfer float, or whatever one calls it, but three or four days to shift a few digits from one computer to another from one financial institution to another in the same country? Computers don't sleep....

Posted by Paul at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2004

Burnaby Booming?

I went to a Burnaby Board of Trade lunch today that featured presentations by Jock Finlayson, vice president, Business Council of BC; Jack Belhouse, director of planning, City of Burnaby; and Mary Cue, vice president, Anthem Properties Group.

It appears Burnaby is booming. All of the presenters were very positive about the business outlook for 2004 and possibly 2005, mentioning an ongoing low-interest environment, lower taxes, and booming real estate development. The main point of concern was the rising Canadian dollar.

While all this development is going on, including areas near Byrne Creek where I volunteer as a streamkeeper, Belhouse proudly pointed out that 25% of Burnaby is park space. While I'm all for business, and am happy that the economic outlook appears to be improving, I hope we keep our parks too. They are a huge factor in our quality of life.

Posted by Paul at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2004

Creative Rates vs Trade Rates

A plumber paid us a two-hour visit today, and the labor charge came to C$162.50. That's C$65.00 for the first half-hour, and then C$65.00/hour for the balance.

I don't begrudge paying a professional tradesperson to do something that would likely take me two or three times as long to accomplish, and perhaps with questionable results. What gets my goat is that while the average person swallows paying a plumber or car mechanic such rates, quotes for translation or editing that are anywhere near that hourly figure draw gasps of surprise.

I know a plumber has years of training and thousands of dollars worth of tools. So does an editor. I have a total of seven years of university, and thousands of dollars worth of computers, software, and reference books.

Dealing with companies or other people in the trade is fine, and in the end I gross at least as much per hour as the plumber does, and on many jobs even more. It's the calls from Jane Public who needs help with a resume that irk me. Why would she think she could pay me less than, say, an electrician?

Part of the problem is the hundreds of less-than-professional editors and translators out there who are willing to work for a pittance. By selling out for 8 cents a word for translation, or $15.00/hour for editing, they demean our craft.

Posted by Paul at 06:29 PM | Comments (0)