July 05, 2014

OLD BLOG - SEE NEW BLOG

Hi there, as of the date of this entry, this blog will no longer be updated. I am moving this blog to cipywnyk.com/blog, using WordPress.

This old blog at www.cipywnyk.net/mtblog will remain, and I will link back to it occasionally from the new blog, but I will not be posting to this blog any longer.

It will take me awhile to get the new site tailored to my liking, but come on along and enjoy the move with me!

Again...

This blog is moving to:

cipywnyk.com/blog

For those who are interested, I started this blog on Jan. 24, 2004. It still runs on ancient Movable Type 2.661 that is now more than ten years old. I am starting to have problems with server errors, and category pages that won't update. And I see that MT no longer has a free-for-personal-use edition, so that upgrade path has disappeared, unless I'm missing something. Sigh.

Looks like I'm going to switch over to WordPress, and perhaps rather than trying to import over 1,670 entries and hundreds of photos, I think I'll just leave the old blog up and running, start a new one with WP, and link back to entries on the old blog now and then.

I did quite well with the present blog, averaging over 13 posts per month for over ten years.

Posted by Paul at 06:47 PM

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 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 21, 2014

Power Washing Away the Holiday

So in my wife's religion, holidays were created for men to do chores around the house. Today was about four hours of power washing -- the deck, the driveway, the concrete paths fronting our townhouse. . . Power washing is numbingly boring, while being an excellent activity to strain one's lower back.

(But power washing with plain water is much more environmentally friendly than using some caustic chemical to remove mold -- remember all the draining water, and anything in it, is going into drains that go directly into our local creeks.)

Alas, though boring, power washing is not something to be done mindlessly. When you've got somewhere around 900 - 1,000 psi coming out of that wand, there's a fine line between removing dirt, stains, and mold, and doing damage.

Toward the end of the project, the instigator decided she wanted to try, so while she finished the walkway, I went to buy a well-deserved six-pack of beer. When I got back, she was "done," and I put the gear away and rolled up the hoses. Only to look out an upstairs window as I was getting ready to shower, and saw that a certain portion of the walk looked like a zebra that had been rolling in mud. : -)

Hmm. Methinks I'll have to do some touchup tomorrow, and she's fine with that. It takes at least a time or two to learn anything new, eh?

Posted by Paul at 07:19 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 02, 2014

Amazed Anyone Still Believes Russian Propaganda

I cannot believe that any intelligent, educated Westerners are still buying into Russian propaganda. But then it's been happening for at least 350 years, be it under the Tsars, under the Soviets, or under the new Russian imperialism. The only constant is that under all those regimes, Russia has been, and is, the oppressor, and Ukraine has been, and as Putin's recent actions attest to, remains oppressed.

There is no brotherhood here.

There is an empire, that under both Tsarist and Soviet regimes tried, respectively, for centuries and decades, to Russify Ukraine, and deliberately destroy the Ukrainian language, culture, and indigenous forms of the Orthodox and Catholic churches.

What's happening now is nothing new. It's simply the continuation of centuries of Russian imperialism, and constant Russian paranoia among its ruling class, that it too, may someday be "infected" with democracy and freedom. Horrors.

Posted by Paul at 03:20 PM

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 22, 2014

#Ukraine on Twitter Serves Up Tons of Idiocy, Moments of Truth

Watching ‪#‎Ukraine‬ on Twitter is fascinating, and depressing. 90% of it is crap from moldy socialists/communists hoping for "revolutions" in "dictatorial" countries like, um the US, conspiracy theorists, US/CIA coup tinfoil hat wearers, Putin/Russia apologists, etc.

Thankfully the other 10% is about dictatorship vs democracy, and the rule of law vs unbridled corruption and cronyism.

Posted by Paul at 08:02 PM

February 07, 2014

Best Wishes to Sochi and a Happy, Proud Russia

I suspect more than a few of us are snickering at the assorted little disasters heading into the Sochi Olympics. And many of us are appalled at the gay issue, the dog massacre issue, the. . . And the construction was a mess of corruption and cronyism. Yet for all that, I hope these Olympics shine and make Russians happy and proud.

It would be really nice to have a happy and proud Russia. Not just for Russians, but for the world.

A Russia that was not still stuck in trying to "catch up to Europe and the West" as it has for centuries. A Russia that could be content with itself. A content Russia may lose some of its imperialistic urge. In a content Russia, dictators would not be rattling sabers and distracting an unhappy populace with tales of foreign threats and evils, as has been the pattern for centuries. A content Russia might even dump its dictators that have been ruling for centuries, be they tsars, or communist gods, or current oligarchs. A content Russia would likely be content with democracy, and wouldn't see a need for rulers with iron fists.

So here's to a happy, fulfilling, uplifting Sochi Games.

Posted by Paul at 12:37 PM

December 29, 2013

Give Yourself Freedom for New Year's

My New Year wish for myself and for everyone is to be more creative, exploratory and non-judgmental of self.

Set aside fear of looking silly, or fear of failure. Pick up a crayon and scribble something, doodle with a pencil, sing a song, play a tune on whatever instrument is at hand, write a love letter -- even if you've been with the same partner for years or decades. Make that -- particularly if you've been with someone for a long good time (yes, I reversed the usual order of "good long" on purpose).

Write an essay (no I'm not making this homework -- just write a page or two about something that moves you, and why). Carry a camera with you all day long from sunrise to sunset and take 10 or more photos an hour no matter where you go, trying to make each one different -- and your cell phone or point-and-shoot is fine. Cook something without using a recipe, something that you've never tried before.

Let yourself be a child again, and be as curious and flexible and bold as children are. Our lives are limited, but we have infinite possibilities within the time that we have.

Posted by Paul at 06:07 PM

December 13, 2013

Shaw on Demand Warns of 'Course Language'

My wife and I like to watch HGTV home reno shows, one of which is Leave it to Bryan.

Recently we've noticed that when we use Shaw on Demand to watch episodes that we've missed, a "nudity, violence and coarse language" warning always pops up, which is weird to begin with. This is a family show. Ain't never been none nudity, violence or coarse language on it that I'm aware of...

But weirder still is that the last part of that warning on Shaw on Demand is spelled "course language." :-)

Posted by Paul at 10:19 PM

December 09, 2013

Angry? Take a Moment to Check for Misunderstanding

If you're angry with someone, take a breath, think it through and check why. Chances are it may be a misunderstanding.

Getting the car serviced for the first time at a shop highly recommended by a good friend. The shop phoned early afternoon to say they'd started work at 1:00 and things were going well. Near 5:00 pm I wondered why they hadn't called yet to tell me to pick it up, so I phoned, and was told it wasn't going to be done until 1:00 tomorrow. Tomorrow! I didn't say anything nasty, but I was certainly rather frosty.

Then an hour or so later it hit me that perhaps I'd misinterpreted the first call, that it wasn't about 1:00 today, but 1:00 tomorrow, so perhaps they *had* covered the bases. I hastily called the garage at 6:30 and fortunately the owner was still there. I told him I wanted to apologize for sounding cranky, and explained how I thought I'd misheard... We both ended up laughing, and I felt relieved -- relieved that neither of us would spend an evening with a sour taste...

It never hurts to double-check when you feel the righteous gorge rising, and an apology can make everyone feel better, including the one doing the apologizing - in this case, me.

Posted by Paul at 08:12 PM

October 28, 2013

Long Time No Write

As you can see, I haven't updated this blog in a long time. I've been having some issues with my blog-posting software. Also the back end that drives this blog, Movable Type, is a very old version. I'd have to update through at least three or four major/minor releases to get it up to date.

So I'm contemplating that it may be time to let this blog go fallow. No worries, whatever I decide to do I'll keep it online, but I may move on to a new blog, or more than one blog.

This blog has had as many as 20 "categories" because I'm interested in lots of things. But perhaps it may be better to focus my blogging more, and group my interests into two or three distinct blogs. Still ruminating on this...

Anyway, as I said, the entries on this blog will never be deleted, at least as long as I live and pay the hosting bills :-). And I hope that I'll have time over the next week or two to roll out a new blogging strategy.

I'd like it if you'd stick around, and follow me wherever I decide to go! This blog regularly gets as many as 400-500 unique visitors per day, so I think it's worth keeping, and worth the effort to breath new life into it, in, perhaps, another blog... Or two...

Posted by Paul at 10:14 PM

September 16, 2013

Stand up for Science Rally–Vancouver—Photos, Audio

I attended the Stand up for Science Rally in Vancouver today. Excellent speakers and loud crowd.

You can see my Flickr set of photos here.

and

I recorded an MP3 audio file of nearly the entire event that (24MB) is available here.

Note: if you click the audio link, that may play the file in a minimalistic window in your browser. If you want to download the MP3 file so you can play it with your music player of choice, right-click the link above, and choose "save link as" or "save target as".

Speaker timing:

Pamela Zevit, MC, interspersed throughout

Joe Foy, National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee
0 ~ 3:35

Dr. David Suzuki, Author, geneticist, environmentalist and award winning broadcaster
3:45 ~ 16:35

Fin Donnelly, River's advocate, Member of Parliament, Federal Critic for Fisheries
17:00 ~ 25:10

Tzeporah Berman, Author, former co-director of Greenpeace International's Global Climate and Energy Program, Director Forest Ethics Advocacy
25:22 ~ 37:20

Dr. Sarah Otto, Department of Zoology, population genetics and evolutionary biology UBC
37:35 ~ 51:55

Alexandra Morton, Scientist, Researcher, activist
52:10 ~ 1:05:10

Dr. Thomas Kerr, co-director of the Addiction and Urban Health Research Initiative UBC
1:05:15 ~ 1:13:27

Dr. Craig Orr, Scientist, researcher, Executive Director Watershed Watch Salmon Society
1:14:00 ~ 1:22:25

Dr. Lynne Quarmby, professor of molecular biology & biochemistry, Simon Fraser University
1:22:30 ~ 1:28:00

Posted by Paul at 03:34 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 06, 2013

Stop Means Stop

There's a 3-way stop near our place in SE Burnaby at which 95% of drivers never fully stop and just "slow 'n go" on the right turn. Plenty don't even slow much.

Well, it caught up to a couple of drivers today. Car came to full stop, driver behind was already scanning left to see if traffic was coming, instead of stopping, and ploughed into the stopped car. At least I'm assuming that's what happened by the configuration of the vehicles and the damage. Cops were already there when I drove by the scene.

STOP means STOP, folks! I always keep an eye on my mirror when I stop at that intersection to see if anyone is barrelling along behind me...

Posted by Paul at 01:40 PM

August 15, 2013

Good Men

I love older gentlemen (like my late Dad) born, raised, and educated in the 20s and 30s. They had/have a code, a creed. They keep keeping on as best they can. They may lose wives after intense, loving, despairing battles with dementia or other ailments, while dismissing their own ongoing bouts with prostate cancer.

Their buddies of 60+ years pass on, their children die before them, and they cautiously phone "pups" like me in my 50s, to let me know, hoping they're not intruding, though they've mentored me for decades.

They phone because they're not even on email, much less FB, and they would never, ever, whine in public, much less in a forum like FB about how busy or tired they were, or brag about what wonderful things they were doing.

They may call again, a day or two later, because yes, of course they're hurting and lonely, but there's no way they'd let on.

Perhaps the next call my wife answers, and they love talking to "a girl" who gives them undivided attention. They flirt, and tell stories about how at 89, they're watching out for their deceased buddies' wives, taking them to get groceries, and making sure they're OK. Not to mention the 85-year-old "girl" on the third floor with the lovely flowers on her balcony, who has also been enticed to participate in the group shopping trips and outings.

Being a man in those days meant taking full care and responsibility for your wife and daughters, and sons, and neighbours, and they still want so hard to do that.

And yet they're not patriarchal, or hegemonic, or whatever.

They're just good men.

Posted by Paul at 03:18 PM

July 19, 2013

Working to Throw Stuff Out–Huh?

I spent five hours in the garage today sorting stuff to recycle, stuff to donate, stuff to trash. . .

That likely makes for about 20-30 hours in total spent this year by my wife and myself, in the garage, sorting stuff to. . .

And I have spent, and will be spending more hours in my home office doing the same.

And it struck me today that this was odd, even perverse in some way.

For tens of thousands of years humans survived and thrived with next to no "stuff." Now the wealthier of us are drowning in it. Instead of using time to earn money so we can buy more stuff, we are spending non-earning hours trying to get rid of stuff. Hell, some of us PAY others to help us get rid of stuff we no longer want.

Time is all we really have. We spend time to earn money to buy stuff, and then we spend time to figure out what stuff we can get rid of - so we have space for more stuff.

Posted by Paul at 09:25 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.

byrne_welling_manhole_erosion_1_400_20130529

Upwelling manhole

byrne_welling_manhole_erosion_2_400_20130529

Erosion where the unusual flow meets the stairs into the ravine

byrne_welling_manhole_erosion_3_400_20130529

Another view of the erosion

byrne_welling_manhole_erosion_4_400_20130529

A close-up shot of the steps being eroded

Posted by Paul at 10:22 PM

May 28, 2013

City of Burnaby Environmental Issues & Priorities Questionnaire

Burnaby Environmental Sustainability Strategy - Let's Plan-It!

We want to hear what matters most to you, to help us create a plan for Burnaby's green future! Take our questionnaire http://www.burnaby.ca/ess-input

Posted by Paul at 01:43 PM

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 22, 2013

Environment Week Events in Burnaby & Public Input Into Enviro Strategy

This in from the City of Burnaby:

Mark your calendars!  There are some exciting community events just around the corner!

 

Environment Week 2013

Sunday, June 2 to Saturday, June 8

Burnaby's annual week of fun-filled environmentally-themed community activities.  The main event, Environment Festival, is on Saturday, June 8 at Burnaby City Hall in the outer courtyard.  Come on out to learn, participate and enjoy!

www.burnaby.ca/environmentweek

www.burnaby.ca/environmentweek_poster

 

Environmental Sustainability Strategy 'Plan-It' Event

9am to 2pm, Saturday, June 8

Burnaby City Hall, in the outer courtyard

Help us create a plan for a greener future!  The City of Burnaby wants to hear about your priorities and ideas to protect and enhance the environment in Burnaby as input to the Environmental Sustainability Strategy (ESS).

  • Learn about what the City does now!
  • Place landmarks on our giant Green Map of the City!
  • Take part in other fun events for kids, youth and adults!
  • 'Plan-It' is part of the Environment Festival. 
  • Enjoy food, activities, music, exhibits, and prizes - fun for the whole family!

www.burnaby.ca/ess-input

 

Call for ESS Community Engagement Volunteers

Submission deadline: May 29

Monday, June 3 to Sunday, June 30

The City of Burnaby is looking for individual volunteers to assist with Environmental Sustainability Strategy (ESS) community engagement events taking place over the month of June 2013.

Check out this great opportunity to help make your City a greener place!

www.burnaby.ca/ess-cev

Posted by Paul at 11:21 AM

May 04, 2013

Streamkeepers Fill Dumpster at Edmonds Community Clean Sweep

It was a gorgeous sunny morning for a Clean Sweep in SE Burnaby! Byrne Creek Streamkeepers filled one entire dumpster heaping full, with a tire, shopping cart, rebar and other assorted large items leaning against it. Streamkeeper volunteers worked the area around Edmonds Skytrain Station, on both sides of the tracks, nearby streets, and the ravine park. Thanks to all the volunteers!

byrne_creek_edmonds_clean_sweep_1_20130504

byrne_creek_edmonds_clean_sweep_2_20130504

MLA Raj Chouhan (2nd from left) came by to thank volunteers.

byrne_creek_edmonds_clean_sweep_3_20130504

byrne_creek_edmonds_clean_sweep_4_20130504

byrne_creek_edmonds_clean_sweep_5_20130504

byrne_creek_edmonds_clean_sweep_6_20130504

byrne_creek_edmonds_clean_sweep_7_20130504

No, we didn't dump the wheelbarrow! It had been filled with lot of
broken glass which we tipped in.

byrne_creek_edmonds_clean_sweep_8_20130504

A full dumpster = a job well done!

byrne_creek_edmonds_clean_sweep_9_20130504

Volunteers get drinks and hot dogs served up by the Burnaby Firefighters
Charitable Society in the parking lot of Gordon Presbyterian on Edmonds
Street where the community association had its signup area.

Posted by Paul at 02:57 PM

May 02, 2013

Streamkeepers to Participate in Edmonds Clean Sweep, Sat., May 4

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers are taking part in the Edmonds Clean Sweep this coming Saturday morning, May 4. As in past years, we'll have a satellite registration site at the Edmonds Skytrain Station.

Meet in the Edmonds Skytrain Station parking lot at 9:45 a.m. Depending on how many volunteers we have, we'll send a few groups out in the neighbourhood and along the ravine park.

We'll have extra garbage bags and gloves, but if you want to bring a bag and work gloves, that would be great.

If you want to take part in the refreshments at the end of the event, please be at the parking lot of Gordon Presbyterian Church on Edmonds St. (next to the new community centre that's under construction) by 11:45 a.m.

Note that the main registration site is at the church parking lot, if that is more convenient for you.

Posted by Paul at 07:27 AM

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 26, 2013

Online Petition to Keep Page as Parliamentary Budget Officer

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

Thank you for your email about the Parliamentary Budget Office.

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

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

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

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

http://elizabethmaymp.ca/news/publications/press-releases/2013/03/22/may-praises-page-calls-for-major-pbo-changes/

http://elizabethmaymp.ca/fr/news/publications/press-releases/2013/03/22/may-praises-page-calls-for-major-pbo-changes/

Thank you for writing me.

Sincerely,

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

UPDATE March 27, 2013

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

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

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

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

New Democrats believe Canadians deserve an independent budget watchdog. That is why I have put forward legislation to bolster the power and independence of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. You can read more about my legislation and follow its progress here: http://tinyurl.com/bplg2hb.

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

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

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

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

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

All the best,

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

UPDATE April 3, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,
Colin McKone
Office of the Liberal Leader

Posted by Paul at 11:32 AM

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.

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Posted by Paul at 03:32 PM

March 09, 2013

Tenth Anniversary of my Dad’s Passing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Paul at 09:02 PM

March 01, 2013

Nominations for City of Burnaby Environment Awards 2013 Now Open

The 2013 City of Burnaby Environment Awards nomination process is now open ( www.burnaby.ca/environmentawards ).

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.

Sincerely,

Paul Holden
President & CEO
Burnaby Board of Trade

Posted by Paul at 04:41 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.

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MLA Raj Chouhan, me, MP Peter Julian

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

Above photos by Yumi

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Photo by Brian Pound

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

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

Posted by Paul at 08:59 PM

Food Labelling Scams

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Paul at 12:15 PM

January 23, 2013

Edmonds Biz & Community Association Revitalized Again?

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

Longer text invitation follows the graphic.

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

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

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

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

Thank you and hope to see you there.

Creating Community for Edmonds Planning Committee

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

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

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

Posted by Paul at 08:59 PM

January 19, 2013

Wife Charging Ahead on another Home Reno Project

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

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

Posted by Paul at 06:06 PM

December 28, 2012

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 21, 2012

‘Deep Fish’ Revealed!

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Paul at 12:57 PM

December 12, 2012

Burnaby City Council Appoints Environmental Sustainability Strategy Steering Committee

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

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Image from City of Burnaby

Press Release from the City of Burnaby website

City of Burnaby ESS Website

Steering Committee members

Related Burnaby Now story

Posted by Paul at 04:19 PM

December 11, 2012

Restoring Salmon, Wildlife Habitat in Oregon Boosts Economy, Jobs

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

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

Posted by Paul at 01:46 PM

November 23, 2012

MP Goodale on Ukraine Terror-Famine Anniversary

While I'm not a member of any political party, and live far from Ralph Goodale's riding, I was impressed with the following release from his office:

RALPH GOODALE'S REPORT

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

goodale@sasktel.net

November 23rd, 2012

79th ANNIVERSARY OF UKRAINIAN FAMINE & GENOCIDE

Saturday, November 24th, is International Holodomor Memorial Day, a day upon which the civilized world pauses to remember one of the most horrific atrocities of the 20th century.

In the winter of 1932-33, the ruthless regime of Joseph Stalin used the power of the Soviet state to contrive a totally artificial but deadly famine, specifically targeted at the people of Ukraine.  It constituted an act of genocide, entrapping and deliberately starving up to 10 million people - about a third of them, children.

Amid bountiful harvests in what was known as the breadbasket of Europe, food supplies were confiscated.  The desperate population was blocked from seeking sustenance elsewhere.  At the height of the devastation, 25,000 people were dying every day.  As much as 25 percent of Ukraine's population was eliminated, to suit Stalin's brutal political objectives.

It took a long time for the world to come to grips with this sorry reality.  But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, an independent Parliament in Ukraine enacted legislation recognizing the Holodomor as an act of genocide.  They also urged the whole global community to acknowledge, honestly and accurately, what had transpired in 1932-33.

To date, over 20 countries (including Canada) have recognized the Holodomor for the genocide that it was.  The fourth Saturday in November has been identified as an annual day of remembrance.

Such an anniversary matters to Canadians.  With Ukrainian settlement in Canada stretching back over 120 years, more than 1.25-million citizens of this country trace their family heritage to Ukraine.  Canadians and Ukrainians share a deep love of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

That's why we mourn those who perished in the Holodomor, and pay solemn tribute to the fortunate ones who survived.

That's also why Canadians take a passionate interest in Ukraine's difficult journey toward genuine democratization, after so many decades of foreign domination and totalitarianism.  As the most recent elections have demonstrated, it's not easy.

As we mark the Holodomor this year, let us be firmly resolved to support the Ukrainian people in their on-going struggle for honest elections, for legal rights and freedoms that mirror our Canadian Charter, and for a political system that respects the unquenchable Ukrainian thirst for freedom.

-30-

Posted by Paul at 01:39 PM

November 14, 2012

DFO is MIA in Celebrating Success

We are having an amazing chum salmon year in Burnaby and neighbouring cities. People are reporting spawners in creeks where they haven't been seen in 50+ years. Newspapers and TV newscasts are featuring enchanted kids with sparkling eyes marvelling at seeing salmon in their neighbourhoods.

Chum have moved up the Brunette River, up the new Metro Vancouver fish ladder at Caribou Dam, through the dredged Burnaby Lake (a City of Burnaby initiative that I initially had qualms about, but am now reassessing), and up Still Creek beyond the Burnaby border and well into Vancouver. Some reports say it's been 80 years since salmon have spawned that high up Still Creek, which for decades wasn't much more than an open sewer.

As of last weekend I understand Stoney Creek in NE Burnaby, the most productive stream in the city, had counted over 750 chum back.

And not a peep from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on how much of this is due to decades of local streamkeeper volunteers and the DFO's Salmonid Enhancement Program (SEP), of hard-working DFO staff on the ground, of DFO Community Advisors and volunteers at hatcheries, of doggedly rehabilitating and stocking urban and suburban creeks and streams year after year after year, of collaborations between stewards, the City of Burnaby, Metro Vancouver and DFO in making culverts more fish friendly, of tackling pollution issues and sanitary/storm cross-connects...

Why can't DFO publicly promote such success? Hard-earned success and cooperation from volunteers and all levels of government? It's a shame that nothing can be officially said by DFO Pacific without approval from Ottawa.

SEP is likely one of the most popular and cost-effective government programs in history, leveraging contributions by tens of thousands of volunteers in BC. It should be seen as something to celebrate and emulate.

I should include the "full disclosure"  bit: I am a volunteer streamkeeper and president of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society, a member of the Salmon Enhancement & Habitat Advisory Board to DFO, and a citizen representative on the City of Burnaby's Environment Committee.

UPDATE: (Nov. 23, 2012) Happy to see that DFO has published some positive PR on the SEP website. Let's keep it up! Chum salmon make stronger-than-usual return in 2012.

Posted by Paul at 07:33 PM

November 04, 2012

Congrats to ‘Niece’ Kalyna & Partner Luce For Gold Medal at CURCs in Burnaby

Congratulations to McGill Rowing pair Kalyna Franko and Luce Bourbeau for winning a gold medal at the Canadian University Rowing Championships in Burnaby today!

From the McGill Rowing website.

Photo of the girls, Yumi and I, before they headed out to the awards banquet tonight. It's been a pleasure billeting these accomplished, hard-working young women.

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I say "niece" because Kalyna is my cousin Ivan's daughter,
and he and I were born a month apart, and spent our childhood
and teen years together so many years ago : -).
Our mothers were "joined at the hip" and so were we,
at least for the first 18 or so formative years of our lives.

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And here are our champions, as shot by Yumi when she dropped them off
at Burnaby Lake in the morning. Smiles, yet you can see the determination,
and the gold was yet to be achieved.

Posted by Paul at 10:16 PM

September 03, 2012

Person Damaging Sensitive Areas of Byrne Creek Alarms Streamkeepers

The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society in conjunction with the City of Burnaby Parks Dept. sent out the following press release on Aug. 31:

Repeated damage near the banks of Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby has dismayed streamkeepers who help protect and restore this urban oasis, and monitor its salmon and other wildlife.

"We're seeing trails cut, branches torn off, trees cut down, salmonberry bushes and ferns torn out--it's distressing," said Paul Cipywnyk, president of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society. "Our members put in hundreds of volunteer hours every year and we've planted some of those trees with City permission. It's so sad to see someone thoughtlessly cutting them down."

Cipywnyk said streamkeepers have been reporting damage to City staff, and are documenting it with photos. "City staff are also appalled and are very supportive," said Cipywnyk. "We're working together to quickly come up with ways to educate folks that such behaviour is unacceptable."

Burnaby Parks sees similar damage--usually created unintentionally by park users who go off trails to create a short-cut route or to explore new areas, or by dog owners who allow their pets to roam off-leash. Departing from designated trails, park users destroy plants and wildlife habitat. The City reminds all park users to respect the environment and stay on trails and keep their pets leashed at all times.

Unfortunately, the damage this time seems much more deliberate and there is not much that can be done unless someone reports the person in the act.

Burnaby RCMP say citizens should not personally intervene if they witness such acts, and ask them to call police.

Cipywnyk notes that members of the public are coming forward with sightings and descriptions of at least one person observed doing such damage. "We thank everyone who has contacted our group, and we encourage the public to pass any tips on to Burnaby RCMP."

"We hope the person or persons involved will read this and stop their destructive behaviour," Cipywnyk said. "We don't aim to be punitive, we just want the damage to end. We're hoping this is not malicious and that perhaps someone simply doesn't understand the negative impact of such actions. We are very fortunate to have jewels like Byrne Creek Ravine Park in our midst, and we should treat such green havens with respect."

-- 30 --

We received plenty of coverage in the local papers and on Global TV. As of two weeks later, it seem that fresh damage is diminishing, so we hope the message got through.

Burnaby Now: Burnaby streamkeepers upset over creekside damage

Global TV: New trails being cut out in Byrnaby's Byrne Creek by a mysterious stranger

Burnaby Newsleader: Damage near Byrne Creek alarms streamkeepers, city

Posted by Paul at 09:21 PM

August 24, 2012

Me with Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games HQ Photo Staff

After several days of taking thousands of photos as a volunteer at the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games, I had the presence of mind to hand my camera to someone to shoot me and the always cheerful and helpful photo gals at Games HQ, Ellen and Arielle. Thanks!

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Posted by Paul at 09:07 PM

Slo Pitch at Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games

After my volunteer photography assignment to cover ice curling at the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games, back on Wednesday, Aug. 22, I decided to go and shoot some slo pitch, too. It was a gorgeous day to be out having fun in the sun, but I tell ya, these are competitors!

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Posted by Paul at 07:47 PM

Ice Curling at Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games

One of my volunteer photography assignments at the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games was ice curling, back on Wednesday, Aug. 22.

I had never shot curling before, and it proved to be a challenge, as I was not allowed to access the ice during play, but only during warmups. So I ended shooting live action mostly through the glass in the upstairs lounge. I pushed ISO as high as 2500, but even then I was having trouble getting action-stopping shutter speeds in the relatively low light.

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Posted by Paul at 02:50 PM

August 23, 2012

Burnaby’s Korean War Memorial With Haunting Moonlight

As we were walking back to the parking lot after the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games Opening Ceremony, I noticed that a crescent moon was dancing about the statue commemorating BC soldiers who gave their lives in the Korean War.  A bit of walking to and fro, a bit of flash to bring out the form, and I got the moon cupped in the hand of the female statue. I wonder how often soldiers in the mud, the blood, the cold, and the heat of the conflict looked up at the moon, and thought of loved ones far away. . . There may have even been a veteran or two of that war at the ceremony tonight. . . and certainly many who personally knew boys who died over there, in the fight to preserve freedom.

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Posted by Paul at 10:44 PM

Great Fun Shooting Photos at Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games

It's been a blast being a volunteer photographer for the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games.

The official photo stream is at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bcsg/

I haven't seen any of my photos up there yet, but volunteers are super busy!

Here are a few shots from the Opening Ceremony on Aug. 22. My job was to be up in the stands on the right side
with a long telephoto to cover things from that angle. Other photographers were high centre and several were roving.

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RCMP sergeant, RCMP horse, and RCMP dog were a great hit
on the way in from the parking lot!

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Start of parade

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Athletes on parade

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Marching band

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Choir

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Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and other dignitaries

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Competitor in the crowd

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Singer Stephanie Standerwick

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BC Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
Ida Chong lights the flame at the Opening Ceremony

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Competitors with flame

Posted by Paul at 07:33 PM

August 19, 2012

Picked up Photographer, Volunteer Accreditation for BC Seniors Games 2012 in Burnaby

I picked up my volunteer and media accreditation for the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games starting this week. I volunteered to join the photo team, and have been assigned several events later in the week. However, the media pass gets me into all events, so if I have time, I may poke my lens into other activities : -).  This should be great fun. Apparently over 2.000 folks have volunteered in various capacities.

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Note that public entry to all events and the opening ceremony are free, so check out the website above and come and cheer the participants on! A message from the organizers:

Greetings and Salutations!

You are cordially invited to the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games Opening Ceremony this Wednesday! The BC Seniors Games will celebrate 25 years of seniors sportsmanship on August 22, 2012 at Swangard Stadium (3883 Imperial St, Burnaby) from 7:00pm-8:15pm.

This community celebration is open to everyone free of charge to showcase the diversity and skill of over 3600 senior athletes from all over British Columbia. For this fun-filled evening of dance and live music, we are pleased to announce that the legendary musician, Dal Richards, will be our Master of Ceremonies. Get your first look at the competitors as they march in the colorful parade of athletes.

Come out to start the Burnaby 2012 BC Seniors Games off right! Please also keep in mind that you are invited to all the Games sporting events free of charge from August 22-August 25, 2012. See our website for more event details for over 20 different sports! www.2012bcseniorsgames.org

Join us for this momentous, family-friendly occasion to celebrate our active senior community and athletic camaraderie. Forward this invitation to your family and friends so that we can fill the entire stadium and have the seniors look up to the stands with pride!

Posted by Paul at 04:58 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!

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Posted by Paul at 10:13 PM

August 05, 2012

Wolf Cub–My Original Membership & Welcome Cards

Wow, I came across these today as I continue sorting through boxes of my late Mom's files in our garage. She kept so many cool items.

This is my 1968 membership card in the Boy Scouts of Canada, and the "Welcome Card" that came with it.

We were all well-scrubbed and wholesome back then!

Actually, I do remember being well-scrubbed, because I was a troop leader, and my troop often led the pack in clean fingernails and spiffy uniforms.

BTW, I also have a list of all of the members of our pack, their street addresses, and phone numbers, circa 1968. Of course I won't post that here for potential privacy reasons, but if there's anyone out there who is on that list, I'd be happy to share . . .

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And, of course, not to forget Robert Baden-Powell . . . The cover of a father-son Scout dinner banquet program:

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Now, let me be perfectly clear.

I do not in any way mean to disparage the Scouting program, if,
perchance, anyone should take my comments in that manner.

In my youth, it was wonderful. At a young age, it taught me
respect, many skills, and provided me with formative experiences
in leadership.

I am just showing how imaging and PR changes over time . . .

Posted by Paul at 09:55 PM

July 13, 2012

All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Church 25th Anniversary Booklet

Wow, a blast from the past. I ran across this while going through some of my late Mom's files, and had to scan it.

25th Anniversary
Commemorative Booklet
1969-1994
All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Church

There is so much history in this 32-page pamphlet, and so many names I grew up with in Saskatoon in my formative years.

Nearly every page brought back a memory, at least until the point where I left Canada in 1985 to work in Japan for 14 years.

Lots of close relatives are mentioned in this history. A grandfather, a grandmother, my father, my mother, an uncle, etc. Ahem, though I fail to see my name, or that of my cousin Ivan, as youth members of the church building committee : -).

And so many other adults that were part of an extended community when I was a kid. I think children in such milieus felt so safe and loved. I still remember so many folks from this parish and the broader Ukrainian-Canadian community in Saskatoon with fondness, though for the last several decades I've seen only a few of them during short visits once every three or four years.

As one of my aunts wrote me recently: "Oh, to live all together in one village like in the good old days!"

You can download my scan here. (1.3MB PDF)

Posted by Paul at 08:29 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 http://www.kevinryan.com/:

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 http://balefires.blogspot.ca/:

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 gaijinpot.com, 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:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120703zg.html

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

http://1000thingsaboutjapan.blogspot.jp/2012/07/will-miss-466-ease-of-getting-hired.html

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 04, 2012

Grey Wolf–Tawny–#10–Masks

I recently came across some "art" I created, or attempted to copy, apparently at age 8.

There is an attached caption in my handwriting, which hasn't improved much from childhood.

Wooden fool mask with painted face made by Tsimshian and worn at a potlatch in 1912. Paul Cipywnyk. Age 8.

That, and in someone else's hand (a teacher's?): "Grey Wolf-Tawny-#10-Masks"

At age 8 I would have been in grade 4 (? I did grades 1 & 2 in one year) at Greystone Heights Elementary in Saskatoon, SK. Not sure how this would have been part of a prairie curriculum in the mid-1960s, but I think it's great!

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Posted by Paul at 09:00 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 parks@fvrd.bc.ca.

(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.)

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Posted by Paul at 06:34 PM

July 01, 2012

Volunteering at Canada Day in SE Burnaby

Despite some iffy weather forecasts, it turned out to be a lovely Canada Day in Ron McLean Park in SE Burnaby today. Byrne Creek Streamkeepers had our booth up, with aquatic bugs for kids to view, and we had a steady flow of interested folks throughout the event. Kudos to City of Burnaby staff who had the event running like clockwork, as usual. Job well done.

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The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers booth

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Kids love the bugs!

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The RCMP are always a big draw : -).

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And the politicians show up in force: L-R Kathy Corrigan, MLA; Raj
Chouhan, MLA; Peter Julian, MP; Sav Dhaliwal, Councillor; Burnaby
Mayor Derek Corrigan

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Cutting the cake

Posted by Paul at 07:57 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


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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

Panellists:

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 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!

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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

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?

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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 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.

http://www.ipolitics.ca/2011/12/20/its-time-to-start-cracking-down-on-environmental-crime/

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

January 04, 2012

Ah, Now This is Journalism, Eh?

 

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When I first saw this, I thought the Vancouver Sun had tied up with some "online chat" company, if you know what I mean, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more . . .

Yeah, I saw headlines today that Pete had tied the knot, but I could care less, and didn't click through to find the name of his bride.

So is this a "bait-and-switch"?

You be the judge.

I'm a faithful Vancouver Sun subscriber, and it's got several excellent writers and editors.

Don't drift too far, eh?

Posted by Paul at 09:16 PM

Carleton University ‘Alumni Today 2011’ Database Disappoints

Received my Carleton Alumni Today 2011 CD database. Looks like I was one of very few in my program suckered into contributing to it, and, ahem, purchasing it. There are only half a dozen entries for my Bachelor of Journalism cohort back in 1985. Sigh.

Lots of folks thought it was a scam when we started receiving emails to participate, and significant $ to purchase the directory. Some thought Google was good enough to find folks.

But it would have been cool to be able to track down 30 or 40 folks that I spent a very intensive year with in my younger days, and haven't seen in decades since, simply by entering a year and program into a limited database.

I don't know how others process memories in their 50s of times 25 years ago, but it's hard for me to Google people in my BJ program because I don't even recall names until they are presented to me. Part of the problem may be that I left Canada for 14 years right after completing the program, so I fell more out of touch than others.

Posted by Paul at 08:23 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.

http://www.penmachine.com/2011/05/the-last-post

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
(http://www.penmachine.com/2010/11/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 06, 2011

Remembering Burnaby Streamkeeper Jennifer Atchison

There was a ceremony of remembrance, dedication of a park bench, and a potluck gathering to honour Burnaby streamkeeper extraordinaire Jennifer Atchison today. Unfortunately, I and a couple of other folks were at a SEHAB (Salmon Enhancement & Habitat Advisory Board) meeting, and arrived late, but were generously excused, for Jennifer would have understood. She was active on the SEHAB board in her time.

I posted about Jennifer's passion and passing here, just over a year ago.

Here are a couple of shots of the bench overlooking Stoney Creek, which she loved so much.

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Posted by Paul at 07:13 PM

November 05, 2011

Facebook Thinks I Need a Pardon–Or Should Hide in Fiji

Here's a screen shot of one of my recent FB posts. It shows a clip of the "targeted" ads that appeared
for me today:

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Posted by Paul at 10:45 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:

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I won' t link to apple.com or apple.ca 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.

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Signs pointing to our booth at the Edmonds Skytrain station

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Filling the City of Burnaby provided dumpster to overflowing

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Thanks to all the Scouts Canada volunteers!

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Volunteers shoulder heavy loads to clean up the hood!

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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.

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Edmonds Association past prez Joyce Rostron thanks sponsors and volunteers

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Gordon Presbyterian Church volunteers feed the crowd

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Moi center, with streameepers stalwarts Dave and Frieda

Posted by Paul at 10:51 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

August 25, 2011

Honoured to Speak at Jack Layton Memorial at Burnaby City Hall

I was honoured to be asked to speak from an environmental and sustainability perspective at a memorial for the late leader of Canada's official opposition, the Honourable Jack Layton, at Burnaby City Hall today.  At first I was somewhat taken aback at the request from MP Peter Julian and MLA Raj Chouhan, as I'd never even met Jack, but they insisted they wanted someone from the environmental NGO community to comment on his green initiatives.

Initially daunted, as I sat down to write a quick speech, several images came to mind that I think are representative of Jack's sustainability leadership. Thanks to Raj, Peter and the rest of the organizers for giving me the opportunity to share a few impressions of a man many Canadians are missing deeply, no matter what their political leanings:

One of the enduring images of Jack Layton that sticks in my mind is that of a bicycle helmet.

A bicycle helmet perched atop a grinning face and trademark moustache, followed by the lean frame of a man who kept himself in great shape. That image resonates with me, for I've been asked to say a few words about Jack's dedication to preserving and restoring our natural environment, and his personal commitment to sustainability.

That bicycle helmet symbolized Jack's approach to politics and the environment. Walk the talk, or in his case, ride the talk. Jack was bicycling to work when most of us were barely contemplating the idea, and wondering if it would mess up our suits. Yet he made it work.

Another image I have of Jack is his openness and good humour. Over the last several days I have followed an outpouring of grief on Facebook and Twitter and other social media. I was amazed by how many of my "friends" on Facebook, and those who I follow on Twitter, wrote about Jack. These are mostly folks that have never talked about politics, they were simply feeling bereft at the passing of a great Canadian.

Then I noticed something interesting happening. The grief began turning toward sharing highlights of Jack's media appearances, mostly of a humorous nature. People began finding solace in Jack's good humour and willingness to expose himself to some gentle ribbing.

So another image that's in my mind from the last few days is a YouTube clip of Rick Mercer visiting Jack's energy retrofitted home. It's a hilarious episode, but while we laugh, we are also astounded at Jack's openness, his willingness to share, and again, his environmental dedication. His own home was not only energy neutral, at times it was feeding power back into the grid. Walk the talk, indeed.

That leadership is being recognized. Jack is already being honoured by his alma matter, York University, with a new prize in his memory to be awarded annually to an outstanding environmental studies masters student. Meanwhile, the Learning for a Sustainable Future organization that partners with York, is creating a Jack Layton Award for Youth Action in Sustainability for students taking innovative approaches to community challenges.

We live in environmentally difficult times. It is easy to read the headlines day after day, and despair at seemingly one crisis after another. Yet somewhere between Chicken Little panic, and turning a blind eye, there is a road forward. Jack would fix that road with his tireless gaze, and lead the charge. It is up to us to maintain his example of unwavering optimism and hope.

Posted by Paul at 08:14 PM

July 31, 2011

How Does Someone Born in Sask in 1925 get Ukrainian Citizenship?

I ran across this public art record of employment at a shipyard in North Vancouver today. There are a series of employment record cards in the display, with some visible to the public. I assume families were contacted to get permission for this display, as some of the details are private.

Anyway, one of the visible records is for a fellow who was born in Saskatchewan in 1925, yet who is listed as having Ukrainian citizenship. I found that a bit odd, since my Dad was born in Saskatchewan of Ukrainian descent in 1927, and he was never a citizen of Ukraine.

uke_can_shipyard_record

Posted by Paul at 08:33 PM

July 27, 2011

Vancouver Japanese Powell Street Festival this Weekend

The annual Powell Street Japanese Festival is on in Vancouver this weekend.

Get a taste of the fun with my photos on this blog from last year.

Posted by Paul at 10:39 PM

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 26, 2011

Slew of Articles on Fish, Biodiversity, Environmental Assessments

I sometimes wonder why I put so much volunteer time into streamkeeping, when so much of the news is so bad so much of the time. Sigh. It's also so demoralizing when our federal government is not fulfilling its mandate when it comes to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Environment Canada.

But what else can we do but keep trying?

Cuts to environmental assessments could lead to ecological disasters in Canada - Vancouver Sun: http://bit.ly/rsMoaY

Canada's Environment Minster warned that urban sprawl is hurting biodiversity - Vancouver Sun: http://bit.ly/pJLxO6

Ocean food chain threatened by overharvesting of small fish - Vancouver Sun: http://bit.ly/oCuLUl

Feds silence scientist over West Coast salmon study and the Cohen connection: http://ow.ly/5O35F

Posted by Paul at 04:19 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!

byrne_creek_choices_earth_day_201104

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

Posted by Paul at 08:20 PM

July 12, 2011

Russian Guns in Kingston–Tracking a History Mystery

I ran across some mysterious guns (cannons) when visiting Kingston, Ontario, in June 2009. Intrigued by what I thought were Imperial Russian markings on them, I went on a quest to discover how they had come to Canada.

 russian_gun_kingston

A close-up of one of the guns in Macdonald Park. The double-headed eagle caught my eye. . .

So as we continued visiting historic sites in Kingston, I kept asking about the guns.

martello_tower_kingston_20090602

I had no luck at this nearby Martello Tower. The student on summer duty did his best, even searching the Internet, but came up with no information. Also had no luck at the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes not too far away, though it was fascinating in its own right.

Later we were out at Old Fort Henry, and that's where I hit pay dirt. Touring the fort was a wonderful experience, especially watching the re-enactments of drill, musket firing, and big gun firing.

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It occurred to me to ask for the curator's email address, and I sent him my question. He had the grace to respond quickly, while I didn't even get around to posting on my blog until two years later. Sorry! Here's his answer:

Dear Paul,

Mark Bennett, our Supervisor of Programs passed along your request for information regarding the two guns with double-headed eagles in front of the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald, our first Prime Minister.

The guns are Russian, hence the Czarist, double-headed eagle emblems. Following the Crimean War, 1854-55, an offer was made by the government in London England, for guns captured at the great naval base of Sebastopol in the Crimea to be displayed in cities throughout the British Empire. The fortifications were taken by assault and the abandoned stores were captured and returned to England at the conclusion of the war. Many cities in the Empire applied for these trophy guns and they were subsequently delivered in the following years. The City of Kingston received two of these guns, whereas most locations received only one. I know of several cities in Canada that have Crimean Guns.

The Sebastopol guns are famous for another feature. Queen Victoria instituted a new medal for gallantry at this time. It is known as the Victoria Cross and has become the most sought-after decoration for gallantry arguably in the world. The simple bronze crosses are made of bronze from the cascables of guns  that were captured at Sebastopol (identical to the ones you saw in Kingston).

I hope that this answers your question. Thank you for visiting Fort Henry and we hope you will visit us again soon.

Regards,
Ron Ridley
Curator
Fort Henry National Historic Site of Canada
St. Lawrence Parks Commission
Ontario Ministry of Tourism

Now that's what I call service. Thank you Ron, my apologies for my tardy post, and hope everything at Fort Henry is going well!

Posted by Paul at 09:35 PM

July 09, 2011

Korean War Monument in Burnaby’s Central Park

Yumi and I have been getting out cycling more. Today we went from our place in SE Burnaby to Central Park. We did several trails in the park and then returned home. While we were in the park I wanted to visit the relatively new Korean War Monument, which I had not been to yet. The Korean War was my Mom's generation - as I recall she knew young men who fought and died. She was about 17 when Canada entered the war as part of the UN forces.

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I also noticed that one of the names on the memorial was that of "Takeuchi Takachi," as sh0wn below. That struck me as odd, because I spent over a decade in Japan, and the name just did not ring right.

tak_korean_war_burnaby_20110710

I naturally turned to Google, and quickly found the site of the 2RCHA, or Canadian Horse Artillery. Under the Regimental History link, there is a section called "Off to Korea" where the name is spelled Gunner Takashi Takeuchi, which makes more sense (at least in the Western order of given name, followed by family name). I hope this can be rectified, for this is one of those strange confluences in history. There was no love lost between Japanese and Koreans for centuries. To have a Japanese-Canadian die in the Korean War on the side of freedom and democracy has a certain poignancy to it. . .

Posted by Paul at 07:57 PM

July 04, 2011

Eerie Adjacent Tweets

I was dipping into the Twitterverse this evening and saw the following two Tweets pop up one after the other:

"The place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you."

"8 Missing in Mexico After Vessel Sinks"

Of course they were totally unrelated to each other, yet somehow... something... if you know what I mean...

Twitter_god_missing

A screenshot of my TweetDeck feed

Posted by Paul at 10:17 PM

June 22, 2011

Canada Day Bash in SE Burnaby at Ron McLean Park

Burnaby celebrates Canada Day on July 1 at a couple of locations, and the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers will be part of the SE Burnaby event. This year the bash will be in Ron McLean Park because the usual location at Richmond Park is under construction with the new & improved Eastburn Community Centre and Pool.

Streamkeepers will have our booth set up at the event, and will have bugs from the creek on hand for kids to view and identify. We will also be offering an approximately 1-hour tour of the creek and ravine park starting at 1:00 p.m.

Here's a view of the official City of Burnaby poster and you can download the full-size PDF here:

2011_Canada_Day_Burnaby_RM_Park_poster_small

Posted by Paul at 10:31 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.

bbot_awards_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 25, 2011

Welcoming Editors to EAC National Conference in Vancouver

Here's the Environment Canada forecast for the end of the week and coming weekend, just as we tee up for the Editors' Association of Canada national conference Editing in the Age of E-Everything.

vancouver_weather_20110525

Sigh. Whenever folks visit, it rains. Stop visiting! Er, I mean, ah..

Note that the Twitter tag for the conference is #eac2011.

Posted by Paul at 11:03 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.

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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 www.salishseaconference.org, 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 (www.seadocsociety.org/ssp). 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, info@salishseaconference.org or Jennie Wang, Environment Canada, at secretariat@salishseaconference.org.

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 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?

Hmmmm.

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!

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Posted by Paul at 08:29 PM

April 01, 2011

Get Your Butt in Gear, Read and VOTE!

If you don't vote, don't complain. Read the platforms, decide, and VOTE.

In alphabetical order:

Conservative: http://www.conservative.ca/

Green: http://greenparty.ca/

Liberal: http://www.liberal.ca/

NDP: http://www.ndp.ca/

Note: I'm putting the Bloc last because I do not consider them to be a Canadian party.

BQ: http://www.blocquebecois.org/accueil.aspx

Posted by Paul at 09:55 PM

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: www.burnaby.ca/sss_draftstrategy. (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: www.burnaby.ca/sss_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

burnabyemptybowls.blogspot.com

Event Poster:

empty_bowls_2011

Posted by Paul at 04:27 PM

March 04, 2011

Grumpy Old Man…

I realize that I've had a couple of consecutive harsh posts to this blog. Barely into my 50s, am I becoming a grumpy old man? I hate to see what will happen if I follow this trajectory into my 60s and 70s! : - )

But, darn it, I just hate to see crappy behaviour by my governments, and crappy reporting by the press.

Posted by Paul at 09:21 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 22, 2011

Burnaby Museum, Shadbolt Centre ‘Fishing for Stories’

Fishing for stories ...

Have you been involved in the fishing industry? We are looking for commercial fishers, shoreworkers, fisheries workers, and people who have been involved in the preservation of streams and fish stock.

Share your stories and memories at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts on Thursday, March 3 at 1 :00 pm. The Curator from the Burnaby Village Museum and a facilitator from the urban ink theatre company will be on hand to collect your stories, and to weave some of the tales into a play about fishing that will take place at the Shadbolt Centre on Saturday, March 5 at 8:00 pm.

Collecting stories about people's experiences with the fishing industry helps to preserve information about this important British Columbia industry, and the unique ways it relates to Burnaby and the people who live here. It doesn't matter if your involvement has been in Burnaby or somewhere else...we would like to hear from you.

The conversations begin at 1:00 on Wednesday, March 3 and will likely last two or three hours, depending on the number of participants. Participants will be invited to return on Friday between 1:00 and 4:00 if they have a special object or memento they would like to contribute to an art installation about the fishing industry. They are invited to attend the performance of the "Women in Fish" play on Saturday, March 5 at 8:00 pm, free of charge.

If you would like to attend the discussion on March 3, please contact Lisa Codd, Curator at the Burnaby Village Museum by March 1. She can be reached at lisa.codd@burnaby.ca or by phone at 604-297-4542.

Posted by Paul at 10:55 AM

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 12, 2011

2010 Olympic Flame Re-Lighting 1st Anniversary

Yumi met me in downtown Vancouver today. I was at an Editors' Association of Canada workshop on editing narrative, which I greatly enjoyed. We found each other around 4:30p and headed over to see the re-lit Olympic flame, celebrating the 1-year anniversary of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Brought back some great memories!

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Posted by Paul at 06:18 PM

February 04, 2011

The King’s Speech

A gorgeous, moving, inspiring film.

Perhaps I shouldn't say any more : - ).

I am by no means a monarchist, though I am a history buff. But I loved this movie.

Splendidly acted, with immersive cinematography.

There are not very many films that I'd like to view again, but this is one. I'd go again tomorrow.

Posted by Paul at 11:17 PM

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

So Canadians Fear Rabid, U.S.-Style Debate, Eh?

Ran across this on my Twitter feed tonight.

"@acoyne people like you should get cancer and die, no one will care and Canada will be a better place without corporate whores like you"

Sickening and unconscionable, no matter what your politics, or what your cause.

Shame.

BTW, acoyne is Andrew Coyne, the national editor for Maclean's, Canada's weekly newsmagazine, and a regular CBC commentator.

While I certainly don't always agree with Coyne, I respect his intelligence, his knowledge, and his right to speak his mind.

Posted by Paul at 10:17 PM

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 14, 2011

Vancouver Shifts Homicide Squad to Broccoli Patrol

No, they haven't moved April Fool's Day to January, unfortunately. Yet that was my first impression when I read the front-page headline in today's Vancouver Sun. No, it's not the same as my headline for this post, but if things progress further, mine may well appear in the paper soon.

The story that had me not knowing whether to laugh or cry was: Canadian first: Nutrition rules for street food. Apparently "Vancouver is about to become the first city in Canada - and quite possibly North America - to apply minimum standards for what it considers wholesome, nutritious food that can be bought on the street." Further into the story a city councillor is quoted as saying she "sees nothing wrong with the city acting as Big Mother."

Thankfully, I'm not a Vancouver taxpayer, I live next door in Burnaby. But if I were a Vancouver taxpayer, I'd get my laughing and crying done right quick, and move directly into the mad-as-hell stage.

How idiotic is this? Let me count a few of the ways:

  • What happened to personal freedom  of choice and responsibility?
  • For decades municipalities have been moaning and groaning about higher levels of government "downloading" functions on cities with no accompanying funding. Yet here's Vancouver taking on the roles of federal departments and agencies in charge of food safety and regulation, and provincial healthcare.
  • How about enforcement? The story says "if vendors want to throw on some healthy extras like vegetables, fruits -- even sauerkraut -- that balance out that cholesterol-laden gourmet beef patty or other high-fat food, they may just get past the city's food police." Where are the enforcement resources going to come from?
  • What about the consumer? Will I be ticketed if I scarf the chilli cheese dog but dump the side of broccoli into the trash? I predict this will result in huge food wastage.

Does this lead to a future in which our toilets are going to analyze our excrement to ensure we are consuming balanced diets and automatically send that data to government databases? It's an, er, slippery slope. . .

Posted by Paul at 01:50 PM

December 16, 2010

Xmas at Burnaby Heritage Village

What a deal! Half-price entry to Burnaby's beautiful Village Museum, with all proceeds going to the  Burnaby Christmas Bureau.

Yumi and I couldn't pass it up. On a cool, clear evening, we rambled the grounds, enjoying the Christmas lights and the carols. We checked out Urby - Interurban 1223, so lovingly restored by so many volunteers - and found our friend Eleanor aboard, giving tours.

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Yumi on the bridge from the entrance.

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The gorgeous, restored tram. How I wish they'd never stopped running!

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Eleanor and moi. As befits the 1920s-era atmosphere,
I had a hat, as every gentleman should - one of my Australian Akubras.

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Yumi entranced by the bakery display.

burnaby_heritage_village_xmas_yumi_carousel_20101216

Rides on the restored carousel were included with admission
on this special evening. Yumi couldn't resist.

Posted by Paul at 09:45 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.

 

Chouhan_2010_Holiday_Open_House

Posted by Paul at 01:10 PM

November 25, 2010

Victoria BC Neighbours Turn Blvd into Garden with Free Produce

This is so cool! An amazing, feel-good community story on so many levels.

Posted by Paul at 04:04 PM

November 23, 2010

Edmonds Breakfast with Santa Dec. 4–Preregistration Required

2010_edmonds_santa_breakfast

Posted by Paul at 01:08 PM

November 20, 2010

Sask Proclamation Recognizing Genocide-Artificial Famine in Ukraine

It's good to see democratic governments at various levels recognizing the horrific Soviet-induced artificial famine that terrorized Ukraine between the great wars. The "Holodomor" or "Death by Hunger" is increasingly being officially remembered as an act of genocide, with millions of innocent people callously killed to serve a nefarious form of dictatorial communism and Russification.

Sask_proc_2010_400

I, Ken Krawetz, Deputy Premier in the Province of Saskatchewan in exercise of the powers conferred upon me, do hereby designate the week of November 22-28, 2010 to be:

"Week of Remembrance for the Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor)"

in Saskatchewan.

Vichnaya Pamyat (Memory Eternal)

Posted by Paul at 10:33 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 info@edmondsassociation.org
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!

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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

Congratulations!

Posted by Paul at 04:18 PM

October 06, 2010

Tap Water Map App from Metro Vancouver

This is a great example of using tech to help people become more environmentally sustainable in their behaviour:

Metro Vancouver has developed a free new iPhone app, Tap Map, that's now available for free at iTunes.  Tap Map helps people find the closest source of Metro Vancouver tap water. 

Thanks to the municipalities within the Metro Vancouver region we already have the locations of over 550 public drinking fountains between West Vancouver and Langley.  We're already talking to restaurant and business associations about having their members offer to refill anyone's water bottle with no obligation to buy anything.

If you think that people who read your Blog would be interested in Tap Map, and/or asking their favourite restaurants and other establishments to opt in, please tell them about it.

BTW, free apps for Androids and Blackberries will be available later this month.

For more information on Metro Vancouver's Tap Water Campaign, please check out our Tap Water pages.

Posted by Paul at 03:24 PM

Great Health Advice for Pregnant Women

A screen shot from my iGoogle news page this morning:

drinking_pregnancy

Headline 1: 'Light Drinking Said OK for Pregnant Women'

Headline 2: 'A Drink or Two During Pregnancy? Not So Fast'

So which one do you believe?

My main concern when I saw this was that most folks won't read much past the headline, and that the word will start spreading that "light drinking during pregnancy is OK." That's problematic, because most people are clueless as to how "light drinking" is defined, and how quickly/easily one surpasses that level. There are way too many FAS kids. Whether or not that can be pinned solely on over-consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, why take the chance?

Posted by Paul at 08:42 AM

August 23, 2010

Massive Cross-Posting Dilutes Value of LinkedIn et al

I'm getting increasingly irritated at people who use various apps to simultaneously post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Or perhaps I should say that I'm getting increasingly pissed off at social media sites that open up their APIs to any and all apps.

When I'm on LinkedIn I'm not looking for used cars. When I'm on Facebook, I'm not looking for references.

This shotgun approach is eventually going to adulterate and dilute some of these media to the point that they will become useless. I for one, feel they should be kept separate and focused upon their niches.

We've lost the basic filters.

I would have thought that LinkedIn would never allow "I'm selling my car" posts. Well, last time  I looked at my LinkedIn home page, more than half of the "network updates" were of that ilk. So where's LinkedIn's uniqueness now?

Posted by Paul at 08:45 PM

August 21, 2010

Let’s Kill More Salmon Before They Spawn ‘Too Much.’ Huh?

Now that we've got a half-decent run of sockeye salmon on the Fraser River for the first time in several years, the "let's harvest more!" crowd are out in force. Gluttony and opportunism are reviving their old, baseless, self-centred, anti-social arguments.

As a society, we have the collective attention span of a two-year-old child. And a matching lack of historical awareness.

FEED ME! NOW!

The "over-escapement" letters to editors are starting to fly, accusing the Department of Fisheries and Oceans of not allowing more "harvest" (isn't that a nice, benign word?).

I've never understood the argument that us enlightened human managers of the world might make the apparently huge mistake of letting too many salmon reach their spawning grounds.

What?! Horrors!

The "over-escapers" say this will lead to "over-competition," disrupted redds, blah, blah.

The Fraser used to regularly, year after year, have salmon runs 3, 5, perhaps even 10 times the volume of what we have now in our best year out of five. And since there were none of us enlightened, scientific, white folks around to harvest them with vast nets and motorized vessels, or chew up their habitat with our housing and commercial buildings, or poison them with our sewage and chemicals, the bulk of those salmon got past the First Nations fishers who literally had a life-or-death dependence upon them for millennia.

So how is it that salmon managed to thrive and fill rivers from bank to bank without our scientific, commercial intervention, year after year for centuries?

And as for that "over-competition" argument, well, that's nature's way of ensuring healthy populations. The big, strong, healthy salmon get to partner, get to spawn, get to stir up and replace the redds of smaller, weaker fish.

Nature thrives on competition.

If I were a fisher truly looking forward to the future of this "resource," I'd say let *all* the sockeye through for several generations of fair natural selection until we get tens of millions of huge fish back again - - *on a regular basis*.

Instead of directing your anger at DFO for not allowing you to scoop the LAST FISH, you might focus your efforts on habitat preservation, a shift to tertiary sewage treatment. . .

It's only whining Canadian humans who demand self-centred changes to government regulations that happen to benefit and suit them in the short term. The fish have no voice, no party, no cabinet ministers. . .

UPDATE (Aug. 30): I was happy to see the Vancouver Sun's Stephen Hume tackle "over-escapement" on the front page of the Aug. 30 paper.

UPDATE (Aug. 30): Ernie Crey of the Sto:lo First Nation also warns against overfishing in CBC article.

Posted by Paul at 08:59 PM

August 20, 2010

Jennifer Atchison, 1938-2010, Passionate Burnaby Streamkeeper, Environmental Advocate

Jennifer was always swimming upstream, leading by example, pushing and prodding, collaborating and cajoling. She was the heart of the Stoney Creek Environment Committee, and was instrumental in that group achieving so much environmental restoration in her watershed in conjunction with many partners including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the City of Burnaby.

As president of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society, I extend our condolences to Jennifer's family and our fellow streamkeepers at Stoney Creek.

I am grateful I had the opportunity to work with Jennifer at least a little over the last ten years. She was always a joy to meet at streamkeeper events and activities. I was also fortunate to be present when she received two well-deserved awards: the City of Burnaby's Environment Award for Community Stewardship in 2010, and a BC Achievement Award in 2008.

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City of Burnaby Environment Award 2010
L to R: Greg Bartle, City of Burnaby Long-Range Planner - Environmental Stewardship;
Jennifer; Burnaby Councillor and Environment Committee Chair Dan Johnston

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BC Achievement Award 2008
L to R: MLA Harry Bloy, Jennifer, BC Premier Gordon Campbell

As you can see by the above photos, she was physically diminutive, but she'd latch onto my arm, tilt her head up, focus on my eyes nearly two feet above her own. . . and keep me fixed in her sights until she'd imparted a key message she wanted me to hear :-).

Many of us in the streamkeeper community, and I suspect many politicians and bureaucrats as well, will miss that arm lock, that intense gaze . . .

So let's remember and honour her unwavering message of watershed restoration and protection, and the right of every human being, fish, and animal, to live in clean water and a healthy natural environment, even in urban areas.

Posted by Paul at 10:28 PM

August 15, 2010

Sampling Japadog, Hanging with ZZ Top at Lonsdale Quay

We headed into downtown Vancouver today to check out Japadog, a sausage and hot dog vendor with a Japanese twist. The dogs were great, but the fries were a bit wimpy and wayyyy over-salted. I had the "Okonomi" pork sausage  with Japanese mayo, Okonomiyaki sauce, fried cabbage and dried bonito flakes. Yumi had the "Oroshi" Bratwurst with grated daikon radish, soy sauce and green onion. Both were delicious!

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After the dogs, Yumi followed up with a green tea cream puff from the Beard Papa outlet almost next door to Japadog. Now here's a happy Japanese gal :-)!

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Our appetites sated, we took the SeaBus over to Lonsdale Quay. To my delight, a pretty good ZZ Top cover band was playing in the square, so we took in some tunes before the hot sun prompted us to take a walk in breezier spaces.

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I am impressed with how the area is developing with an eye to the local shipbuilding history.

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Restored moveable crane.

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Some brightly painted gear on the old pier.

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And a wee little yacht with its own helicopter :-)

Posted by Paul at 08:26 PM

August 14, 2010

Speaking Streamkeeping at Mesa/Burnaby Sister-City Visit

I was invited to speak to a delegation on a sister-city visit today to Burnaby BC, from Mesa, AZ. The group was visiting Burnaby's gorgeous new Tommy Douglas Library, and I was asked to talk about the significance of the Stream of Dreams mural in the children's area of the library, and how the City and the library have collaborated over the years with local volunteers from the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers.

I quickly recounted some of the history of Stream of Dreams, and the original Dreamfish mural on a fence surrounding the property that the library was eventually built on. I spoke about the "fishy neighbourhood" around the library and the beautiful salmon sculpture and the "stream" and its aquatic animals inlaid into the path behind the library. I explained how all drains lead to fish habitat, and how streamkeepers and the City of Burnaby work closely together on keeping urban creeks and streams as natural and healthy as is possible in a developed environment.

While I'm not sure how much of the healthy watershed message I got across in a few minutes, I thank library staff including Chief Librarian Edel Toner-Rogala and Tommy Douglas Branch Manager Roberta Summersgill for inviting me. They are both wonderful to work with!

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Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan (right) presents Mesa Mayor Scott Smith with framed memento of the tour.

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Viewing the Stream of Dreams installation in the children's corner.

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Touring the gorgeous library.

Posted by Paul at 07:30 PM

August 13, 2010

Pride Kills: 25th Anniversary of Deadliest Single-Plane Crash Ever

I was surprised to see that it's the 25th anniversary of the world's worst-ever single-plane crash that killed 520 people and left only 4 survivors. I vividly remember news about JAL Flight 123 because it happened the year I arrived in Japan for what became a 14-year stay.

The memories also revive my anger at the Japanese government's response to the crash - something that you don't see much of in the news of the anniversary. US Forces were the first to pinpoint the mountainous site of the crash, and US rescue crews were standing by for insertion from helicopters, but the Japanese government refused all offers of assistance. The Japanese Self-Defense Forces didn't arrive on site until the next day.

One of the four survivors chillingly recalled how sounds from more survivors diminished through the night as the injured succumbed to shock and exposure.

Fingers can be pointed in many directions in this tragedy: at Boeing, at JAL, etc., but I still think that misguided national pride was one of the most stupid aspects.

To some degree I can understand the sentiment that Japan wanted to take care of its own, and didn't want to acknowledge that the always-contentious US bases in Japan had troops with the initiative, the training and the gear to accomplish what the JSDF could not.

But was pride worth those lives?

Posted by Paul at 08:25 PM

July 24, 2010

Burnaby Library Honours Original Stream of Dreams Mural

In a great collaboration, the new Tommy Douglas Public Library in southeast Burnaby has incorporated a visual legacy of the original Stream of Dreams mural that used to grace the corner of Kingsway and Edmonds.

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Before the new library and adjacent commercial/residential development went up, the original watershed mural had to come down. You can read & see about it here.

The original mural commemorated the deaths of thousands of fish after a toxin was poured into a street drain in 1998, killing everything in Byrne Creek. That first Dreamfish mural stimulated amazing collaboration between streamkeepers, schools, the local community and several City of Burnaby departments. It went on to spark so much public interest, that eventually Louise Towell and Joan Carne, who had instigated that first mural, formed the Stream of Dreams Murals Society to carry out watershed education and community art.

Posted by Paul at 08:31 PM

July 23, 2010

Politicians Tour Byrne Creek

Thanks to a passel of politicians who took the time to go on a tour of the Byrne Creek watershed in southeast Burnaby today!

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society board members Joan Carne and moi led MP Peter Julian, MLAs Raj Chouhan and Kathy Corrigan, and City of Burnaby Councillors Sav Dhaliwal and Paul McDonell down the ravine trail.

The goal of today's tour was to impart the importance of environmentally-friendly development to the health of urban creeks. The City of Burnaby was a trailblazer in implementing an "open creeks" policy several decades ago, but the creeks cannot survive in a constantly urbanizing environment without progressive development policies that require rain gardens, and roadside and parking-lot swales - anything and everything that helps get rainwater into the ground where it belongs, filtering out pollutants along the way.

SPONGE

That's the word of the day. Our cities must be developed as SPONGES, just like the forests, fields, and bogs that they've filled in. Get that water back into the ground, and you're way ahead in the fight against pollution, against flooding, against massive storm flows off of our streets, roofs and parking lots. . .

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Getting oriented to the watershed.

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Distracted by potential voters on the ravine trail :-)

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A group of nature-loving daycare kids exploring the lovely
creek stole our hearts.

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Checking out a simple swale that absorbs run-off from a parking lot
instead of draining it into the storm system - and then the local creek.

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Observing a site that streamkeepers approached the City of Burnaby
about, suggesting it could become a large rain garden. The dead-end
street will be decommissioned and turned into a lovely, water-infiltrating
garden that will also bridge Taylor Park and Byrne Creek Ravine Park.

Taylor Park Elementary School just up the hill is already excited about the potential to use the rain garden as a nature-study site. After the pavement is ripped up, and water starts to flow again, and native plants are planted - what species begin to use the habitat? And how does that change and progress over the years. What a great, ongoing science project!

Thanks again to our elected representatives! We know you are very busy, and we appreciate your time and attention. I think another concept that was related today was the fact that streamkeeper groups are 100% volunteer. None of us get any financial compensation for what we do - including today's tour. . .  In fact we take unpaid time off from our day jobs to do events like this. . .

So, now, ahem, let's see some action for our tax dollars ! ;-)

Posted by Paul at 03:30 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 24, 2010

Scintillating Entries From My Diary – Circa Age 8 Or So

The scan says it all, er, or not . . . :-)

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Jeez, with this early reticence, I coulda been a prime minister, or at least a member
of cabinet! :-)

Posted by Paul at 09:45 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!

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Posted by Paul at 01:03 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

June 06, 2010

Burnaby Environment Awards Lunch 2010

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

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Councillor Dan Johnston, chair of the Burnaby Environment Committee

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

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

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Brentwood Park Elementary School received an Environment Award
for Youth

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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

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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 05, 2010

Busy Burnaby: Farmer’s Market, Hats Off Day, Deer Lake Ramble

It was a glorious Saturday with great weather - sunny but not hot - after several weeks of cool, rainy days here in Burnaby, BC. We celebrated with a grand tour of several places: the farmer's market at City Hall, the Hats Off parade and celebration along the Heights, a ramble all the way around Deer Lake, and topped if off with a balcony BBQ back home.

The Farmer's Market:

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Beekeeping is now allowed in many yards in Burnaby. Yay!

On to Hats Off in the Heights. We missed the parade but walked the street festival from end to end:

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A & W carhop mannequin on roller-skates :-)

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OK, I'm an environmentalist now, but in my youth
I skinned plenty of knuckles on V-8 engines - this one's
a beaut!

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We dropped by Deer Lake on the way home and walked a complete loop:

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The songs that burst forth from little balls of fluff are amazing!

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This young Canada Goose is starting to fill in with an adult's patterns

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An osprey soaring over the lake looking for a meal.
It's wonderful to see such magnificent birds right in the city!

Posted by Paul at 10:25 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

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(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

Growing Gardens Together in Burnaby

GROWING GARDENS TOGETHER

IN THE CITY OF BURNABY

Richmond Park Community Garden Public Meeting

Space for a community garden is available for interested gardeners living and working in the Edmonds neighbourhood of Southeast Burnaby. See the new vision for Richmond Park. Learn what is involved in the creation of a Community Garden Association.

Hear from others how they created their community garden. Meet neighbours interested in getting together to grow a garden at Richmond Park

DATE: Thursday, June 3rd

TIME: 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

LOCATION: Edmonds Community Center

7282 Kingsway, Burnaby

(Auditorium)

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For information call Donna Savoie 604.540.5901

@ Burnaby Parks Recreation & Cultural Services

City of Burnaby

Posted by Paul at 09:00 AM

May 14, 2010

Name Pronunciation – Do I Win a Prize?

There's been a funny thread on the Editors' Association of Canada mailing list about pronouncing names. Here's my contribution:

Paul Cipywnyk
Need I say more? :-)
It's approximately Sip-iv-nick

The Ukrainian?
My romanization is weak, but more like Tsi-pyv-neck

I've been mangled
I've been tangled
I've been swallowed
I've been coughed

I've been hiccupped
I've been glossed
I've been shuffled
I've been lost

People freeze when
The name arises and
They must publicly proclaim
Damn that confounding name!

OK, I've never made any claims to being a poet, especially late on a Friday night after a long week!

Posted by Paul at 09:32 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 07, 2010

Chris Hildred Receives Burnaby’s Citizen of the Year Kushiro Cup

At the City of Burnaby appreciation dinner this evening, Chris Hildred was awarded the City's Kushiro Cup for Citizen of the Year. A long-time community policing volunteer, Chris is a deserving recipient. I've had the privilege of working with Chris on a few community events over the years, and he is a real gentleman.

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L-R: MLA Kathy Corrigan, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan,
Chris Hildred, MLA Raj Chouhan, flanked by RCMP members.

Posted by Paul at 10:12 PM

May 02, 2010

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

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Posted by Paul at 11:44 AM

April 12, 2010

Physical Activity Too Far Down the Priority List for Most of Us

The other day there was an article in the newspaper about exercise. Something about women needing to vigorously work out at least an hour a day to stay fit and healthy. It included quotations on the "impossibility" of taking an hour a day to exercise in the modern world.

Huh?

Our bodies have not changed much in hundreds or thousands of years. Sure, we've grown in stature and especially in weight, but our basic physiology has not developed much. If anything, I would say that the average person has become physically weaker, albeit longer-lived due to medical and sanitary advances.  If you doubt me, try growing and raising all of your food with your own manual labor, building your own shelter, washing your clothes by hand, etc. 

Humans didn't have to work out not too long ago because hard physical labour day in and day out was par for the course for the vast majority of us.

Now people complain because after they've microwaved dinner and dropped the dishes in the dishwasher they have to work out.

I've been slowed by lower back problems for the last couple of weeks, but that hasn't dented my appetite, and in this modern world, my easy access to copious amounts of food. Result? Nearly a five-pound gain per week.  Sure glad I'm starting to walk more again!

Posted by Paul at 10:17 PM

April 10, 2010

Thoughts on a Polish Tragedy

My heartfelt sympathies and condolences to Poland and her people.

This tragedy is cruelly ironic, considering the Polish political and military elite was traveling to commemorate the Katyn Massacre - the mass murder of over 20,000 Polish military officers, politicians and intelligentsia in 1940 by the Soviet NKVD (KGB) on the direct orders of Soviet political leaders. It is said that leading Ukrainians, Jews, etc., who were considered Polish citizens were also killed. Russia is just starting to recognize such heinous crimes, and the present Russian government's attempts to rehabilitate Stalin and his ilk stink.

There is no love lost between Ukrainians and Poles. We have a contentious, bloody history going back centuries, but for a time there was a common foe in the horrendous actions of the communist Soviet regime that reinstated the old Russian Empire on a greater and even more murderous scale.

Jeszcze Polska nie zginela

or

Poland has not perished yet

That's the opening stanza to the Polish national anthem, and I honor it.

It is eerily similar to the Ukrainian national anthem:

?? ?? ?????? ??????a, ?? ?????, ?? ???? (Hm, Cyrillic not working in this blog.)

Ukraine's freedom has not yet perished, nor has her glory

Both anthems born from incredibly tough times and centuries of oppression. . .

Posted by Paul at 08:52 PM

March 31, 2010

Kitchen Kraziness, or a Theory on Multiple Injuries

OK, so a few days ago I get a nasty steam burn in the kitchen, and then a day later I manage to nearly take the tip off a finger on the same hand while chopping walnuts. Yoi. I had that god-awful slow-motion feeling of knowing what was going to happen, yet I couldn't stop the knife hand, or move the  target hand in time. I'm getting a bit paranoid about doing anything in the kitchen and I sure hope bad luck doesn't really come in threes! This photo is after several days of healing, and there's quite a ways to go yet. . .

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I have this theory about injuries - - if you have one, you're more likely to get another one, for a couple of reasons.

One is that the first injury throws you off balance. It's like when you smash a toe, you start walking funny to compensate, and the next thing you know you've screwed up your lower back.

Another is a strange law of attraction. I recall seeing some comedy show about this, perhaps an episode of Seinfeld in which a driver (Kramer?) kept hitting any object that he was distracted into looking at. To get back to the smashed toe example, once you've smashed it, even though you start being hypersensitive and careful with it, it seems that the chances that you'll stub it again before it's fully healed rise dramatically.

Posted by Paul at 08:07 PM

March 28, 2010

Jack Whyte’s ‘Dream of Eagles’ Engulfs Me

I've always been an easy mark for historical fiction. My first degree was in history, and I'm an editor by trade. I'd heard of Jack Whyte over the years but never got into his world, but now I'm in it with his A Dream of Eagles series based on the Roman occupation and eventual withdrawal from England, mixed in with the Arthurian legends. I picked up the entire series at a garage sale last weekend for a few dollars, and have ploughed through two of the books already, enjoying them, if one can enjoy descent into chaos, constant bloodshed, etc. We have no idea how fortunate we are to live in an era, and in a nation, with rule of law.

Posted by Paul at 09:40 PM

March 27, 2010

Nasty Burn Nearly Painless

I got a steam burn in the kitchen yesterday. I immediately ran cold water on it, then held an ice compress on it for five to ten minutes. I then coated it with Polysporin, and my wife taped a light piece of gauze over it. This morning, she covered it with a thin slice of aloe, again under a light piece of gauze. By the end of the day, the aloe was completely dry, all the juice having been absorbed by the skin. There's now a nasty looking blister about 2-3cm in diameter, but what amazes me is that I've had almost zero pain by following this treatment. Now that the blister has been open to the air for about an hour, I'm starting to feel a bit of discomfort, so maybe I'll slap some aloe back on for the night.

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Posted by Paul at 07:23 PM

March 23, 2010

Cybercrime ‘Hotspots’ – Huh?

There was an article in today's Vancouver Sun called B.C. is a cybercrime hot spot. It went on to list several cities as being "among the most dangerous in Canada." The problem with this is that cyberspace is not a geographical space or place. While the article goes on to say that it's the security of individual computers that affects their vulnerability to cybercrime, in combination with user behavior, it muddies the issue by attempting to scare people with a meaningless list of dangerous cities. The article is based on a study by security firm Symantec, but it appears some additional thought into how the data could best be presented to the public would have been useful before pen hit paper. :-)

It matters not where your computer is located. If you don't have a router, a firewall, up-to-date anti-virus software, etc., you are more vulnerable, no matter where you are. My online activity does not somehow become more risky if I move from one town to another.

Posted by Paul at 01:44 PM

March 21, 2010

Ending the 2010 Olympics with k.d. lang

I had to listen to k.d. lang's untouchable Winter Olympics 2010 cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" one more time tonight as the Games end. Gorgeous. . .

OK, yet one more time. . .

Posted by Paul at 09:59 PM

Saskatoon & Japan: Special Mention at 2010 Paralympics

"Saskatoon cross-country skier Colette Bourgonje and Japanese sledge hockey captain Endo Takayuki of Japan were awarded the special Whang Youn Dai achievement gold medals by International Paralympic Committee president Sir Philip Craven."

I nearly cried. Saskatoon is my hometown, and Japan is my adopted country -- the homeland of my wife. Those Japanese sledge hockey guys played their hearts out. Sorry, Canada--whose guys also played their hearts out. . . Sigh.

And now, it's really over. This Olympics doubter admits he had a ball. . .

Posted by Paul at 08:57 PM

March 20, 2010

Robson Square, Sledge Hockey, Dal Richards

Well, even the 2010 Paralympics are winding down, but there is still fun to be found in downtown Vancouver. The Vancouver Art Gallery features free admission, so we checked out the Leonardo da Vinci display and the BC Pavilion. Then it was off to Robson Square to check out the big screen and catch some tunes. We lucked into Dal Richards, Vancouver's famous sax playing, singing band leader, who's in his nineties! Wonderful show.

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The art gallery with the Olympic Clock at 0:00.

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Dal Richards & His Orchestra, with sledge hockey on the big screen.

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Posted by Paul at 10:02 PM

March 18, 2010

Maclean’s Publishes Gross Errors on Korea, Japan

I am shocked at the March 22, 2010, issue of Maclean's. First, it somehow managed to place Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as dictators of South Korea (p. 9). Hello?

Then, in  a long article called "The Battle for Okinawa" the news magazine managed to turn decades of Japanese imperialistic expansion and military aggression (invasion and occupation of Korea? invasion and occupation of parts of China? Nanking Massacre, Pearl Harbour?) and over five years of WWII into something it called the "1945 Battle of Okinawa, the Americans' 82-day long assault on Japan. . ." Apparently, according to Maclean's, "Japan fell to the Allies in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa." Uh, Hiroshima? Nagasaki? Japan did not surrender until the first, terrible, use the world has ever seen of nuclear weapons.

The errors continue to pile up. How about "Okinawa lost as much as a quarter of its civilian population (estimates vary)-both in battle and through mass suicides, propelled by rumours about the brutality of approaching American soldiers." There is plenty of documentary evidence that the rumours were just that - rumours - and that those rumours were purposely spread by the fanatical Japanese military defenders on Okinawa, who also had no compunction about mass-murdering their own citizens if they preferred to take their chances with the supposedly barbarian Yanks instead of "voluntarily" committing suicide.

Maclean's needs to have a serious meeting of its editorial staff and take a close look at the claptrap it's publishing. It's one thing to perhaps mistype "South" for "North" and have a series of writers, copy editors and editors miss the mistake, but ignoring and rewriting history is extremely worrisome.

Posted by Paul at 10:06 PM

March 14, 2010

DiNovo Shines with New Westminster Orchestra

The New Westminster Symphony Orchestra put on a lovely performance this afternoon, with the highlight being a blazing rendition of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major by soloist Nancy DiNovo. The technically difficult piece is always a crowd-pleaser and DiNovo got a standing ovation.

The only unfortunate, er, note, was the opening plea for financial support as government grants are cut. That seems to be an ongoing refrain at concerts these days. It was nice to see folks dropping bills into the donation boxes during the intermission.

I strongly support those who feel that the arts serve a greater purpose in society, and are far from being elitist. They promote education and personal excellence. The dedication, practice and perseverance that it takes to become a musician or artist serves broader society in many ways.

Posted by Paul at 04:43 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

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:

burnabyfoodforum@gmail.com

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Posted by Paul at 10:47 AM

February 20, 2010

Fun and Games at Richmond OZone, 2010 Olympic Flame

After a beautiful morning in Byrne Creek Ravine doing streamkeeper activities, Yumi and I headed out to the Richmond OZone for 2010 Olympic-related festivities, and ended the day with an evening downtown on the packed streets of Vancouver.

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Cherry trees starting to bud in the park next door.

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Yumi checking pH in Byrne Creek.

OK, on to Winter Olympic 2010 Festivities!

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Flags festoon a mall in Richmond.

There were delays on the Skytrain, so it took awhile to get down
to Richmond, but it was worth it.

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Salmon says "O Canada," but I think it would be saying "Oh! Bear!"

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Light standard with OZone banner.

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Yumi with Year of Rooster lantern at OZone

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Paul with Year of Boar lantern at OZone.

I refuse to call it Year of Pig! :-)

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Yumi and some kids get their photo taken
with a Japanese super-fan.

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Japanese team works on ice sculpture.
I yelled "Ganbare Nihon" at them and got
a happy look of surprise back :-).

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The main stage at the OZone. We flaked out on the ground
and listened to some bands.

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Outdoor skating oval at the OZone.

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OZone banner in Richmond City Hall. There was a cool
display of ice skates through history, and a progression
of Canadian ice-skating uniforms.

The only downer was grabbing a 591ml bottle of Diet Coke
at the lunch stand, only to be charged $3.50 for it.
Highway robbery!

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A view of the banners from outside as dusk fell.

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The big screen at Richmond City Hall.

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Evening falls at the OZone, time to head downtown!

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The Birks Building at night.

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The famous clock.

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Huge Olympics projection on The Bay, with London Drugs in foreground.

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Lanterns on Granville.

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More illumination on Granville.

The street was full of happy people,
and every block had a different genre
of street music. Yowza!

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Robson Square, the epicentre of the action.

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Robson Square with the BC Pavilion (Art Gallery) in background.

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The Zipline over Robson Square. If you look closely,
those ghostly shapes are lucky riders who made it
past the 4- to 6-hour wait!

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And here it is folks, the 2010 Olympic Flame!

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And, more importantly :-), moi and my
better half in front of it.

Waaaayyy in front of it :-). At this point in this very
full day, my back was giving out, and there was no way
I was going to stand hours in line to get any closer!

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Heading home on the Skytrain at Waterfront Station.
It was packed, but kudos to Translink, police and volunteers
for keeping things moving smoothly. Well done!

Posted by Paul at 10:31 PM

Killing Game Feeds in Facebook – What a Relief

When I looked at my Facebook page this morning, half or more of the posts were automated updates from game applications like Farmville and Mafia Wars. Frankly, I don't care what games my friends are playing, much less what level they are at, or what "support" they need. Grumble, grumble.

Well, it's darn easy to kill such feeds without knocking off your friends (see, I don't even play MW and I'm picking up the lingo). Just hover over the top-right corner of such a post, click on the Hide button that appears, and then choose to hide the app, not your friend.

This is what happens:

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Ah, peace at last!

Posted by Paul at 07:20 AM

February 12, 2010

‘Military Gestapo’ Helicopters Circle 2010 Olympic Games

It might be noisy for folks living in downtown Vancouver these days, but I cannot believe anyone could equate the Canadian Forces presence at the 2010 Winter Games to the Gestapo.

I hope the comment that I saw on Twitter was fuelled by frustration and booze, and was a momentary late-night indiscretion, but even then I would find it nearly impossible to excuse.

For those needing a history lesson, the Gestapo were the brainwashed militarists who rounded up and gassed, hacked, drowned, shot, burned, whatever, to death, at the lower range of historically verifiable estimates, 6 million people, and at the upper range 10 million or more.

The Canadian Forces are the descendants of those who fought against the Gestapo and its ilk.

OK? Got that? Canadian Forces *fought against* the Gestapo. Fought against the Nazis. So don't call our first responders and military Nazis.

You can light up again now, or have another beer.

Just lay off the uninformed, slanderous analogies. Please. I'm a Canadian, so I gotta say "please," eh?

Though I'm glad that previous generations of Canucks had the guts to fight the Gestapo and Nazis, so that we, all of us, could have the freedom to even hold this discussion.

Posted by Paul at 11:03 PM

February 07, 2010

Olympics? Bah, Humbug… Er, Dang But I’m Smiling

I have counted myself among Vancouver 2010 sceptics, but darn it if I don't feel a spring in my step and a smile twitching on my face. We headed downtown today to check out the street scene, see if any pavilions were open, and had a great time. The only pavilion we entered was Northern House, and it was fun. While we don't have tickets to any events - damn hard to find and expensive - I will certainly be checking out more pavilions and other free stuff.

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Yumi owns the podium!

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Paul goes snowboarding. OK, if I look stupid, I admit I've
never been on a board in my life!

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The outdoor skating rink at Robson Square.

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With inukshuk at Northern House.

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Yumi with muskox.

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The "video postcard" at Northern House was a great hit.
You can select videos of northern scenes and activities
and have yourself superimposed upon them.

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Feeding an eagle a bit of Japanese crepe on Robson St.

Posted by Paul at 10:39 PM

February 05, 2010

Money Collecting Machine

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

Posted by Paul at 07:34 PM

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. . .

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Posted by Paul at 02:35 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 27, 2009

Bill in BC Legislature to Recognize Ukraine Terror-Famine as Genocide

Ukrainian-Canadian Congress Press Release:

Holodomor bill introduced in British Columbia  on the 76th anniversary of the famine genocide in Ukraine, 1932-33.

November 26, 2009 - Victoria, British Columbia - Yesterday a private member's bill was introduced in the province of British Columbia recognizing the Holodomor as an act of genocide.

New Democrat MLA for Surrey-Whalley, Bruce Ralston, introduced legislation recognizing "Holodomor" as the "famine and genocide that killed millions of Ukrainians during the period of forced collectivization in the Soviet Union."  The legislation proposes that the fourth Saturday in November every year be commemorated as Holodomor Memorial Day in B.C. and recognizes the survivors of Holodomor who moved to British Columbia and made a positive contribution to the province.

The provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario have enacted legislation recognizing the Holodomor and honouring the survivors of this crime against humanity.

National Holodomor Awareness Week continues through November 29.  For a list of commemorative events in your community visit www.ucc.ca/holodomor/events.htm.

Posted by Paul at 08:34 AM

November 25, 2009

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 16, 2009

Riding Translink’s SkyTrain Incubator

Being a good, green citizen, I took the SkyTrain to downtown Vancouver this morning to attend Book Camp Vancouver. When the doors of the train opened at Edmonds Station, a wave of hot, humid, fetid air washed over me on the platform, and I cringed as I stepped aboard.

Why the heck was the heat on? You do not need heat when you have people packed into an enclosed space. What a waste of energy! Has TransLink never heard of thermostats?

It must have been pushing 30C in the car as people stood packed shoulder to shoulder, the windows fogged over and rolling with condensation. It was a perfect incubator for the flu season. H1N1? I guess TransLink has never heard of it. Wouldn't it make more sense to have the heat off and external air circulation cranked to the max?

Moisture was soon rolling down my body too -- sweat. Sweat trickling down my back, and eventually even down my legs.

We all stood there suffering silently, station after station, like good sheep-like Canadians, until some brave soul finally cracked a window a couple of stops before the end of the line.

I'm a firm believer in the benefits of mass transit, but TransLink has to provide a better atmosphere for commuters. You're not going to get more people on the trains if they dread the ride.

Posted by Paul at 11:15 AM

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 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!

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Page 1 (3 MB PDF file)

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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.

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Eastburn Community Centre on Edmonds St.

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Volunteers pulling trash pails apart

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Gearing up in safety vests, gloves

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Pickers 'n pails

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Sharps boxes and anti-graffiti supplies

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RCMP and community policing volunteers

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The boys hit the street

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The gals patrol the pavement

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Targeting graffiti

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RCMP taking out the trash

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Firefighters charity volunteers fire up the grill

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Councillor Paul McDonell

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Councillor Nick Volkow leads a street gang

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MLA Raj Chouhan hangs with some kids

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MP Peter Julian with Eastburn staffer Leanna Rostron

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MP Peter Julian put his back into it

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Association Secretary Joyce Rostron (l) and buddy

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Self-portrait in community centre window

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And the cutest shoes in town!

Posted by Paul at 06:10 PM

October 02, 2009

Missing Salmon – I Think I Know Where They’re Going

I've been eating them.

I've been to three events in the last week, two of them specifically aimed at raising consciousness about the environment and restoring waterways and salmon runs, and I've been served salmon, lots of it, at all three.

And I've shamelessly, well, OK, with a twinge of conscience, indulged at all three. Heck, I had seconds at one event, because the call kept going out that there was still fish to be served.

Wild? Farmed? Endangered sockeye? "Still plentiful" pinks? I dunno, but it all tasted great. Surely it wasn't farmed, at least at the enviro events, eh?

When people organize an event to preserve, say, the Vancouver Island Marmot, do the little beasts end up on the dinner plates? Do celebrants discretely poke at bits of fur stuck between their teeth instead of fish bones?

Yeah, I know, that analogy is full of holes, but. . . it makes you squirm at bit, doesn't it?

Posted by Paul at 10:21 AM

September 10, 2009

Vile Obama, Stalin Bumper Sticker

I heard today that there's a bumper sticker in the US that goes:

"If It Sounds Like Marx, And Acts Like Stalin, It's Probably Obama."

If you Google that, you'll find plenty more of its ilk.

Last time I checked, Obama wasn't mass-murdering millions of his own citizens, and those of other nations and ethnic groups. I'll never understand why references to Hitler are immediately jumped on but somehow Uncle Joe is fine. Must be the bigger belly and bushier moustache. You want to start comparing blood on a dictator's hands and Joe would likely pull ahead of Adolf... 

If this is political discourse, yikes!

Shame.

I'm all for free speech, but this is sheer propaganda that twists history and tramples the memories of all those murdered by the Soviet state.

Posted by Paul at 05:12 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 05, 2009

Blog Mentioned in Burnaby Now

Thanks to Julie Maclellan who mentioned me in her Burnaby Now column this weekend. She called me a "streamkeeper, environmental advocate and blogger about all sorts of interesting things." The pressure is on now!

Posted by Paul at 11:49 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

July 01, 2009

Canada Day at Queen's Park, New Westminster

This year we attended Canada Day festivities at Queen's Park in neighbouring New Westminster. That's where an aunt lives, so we decided to try her 'hood. It was a great location -- bandstand surrounded by trees and greenery, and great acts.

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The crowd taking in the entertainment.

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The bandstand.

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The Blue Meanies put on a rockin' good show.

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Celebratory balloons.

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Power outage in New Westminster.

The only negative to the day was a blown transformer on the street that my aunt lives on, which knocked the power out for a good part of the day. I did not know that New Westminster has its own power company!

Posted by Paul at 08:32 PM

June 30, 2009

Pre-Canada Day BBQ at White Rock

Had a great BBQ near Crescent Beach in White Rock, BC, with good friends this evening. A bit windy, but gorgeous. Nice way to get an early start on the Canada Day holiday tomorrow!

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Posted by Paul at 11:42 PM

June 13, 2009

Back in Action

I'm home after a ten-day trip down east to Toronto, Ottawa and Kingston.

I returned on Monday evening, June 8, but over the course of the ensuing work week I attended the two-day Fraser Assembly 2009 conference at which I was on a panel, a City of Burnaby Environment Committee tour of Burnaby Lake followed by the committee's monthly meeting, the Burnaby Board of Trade 2009 AGM, a Byrne Creek Streamkeepers monthly meeting.... And so it goes. Hope to use the weekend to get fully caught up!

In Toronto I visited family and attended the 2009 Editors' Association of Canada annual conference.

My wife and I borrowed a car from my relatives and cruised up to Ottawa for a day (new Canadian War Museum, Museum of Civilization, etc.), Kingston for a day (Old Fort Henry, Royal Military College, etc.), and returned to Toronto on the Loyalist Parkway - nice drive.

I will fill out these adventures on this blog over the next few days, and post a pile of photos.

Posted by Paul at 03:53 PM

May 08, 2009

So, Really, Who Cares About Celebrities?

Screen capture from Messenger startup window:

msn_celebrities.jpg

Posted by Paul at 06:58 AM

April 24, 2009

Bella Video of Me Promoting Edmonds Clean Sweep

The Edmonds Clean Sweep in SE Burnaby is getting great support from Ethos Developments, which is constructing the Bella development on Edmonds. At the last Edmonds Business & Community Association meeting, Peter Kefalas took a short video of me, and put it on the Bella website.

Thanks for backing the Clean Sweep, Peter!

Posted by Paul at 11:53 AM

April 09, 2009

'Take Back the Park' Tribute to Slain Ladner-Beaudry

Yumi and I aim to take part in 'Take Back the Park' run/walk tribute to slain Ladner-Beaudry: 9:15a, Friday, ranger station 16th Ave. Vancouver http://tinyurl.com/d5a2k7

Map of Pacific Spirit Park, trials, roads, buses here.

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.

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Thanks to Rosewood Printers for the great poster!

Posted by Paul at 05:09 PM

March 27, 2009

Strange Response From Vancouver Sun Multiculturalism Poll

I received an email today telling me that:

"The next survey for The Vancouver Sun Reader Forum is ready. This survey is about the different issues you think are important in today?s society and multiculturalism in Canada."

So, OK, I started the survey.

Were you born in Canada? Yes.

What is the most important issue facing Canada today? Environment.

What do you consider to be your racial background (don't remember the exact wording, but something like that...)

I chose "Caucasian/White".

"Thank you, we have no more questions for you today."

Huh?

Which left me with the impression that being a white guy born in Canada disqualified me from answering questions on multiculturalism though my ancestors were immigrants from Ukraine, my wife is Japanese, I live in one of the most ethnically diverse communities in Canada...

Posted by Paul at 04:14 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

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):

http://tinyurl.com/as8o68

or

http://www.civicnet.bc.ca/siteengine/activepage.asp?PageID=250

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 21, 2009

Odd Disclaimer at YWCA

I saw this notice on the wall next to a meeting room at the Vancouver YWCA. I was there for a meeting of the Editors' Association of Canada, and I'm sure there must be dozens of other groups that use the meeting rooms as well.

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The notice made me smile as I wondered what the story was behind it, and I began imagining some raving nut berating a poor YMCA staff member about something said in a meeting completely unrelated to the organization.

It also made me wonder, as I so often find myself doing, about what ever happened to common sense!

Posted by Paul at 10:37 PM

Obama Speech Websites

I ran across these websites that will be useful for the speechwriting course that I'm taking. Whatever your political leanings, Obama has had some great speeches, both in the writing and the delivery.

The official inauguration website.

The Barack Obama website page featuring his speeches.

Posted by Paul at 04:54 PM

January 20, 2009

Zombie Postal Mail Accounts

Aaargh! They have risen again! The undead postal mail addresses.

I thought that I'd gotten rid of them, but today we received not one, but two, envelopes from TD Canada Trust, sent to the previous owners of our home -- over seven years since we bought the place.

We were initially in contact with the old owners for a few months, but we've long lost track of them. TD Canada Trust is the worst offender. We have written MOVED on envelopes from them and returned the mail to Canada Post. We have physically taken mail from TD Canada Trust to a local branch two or three times and asked that they update their records.

All had been quiet for nearly a year, but the zombies are back!

We have other undead as well -- we still get forwarded the occasional letter (usually donation solicitations) from the people who moved into the apartment we'd had before we bought this place. I've told them to trash anything that still appears, but they feel obliged to send it on...

All signs of apparently uncorrectable errors in databases everywhere... I wonder how bad the data rot gets?

Posted by Paul at 03:20 PM

Obama Inauguration

Well, I've decided to watch the inauguration on TV this morning. It is historic, and I am a communications guy...

But the first few minutes on Global (just after 8:00 a.m. PST), were not promising, with "everyone wondering what the women are wearing." I don't give a c**p what the women are wearing, and I don't understand why anyone would. Sheesh.

They're projecting 2 million (!) people will attend, the most for any presidential inauguration ever.

Wow, Bill Clinton looks absolutely somber. A grimace, too...

George Bush senior looks so old... But at least he looks game and happy.

Now hugs between the Clintons and senior Bushes.

And here we go with the Canadian navel-gazing. We gotta make sure we get that all-important Canadian perspective.

Jimmy Carter is still trucking along. George Bush senior just swapped salutes with a guard and then patted him on the bum. A football game may break out!

There's Al Gore, just a flash.

The crowd on the Mall is amazing. I have to say Washington is a beautiful city, at least the museums, monuments and public spaces. Yumi and I visited a couple of years ago and had a great time. Here are some photos.

When I was watching inauguration specials last night, I was amazed at how much things have changed within my lifetime. I'm just a tish too young to personally remember the early days of the civil rights movement, but it resonates with me. It's hard to believe there was still such blatant, horrible racism just a few decades ago. Not that it's it's all gone and it's all sweetness and light today -- not by any means -- but there has been enormous change.

I wonder if we could ever have, say, a First Nations prime minister in Canada. Oops, there I go with the Canadian reference! So much commentary is about Canadian excitement about the US election, and perhaps envy, but look at the political sad sacks we've saddled ourselves with in Canada.

OK, the man of the hour approaches. Joe Biden is announced, and Barack is on the way.

It's hard to summon words to describe the crowd. Dozens of cliches come to mind, but Newman has taken the right approach, shutting up and letting the crowd roar for itself. Well, the commentary stopped for perhaps three seconds... :-).

And here he is. I guess I should put down my tuna casserole and focus. (Hey, the excitement made me hungry!)

The oath of office is 35 words.

So the commentators are speaking over Feinstein's opening remarks. Hush!

Warren, invocation. Some controversy here... It was actually pretty good... But I still find the whole prayer business uncomfortable. What about separation of church and state?

"Our school doesn't want us to watch this, so we have to stream it..." A live blog or Twitter post that just scrolled by on Global. Sheesh. What an excellent teaching opportunity!

John Williams musical interlude. "This will be big, it will be glorious, it will be incredibly moving..." Newman.

A stumble, but Obama is sworn in.

Obama address

in the midst of crisis
nation at war against network of violence and hatred
greed of some
homes lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered
sapping of confidence
nagging fear
challenges we face are real
they will be met
we have chosen hope over fear
unity of purpose
the time has come to set aside childish things
all are equal
all are free
all deserve a chance to pursue a full measure of happiness
greatness must be earned
no shortcuts
the risk takers, the doers
men and women obscure in their labor
for us they toiled
worked and sacrificed so we may live a better life
this is the journey we continue today
our capacity remains undiminished
the time has passed to protect narrow interests
take up the work of remaking America
Everywhere we look there is work to be done
Restore science to its rightful place
education
All this we can do, all this we will do.
There are some who question the scale of our ambitions
They have forgotten what we have already done
Spend wisely
Reform bad habits
Restore trust between people and government
Without a watchful eye markets can spin out of control
We will not give up ideals
We are ready to lead once more
Our power alone cannot protect us or entitle us to do as we please
Lessen nuclear threat
Global warming
You cannot outlast us and we will defeat you.
Our patchwork heritage is a strength not a weakness
Christians Jews Muslims and non-believers
The old hatreds will someday pass
Our common humanity will reveal itself
People will judge you on what you can build not what you destroy
We will extend our hand if you are willing to unclench your fist
We cannot consume world's resources...
Spirit of service
Willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves
As much as govt can do and must do, it is ultimately on the people...
Parents' willingness to nurture a child decides our fate
honesty, hard work, courage, fair play, tolerance, curiosity
Return to these truths
A return to responsibility that we seize gladly
Giving our all to a difficult task
Father might not have been served at a local restaurant
Who we are and how far we have traveled

Oops, got lost there... powerful.

Some of the speech was a thinly veiled repudiation of the Bush administration.

Poem: Elizabeth Alexander

Benediction -- more religion... OK, it was fun.

Challenge for Canadians to get this involved in politics is now the theme of commentary. This is an American show and the Americans do it better than anyone else -- Burney

Commentary -- Obama is now free to start moving ahead. Can say things, do things he hasn't been able to say so far.

Obama first president to be at the tail end of the baby boomers. Generational change.

Fairly rapid departure for Bush. Just a quick wave from the chopper.

A moment Americans will feel wistful about -- Let's be fair, a lot of people have been waiting for this moment (commentary).

Yep!

OK, switch over to CNN for some US coverage.

Obama aides already in White House, some still being cleared. Getting to work!

Obama signs document -- he's a hook lefty. I'm a under-up lefty :-).

Obama has excellent penmanship. Wolf is impressed!

CNN commentary also of the tenor that people were not waving goodbye to Bush, but waving him on his way...

We are now parsing seating arrangements at the luncheon. As they say, all smiles now, but just wait....

The inauguration is said to be the largest "security event" in US history.

CNN's Gergen: Perhaps Obama's speech was not lofty enough for the ages, but a powerful one for today.

Well, I better get back to work.

To see the entire speech as written, go on to the extended entry:

"My fellow citizens:

"I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and co-operation he has shown throughout this transition.

"Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

"So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

"That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

"These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land ? a nagging fear that America?s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America ? they will be met.

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

"We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

"In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted ? for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things ? some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

"For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

"For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

"For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

"Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

"This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions ? that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

"For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act ? not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology?s wonders to raise health care?s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun, and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

"Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions ? who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

"What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them ? that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works ? whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public?s dollars will be held to account ? to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day ? because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

"Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control ? and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart ? not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience?s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

"Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

"We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort ? even greater co-operation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus ? and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

"To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society?s ills on the West ? know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

"To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world?s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

"As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honour them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment ? a moment that will define a generation ? it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

"For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter?s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent?s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends ? hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism ? these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility ? a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

"This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

"This is the source of our confidence ? the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

"This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed ? why men, and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

"So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America?s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

??Let it be told to the future world ? that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive ? that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].??

"America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children?s children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God?s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

Posted by Paul at 08:11 AM

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 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 22, 2008

Jakes's Gift Is... Tears

Jake's Gift is a wonderful one-hour, one-woman play that brings to life an imagined interaction over several days between a young French girl and a cantankerous Canadian WWII veteran at the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landing at Juno beach. Julia Mackey amazes with a minimalistic set and her flawless shifting between several characters, all of whom she makes believable. By the end of the play, there were few dry eyes in the audience...

The contrast between youth and age, cheerful innocence and weary worldliness was portrayed with subtle nuance, humor, and tenderness. A beautiful salute to a generation now nearly gone, and the hope embodied in the dreams of children.

Yumi and I had never been to a play at the Shadbolt Centre in Burnaby before, though we've been to many other events at the scenic venue overlooking Deer Lake. Jake's Gift was certainly an excellent introduction to live theater there.

Posted by Paul at 10:32 PM

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 edmondsassociation.org 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 17, 2008

Upcoming Community Cleanups in South Burnaby

There are a couple of community cleanups happening over the next two weeks in south Burnaby.

The first is sponsored by KINA (Kingsway Imperial Neighbourhood Association) and South Burnaby Neighbourhood House and will be held on Saturday, Sept. 20, from 10:00 - 12:00 at Windsor Elementary School, 6166 Imperial St.

Then two weeks later, the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association is having its autumn Clean Sweep on Oct. 4 from 10:00 - 12:00, meeting at the Eastburn Community Centre, 7435 Edmonds St. For this event, Byrne Creek Streamkeepers will also have a registration booth in the parking lot of the Edmonds Skytrain Station.

Both events feature free refreshments for participants. Bags, buckets and tongs are also provided.

Come out and join the fun, and help make your community a more attractive, healthier place to live!

Posted by Paul at 12:06 PM

September 16, 2008

Mother Raccoon, Kit Killed on Burnaby's Southridge Dr.

A mother raccoon and a kit were killed by a vehicle on Southridge Dr. in southeast Burnaby recently. I came across their carcasses at the side of the road today. Thanks to the kind soul who moved them off the bloody pavement and placed them side by side on the grass.

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It's high time people slowed down on Southridge -- the speed limit is 50kph but I'd say the average speed is around 70, with speeds of 80 and more not uncommon. It's a wide, four-lane road, but that is no excuse. When I drive the road I feel that I'm obstructing traffic if I'm moving at less than 60-65, and I am passed regularly at that speed. I often walk sections of the road and despite the wide sidewalks, find the roaring trucks, zooming cars, and screaming motorcycles intimidating at times. It would take only a split-second of distraction for a driver doing 70 or 80 to hop the curb and mow down a pedestrian.

I was going to use the headline "Mother, Child Killed on Southridge Speedway" but felt that would be too sensationalistic.

Yet it was a mother and her child...

But I guess we won't care until it is a Homo sapiens mother and child lying at the side of the road.

And perhaps not even then.

Life in the fast lane, eh?

Posted by Paul at 03:56 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 :-).

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My welcoming speech.

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Ronald McD grilling the celebrity lineup.

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The contestants at the end of the race.

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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

September 02, 2008

The Volunteer Blues

While talking to a friend today I made the foreboding observation that summer was over, and rather than heading into the autumn season feeling refreshed, we were both struggling with volunteer burnout.

I look at my September calendar and see that I already have 14 meetings and events lined up with groups that I volunteer with -- or nearly one volunteer item every two days. They range anywhere from an hour to four or more hours each. This is nuts!

I'm not independently wealthy, I have a business to run so that I can pay the mortgage, eat, and set aside a bit for retirement. It's time to reassess my ratio of billable to volunteer hours.

While I get great satisfaction from volunteering and helping to make my community and my city a better place, I need to take a serious look at my priorities.

Posted by Paul at 06:35 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

August 11, 2008

Fish-Friendly Car Wash Kits

Having a car wash fundraiser? Make sure you're not polluting your local creek while you're at it -- all street drains lead directly to local waterways with no treatment. So what's the solution? A salmon-friendly car wash kit. I picked this up from the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation bulletin board and think it's a great idea.

Check out this info on the kits from our neighbours to the south in King County, Washington.

It would be great if the City of Burnaby would get a few of these kits and make them available at community centres!

Posted by Paul at 01:37 PM

August 09, 2008

My Multicultural Olympics

Well, the Beijing Olympics are underway, and despite my early aloofness, I'm getting caught up in the action. It's easier when you can cheer for five countries :-). I'm Canadian of Ukrainian descent, my wife is Japanese, and my sister is married to an American of Korean descent.

So I'm happy if Canada, Japan, Ukraine, South Korea or the US win an event. The trouble comes when representatives of some or all of these countries are in the same event. I guess I just revealed my order of preference, but I'm happiest if Canada comes first and any of the others follow. The main reason the US comes last in my top five faves is because it's such a powerhouse, and all of the other four are somewhat underdogs.

Posted by Paul at 08:21 PM

June 18, 2008

Remembrance Day Poppy Changes

Going through boxes of old stuff the other day I ran across a Canadian Remembrance Day poppy that must date from the early 1960s, judging by the rest of the mementos. I was surprised at how much smaller it was than recent poppies.

poppies_1960s_2000s_20080618.jpg

Posted by Paul at 03:06 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.

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L-R: Councillor Dan Johnston, Mayor Derek Corrigan, Library Board Chair Ruth Hardy.

Sorry, I didn't catch the name of the RCMP constable...

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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.

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L-R: MLA Harry Bloy, Councillors Garth Evans, Nick Volkow, Dan Johnston, Gary Begin.

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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

June 11, 2008

Griffiths Overpass, South Spur Urban Trail Opening

The beautiful pedestrian bridge over Griffiths Dr. in southeast Burnaby was officially opened today. I attended wearing two hats: president of the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association and president of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society. A refurbished Stream of Dreams mural was also officially unveiled on another bridge just down the trail. It used Dreamfish salvaged from the original Stream of Dreams mural that was at the corner of Kingsway and Edmonds for about six years.

The soaring arc connects the urban trail and Byrne Creek Secondary on the east side of Griffiths to the trails and Edmonds SkyTrain station on the west side.

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Ian Wasson of the City's planning department MC'd the event.

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Mayor Derek Corrigan.

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MLA Raj Chouhan.

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Stream of Dreams Executive Director Joan Carne.

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Untying the ribbon -- the new sustainable way :-)

L-R: Mayor Derek Corrigan, SDMS Artistic Director Louise Towell, SDMS Executive Director Joan Carne, MLA Raj Chouhan, Burnaby Parks Chair Paul McDonell, Councillor Sav Dhaliwal.

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Checking out the renewed mural.

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One part of the mural had an eye shape, so SDMS Artistic Director Louise Towell created a special Dreamfish to highlight it.

Posted by Paul at 05:29 PM

June 08, 2008

Burnaby Environment Awards

Burnaby City Council and its Environment Committee held the 2008 City of Burnaby Environmental Awards Reception this afternoon.

Byrne Creek Streamkeeper and Stream of Dreams Murals Society co-founder Joan Carne was among the recipients.

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Joan with Councillor Dan Johnston

Joan_Speech_Enviro_Awards_20080608.jpg

Several Byrne Creek Streamkeepers attended the event, and were happy to see a Stoney Creek volunteer receive an award as well.

Posted by Paul at 05:40 PM

May 30, 2008

Liberty Place Opening Ceremony

Liberty Place, a southeast Burnaby assisted-living facility for adults with disabilities, celebrated its official opening today. I was honoured to be invited to attend to represent the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association.

Inspired and driven by the Howe Sound Rehabilitation Services Society, and supported by Independent Living BC and Fraser Health, Liberty Place is a beautiful facility that helps those with physical challenges to live their lives to the fullest with privacy, dignity, and independence in individual apartments, while sharing meals and support services, and contributing to their community. I hope representative tennants can attend Edmonds Association meetings in the future.

I greatly enjoyed meeting and chatting with society founder Tonnar Brace, and renewing ties with Fraser Health Rehabilitation Consultant Cindy Hayto. It was Cindy who suggested to me that the best community representative to the Edmonds Association would not be someone from the society or a care assistant, but one of the tennants.

Posted by Paul at 09:00 PM

May 16, 2008

I Make Varenyky for NewsLeader

I was asked to provide a recipe for the Burnaby NewsLeader along with an example of the finished product. Eventually we settled on Ukrainian varenyky, now commonly known as perogies. I used the recipe from the late Savella Stechishin's Traditional Ukrainian Cookery, the bible of English-language Ukrainian cookbooks. The photo shoot went well; however, there was a slip in the transition from me to reporter to editor -- somehow the word "pyrohy" was described as slang for varenyky, while I clearly never said that. In fact I corrected it when given a chance to look at the copy before it was published. It is a term for baked dumplings, and a dialectal word for varenyky (boiled dumplings). Just wanted to clear that up, as it could make nit-pickers question my source, my aunt, Roma Franko, who is a retired professor of linguistics!

Anyway, it was a good picture and a fun experience!

Posted by Paul at 07:55 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.

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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!

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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 26, 2008

KINA Hosts Burnaby Cleanup

The Kingsway Imperial Neighbourhood Association hosted a successful community cleanup this morning. The politicians were out in force, including Burnaby Mayor Derrek Corrigan, BC MLA Raj Chouhan, and MP Peter Julian. Unfortunately I couldn't stick around for the entire event, but it got off to a great start with Diane Gillis of KINA and many volunteers helping out.

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Posted by Paul at 05:05 PM

April 23, 2008

BC Achievement Awards

Several Burnabarians (as I like to call citizens of Burnaby :-) were honoured with BC Achievement Awards today.

One was Paul McDonell, a super-volunteer who is a major contributor to the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association, of which I am president.

Another was Jennifer Atchison, chair of the Stoney Creek Environment Committee, a formidable streamkeeper who has done incredible work to protect and enhance that urban watershed.

The ceremony was hosted by Steven L. Point, OBC, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia at Government House, along with BC Premier Gordon Campbell.

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Jennifer with Premier Campbell (right) and MLA Harry Bloy
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Paul McDonell receiving award.

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Government House.

OK, one more shot. My wife Yumi snapped this one of (left to right) me, Zo Ann Morten of the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation, and Maurice Coulter-Boisvert, our DFO Community Advisor.

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Posted by Paul at 09:00 PM

April 22, 2008

Off to Victoria for BC Awards

Yumi and I headed off to Victoria this afternoon. I'll be representing the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association at the BC Achievement Awards ceremony tomorrow, where one of our most active members, Paul McDonell, will be honoured. I know several streamkeepers will be there as well because Jennifer Atchison of the Stoney Creek Environment Committee will also get an award.

I love taking the ferry across...

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Leaving Tsawwassen.

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The carbon stack :-).

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A mess of seals and gulls had a school of fish in a frenzy in Active Pass.

Posted by Paul at 08:35 PM

April 18, 2008

Burnaby Parks Volunteer Dinner

The Burnaby Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission put on its annual Volunteer Recognition Night this evening, and Yumi and I attended representing the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association, of which I am president. I have had the pleasure of attending the event in the past representing Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, and the Stream of Dreams Murals Society. Tonight our table was made up of representatives from Byrne Creek, Stream of Dreams, and the City's Parks department. It was an excellent event, as always, and the food provided by the City's Deer Lake Catering was fantastic.

Posted by Paul at 10:24 PM

April 15, 2008

Streamkeepers, Stream of Dreams Tame Lions

Joan Carne and I spoke to the Burnaby Host Lions club this evening. I spoke about Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and Joan spoke about the Stream of Dreams Murals Society. We were warmly welcomed to dinner, and our presentations got lots of questions. The Lions generously asked if there was anything they could do for us, and are willing to bring out their rolling BBQ gear and do hot dogs and burgers, or pancake breakfasts, if we do any fund raisers. Thank you! It is community volunteers pulling together within and across organizations that make Burnaby a great place to live!

Posted by Paul at 09:18 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

April 05, 2008

We Miss You, Mom

Today is the first anniversary of my Mom's passing. It's hard to believe it's been a year already for she is still everywhere in my life, and will forever be in my heart.

Previous entries:

Initial announcement

Language Lanterns carries on

Obituary

Love of kids and teaching

My Royal Roads MA graduation -- she was a huge supporter

Posthumous UCC Nation Builder's Award

My citation for Mom's UCC award

Thanks for everything, Mom. Love, Paul.

Posted by Paul at 08:32 PM

March 27, 2008

Global News Piles On Errors

I am amazed at the errors in Global TV's coverage of the South Burnaby Public Safety Forum tonight. I have degrees in journalism and communications, and several years experience as a journalist, and I find this lack of accuracy appalling. It makes me question the integrity of the Global news organization.

According to the Global coverage, tonight's safety forum "was organized by the RCMP" blah blah, "in response to three home invasions of a senior..." blah blah.

Organized by the RCMP?

Wrong.

It was organized by volunteers from the Kingsway Imperial Neighbourhood Association, and the Burnaby District 3 and 4 volunteer community policing organizations with support from volunteers from the Edmonds Town Centre Business and Community Association.

In response to home invasions...?

Wrong.

The planning for this forum began months before the outrageous multiple invasions of a senior's home in the Edmonds neighbourhood.

How did Global screw up? I don't know, but I suspect it was a combination of several factors:

1) Overly focusing on the home invasion hook. AKA the "if it bleeds it leads" mentality. I can imagine the conversation:

"We need a hook!"

"OK, we'll tie it all into the old guy being invaded three times in a few days..."

2) Laziness in researching the history of such forums in Burnaby and digging for the truth. Tonight's forum was portrayed as citizens trembling in their homes, afraid to go out. In fact, there has been huge improvement in south Burnaby, particularly in the Edmonds area. The City has been doing a great job, the RCMP has been doing a great job, and volunteers in many organizations have been doing a great job. But that's not "news," is it?

I was amazed at how positive tonight's forum was. But I guess the "journalists" present were disappointed at the lack of fireworks.

Let's focus on the anomalies. Let's focus on the negative. Let's screw up our facts, even the simplest ones.

Shame, Global.

Posted by Paul at 11:44 PM

March 02, 2008

Public Safety Forum March 27, 2008

SOUTH BURNABY COMMUNITY POLICING

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

Byrne Creek High School Global Issues Event

In the afternoon I represented the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers at a climate change workshop at Byrne Creek Secondary in southeast Burnaby. The Check Your Head group (Educating Youth for Global Hope and Local Action) facilitated the event, and I provided background on streamkeeping and how kids could volunteer on creek activities. I love working with students and getting their perspective on these sorts of issues.

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Our 3D relief map of the Byrne Creek watershed was a big hit.

Posted by Paul at 04:38 PM

UBC Learning Exchange Breakfast

This morning I represented the Stream of Dreams Murals Society at a recognition breakfast thanking people and organizations involved in Learning Exchange Programs run by the University of British Columbia. The event was held at the beautiful First Nations Longhouse on campus, and Dr. Richard Verdan provided a moving, inspirational, and humorous welcoming greeting, while explaining and sharing the cultural significance of the venue. Professor Stephen J. Toope, the UBC President and Vice Chancellor, hosted the event and gave an excellent speech thanking all those involved in the program.

SDMS hosted a group of UBC student volunteers as part of the program this year. I wasn't involved in the day-to-day activities, but as president of the SDMS board of directors, I dropped by a couple of times and listened, learned and shared with the students. I was impressed with the diversity of backgrounds, and by the interest the students showed in the SDMS environmental education and community art program.

Posted by Paul at 01:00 PM

February 17, 2008

Garbage Blights Burnaby Bus Stops

Since the new big box outlets and accompanying smaller stores and restaurants opened in Burnaby's Big Bend area on Marine Way, streamkeepers have noticed more and more garbage in the neighbourhood. In particular the bus stops along Byrne Road and Southridge Dr. have become fast-food container and coffee-cup dumping grounds. I don't know who is responsible for putting in and maintaining garbage cans, the City or Translink, but someone ought to get a handle on this ASAP. It's disgusting.

Meanwhile, perhaps the businesses responsible for most of the garbage could live up to some of their talk of corporate social responsibility and send their staff out to clean up the mess.

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The bus stop on Byrne Road just above Marine Drive.

With the usual contributors, McDonald's, Tim Hortons, and Starbucks:

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Yes, I realize that it's the people buying the stuff who are dumping it, but with no food or drinks allowed on buses, what are they supposed to do when there are no garbage cans around?

How about adding 5 or 10 cents to each fast-food or coffee takeout, and put the funds toward installing and maintaining garbage cans? Or what about a 5- or 10-cent deposit on each paper cup, each burger or fry container and each paper bag -- our streets would be spick and span in no time...

Update Feb. 18: Translink says the sites are City property and therefore it is up to Burnaby to do something about the mess.

Posted by Paul at 06:58 PM

February 12, 2008

Edmonds Association Sets Clean Sweep Dates

At the Edmonds Town Centre Business and Community Association monthly meeting tonight we decided to fix the dates for our twice-yearly Clean Sweeps for the first Saturday in May and the first Saturday in October. That means that this year they will take place on May 3 and October 4.

This way people can anticipate when they will be held each year. The events have been very successful in pulling community groups and individuals together to clean up our neighbourhood.

I have some photos of streamkeepers participating in the spring 2006 event and the spring 2005 event.

Posted by Paul at 08:56 PM

December 12, 2007

Making it happen

"When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened."

Carol Christensen

I prefer to be one of those who make it happen -- in a positive, environmentally, economically, and socially acceptable manner.

Posted by Paul at 09:10 PM

December 11, 2007

Edmonds Association Xmas Party

The Edmonds Town Centre Business and Community Association held its Christmas party this evening. The event was hosted by Myles of Beans and a big thank you to Kim Mostat and her crew for putting on a great spread of food and drink.

It was my first event as the newly minted president of the group, and I would like to thank past president Dave Fairhall, and other board members including Kim Mostat and Jim McQueen for doing the bulk of the work in preparing for the evening. I would also like to thank Monica Mueller for organizing games and door prizes.

We had a great turnout, including Burnaby-Edmonds MLA Raj Chouhan, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, Burnaby Councillors Sav Dhaliwal and Pietro Calendino, and Burnaby Parks, Recreation and Culture Chair Paul McDonell.

If you reside or have a business in southeast Burnaby, this is YOUR organization to join and support to make this neighbourhood a great place to live, work, and have fun!

Posted by Paul at 09:37 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 26, 2007

Gift-Less, More Sustainable Christmas

Yumi and have decided that we will not exchange Christmas gifts this year with each other, and other members of our families. Why not?

It has become increasingly difficult to find anything useful or meaningful to give. We have everything we need, and a garage full of stuff we're getting rid of by sorting and donating it to thrift stores run by the Burnaby Hospice Society and the Salvation Army.

I'm a well-indoctrinated consumer so certainly there is a ton of stuff that I want, but nothing I really need, and Yumi feels the same way.

We'll still do some fun, cheap stuff for the stockings, but no gifts.

Posted by Paul at 07:16 PM

Riders Grey Cup Champs!

It was great to see the Saskatchewan Roughriders overcome a long drought and win the CFL's Grey Cup yesterday. Though I haven't lived in Saskatchewan for decades, like many expats, I still have Rider Pride!

Posted by Paul at 12:29 PM

November 14, 2007

Initial Glitches With Metro Vancouver Survey Fixed

I sent the following email to Metro Vancouver tonight. They're doing good work, and I don't want to criticize, but I've been having some trouble with their public response channels so I'm making this public on my blog:

Hi, I attended the public forum in Burnaby tonight, and really enjoyed it. It was great to meet many concerned citizens and speak with Metro Vancouver staff.

I have a question about the questionnaire: Have you considered providing the option of an online survey using an inexpensive service such as Survey Monkey? Or perhaps your IT staff could set up an internal, free, open source survey application on your own servers.

I would much prefer to be able to select responses and type my answers into an online web application. I will fill out the questionnaire by hand and fax it in, but it would save me time, and it would save you collation, data analysis, and transcription time (and costs), if the questionnaire was available online, and all of the results went straight into a database.

I happen to have a fax machine because I work from home, but other people will have to find an envelope and postage. I also note that on your website, you ask the public to print out and mail in the questionnaire. If I may be so bold, that is so late 20th century :-). And so wasteful of resources: paper, envelopes, ink, and moving the snail-mail around with internal-combustion engines...

The lower the barriers to access, the more responses you are likely to get. A survey a click away would make my day!

Update: my email message to the address on the paper survey bounced...

Update 2: I finally noticed that the paper survey says I can fill out the survey online here -- but I cannot see where....

Update 3 on Thursday, Nov. 15: The survey is now online! Thanks!

Posted by Paul at 10:27 PM

November 04, 2007

Mom Receives UCC Nation Builders Award

My mother, Sonia Violet (Stratychuk) Morris, was posthumously honoured today with a Nation Builders award from the Saskatchewan Provincial Council of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee of Canada at a luncheon in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Her husband, Barry Morris, delivered an emotional, touching and inspiring acceptance.

It was wonderful to see many of Mom's colleagues and old friends, many of whom had driven down from Saskatoon to be there. I grew up with these people, and while my life and career have taken me far away, and I haven't lived in Saskatchewan since 1983, it was heart-warming to be recognized as Mom's son again for an hour or two. Mom's son, and a "little boy" receiving many hugs and kisses....

A little boy of 48 years...

More later, I'm choking up.

Posted by Paul at 10:00 PM

My Citation For Mom's UCC Award

Here is the citation I wrote for my mother's UCC Saskatchewan Nation Builders award:

Sonia V. Morris
UCC Saskatchewan Provincial Council
Nation Builders Award 2007
Narrative

In the Ukrainian song Dva Kolory, or Two Colours, a mother embroiders a shirt for her son before he goes out into the world. The black threads signify life?s trials, and the red portray love. Sonia had several threads interwoven throughout her life: the first, her humanity with which she loved and nurtured her family and friends with respect and understanding; the second, her lifelong commitment to the Ukrainian language and culture; and third, her professionalism over a 32-year career at the University of Saskatchewan as an educator and mentor, and a role model for female students.

Sonia is remembered as a teacher, community leader, and supporter of charities. Her positive outlook and conviction that all people deserved the freedom to achieve whatever they desired, was inspiring. Sonia passionately promoted the Ukrainian language and culture within a goal of fostering multiculturalism and fighting racism, and was among the pioneering educators who developed Ukrainian-language curricula in Saskatchewan, serving on many committees and councils where she was known for her listening skills and diplomacy.

Sonia?s work ethic extended into retirement, as she spent hundreds of hours working with her sister Roma translating and editing Ukrainian literature into English. She was an optimist who was always learning, always looking to the future.

Sonia loved music and art, and many will remember her fine soprano voice and emotive piano playing. She supported artistic groups including orchestras, opera and theatre companies, and the ballet. She enjoyed entertaining, hosting family and social events, and was a caring wife, mother and grandmother who always had an ear for the troubled, a shoulder for the weary.

One of Sonia?s last public appearances was at a book launch of translations of Ukraine?s greatest literary figure ?? Ivan Franko. If she were with us here today, she would urge us to think of his famous poem Kameniari that depicts the arduous toil of the never-ending fight for justice, freedom and democracy, and would ask us to keep swinging our hammers to crush ignorance and oppression wherever we encounter them.

Posted by Paul at 08:50 PM

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...

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A view of the north arm of the Fraser from the park.

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A small tugboat passing behind a log boom.

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It's hard to believe summer is ending.

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There were dozens of small frogs in the pond near Byrne Creek.

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A bright red dragonfly.

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An acrobatic chickadee.

And the bad, and the ugly...

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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

August 07, 2007

Pink Salmon Too Cheap?

Whole fresh pink salmon (head off and gutted) were on sale today at Save On Foods at Highgate Mall in Burnaby for $2.99 each. Yes, I said "each." I was struck by what seemed to be the shockingly low price -- fishermen had to burn fuel and amortize boats and equipment to catch the fish, they had to be cleaned, and then shipped a fair distance.

The one I chose weighed in at 1.1 kg (I weighed it on a kitchen scale at home because the weights were not indicated on the packaging), or about 27 cents per 100 grams, less than the occasional sale price of 29 cents per 100 grams, and much less than the common price of 39 cents or more per 100 grams.

I wonder if our society is properly valuing this resource.

Addendum: I just discovered that Save On Foods is donating 50 cents from the sale of each salmon to the CKNW Orphans? Fund. While I laud the gesture, it doesn't ameliorate my concern -- in fact it makes me really wonder how low the wholesale price of these fish is...

Posted by Paul at 02:24 PM

August 02, 2007

I'm baaack!

I'm back in action after a 10-day vacation visiting relatives in Saskatchewan. I took my notebook computer with me, but cracked it open just twice to download photos from my digital camera. I'm still wading through email messages, but it was great not logging onto the 'Net for over a week. Sometimes you just need to completely get away from it all. I'll be posting photos and commentary about our trip over the next few days, backdating the posts to "real time."

Posted by Paul at 07:36 PM

July 09, 2007

Learning the Telephone Computer Game

Several times over the last few months our call-screening has been evaded and we've picked up the phone and said "Hi" only to hear a digitized voice respond: "Sorry, that is not a valid response."

So tonight I received a call from "Private Number" and picked up the phone to hear "Congratulations!" Before the recorded message went any further, I intoned: "Sorry, that is not a valid response" and hung up.

Of course it was not a victory in any sense at all, but it felt good just saying the words :-).

We occasionally get snookered by the "Private Number" display because that's what often comes up when family and friends call us from Japan.

Posted by Paul at 07:21 PM

April 12, 2007

Sonia Morris (Stratychuk) Obit

Here is the obituary that should appear in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix on Friday and Saturday, April 13 and 14, and the photo. We chose Saskatoon because that is where mom spent most of her life and professional career.

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Mom as a young woman.

With profound sadness the family announces the passing of Sonia Violet Morris (nee Stratychuk), 73, in Burnaby, BC, on Thursday, April 5, 2007.

She is survived by her loving husband Barry; son Paul Cipywnyk (Yumi Kosaka), Burnaby; daughter Raissa (Bill) Choi, and grandchildren Raya & Benjamin, Los Angeles. She leaves sister Roma (Stefan) Franko, and nephews Roman and Ivan, and their wives and children, all in Toronto. She was predeceased by her father Roman (1986) and mother Sonia (2001).

A community leader, teacher, promoter of multiculturalism, and supporter of educational and charitable causes, she will be remembered for her legacy of love, acceptance, nurturing and understanding. Her calm, caring approach to life, and her conviction that all people deserved respect and the freedom to achieve whatever they desired, inspired everyone she touched. From a pioneer childhood in a small town to a path-breaking career in education, she never forgot her Ukrainian roots, and after retiring, devoted her days to working on translations of Ukrainian literature into English.

Born Nov. 23, 1933, in Windsor, ON, Sonia completed primary education and high school in Canora, SK, where she was the Canadian Legion Gold Medalist in 1951. Based on her educational record, she was selected for a Weston Tour of Great Britain in 1951. Qualifying for several scholarships, Sonia received a Bachelor of Arts with Great Distinction (1957) from McGill University, a Bachelor of Education with Great Distinction (1960) from the University of Saskatchewan, a Master of Education (1968) from the U. of S., and a Master of Philosophy (1976) from Columbia University, New York.

Beginning her career as a social worker in the late 50s, Sonia subsequently taught at the elementary and high school levels for the Saskatoon Public School Board from 1958 ? 63. She then joined the College of Education at the U. of S. where she taught for 32 years, including roles as Head of the Department of Educational Psychology, Acting Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs, and Acting Head of the Department of Communications, Continuing and Vocational Education, capping her career with four years as Assistant Dean, Student Affairs. She edited several academic books, supervised or was a committee member for dozens of theses, published papers in proceedings of numerous conferences, gave many invited lectures, and wrote or collaborated on dozens of reports.

Inspired by her hard-working, community focused parents, Sonia?s passion was promoting the Ukrainian language and culture within an overarching goal of fostering multiculturalism and battling racism in Canada and around the world. She was a founding member of the Saskatchewan Teachers of Ukrainian where she contributed from 1968 ? 2001, and an original member of the Ukrainian Curriculum Committee of the Saskatchewan Department of Education, on which she sat from 1968 ? 79. Together with her sister Roma, she developed Ukrainian correspondence and audio-visual programs used by the Saskatchewan Department of Education. Sonia was Vice-Chair of both the Federal Minister?s Advisory Committee on Minority Languages from 1978 ? 80, and the Minister?s Advisory Committee on Heritage Languages from 1981 ? 85. Sonia was Vice-Chair and Chair of the Saskatchewan Multicultural Advisory Council, and founder and President of the Saskatchewan Association for Multicultural Education. Sonia devoted eight years to the Canadian Council for Multicultural and Intercultural Education, including four years as President. Other contributions included terms on the Saskatchewan Council of Cultural Organizations, and the Minster?s Advisory Committee on Multicultural Legislation.

Sonia loved music and art, and many will remember her fine soprano voice and emotive piano playing. She chaired sub-committees of the Minister?s Advisory Committee on the Fine Arts in Education from 1975 ? 80, and was Vice-Chair and Chair of the Saskatchewan Arts Board from 1998 ? 2001.

Sonia spent many volunteer hours with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, and helped establish the parish of All Saints in Saskatoon. She was a leader in promoting educational exchange programs between the U. of S. and the Province of Saskatchewan, and the former Ukrainian S.S.R. She was overjoyed to see Ukraine gain its freedom, and helped arrange several pedagogical exchanges with Ukrainian universities.

Sonia received many awards, including the 2001 Saskatchewan Volunteer Award for Sport, Culture and Recreation.

Above all, she was a supportive wife to her devoted husband Barry, caring mother, and adoring grandmother. She enjoyed life to the fullest, and fulfilled her personal motto to help others be happy by allowing them to be free to make their own choices and decisions. Memory eternal.

At Sonia?s request, there will be no public service. Memorial donations can be made to the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko, 202 ? 952 Main St., Winnipeg, MB, R2W 3P4; the Canadian Cancer Society, Attention: Stephani Agg, CFRE, 565 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 4J4; or Amnesty International, 312 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa, ON, K1N 1H9

Posted by Paul at 07:46 PM

April 07, 2007

Bye Mom, We Miss You

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My mother, Sonia Morris (nee Stratychuk), passed away late Thursday evening, April 5, in the comforting presence of her husband, sister and children. She leaves a legacy of love, acceptance, nurturing and understanding that we will remember to try to heal the gaping holes in our hearts. I will post several entries here over the coming days to celebrate her life as a mother, wife, community activist, proud Ukrainian-Canadian, multiculturalist, professor, writer and editor.

Mom stared cancer straight in the eye several times and never flinched, protecting and shielding her loved ones until the end.

Until we publish an obituary, I would like to let people know that Mom requested a simple cremation and a dinner of remembrance with immediate family instead of a public service, and we are honouring her wishes.

We would all like to thank the wonderful nurses, doctors and support staff at Burnaby Hospital, who worked so hard to keep Mom comfortable, and the caring staff at St. Michael's Hospice who gently provided for her in her final few days. You have all done us an immeasurable service.

Posted by Paul at 07:45 PM

March 09, 2007

Cory Doctorow on The Totalitarian Urge

Science fiction writer and Internet and DRM activist Cory Doctorow spoke about The Totalitarian Urge: Total Information Awareness and the Cosmic Billiards at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby this afternoon.

MP3 files of two talks Doctorow gave at SFU are available here.

A few notes:

People are hard, technology is easy.

The Internet has stimulated amazing works of collaboration that arise spontaneously. Collaboration is now so cheap that you don't even know it is going on. Anyone who has ever linked to a web page has contributed to collaborating. And now we have tagging of blogs and images.

The Open Source movement built by volunteers is amazing, and has changed our notion of what can be done by loosely controlled groups of volunteers.

People will use technology for freedom faster than it can be walled off. Company employees treat systems administrators as damage and route around them.

The more control there is, the less efficient we become.

Net neutrality vs quality of service -- it is more efficient to simply provide more bandwidth.

The Internet is also open to adding more control. Total information awareness is the idea that if we have enough data we can understand the world. This is leading to black lists, no-fly lists. Yet when you're watching everyone, you are watching no one. The Stasi in East Germany had a file on everyone, yet they didn't know the Wall was coming down. We need to distinguish between technologies that track us for our own benefit, and those that track us to spy on us.

RFID (radio frequency identification tags that are increasingly embedded in products) are setting us on a course for non-stop identification and tracking. We are being conditioned to live in a surveillance state.

Forward valuing is hard to do, but we must learn how to do it both in regard to privacy issues and a sustainable environment.

Posted by Paul at 07:07 PM

March 03, 2007

Politicians Tour Byrne Creek

This morning Byrne Creek Streamkeepers took our Member of Parliament, Peter Julian, Burnaby City Councillor Pietro Calendino, Burnaby Parks Commission Chair Paul McDonell and commissioner Alex Ng, and Burnaby RCMP S/Sgt. John Buis on a tour of the creek.

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We discussed issues in the watershed, what streamkeepers do, SEA streets and rain gardens, and environmental and social issues. It was great to see them all come out and share their valuable time. Such dialogue is invaluable.

Never ones to waste valuable time, some streamkeepers combined the event with taking another sample in our ongoing late winter/early spring bug survey, while others pulled invasive plant species in the spawning habitat and picked up litter along Southridge Dr.

Posted by Paul at 06:29 PM

January 02, 2007

Going Cold Turkey On Holiday Excesses

After having turkey, turkey fried rice, turkey pizza, turkey sandwiches, turkey noodle soup and turkey stew, washed down on various occasions with bourbon, wine, nihonshu (sake), and Ukrainian and Japanese beer over the last week, I'm looking forward to going cold turkey on holiday excesses. I am blessed with the gustatory delights of several cultures in my family, so I still have Ukrainian Christmas (January 6/7) to wallow through before my New Year resolutions officially kick in.

The last couple of weeks have been a blast, but my body is definitely feeling the effects. I've had so much fun that it's making me tired and cranky! I can't sleep at night because I'm stuffed, so I'm dozy all day. I'm writing this at 4:30 in the afternoon and I can barely keep my eyes open.

Of course I have nobody to blame but myself. I don't have to eat and drink that much. It's embarrassing when you think of all those going hungry in the world. Yet all my good intentions aside, I repeat the cycle every year. There's something about humans and society and feasting, that when we have the wherewithal to indulge on special occasions or during holiday seasons, we tend to go overboard. It's the feast or famine gene, yet now that some of us lucky ones can pretty much feast anytime we want to, we still overindulge.

Posted by Paul at 05:05 PM

December 15, 2006

Storms Expose Urban Vulnerabilities

The recent storms that have knocked out power and blocked roads on Vancouver Island, the coast and the lower mainland of British Columbia further expose the vulnerabilities of our urban, energy dependent lifestyles. Not long after lower mainlanders witnessed scuffles over buying bottled water when we had a boil-water advisory for a couple of weeks, now many of us have not had power for several days, or in some areas, even longer.

I wonder what might happen if ever a more serious disaster hit the area, like the "big one" earthquake that could occur at any time. How many of us are really prepared?

And what would happen if we had to go longer than the 72 hours that emergency officials advise us to stock up for? We are so dependent on electricity, on running water, on food with long supply chains...

We've been lucky so far -- the power is still on at our house and since we work from home we haven't faced commuting in this mess. I ventured out this afternoon to pay our business licence and run some errands. The power was out at Burnaby City Hall, but they took my payment. Then when I tried to get to Metrotown, the streets were jammed because lights at intersections were out. With no pressing need to get my chores done, I decided it would be best to go home and wait it out.

We've had several wakeup calls over the last month or so -- are we listening?

Posted by Paul at 02:11 PM

December 11, 2006

Burnaby Acknowledges Streamkeepers, Stream of Dreams

There's a nice mention of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and the Stream of Dreams Murals Society on this City of Burnaby page. (Check the Community Support area) for their input into the city's Eco-Sculpture program.

As a streamkeeper volunteer and president of the Stream of Dreams board of directors, thanks Burnaby! We enjoy working with the city and appreciate the support.

Posted by Paul at 07:32 PM

November 18, 2006

Worldchanging.com

Ran across the worldchanging.com website tonight. It appears to be an excellent sustainability resource, and I think I'll buy the book, too. Everything from sustainable food to green building to smart growth to ecological economics to....

Posted by Paul at 02:18 AM

November 17, 2006

2006 Fraser Basin Conference Day 2

The second day of the 2006 State of the Fraser Basin Conference put on by the Fraser Basin Council was as interesting and even more inspiring than yesterday.

The exercise on interactive voting on actions from yesterday's breakout sessions was very informative and there was good audience interaction. There were also several more excellent speakers including Shawn Atleo, BC Regional Chief, Assembly of First Nations, and Canadian Olympic medalist Silken Laumann.

It's hard not to feel inspired when listening to speakers like Atleo and Laumann -- they really get across the principle that individual efforts can make a huge difference.

I'm looking forward to the next conference in January 2007.

Posted by Paul at 09:15 PM

November 16, 2006

2006 State of the Fraser Basin Conference

I am attending the 2006 State of the Fraser Basin Conference put on by the Fraser Basin Council at the convention center in Vancouver today and tomorrow. The sessions today were a mix of depressing and inspiring. The focus of the conference is sustainability, and how governments, businesses, First Nations, and NGOs in the basin can work toward a sustainable future.

The council released its 2006 state of the basin snapshot (which can be downloaded from the above website), and overall, the grade was C-. Ouch. There is much we need to do.

I will share just a few highlights from each day that caught my interest.

First, the basin is projected to see 37% population growth over the next 25 years.

FBC Chair Dr. Charles Jago:

This conference is about inspiring action. We need collaboration for positive change. Realize synergies. We need to focus on what is most crucial. We have the ability to significantly remake our world. It is individuals who must act to change institutions. In turn institutions can change how individuals act.

James Hoggan, James Hoggan and Associates Inc.

Communicating Sustainability: People seem to be talking to themselves. People become less able to connect with broader perspectives. Gap between sustainability community and the general public. Need to bridge this gap to move forward to change how we function as a society. Research into how Canadians are thinking about sustainability.

Bad news ? the word sustainability gets in the way. Very high level of mistrust of government, mistrust of business, mistrust of other Canadians, yet Canadians underestimate each others? concerns about sustainability.

Canadians are very quick to understand sustainability and their values are in line with it, but they are looking for trustworthy leadership and are not seeing it.

Once the concept is explained to them, 82% of Canadians see sustainability as a top goal. Research shows 84% agree we need stricter laws and regulations to protect the environment and 65% agree businesses would be more profitable in the long run if they adhered to sustainability principles. Only 5% said they were not concerned about sustainability, yet thought 50% of other Canadians were not concerned!

How Canadians view sustainability:
Atheists (completely reject the concept) 2%
Heathen (oblivious to the concept) 16%
The Choir (sold on sustainability) 15%
The Congregation (receptive to sustainability) 67%

The Congregation is crucial because these people are enthusiastic but unfamiliar with the issues and too much negativity demoralizes them.

We must reach out on sustainability: Focus on the congregation. Second, given the degree of mistrust, we must communicate through action. Third, we need to define the term sustainability and use a human voice, use their language. The story needs to be hopeful, the benefits must be brought to the fore, and people must know they are not alone.

Canadians do not believe there is anyone at the wheel and are calling for leadership, particularly in sustainability.

The conclusion was that there is hope!

Chris Kelly Vancouver School Board:

There is more than a message here, there is an imperative that needs to be addressed. Humans are always intervening with cycles. The world is elegant and fragile at the same time. There are three themes in the snapshot report. A call for education/a call for learning. A call for leadership. A call for hope.

Young Canadians are starving for meaningful engagement. I?m not talking about learning instead of doing, but learning as active participation. There is no uniform way people learn. Learning is an individual and social process. Extend this to every organization. Importance of engaged learning with systems. Action is common learning. This is a time when a current generation must not pass on its way of doing things to a new generation. Leadership is the act of taking responsibility for the quality of other people?s experience.

Hope is the essential notion. Hope is the oxygen of the human spirit.

Kelly was an excellent speaker!

Paul Kariya, Pacific Salmon Foundation

If we?re going to have creativity we have to have fun. Think Salmon.

We, humankind are the problem, but we are also the solution.

------------------

Sorry for the jumble, and apologies to speakers that I left out!

Posted by Paul at 10:17 PM

November 15, 2006

BMO Marketing Wastes Resources

The Bank of Montreal mailed me a package of fake American Express travellers cheques the other day. When you flip through the booklet, you see a stylistic plane taking off. Duh. Aside from the "buy travellers cheques" copy, that was it. What a waste of paper! And what a waste of energy shipping this wasted paper all over the country!

Posted by Paul at 10:06 PM

July 01, 2006

Canada Day in Burnaby's Richmond Park

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers volunteered at the City of Burnaby's Canada Day event at Richmond Park today. We had great weather and had a fun time interacting with the public. Hundreds of people dropped by our booth to learn a bit about their watershed.

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The RCMP bear in front of the streamkeepers booth.

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Streamkeepers answer questions.

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RCMP honour guard gears up for the opening ceremony.

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Air cadets and RCMP lead the parade of dignitaries.

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My wife Yumi checks out a cruiser from the driver's seat...

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And from the rather less desirable cage in the back seat :-).

Posted by Paul at 07:13 PM

June 11, 2006

Burnaby Environment Awards 2006

A few weeks ago we got a call from the City of Burnaby that Yumi and I had won an Environment Award for Community Stewardship for our volunteer work with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers. It took awhile for the idea to sink in -- while we've put our share of hours into the group, there are other members who are at least as deserving, if not more so. Ironically, I think what put us in the running was media exposure the two of us got after the devastating fish kill in the creek in late February this year when someone poured a toxin down a storm drain.

Today we received the award from the city's Environment Committee at a nice open-air luncheon at the city art gallery at Deer Lake, along with several other recipients, including an Environmental Star award for youth for another Byrne Creek Streamkeeper, Eleanor King.

Since we began streamkeeping about four years ago, we have made wonderful friends and learned so much.

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Yumi, me, my Mom, and her husband Barry.

Posted by Paul at 08:13 PM

May 20, 2006

Burnaby Business Excellence Awards 2006

I am sitting on the nominations committee for the Burnaby Board of Trade Business Excellence Awards 2006. We are working to come up with a list of businesses that deserve to be in the running for an award this year, and encourage people to nominate them. The awards are not only for companies, but also for non-profits. I am president of the board of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society that won the Community Service award in 2004, and other community groups have also been honoured.

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.

The categories and last year's winners are: Burnaby Spirit: Burnaby Edmonds Lions Club; Community Service: Burnaby Metrotown Rotary Club; Business Innovation: iv Cosmeceuticals; Entrepreneurial Spirit: Origami by Yu & Mi; Newsmaker of the Year: SFU Community Trust -- UniverCity; Business Person of the Year: Brad Alden, Burnaby Now; Business of the Year (Small Business): Beaver Electrical Machinery; Business of the Year: Bosa Properties; Hall of Fame: The Morrey Auto Group.

Posted by Paul at 10:15 PM

May 17, 2006

Evil Handyman God Smites Me

There is an evil handyman god that lurks on the fringes of do-it-yourself projects, waiting to pounce and mete out pain to the unwise and unwary. He strikes for various reasons. Haste and using the wrong tool for the job are common sins he watches for. Today he dealt me a swollen, purple, pounding fingertip for the temerity of giving advice and not heeding it myself.

Yumi and I were putting together a large, heavy cabinet, and as we assembled the larger pieces, carefully guiding them into place, I told her to watch her fingers. Less than a minute after those fateful words left my lips, I drove a drawer into its guides with a playful hip check, smashing a guiding finger with the lip. Yee-haa!

Much colorful language and dancing ensued. Watch your own damn fingers!

Posted by Paul at 10:32 PM

May 04, 2006

Privacy and Digitizing, Networking Health Care Records

The issue of digitizing and networking medical records has appeared in various panels at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2006 conference that I have been attending.

Here is some info on the Canadian initiative.

And here is a US patient privacy rights website on some of the privacy and security implications of what has been happening in the US.

This is something that very few people are aware of, particularly the security and privacy implications. Who gets to access such a database? How are those people authenticated? Can they download and save information to local computers? How are those computers secured? Can they print out information? Can I access my own information? How do I authenticate myself? If I think there are errors in my information, can I correct them? How? How are patients identified? Is there a common identifier across all of a person's records, or are there firewalls between various sorts of data? Can my dentist access what my gynecologist can access? Can insurance companies access that data? Can other branches of the government? The police? Are warrants required? Where is the data hosted? If it's in the US, other laws may apply, and the US government may be able to access that data secretly using anti-terrorist directives... It goes on and on.

One panelist said hey, forget it, the insurance companies already know all this stuff about all of us....

Posted by Paul at 11:14 AM

Spychips: Laying the Ground for Pervasive Computer Surveillance

Katherine Albrecht from CASPIAN, or Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering, spoke on the potential negative privacy and security impact of RFID tagging at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2006 conference. Albrecht has written Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID, and there is a Spychips website.

Good info on RFID technology. Companies are experimenting with RFID tags in clothing and in indvidual items that you might buy. The problem is many of these initiatives are secret and consumers are not being told what the technology does.

Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation represented the other side of the debate. He said that the debate is all about whether we are for progress and optimism or not. New technology always creates fear. America has always made the choice for excitement and going forward. He did agree that secret tagging should be illegal, but overall felt tagging had many benefits.

Yet concerns remain. Some business models are very invasive. Some companies are placing RFID tags into clothing labels and into shoes. One plan wants to plant RFID readers in cell phones so that when we are walking down the street and see someone wearing something we like, we can scan them and find out where the item is sold. Uibiquitous readers are planned so that the moment you walk into a store, a doorway reader can scan a tagged customer loyalty card and know your complete purchase history.

I see the benefits of RFID, however I'm certainly going to check out the security and privacy concerns.

Posted by Paul at 07:52 AM

May 03, 2006

Senator Patrick Leahy Opens CFP 2006

Senator Patrick Leahy opened the Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2006 conference by pointing to three key trends: a post 9/11 interest in security; a coming digital data micro-monitoring revolution; and a rapid post 9/11 rise of partnerships between government and private data collectors, and outsourcing of data collection and management.

He said there has been a blurring of lines of privacy protection. Private data agencies are becoming akin to mini CIAs. We face many risks, but we have to get the balance between security and privacy right. The public doesn?t want false assurances or to be unduly alarmed. We want to actually be safer, and we have a long way to go to accomplish that. New technologies shape the way we understand privacy. There have to be checks. Modern databases, networks are the defining challenge for privacy.

We are on the verge of a revolution in micro monitoring that can lead to widespread surveillance of our daily lives. Governments are increasingly using techology to monitor people. Nobody is above the law, you can?t pick and choose. The FBI has infiltrated groups across the country?religious, environmental, etc. Suppose you protest a tax policy, the building of a road, an environmental issue?should your group be infiltrated by your government? In the current environment, the Bill of Rights would not be ratified. Is this what we want to give our children? We should use info-gathering technology to protect ourselves, but there is no blanket right to spy on citizens.

We want to encourage innovation but ensure privacy.

The government is retroactively classifying data. This devotion to secrecy is often to conceal mistakes.

Technology is moving faster than we can predict. If we give up the rights we fought for in the Revolution, the Civil War, and two world wars, what are we going to leave for the next generation.

Posted by Paul at 06:44 AM

May 02, 2006

Walking Marathon in Beautiful Washington DC

We woke up on our first day in Washington at 7:30 am local time and got out and about around 9:00. The Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2006 conference that I'm here for starts tomorrow, so I had the full day with Yumi to get ourselves situated before I turned her loose on her own.

I'm going to put a bunch of photos at the end of this post, so if you're a visually oriented type and want to avoid all the blather, just scroll down :-).

We walked north across the Mall to the Old Post Office to try and find some breakfast in its food court. Along the way we noticed all the concrete planters placed for security since 9/11 and the armed guards everywhere. We encountered our first of many security checks when we entered the Old PO. I had stuff spread all over several pockets and had to pass through the scanner three or four times. The last item found was my Swiss Army knife, which the security woman perused, shrugged and handed back to me.

The food court in the magnificent hall was deserted, giving the place an eerie feel. We decided to go up the tower first and then get something to eat. I didn?t like the glass elevator, but felt fine at the top. There were magnificent views all around on the sunny, clear morning. We could see the Capitol, a chunk of the White House, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian buildings. Great place to start our visit!

Back down at the food court a few places were beginning to come awake at 9:30. We got bacon and egg breakfasts for $3.49 ? a lot better than $12 for the same thing at the hotel.

Morning hunger pangs sated, we headed over to the White House. There was a crew digging up an area on the lawn, and I snapped a photo of a John Deere Gator with the White House in the background -- nice juxtaposition for a Saskatchewan boy!

It was gradually getting warmer as we ambled along toward the Vietnam War Memorial. As it came in view I began feeling somber. There were quite a few small Canadian flags left along the wall so it looked like a Canadian tour group had passed through recently. It was touching to see the photos and mementos left by people, and watch aged couples painstakingly page through the memorial books. Hard to believe there are over 50,000 names of the dead carved in that black granite.

Next stop was the Lincoln Memorial. It?s an impressive structure. The feeling of awe and respect was destroyed by herds of rowdy schoolchildren who were running around and shouting despite the signs asking for quiet. The view up the Mall was impressive and we thought of Forest Gump.

We trundled off to the Korean War Memorial and it was a somber and impressive monument. I found the statues of a unit on patrol powerfully evocative of the rigors of that often cold campaign. Both the Korean and Vietnam memorials didn?t yet exist the last time I was in Washington nearly 35 years ago.

Down around the Tidal Basin we began to flag a bit as lunch approached and the sun strengthened. The Roosevelt Memorial was impressive. I found the quotations thought-provoking. They seemed to call upon ideals that are not actually reflected much in contemporary American society. Wonderful words, but are they heeded? I found this to be a recurring thread throughout our long march today. Many monuments to many highly intelligent men who wrote compelling thoughts, yet the swarms of fat retirees and screaming schoolchildren kept intruding with their apparent lack of awareness and respect.

Oh well, it?s still a magnificent place and the Washington Monument commands the eye from every turn.

Next up, the Jefferson Memorial. Somehow it was not quite as impressive as the Lincoln, or even the modern Roosevelt. I wondered out loud what presidents since Roosevelt would ever be honored in such a manner. Likely none, or at least none that I would deem worthy.

By this time we were tired, so we headed back across the Mall to the food court in the Ronald Reagan Building. Security again. It was a relief to get out of the sun, eat and relax. We checked out the Washington Visitor Center in the same building and were not impressed. The woman there ignored us until we were leaving, and there appeared to be little free information available.

Somewhat refreshed and fully refueled, we trekked on to Ford's Theater and caught a presentation on the assassination of Lincoln. I could remember visiting the theater as a kid of 11 or 12. I think we saw a production of ?You?re a Good Man Charlie Brown? there, but I could be mixing that up. There is a museum in the basement of the theater. There is something macabre about the clothing worn by Lincoln the night he was shot and the pillow he died on, yet it is all strangely touching. Across the street is the house he was carried to and the bedroom he died in. The house is flanked by gaudy souvenir shops, fronted by raucous street vendors, and fumigated by the exhaust of idling tour buses. The parks staff seem dispirited and resigned to an endless stream of repetitive questions. Poor Abe.

That did it for us. Over seven hours of walking was enough. We dropped into a convenience store and picked up some drinks for the walk back to the hotel, and stumbled in, exhausted, at 4:30 pm.

I?ll do some blogging and some homework and Yumi will bone up on sights she?ll see tomorrow while I?m in sessions.

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Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial from the Old Post Office tower.

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John Deere on the White House lawn.

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Bird's nest in a traffic light near the Mall.

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Kids make rubbings of names on the Vietnam wall.

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Lincoln Memorial framed by trees.

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Yumi got me with Abe. There must be millions of photos like this one!

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The Korean War memorial patrol. Canada is among the UN nations honored.

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The two of us at the Tidal Basin with the ever-visible Washington Monument.

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Roosevelt Memorial bread line figures.

The quotation on the wall to the left deserves sharing: "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

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Fishy humanoid gargoyle on Ohio Dr. bridge looks Jimmy Carter-ish :-)

Posted by Paul at 07:06 PM

April 29, 2006

Sun/Post Quality Control Goes Overboard

Today we received the fourth or fifth daily call in a row from the Vancouver Sun regarding supposed delivery problems. We've had calls asking if we've received our papers, we've had calls apologizing that the papers were left in the lobby (we don't have a lobby!), we've had calls explaining that the delivery person can't get into our non-existant lobby... And we've been receiving our papers just fine.

I think somebody is pulling a fast one on the Sun folks. We had a few similar episodes in the past where customer assistance would call us and ask if we were were receiving our papers again, when we had never had any trouble in the first place. But this week takes the prize.

The first couple of calls we just said, yeah, we got our papers OK. From the third call I began asking what the problem was, explaining that we didn't have a lobby, that we lived in a townhouse complex, etc. Today the caller (it's been someone different each time) said she would look into it and get our number off the trouble list.

I wonder if it would help if someone local would call? The call display shows what appear to be Manitoba numbers!

Posted by Paul at 02:51 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

April 14, 2006

BBC Says UK 'Eating the Planet'

There's an interesting article on the BBC website that claims that "if annual global consumption levels matched the UK's, it would take 3.1 Earths to meet the demand." It has estimates for other nations as well, with the US topping the list at 5.3 Earths. Sobering reading for even if the estimates are off by a mile, and of course many nations are way below "an Earth," total global consumption is unsustainable.

The BBC website also features a series of articles on the theme "Planet Under Pressure."

Posted by Paul at 10:06 PM

April 13, 2006

Burnaby Draft Economic Plan Released

Burnaby has released its draft Economic Development Plan 2020 and all of the documents are available here, along with an online questionnaire. I've only skimmed the surface of this package, however I hope to find time to read it and comment, particularly on strategy G4 "Striving for a Greener Community."

Posted by Paul at 10:48 PM

April 08, 2006

Edmonds Clean Sweep

The Byrne Creek Streamkeepers joined in the Edmonds Clean Sweep today and signed up an amazing 42 people who helped clean up the area around the Edmonds Skytrain station and along Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby. A big hand to everyone from the community who joined in to help our efforts near the creek, and the teams working on Edmonds and on Kingsway.

Thanks to the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association, Burnaby RCMP and Burnaby Parks for helping arrange and manage the event. And thanks to Burnaby Firefighters for providing refreshments after.

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Thanking volunteers near an overflowing dumpster.

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The Horizontes Explorers did a great job as usual.

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It took just half an hour for Yumi and me to fill a heaping wheelbarrow!

Posted by Paul at 04:59 PM

March 30, 2006

BC Asks Public to Report Poachers, Polluters

From a BC Environment Ministry press release:

New highway signs, a website and a toll-free hotline for the public to report poachers and polluters were approved by Environment Minister Barry Penner, who is attending the 50th Annual Meeting of the BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) today in Penticton.

?The Conservation Officer Service is seeking the public?s help in catching people who break our environmental laws,? said Penner. ?The Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) signs and free hotline give the public an opportunity to help protect our environment ? anonymously and without risk of confronting the offender.?

The public can report violators 24 hours a day, seven days a week by visiting www.rapp.bc.ca or by calling 1-877-952-RAPP (7277). The new signs, which are scheduled to be installed starting in June, will help get the message out to the public. They will also be easy to use for cell phone users by dialing #RAPP.

?We?re hiring more conservation officers this year, but the public and local communities can also help us stop environmental violations,? said Penner. ?Polluters are dangerous to our environment, our health and the economy. The water we drink, the air we breathe and the foods we eat all come from the environment and we need the public?s eyes, ears and good judgment to report known or suspected violators.?

Under the B.C. Environmental Management Act, polluters can face a maximum $1-million fine and six months in jail. Under the B.C. Wildlife Act, a poacher can face a maximum $100,000 fine and one year in jail for a first offence. Illegally taking fish or damaging fish habitat has a maximum penalty of $1 million under the Canada Fisheries Act.

----------------------------

I commend this step, though of course the bottom line will be enforcement. It's easy to make feel-good anouncements, it's another to follow through. Here's hoping...

Posted by Paul at 05:49 PM

March 24, 2006

NYC Coyote Stirs the Animal in Us

I'm enjoying the commentary stirred up by a single coyote on the loose in New York. Even the venerable Times (free registration required) devoted an editorial to the canine's adventures in humanland.

"...what makes such occasions remarkable isn't just the sight of a coyote... It's the fact that such animals appear among us on their own, as if we were the creatures in captivity and they were the ones taking a gander. Even these places were wild once, their sudden presence seems to say."

It's interesting how the inmates decided they had to throw all those resources and time into capturing it. I'm sure it would have done just fine in Central Park, as the occasional pile of feathers had already attested to :-).

Posted by Paul at 06:59 AM

March 23, 2006

Passport Office Wait Times Wildly Off

I was applying for a new passport today so I checked the Canadian passport office website for times and locations.

I was happy to see that the site had average wait times posted. I saw that the Surrey office was averaging ten minutes and the Vancouver office was at 18 minutes. Surrey is a bit closer anyway, so I took the Skytrain to the office, arriving less than half an hour after I'd checked the website.

There was a line out into the hallway when I got there around 12:50 p.m. Hmm. I was assigned a number at 1:04 p.m. My number was called at 2:13 p.m. That's 69 minutes from getting a number to getting service, or seven times the wait posted on the website. The real wait was 83 minutes, or over eight times what was posted.

I asked a staff member how often the website was updated. She shouted down the row and a guy answered that it was refreshed about every ten minutes. Right. She said the wait time was always around an hour.

While I laud the government in its high-tech, near real-time efforts, what is the point of providing wildly innacurate data? Rather than smoothing the process, it just makes clients angrier because it raises false expectations.

When I checked the website again at 3:30 p.m., the wait time was posted as 18 minutes.

Just give us the truth, OK?

Posted by Paul at 03:30 PM

March 22, 2006

World Water Day 2006

World Day for Water 2006: Water and Culture

"We plan our cities near water; we bathe in water; we play in water; we work with water. Our economies are built on the strength of water transportation - and the products we buy and sell are all partly water, in one way or another. Our daily lives are built on water, and shaped by it. Without the water that surrounds us - the humidity of the air, the roughness of the river's current, the flow from the kitchen tap - our lives would be impossible.

"In recent decades, water has fallen in our esteem. No longer an element to be revered and protected, it is a consumer product that we have shamefully neglected. Eighty percent of our bodies are formed of water, and two thirds of the planet's surface is covered by water: water is our culture, our life..."

World Water Forum: UNESCO Division of Water Sciences.

Posted by Paul at 07:32 AM

March 21, 2006

Sustainability Means Changing Our Behavior

Why is it that when we talk about sustainability, so often people seem trapped by present ways of doing things? Why are people so afraid of trying anything different?

Why do we so often think we can build our way out of trouble, if only we can build in a greener manner?

Wouldn't it be a lot more cost effective to change human behavior to accommodate the environment, rather than always pouring billions of dollars into changing the environment to suit us?

Why are we still giving the few remaining pockets of nature in our communities short shrift, when we are so fortunate to have the little that remains? Cities that have eradicated nature are now pouring billions into trying to restore it. Wouldn't it be cheaper to simply protect and enhance what we have now?

Why can't we add density to already developed areas on major thoroughfares that are presently only one or two stories high? Why are we sill developing greenfields?

If we are really such an intelligent species, why can't we change?

I'm going to be thinking a lot about such questions as I take part in a discussion of sustainability in the lower mainland of BC over the next few months.

Posted by Paul at 09:44 PM

March 15, 2006

Vancouver Welcomes World Urban Forum

The third World Urban Forum will be held in Vancouver from June 19-23 this year "to identify solutions to the critical problems facing cities around the globe. The Government of Canada is proud to partner with UN-HABITAT to host this historic biennial meeting, themed Our Future: Sustainable Cities ? Turning Ideas into Action. More than 6,000 participants from 150 nations are expected in Vancouver over five days. Will you be one of them?"

Registration is FREE! I've signed up, though I'm not sure how many of the events I'll be able to take in over the week.

Details and registration here

Posted by Paul at 05:42 PM

February 13, 2006

Effects of Blogs on Mass Media

A few fellow learners in the Master of Arts in Professional Communication program at Royal Roads University have asked to see a paper I did on blogging, so I've decided to post it here. (Newsdaily Canada has linked to this paper.)

The Effects of Blogs on Mass Media
From a Media Theory Perspective

by Paul Cipywnyk

Introduction

This paper explores the effects of Web logs, or blogs, on traditional mass media with reference to media theory. It covers the evolving relationship between blogs and mass media since the first blog was set up at the end of 1997 (Lyons, 2005), and how the blogging medium may face the imposition of regulation in the future.

The premise of this paper is that this simple, yet powerful communication medium has already had a significant impact on traditional mass media. While this impact will increase in the future as this technological change challenges traditional social discourse in a post-modern fracturing of the social equilibrium, there are also signs that normative effects may tame this publishing free-for-all to some extent over the next decade, along with the possibility of increased legal constraints and attempts at greater corporate control of the medium.

The Rise of Blogging Technology

Blogs have become an increasingly prominent means of communication on the Internet, and continue to proliferate rapidly. "A hundred thousand new blogs are created every day, more than one new blog per second, says Technorati, a firm in San Fransisco that tracks the content of 20 million active blogs" (Lyons, 2005, p. 131). Many companies, including major Internet players such as Google and Microsoft, offer free blogging services that allow users to easily post text, photos, and audio and video files to a blog simply by using forms through a Web browser, without having to know the underlying markup languages. Blogs typically present a series of chronological posts with the latest at the top of the page, with earlier entries being pushed downward, and eventually archived onto separate pages. Bloggers usually provide links to news or events or products that they write about, and commonly include RSS feeds that enable readers to monitor new posts to blogs they are interested in through automatically updated aggregators on their computers, or through Web sites that offer such aggregation services.

Blogging's Impact on Traditional Mass Media

The free-wheeling, personalized phenomenon of blogging exemplifies a post-modern world driven by technological change. "According to Marx, the capitalist class ? the bourgeoisie ? control the 'production and distribution of ideas' because of their control of the 'means of material production'" (Williams, 2003, p. 37), yet these days, anyone with access to the Internet can have a free or inexpensive printing press. The blogging phenomenon was enabled by technological change, and in turn is forcing mass media to modify long-standing journalistic practices. While Internet access is far from universal, technology has enabled individuals to challenge traditional mass media in ways that were impossible as recently as a decade ago.

The development of blogging has enabled individual reporting on events from a personal point of view, and when masses of bloggers question or directly confront reporting in traditional mass media, their collective power can be persuasive. For example, bloggers focused attention on racist remarks by former U.S. Speaker of the House Trent Lott, elevating a back-page story to a campaign of criticism that forced his removal (Kahn & Kellner, 2004). In another case, bloggers created "a media frenzy over the dishonest reporting that was exposed recently at the New York Times? (and) set upon the newsprint giant, whipping up so much controversy and hostile journalistic opinion that the Times?s executive and managing editors were forced to resign in disgrace" (Kahn & Kellner, 2004, p. 92).

According to post-modern media theory, audiences have the power to passively or actively resist media messages, and they cannot be fooled or manipulated by the mass media (Williams, 2003). Now, with the interactivity and personal publishing of blogging, mass media are facing a "community (that) is far from shy about going after journalists for offenses real and imagined, shocking thin-skinned journalists unused to being scrutinized the way they scrutinize others. Everything? is now subject to public analysis, comparison and fact-checking" (Singer, 2005, p. 180). Williams (2003) writes that the liberal theory of press freedom posits that "the smooth operation of the political system depended on the free expression of public opinion" (p. 39), and that the press acts as the voice of the people, and is accountable to them, as the fourth estate. Blogging is to some extent removing this intermediary function, and is putting the power of the press into individual hands. Blogs go beyond the structures of traditional journalism, drop much of the gatekeeping and filtering done by mass media, do not rely on corporate sponsors, and are even scooping the mainstream press (Wall, 2005).

Yet traditional mass media are not going away, and are not losing their influence. Bloggers often cite, and link to, material provided on Web sites run by huge media conglomerates. Research about war blogs that mushroomed after the invasion of Iraq in spring 2003 shows that nearly half of all links were to "mainly mainstream news outlets, primarily from the USA and the UK. In the USA, this included outlets such as The New York Times, CNN, etc." (Wall, 2005, p. 164). As for blogs run by mass media outlets, of 20 sites examined in one study, only three allowed direct commenting from readers, indicating they were unwilling to give up their gatekeeping role, so "it is still about vertical communication, from journalist to user, rather than horizontal communication that positions the journalist as a participant in a conversation" (Singer, 2005, p. 192).

Wall (2005), however, points out that the popularity of the war blogs arose at least partly because "mainstream media, as is historically its pattern during war, became less critical of the government and military actions and more prone to repeating propaganda?. leading increasing numbers of Americans to turn to the Web" (p. 153).

Are Blogs a New, Post-Modern Journalism?

Is blogging a new form of journalism? Are bloggers changing how mass media report the news? Wall (2005) argues that blogs are post-modern journalism:

This analysis suggests that these blogs represent a new genre of journalism ? offering news that features a narrative style characterized by personalization and an emphasis on non-institutional status; audience participation in content creation; and story forms that are fragmented and interdependent with other websites. Ultimately, these shifts suggest that some forms of online news such as blogs have moved away from traditional journalism?s modernist approach to embody a form of post-modern journalism (pp. 153-154).

Traditional journalism is supposed to be objective, or at least fair, yet the "voice of the typical current events blogger is personalized, opinionated, and often one-sided. Indeed, an opinionated voice is a hallmark of blog writing and those mainstream journalists who fail to reflect this are criticized as not being true bloggers" (Wall, 2005, p. 161). Readers of newspapers and watchers of TV tend to be passive; however, "on blogs, audiences are often invited to contribute information, comments, and sometimes direct financial support. In effect, audiences sometimes co-create content and also serve as patrons" (Wall, 2005, p. 161). While journalists are taught the inverted pyramid of story writing, "with blogs, the story form has changed into a fragment, one that is often incomplete without following a link and, thus, is seemingly never closed" (Wall, 2005, p. 162). All of these hallmarks of blogging make for a very different experience than reading or watching the packaged stories provided by mass media.

Kahn & Kellner (2004) propose:

Bloggers have demonstrated themselves as technoactivists favoring not only democratic self-expression and networking, but also global media critique and journalistic sociopolitical intervention?. blogs make the idea of a dynamic network of ongoing debate, dialogue and commentary central and so emphasize the interpretation and dissemination of alternative information to a heightened degree (p. 91).

While mass media may be retaining their influence and their audience, the post-modern fracturing of the mostly one-way communication of traditional media into the millions of inter-linking blogging voices has created a new openness and the ability for individuals to share their personal interpretations of the world to potentially global audiences. Bloggers are providing alternatives to mass media. "Large political events, such as the World Summit for Sustainable Development, the World Social Forum, and the G8 forums all now have wireless bloggers providing real time alternative coverage" (Kahn & Kellner, 2004, p. 93).

Blogs Surpass Mass Media in Raising Political Consciousness

In addition to offering an alternative to corporate mass media, blogs are raising political consciousness in a manner traditional media have been unable to do. Because blogs are personal, they have an ability to attract readers in a way that traditional media do not. This is shown by the experience of Blog for America, the blog that helped galvanize Howard Dean's campaign in the U.S. primary race starting in March 2003.

Alternately informative, cheesy, silly, self-absorbed, innovative, and brilliantly effective, Blog for America turned tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of people into political activists and united them in collective action that extended beyond cyberspace?. This is something mainstream journalism could never accomplish (Kerbel & Bloom, 2005, pp. 20-21).

Blog for America may be viewed as a revival of the public sphere described by J?rgen Habermas. "Central to the operation of the public sphere is the free flow of information and communication, and media institutions are essential to its effective working" (Williams, 2003, p. 68). Williams (2003) goes on to say that eventually "the public sphere became corrupted by the growth of the power of the state, the emergence of corporate capitalism and transformation of the media into commercial operations" (p. 68). Blog for America became a forum to foster and harness the free flow of information in the public sphere, revitalizing the political process.

However, here too, there are cautionary notes.

As a third-tier candidate with few resources, Dean had little to lose by doing things unconventionally, and as we noted, discussion on the Dean blog became more conventional as the candidate started playing for keeps. For blogs like Blog for America to become routine, future campaign managers will have to weigh the obvious benefits of cultivating a loyal, active following against the potential loss of message control inherent in a decentralized campaign structure where anyone can participate. What is clear is that without some degree of decentralization, blog communities cannot thrive. It is the nature of the technology to buck centralized control, and it is the thing that generates feelings of empowerment (Kerbel & Bloom, 2005, p. 24).

Post-Modern Blogging

So while on one hand it appears that blogs are impacting mass media by providing alternative forums for shared self-expression, by confronting and challenging conventional journalism, and by enabling public discourse in a global manner heretofore unheard of in history, on the other hand it is also apparent that at least so far mass media are retaining much of their authority. Yet blogging may just be getting started, and has the potential to further spread its influence in the future as more citizens around the world come online and share their individual, unique perspectives. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, for as with any technology, it cannot simply be assumed that blogging will only lead to greater good. Overall, however, the benefits could outweigh the drawbacks.

Today, blogs embody the contradictions of postmodernity ? they may balkanize interest groups and cater to partisan audiences but they may also encourage the creation of a multitude of virtual communities in which ordinary people feel free to participate and discover their own political voices. That is, blogs may ultimately pull more people into public conversations and perhaps provide opportunities for collective problem-solving. Those who fear the demise of the great society created in part by national media are perhaps overly nostalgic for a media that rarely reflected the entire community or allowed ordinary people much of a voice (Wall, 2005, p. 167).

Conclusion

While blogging's Wild West milieu has already had an impact on traditional mass media, and will continue to require mass media corporations to adjust to the onslaught of individual voices, there are doubts if the medium's free-wheeling nature will last forever. Blogs may undermine societal equilibrium, and to take a page from functionalism, "all components of society including the media are organized and structured and operate to maintain social stability" (Williams, 2003, p. 50). While blogging may fundamentally be of an individualistic, fractured, post-modern nature, in five or ten years some of the regulations that apply to traditional mass media may be extended to cover the Internet, and bloggers.

Indeed, Lyons (2005) describes the anonymous slander of individuals and corporations by packs of bloggers, and cries out for means to control them:

Google and other carriers shut down purveyors of child porn, spam, and viruses, and they help police track down offenders. So why don't they delete material (from blogs) that defames individuals? Why don't they help victims identify their attackers? Because they are protected by the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which frees a neutral carrier of Internet content from any liability for anything said online (p. 136).

Lyons (2005) goes on to cite a victim of a concerted smear campaign who "argues that Yahoo and other carriers should step up: 'They make money selling ads on these message boards, and the controversial material generates the most traffic. So they're benefiting from this garbage. I think they should take responsibility for it'" (p. 138).

While millions more blogs will be created over the next decade, and Web sites run by mass media corporations will gradually offer more interactivity and more opportunities for reader feedback, pressure from corporations and political forces that fear the libertarian blogging environment will likely lead to the imposition of regulatory restraints on the Internet, and by extension the blogging medium. There will be bloggers who will continue to resist any attempts at control, and a technological war will continue for decades between those who attempt to impose restraints, and those who will seek ways to outflank them.

References

Kahn, R., & Kellner, D. (2004). New media and internet activism: From the ?Battle of seattle? to blogging. New Media & Society, 6(1), 87-95. Retrieved November 17, 2005, from Communication Studies: A SAGE Full-Text Collection database.

Kerbel, M. R., & Bloom, J. D. (2005). Blog for america and civic involvement. The Harvard International Journal Of Press/politics, 10(4), 3-27. Retrieved November 17, 2005, from Communication Studies: A SAGE Full-Text Collection database.

Lyons, D. (2005, Nov. 14). Attack of the blogs. Forbes. 128-138.

Singer, J. B. (2005). The political j-blogger: ?Normalizing? a new media form to fit old norms and practices. Journalism, 6(2), 173-198. Retrieved November 17, 2005, from Communication Studies: A SAGE Full-Text Collection database.

Wall, M. (2005). ?Blogs of war?: Weblogs as news. Journalism, 6(2), 153-172. Retrieved November 17, 2005, from Communication Studies: A SAGE Full-Text Collection database.

Williams, K. (2003). Understanding Media Theory. London: Arnold.

Posted by Paul at 09:41 AM

February 01, 2006

Flat Ben Golfs Near White Rock

Flat Ben, my nephew's mailable representative from Los Angeles, spent his last day in the Lower Mainland of BC visiting his grandmother and her golf guru hubby in White Rock.

It was another miserable day with a whipping wind and slicing rain, however Flat Ben bravely decided to go to the White Rock pier, which he remembered as being very nice in the summer.

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"Let's go down to the white rock," said Flat Ben, with his grandmother and Uncle Paul in tow.

"See if you can get the Peace Arch on the border of Canada and the U.S. in the background," said Flat Ben.

"OK," replied Uncle Paul, "however I think it's only going to look like a tiny white dot in the upper left of the picture."

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Ben was becoming quite the director: "Let's get a shot of me with one of the neat trash cans painted by local students in White Rock!"

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"Let's get back to Hazelmere and get some shots on the golf course before it really pours," said Sonia, pulling her hood tighter around her ears.

"Yeah!" said Flat Ben, "Let's go to the driving range AND the putting green."

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And with that, Flat Ben will be moving on to a new set of adventures. We'll send him on his way as soon as we fill in his travel diary. Bye Flat Ben!

Posted by Paul at 09:54 PM

January 29, 2006

Flat Ben Tours Stormy Burnaby Mountain

My nephew arrived in the mail from Los Angeles the other day in the form of Flat Ben. He will be traveling all over visting his relatives and friends. Here's his story on his first day outside in Burnaby, BC.

Flat Ben was getting impatient. "When are we going outside?" he cried. "I'm tired of hanging around with this sleepy cat."

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"Well, it's been raining for days," said Uncle Paul.

"And the forecast is for another week of rain," sighed Aunt Yumi.

"I don't care," Ben said. "I thought you guys are streamkeepers! Are you afraid of a little rain?"

"OK," said Uncle Paul. "Lets go to Burnaby Mountain Park, no matter how hard it rains. Lets rig you up a sandwich bag for a raincoat, and off we go!"

As they drove toward Burnaby Mountain, they saw it was enshrouded in mist. Soon they were gaining elevation as the road wound its way upward, and the slanting rain began turning to sleet.

"Wow!" said Ben. "I remember that you can usually see the North Shore Mountains from here, but I can't see anything..." He sounded a bit deflated, but defiantly shouted: "Let's go outside anyway!"

Uncle Paul and Aunt Yumi groaned, but they zipped up their coats, put on their hats, and unfurled their umbrellas.

"Let's see the crane mural first," said Uncle Paul. "Aunt Yumi and I helped install it last summer. It commemorates the 40th anniversary of the sister-city relationship between Burnaby and Kushiro, Japan. The Stream of Dreams Murals Society taught schoolchildren in Burnaby the story of the Kushiro marshland and how it was preserved by volunteers to bring the Japanese tancho crane back from the brink of extinction. Then the kids painted about 2,000 cranes, most of which were installed on the mountain, and some in Japan."

flat_ben_and_crane_mural_20060129.jpg

"How about we take a look at the Kamui Mintara 'Playground of the Gods' next?" said Aunt Yumi. "These carvings by the Ainu people of northern Japan were sent here years ago as part of the sister-city relationship."

flat_ben_and_kamui_mintara_20060129.jpg

As they began walking back to the car, Ben suddenly spied another kind of totem pole. "Hey, lets go see that one, too!" he said, pointing at the West Coast First Nations carving.

flat_ben_and_totem_pole_20060129.jpg

"All right," said Uncle Paul, "I'm cold and wet. Back to the car!"

flat_ben_paul_yumi_20060129.jpg

Flat Ben, Aunt Yumi and Uncle Paul warmed up inside the car and then drove home. If the weather is a bit nicer tomorrow, they plan to have Ben help out with some streamkeeping activities.

Posted by Paul at 03:32 PM

January 05, 2006

Kia Minivan Ad Sucks

I'm disturbed by a Kia ad that has been running on TV lately in which a family -- Dad, Mom, and two kids -- gleefully push a minivan over a cliff and sneak away, with the premise that they can now buy a new Kia van.

I like a joke as much as the next person, however I fail to see the humor in this.

What are we seeing here? Environmental pollution? Littering on a grand scale? Insurance fraud? Abdication of parental responsibility?

Sheesh.

Posted by Paul at 07:48 PM

December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

Best wishes to family and friends. Hope everyone has a happy holiday season.

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Paul, Yumi, Choco the cat, and Dori the turtle.

Posted by Paul at 05:14 PM

December 14, 2005

Royal Roads Lower Mainland MAAC, MAAC-IIC Pub Night

Half a dozen learners in the 2005 Master of Arts in Applied Communication program at Royal Roads University met at the Irish Heather pub in Gastown in downtown Vancouver tonight. It was great to see people again over a month since our initial intensive three-week residency ended. As the program continues over the next year online, we hope to get together every month or so for mutual support and exchange of information.

I've created a private Google group for any MAACs or MAAC-IICs in the lower mainland of BC, or anywhere in BC for that matter, to keep in touch. Shoot me an email if you'd like to join.

Posted by Paul at 09:22 PM

December 13, 2005

Hitting Three Community Events in One Evening

I took in three community events this evening, which I think is a personal record :-).

The first was an open house at the Burnaby Southeast District Community Police Office. I've been in touch with the local RCMP through my volunteer work as a streamkeeper, so I dropped by to say hello, chat with other volunteers, and partake of the tables ladden with food.

The second was the December meeting of the Edmonds Town Centre Business and Community Association. I represent three groups there: the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, and my own company, Cipko Consulting Ltd. The event was a Christmas party held at the funky Myles of Beans cafe on Kingsway. The cafe put on some great food, there were games and contests, and it was a lot of fun talking with members.

Last, but not least, was a rezoning hearing at Burnaby City Hall. Several streamkeepers and Stream of Dreams directors went to watch the rezoning of the site of the original Stream of Dreams fence mural. The corner of Edmonds and Kingsway has long been empty and will finally be redeveloped with a new public library and a mixed residential/commercial complex. Stream of Dreams will have to remove the original mural, and we are keen to have the dreamfish represented somehow in the new design. After the meeting we chatted with the mayor and the city planner -- it's good to stay in touch!

Posted by Paul at 10:53 PM

November 28, 2005

Canada Off and Running

It's election time again. Following the defeat of the minority Liberals today, Canadians will be going to the polls in January.

Reaction from people on the street on tonight's news was uniformly muted. Most people just do not care. That's sad, and I encourage everyone to take the time to read the platforms of all the major parties. Check out their websites over the coming weeks and decide for yourselves. In alphabetical order:

Bloc Quebecois

Conservative Party of Canada

Green Party of Canada

Liberal Party of Canada

New Democratic Party

Posted by Paul at 06:34 PM

November 17, 2005

World's Biggest Internet Discussion?

How's this for an ambitious attempt to get people from around the world tackling social issues over the Internet!

"In a lead-up to the third session of the World Urban Forum (WUF), to be held in Vancouver, Canada, in June 2006, UN-HABITAT, in collaboration with IBM and the Canadian Government is holding what it hopes will be the world's biggest Internet discussion to date from 1-3 December 2005."

"...the Habitat JAM promises to give thousands of global citizens, rich and poor alike, a chance to present their ideas on-line for presentation at the Forum..."

"Topics for the online debate include improving the lives of people living in slums, access to water, environmental sustainability, safety and urban crime, finance and governance, and the future of our cities."

You can learn more about the JAM here:

And sign up to participate here:

I've signed up and hope to have time to join in the three-day discussion.

Posted by Paul at 07:31 PM

November 09, 2005

Burnaby Lake 'Ecosystem Enhancement' Means Rowing Ditch

I attended a Burnaby Lake Rejuvenation Project public meeting tonight, and came away with a bad taste in my mouth. The city is working hard to spin the $26.5 million plan as an environmental project when it basically calls for dredging a long rectangular ditch down the center of the lake for a rowing course.

I was taken aback to read the project's November 2005 newsletter, which baldly states: "The primary objective of the project is to provide long-term protection and enhancement of the lake ecosystem, fish passage and wildlife habitat by removing approximately 360,000 m3 of sediment in the lake through dredging. The secondary objective of the project is to restore the open water area and create better opportunities for rowing activities."

Funny how that primary "ecosystem" objective is being achieved by dredging that long rectangular ditch down the middle of the lake.

I felt bad for city staff who were left to answer questions, with nary a politician in sight -- conveniently there was an all-candidates meeting for the upcoming civic election on the other side of town.

OK, so say there could be some ecosystem benefits. But what might the costs be? The sediment to be dredged is loaded with pollutants including heavy metals. They are now contained in the lake bottom, but dredging will stir them up.

And how will the sediment be disposed of? The estimate was 50,000 dump trucks of sediment will be removed. If even half of it has to go to a landfill capable of containing pollutants, that's a lot of trucking -- easily a third or more of the projected budget for the whole project -- not to mention the environmental impact of all those trucks roaring around for three or more years.

As a local taxpayer, I wonder about that $26.5 million budget. How many years has that figure been bandied about already? We all know that construction-related costs have been soaring. Transport-related costs have also been soaring. And how many millions have already been spent on this project for all of the engineering and environmental studies? Nobody at the meeting could answer these basic questions.

I think the city has to come clean and present this issue to taxpayers as what it really is -- an elite rowing course that will likely end up costing a lot more than $26.5 million.

This figure also doesn't include new or overhauled rowing facilities. How many more millions will that cost? Apparently no thought has gone into that phase yet....

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

October 21, 2005

Survived First Week at Royal Roads!

I have survived my first week of my intensive three-week residency at Royal Roads University. Rather than bore you with describing a week of 16-hour days spent in classes and huddled over my laptop computer in my dorm room, suffice it to say that while arduous, the Master of Arts in Applied Communication program is a stimulating, highly educational challenge.

Faculty members are uniformly excellent, and I hope they are all reading my blog :-). My team is learning to work together, and every student that I've talked to has a unique perspective and expertise that I'm already learning from.

Today we were released at 3:30 p.m. and I immediately dropped my laptop and books in my dorm room and headed out to explore the beautiful grounds with my digital camera in hand. Convocation was on, and there were excited knots of happy families snapping shots of proud graduates in front of the various impressive buildings, and in the gardens.

Here are a few shots I got today as the late afternoon sun cast glorious, lengthening shadows as it sank into the west.

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Hatley Castle, which is now an administrative building.

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The Grant Building where most of our classes are held.

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The Nixon Building where my room is located.

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The Japanese Gardens.

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Another view of the Japanese Gardens.

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A lantern.

Posted by Paul at 09:09 PM

September 23, 2005

Old Computers Donated to Schools

I finally tired of having three old computers in various states of assembly and/or cannibalization in my office and decided to get rid of them. I searched for computer recycling depots in British Columbia and came across Computers for Schools, which refurbishes old machines and gives them to schools around the province.

I gave them an AMD K6-II 400, a Dell PIII 450, and an Athlon Thunderbird 800. The K6-II had no memory and just a floppy drive, while I gave them 256MB of RAM and CD drives in the other two. I kept all hard drives for backup use in the two computers I have left.

I'm happy some kids somewhere may get some use out of them.

As of this date they are accepting PIII 450 and higher machines. Ones that don't meet that bar will be properly disposed of for a $6 fee. They'll take monitors and printers too, so don't let your old equipment gather dust! The organization has offices across Canada.

Posted by Paul at 07:40 PM

September 21, 2005

Edmonds Group Attracts New Members

The Edmonds Town Centre Business and Community Association held a breakfast meeting/membership drive this morning that was a great success.

Held at Boardwalk Gaming at Highgate Mall, the event attracted over 60 people, including many representatives from the Burnaby RCMP and Fire Department.

Mayor Derek Corrigan gave a rousing speech about how the Edmonds neighborhood was on its way to revitalization. We are expecting a new library and a swimming pool to be built in the area in the next few years.

The association has been doing great job working with the city, RCMP, firefighters and other groups such as the Emdmonds Lions in giving the neighborhood a boost. It was gratifying to see application forms for membership piling up as people left the meeting.

I suspect membership nearly doubled today!

Posted by Paul at 06:20 PM

September 20, 2005

New Refrigerator Saves Power

Our refrigerator was developing mysterious cracks in the liner of its freezer section, and seemed to be running a lot more than it used to, so we decided it was time to get a new one.

We settled on an 18.2 cubic foot Kenmore from Sears with an EnerGuide rating of 407 kWh/year -- about the lowest available in its class. We got a great deal as it was a discontinued model reduced from $949 to $599.

It arrived today, and after the deliverymen left we noticed a couple of problems. First, the upper shelf that holds a sliding drawer was broken. I called Sears and the guy who answered immediately said he'd get a new shelf out to us at no cost, and took the model and serial numbers.

Then later when I was reversing the doors to suit the layout of our kitchen, I noticed that there appeared to be a large 1/2" gap in the door seal at the bottom left side. Was this "deal" turning out to be a lemon?

I called Sears again and was assured that while there may "appear" to be a gap, if I couldn't feel cold air coming out, the seal was good. I'm not sure if I can feel cold air or not, but when the repairman delivers the new shelf next week, I'll have him take a look.

Overall I'm quite pleased with the responsiveness of Sears employees.

Posted by Paul at 07:32 PM

June 30, 2005

Burnaby-Kushiro 40th Anniversary

Burnaby's beautiful crane ecosculpture and mural were unveiled today at a ceremony on Burnaby Mountain.

The celebration marked the 40th anniversary of sister-city relations, and the preservation of wetlands in Kushiro and streams in Burnaby.

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Posted by Paul at 07:20 PM

June 24, 2005

Burnaby-Kushiro Crane Display Takes Shape

The cities of Burnaby, Canada, and Kushiro, Japan, are celebrating their 40th anniversary as sister cities this year, and Burnaby has put together an amazing crane project that honours Kushiro's efforts to save the red-crowned Japanese crane from near extinction.

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Burnaby had 2,000 aluminum cranes made for children to paint under the direction of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, which is known for its watershed education and community art programs. The society taught children in 11 Burnaby schools about the Japanese crane and the efforts of Kushiro citizens to preserve its habitat, and then children painted cranes that are being installed on Burnaby Mountain.

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Burnaby also commissioned a huge crane eco-sculpture that was recently installed on the mountain, and it is quite the sight.

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The eco-sculpture and the crane mural will be officially unveiled at 11:00 a.m. on June 30, with the participation of a delegation from Kushiro.

Posted by Paul at 09:58 PM

April 06, 2005

Burnaby Mayor Lauds Cultural Diversity

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan gave his annual state of the city address at a Burnaby Board of Trade lunch today.

The theme was "See the World Come to Burnaby," and he gave an inspiring speech on how the city's cultural diversity was drawing talent from all over the world. He said that as of the 2001 census, 47% of Burnaby residents were immigrants, yet of those 84% had already attained Canadian citizenship.

Corrigan drew a picture of Burnaby as a place of incredible richness and diversity that is becoming a model for well planned, fiscally responsible growth.

Posted by Paul at 04:02 PM

March 22, 2005

Big Bend Development Draws Crowd to Burnaby Council

A rezoning hearing brought a big crowd to Burnaby City Hall this evening, with the bulk of the focus on proposed big box developments in the Big Bend area near where we live.

The developments, on both sides of Marine Way east of Byrne Road, have been drawing strong local opposition, but appear to be a done deal. Letters of support were read from Best Buy/Future Shop, Winners, Canadian Tire, and other retailers, while opponents were mostly local residents.

I understand the necessity of development, however NIMBYism aside, I really don't see the need for these projects. The traffic in the area is already terrible, and having thousands more drivers doing destination shopping will bring it to a standstill.

There is little mass transit to the area, and having dozens of big stores there will undermine the city's efforts to revitalize Edmonds Town Centre, which is a five-minute drive away.

The whole plan simply flies in the face of sustainability and livability.

Posted by Paul at 09:40 PM

February 15, 2005

Inconsiderate Coughers Mar Vancouver Concert

A cacophonous chorus of coughers crashed the Kodo concert in Vancouver last night.

A quiet, moving, wooden flute and vocal number in particular was assailed with a storm of hacking.

The occasional cough or sneeze is to be expected at a concert, but this was an ongoing barrage from numerous idiots throughout the hall.

Who were all those inconsiderate people who couldn't suppress a cough for a few minutes? Or if they were that sick, what were they doing attending a public event?

What has happened to courtesy and common sense?

Posted by Paul at 12:10 PM

January 06, 2005

Snowy Ukrainian Xmas in Vancouver

We've got snow in the lower mainland -- lots of it!

Fearing the foolishness and mayhem of the average driver, I cancelled a service appointment with Don Docksteader Subaru. The service rep was sympathetic, saying they had shut down their shuttle bus service and that one of their service rental cars had already been in an accident.

The blanket of snow is lovely, but you really have to watch out on the roads. I do not undertand why people do not slow down, no matter what the conditions are. There were numerous accidents on the evening news, several with multiple vehicles sliding into each other.

Not impressive to a Saskatchewan boy!

Posted by Paul at 10:51 PM

January 01, 2005

Quiet New Year 2005 - Disaster Response

Yumi and I had a quiet New Year. No parties or big meals, no long lists of resolutions. I'm just happy to be on the mend following some health problems that put me in the hospital for a week in December.

It wouldn't have felt proper to celebrate anyway, what with all of the horrific events around the world.

I am amazed at the outpouring of global support for the victims of the south Asian tsunami, and appalled at all the government posturing. I'm proud of the response from countless individuals and businesses, and disgusted by the Canadian government that has the gall to talk about magnanimously "matching" donations from individual donors. Matching with what? It's our tax money!

I am also outraged by the dithering that has taken the government so long to decide to deploy the DART (Disaster Assistance Response Team), and embarassed by the fact that the Canadian Forces have been allowed to deteriorate to a state that they cannot even transport the team.

I know and admire certain individuals working for the government, however I am getting increasingly despondent about the overall political culture.

Posted by Paul at 12:59 PM

December 23, 2004

Cronkite on Secrets

Another little gem, this time found in the July 2004 issue of Linux Journal.

It's a particularly good quote in light of recent events in Canada in which the government has been stonewalling its own investigations.

"When you stop to think about it, you keep secrets from people when you don't want them to know the truth. Secrets, even when legitimate and necessary, as in genuine national-security cases, are what you might call passive lies."

Walter Cronkite.

Posted by Paul at 02:15 PM

Bring Solutions to Government

In catching up on my reading I ran across the following quote in the June 2004 issue of Linux Journal in an article called "Hacking Democracy" by Doc Searls.

As a volunteer involved in my community, it stuck me as a very powerful statement.

"Government isn't the problem. People need to bring solutions to government. Government is dying for answers. Bring some and you'll get somewhere.

"I don't have experience with the government stonewalling me at all. I experience interest and cooperation at every level, as long as I bring solutions and not just problems.

"A lot of helpless people want government to solve their problems or to carry their spear on one issue or another. That reflects an ignorance of how the whole ecosystem actually works. If you're constructive, you can participate in that ecosystem. Bureaucrats are crying for help on all kinds of issues. If we provide some, we can make stuff get done together."

Inspiring words, indeed!

Posted by Paul at 11:01 AM

December 22, 2004

Back in Action - Reading a Lot

I was laid low on Dec. 12 with a suddenly arrhythmic heart, and spent nearly six days in Burnaby Hospital until it settled back into a proper beat. I've been told to slow down, relax and take some time to recover, so I am finally catching up on a pile of reading.

I've finished reading four books that had been in various stages of progress over the last several months, and aim to start posting reviews here soon.

Posted by Paul at 05:59 PM

November 22, 2004

Smooth Strata AGM

We had the Annual General Meeting for our strata corporation this evening, and as the outgoing president I was pleased that it went quite smoothly, considering that the owners were facing their first increase in fees in many years.

They accepted the budget, with its 4.7% increase, acknowledging that projections showed that the complex would be facing increasing costs in the future as it ages.

The issue that got the most heated attention was the perennial strata problem of parking. All of the lanes in our townhouse complex are designated fire lanes with no parking at any time. Yet there are vehicles parked on them nearly every evening, and things get particularly bad on Friday and Saturday nights. So far we have not towed anyone, preferring a nonconfrontational approach of warning letters. However, owners at the meeting wanted to crack down.

The other issue is owners using visitor parking, which is against the rules. There are several people who are doing this regularly, and again while we've been trying to handle this with warning letters and fines, owners want to put an end to it, and that may entail some towing.

I'm back on council for the coming year, and I'm sure it will be an interesting one!

Posted by Paul at 10:46 PM

November 15, 2004

Extra Attic Insulation Has Immediate Benefits

Over the last two days we added an extra R20 of insulation to our attic, bringing it up to a total of about R40. In the process we discovered that one area in the attic had been completely bare.

There have been immediate results. There used to be a temperature differential between the main floor and the top floor of 3-4C, and now it is only 1C. That makes for a huge difference, because while the basement and main floor use forced air, the upstairs has expensive electrical heat.

We've also noticed that the furnace is working much less, easily maintaining 20C with only a few minutes of heating every few hours.

Posted by Paul at 09:15 PM

October 19, 2004

Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association

I attended my first meeting of the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association and found it to be an excellent experience.

Louise Towell and Joan Carne, founders of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, of which I am now president, have been members for some time, so I thought I should check it out.

In addition to community businesses, the Burnaby RCMP, Fire Department and Mayor's Office are represented at the meetings.

It appears to be a valuable organization of people dedicated to seeing their neighborhood grow and prosper.

I signed up our company as a member, and hope to attend more meetings in the future.

Posted by Paul at 10:01 PM

October 08, 2004

Burnaby Mayor Gives Moving Breast Cancer Speech, Pledge

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan made a moving speech about breast cancer at the Burnaby Board of Trade 2004 Business Excellence Awards luncheon yesterday. He pledged to have his head shaved today to raise funds for breast cancer research.

Corrigan said he, and other city staff, would have their heads shaved to stand in solidarity with a city employee who recently underwent surgery and chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Corrigan said he wanted to speak to the men in the audience, and tell them that one in nine women will get breast cancer, and to think about their mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and friends.

Support British Columbia cancer research, and check out the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Posted by Paul at 08:02 PM

October 01, 2004

Ichiro Gets 100th Run

And his 100th run of the year!

Posted by Paul at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

Ichiro Sets MLB Hit Record!

Ichiro has set a new MLB hit record at 258, at his very next at bat after he tied the record. Amazing!

Posted by Paul at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)

Ichiro, Ichiro!

Hit 257, for a well-earned tie with "Gorgeous" George Sisler, who set the record in, get this, 1920!

Ganbatte!

Posted by Paul at 07:36 PM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2004

Green Space Letter Appears in Burnaby Now

A letter I wrote to the Burnaby Now regarding development near Byrne Creek appeared in the paper today. Here it is:

Dear Editor:

I am dismayed that an island of forest on Griffiths Ave. across from Edmonds Skytrain Station may be rezoned so it can be razed for a high-rise building and townhouses.

Over half of the site is covered with trees and brush that are home to dozens of species of animals, and it abuts salmon-bearing Byrne Creek.

My wife and I own property nearby, we run a small business, and we understand the profit motive and development. Yet I wonder why more green space needs to be destroyed in Burnaby when it has already been disappearing at a frightening pace since we moved to this beautiful city six years ago.

People marvel at Byrne Creek and the ravine park, and the hard-won revitalization and survival of this pocket of nature in an urban area has even attracted international attention. So why are we still allowing "development" to gnaw away at what little nature we have left?

The city has a plan to rehabilitate the downtrodden Edmonds area, and while I support it in general, some of the details are more detrimental than beneficial. Why not put large new developments along Edmonds and Kingsway? Both streets are lined with tired one- and two-storey buildings. Let's flatten them and put the towers and townhouses in areas that are already paved and relatively devoid of wildlife.

Why must we still cringe at the roaring of chainsaws in urban pocket forests? Why must we watch ever-increasing amounts of wasted rainwater pour off ever-expanding polluted parking lots and down storm drains to rip the hearts out of our local creeks?

Children of future generations should be able to experience the joy of exploring and playing in forests, ravines, and creeks just steps from their homes, instead of being relegated to lifeless expanses of concrete.

Paul Cipywnyk, Burnaby

Posted by Paul at 05:33 PM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2004

Streamkeepers Enjoy a Taste of Edmonds

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers enjoyed a sunny Labour Day at the Taste of Edmonds event organized by the Southside Community Church.

It was a fun-filled and tummy filling event. For the cost of a $2.00 "passport" you could taste dishes from 10 ethnic groups and local restaurants.

streamkeeper_booth_edmonds_20040906.jpg

We had our booth set up, and it's always interesting to talk to people in the community, many of whom have no idea they are living in the watershed of a salmon-bearing creek.

The biggest draw to our booth is our stamp-painting table. It attracts the kids, who in turn drag their parents in. We're a laid back bunch, and only talk about streamkeeping and caring for the environment to those who express interest.

kids_painting_streamkeepers_edmonds_20040906.jpg

People are amazed to discover that storm drains are part of the creek.

"So where is Byrne Creek?"

"You're standing on it."

"What!"

This neighborhood is undergoing dramatic changes with a new shopping center and highrise residential towers, a new public library, and a new public swimming pool all underway or in the works. It will be interesting to see how the Taste of Edmonds develops over the next few years.

Posted by Paul at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2004

Multiple National Connections Save Olympics

I'm a Canadian of Ukrainian descent who lived in Japan for 14 years and who has a Japanese wife.

This combo is making for an interesting 2004 Olympics experience! Canada has not been doing well, to put it mildly, but Japan and Ukraine are ripping along.

I'd rank my loyalty priorities Canada -- Japan -- Ukraine, so while Canada flounders, I gain some satisfaction from my adopted country Japan, and the country of my ancestors, Ukraine.

Posted by Paul at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2004

Home Renos Underway Again

When we bought this townhouse nearly three years ago, it was in pretty good shape, so all we did was repaint the interior, replace 90% of the lighting fixtures with energy savers, and install new, more appealing and functional, kitchen and bathroom taps and faucets.

Over the years there were additional little projects now and then like adding a few cupboards, putting in a new laundry sink, running Ethernet for our computer network, and installing security bars in the basement window.

It appears that projectitis is infecting us again, as Yumi is coming up with new ideas.

Last week it was new drawer and cabinet pulls for the kitchen and bathrooms. I had to admit the cheap plastic pulls were pretty tacky, however after installing new gold and silver metal pulls, suddenly the cupboards looked even less appealing than they had before. They're very plain and getting worn.

So today we took down the trim mouldings from around the tops and bottoms of the kitchen cabinets, and cleaned and sanded them. They are an ugly prosthetic pink to match the ugly porcine-coloured countertop.

The trim will be redone in black, and so will the wood trim on the square boxed lighting fixture smack in the center of the kitchen ceiling. That will give us a black on white effect that should complement some of the Japanese interior design touches in the living room.

That leaves the unsightly fleshy Formica countertop. Our budget still doesn't allow for granite at the moment, so we're debating painting it or tiling it. We might just paint it -- some sources say that's doable, while others say don't try it. In our case, if the paint doesn't last, that's OK, as we're becoming steadily more averse to what's there now, and if necessary will replace a deteriorating paint job with nicer Formica.

It never ceases to amaze me how little changes beget larger changes :-).

Posted by Paul at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

July 31, 2004

Cruising Vancouver Harbour

Last night we cruised Vancouver harbour courtesy of my Mom, who bought us tickets to a McGill University Vancouver Branch alumni event.

We sailed on the MPV Constitution, billed as the only authentic paddlewheeler in Vancouver.

It was a hot, clear summer evening, and we marvelled at being out in the harbour for the first time since we moved here five years ago. I don't know what it is, because I love being out on the water, yet having lived for a total of 20 years in two cities on the Pacific -- Tokyo and Vancouver -- we've done this sort of thing very rarely.

The cruise took us around Stanley Park, under the Lion's Gate Bridge, and out along the West Vancouver shoreline. We got as far as Lighthouse Park to a hazy sunset glowing orange from all the particles hanging in the air from northern forest fires.

vancouver_lighthouse_sunset_20040730.jpg


Then it was across to Spanish Banks and east into English Bay, before we again rounded Stanley Park and back into the harbour. The lights of the city were fantastic.

The food was excellent, the weather was just right, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We'll have to do it again some day. Thanks Mom!

Posted by Paul at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2004

Record High Temperature in Tokyo

Tokyo was hit by a record-high heat wave today, with a station in the central Otemachi business district reaching 39.5C.

Yikes! I used to work in that area, and it must have been terrible. I used to always wear black pants so the sweat wouldn't show as much while I was commuting, and often took an extra shirt to work from June through August.

Now after five years in Burnaby on the west coast of Canada, I start grumbling when the mercury climbs past 23 or 24C.

Hope the electrical grid is holding up in Tokyo!

Posted by Paul at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2004

CFL Alumni Allstars Beat Vancouver Police 21-19

CFLPA Pro Players Alumni Allstars beat a Vancouver Law Enforcement slow-pitch baseball team 21-19 tonight, helped by a touchdown that put the allstars out of reach.

A touchdown? Yep, well behind on the crisp performance of the police, the Canadian Football League alumni allstars pulled out a football and ran a play that took them around the bases for a 7 pointer.

It was all in good fun to raise money for the Children's Wish Foundation.

There were skydivers and all sorts of silly antics on the field. One highlight was when a couple of "ruffians" ran onto the field and "stole" a ballglove, only to be taken down by police dogs. Man, those are some well-trained animals. They displayed single-minded focus despite the roar of the crowd.

It was a fun way to spend a glorious sunny evening.

Posted by Paul at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2004

King Arthur Was Ukrainian!

Yep, according to the latest movie interpretation, King Arthur was Ukrainian.

Thanks to a friend of a cousin for sending me this link.

I wondered when somebody would make the Sarmatian connection....

It's a stretch, but it's good for a laugh!

Posted by Paul at 07:08 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)

July 01, 2004

Happy Canada Day!

We spent a gorgeous, sunny Canada Day volunteering at the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers booth at Richmond Park/Eastburn Community Centre.

City, provincial and federal politicians showed up, and we spoke with several of them. It was fun checking out the other displays and watching the crowds.

Several people who dropped by our booth had interesting stories to tell about Byrne Creek and its neighborhood. We really need to record some of this oral history before it is lost.

ByrneCreek_CanadaDay2004.jpg

Posted by Paul at 06:36 PM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2004

Skewed Canadian Election Results

There is something very wrong with an electoral system in which a party that wins 15.7% of the popular vote ends up with 19 seats, and a party that wins 12.4% of the popular vote gets 54 seats.

We're talking the NDP and the Bloc, and I don't support either party, however if I were an NDP supporter, I'd be outraged at this result.

It's also disquieting that the Green Party won 4.3% of the popular vote and didn't get a single seat. That means that the votes of nearly 1 in 20 Canadians were completely ignored.

The "first past the post" system has a long tradition in Canada, but I think we need to take a serious look at it.

Posted by Paul at 07:27 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2004

Do Something Now!

((((DO SOMETHING!) SMALL) USEFUL) NOW!)

I'm not a programmer, but even I could figure out that statement.

I picked it up off the NewsScan email list, and it was about the death of Bob Bemer, who helped invent the widely used ASCII coding system.

What simplicity and clarity!

Posted by Paul at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2004

Federal Party Leaders' Debate - Platforms

It's been fun watching the scrapping going on, however to get beyond the blather, I suggest reading the parties' platforms. In alphabetical order:

Conservative Party Platform

Green Party Platform

Liberal Party Platform

New Democratic Party Platform

There aren't any Bloc candidates in our riding here in B.C., so I'm skipping that one. In addition, I don't understand why a party committed to separating a province from Canada is included in a *national* election debate....

Totally weird, eh?

Posted by Paul at 06:47 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2004

Cheerful Laughter Amidst Tragedy of New Denver

Continuing our trip homeward, we left Nakusp around noon on June 8 and headed for New Denver. We wanted to visit the Nikkei Memorial Internment Centre there.

The few buildings are the only existing remnants of all the internment camps that held some 22,000 Japanese-Canadians during WWII -- a shameful stain on Canada's history, as over 70% of the internees were Canadian citizens. They were uprooted from B.C., and then after the war ended they were not allowed to return home, but had to move east of the Rocky Mountains.

As we walked into the site, we could hear a happy male voice laughing and chattering away. We entered the reception area, and the man behind the voice looked familiar. My wife Yumi exclaimed, "I've seen you on TV!"

It was "Nobby" Hayashi, former bat boy for the famed pre-war Japanese-Canadian Asahi baseball team, and we'd seen him in a documentary video that was produced when the team was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame recently. Better late than never....

We toured the centre, and as we moved from building to building, my anger and sadness grew at what had transpired in a so-called democracy, and at the blatant racism. It was shocking to hear cheerful women's voices calling to each other in Japanese as we walked around the site, and to turn a corner to see beaming, beautiful, elderly faces in a place that to me seemed to hold such sadness.

I had many questions for Mr. Hayashi. He said there were only about 20 Japanese left in New Denver, all that remained of a handful of tubercular and family-less internees who were allowed to stay on in the town when the other 2,000 or so internees were forced to move east when the camp closed.

They must all be in their 70s to 90s.

I didn't ask what will happen when they're all gone.

I sat in the beautiful gardens created for the centre among the ghost-filled buildings, and pondered people's inhumanity toward other human beings.

NewDenver_Nikkei_Internment_Centre.jpg

Yumi entering the building in which we found Nobby Hayashi manning the counter.

Posted by Paul at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2004

Stream of Dreams Receives Environmental Leadership Award

Louise Towell and Joane Carne of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society received the 2004 Environmental Leadership Award tonight at a Burnaby Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission meeting.

The city nominated the society for the award, which comes from the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association.

The award was presented at a BCRPA conference, was accepted on the society's behalf by a Burnaby Parks commission member, and passed on to Joan and Louise tonight.

BCRPA_EnviroLeadershipAward2004.jpg

From left, Louise, Joan and Parks Chair Leslie Roosa.

Posted by Paul at 09:45 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)

May 15, 2004

Japanese City Councillors Visit Byrne Creek

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers hosted a group of seven city councillors from Okayama City in Japan this morning. They were in Vancouver and Burnaby on an unofficial visit and wanted to meet a volunteer group working on environmental issues.

It was interesting to see a group of men in suits with nearly no English-language abilities loosen up and have a great morning with a bunch of T-shirt clad streamkeepers. We are fortunate to count two Japanese volunteers in our group, Maho Hayashi, and my wife Yumi, who helped AK Travel Canada Ltd. owner Masaaki Kawabata interpret throughout the morning.

Our visitors quickly shed their ties as we explored the creek, and initial awkwardness on both sides blossomed into animated exchanges of questions and answers about storm drains vs sanitary sewer systems, flap gates and tides, city contributions and volunteer work, and even some mutual "testing" of playground equipment and a seesaw in Ron McLean park.

We presented our guests with our own brochure, a City of Burnaby storm drains brochure, and a Japanese-language streamkeeping synopsis and history of Byrne Creek prepared by Yumi and Maho.

Louise Towell and Joan Carne, streamkeepers and founders of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, gave each councillor a small dreamfish. We were also pleasantly surprised when they all bought Byrne Creek Streamkeeper T-shirts!

This was the second time that Byrne Creek Streamkeepers have hosted a group from Japan through Masaaki's auspices, and we'd like to thank him.

Posted by Paul at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2004

Marlborough Stream of Dreams Up

It's up! Over 1,000 fish, and wetland plants and animals.

Marlborough_StreamOfDreams2.jpg

I spent a second day at Marlborough Elementary helping to install a new Stream of Dreams art/environmental fence display.

I admire the fortitude and stamina of all of the parent volunteers who "twisted" the fish onto the fences. I couldn't believe how many unused muscles I rediscovered working on this project :-). Each piece takes anywhere from one to three, or occasionally even five or six, aluminum wire ties to secure to the fence.

Those ties have to be wound up tight, and crimped so they don't stick out and possibly injure anyone.

This was my first Steam of Dreams installation, however I suspect it's not my last....

Marlborough_StreamOfDreams1.jpg

Posted by Paul at 07:48 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2004

Streamkeepers, Stream of Dreams, Mentioned in BC Legislature

BC MLA Patty Sahota mentioned the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and the Stream of Dreams in the provincial legislature as examples of succesful, hard-working volunteers!

Speaking about the Burnaby Festival of Volunteers organized by Volunteer Burnaby, Sahota said:

"Many people volunteer because it allows them a chance to give something back to their neighbourhood or to their community. Organizations like the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers are a prime example of volunteers who have shown dedication and determination in the face of adversity and have won the support of the community with their Stream of Dreams."

You can find the full Hansard entry here.

Posted by Paul at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2004

Marlborough School Hosts Stream of Dreams

The Stream of Dreams rolled into Marlborough School in Burnaby this morning, kicking off a huge project to teach kids about their watersheds, and paint dream fish and other animals for display on the chainlink fence around their school.

Kudos to the school, staff, parents, and kids for starting such a great event on Earth Day.

I attended the first few sessions this morning as the freshly minted, learning-as-I-go president of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society. It was educational to see founders Louise Towell and Joan Carne in action -- Joan in the classroom teaching kids how watersheds work, and Louise leading them in painting their own dream fish.

joan_watershed_education.jpg


It's a sight to behold as teachers, kids, parents, and volunteers pitch in.

I hope to attend a few more sessions over the next week.

Posted by Paul at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2004

Silly Error Appears in Maclean's Japan Story

Why do western newspapers and magazines continue to publish cutesy stories about Japan without checking facts?

In the April 26, 2004, Maclean's, Steve Burgess writes: "Such unusual touches and jarring cultural snapshots have caused westerners to put Japan under a microscope for years." OK, one would assume that he would then have a passing acquaintance with his subject.

However, he later states: "Japanese writing features three different sets of characters. One of them is reserved exclusively for spelling out things that are not Japanese, such as the signs of foreign-owned restaurants." Not true.

If you look at the main photograph accompanying the article, it shows several Japanese companies displaying their names in katakana, the script that is supposedly reserved only for foreign words, or even in English characters, for huge outdoor advertisements.

I have beside me a Japanese-language catalog from electronics retailer Yodobashi Camera from my last trip to Japan a few months ago. The Yodobashi Camera logo is in katakana. Inside the catalog names of leading Japanese companies including Sony, Nikon, Canon, etc., are rendered in katakana, or simply in English characters.

Better take another look into that microscope!

Posted by Paul at 08:44 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 25, 2004

Surrounded by Dangerous Drivers

Society has to crack down on dangerous drivers. There should be zero tolerance for ANY infraction, as that simply leads to stretching the boundaries of what is considered acceptable behavior.

I saw three drivers commit potentially deadly acts today.

One sailed through a red light without even slowing down. Another did the same at a four-way-stop intersection next to an elementary school. The third passed me on the #1 highway. I was doing 90km/h in an 80km/h zone, and he flew by at what must have been at least 120km/h and weaved back and forth from lane to lane, missing other vehicles by a foot or two. He was no kid either, I saw white hair and a white beard as he flashed by....

We talk about the horrendous accidents and killings caused by kids street racing, but have you ever noticed how incompetent the average driver is?

The tailgating, the rolling through stop signs, the changing lanes without signalling, the yakking on cell phones, the failing to stop at crosswalks, the....

I'm almost afraid to stop at crosswalks when I see a pedestrian attempting to cross, because other oncoming drivers do not, or else some idiot blows by me on the right from behind!

In case you think I'm a sourpuss, I enjoy driving. I used to work on and modify cars as a kid. I like driving fast -- but safe -- and certainly not within city limits.

I know police are already overworked and overextended. But couldn't they assign just one unmarked car to traffic? And I don't mean a big Chev or Ford, but some innocuous vehicle that nobody would ever think was a police car.

Then NAIL the tailgaters, the stop-sign drifters, the lane-change non-signalers. Get them for the little things, and get them thinking before they cause a big accident.

Drivers have to wake up and take responsibility for their actions, or lack thereof. They must realize that driving is a privilege extended to the adequately skilled and aware, not the mindless and the stupid.

Posted by Paul at 08:51 PM | Comments (0)

Oil Enters Byrne Creek

My wife and I were down at the sediment pond above the Byrne Creek spawning habitat late this morning not long after it started to rain. At around 10:40 we noticed an oily substance exiting the bottom end of the Southridge culvert that formed small oily swirls as it hit the side of the concrete above the gate.

As we stood there, the rain picked up and the flow began increasing until there was a constantly replenished oily area on the surface about a foot wide by four or five feet long along the concrete that oozed over the gate and on down into the sediment pond. While we've been having problems with an oily substance entering the system for months, the flow was the worst we'd seen.

We called it in to Burnaby's Environmental Services Division, and began making our way upstream to track it. I got a call on my cell from a city engineer around 11:00 who was already at the sediment pond and who confirmed that an oily substance was still accumulating.

Yumi and I noticed tiny amounts of oil entering storm drains up on Southridge Drive. It was wash off the road, and wasn't enough to be causing the large accumulation in the sediment pond.

There were bubbles in the creek all the way up the ravine, and in Griffiths Pond. We checked the usual suspect -- the right bank storm pipe below Griffiths Ave., and it while its discharge was noticeably dirtier than the creek pipe, both were bubbly.

There were some bubbles in Susan's Pond on 18th Ave. About that time we got another call from the engineer who said that even further upstream where the creek daylights (first emerges from storm drains) the water was very murky and had some bubbles.

So while the right bank storm pipe under Griffiths Ave. was the dirtiest, there seemed to be bad stuff entering the system all over.

It's hard to believe that such a steady flow of that much oily stuff could be coming off roads alone. Based on today's back-tracking and previous flow monitoring, there must be something trickling into the storm drain system that leads to the pipe under Griffiths Ave.

Kudos to the City of Burnaby for responding so quickly!

Posted by Paul at 07:50 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 22, 2004

Outback Hits 100,000

Our '98 Outback hit 100,000km today, and I'd like to thank Subaru for building us a great vehicle.

Aside from regularly scheduled maintainance, we've had only two incidents -- a blown radiator fan fuse that was replaced free of charge, and a minor leak in an engine seal that was noticed by the dealer and replaced under warranty.

It's been an excellent car and I'd certainly buy another, but I aim to get at least another 100,000km out of this one, which should take another five years. We work from home and have no commute, so we don't put on the miles many people do.

The all-wheel drive has saved my bacon at least twice on snowy/icy mountain roads, and the versatility of the wagon is great for camping and hauling stuff.

We have received top-notch service from Don Docksteader Motors in Vancouver since originally getting the car at the dealer in Saskatoon.

Posted by Paul at 07:20 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2004

Steveston Cormorants, Obachan's Flowers

We went down to Steveston in the southwest corner of Richmond today. It's a funky town of antique and second-hand shops, fish and chips restaurants and cool marine hardware stores.

You can buy fish and shrimp at the pier, walk along the river and the point park where you often find daredevil kite fliers, and along the west dike. The turtles were out in force along the dike, basking on a floating platform.

The treat today was a row of nine cormorants perched atop a line of posts in the river. We'd never seen that many of the impressive birds at one time.

The redevelopment of the old BC Packers cannery site is trundling along. Fortunately a few buildings are being saved for posterity. The flowers were blossoming in Obachan's garden -- the Murakami residence memorialized in the well-known video depicting a personal look at the Japanese internment in WWII.

Posted by Paul at 08:33 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2004

Helping Drivers in Trouble

Comments I made recently in response to a question on assisting drivers in need appeared in an Ottawa Citizen article a few weeks ago, and the link is finally available to non-subscribers. I don't know how long it will be active, but I'll include it below.

The story was called Do I help? Or drive on by? by Susan Hickman.

I came across as a knight in shining armour, or at least a Boy Scout. Be prepared! Um, for those who don't know, that's not a lead into the rest of this post, it's a Boy Scout motto :-).

Reading my comments locked into black and white pixels on the screen made me squirm just a tish, for while it is true that I've helped many a driver in trouble, the bulk of those incidents were in what seem to have been more innocent days, in a more neighbourly place -- Saskatchewan in the 70s and early 80s.

While I did qualify my response somewhat, when I think about it now, I'd be very careful stopping my car and putting myself into possible danger.

That's sad, but that's life these days.

What's happening to us?

Posted by Paul at 07:03 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2004

Dad's Anniversary Service

I arrived yesterday in snowy, slushy, muddy Saskatoon, far from the blossoming cherry trees in Burnaby, to honour my father.

This morning I went to mass at All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Likely my first full mass in nearly 20 years aside from weddings and funerals.

The service was followed by a short 1st anniversary remembrance for my Dad, and to my surprize it resulted in some feeling of closure, or at least getting closer to it. Family members and friends came out of the pews to circle around the kolachi (traditional breads) and were handed candles to hold.

I sang the minor-key funeral responses, and tears trickled down my cheeks.

I'm lapsed Ukrainian Orthodox, but it was somehow comforting to be in the church, surrounded by relatives and parishoners I'd grown up with. I had my old, well-thumbed prayer book with me, complete with pencilled-in instructions from the days over 25 years ago when I used to be an altar boy and directed younger kids through the rituals.

A prayer book that had been in storage for some 20 years. The responses tumbled naturally off my lips in Ukrainian, though I can barely carry on a conversation in the language any more....

My Dad's wife Maura had invited over 100 people to lunch in the church basement, the count likely reached near 175, and it was great seeing many relatives and friends. I left Saskatoon about 20 years ago, yet it was comforting to see people I grew up with.

I felt good that I came.

And I felt very strange.

Nothing has changed, that would make me change.

Posted by Paul at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2004

Remembering Dad

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of my father's death. It's difficult to comprehend that a year has passed -- I still catch myself thinking I can pick up the phone and call him.

After he died, I added a few commemorative pages to my personal Web site. A couple of photos, his obituary, the eulogy I wrote for his funeral, a scan of his funeral card.

A small cyber-shrine. I'm not very religious, but it seemed like a good thing to do.

To remember him, and, mostly for me.

The link is front, top and center on my home page, and perhaps it's time I let go and made it less prominent. In a few days....

Dad was fully familiar with human weaknesses, had a pretty good handle on his own, and while he'd understand my sorrow, he wouldn't approve of much wallowing.

Indulge me tonight, Dad. I miss you.

Tomorrow I'll get on with trying to be half the man you were.

Love, Paul.

Posted by Paul at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2004

Is Sony Ripping Off Canadians?

Why is Sony charging substantially more in Canada than in the U.S. for the same products?

I saw a new Sony camcorder in a flyer today, the Digital 8 DCR-TRV460. Our old Sony Hi8 camcorder died nearly a year ago, and I'm interested in getting a Digital 8 model that can play back our old Hi8 tapes. The TRV460 can do that.

However, at Sony Canada, it's listed at C$699.99. At Sony U.S., it's listed at US$399.99. When I do the conversion, that's about C$530. Why is it nearly C$170 cheaper in the U.S.? That's outrageous.

I previously wrote about how much cheaper cameras and electronics are in Japan than in Canada, and I'm shocked to find such a huge disparity exists between Canada and the U.S.

Consumers ought to complain -- and loudly!

Posted by Paul at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2004

Burnaby Symphony - Winter Classics

The Burnaby Symphony warmed us up tonight with a Schubert overture and Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 in the first half, followed by a magnificent Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto in Bb minor, opus 23, splendidly hammered out with great flair by pianist Nikolai Maloff.

As my mom said, "Sometimes you just need that Slavic soul." Amen.

Maloff's performance was intensely powerful, and his command of his instrument was immediately obvious. Not quite enough to stand the hairs up on one's neck, but I certainly felt a strong tingling :-).

On second thought, I suspect it was not Maloff's fault that I didn't get a full rise out of my neck hairs. He was playing with a budding symphony, many members of which were glued to his breathtaking prowess whenever they had a lull in the action.

It's too bad the Michael J. Fox Theatre was less than half full. The symphony is still young, and there are rumblings that it's facing financial problems if things don't improve.

It's a blossoming group with great potential and it would be a shame to see it go. C'mon Burnaby, let's support our local symphony!

Posted by Paul at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2004

Society to Blame for Cult's Gas Attack?!

Chizuo Matsumoto, the leader of the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan who is better known as Shoko Asahara, received a death sentence Friday for multiple murders carried out by his followers, the vilest of which were sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system in 1995.

I am not a supporter of the death sentence, however an editorial in a left-of-center Japanese newspaper bemoaning the so-called faults in society that led to the murders of 27 people, and the injuring of thousands of others, enraged me.

So what if he had a rough life? So what if he was nearly blind? So what if he was a butt-ugly guy who needed guru status and mindwashed followers to feel loved? The bottom line is he is a paranoid sociopathic nutbar, which doesn't excuse him from responsibility for his actions.

Societies have always had disaffected elements -- people who just don't fit in. There is nothing "society" could have done differently that would have somehow magically prevented the formation of the cult.

Where does this liberal guilt come from? He made choices he was responsible for. They were horrific ones. His followers made choices -- stupid ones. How does that make society to blame?

I rode those subways. I knew people who ended up in hospital, and while nobody that I knew personally was seriously injured, I hear a few victims are still in comas nearly ten years later.

I feel not one inkling of responsibility for the actions of this mass murderer and his followers. What sane, logical person could?

What I did feel, when I used to see his followers dancing and chanting outside train stations in the area where I lived, was a shiver of unease crawling down my spine. If society was in any way to blame, it was for not stepping in earlier and shutting down his operation.

If society was in any way to blame, it was for being too liberal and too accepting.

That's a scary statement, but that's the real question here. Where does society draw the line?

Posted by Paul at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2004

SkyTrain Shops? It's About Time

The lower mainland's TransLink system has issued a request for proposals for retailing opportunities at SkyTrain stations. The idea is to generate revenue for the transit system while improving safety in and around SkyTrain stations by creating thriving retail communities.

I say it's about time.

Having coffee shops, convenience stores, dry cleaners, barbershops etc. at SkyTrain stations would greatly improve community life and safety. I lived in Tokyo for about 14 years, where train and subway stations are bustling hubs of activity.

I've never understood why that model has not been followed in the lower mainland. However, I would go further and implement more lessons we could learn from transit systems in Japan.

1) SkyTrain stations need gates. That would eliminate the flagrant abuse of the system as a drug trafficking and petty theft freeway. It would also recoup lost revenues.

2) Perhaps we don't have the population density for this proposal, but another feature of most train and subway stations in Japan is a "koban" police box that is manned 24/7 by officers who know their community. They take reports of lost and stolen items, do neighborhood bicycle patrols, respond to local incidents, and generally keep an eye on things.

Food for thought.

Posted by Paul at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2004

The Language of Visible Minorities

My Japanese (born, raised, and still citizen) wife and I have noticed that visible minorities in Canada often get tagged with an un-hyphenated label, no matter how many generations they've been here.

"My broker is Chinese." "My real estate agent is Filipino." "My hairdresser is East Indian."

I grew up being taught to be proud to be "Ukrainian-Canadian" and though I haven't identified myself much with that community for years, I find this strange.

Why don't visible minorities at least get the hyphen? "My dentist is Chinese-Canadian." Nope, it's: "My dentist is Chinese," even if his great-grandfather helped push the railroad through the Rockies over a hundred years ago, well before my Ukrainian ancestors arrived in Canada.

My wife and I have never said, "Our real estate agent is English." It's never crossed our minds to say, "We dealt with an Irish woman at the bank when we got our mortgage."

So what gives? I thought we were multicultural and colour-blind.

I've got a lot more thinking to do about this, and so do many other people I've encountered....

Posted by Paul at 08:53 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"?

Cooks.

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 16, 2004

Safety In Our Community

We went to the Safety In Our Community meeting tonight sponsored by the Burnaby RCMP and the Edmonds Town Centre Business Association.

The police made presentations on how they were dealing with the drug trade, prostitution and property crimes in the southeast section of Burnaby. They stressed that they needed the active support of the community, and that citizens needed to be their "eyes and ears" and report any suspicious activity.

They did their best to keep the meeting proactive and positive, however there were many complaints about slow or no response.

I have to give them credit for standing up there and letting people complain, however I was disappointed to see the superintendant go bureaucratic and avoid answering one simple question: "Are you understaffed and is there any way citizens can pressure government for more officers?"

There was no yes or no, just a rambling tale of 5-year plans, increased efficiencies, negotiating with the city and the federal government, and, and....

As for revolving-door justice, all of the officers were careful not to be too accusatory, however they did allow that they had issues with the justice system, and that citizens had to express their outrage to their MPs and MLAs.

One of the officers had responded to a call I made last year when my wife and I found what appeared to be a gasoline bomb in Byrne Creek -- it was a 2-litre plastic bottle with batteries and a contact switch taped to the end. After the meeting ended I approached him, and he remembered the incident. I gave him a Byrne Creek Streamkeepers brochure, and said we were in the ravine and checking the creek almost every day, and were happy to be "eyes and ears."

I also gave the corporal in charge of community policing in our district our business card, and said my wife was willing to do Japanese interpreting if they ever had a need for it.

As for CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Destruction :-), when members of our streamkeepers group complained to one of the officers about all the brush that had been clearcut along the creek, the response was: "Tough."

Ah, well, we'll continue working with the police, and gradually brainwash them into leaving the riparian zone alone :-).

Posted by Paul at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2004

Vancouverites Watch Tourists Like Reality Show

A Skytrain-load of Vancouverites delighted in the confusion of a pair of tourists today, and I found myself caught up in the conspiracy of silence at their expense.

I got on the train at Stadium station and grabbed a seat. Not long after the train pulled out from Main Street station, I heard a woman standing somewhere behind me say, "Honey, I wonder if we already passed Chinatown."

I nearly blurted out, "Yes, we just left the closest station," however I felt awkward, as they were behind me, and I figured someone with closer contact would say something.

Silence....

The woman asked someone standing behind me, "Do you know which station we should get off at for Chinatown?"

"Dunno," came a new voice, "I'm from Saskatchewan."

A conversation ensued about the cold prairies, while I squirmed in my seat as the train rolled further away from Chinatown. I scanned the people around me. Lips twitched, eyes shone, and eyebrows danced to the background music of soft whispering.

"Honey, it says Chinatown is No. 3 here on the map. Do you think we're there yet? Maybe it's the next stop."

It was too late. My silence had implicated me in the conspiracy. Several more stations and increasingly loud debate over the map passed before they finally figured out they were nowhere near Chinatown.

They got off at Joyce to catch a train going the other way, the doors closed, and seatmates chuckled. At least we didn't all roar with laughter, though I have to admit that when I got home and told my wife the story, we were both rolling around on the kitchen floor.

Shame! Why do we enjoy watching others blunder?

"Honey, do you think...?"

"Hee-ya-ha-ha....."

Posted by Paul at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2004

What's CPTED?

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, or, as streamkeepers now like to call it, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Destruction :-).

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers had our monthly meeting tonight, and our guest speakers were from the City of Burnaby planning department. They came to explain CPTED to us, and tell us why substantial areas near the creek were clearcut recently.

While I don't think they convinced any of us that what had happened made any sense, we thanked them for listening to our concerns. We just wish they'd contacted us before they razed parts of the riparian zone along the creek.

The issue seemed to boil down to "perceptions of safety." The idea that if people "feel" safer in parks, they will use them more. I don't buy that. After dark, safety cannot be ensured in any park or on any trail, and widening paths or improving "lines of sight" ain't gonna improve security.

Bottom line? As part of CPTED efforts, city workers clearcut a swath 2 - 5 meters wide along a path that passes behind the townhouse complex that we live in, right above the creek. Does that make me feel safer? No. I still won't use that path late at night. Like any sensible person, I would walk on the major streets that are less than a hundred meters from the path.

There was talk about drug dealers, addicts, and prostitution... But what has that got to do with clearcutting in the small sections of forest that we have left around the creek? There was talk about making citizens feel comfortable walking at night, so as to "take back the streets."

Streets? OK. But did sensible people ever walk through forested parks in urban areas at night?

Why does nature always have to lose?

Posted by Paul at 11:06 PM | Comments (1)

February 10, 2004

Ants Rule at Start of New Year

It's early into a new year, so I sit and glumly stare at the bare-to-the-bone balances in our bank accounts, bled white by the twin spectres of registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and annual mortgage pre-payments.

You see, I've always been a grasshopper, while my wife is firmly, nay, fiercely, in the ant family.

Of course you know the story: The ant works hard all summer building a house and caching supplies for winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs, dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper, with no food or shelter, dies out in the cold.

Near eleven years of marriage have changed my thinking, but I still find the first few months of each year difficult. RRSP limits must be filled by the end of February to take advantage of tax breaks, and the sooner in the year that one can make one's annual mortgage lump-sum principal pre-payment, the more interest one saves.

I know all this coerced saving will do me great good when I'm too old to enjoy it, but jeez, I haven't bought a new computer in nearly three years! What about that new 8-megapixel Nikon digital camera that was just released? Toys, toys, TOYS! I'm becoming depraved, er, I mean, deprived....

The one thing that keeps me sane is Net Worth. Banks like Net Worth.

I must admit that it is nice to see Net Worth growing. Slowly.

I must also admit that with all our cash gone to RRSPs and the mortgage principal pre-payment, Net Worth will continue to grow, unlike if that cash had remained accessible to my flighty fingers.

Kudos to my lovely wife, who signed us up for life insurance on the day of our civil (near no-cost) marriage :-), and who has stuck with me ever since.

You're my rock....

Posted by Paul at 09:09 PM | Comments (1)

February 07, 2004

Can't See the Perverts for the Trees?

City crews have been cutting down many trees and clearing out a lot of bush in our neighbourhood. They're doing this on the advice of the police, who think that widening pathways and opening up lines of view will protect people from perverts, rapists, and muggers.

While I can understand that argument, I prefer the approach of better enforcement, harsher sentencing, and much tougher parole standards to keep the nasties off the streets and out of our parks.

I'm biased -- I'm a streamkeeper -- and I hate to see trees and bushes that provide habitat and shelter being cut down.

Our streamkeeping group was out introducing new members to the creek one day, and stopped on a path that leads to a commuter train station. Our guide pointed out an area in which trees had been cut down adjacent to the creek so as not to interfere with electrical transmission cables overhead, opening up fish habitat to potentially damaging direct sunlight.

A woman passing by stopped and said, "Oh, are you talking about that forest? I think the whole thing should be cleared out. It's dangerous!"

We tried to point out that there were fish in the creek, birds nesting in the trees.... It went right past her.

What happened to common sense and personal responsibility? There is no way to ever insure 100% safety. Don't use the path through the forest after dark -- there are well-lit, busy streets you can take.

If we followed the "being able to see everything" logic, where would we stop? Perhaps we should remove mailboxes to eliminate those hiding places. How about prohibiting street parking? Gee, there could be someone lurking behind or between all those houses and buildings on my street. Perhaps we should raze those as well....

Posted by Paul at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2004

Chopping Up the Xmas Tree

We finally took down our Christmas tree today. The decorations and lights were removed a couple of weeks ago, but it was still in good shape and still had that zesty Douglas Fir aroma, so we were loath to see it go.

We carried it into the garage where we sawed the branches off and put them in a box for drying, and placed the denuded trunk along one wall. I'll saw the trunk into sections in the summer when much of the sap will have dried out.

Butchering a Douglas Fir Xmas tree is akin to giving a cat a bath -- as with the amazing shrinkage in the feline, the tree also loses its grandeur. The stick of a trunk that remains is a bit shocking.

We've been going through this process yearly ever since British Columbia stopped providing free firewood in provincial campgrounds.

I can see some rationale behind the change, and it certainly stopped people from mindlessly burning huge bonfires for hours on end. However, it also set off a rash of scavenging that has noticeably hurt the brush and forests in some campgrounds.

Education and enforcement need to improve. Meanwhile, we'll continue to personally recycle our Xmas trees, and scavenge for discarded construction material and woodworking waste to support our camping habit.

Posted by Paul at 07:44 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)

February 03, 2004

Joining a Nonprofit Board

A few days ago I was asked to join the board of directors of a local nonprofit society that was founded recently. I was flattered, yet uneasy about what I might be getting myself into.

I know, and highly respect, the people who started the society, which I won't name until this story plays out its course, however I asked for time to consider.

I wanted to know more about societies and directors' responsibilities.

I found the British Columbia Society Act online and read it.

Then I found a few good Canadian sites dedicated to the running of nonprofit groups, including Charity Village, which had a lot of useful material.

That site took me to a Fundraising Management program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology that looks interesting as its PR components appear to have a close fit with my existing business. (And I already have a couple of the classes under my belt from previous part-time studies.) Hmmm... Food for thought....

I know the founders of the society have been doing an excellent job for years and formed the society to formalize their volunteer efforts. They wish to get off the board so they can focus their energies on the actual activities of the society.

I've accepted, and I'll update this post with more info once I'm formally on the board.

Posted by Paul at 08:39 PM | Comments (0)

Musing on Blogs

About two weeks after starting this blog I'm doing exactly what I said I didn't like about many blogs - rambling on about multiplying numbers of topics in one blog.

In one of my first posts I said perhaps it would be more focused to have a blog on streamkeeping, a blog on technology, a blog on social commentary, a blog on writing and editing, etc. Then I discovered categories, created a bunch, and got sidetracked into throwing everything into this one blog.

So what am I going to do?

Dunno, yet.

I think I'll keep plowing along here using categories for a while. I still don't have a good feel for how often I'll be posting, or how prolific I'll be. It's been fun so far, but I'm far from developing a rhythm, or a guiding light.

It's also been a long time since I did a lot of writing. I've been editing almost exclusively for many years now, and I have to admit I find the blank page, or in this case the blank web form, a bit intimidating.

I used to enjoy writing columns and even got paid for some of them, so I suspect my blogging activity will continue.

Posted by Paul at 08:14 PM | Comments (1)

January 30, 2004

Send Doctors to Econ 101

BC doctors are demanding an 11% pay increase over 3 years, or about another $1.3 billion, when their salaries already are said to account for 10% of the provincial budget.

BCMA President Dr. John Turner was quoted as saying, ''The government has money if it wishes to find money.... The budget is a piece of paper that the government can do various things with."

No, doctor, the government does not have money, the citizens of this province work hard to earn money, which is then taxed away from them. Yes, the budget is a piece of paper, but it is based on the sweat of millions of people.

Online opinion polls are running about two-thirds against you. It's tough to get much sympathy for a group earning six-figure incomes.

You say doctors will leave BC for greener pastures? I say open up the borders, speed up the upgrading and re-certification process, and let in a couple of thousand Indian, Filipino, and Ukrainian doctors.

My father was a doctor. He also knew how to budget.

Posted by Paul at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2004

Great Quote on Doc Searls' Blog

The Doc Searls Weblog : Tuesday, January 26, 2004

Loved this quote that Doc Searls put on his blog today....

They are the people formerly known as the audience. And they do not want your message.

Posted by Paul at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)

Being a Good Guest

A writer on the Editors' Association of Canada mail list asked for comments and horror stories on guests, so I came up with this list:

1) Never use your host's personal bathing items. When my wife and I were living in an apartment with a single bathroom, a female guest once helped herself to my wife's scrubbing cloth - I'm not sure what to call it, not a loofah, but a rough cloth. Anyway, my wife found it soaking wet and covered with hair, and was completely grossed out.

2) If there is only one bathroom, and you want to bathe or shower, ask if anyone would like to use the facilities first.

3) Clean your hair out of the shower/bathtub.

4) Ask before using household items, especially if you're going to use them for purposes they were not intended for. Another guest helped herself to a pile of wooden and plastic kitchen items so her young children could play with them in the bath.

5) Ask for, or if you and your host are comfortable with you poking around the kitchen, help yourself to a big glass of water to put beside your bed when you go to sleep. That way you won't be stumbling around in the middle of the night waking people up if you get thirsty.

6) Never poke around in private rooms that are not obviously public areas, or that you have been told are free to use. This includes the host's bedroom, the host's bathroom if there is a guest bathroom, home offices, etc.

7) Never use a host's computer without getting permission. And never, never, NEVER install software on your host's computer without getting permission, and this includes games for your kids!

8) Don't stay up watching TV after your hosts have gone to sleep. If you can't sleep, read quietly in your room.

9) Offer to help, especially if the visit is longer than one day. "Can I help set the table?" "Would you like me to peel those carrots?" "Can I give you a hand drying the dishes?" Don't just sit around like a pasha, give the host the opportunity to accept or decline.

10) Inform the host of any food allergies or vegetarian practices *before* your first meal. Relations can become strained if you're allergic to tomatoes or don't eat beef, but don't let your host know until the meat sauce for the pasta is on the table.

11) Do your best to eat what is served unless you do have an allergy or are a vegetarian.

12) Don't make long-distance phone calls without asking. If you do make a lot of long-distance calls, it might be nice to leave a thank you note and a gift certificate behind for the approximate amount when you leave. It's a nice surprise for the host. Cash is crass.

13) Be observant, and try to follow your host's house rules. No shoes in the house? No feet on the coffee table? Etc.

14) On the morning that I leave, I like to strip the sheets and pillowcase(s) on the bed I've been using, fold them up and leave them nicely stacked ready for the laundry. If I know the host well, and I feel comfortable doing so, I may even toss them in the washer and start it.

I think most of these are common sense, but it never amazes me at how many "senseless" people there are.

Posted by Paul at 04:18 PM | Comments (0)