A Few Cool Birds

Yumi and I took Skytrain and Sea Bus to Lonsdale Quay today and wandered around the North Shore.

There were six or seven of these cool birds patrolling the pier just east of the Quay. We’d never seen them before, and once we got home figured out they were Pigeon Guillemot.

pigeon guillemot

There was also the usual gang of cormorants protecting their turf near the Sea Bus terminal.


And when we got home, we spotted this gorgeous little female Downy Woodpecker just off our balcony.

downy woodpecker

First I shot through the window with my little pocket camera. Then I ran down to my office and grabbed a DSLR. I gently opened the balcony door and she just sat there, a few meters away. I talked to her in low, quiet tones — I find this sometimes seems to reassure birds that you’re not trying to sneak up on them, and sometimes I think it just makes them curious.

Forty or fifty shots later I ran downstairs and grabbed a longer telephoto zoom and took another couple dozen shots. She was still just hanging out, so I ran down again to dig out Big Bertha, my Tamron 150-600 and she was still there when I got back, so I fired off another thirty or forty shots. Thank you for your patience!

Rescuing Tofu’s Bad Rep


I think tofu has an unnecessarily bad rep. You just have to know where to get the good stuff. And there are few places to get the good stuff.

I have never yet found any tofu in a major “western” supermarket that I liked. It’s rubbery. It’s tasteless. It’s ickilly smooth.

Here’s what I look for: It’s bought in an Asian market, preferably Japanese. It’s “momen,” or “momendofu” meaning it has weight and a non-icky, slightly textured consistency.

Once opened, you have to eat it in a day or two. If it lasts longer than that in your fridge, it’s got too many preservatives and who knows what other chemicals in it.

If you can serve it cold, cubed, with only a dash of quality soy sauce and sprinkled with bonito flakes, and it’s yummy — that’s my tofu.

If it’s some weirdness shaped into “hot dogs” or “hamburgers” and saturated with artificial flavours, yuck.

Rain After Weeks of Snow Poses Fresh Challenges

Our gutters are overflowing here in SE Burnaby, BC, as a steady rain kicks in after weeks of snow.

Checking out the issue, I discovered that the gutters and downspouts on the shady side of our home are plugged solid with ice.

So today’s morning workout was to dig a trench away from the worst spot, drop a board in to help with deflection, and chip away at the gutter with a hatchet — a task I soon discovered was futile. Will simply have to redirect the flow away from the foundation as best as possible and wait for the downspouts to clear.

I suppose I could try pouring boiling water down, but that would take a loooong time : – ).

Just checked the weather and it’s supposed to reach around 8 C today, so hopefully it’ll melt soon.

UPDATE: Going on the principle of nothing ventured nothing gained, I just spent ten minutes boiling ~4 liters of water and pouring it into the gutter near the downspout, and it does seem to have helped a bit.