Category Archives: Society

Rusty Treasures Found While Organizing Utility Room

A few rusty treasures unearthed while cleaning and organizing our utility room today.

rusty railway spike door stop

On the left, a massive old door stop, gleaned from the site of a former farm on Byrne Creek just a few minutes walk from our place. (All part of a municipal park for decades now. . .)

On the right, a spike from the late, lamented, electric Interurban tram line that ran near our place and all the way out to Chilliwack before it was sadly decommissioned with the rise of cars and highways.

What a loss!

I hear that the teeny Powerhouse Creek that runs a few dozen meters out our back gate and into Byrne Creek was thus named for having a steam-powered electrical generator for the Interurban back in the day. The wee creek taps an underground aquifer that runs to this day. . .

Does Removing a Few Statues Deal with Colonialism?

OK, it’s late, and I’m sick with the flu, tired, and cranky. But. . .

So all these places that are taking down statues of colonial oppressors (Victoria [Sir John A], New Westminster [Judge Begbie] . . . )

(BTW I am not opposed to removing them. . .)

Why aren’t they changing their names?

Could you be any more colonial than having a name like Victoria? New Westminster?

I live in a ‘hood in Burnaby (named after an alien “explorer”) with streets around me like Nelson, Victory, Royal Oak. . . Sheesh.

Just because Robert Burnaby happened to be one of the first white folks in this area (coming after thousands of years of indigenous settlement) he got tons of stuff named after him, not only the city.

SFU Ecopsychology Workshop at Lynn Canyon

Had a great day in and around the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre. I participated in a Simon Fraser University workshop on Ecopsychology — Experiential, Nature and Place-Based Learning.

Thanks to instructor Daniella Roze for her thoughtful, grounded training, and great techniques for reconnecting people, and particularly kids, to nature.

While she was not able to arrange for someone from local First Nations to welcome us, we acknowledged traditional lands and the impacts of colonialism.

We had a chance to try basket-weaving and braiding using local plants.

meditation tree lynn canyon

This is the magnificent tree I chose for my individual meditation period. I lay on my back with the tree’s roots cradling my head, and contemplated the crown gently swaying in the breeze.

My thoughts were that viewed horizontally at human level, the tree looked so deeply rooted, mature, strong and still, and yet looking up with my body stretched on the earth, I could see the trunk bending with the wind and the crown dancing youthfully in the breeze.

It was diminishing yet uplifting to think this tree had been here long before I was born, and with good fortune, will be here much longer after I am gone.

Arriving in Tokyo in Early April

Welcome to Japan – We Have the Coolest Toilets in the World!

narita airport toto advert

Arriving at Narita Airport near Tokyo a few weeks ago .

I will be posting several shots of several high-tech throne controllers from various hotels.

Japanese development of cool toilets continues to amaze — and occasionally baffle.

When I first got to Japan in the mid-80s, many toilets were still squat type, which took some getting used to .

tokyo skytree
A snap of Tokyo Skytree captured from the window of the Narita Express airport train heading in to Tokyo a couple of weeks ago.

Tohoku Shinkansen Tokyo Station
The Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train), pulling in to Tokyo Station. This was my ride up to Yumi’s parents’ place in Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan.

You can see a restored dome from Tokyo Station in the background. They’ve done a magnificent job over the last decade or two restoring the station to nearer its original exterior appearance.

Air Travel Piling Up this Year, Guilty Feelings, Too

We’ve kept our air travel down for many years, as it’s one of the most carbon-intensive ways to move around our suffering planet.

But we’ve got several trips lined up this year, and while I’m excited, I’m also feeling guilty.

We haven’t visited Yumi’s parents in Japan for many years, so that’s on the agenda.

We have a friend in the UK who will be travelling later in the year and who says we’re welcome to use her apartment. Wow.

And there’s a bunch of us in-laws hitting our sixties this year, so there’s another travel-intensive gathering planned. .  .

And we have not one, but two, family weddings this year in eastern Canada, which shall require travel from here on the west coast.

I have an aunt who often laments the days of family all living in one village, within steps of each other.


Yeah, there are carbon offsets. And yeah, we are probably one of the most enviro-friendly families around.

But still . . . We’re gonna have a huge carbon smack this year. Sigh. . .

SFU Coastal First Nations Art Tour

I greatly enjoyed touring First Nations art at Simon Fraser University today on Burnaby Mountain. Thanks to John Preissl for guiding us!

There are a lot of good things happening on campus in making First Nations students accepted, safe and cared for.

We have a lot to learn from the first human inhabitants of where we live, and I try to recognize that and play even a small part.  Each and every one of us, as we are able, in whatever capacity, can play small parts….

SFU First Nations art