Burnaby’s Byrne Creek Smelled Foul Today

As I did one of my many rambles around Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby today, I noticed as I reached the bottom of the stairs in the ravine that there was an odd smell, somewhat akin to a cross between kerosene and toilet-bowl cleaner.

The odor was most noticeable in the narrow portions of the ravine, and very strong at Griffiths Pond in the upper watershed near Edmonds Skytrain station, where a storm pipe empties into the pond.

I did not observe any dead fish, or ones in distress, but water visibility was near zero due to the rain.

I called it in to City staff, but noted that since I wasn’t seeing dead fish, it was not an emergency. But something not quite right went down the creek today.

Oh, Please, Not Another ‘What Computer Should I Buy’ Thread

Today someone asked that question again in one of the groups that I follow on Facebook: “I’m looking for a new Windows notebook computer, any recommendations?”

This set off a massive number of replies, of course, including, as always, Mac Missionaries expounding upon their love for their machines. About 50 posts into the thread, someone finally had the sense to point out that the original question was about Windows.

As far as I am concerned, such threads are silly.

Let me state that I have, and use, Windows, Mac, and Linux machines in my home office.

These long-winded, highly opinionated threads erupt because folks love to chat and ask for advice, and give advice, but why not go to a reputable source like PC Magazine that runs annual surveys of hundreds of users and dozens of brands in relation to satisfaction, reliability, service issues, likelihood of repurchase, etc. (and yes, the surveys include Macs). Choose a couple of brands/models that are highly rated, and go check them out in a store.

Try them out. Use them.

On Facebook, or in other forums, we’re just trading personal biases and one-off experiences. There is no hope in hell that what’s good for Greg will be pleasing to Mariko, or comfortable for Janet, or beloved by Paul.

For example, my wife and I both have ASUS notebooks (the brand chosen mostly because it tends to have pretty good bang for the buck, and is often found on sale), but very different models. Different uses and preferences.

Mine is a small, highly portable 13″ model with a processor designed for long battery life on the go. My wife’s machine is big, with a 17″ screen, and a built-in numeric keypad because she’s studying accounting, and rarely carries the machine anywhere, though she can take it to class if she needs to.

I’ve had Mac, IBM (now Lenovo), Toshiba, and ASUS notebook computers. They have all been reliable. My office towers for decades have been no-name, custom-configured machines, aside from the odd Gateway or hand-me-down Dell. They have all run fine, too.

So please, do your research, and most importantly, take the time to try out, and find, the computer that suits you, and fulfills your needs.

Paul’s Photo Tips — Tip 6 — Carry Extra Flash Cards, Extra Batteries

Carry extra batteries for your camera(s), and an extra storage card, or two, or three.

It sucks to be out in the field and run out of power, or run out of card storage space. This is particularly important if shooting video, which fills space rapidly, and depletes batteries quickly.

As I noted in Tip 5 “Take Lots of Photos” storage cards are dirt cheap these days. So stock up on cards and carry extras.

Batteries? Depending on the camera, not so cheap. If your camera uses a proprietary battery, it’s likely going to be expensive to get an extra one. I’ve got extra batteries for each of my DSLRs, at around $75 a pop. Not cheap, but think about it — if you take a photo ramble or photo trip, and you run out of juice, that $75 is going to look darn cheap compared to the time and cost of your venture.

And if you’re shooting for money, for a client, “sorry my battery ran out” will be a major setback to your career.

Again, if you’re shooting video, go for at least a pair of backup batteries.

You could try no-name batteries that mimic the output and dimensions of the maker’s ones. I do this for my cheaper point-and-shoot cameras. But I’m sticking with “official” manufacturer-approved ones for my DSLRs.

Don’t forget your other gear that uses batteries, too. I carry double sets of batteries for my flash units, for my remote camera trigger, etc.

One more tip within this tip:

Dedicate a drawer in your office just to batteries and chargers for all of your equipment. That way you know where everything is. Have a shoot scheduled for tomorrow? Have a charging station set up into which you can plug all your chargers, so that they are not spread out all over your house where you can forget them.

More power to you! : -)

Slow-Charging Samsung? Swap Cables

My Samsung S3 has been charging extremely slowly for awhile now. I can leave it plugged in overnight, and it will show only a 40-45% charge in the morning.

And I replaced the battery recently.

Searching online shows that many folks have resolved this by using a different USB cable — apparently the phone can sense if there’s any problem with a cable and will draw less if it thinks a cable is damaged.

If that doesn’t solve the problem, others say to try a new charger. I’ve got lots of USB chargers and cables around, so will try the different cable solution first, and if that doesn’t do anything, try a different charger.

UPDATE: An hour after I began writing this post, and, er, obviously before I posted it — my phone is apparently fully charged. The different cable, on first blush, appears to have solved the issue.

Burnaby Unveils Refurbished Citizens’ Plaza

I attended the “Official Dedication and Unveiling of the New Commemorative Paving Stones at Citizen’s Plaza” at Burnaby City Hall today.

It was a lovely, sunny, autumn day, with a congenial crowd of local volunteers, City staff, and politicians. In addition to the unveiling of redone commemorative paving stones (they’d faded over the years), the event was also an opportunity to recognize several Burnaby Citizen of the Year Kushiro Cup award recipients, inductees to the Burnaby Business Hall of Fame, and the Burnaby Sports Hall of Fame. These awards had been presented at previous events, but it was nice for recipients to get another round of public appreciation.

The event was combined with an Open House at City Hall, and many City departments had displays.

Burnaby Citizens' Plaza
People checking out commemorative paving stones

Burnaby Aft Gallery display
Burnaby Art Gallery booth

Sheep eco-sculpture
Burnaby has an ongoing eco-sculpture program. There were several sheep on display in readiness to be planted for the upcoming Year of the Ram (Sheep)

Burnaby Fire Department
Burnaby Fire Department presence

Burnaby RCMP booth
Burnaby RCMP booth

Burnaby volunteer monument
Monument in City Hall garden commemorating volunteers

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers founders paving stones
Paving stones commemorating the four founding members of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers

Speaking On Burnaby’s Watersheds in Local History Series

Burnaby History lecture seriesI’ll be speaking about streamkeeping, and how these volunteers help to protect and restore Burnaby’s waterways. I’ll be supplementing a presentation by Elmer Rudolph, a long-time volunteer who has amazing knowledge of the history of the decline, and restoration, of the Brunette River. This is part of the Burnaby Neighbourhood History series sponsored by the Burnaby Village Museum and Burnaby Public Libraries, and I encourage you to register for this, and other sessions, here.

Whidbey Island Camping

Whidbey Island in Washington State has become one of our favorite camping destinations. There are several state parks on the island, which, depending on time at the border, takes about two-and-half to three hours to reach from our home in Burnaby, BC.

Deception Pass State Park west beach
Yumi scanning the ocean at Deception Pass State Park west beach

Seal pup on rocky outcropping near the west beach at Deception Pass State Park

Sunset at Deception Pass State Park west beach

deception_pass_lock_20140914 Interesting patterns on parks pass lockbox

Love the grainy detail on the handle on a beach BBQ box

The wharf at Coupeville, a funky town mid-island

Deception Pass campground
Our campsite at Deception Pass State Park.

We’ve grown to love Whidbey Island ever since we “discovered it” several years ago. Lots of nature, wonderful state parks, lovely beaches, a variety of wildlife, yet all accompanied by easy access to groceries, shopping, etc.

And the state parks are quiet. We marvel at how even on busy weekends campers are near totally silent by 9:30 and definitely by the 10:00 pm quiet time.

Alta Vista Community Picnic in South Burnaby Great Fun

The Alta Vista Park Community Picnic in South Burnaby is always a great event. It’s truly a community gathering, and the organizers are excellent.

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers have participated for many years, and it’s one of our favourite events.

Some photos from yesterday:

Alta Vista Park Picnic - Streamkeeepers
Byrne Creek Streamkeepers booth

Alta Vista Park Picnic - Pols and Orgnaizers
Organizers with local politicians

Arts and crafts

Alta Vista Park Picnic - Fire TruckBurnaby Fire Department

Alta Vista Park Picnic - Mini GolfMini golf

Alta Vista Park Picnic - Air Guitar ContestAir guitar contest led by the popular band Rainshadow

Mason Bee Condo Destroyed in Burnaby Park

Someone destroyed a mason bee condo that my wife and I volunteer to take care of in Ron McLean Park in SE Burnaby, BC.

Mason bees are beneficial pollinators and are no threat to anyone.

This is so sad. I cannot comprehend such wanton destruction. There was even a sign that explained the program, and that mason bees are no threat to anyone.

I am including the “food” category in this blog, because without pollinators like mason bees, we would have little or no fruit and many vegetables.

Mason Bee condo destroyed in Burnaby



Streamkeeping, sustainability, community, business, photography, books, and animals, with occasional forays into social commentary. Text and Photos © Paul Cipywnyk