Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Promenade

That's what I call Dallas Road here in Victoria because it's the place to see and be seen. It was a perfect day on Sunday, so I decided to go for a walk that turned out to be about 6 miles. It included Cook Street to Dallas Road, where everyone and their dog was out walking, Fisherman's Wharf, then the waterfront trail to downtown, which I hadn't done before. Then past the ferry docks and the inner harbor up Gov't street. I stopped in at the gelato place and got spumoni, because by then I had worked up an appetite.

In other news, SOD is here on the Island.

From the A-Channel News:
BC Nurseries battle serious plant disease

Central Saanich - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, CFIA has placed five BC Nurseries under partial quarantine.
It's a move designed to help stop the spread of the disease which attacks the roots of plants. Sudden Oak Death doesn't pose a risk to people but there are concerns it could spread to forests or wild lands.

The owner of Marigold Nurseries, one of five nurseries where Sudden Oak Death was found says he wanted a second opinion.

Ray Smith sent plant samples to the University of Guelph for testing, but he says the samples were seized by CFIA.

CFIA says the plants were under quarantine and should not have been moved.

Smith says he has already destroyed about $40,000 worth of product, after only two plants tested positive for Sudden Oak Death.

Garcia Farms Island View Nursery and Lochside Nursery are facing similar situations.

The BC Landscape and Nursery Association says it is possible to limit the spread of Sudden Oak Death if the proper controls are in place.

But some of the nursery owners affected by the quarantine question why other nurseries and big box stores are not being tested.

Monday, October 29, 2007

In today's border-crossing adventures I was unlucky to go through the line of a young borderVogon who didn't need coffee, and so was alert enough to notice my expired work permit. I was sent over to the new customs and immigration office they've been building for as long as I've been going across there and was told to go inside and talk to them about it. There were about 5 people sitting in uncomfortable chairs who looked like they had spent the night there, and nobody standing in either the customs or immigration lines. I was confused, and so I just walked up to the counter from the "exit only" side of the line and presented my papers. The questions were these:
"Who are you working for in Canada?"
"What do you do?"
"What KIND of research?"
"What disease are you studying?"
"Is that the one that's killing all the oaks on Vancouver Island?"
I gave them the official story from Ottawa that the disease was not, in fact, present in Canada at this time. Even though it is. But it's not killing all the oaks on Vancouver Island or I'd know about it.
So they looked up the status of my visa, and found that it was all in order and took my expired one, telling me that it was "property of Canada", and that I should tell them at the border next time I cross that my new one is coming in the mail. I did that today and they sent me inside.
But the really good news is that when I got home tonight, it was in my mailbox. According to the website it hasn't been processed yet. In any case, my travelling will be a lot easier from now on.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thetis Lake

I meant to post about this earlier, but I've gotten behind.

For Canadian Thanksgiving, which was last monday, I went hiking at Thetis Lake park with my friends and their dogs. Everyone and their dog was there, including a very large man with a very small chihuahua. The little dog was confused when his owner got too far ahead of him, but then he spotted him and took off. It was a good thing that Sue's dogs are more friendly than Carl was. Still, I miss that old guy.

It must have taken us about 2 hrs to go all the way around both upper and lower lakes and the weather was perfect. I think we'll probably do that again at some of the other parks. The dogs were completely worn out, which was a good thing.

Afterwards we went over to their house and had chicken and various vegetable dishes, and some wine that Andy's dad had made. He said that when he was a kid they stomped the grapes, but now his dad uses technology of some type to crush them. They had their real Thanksgiving on Sunday with Andy's family and there was a hullaballoo as usually happens when his family gets together. They're the kind of Italians who create lots of drama and sometimes dishes get thrown.

The Aud Bod

That kid is getting so big! And wily. Char told me how she was resting up out in the living room, and Audrey was in the kitchen, and it got quiet for a while so she went to investigate, and found that the meinkey had pushed her little plastic table over to the counter, climbed up, reached up to the top shelf of the cupboard (I don't know how she did that and I don't want to know), got the sugar sprinkles, climbed down, moved the table away and put a chair there, laid out a couple of lines of sugar, and was about to go for it when Char busted her. Can you imagine?

She's into expanding her range and the table and chair do very nicely because they're lightweight and she can even stack them up, for added danger. She was wanting to sit on the stove when we were cooking the other night, but that got too dangerous too fast, and she was pretty pissed when we made her get down. She threw a fit, but then Char put on Shrek 2 in French, and she was absorbed.

Here is an article in The Stranger about Patrick Wolf, who we saw Saturday night:
A fun time was had by all.

I left Seattle at the buttcrack of 630. It wasn't even light out. But Eric had just dropped Audrey off so I got to see her for a few minutes. And there is a surprising amount of traffic on I-5 at that ungodly hour, but there wasn't a lineup at the border. The bordervogon hadn't had his coffee yet so he just glanced at my passport without looking at my expired visa and waved me through. I was even able to get the 9:00 ferry, so I got to work at a more reasonable time.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The USS Abraham Lincoln is in town and leaving tomorrow, but downtown was very busy tonight and there was a line out the door at the Irish Times pub. Lots of sailors walking around and also large groups of eligible females not far behind. According to my friends, the Canadian navy doesn't have any aircraft carriers, and certainly nothing as big as this one. I'm going to see if I can catch a glimpse of it tomorrow. This picture was taken in San Diego. Jason (my landlord) is stationed there with the Canadian Navy. I have no idea what it is that they do, and he has never volunteered any info. I think they mostly travel around to nice places and sip umbrella drinks.

Tonight a bunch of us from work and formerly from work went to dinner at a Japanese restaurant where they cook at the table. The last time I did that was when we went to Okinawa eons ago. It was fun. Faustin said he was getting in touch with his Japanese roots again (he's African) and ordered some sake. He said his karate instructor had once told him that he was more Japanese than a Japanese. I had a drink called "The Karate Kid" which had vodka, guava juice, and coconut milk. It would be very easy to drink too many of them. The chef cooked our meals on the big grill and flipped stuff on the plates, and did a juggling act with the salt and pepper shakers. Lots of people were there for their birthdays and periodically the waiters would go by beating a drum and singing "Happy Birthday" off key, and the Birthday Child would get to wear a samurai wig and a kimono and have their picture taken.

Earlier today at work I heard Roger exclaiming some profanity across the hall in the printer room. I think it was done for our benefit because then he came over and said that the budget for some acronym project is 5 million dollars for the next two years, and it involves several forest industry groups, and his group is also involved and gets a big piece of the pie. It's unclear what they actually do, though. I decided I'm in the wrong business.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mount Doug

Simon is still in Australia and Grace went to a Union meeting in Vancouver, and I was unmotivated in the office. I worked until about 1-ish and then decided I should go and check out Mt. Doug park for a field site. And The Oracle ( said it's supposed to rain all next week, so off I went. I saw big black clouds headed in from the west but ignored them. I decided to walk rather than drive up to the top of the hill, which is 1.5 km, according to this
Halfway up I took one of the trails, which was very nice. This site will be perfect for the side project I have planned, which is to look at the mycoflora of Pacific madrone. It needs updating. Madrone, or Arbutus, grows there mixed with Douglas-fir and Garry oak and is in varying degrees of health.

It got kind of tricky towards the top where there was just rock that I had to climb up, and I wasn't really dressed for it since I went there from work. Amazing views from up there. I went to the observatory at the very top where you get the 360 view and it was awesome. But rather windy, and it started to rain.

There were surprisingly a lot of people out there for mid afternoon on a work day, but it was friday so that doesn't really count. There was a spandex-clad biker toiling up the hill and I could walk much faster than he could pedal. But not going down, of course. Lots of dog-walkers. And lots of old people. An elderly English couple blasted by me on the trail. Later I caught up with them looking at a snake and heard this:

Him: Oh, a snake.
Her: Yes, it's rather bigger than we've usually seen here.
Him: Is it alive?
Her: You can see its tongue moving.
Him: So there it is.
Her: There it is, then.

The snake was dismissed.

At the bottom of the hill was a horde of high school kids. They were going to have a race to the top of the hill but their leader hadn't showed up yet. Some of them were dressed in costumes, like a bunch of girls had a Batman theme going on. One of the dads was nice enough to direct them out of my way so I could back up the Pig and get out of the parking lot. I didn't want to hit any of them.

I was going to do this tomorrow, but it's supposed to rain and also I have to deal with Vogonity. I found out they handle immigration issues at the airport out in Sidney, so I'm going to go out there tomorrow and see if I can talk to a human being, or at least a cooperative Vogon and try to get my work permit renewed immediately, instead of having to wait for months the way it is now. It wasn't this bad when I first came here.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Powell River Saga, part 2

Part One will be published later, if I get to it.
We - our lab group - took a field trip that included heading north to Seymour Narrows (for my stuff) and Powell River (for Grace and Steven's stuff). These are the kinds of things that make my job fun.
Yesterday's trip to Seymour Narrows was much more civilized than today's Powell River experience. We found the trail and hiked about 2 km to the water, through an old-growth forest and across a suspension bridge, which was fun when I got it swaying really good. Then we got to the water and talked to a retired couple who had moved to the area 3 years ago and had been doing a lot of hiking and exploring, and liked to botanize. No madrones in the area, but I gave them my email address so they can let me know what they find. They told us about some other cool places to hike and I want to go back and make a weekend of it. Seems like Geoduck Guy (I'll mention him in part 1) was wrong about seeing madrones at Seymour Narrows. He probably mentioned the place to impress us, like he had boated around there. But it was lost on us because we didn't know anything about it, we looked it up later when we got back.

I bet he would have enjoyed hearing about how we ventured into danger and one of my hiking boots washed up on a beach with my foot still inside.

Two large right feet found on Georgia Strait beaches

Down at the pub he'd be telling his buddies how they warned me not to get in the boat with those boots on, they'd pull me right down! We didn't make it to Lund, but we went to the pub at Powell River and had a late dinner. We were too late for the best Thai restaurant on the planet, so that will have to wait until another time.
On the way to the ferry we stopped for tea at "Becky's Country Bakery" and "Point Blank Paintball". It was a farm by the side of the road and the barn was converted into the bakery/restaurant, and in a shed there were ATVs and paintball gear, plus other assorted mantoys in various states of dilapidation. It was obviously a mom n pop business. They were washing up some of the paintball gear in the kitchen with the dishes from the bakery. It smelled heavenly in there and I wanted one of whatever they were baking, but it was unclear what it was so I settled for a ginger cookie, which was excellent. We all had one. While we were there some old people came in for tea. There were a lot of them, like a dozen. One lady was trying to set places for them and kept dropping things. And they were looking at us like we were out of place. Probably because they go there all the time and we were sitting in their living room, as it were.
At Powell River, there were 2 sites that needed measuring, and so we split up into pairs, and Steven and I took the one that had been treated 2 years ago. Everything had grown up really tall, taller than us, and there was a lot of bushwhacking involved. The vegetation was taller than the stakes that marked where the plots were, so it was hard to find some of them. And the footing was difficult, and there were banana slugs. I was terrified that one would find its way inside my armor. I had on super slug-stomping boots, with cleats on the bottom, and rain gear. No slugs were impaled on my boots afterward, I checked. We thought we'd have to park and hike in because of the ditches, but Steven was driving and he made every single one. It turns out that last time Grace and I were in completely the wrong place and we should have turned onto the decommissioned logging road and squeezed our truck past the large boulders that were blocking the way.
Grace said she heard something stomping around and she thought it was us, so she called out. But it wasn't us. The bushes were too high for them to see what was doing it, so it could have easily been the sasquatches checking out the menu.

Sasquatch #1: Me smell brush-apes.
Sasquatch # 2: Me too.
S #1: You hungry?
S #2: Naw. But let's look at menu.

We got back to Victoria earlier than I thought because we caught the noon ferry. The next one was at 5. We finished up the measurements at around 1130, then drove like a bat out of hell over logging roads and across the 8 ditches in 4WD. In spite of some slow drivers on the highway we made it to the ferry at a little after noon. We could see that it was still there from the highway and willed it to be late. We even had time to help a guy jump-start his car, because it had died while he had left the lights on and was listening to the radio in the ferry line. He saw our government vehicle and came right over. His tax dollars at work. Seems like everyone is on strike too. The garbagemen in Vancouver, the librarians, and the loggers. We drove past several places where they were just sitting around and doing nothing. At one place they had even set up a bbq and looked quite comfy. At least we didn't have to deal with logging trucks on the roads today, so that was a plus.