Thursday, September 30, 2010

Burnaby Mountain 3: Wet Roses Part 1

I decided I had to do these roses in two parts so you can take your time with these knowing there are more coming.  These are especially for Catherine who's getting well. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Burnaby Mountain 2: Around the Park

My Dad would be 99 years old today.  I know he would have loved to have been in the park with me.  Happy Birthday wherever you are Dad.  

The sky is pretty much clear and the weather in the 60s, so it seemed like a good day for a run. There's a park down the hill from where we're staying. This post is pictures of the park and the trails I took. The last post of the park will be from the rose garden.

The park is around the P and ? just left of the "You Are Here" sign on the map.

Here's from an April 15, 2010 CTV report:
Fire has ravaged an acclaimed restaurant on Burnaby Mountain just weeks before wedding season.
The blaze was discovered at about 7:15 a.m. Thursday by a cook at Horizons Restaurant, located at 100 Centennial Way.
"He opened the door and heard a crackling sound, and he called the fire department immediately," restaurant operator Geoffrey Howes told
Eight fire trucks arrived on scene, and the fire was extinguished about an hour later. No one was injured in the blaze, but the restaurant's kitchen was destroyed.
Howes said the damage is extensive and will take about three months to fix. About six planned parties and wedding celebrations will be disrupted.
 It's now going on six months later and you can see from the picture, there's still work to do before  the Horizons Restaurant is open again.  

Then I continued my run down Pandora's trail. (On the map - this goes up and left from the park along the boundary with the 'danger' area.  It's marked, and you might be able to see it clearer if you double click the map.)

Then to the Gnome's Home Trail

The Gnomes were sitting all over this tree, but didn't come out in the picture at all.

I think this stump (about six feet tall) may be their home.

And then up the Ridgeview trail back to the park.

And then back up to the campus past this great swing scene.

Burnaby Mountain 1: Night and Day

Simon Fraser sits on top of Burnaby Mountain surrounded by forest.  Here are two comparison views - taken last night at dusk and this morning.

This one's looking west toward Vancouver. Not exactly the same shot, but close.

This one's looking north.  This time it's pretty much the same shot.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monday Shots in Vancouver

Here are a couple of the better shots of our Monday in Vancouver.  We took the skytrain into downtown to get our bearings. 

First we had panekoeks at DeDutch on Hastings in Burnaby.

This is The Drop by German public art group Inges Idee

We're walking along the waterfront here

We were headed for Bombay Bhel, but it was closed, so we went into Anton Pasta next door.  They've figured out a way to sell you lunch as well as dinner.  There's an $11 minimum per person at the tables, so you can't really share a dinner.  But the dinners are so huge, that J and M, when they were full, still had what would be large plates of pasta in any other restaurant to take home. 

Iran Imprisons Canadian Blogger for 19 1/2 Years

Image from Wikipedia
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's (CBC) The Current has a the following story today

Sept 28/10 - Pt 2: Hossein Derakshan
Hossein Derakshan is an Iranian-born Canadian and a controversial writer who's known as the "blogfather" of Iran. He's being held in Iran's notorious Evin Prison. And today he was sentenced to 19 years in prison. We talk to two people who are close to him.

[The piece begins with a short promo for another segment on the census]

Basically, the story is about an Iranian born Canadian blogger who blogged extensively about Iran.  A  2005 BBC report says:

Hossein Derakhshan, [Note sometimes his name has an h after the k] who keeps a weblog under the name of Hoder, has already made a name for himself in the Persian-language blogosphere.
He created the script that allows Iranians to keep online diaries in their native Persian language. But now, Derakhshan has taken his online activities to next level.
He is now producing an audio blog, or podcast.

Today's broadcast about his sentence includes interviews with his friend and ex-wife Marjan Alemi who learned about the sentence from Derakhshan's parents in Iran, who were excluded from the trial and sentencing.  In fact, she says, they got no word about what happened to him for 8 months after he disappeared.  There is also an interview with Maziar Bahari "a correspondent with Newsweek Magazine and [who] spent 118 days in Evin Prison. He was released last October. Maziar Bahari was in London, England."

The interviews revealed that Derakshan has been supportive of the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and was invited to Iran and promised safety. Bahari said that the Iranian government is fragmented and it was the Revolutionary Guard that has imprisoned Derakshan.  In Bahari's case, the Canadian government was very vocal and active in working for his release.  Bahari said that in Derakshan's case, his parents, threatened by the Iranian government to not publicize the case, asked the Canadian government not to make it public. 

Here's the beginning of a 2003 post by Derakshan on weblogs and Iran from Sky of Red Poppies.

The real Iran
How weblogs can change the way the world sees Iran
By Hossein Derakhshan
October 1, 2003
The Iranian
Having lived almost all my life in the Islamic Republic of Iran, I've always wanted to see the West and why clerics in Iran dislike its values and lifestyle so much.
My only experience with these sorts of events was when I met another Iranian ex-pat who had been arrested in the Iranian airport as he was leaving for an international academic conference in Europe.  He said the international pressure helped get him out.  He also said that his imprisonment was meant to be a warning to others.  Bahari said the same thing about Derakshan's long sentence.

I would urge other bloggers to listen to the CBC broadcast and learn more about this situation and post about it.  The thing the Iranian government likes least - illustrated by this long sentence - is publicity about these things.

There's also a Facebook page to Free Hossein Derakhshan.  This is a time when bloggers can make a difference to free a fellow blogger.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Nicholas Marsh Takes His Own Life

 In 2007 I spent several weeks in the courtroom watching Nicholas Marsh, the totally focused young prosecutor in the Alaska corruption trials.  He was teamed up with Joe Bottini in the Tom Anderson trial and Jim Goeke in the Kott trial.  I heard one of the FBI agents at the time talking about how crazy smart Marsh was.  The news today of his suicide was a shock.

[UPDATE 9/28/10 2pm Alaska Time:  TPM offers more details about Marsh's recent situation.]

For the most part, he seemed to know every fact remotely related to the case and which documents they were in for verification.  During the trials I tried to get background information on the Prosecutors, but the DOJ had none to give.  So I found out, through googling, that Marsh had been a philosophy grad of Williams College, 1995, went on to Duke Law School, and then practiced law in New York before going to the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice.

Clearly, the Alaska corruption cases were the biggest cases in his career and he was going for the win.  His team won the three cases in Alaska and then the Ted Stevens case was tried in Washington DC.  It was then the problems began to come out.  There are a couple of internal investigations going on to determine the extent of the prosecutorial misconduct.

These were big cases, culminating in a conviction of the most senior Republican US Senator a conviction that was soon to be overturned for prosecutorial misconduct.  Marsh was working really hard on these cases.  Moving the case to DC led to changes in the leadership of the legal team.  On October 19, 2008 I speculated on "Why the Mistakes at the Stevens Trial?"  Clearly the prosecutors made some decisions which enraged the judge and led the Obama appointed Attorney General to throw out the verdict in the Stevens case and set up investigations of the attorneys involved.

I've lived long enough to not be too surprised by the differences between appearance and behavior, but I would be surprised if Marsh's involvement in prosecutorial misconduct was any worse than getting carried away in his zeal to convict what he saw as guilty defendants.  I would add that this is no small matter if one's focus blinds one to justice and during the trials already I was seeing signs of how much power the prosecutors had compared to the defendants.  Marsh was on a great career trajectory and it all came crashing down.  He found himself sitting on the other side of the investigatory equation.  I'm sure the pressure on him was enormous - but so was the pressure on those he prosecuted.  His suicide is a shocking and sad development.  My sincerest sympathy goes out to his family.

Below are a few observations I made of Marsh during the trials.  

I observed during the Anderson trial closing I wrote:
Marsh reminded me a little of Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker persona. Kind of wonky, going through the evidence in a very methodical way, until I started to glaze over thinking, "Enough already, I get the point." He even looks a little like him.

Kott closing:
Then Marsh, calm, respectful to all, contradicted what Wendt had just said. His eyes were directed at the jury. A minimum of technical wizzardry. This was not the wonk who did the closing in the Anderson trial, but a sincere and convincing human being.

A post called Beyond the Headlines (July 7, 2007) tried to imagine the meaning of the trial in the lives of the various players.  Here's what I wrote about the prosecutors:
The outcome of this and other trials will surely affect how well her career progresses. The same can be said for the Prosecuting Attorneys Marsh and Bottini. While the outcome of this trial could have some effect on their careers, especially if the outcome is seen as particularly good or particularly bad by their bosses, they do work in a bureaucracy, and there will be plenty of other work ahead. Possibly a brilliant 'win' could mean a lucrative job in the private sector if that was something they wanted. For Defense Attorney Stockler, a private attorney, the outcome of this case could have a much larger impact on his law practice and income. A result of not guilty on all charges could raise his rates quickly.
Here's an APRN news report by Steve Heimel about the closing arguments in the Tom Anderson trial.  You can hear about 20 seconds of Nicholas Marsh speaking in the closing.

Obviously there is a lot of story here that is yet to be revealed.  No matter, this is a sad event.

UPDATE October 8:  Cliff Groh has a lengthy post on Marsh based on several sources.

Tight Fit Plus Blogger Dilemma - Family and the Blog

Harpboy left the following comment on a recent post about the trip to Vancouver:
Of course, if you don't want to drive all the way back, you could take the ferry back from Bellingham..
This reminded me that I'm being guarded about writing now that I'm visiting my daughter.  To respond to Harpboy, we're leaving the van here in Vancouver (that's where vans belong right) so M can use it this winter.  Generally it sits parked in front of our house most of the winter anyway and she's depended on public transportation since she went out into the world.

One of the issues was would it fit into the underground garage where she has a parking place.  The sign says 6'6" clearance and the car is officially 6'4". 

Fortunately it does fit.  Inside there were some low ceilings, but it was fine. 

Most of the weekend was family stuff.  For some bloggers family and personal life is the main topic, but my relationships with my family mean I need to keep mention of them to a minimum.  I need to mention them at times, but I try to be as oblique as possible about happenings and posting pictures on the blog. 

We're staying on the campus of Simon Fraser University and fly to LA Saturday to visit my mom.  As you can see from the photo below, the weather Saturday was great.  Sunday was grey and rainy.  It's supposed to clear up tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blogspot's New Insert Image Technique

[This will probably not mean much to people not using blogspot as bloggers. Sorry.]

It was a long time coming, but this week when I went to upload some pictures onto the blog, the set up was different.  The biggest improvement is that now I can select more than one picture at time without going back and forth between the upload photo window and the files.  (As I write this I wonder if this had secretly become available in the old method, but since I'd given up trying it long ago, I never knew.)  In any case, it makes uploading images to the blog more efficient. 

It would be nice if Blogger would announce such changes and even give bloggers a choice if they want to stick with the old or move to the new.  After I posted about the new spam blocking system - which I find helpful - I started following the discussion about it at the Google Forum.  It's given some people fits. 

I couldn't find anything about this new image upload change on Blogger Buzz and my google attempt found nothing.  Please tell us what you are up to Google.  Some surprises are nice, others aren't.

Anyway, thanks. 

Listening to Books to Vancouver

Interview With the Vampire did little for me.  There was so much Sturm und Drang over so little substance.  But since it was so popular, I was curious.  It did reach something of a climax around tape nine of the ten.  But then it had to go and tie up loose ends well after it should have been over.

The narrator, Frank Muller, read in a heightened dramatic tone that was fine for the first hour, but continued throughout so when there was actual drama, his voice had no where to go.

The book may well speak to people who feel marginalized (as the Vampire felt in a normal world), but there was little or no enlightenment or identification for me.

But the next book - The Kalahari Typing School for Men - was a delight, made even better by the reader, Lisette Lecat, who pronounces the honorific Mma of the two lead women characters, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Mma Makutsi, in a way I'd never have gotten if I had read the book.  The first M is held long enough to sound almost like a stutter until I got used to it.

The narrative was light and spare and full of minor wisdoms and truths about life.  And I learned a bit about Botswana.

A disadvantage of taped books is it isn't as easy to find you a typically wry quote so you can savor the richness of this book.  A great antidote to the Vampires.

And then we got to All the Pretty Horses.  It was a bit hard to keep track of who was who on the first couple of sides of the tapes - but then it fell into a steady understated rhythm and was for me, easily, the strongest of the three books.  Two teenagers heading off into the world on horseback across the Rio Grand to make their fortunes.

I'm not excited about the title, though horses played a key role in the book.  

And Frank Muller - the narrator on the Vampire tape - is much more understated in this book and his accents sound right on the mark.  A wonderful book that won both U.S. National Book Award as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award.

With good books like these, the driving flies by. Though there is some cognitive disconnect as one sees one world while listening to a totally different world.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Anchorage - Vancouver Day 5

Thursday night we stayed at the Canyon Creek Trailer Park in Hixon.  This is Kim who got us settled.  We generally prefer minimum amenities campgrounds, but we were ready for showers and since it is the end of the season, there was practically no one else there.  There were no large (or small) campers anywhere near us.  And there was wifi.

The tent and small vehicle campsites were private little spots in the woods.

We had dinner across the street at the Pub Kim recommended.  I was thinking, "We're in Canada.  Maybe a pub will be like one of those we were at with Doug in England."  Wrong.  The menu was high on deep fried items.  And there were video screens promoting poker and Keno.  I'd asked one of the gas station people that day about all the scratch cards.  She said she stopped buying them.  They sold expired ones as well as current ones and there was no way to know that until you went claim your winnings. 

She said she'd won $25 and they said, "Sorry, this is expired." 

"So, I asked, no one would know they'd bought an expired one unless they won?"

 "That's right."

 Selling expired scratch cards should be illegal - especially if they don't have a date on them.  And if you find out you bought one that was expired, you should be able to get your money back.  I'm not saying that the woman was right, but that's what she said.  Every gas station I went into to pay, had a case of cards at the cash register. 

 While the scenery is still pretty nice, there are a lot more evidence of human presence.

I think this was a place called Sunrise.

And it started to rain and it rained steadily and hard enough to get you good and wet for a while.

I believe this is 100 Mile. 

See, there are nicer spots along the way. 

Eventually the canyon below us got deeper and narrower until we got to this historical marker commemorating the introduction of a fishways that enabled sockeye salmon to pass the canyon.  The building of two railways along the canyon had caused serious blockage for salmon, culminating in a huge rock slide on Feb. 23, 1914 that pretty much blocked the salmon's passage.  [You can double click the picture to read it more easily.]

From "Fish Passage Structures on the Fraser River" that describes the whole history in detail on various webpages,
The first phase of construction at Hell’s Gate commenced in 1944 with a major fishway on either riverbank, completed in 1946. The fishways were designed so that the natural hydraulics of the river would not be adversely affected. The design parameters took into account the size and swimming abilities of Pacific salmon and the expected number of fish to be accommodated.

 We went through a series of tunnels like this one along the canyon above the river.

This picture is for Jeremy who would be happy if I only put up pictures of power lines. 

We're in Vancouver now enjoying time with our daughter. 

Edelweiss Restaurant - Lac La Hache, BC

On one of our earlier trips along the Alcan - we think returning home in 2000 - we were lucky enough to be hungry as we were passing through Lac La Hache (Lake of the Axe).  I remembered a restaurant - was it Hungarian? - where the dinner was superb. 

So I was hoping that we could get to Lac La Hache by dinner time on Thursday night and that this place was still there.  But the Yellowhead Highway was so slow that we barely got past Prince George before dark. 

But today as we went through Lac La Hache at 1pm, there it was - Edelweis Restaurant.  Not quite Hungarian.  Austrian.  There is so much junk food available along the road.  But this place is a jewel. 

We were seated in the room with the view of the lake.  It had been raining pretty hard and so the view was grey. 

Not your typical roadside diner. 

Here's a close up of the embroidery on the table cloth.

Spätzele with vegies.  This was real food with real taste. 

The sky to the west was starting to clear over the lake as we ate. 

And by the time we finished the apple strudel, the rain had ended and we were ready to drive on. 

So, if you find yourself going through Lac La Hache, British Columbia, and you want some real food, I'd advise the Edelweiss Restaurant.  It's on the lake side of the road. [Regular readers know this sort of plug is genuine.  The owners don't even know I'm a blogger and that I was planning on posting this.]