Monthly Archives: August 2010

Bird Species Most at Risk Now In Gulf of Mexico

Audubon’s bird scientists have identified the top bird species at risk from the BP Gulf Oil Spill. Lack of food, lack of clean habitat and toxic oil are added threats that put the survival of some of these these species in even greater peril.

The top ten breeding species at risk in the Gulf of Mexico:
1) Brown Pelican
2) American Oystercatcher
3) Wilson’s Plover
4) Reddish Egret
5) Least Tern
6) Black Skimmer
7) Roseate Spoonbill
8) Clapper Rail
9) Seaside Sparrow
10) Mottled Duck

The top ten nonbreeding (migrating) species at risk in the Gulf of Mexico:
1) Lesser Scaup

2) Blue-winged Teal
3) Common Loon
4) American White Pelican
5) Northern Gannet
6) Peregrine Falcon
7) Northern Harrier
8) Piping Plover
9) Sanderling
10) Red Knot

For more on some of these species, visit Audubon’s oil spill birds at risk. Your sightings of these species in particular in eBird can help us map a successful road to recovery in the Gulf.

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Filed under BP Oil Spill, BP Oil Spill, Give Me a Break

Apply for This Job – I Can’t :(

The other day I opened the paper and found my dream job. It has everything I love:
Social Networking
Environmental Approach
Hardly any Pay (hey – I’m a freelancer so I don’t really ever expect to be rich)
Short term (again, I’m a freelancer and author and like many authors I have a checkered yet fascinating work history and a short attention span).

I went straight away to the website to begin the application process, and quickly discovered that in spite of the fact that I am one of the six people perfectly qualified for the job, I am already out because I AM TOO OLD.

Heartbreak. Am I that old? Well, I am not between the ages of 18 and 40, so I guess I am. Even though I look and act like a kid (I think). My son said, “After 40 people just can’t pass for 35, no matter what.”

I’m almost dead, I thought. I am dead because I can’t get my dream job. Upon recovery, I thought I would post it here so that one of my younger and talented friends could get the job and then bring me over for the ‘family visit.’ It was either that or spend time on money on buying a fake passport and birth certificate.

So here it is:

Project Panda and the World Wildlife Foundation seeks Pambassador.

“A Chinese Panda Centre is looking for six people to look after the endangered animals as part of an awareness and conservation campaign. Chengdu Panda Base aims to give six winners of a global contest a month-long chance to study panda behaviour and provide hands-on help.”

OLD people need not apply even if they can write, work for a huge online magazine, get social networking, blog for birds and others hurt by the BP Oil spill, give to WWF and want to write a book about the project for teens.

I hope you get the job, because it does sound amazing and will make a difference to our world.

It’s nearly 6pm – time for nap, remove dentures, pablum, depends and bed…Goodnight.

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Filed under Give Me a Break, Stuff to do

Facebook Experiment: Half-Way Through

It’s August 14th today and I’ve been off Facebook for half the month, another 16 days to go. How has it been? Wonderful! Refreshing! I have way more time on my hands to actually talk to people or even, my God, see them in person!

I know my blog posts do an automatic update to Twitter and FB, but in this, as Jill so aptly called it, “No Electrons Month” I am not counting auto updates.

I did visit Facebook last night but I had a purpose. I made the decision to tweak my friend list, removing people based on the following criteria:

    I don’t recognize the name of the ‘friend’ at all
    The ‘friend’ is not a professional contact, nor a personal contact, just someone I met once and added to FB because I’d had too much wine
    The ‘friend’ is someone I never talk to and haven’t seen in years even though we live in the same city/neighbourhood, or maybe we don’t because one of us have moved and the other missed the status update
    Overuse of ‘Like’ button – brutal I know, but I think if we get a ‘Like’ button, we should get a button expounding the opposite viewpoint
    The ‘friend’ announces a major event in their life with a status change: ie: “Divorced, married, had a baby, got engaged, sex change, deceased, found God, won the lottery, in jail…Give me a break – Pick up the phone or at the very least email
    The ‘friend’ starts posting weird photos of herself/himself that I don’t really care to be associated with
    The ‘friend’ is actually somebody too polite to ‘de-friend’ me, even though our relationship has suffered a mortal blow eons ago – someone has to take the initiative
    The ‘friend’ persists in demanding I spend more time in my “Lil’ Patch” and less time in my real garden. Okay, apartment dwellers, I get it, but I have real trees and real flowers and I suck at veggie gardening.

Anyway, this list is not conclusive, and as I write it, I realize it sounds quite bitchy, and I apologize for that. I guess I am suffering from FB Burnout and I miss, as Tim McGraw so aptly put it: "Back When

So what, if this is very very not cool. Neither am I and those of you who actually are my real life friends, not Second life, not FB, not Twitter, not Youtube, already know this.

And by the way, I won’t be adding my location to my phone – let’s do it the old fashion way – call me or even text, or there is always ‘facetime.’ Which is all by way of saying I’m not completely in the dark ages either.


Filed under Give Me a Break

Children’s Writing Camp VPL 2010 Almost at an End

I have to say this week has flown by and I can hardly believe it is already Thursday and I’ve had the opportunity to spend writing time with two groups of kids. Tomorrow, is the gala event when parents, friends and families will have the chance to listen to some of the kids reading from their own work, and I’m 100% sure, they will be totally blown away.

I am having so much fun in the workshops that we have (at the kids’ suggestion) gone over time and today we were actually told we had to wrap it up! I love that – it means the teens are as happy as I am.

This particular group have such an amazing sense of humour blended in with a shocking amount of talent and a willingness to do what so many writers find so painful – share their work with a group – first draft work, that it!

So wait for it! These kids are tomorrow’s Lit Stars and you heard it from me first 🙂

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Filed under Events and Readings, Writing Tips

More on McNab Valley Gravel Mine

“If Howe Sound were in any other part of the world it would be a National Park.” Dr. Murray Newman (Vancouver Aquarium)

Yesterday I blogged about the proposed gravel pit on Gambier Island by Alberta’s Burnco Concrete Company and a few people contacted me. One reader sent me a link to this article: McNab Gravel Mine Project Launched, and I also received an email regarding why this project is of huge concern to the people both living on and holidaying on Gambier Island.

Burnco Rock Products Ltd. is applying to build a gravel pit mine at McNab Creek that will have an enormous impact upon Gambier Island and all of Howe Sound. This aggregate extraction is massive in scope at over 300 million tonnes with current estimates suggesting an extraction of 1 to 1.6 million tonnes per annum spiking to 4 Million for duration of 20 to 30 years. This aggregate would be barged to their ready mix concrete plants in south Burnaby and Port Kells.

It is located directly across from the McNab Creek residents and across from Gambier Island and Anvil Island and appears to have a pit 2.5 kms by 1 km and 15 m deep.

The project also includes a processing plant to crush gravel stock pile areas as well a large marine loading facility.

Specific issues with this project include:

* Impact on pristine wilderness
* Impact on water quality
* Pollution and contamination from disturbing previously capped soils
* Damage to McNab estuary
* Impact on fish including resident spawning salmon stocks, runs of chum, pink, coho and chinook salmon, plus resident and sea-run cutthroat trout and steelhead
* Impact on other wildlife including bald eagles, shrimp, shellfish, seals, sea otters, and recently porpoises and whales as well as a diverse array of other habitat including endangered species in Howe Sound such as the Peregrine Falcon, Spotted Owl and others.

* Noise from an operation proposed to run 300 days a year, 24 hours a day
* Dust
* Visual impacts
* Barge traffic in a recreational boating area
* Impact on tourism
* Impact on commercial fishing, prawning and crabbing
* Impact on businesses based on recreational boating
Impact on recreational users and other residents/owners in Howe Sound

Concerned citizens can be heard by contacting the Integrated Land Management Branch – who will be reviewing Burnco’s application for a foreshore license. Email/write Lesley Fettes at ILMB whose email address is


Filed under Give Me a Break

Bookcamp Next Week! VPL Writing and Reading for Kids

Monday is day one of the Canadian Children’s Book Camp and I’ve spent this week creating some really fun workshop materials. I’m quite excited about the prospect of meeting and working with all the young talent in my workshops and seeing all the magic in their imaginations! It’s only one week, but it’s one of the most fun weeks of the summertime.

There are three Teen Mentors this year: Myself, Chris Humphries and Maggie De Vries! I admire both of these writers so much and really look forward to working together.

The Keynote Speaker lineup is equally impressive as are the workshop leaders for the younger crowd. Look for blog posts on the the bookcamp next week!

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Filed under Stuff to do, Writing Tips

Burnco Rock Products and Gambier Island – Gravel Pit Rumours?

Although I’d wanted to stick to BP as the environmental aspect of this blog, I can’t help but to be concerned about rumours of a gravel pit proposal in my own Pacific Ocean back yard. I know lots of families on Gambier Island and they have talked to me about the possibility of Burnco Rock Products developing a gravel pit at McNab Creek!

Apparently, the aggregate would be processed on Gambier and then shipped across Howe Sound to Burnaby – sounds like an environmental disaster on all sides. Neither of these things happen without huge infrastructure as anyone who has seen a pit in operation knows.

I saw no mention of this product when I checked out their website, so either it is not announced or just rumours, and let’s hope it is the latter.

If anyone has any information on this, send me an email (annon) and I will continue to post about this project.



Filed under Give Me a Break

The Beach, Salt Water, Good Friend: What’s It All Got to do with Writing?

It’s sultry hot in Vancouver on these long, hazy summer days – hard to be inside working, writing, cooking, moving through the days as if this wonderful summer heat were here forever.

Today, I got up early so I could all my work done by 1:30 because at 1:30 I’d arranged to meet my friend from Toronto at Jericho Beach – a short and quick 30 blocks downhill for me and a long, hot 30 blocks uphill on the way home.

I met Martha Eleen when I was the writer in residence in Dawson City and we became friends at first sight. It was Martha who taught me to see a thousand shades of blue and green, and I probably taught her something as well.

Once or twice a year, we get together somewhere in Canada – last time it was on a rooftop on the corner of Richmond and Spadina in Toronto – this time the beach here in Van. We talked and swam and ate candy and cherries and later had a few beer and talked more. All that time, I thought about next week – my fav week of the summer – the Canadian Children’s Book Camp at the VPL and I came up with a thousand different ideas that I am very excited about.

There’s something about leaving the computer and heading to the beach, salt water and a good friend that gets the ideas flowing! Sometimes accessing creativity is simply a matter doing something that is enjoyable and engages all the senses.

That’s what I think!

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Filed under Writing Tips Record Bird Sightings Wherever You Live

Visit to learn how to observe, record and submit your observations about birds. According to Audubon, whether you are new to birding or an expert, “everyone can help with Gulf restoration efforts by recording bird sightings and adding to the body of information we have about breeding, migration and other bird data to help Audubon scientists and others with recovery plans. Knowing how the spill is affecting bird populations is critical to how we ensure their ultimate recovery from the disaster. Even data from outside the Mississippi River corridor is useful, so whether you are on the East coast, the West coast or somewhere in between, your citizen science efforts are important.”

As a Canadian, I wonder how many of our birds will return next year. Also, as a Canadian, I am deeply concerned about the Enbridge oil spill in Michigan.

Last week, a young girl I know asked me if I really thought we could make a difference in the world. After all, she said, we are only two people. We were on our bikes coming home from an afternoon at the beach. It was hot and a long slog up the hill – one of those times when a car seemed so quick and inviting. I understood her question though and her frustration too.

“Look at it this way. We are only two people, but if each get one of our friends to choose bikes over cars and they do the same thing, we can start to make a difference.”

It’s summer. I challenge all of you to try to leave your car in your driveway – even if for only one or two days per week. It’s only when you start believing you can make a difference that you do – the banning plastic bags campaign is a great example of this.

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Filed under BP Oil Spill

A Prescription for Long Term Recovery : Audubon (August 2nd)

Audubon in my inbox:

On Wednesday, Audubon and its Louisiana Coastal Restoration partners released a plan to restore wetlands—a critical step forward that will benefit birds, wildlife and people of the region. The recommendations included in the report, entitled “Common Ground: A Shared Vision for Restoring the Mississippi River Delta,” by Environmental Defense Fund,

National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation, outlines the necessary steps to restore and rebuild an ecosystem that has lost more than 2,300 square miles of wetlands—an area larger than the state of Delaware—since the 1930s. The three environmental organizations came together to seek solutions to one of our nation’s most pressing environmental challenges. According to the report,” The loss of coastal wetlands to oil contamination may speed up today’s alarming land loss, leaving an already weakened ecosystem even more vulnerable to storms and other man-made assaults.” The good news is that the collaborative effort is bringing together the expertise, knowledge and supporters of all three organizations. Learn more.

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Filed under BP Oil Spill, Uncategorized