Sunday, July 31, 2005

Bowen Island resident and friend Ellen Hayakawa has written a piece in Common Ground about her family's experience with nuclear weapons at Hiroshima. The article is called The Day the Bomb Dropped on Hiroshima.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

It's finally beach season.

Every night this week, snorkelling along the rocks at Bowen Bay, the sea is pretty warm and there is lots to look at including big schools of perch, huge moonjellies (the size of dinner plates), starfish, flounders and crabs galore. Lots of plankton in the water too and reportedly good bioluminesence at night.

At Bowen Bay the last couple of days there has been a seal pup on the beach. Yeserday its mom was checking in on it and it left on its own around 9:00 pm. Today I didn't see the mom, but it left on the high tide also around 9:00pm. It's hard to tell if the seal is a little malnourished or not, but it is leaving the beach every night and the mom is around. Alistair Westcott, the island vet posted this advice to would-be rescuers on the Bowen Online forum today:

We have been receiving a lot of calls regarding seal pups on beaches around Bowen. It is common for mothers to leave their pups on beaches for up to 12hrs at a time (regardless of the heat) while they forage for food. These pups just lie around and wait for Mom to return. Usually Mom drops them off at daycare (the beach) in the early morning and returns at certain times during the day. Mom will generally not return until much later if a lot of people are crowding around and fussing over junior.

Abandoned pups or sick pups are rare; they usually look obviously sick, thin, may have external wounds and will not respond vigorously when touched. Many times it will appear as if the pup has been on the beach for several days (only because they go off at night and then are dropped off on the same beach early the next morning). The best thing to do is leave them alone, keep dogs away and check back once the sun goes down. If the pup is still in the same spot after dark then there may be a problem. Call us then, or the Vancouver aquarium SEAL rescue dept. at 604 258-SEAL (7325). There are times when they need to be transported to the rescue facility."

What I've learned is that it's important not to touch the seals and if in doubt, check with the Vancouver Aquarium before you do anything to disturb a seal pup. Usually they are on the beach for a reason and helping them can sometimes be the worst thing to do, especially if the pup is in no obvious distress (bleeding, having a hard time breathing, etc.). They spend a lot of time asleep on the beach. This should not be confused with being dead. They are babies. Babies tire easily, especially when a lot of people are crowding around them, as anyone with kids knows.

The seal at Bowen Bay is in a risky place as there are so many people around. I'm willing to be that when the mom takes the baby in in the morning no one's about and she can't figure out where all these folks come from. It's like leaving your three month old at The Snug all day, while you go off to work. It upsets a lot of people.

Hopefully this one will do fine, but if you're down at Bowen Bay and you see it, give it a lot of space.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

There are few summer pleasures than taking in a fastpitch game at Snug Cove Field. In The Undercurrent this week, there was a great article by Marcus Hondo, the writer of the weekly League roundup known as The Rallycap Chronicles that captures the spirit of the games that unfold down there:

During the playing of a game in the Bowen Island fastpitch league we players know lots of different things: who showed up, when the ferry pulls out, what time the General Store closes, where the toilets are, things like that. There is one thing however that we do not seem to know.

The score.

We try keeping count, only distractions like keeping half-an-eye on the kids, yakking with fans, kibbitzing with teammates and choosing a batting helmet that fits our heads inevitably causes us to miss a run or two. Or an inning or two. As a result, before you can say 'who's on first' we've lost track of the score.

There is of course a very nice scoreboard at Snug Cove field but that is used for the Shaker kids and other fans to sit on, it's not used for putting the score on.

Back a few games ago during a break in play - I think it was the time Gypsy the Jack Russell terrier was recruited to chase the geese out of right field - I realized that once again I myself did not know the score. I was sitting in the dugout surrounded by teammates so all I had to do was ask, right?

"What's the score?"

There was a silence. A pretty long silence. I saw brows wrinkling. "Doesn't anybody know the score?"

"Ahhh," one of my teammates stammered, "Yeah-I think we got three."

"Terry hit that homerun, I know that," someone else offered.

"Yeah with two guys on base. So we got three," reasoned the first guy.

"Right. Three for us," said another.

I recalled Terry Cotter hitting the homer all right. But I still didn't know the score. I tried again.

"I see," I said. We got three. That's great. What about the other team though?
Isn't that meaningful? I mean doesn't anybody know how many runs they got?"

"Humph. No," said one.

"Oh I think they have-no, I don't know," said another.

"More than three?" suggested a third.

It's not just our team either. I'm convinced that other teams often don't know the score. About half way through one recent game I was hustling out to take my position up on the mini-slope in left field when I asked the Cruiser running down the other way if he knew the score. He told me that my team was leading by -two or three runs".

"Are you sure?" I stopped and asked. Because I thought that it was you guys who were leading by two or three runs."

We started counting innings and runs but that was hard work so before too long we gave it up. But he continued to insist that we were leading while I, the Celtic, was certain that it was the Cruisers in front. We were each of us arguing that the other one's team was winning.

Mercifully, our second baseman, Don Nicholson, overheard us and waded in to settle things. "It's tied," Don said.

It takes a few games in the league before you figure out how things really work: at crunch time in the last inning with runners on base and two out, the catcher decides that now is the time he desperately has to know how close the game is. He needs to yell at his pitcher and his fielders to tell them how hard they should try to get the final out. He turns to the umpire - it's pointless to ask teammates (see above) - and asks for the score.

The umpire, naturally enough, has absolutely no idea what the score is, so he walks over to the backstop and calls up to the scorekeeper in the stands. The scorekeeper, often it's Chris or Mara or Glen or George or Mary or Jeff, all excellent scorekeepers, stops yakking with friends, hunches over the scorebook for a longish moment and then calls out: "Hold on. I better count again."

"Just play ball," says the ump. And back we go to playing without knowing the score.

Even the following day many players continue to not know the score. We won," they'll tell you, I think it was-oh, I'm not really sure of the score but we had more runs." Or in the case of some teams it's more often, We lost. I think it was-oh I'm not really sure of the score but they had more runs."

I have this theory that the real blame for all of this not knowing of the score falls upon the surroundings. As teammate Sean Delaney told me once, sometimes he'll be standing on the Snug Cove Field diamond and "-suddenly I look up at all the trees and the mountains and I realize what a great place to play ball we've got. It's just so peaceful. At times like that I don't really care about the score."

Sean's right of course. And besides, at the end of every game handshakes are delivered, banter is exchanged, the kids are rounded up and there's plenty to talk about during the journey home. So what's the big deal about the score anyway?

All right now, in keeping with the spirit of all this The Rally Cap Chronicles did not call scorekeepers to find out who beat who by what this week, nor did I pay attention to the scores when I stopped by games. For this week at least there will be no scores.

Only you still wanna know you say?

You might try asking a player.

League games are played Monday night through Saturday, except most Tuesdays and some Thursdays, at 6:30 (or often a little later).

Saturday, July 2, 2005

BC Ferries is implementing a fuel surcharge to help offset the increase in fuel prices. The BC Ferry Commission is taking public input on this issue. I have sent them the following note:

I am not opposed to the fuel surcharge but I would like to suggest a way that this charge will go beyond a simple band-aid solution for high fuel prices.

I would like to suggest that BC Ferries use the opportunity of collecting this surcharge to earmark some funds for the investigation and development of alternative fuel sources for the ferry fleet. This could begin a long term process of research, development and deliberation to move the ferry fleet away from a dependance on fossil fuels. I have no doubt that the price of diesel will continue to stay high and to increase over time, so as a ferry user I would love to see the Corporation beginning now to explicitly address this issue. Knowing that some of the surcharge was being allocated to this long term planning would make me feel better about paying it and would be a prudent move for the Corporation and a global example of a corporation addressing long range sustainability issues.


Chris Corrigan
Bowen Island

You can let them know what you think by emailing the Commission before July 18.

Friday, July 1, 2005

Excitement and thankfully no injuries yesterday morning in Horseshoe Bay where the Queen of Oak Bay lost power and ran into the docks at Sewell's Marina adjacent to the terminal where it beached. There was a fair amount of destruction on that side, and lots of delays as a result but no injuries. By 5:00, the tide had come in and the ferry had been towed off the beach and into the berth where it began offloading. As usual, the Bowen Online crowd tracked the story as it unfolded and a Google search will tell you more.

The Shawn Atleo quoted in many of the news stories is my friend and the BC Vice-Chief of the Assembly of First Nations who was aboard the ferry at the time. I'll have to get a first hand account the next time I run into him.