Friday, March 30, 2007

What's the deal with gas lawnmowers?

I'm constantly amazed at the number of people with tiny yards that go out and buy the most expensive self-propelled gas-powered lawnmower every few years. It must be a status symbol to show off to the neighbours, but really it looks ridiculous.

California Air Resources Board estimates that operating a gas-powered lawnmower for one hour emits as much air pollution as driving a car for 13 hours, and operating a gas weed-eater for an hour is the equivalent of driving for eight hours.

Not only do these contraptions spew noxious gases into the air, they're noisy, they take up a lot of storage room, they're a pain to maintain, and they're dangerous if your foot happens to slide into the blade.

What these people really should use is an old-fashioned push mower powered by the pusher! Sure, you may have to spend a bit more time cutting, but if you go over your lawn a couple of times in a criss-cross pattern, you'l have a nicely trimmed and mulched lawn, and you may even burn up a few hundred calories in the process!

I've used a push mower for the last ten years after my last gas mower died. I enjoy cutting my lawn so much now that I eagerly await the spring weather and fast lawn growth (after I fertilize and lime the lawn). It's great exercise, quiet, environmentally friendly and cheap! No gas to buy, oil to change, spark plugs or blades to replace.

When the reel blades get dull, I either sharpen them with a file, or eventually after a few years of use, just buy a new mower for about $100. Give it a try - you'll get hooked on it like I did!

Burns Bog Walking, Bike Trails

Alex Fraser Bridge seen from the Delta Nature Reserve in Burns Bog

The Delta Nature Reserve consists of 148 acres in the northeast corner of Burns Bog. This area is less than 2% of the total area of the Bog. It is the only part of Burns Bog that is protected. The Nature Reserve has three loops of boardwalks and trails for walking or biking.

burns bog delta bc
Delta Nature Reserve is accessible from the Great Pacific Forum parking lot near the Alex Fraser Bridge. There's a bunch of great trails and boardwalks through the forest with exotic plants and wildlife to enjoy. If you're really adventurous you can follow the trail beside the train tracks all the way to Watershed Park and then down to Delta Golf Course on the south side of No. 10 Highway. Great for biking or walking...

bulldozer stuck in Burns Bog Delta Nature Reserve

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Skytrain Adventure Mar. 15 2007 - Canon Powershot photos

Skytrain Skybridge from Surrey sideHad an unusual Skytrain ride today. Heading toward Surrey from New Westminster (Columbia Station) the train crossed the switching mechanism just outside the station and came to a grinding halt. Another train coming from Surrey into Columbia Station was also halted further up the tracks toward the Skybridge.
(Photo shows the Skybridge from Scott Road Station. Click pics for larger image. )

After about 20 minutes of no movement, a Skytrain attendant forced the doors apart and boarded the train, hoping to manually drive the train across the bridge when he got an all-clear signal from Skytrain Control. I figured this could be interesting, so I got out my Canon Powershot camera, just in case.

After another 30 minutes of waiting, we saw some passengers on the other train force the doors open and step onto the tracks, crossing over to climb a barbed-wire fence and disappear, possibly into the Skytrain tunnel to Sapperton. Eventually another Skytrain attendant went into the tunnel to look for these guys, but of course the power had to be shut off while the tracks were checked.
Skytrain passengers walk beside tracks to Columbia Station
People on our train were starting to have serious bladder issues after an hour and it was getting hard to breathe, so we opened all the windows. Finally the Skytrain attendants got permission to open the doors on both trains and walk us back along the narrow center guideway, across the tracks and back on to the main platform. Among the passengers were some elderly or disabled; mothers with strollers, and young children.

The attendants mentioned that buses would be coming along to take passengers over Patullo Bridge to Surrey, but nobody knew where to wait for them, and in fact it took almost another hour for the first buses to show up, since there's no regular scheduled bus service over the bridge.

Finally we got a family member to come and pick us up in New Westminster. Others were stranded much longer. Skytrain service was out for 3 hours and the buses were few and far between.

Now don't get me wrong - I think Skytrain is great and it works well about 96% of the time. I know that mechanical problems happen from time to time, and the Skytrain attendants do a great job of doing what they can to keep things safe and orderly.

The problem is that there's no reliable backup system to get passengers to Surrey if there are problems with the trains in New Westminster. There are no scheduled buses to Surrey from Columbia or New West stations, and it's extremely difficult to bring them in on short notice.

Translink shouldn't rely on Skytrain as the only means of getting passengers across the Fraser River. During rush hour, the trains are above capacity from Columbia to Scott Road. I say bring back a regular scheduled frequent bus service from New West to Scott Road Station, to complement the Skytrain service and provide an alternative when these incidents occur!

But that's just my opinion...

More photos (click pics for larger image):

skytrain incident at columbia station new westminsterskytrain columbia stationPassengers walk along centre guideway in Columbia Station tunnel and cross tracks back on to main platform

skytrain new westminster