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Changing side street lights is no joke

Two workers and a bucket truck, belonging to the City of Vancouver, or B.C. Hydro—or who knows—examine a street light at Spruce St. and 8th Ave. at 8:30 p.m.

A bucket truck of unknown provenance, with its crew of two, performing maintenance on a side street lighting fixture, made for a little light drama Thursday evening (February 20).

Call me easily amused but I had never witnessed any interaction with the distinctive, dual globe-topped street lights that line Spruce Street, north of West Broadway Avenue.

The novel sight held my attention for at least ten minutes; then it kind of bored me, to be honest.

At first I was just curious to learn what a bucket truck—with its rotating amber light flashing off the surrounding condos—was doing at the quiet intersection with 8th Avenue. Read more…

Update on the little West Broadway blackout

B.C. Hydro contractors cleaning up the alley between 1489 and 1465 West Broadway at 6:21 p.m. Sunday.

Power returned 15 minutes early to a city block at the intersection of West Broadway and South Granville, following B.C. Hydro’s planned 9-hour outage, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, February 16.

But there was no longer any trace of Hydro’s wooden H-frame utility pole platform in the mouth of the lane way separating 1489 and 1465 West Broadway.

Apparently that had been the entire purpose of the Hydro outage—to remove power transmission infrastructure from the 213.7 square metres-worth of lane way that was purchased in December from the City of Vancouver for $3.7 million by PCI Developments, as part of its consolidated redevelopment of 1465-1489 West Broadway.

Just before 5 p.m., B.C. hydro contractors work on a relocated utility pole platform, now a few metres north of the back end of the soon-to-be redeveloped 1489 West Broadway.

In fact B.C. Hydro ended up rebuilding said H-frame platform little more that 12 metres north—out of the path of PCI’s redevelopment and into lane way still owned by the city. And the number of electrical transformers sharing the new platform has visibly increased—from three to four.

Unfortunately, this developer-centric exercise had the wider consequence of taking away a Sunday’s-worth of business from the majority of retailers in the affected area (not to mention the wages lost by their employees). Read more…

Nine hour Sunday power outage planned for parts of West Broadway, 8th Avenue and South Granville

Boundary of the planned Sunday power outage to the 1400 block of West Broadway and South Granville.—Vanmap

B.C. Hydro lists a planned power outage for Sunday (February 16), lasting from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. affecting parts of the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue at the intersection with South Granville Street, including:

  • The south side of the 1400 block of 8th Avenue.
  • The north side and southwest corner of the 1400 block of West Broadway.
  • The east side of the 2400 block of South Granville.

B.C. Hydro describes the outage as relating to “work being done on our equipment”. My understanding is that the outage specifically relates to the redevelopment of 1465-1489 West Broadway by PCI Developments, which has not yet reached the stage of demolishing the existing properties. Read more…

Did I finally see an eagle in the Fairview neighbourhood?

Photo (with inset closeup) of the large, white-headed, brown-bodied bird I saw gliding high over the Fairview neighbourhood Friday afternoon.

“Is that an eagle?” I asked, interrupting the bottle picker I was talking to in the alley on the south side of the 1300 block of West Broadway at a quarter past two on Friday afternoon (February 14).

As I asked the question I directed my friend Eddie’s attention toward the soaring speck of a bird I had spotted high up in the blue sky.

At first glance I had mistaken it for small aircraft—flying, as it was, with its long wings outstretched and unmoving. In the next instant, though, I saw that it was a large bird, with a dark body and an apparently white head. I guessed that it was using its outstretched wings to glide on a thermal updraft.

It clearly wasn’t anything run-of-the-mill, like a crow, or a pigeon or a seagull. And it didn’t look anything like the big raven I saw in the Fairview neighbourhood in 2015.

So I guessed it was an eagle. Or, more to the point, I hoped it was an eagle.

Spotting such a rara avis would be something of a feather in my cap, I think.

Others in my audience will surely know better but, for what it’s worth, my friend Eddie (his full street name is “Eddie Spaghetti”) wholeheartedly agreed with me and among binners he’s known to be quite eagle-eyed—at least when it comes to finding empties. Click the image to enlarge it. 

B.C. astronomers make stellar find in hunt for Fast Radio Bursts

B.C.’s CHIME radio telescope array, superimposed against an image from the 8 m Gemini North telescope showing SDSS J015800.28+654253.0 , the host galaxy of FRB 180916 (indicated by the green circle).—Gemini Observatory / NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory / AURA / CHIME

Radio astronomers at the CHIME array in British Columbia have discovered the first Fast Radio Burst (FRB) that repeats on a reliable schedule. This should allow researchers to study this mysterious interstellar phenomenon in a way that has not previously been possible.

FRBs are unimaginably powerful radio pulses of millisecond duration that are caused billions of light-years away by some unknown high-energy process. While FRBs are detected on Earth as faint whispers (sometimes compared to a cell phone call from the Moon), at their source they can represent as much energy expended in milliseconds as our sun gives off in 80 years.

Astrophysicists do not understand the high-energy process behind FRBs but they would certainly like to.

Unfortunately, previously discovered FRBs—back to the first one, identified 13 years ago—have either been single flashes of radio energy, or repetitive in an unfathomably random way—all of which makes them very hard to study. Read more…

Looks like winter but sounds a bit like spring

Some of the dripping buds of February, seen this morning on Spruce St.

Cold winter rain notwithstanding, Friday morning (February 7) I swear that I heard the first, unmistakable chirps of spring.

Morning after morning, for months now, I have woken to the silence of nature—broken only by the swish of car tires, the tread of boots, the rattle of shopping carts and the wail of emergency sirens. Thursday was no different. But Friday morning there were songbirds! Read more…