Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Olympic expectations

With about 600 staff at Vancouver City Hall assigned to Olympic host duties, it's good to see that the City has issued a protocol guide to avoid potential embarrassment to visiting dignitories.

Almost nothing is left to chance. There is useful information at every corner:
  • You never say "That's not my job". You have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. If you are not, then you need to find another job.
  • Protocol is whatever your boss says it is.
  • You must display the famous "protocol smile" in all circumstances, no matter what is going on behind the scenes.
  • Remember that protocol smile. It needs to get larger the worse things get. Let them think you are in complete control.
  • Don't fold or cross your arms, and keep hands away from your mouth. Both actions can send negative signals.
  • Always sit or stand 'tall' with shoulders slightly back and chin up for self confidence.
  • Smile "gently" and with sincerity. Do not overdo it. False smiles can look artificial and never-ending smiles may invite suspicion.
  • Looking into the other person's eyes shows your interest in the conversation. Do not stare too intently. Staring can be perceived as threatening.
  • Minimise your use of hand gestures.
  • Avoid playing with your hair, tie or jewelry, biting your lip, drumming your fingers or jiggling coins or keys in your pocket
  • Nodding usually means you agree. Too much nodding may give the impression you are insincere.
  • To shake hands, make eye contact and extend your right hand with the thumb knuckle facing up. Keep your hand straight, with your fingers slightly relaxed. Grasp the other person's hand and pump once or twice while standing still. Do not use a loose, limp grip.
  • Be helpful but discreet in embarrassing situations. Try to move the individual out of hearing range of others and quietly let them know "Your trouser zipper is open"
  • Present and receive business cards with both hands. Never use your left hand to present or receive a card. The left hand is reserved for "unclean" functions in middle eastern cultures.
  • No "Tweeting"
  • Never dress in clothes that are too tight, they make a slim person look gaunt and a large person look heavier.
  • Avoid wearing short socks. If they are too short, they may show bare leg when you sit down. Wear knee-high socks or stockings that reach above the calf.
  • Socks should match your pant colour.
Doesn't leave much room for fun, does it?

Monday, 25 January 2010

Sign of the times

One of our favourite walks is through the Government of Canada lands off Joyce Lockwood Park at the far end of Whalebone Drive. On a recent visit, we noticed a sign that we hadn't previously seen - banning the picking of Salal in the woods.

I know that Salal picking is a problem elsewhere on the island, though I've never seen anyone taking it out through Joyce Lockwood Park.  Have similar signs gone up elsewhere on the island I wonder?

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Pineapple Express rushes in

No-one on Gabriola will have failed to notice that it's hardly stopped raining in the past week - and that temperatures have been unseasonably high.
At midnight last night, the temperature here on Gabriola was hovering around 12C - nearly 10 degrees warmer than normal for this time of year.  On Monday, Vancouver International Airport registered a record high temperature of 13.1 degrees. The previous record of 12.2 degrees was set back in 1941. The mild temperatures will continue for the next few days although no records are expected to be broken.

After a brief respite this morning, the rain is back and is expected to continue on and off  for the next week.

The cause of this unusual phenomenon?  The so-called Pineapple Express - a strong and persistent flow of atmospheric moisture and associated heavy rainfall from the waters adjacent to the Hawaiian Islands and extending along the Pacific coast of North America.
A Pineapple Express is driven by a strong, southern branch of the Polar jetstream and is usually marked by the presence of a surface frontal boundary which is either slow or completely stationary, with waves of low pressure traveling along its axis. Each of these low pressure systems brings enhanced rainfall.
The conditions are often created by the Madden-Julian oscillation, an equatorial rainfall pattern which feeds its moisture into this pattern. The composition of moisture-laden air, atmospheric dynamics, and orographic enhancement resulting from the passage of this air over the mountain ranges of the western coast of North America causes some of the most torrential rains to occur in the region. In British Columbia, Pineapple Express systems typically generate heavy snowfall in the mountains and Interior Plateau, which often melts rapidly because of the warming effect of the system.
Throughout Vancouver Island, the effects of this Pineapple Express are already being felt.  
The mayor of Courtenay, B.C. has declared a local state of emergency after heavy rain caused local rivers to flood their banks, forcing the evacuation of about 40 people in the city on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Mayor Greg Phelps issued the order after high water levels in the Browns, Tsolum and Puntledge Rivers caused flooding in the low lying areas adjacent to the Tsolum River and Courtenay River overnight Monday.The city also opened a local community centre for any evacuated residents, closed several roads and the Fifth Street bridge, and urged drivers to avoid the city's downtown core.
B.C.'s River Forecast Centre has also posted flood warnings for the nearby Puntledge and Browns Rivers while a flood watch is in effect along the Nanaimo River, south of Nanaimo.
The mayor plans to keep the state of emergency in effect for several days because there are very high tides forecast through the week and more heavy rain in the forecast. "We've decided to keep our local state of emergency in effect, because that gives us the power to keep things like the reception centre and the people in the emergency shelters," said Phelps.
Residents in low-lying areas of Courtenay were evacuated in mid-November when heavy rains, melting snow and high tides pushed the Puntledge, Courtenay, Tsolum and Browns Rivers over their banks. Further south on the island, residents of Duncan and Cowichan were also evacuated last November, but so far this week, that area has not been affected by flooding.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

To those back home.....

Those of you back in the UK (and France) who are currently sitting in a deep freeze looking out on the snow might consider you have it tough. In parts of Canada the temperature has fallen below -30C and windchill has made it feel like -50C.
In Gabriola, however, the sun is out - the birds are singing - and the temperature is a balmy 6 degrees. I just thought you might like to know!