No-Sense Float

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Contemplatives have known for centuries about the need for quiet. To understand the innate wisdom of one’s own mind, one needs to go to the forest, or the desert, or somewhere, probably in nature, to escape the frenetic sensory inputs of the crowd.

So what to do when you live in a place and age where every sense is awash in a digital tsunami of noise and information and advertisements and more?

I tried one urban solution last week at Float Sense.

I found it in a typical strip mall in Burnaby off Kingsway. The lobby looked like something a dentist with New Age tendencies might set up. Clean, pastel art, comfortable chairs, an ambience that makes you lower the volume of your voice without knowing why.

After a brief introduction I was shown to my room with its private float tank. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this, a plastic pod about the size of a smart car. It looked clean, though, and if not exactly inviting, also not scary. Although the friendly attendant did mention that some people feel some anxiety at first as their mind adjusts to this new environment without physical sensations.

I took a shower, put in the optional earplugs to keep the water out, and slipped naked into the tank. I reached up to lower the lid, heavier than I’d expected. Once it was shut I was in the dark. I slid back into the water, warmed to exactly 93.5 degrees to match my body. Because it held 800 pounds of epsom salt, according to the brochure, I was perfectly buoyant. I may have felt my right knee gently touch the wall, followed a moment later by my left leg brushing a wall, but that ended any sense of contact.

I lay back and tried to enjoy the experience, but it wasn’t completely comforting. I thought about claustrophobia and how it’s just another trick of an unruly mind, but I also wondered if I could trust the attendant’s reassurance that vents would bring in plenty of fresh air. It seemed a little too warm.

Or was that water? I understood I was floating, meaning I was partly in the water, but I couldn’t tell how much of me. I didn’t know whether my toes were above or below the surface. Everything felt neutral.

I looked around to test the lighting, realizing I was now in a place so dark it made no difference whether I opened or closed my eyes. But maybe I touched my face in the process, because I also got salt in my eyes which stung enough to be annoying for a few minutes.

The sound was almost down to zero but I could still hear something. It may have been a far-off washing machine or the distant hum of an air conditioner. Maybe it was the low level frequency of the universe in motion. Somehow I wished it would all disappear into utter silence.

Or maybe that was my mind I was hoping to re-set with a complete reboot. I spent the rest of the 90-minute session this way, sometimes adrift, quite pleasantly, sometimes thinking too much about the experience. At the end, which came sooner than I had expected, I heard the soft music pumped into the pod telling me my time was up.

I took a post-float shower and went to the upstairs lounge to sit and reflect. Yes, it was a worthwhile experience, especially worthwhile in my case since I’d answered a Craigslist post from the owners offering a free trial. Yes, a second or third visit would probably have more impact since I was now past the awkward newcomer stage, and could simply settle in.

Would I become a regular and use it often as a paying customer?

Maybe. My first choice for respite or insight will always be nature. But the chance to wipe the senses clean is a prized thing in the big city, especially when it’s this convenient. I now understand why some people use float tanks as a regular escape from our sensory overload.

Anyway the search goes on.

David TraceyNo-Sense Float
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Trees Rule in the Bookstores

Trees make the city greener and people happier. Or the readers among them at least.

The two top bestsellers for BC in 2016 were both about trees. Vancouver Tree Book come in second with only another book on the same topic beating it to the finish line.

I suppose now would be a good place to apologize to all my tree friends for the paper. Sorry buds. If it was wrong to write a tree-friendly book made out of trees, I stand guilty. The only thing I’ll say by way of explanation is that the paper I chose was Forest Stewardship Council certified. That means it came from trees grown like crops rather than old growth venerables. So we’re good here, right?

David TraceyTrees Rule in the Bookstores
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38 Weeks a Bestseller

Vancouver Tree Book is still on the BC Bestselling Books list.
After debuting at #1 on May 1 it’s still on the list (now in 13th place) in mid-December. Good to see trees have legs, in show-biz terms. And to know that people are using their legs to get out and see trees even in winter. Which, by the way, is a great time to be a tree geek who also has an interest in design and architecture. Without the leaves you get to see how nature’s premier builders construct those fantastic wooden structures.screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-10-04-01-am

David Tracey38 Weeks a Bestseller
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#1 Bestseller for 6 Weeks

Vancouver Tree Book continues its winning streak. Hits the charts at #1 for sixth week in a row. While my astonishment and gratitude grow in equal measure.

bc bestsellers june 11 2016

David Tracey#1 Bestseller for 6 Weeks
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More hotcakes anyone?

Much as it goes against my humble nature, I feel obliged to point out that Vancouver Tree Book is the #1 Bestselling Book in BC again this week. If my math is correct that makes four weeks in a row.

And it would confirm what I’ve heard from retailers, three of whom actually used the term “selling like hotcakes.” We must be short on phrases to depict items enjoying robust sales because all three went straight to the hotcakes. And each time I had to think, who buys pancakes anymore?

Anyway thanks to all the tree aficionados out there who have made the book popular.

Big shout out to those who have been kind enough to not only buy but then comment on the book in emails, texts and personal conversations. Writing can be a long and grim haul with very little to show for it, in my experience, so your generosity means a lot. It’s particularly gratifying to hear stories of people discovering trees and the urban forest we happen to live in with the book in hand. Keep looking up!

 

BC Bestseller List 28May2016

David TraceyMore hotcakes anyone?
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And the hits just keep on coming for Vancouver Tree Book

Still pinching myself and expecting to wake up from a dream, but for now I’m happy to report Vancouver Tree Book has landed atop the bestseller list from the Association of Book Publishers of BC for the third week in a row.

As reported in this weekend’s Vancouver Sun.

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David TraceyAnd the hits just keep on coming for Vancouver Tree Book
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Vancouver Tree Book hits #1 on BC Bestsellers List!

Apparently there are more tree geeks out there than even I had hoped.

Vancouver Tree Book has hit #1 on the Association of Book Publishers of BC Bestsellers list.

Bestselling Books of BC List from Association of Book Publishers of BC

Bestselling Books of BC List from Association of Book Publishers of BC

David TraceyVancouver Tree Book hits #1 on BC Bestsellers List!
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Vancouver Sun Review of Vancouver Tree Book

Van Sun Review 13Apr2016

Steve Whysall from the Vancouver Sun took the time to sit down for a chat about my new book. I thought we had a really positive chat. We talked like any two plant people do when they get to geek out a bit on their favourite topic, but also went into the bigger ideas behind the book involving getting people to look and learn about the trees in their urban environment as the first step towards saving them. But you never know until the print hits the pavement how you came across. Fortunately, I think Steve was spot on in taking a wide angle look at not just the book but the motivation that led to it. Throughout the whole writing/shooting/production slog of getting this book done I tried to counsel myself with the notion that even thought it would never make economic sense, it might lead at least one person to see trees and the city differently. Thanks to the Vancouver Sun, read by many more people than will ever see the book, the idea is now out there and anyone who has an inclination to shift their gaze upwards to the canopy now knows where to go.

David TraceyVancouver Sun Review of Vancouver Tree Book
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Global TV News Hour on Vancouver Tree Book

GlobalBC TV 15apr2016

Global BC TV News Report on Vancouver Tree Book

I’m always happy to talk to journalists — my peeps! — even when they come from TV Land. In this case the interview, to judge from behind the lines, went really well. Anyone bound by stereotypes of TV news reporters being superficial and lusting for blood and gory imagery should have seen Linda Aylesworth from Global ask about trees in Vancouver. Along with ace cameraman Sergio Magro, we spent at least 90 minutes in Stanley Park talking and shooting trees, all for a 2-minute report. How do you capture a big idea like saving the city with a book encouraging a healthy urban forest in just a couple of minutes? You don’t, ultimately, because the human brain needs more time and information to process fast moving words and pics into something like a conviction. But you can make a lot of progress in that short time if you do it well, and I thought they did, with a thoroughness that surprised me. Apart from my mug on the screen, I think the result is great and proof of their dedication to the craft. Oh, except for a glitch at the beginning of the on-air version where the graphic said it was a book for children. Which it is, if you count among children all the rest of us who still hope to capture the inner scientist and nature-loving affinity of youth.

David TraceyGlobal TV News Hour on Vancouver Tree Book
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Vancouver Is Awesome – Ornamental Cherry

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I’m going to introduce a tree for Vancouver Is Awesome every month, starting today. They’ll probably be selections from Vancouver Tree Book, although not necessarily and in any case the content will be new.

The choice for April 2016 was a gimme. With the city perfumed by fragrant pink and white bouquets it had to be ornamental cherry. Read about it here.

David TraceyVancouver Is Awesome – Ornamental Cherry
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