Archive for February, 2007

SkyTrain Accidents: Public News or Private Concern?


Last night at roughly 6pm, due to what was deemed by Translink staff a “Serious Medical Emergency at the Burrard Station,” all Skytrain service on one rail was ceased between the Stadium and Waterfront Stations, and train service continued via a shuttle-style line on the remaining rail back and forth between Stadium and Waterfront for the next three hours or so.

Although the traditional news media have been quiet about the incident, the occurrence was caused by a person on the tracks being hit by a train, according to several reports on the Discover Vancouver forums. Police, paramedics, and the coroner spent several hours on the tracks themselves and examining the train which had been involved. No reports were certain whether the incident was accidental, malicious, or a suicide attempt, or knew for sure the medical outcome of the person involved.

Police and TransLink officials tend not to release details of SkyTrain incidents, purportedly to prevent additional copycat incidents, and presumably to some degree out of respect for the victims (for example, in the reports of two shootings earlier this week [cbc].

Any accidents involving a human vs. a light rail train are by nature pretty horrific, and my compassion goes out to anyone directly related to the incident (primarily to the victim and his/her family and acquaintances, but also to any observers, given that this kind of thing can be pretty traumatic).

But my curiosity was also piqued with regard to the role of the media in accidents such as these. The victim and family have a right to anonymity, of course, but to what extent do the people affected in various ways by the occurrence have a right to know what happened? If their commute is delayed by 20 minutes or so, is knowledge whether the nature of the delay was management-related, mechanical, or medical adequate? Do they have the right to know, if medical, if the person survived? Or at which point does this cross over from the need-to-know (for example if it were useful in preventing future incidents or could be perceived as important for people who wanted to avoid a dangerous area) to the morbidly nosy?

Thee Goth Blog

How is this freak not famous, yet?

I hereby present Thee Goth Blog, a creation of Commercial Drive-dwelling creative genius and very odd dude, Russell (anyone out there willing to risk their life by giving out this guy’s real surname?). Truly an inspiration.

Greyhaven Looking for a New Home

The Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary, at 4490 152 Street in Surrey, is losing its donated 500 square foot space on March 31. The parrot sanctuary, which houses conures, budgies, cockatiels and other exotic birds, has been upstairs of the Outdoor Garden Depot since 1998.

I’ve visited Greyhaven twice with one of their volunteers to get to know their birds and to help out. With the growth in the exotic animal trade, Greyhaven has outgrown its modest space. While averaging some 115 successful adoptions a year, the sanctuary received 159 new birds last year.

Aside from donating 1000 square feet to the non-profit society, you can donate your time, cages, bird toys, stainless steel dishes, bird food, first aid kits, arbutus and willow branches (for perches), T-stands, climbing trees, crafts (which Greyhaven can sell at fund-raising events), Canadian Tire money, or, of course, real money. If you’re really thinking of buying a bird, don’t! Talk to Greyhaven about other options.

An Inexpensive Night and Lessons Learned

Lonsdale Quay

When you live way out in the suburbs and decide at the last moment to take a trip into Vancouver to do something specific, like go up to the observation deck at Harbour Center, it might be a good idea to check and make sure that it’s actually open first.  While the Top of Vancouver restaurant might be open, we didn’t really feel like dropping a hundred bucks on dinner just for the view.  So we’ll be going back in March when the observation deck reopens.

So after driving all that way, we decided to hop on the SeaBus and head over to Lonsdale Quay.  Yeah, it was late at night, and everything was closed, but this was about dealing with cabin fever, and just getting out and doing something.  It didn’t matter what.

After that it was time to start the long drive home, but even then it wasn’t just along the Barnet Highway, but down Broadway instead. 

Yeah, it’s hardly the most exciting night we’ve ever had, but it was great to just get out for awhile.  And it wasn’t the standard, “Let’s drive down to English Bay” type of situation.

Guess Where?

Guess Where?

It Is an Offense!


In the past week or so, the SkyTrain electronic message boards have supplemented their typical elevator outages and trivia answers (I still maintain the same knack for never ever seeing the initial questions, so for all I know the answers are all that are displayed) and so on with new warnings something to the tune of the following:

“It is an offense to buy a transfer or pass from anyone other than a vending machine or other authorized dealer. It is also an offense to give your used transfer or pass to any other person.”

Nothing anyone didn’t already know, really, but it’s interesting to suddenly have the stern warning.

I never can figure out the patterns of SkyTrain fare enforcement in general, but after literally months of seeing no one checking tickets, I’ve noticed police and TransLink staff checking tickets probably five times in the past two weeks. Bigger crackdown on fare cheating?

Is the Georgia Straight encouraging vandalism with irresponsible surveys?

The latest issue of Vancouver’s Georgia Straight contains a poll asking “Is VANOC encouraging vandalism by placing the Countdown Clock in such a prominent place?” This came out in response to the placement of the Olympic countdown clock outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. The underlying implication of the poll question is that anti-Olympics residents are the type of people who would deface or destroy public property – and might very well be entitled to do so.

Fortunately, the Straight had the integrity to publish the following comment from professor and associate director at the SFU school of criminology, Neil Boyd: “There’s a constituency that supports the clock. To ask, ‘Does that encourage vandalism?’ is to say that if you disagree with something you ought to be entitled to vandalize it, and I don’t think that’s a reasonable assumption.”


The Georgia Straight does tech badly


Originally uploaded by Jeffery Simpson.

Can someone please tell me when The Georgia Straight turned into a conservative rag? Their last two covers have been all about confirming stereotypes. Fresh off last weeks front page feature that promoted the novel and in no way stereotypical idea that Asians are good at school, we get the “Hey some girls play video games too!” cover [tgs]. Add to that the cheesecake FHM/Maxim picture and we’re reading a lads mag.

Yeah Straight 1999 called and it wants its article back.

The women playing video game articles are old hat to anyone who owns the internet. Gaming industry sites like IGN have been covering this for years, and even if you want to just look at general interest mags I’ve seen articles similiar to this in the lads magazines, most mainstream media outlets and magazines at least since the Wii was released.

Maybe aside from a few unfortunate cover selectionsTthe Straight‘s real problem is with technology. I’ve never seen a particularly good tech article in the paper, and a lot of times it’s like they’re listening to last year’s This Week In Tech podcast for ideas. Last issue they covered Google Maps for God’s sake. It’s especially disapointing because Vancouver is a high tech city, hell it’s a video game city with Rare, EA and others having studios here. As a tech writer myself I notice tech writing and even small town interior papers have better technology columns than your average Straight stab at tech.

Can’t make it to Northern Voice? Every session will be podcast

For those who are not able to make it to Northern Voice this year (like me), Mack from Podcast Spot has volunteered to record all of the Saturday sessions, along with as much of the MooseCamp as his crew of four can. They’ll also have video cameras to record some of the sessions as well as some “roaming” footage.

All of this will be available at Combined with what I’m sure will be a fair bit of Flickr traffic, this should help to provide as much coverage as you can get without actually being there.

Metroblogging Vancouver: The Recruitment Drive

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IMG_0216, originally uploaded by Jeffery Simpson.

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