Archive for February, 2009

Odd art installation @ Commercial

At least I’m assuming it’s art. From the Canada line platform, you can see a big banner featuring the Google homepage. I thought it was an ad at first. However it’s surrounded by a half dozen cardboard placards with various other sites on them – Facebook, MySpace, etc.

A mystery!

How many shootings is it now? This has got to stop.

What’s going on here? I’ve lost count on how many shootings the Lower Mainland has had over the past month. Shootings happening in shopping centres, in broad daylight, directly in front of a four year old boy

Some say it has to do with a certain family with gang ties, others say it’s a series of revenge killings between the UN and Red Scorpion gangs. Some others say that it has more to do with silencing certain people before they go to the cops.

Why can these groups have free reign to spread such fear? How did it get to this point where these groups are left unchecked? Where are the laws that are supposed to protect us from these groups? Where are the deterrents? Are there deterrents? Why are those who deal drugs or commit gun crimes given such light sentences? I understand that there was legislation to impose maximum sentencing for crimes involving guns, but that it’s currently being held up by the senate.

Just a little frustrated… I’d like to know your opinion.

Friendly Neighborhood Newspaper Carriers

Kudos to the two people at Gateway station who give me my copies of The Metro and 24 Hours each day at Gateway station. Morning in and Morning out, I can count on a nice, “Good morning,” from the Korean lady dressed in green and and a bright,  “24 hours?” from the lady dressed in orange.

It’s not an easy job. You have to be on your feet all day long, trying to get people to grab a paper that they don’t necessarily want or need. You get ignored or get the odd rude comment. All for a piecemeal rate. But it’s a living and the two that give me my paper seem to enjoy it.

Delivering for the Sun, Province or National Post is no easy task either. Take this posting from Craigslist for example. They need to get to their collection site by 2 AM, and have them all delivered by 8AM. From what I heard, for every complaint that they get, they get a certain amount knocked off their pay to compensate for the call centre time. Not pretty and not fun if they have a route that’s on an hill that ices over or gets snowed up.

So if you see someone giving you a newspaper, pick one up. If you don’t like the content, you can always recycle it at Burrard station anyway. At least you helped someone earn just a few pennies more… that add up in the end. And if you subscribe to the Sun or Province, a nice tip at Christmas time would be a nice gesture… especially if they get your nice, dry paper to your doorstep despite the weather.

Hey, if you’re digging one big hole, why not two?

Remember last year, when the power substation blew up, leaving a large chunk of the downtown core without power for days and a few parts for nearly a week? Then refresh your memory. With that in mind, you’ll be happy to note that the addition of a third transformer (presumably to help avoid future problems), which wasn’t due to be completed until June of this year, is done.

And now, the BC Transmission Corporation is looking to upgrade the central Vancouver area in general. Does this affect you? Let me answer your question with a question; are you on the following map?

The blue lines represent the proposed route of new underground tranmission lines, leading to a new substation at Alberta and 6th. That’s not a bad area for a substation, being mostly offices and light industrial, but one look at the map shows a lot more dug up roads in the future.

If you’d like to read up on the proposed project, but didn’t get a notice in the mail (and most everyone should have) you can check the corporation’s project website. And if you’d like to be more direct in your learning, there are two open houses this month, related to the project proposal;

Wednesday, Feb. 18th
4-8PM (drop-in anytime)
Holiday Inn – Vancouver Centre
Arbutus Ballroom
711 West Broadway

Wednesday, Feb. 25th
4-8PM (drop-in anytime)
Central Vancouver Public Library
Alice MacKay Room, Lower Level
Library Square
350 West Georgia Street
(don’t forgot to wear pink – it’s Pink Shirt Day)

Vancouver embraces Twitter

I joined twitter a little over a year ago as part of some school research in emerging technology trends. For several months, I only had three followers: my professor, a classmate and a good friend of mine – not bad considering the huge Facebook craze at the time.

For some reason, I thought, “Hey why not see if good ol’ (or god-awful, depending on your point of view) Gordon Campbell is on Twitter.” Sure enough, he was. What about good ol’ (or god-awful, depending on your point of view) Carole James? She’s there too!

I added Gordon Campbell (@g_campbell) to my list… and within two hours he added me to his. Still waiting for Ms. James (@carolejames) to add me to hers. But considering that she’s not following anyone at the moment, I don’t think she’ll be inviting me to her list anytime soon. Granted, they’re both probably written by party staffers anyway.

Buzz Bishop (@buzzbishop) of 95.3 FM Virigin Radio fame tweets quite a bit, and I find his them to be a great source of what’s going on in Vancouver… and a great source for good eats! Local Vancouver Sun writer Gillian Shaw (@gilliamshaw) is a great read as well… She taught me a lot about how Twitter works on her recent Twitter article. For you Vancouver talk radio junkies, CKNW (@cknw) and News1130 (@news1130) are on it as well.

I’m sure that there are a more Vancouver twitter accounts out there. If you know of any good ones that we can follow, please leave a comment… Bonus points for you if you could find one that covers Vancouver’s food scene. I’m looking for more great places to eat!

Pink Shirt Day – it’s like reliving the 80s for a good cause

I remember when the circumstances that helped create Pink Shirt Day first happened – it was one of the notable stories of the week, September of 2007. It had a John Hughes film quality to it – a new student attends his first day of classes at a rural high-school in Nova Scotia, wearing a pink Polo shirt. Fair enough – Polo is always a solid choice and in 2007, I think pink was supposed to be the new black.

No problem there, not counting the high-school bullies.

Surprising to nobody that’s ever attended high-school, they went to work on the new kid, verbally beating him down with the bluntest instrument in the vocabulary of teenage boys everywhere; homo.

The surprising, almost unbelievable part of the story is that two Grade 12 students took offence on behalf of the younger Grade 9 classmate, and using their own money, a discount clothing store, and online social networking, they bought 50 pink t-shirts and handed them out at the school door the next day. And the 50 was supplemented by even more students that wore their own pink apparel. It seems like an obvious twofer – get an awesome excuse to wear that pink sweater AND stick it to the thuggish common denominator at the same time.

Anyhow, happy ending – the new student’s confidence is restored, two grade 12 students are national heroes (Go Canada!), and the bullies are doing whatever it is bullies do when they don’t get their way. Smoking, carving things into desks, and punching one another in the arm, one would imagine.

But it doesn’t end there – an anecdote this perfect has, inevitably, become the focus of an new, annual campaign to take a stand against school bullying – the literally named Pink Shirt Day [PSD] on February 25th (yeah, I’m not sure why it’s not September either – I’m assuming there’s an awareness calendar and September was full.)

Most of us aren’t in high-school any more, but we were all there once. And at least in some small way, the kids around us aspire to be us – independant and critical thinkers. And to be honest, we’re all better looking people now anyhow. Plus black and pink looks awesome, hipsters. So, why not show a little support on Feb. 25th? Pull on some pink, and wherever possible, pass this along to your friends. The perfect Hollywood ending for this story is if the actions of two clever young men trigger and annual, international event.

Metroblogging Vancouver is looking for you

If you’ve been noticing that there’s only two regular authors on Metroblogging Vancouver these days it’s not just that your medication needs adjusting it’s that we’re getting a little short staffed. It’s not just cutbacks to help the site weather the bad economy, we’re not actually paid to write here, but rather that some of our great writers have moved on leaving us just with one great writer and me.

So if you’re a regular reader of Metroblogging Vancouver, or someone whose looking to make a splash in the local blog scene, then we’re looking at you and for you. We’re looking at you through your monitor right now, so don’t do anything weird or alarming.

What we’re peering out at the world for is for additional authors, the brave women and men who are willing and able to write about Vancouver three or more times a week. Whether you want to write about the great sandwich shop you found, or that political issue that’s been bugging you we’re offering you a platform and an audience.

So if you’re interested in writing for Metroblogging Vancouver then email me at jefferysimpson at mac dot com and let me know. Once you’ve passed our very official tests, which consists of giving me your email address and promising not to just use us to advertise your porn site, you’ll be an official Metroblogging Vancouver author.

Act now, don’t delay and remember this offer is not valid in the Province of Quebec or in conjunction with any other sale, offer or coupon.

The effectiveness of protests

Stop Genocide!, originally uploaded by wandering stream.

Vancouver has a fairly deep history of protests, we’re the ones who made being pepper sprayed cool way before those posers in Seattle were doing it, but the question is how effective is it actually? I mean when we’re talking about real things and not keeping Star Trek on the television for another season or bitching about the price of cellular telephone plans, do protests actually make a difference?

Yesterday Robson Street was flooded with protests angry at the ongoing violence in Sri Lanka [th]. To which I’d like to know, what the Hell this has to do with us? I think everyone in Vancouver is well aware that there’s shittier places to live around the world and that we’re lucky not to live in a place where government violence and civil unrest put our lives in danger on an ongoing basis, but what exactly are we going to do about it?

I understand the effectiveness of say a protest against abortion, or fur or something where a graphic photo and some passionate langauge can convince the odd person to keep that baby or not buy that coat made of seal fur, but how is a protest in Vancouver meant to change what’s happening in Sri Lanka, Tibet, Iraq or Iran? The regular protests against the government of Iran that are held outside the Vancouver Art Gallery also puzzle me, what am I meant to do go invade Iran? Will I be greeted as a liberator if I do?

It’s not to say that these people do not have a right to protest however they choose, but frankly I’m sure there’s at least a half dozen more effective ways of using the manpower that was on hand last night. Shouting into megaphones at confused Canadians just is not going to solve the problem. (more…)

Celebration of Light snuffed out

photo by Jon Rawlinson

Well, that’s a crappy way to start the news day – The Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society has announced that sponsor funding wasn’t able to make up the $4 million required to hold the event this year.

The Vancouver Sun has the full article here [VS], which outlines some details on the event. The fireworks event, notable as being the largest fireworks festival in the world, has been going for 18 years, draws 350,000 on each of the four nights every year, and generates $37 million.

Reaction has been mixed, with some arguing that the people downtown are happy to see the event go and other wondering why the government (at all three levels) don’t step in to help.

I dismiss the first as being a not uncommon, selfish attitude – while it’s true the event does disrupt the downtown core and those that live there suffer various inconveniences, it should be said again; $37 million to downtown businesses (plus whatever those people selling pop and water on their lawns get) and top-ranking, world-class event. There’s something important about having a world-class event and while some people might be happier without them, cities are diminished when they’re gone. Kart racing anyone?

As for the second point, you can probably thank the Olympics. A great deal of money has already been committed to finance this one-off, world-class event, most of which will be held in an entirely different town. In any other year, even the municipal government might have been able to top up the pot, but this is the final 11 months run-up to the 2010 Olympics.

I’d like to float a suggestion that perhaps one world-class event, one that will fade over time (for example, is Vancouver still dining out on Expo 86? No, no we’re not) might consider saving Vancouver’s other world-class event, the one that will ideally return every Summer for years to come. I suspect that this is a fantasy world and those organizing the Olympics are more than happy to see it die, but imagine it; The Vancouver Celebration of Light, presented by The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics! Part of the event is turned into a giant press event – a sneak peak of the Olympic torch, which is ceremoniously used to set off the fireworks, which end with five fireworks exploding into the Olympic rings!

But until then, I guess I better find something else to do with my August.

Friday night’s alright for perogies.

Don’t knock it – my first post title was an SCTV reference, “Cabbage rolls and coffee”, but that’s never sounded appetizing to me.

I’ve heard of this monthly event over and over, year after year, and I’ve never been. But I’m thinking about this Friday. By all accounts, you won’t find a more satisfying Ukrainian dinner in town, and you can’t beat the price – two things that have turned this quiet little event into a must-try for those in the know in Mount Pleasant.

Here are the details for the dinner, including a menu, which happens the first Friday of every month (This Friday, Feb. 6th, as it happens.) Also of interest is that besides the vegetarian-friendly varieties of perogy, they also have vegetarian cabbage rolls as well.

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