More on Transit adjustments

Remember how I said my brain turned to mush after all the fare weirdness we’ll see during the Olympics and I couldn’t sort through all the bus route changes and how to get to Whistler options, etc? Well, Miss 604 did the heavy lifting for us already – awesome! Admittedly, with a lot of help from travelsmart2010.ca;

Last night John was looking over street closures during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and trying to figure out his new public transit route to work. I would imagine many who work in or around downtown Vancouver are also going through this phase of planning their commute (if they haven’t taken two weeks holiday during this time).

Here are some transportation options you’ll need to consider over the next two months, according to TravelSmart2010.ca.

[VIA Miss 604]

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6th Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest

Ever wanted to enter a literary contest? Ever talked yourself out of it because you couldn’t imagine yourself writing pages and pages of stuff that made sense?

Well screw that! Why not write a story that fits on a postcard?

Geist magazine is holding it’s 6th annual Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest, which, as they point out, is “the writ­ing con­test whose name is almost as long as the entries!”

Dead­line is Friday, January 15, 2010! But don’t panic… it’s short, remember? Click here for the full contest details – the basics are as follows;

First Prize: $250
Second Prize: $150
Third Prize: $100
(more than one prize per cat­e­gory may be awarded)
Honourable Mentions: Swell Geist gifts

Send us a post­card along with a story that relates to the image. The rela­tion­ship can be as tan­gen­tial as you like, so long as there is some clear con­nec­tion to the image or place.

Maximum length: 500 words, fic­tion or non-fiction.

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Vancouver blogger seeks like-minded Four Square users

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Besides Twitter, I have become mildly interested in using Four Square – rather, I am using it now, occasionally, but I don’t feel like I’m using it to its full capacity. Too few friends in the service, it seems masturbatory. Too many, and it might become a hum of noise, with less signal. But seeing as I’m still in the no-signal phase, I figure, I might as well try and find some more people to hook up with and digitally stalk.*

Anyone?

For those who have no idea what Four Square is, think of it like Twitter, with maps. Using your mobile phone, you can quickly “check-in” at any location you’re at. Friends that you follow appear as they check-in with the service. And continuing the Twitter likening, the service can “tweet” your check-in, complete with an address. DarrenBarefoot.com has a nice piece on it.

The service likes to promote this as a way for people to see what you’re doing and go meet up with you, but I think it’s more like a way to find our more about your town. Someone’s having a good meal at a restaurant you’d never hear of? Add it to your to-do list. Done! And it’s way more intuitive than dumping your phone’s GPS coordinates into a tweet. Someone has some good information about a location, some handy tip? They can add that for you to find as well.

Some businesses are even using the site as a way to reach out to customers, as they can use the service to tell people about their business, and add in little incentives (ie “Tell them Bob sent you and get free cheesy bread!”)

So far the service is growing, which is good, as it means more feedback about your town. Or even better, as I discovered in my holiday trip back East, it means more feedback from towns your are visiting! A quick snap-shot of your alien surroundings!

It’s possible another service will replace this one, but the current trends tends towards services linking together, rather than trying to be everything to everyone (as mentioned, Four Square already links to Twitter. It also links you to a Facebook account. In fact, you do not have to sign up to yet another website, instead you can just use your Facebook account.) For now, Four Square appears to be stable and growing.

*Digitally Stalking in this case does not mean ferreting out details about another’s life online. It’s more like;

“Lee’s at Colour Your World.”
“And?”
(shrug)

All from the comfort o your couch! The future is here!


Some January culinary ideas. A person’s gotta eat, right?

The gang at Sense and Styles has some excellent suggestions for yummy things to do this month. Here are the short versions;

The titular Long Table

The titular Long Table

The Irish Heather’s Long Table Series

Running every evening between January 11th and  February 11th, come sit at one big long table with a few dozen other food-minded people at the Irish Heather. Depending on what night you come, there is a different excellent meal, complete with a matched drink, for a mere $15 (plus tax and tip.) For example;

Monday, 11th of January, House Made Beef Meat Balls, Tomato Sauce served with Hand Made Spaghetti, w/ 5oz – Glass of Sandhill Syrah.M $15 plus tax & service

Click here for each day’s offering!

“Just Like Dinner at Nona’s House”

Similar to The Irish Heather, but exclusive to three Tuesday nights only – January 12th, 19th, and 26th – enjoy a hearty plate of food paired with R&B beer for $19. Plus, be there at 6 for the wine bar!

The Main Event – East Meets West

Technically Main isn’t where East Van meets West Van, but that’s the kind of thing that gets me punched in the arm. And pedantry aside, this is an awesome event. Running from January 18th to 24th, a number of Main street restaurants will be offering three-course tasting menus for set prices of $25, $35 and $45. And a portion of those sales will go to The Greater Vancouver Food Bank. So, it will be one of the rare times you can eat AND help others do the same.

I’m particularly looking forward to this, as it is an excellent excuse to try more of the restaurants in my neighbourhood. Click here for a list of participating restaurants.

Eee up to Senses and Styles – I will be keeping an eye on them and you should too!

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Countdown to the Olympics: Transit adjustments

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With the Olympics about to begin, the city – including those who saw the international games as a boon as well as those that originally expressed concerns – is starting to ask, “What effect, exactly, will the games have on the day-to-day living in the city?”

Well for starters, transit is gonna get weird – I don’t mean that in a negative way, but rather meaning it’s going to get shaken up, both good and bad. As in, there will be, they figure, a lot more transit users. This means potentially longer, frustrating waits for people who just want to get to work or school. The plan is to add more buses. This means potentially longer, frustrating waits for people who just want to get to work or school… in their cars.

And then there are transit fees – already, if you’re trying to use the Canada line out of the airport, the ticket price has gone up $5. Meaning, you pay the regular zone fare for the train (YVR is in a zone with Richmond, meaning travel into Vancouver or Richmond is two zones = $3.75) and then an additional $5 AddFare on top. $8.75 a person to get from the airport to their hotel or homes.

A cab from YVR to downtown Vancouver is approx. $35 (TaxiWiz puts it at $26 including 15% tip – this is because TaxiWiz is drunk… or measures linear distances only and cannot account for per minute charges while you wait at a light or two or ten.) Cabs can hold 4 people, so unless you’re traveling alone, the train might not be the best option.

It should be pointed out that this AddFare is for what TransLink calls CashFares. Meaning, any fare purchase right at the terminal – if you have a monthly pass, away you go. Mind you, as a visitor, if you’re staying in Vancouver, do you need a two-zone pass? And if you only have the one zone pass, then you’re paying the extra zone AddFare. This is around the point my head starts to bubble.

And there’s more!

TranLink is offering collector FareCards, which are on sale at all FareDealer locations now. The passes aren’t strictly speaking, monthly passes, but rather Olympic passes, covering exactly the period of time the Olympics and Paralympics are happening – February 8th to March 21st. Here are the prices on those cards;

1-Zone $110
2-Zone $149
3-Zone $204
Concession $63

And here is what it costs for a single month (consisting of +/- 30 days)

1-Zone $73
2-Zone $99
3-Zone $136
Concession $42

Looks like a deal, right! Yes! For people who will only be here for the Olympics!

Townies are out of luck, as the Olympic passes do not cover the first week of February or the last week of March, meaning you either pay for two regular passes, as you normally would (ie $146 for one zone), or pay for the Olympic FareCard ($110), plus two books of  FareSaver tickets (20 tickets for ten work days = $38), for a total of $148. God help you if you need to make multiple trips in a single day and two tickets will not be enough.

At this point I stopped trying to factor in things like the West Coast Express, buses to Whistler, HandyDart. All in all, the events will mean business as usual for Vancouver commuters, at best, and more likely than not it will mean exactly the kinds of hassles people hoped would not happen.

What’s got you worried about Olympic traffic and transit? How are you planning to weather the WorldParty?


Pixar looking for first hires for Vancouver studio

There has been talk for awhile now that Pixar was looking to open a studio here in town. It’s not a bad idea at all, given the high concentration of local tech and art talent. And it’s looking like those burbles are turning into action, as Pixar has apparently begun looking for some of their first hires – so far, these listings are through third-party job sites, and haven’t yet been confirmed or reflected by Pixar’s own job site, but Pixar watchers are saying it’s all for reals.

The first job listings for Pixar’s future studio in Vancouver, British Columbia have appeared on the web (here and here) at two independent websites (they’re not yet posted on the careers page at Pixar.com).

The positions Pixar is seeking to fill are Manager of Information Systems, Production Manager, and Layout Artist. The Production Manager will report to the general manager of the Vancouver studio and their producer in Emeryille.

Each of the listings term the satellite studio Pixar Canada, a “wholly-owned subsidiary of Pixar Animation Studios”. As we’ve known since the project was announced, “the Vancouver studio will produce short-form animation focusing on legacy Pixar characters from films such as Toy Story and Cars”.

A well-placed source confirms that the new campus will be up and running “sometime in 2010”.

[VIA Pixar Blog and Facebook (thx Roger)]


Fire at Main and Broadway – nobody hurt, coolness lost.

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photo by me

Well, Mount Pleasant just got a little less cool.

Last night, a fire of unknown origin, tore through nearby businesses, including Zocalo Mexican restaurant, Slickety Jim’s, Lugz Coffee, and Kishu Island Sushi. Fortunately spared was the apartment complex next door. Ironically spared was the old Scotia Bank building on the corner of Main and Broadway, which for the past year has served as a showroom, sales center for a proposed condo complex to be built there in the future.

While no one was hurt, thanks to the fast action and overwhelming force of the Vancouver fire department (the news says 8 engines from 3 stations were called to the scene), traffic was a pain all day, as rubble was hauled out into Main street, presumably to easier soak the debris without risking any hidden fire to spread. Both lanes were down at least until 3PM (and may still be blocked for all I know – I’ll have a look shortly.)

I liked Slickity Jim’s. I liked Lugz. And I had a decent, happy-hour special at Kishu a couple of times. So I’m sad to see them go, as they will no doubt be replaced by something far less funky.


Smile, you’re on Google camera!

Google Street View Canada went live today, which means that if you live in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Halifax, Calgary, Vancouver, you can now spend countless hours looking online at all the places you can go look at first hand.
googlesnaps

This is one of the better views of the Google camera car that trundled around Vancouver this past Spring (judging by the cheery blossoms), popping 360 vistas of city streets (and a few alleys). It hasn’t been a perfect launch however, as David Loukidelis, BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner has already launched a number of complaints regarding Google’s privacy measures not working as promised (I caught a shot at Thurlow and Robson, where a cab license plate is visible. Nearby, a city bus’ plate is clear, but the automated blurring system incorrectly blurred the turn signal light.) It doesn’t sound like he’s looking to pull the plug however, rather he’s just pushing for people’s protection.

“We acknowledge that this tool may be of interest to people, but at the same time under the privacy law in B.C. there are issues that have to be addressed.”

See anything cool? Anything touristy? Google maps has a link tool that will create a link for exactly the view you’re looking at – just use a link shrinker. Google map links are huge!


Please don’t take this person-aaaaaaallllllll

Never Not Funny Live

Pardo & Woods - the world's worst Vaudeville team. I didn't realize until later that Scott Adsit from 30 Rock was in the background. Ha!


Photo by Me!.

I’m always impressed with people who can maximize a festival, particularly the ones that go longer than just a day or two – like the Vancouver Film Fest or Global’s growing comedy festival. But, I do what I can and go when I can. Yesterday, Chris from the Speedway Squad podcast invited me along to a taping of Never Not Funny live. LA comedian (warm-up man for the Tonight Show) Jimmy Pardo and company sat down in a conference room at the Westin and yukked it up for well over an hour. Chris got to talk to Pardo et al, as well as get some words in with surprise arrivals like Scott Aukerman, and I got to clunk up the show by taking them serious when they said “What’s Weird Al’s real name – let’s look it up.”

It’s not my fault I have an iPhone. It’s… Fido… no, sorry, it is my fault.

The episode of their podcast that was being taped should be up next week – I’ll make you wait until then to find out what Al’s real name is. You will be disappointed. The rest of the episode, fantastic. And it’ll be just like being there, only you weren’t and that means you didn’t give Jimmy any money, you jerks.

I’m not sure how many people would consider themselves comedy fans, other than everybody insisting that they like to laugh, but if you’re not inclined to hit the Yuk Yuk’s every once and awhile, you should consider the Comedy Festival, seeing as it’s a one week period where a lot of heavy talent from around the world come to Vancouver to play.

The festival wraps up today, with David Cross, Steve Martin, and Carol Burnett – however, there’s a second show added for Carol Burnett this coming Tuesday, where the audience gets to ask her questions. A great evening for anyone over 40 or idiots like me that watched too much TV as a kid.

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Best Of Vancouver is out

I didn’t win Best-kept Vancouver Secret, so I don’t care, but there’s a lot of other categories to go through – some are a perennial (Best Place For Cheap Drinks – The Cambie) and some are a surprise (Best Place to Pimp Your Ride – Canadian Tire. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but it’s a surprise). Always worth a look – check it out online or grab today’s issue before they’re gone.

Anybody or any place that you’d recommend that didn’t win or get runner-up (either because there wasn’t a catagory for it, or the world is unjust and Vancouver wouldn’t know a good -insert store or job here- if they tripped over it)? I’ve got a few.

Hair Salon – I’ve got two, because my stylist moved shops. Mine Salon at Main and Broadway and Clover, downtown. I don’t need a stylist, if you’ve ever met me. I’m well past my hip prime and maximum hair potential, but therein lies the main reason I found and stuck to my favorite stylist after moving here – I can get a $12 haircut every two weeks and look like a mushroom half the time, or I can pay a reasonable salon price and it will be fine for two months, if worse comes to worse. Gentlemen… good advice. Think about it.

Comic Shop – Why was there no listing for Comic shops? I can think of five inside or just outside the downtown core. Personally, I prefer Elfsar (Yaletown) or RX (Main), but there are enough of them that a vote would be nice. And depending on how far out the net can be cast, there are a lot more that just five – with the new Canada Line, Imperial Hobbies in Richmond is just as easy to get to as Golden Age. Maybe easier.

Video Store – C’mon. We live in city that has managed to not only retain independant video stores, but it’s slowly expanding. Happy Bats (Main)? Black Dog (Cambie)? Grindhouse (W. 4th)? And Videomatica, of course.

This town is full of great places, I’m not sure I like the idea of narrowing it down to a list of three of four. It seems wrong somehow. But, it’s also nice to be recognized for doing a good job, right?


Word Under, as well as On, The Street

Celabrate Literacey! C'mon... that was funny.

Celabrate Literacey! C'mon... that was funny.


Photo by Freedryk.

This Sunday, September 27th, the 15th annual Word On The Street festival is happening at the Vancouver Public Library downtown. As usual there’s a lot going on, from book readings, Q&A, a tent where you can write a postcard of encouragement to Canada’s Winter athletes, and even a stage where the Vancouver Comedy Festival is sponsoring some funny musical comedy and sketches. Basically, the block the library is on will be covered in tents filled with people, by people, for people, that like books and magazines.

But the best kept secret, is The Word Under The Street, which is the gathering of local comic and ‘zine creators and publishers in the Library basement – DO NOT MISS IT! If you’re planning on going down, don’t leave without swinging by.


100.5 The Peak challenges listeners to find their $5

100.5 FM has an interesting idea for promoting their station – take a five dollar bill and then drop it. As people pick it up and spend it, it moves around the city. Now, if someone were aware that there’s a special bill out there and knew what to look far (say, they were to watch The Peak’s YouTube video on the matter) and was diligent in checking their pockets every time they got a new fiver, they might win $5000.

I’m wondering, how likely is it that someone will find the bill – certainly if everyone in the city knew about the contest, someone would find it quick, but I’m betting there’s a very good chance this bill will just wander off.

Reasons;

1 – Banks pull notes all the time. This may only temporarily remove the bill from circulation, but it could freeze it indefinitely, or even move it to another city where The Peak isn’t heard. And the longer this bill is out there, the more likely the maximum audience will be reached and passed before it’s found.

2 – Even more likely is the bill leaves the city on a person, headed on a flight to Toronto, a car-ride to Prince George, or traded in for American South of the Border.

3 – Fire. OK, I admit this is very very unlikely. I just wanted more than two ways the contest could end in nothing (and while I understand the purpose is to get the name of the station out, not for someone to actually win the five grand, it’s more interesting is someone does win.)


Brief Updates from MBHQ

You’ve no doubt by now noticed that the sites got a bit of a re-design and some things got changed around last week. We wanted to highlight two changes to make sure everyone knows what changed.

The first and biggest is COMMENTS! Registration is no longer required to post a comment on any post. Of course if you already have an account you can still login to ensure your comments are attributed to you, but those who don’t can now post a comment without any long term commitment. Also, on the right you can see some of the recent comments so you’ll always know what the active discussions are. This was the most requested thing we’ve heard from people since our last redesign and we’re excited to see where it leads.

The next change is also something that was heavily requested, and that is a change to the ADS on the sites. You’ll immediately notice fewer of them, but what might not be as obvious is those smaller square ones to the right are specific to this city only and are being sold for a flat rate for a period of time rather than a confusing CPM/traffic/network model. Depending on the city, these range from $7-$175 for a full week. If you purchase one, during that time your ad will be the only one in that spot and will show on every page. We set these up both to make it easier for smaller local businesses to get their ads on our site, and also to help us bring in ads that relate better to our local audiences. Also, keeping these sites online is expensive and every little bit helps.

There are a bunch of other things we changed but we’ll leave those to you to investigate and take advantage of. Hope you like it, and we look forward to seeing you in the comments!!

Love,
The folks at MBHQ

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Photobooth Vancouver is the new hotness

Lydia and me in the photobooth

Lydia and me in the photobooth

There’s a hell of a lot of decisions to make when organizing a wedding, and for most of the important ones I had nothing to do with them for mine.  Probably the best decision made for our wedding, apart from the actual getting married bit, was hiring Photobooth Vancouver [pbv] for two hours of photobooth services.

Lydia had found them at a indie bride event at the same venue we were getting married, the Heritage Hall, and decided that they were the coolest thing she’d ever seen.  So for $300 an hour we had two hours of photoboothing for our friends and family to enjoy.

The guests loved it, and as with your traditional photobooths they all got their own photos to take and keep at no charge to them.  Then about two weeks later we got a disc full of all of the photos that had been taken through out the night so that we had a new and fairly novel way of remembering our wedding and those people who were there.

Granted I personally don’t look particularly good in any of the photos, having swelled to the fattest point in my life just in case I needed some extra padding for the wedding, but they’re still great to look at.  And trust me, the photobooth is about the only thing that anyone remembers about the wedding.

So if you’re organizing any kind of party or event I’d give serious consideration to having Photobooth Vancouver there.  It’s great fun, and it’ll be a great way to have a unique souvenier of the event.


Where were you when the Canada Line went on-line?

Photo by Uncle Buddha

Photo by Uncle Buddha


85,000 people took to the streets Monday, suffering hour long line-ups to be one of the first to try Vancouver’s new, expensive, Japanese rush-hour simulator – the Canada Line. I got to try the Expo line with everyone else at Expo – that was neat. Hopefully everyone that got to try the Canada Line – AKA “The path of least resistance to YVR or Richmond” – yesterday had a similar experience.

The Tuesday morning numbers were far lower, said Translink, which I’m assuming means it was merely a sane amount of travelers, and not 100 thousand gawkers. Translink however seems to think the numbers will increase in September, as the now redundant B-line buses are shut down or re-routed (mainly, the 98 B-line.)

For a flickr slideshow of people’s photos of the big day, click here.

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