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Six quirks/habits of Raul – Meme November 24, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, personal life, random thoughts.
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I’ve been tagged by Keira-Anne, so here goes my response (sorry it’s SO late!)

1.- I follow exactly the same routine at night, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.
– Check the doors are locked (outside and in my apartment)
– Brush my teeth and floss.
– Drink water.
– Choose my clothes for the following day.
– Go to sleep.

2.- In the past year, I’ve started to check my blogging Gmail BEFORE my personal or research emails. Yeah, I’m first a blogger and then everything else. Weird!

3.- I hate waiting for anyone to pick me up, so I’ll walk outside my house and stand there. I know, if you watch the water all the time will never boil. It’s painful.

4.- I lit candles in my apartment regardless of whether I have company or not. Sometimes I do it just for the sake of feeling calm and relaxed.

5.- I prefer to book slots of time for friends than to have a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of schedule. Makes my life somewhat complicated sometimes as I have a pretty active social life. And the tech community loves to do things in the spur of the moment (on Twitter!)

6.- I say “REALLY?” a lot. I think what I actually mean is “mmmmhmmmm”.

This time, I’m tagging people who may (or may not) expect me to tag them. I can’t tag Rebecca as she’s already been tagged, so here are who I’m tagging.

Andy Peatling
Duane Storey
Tyler Ingram
Gus Fosarolli
Ianiv and Arieanna Schweber
Tanya Davis

There you go! You didn’t expect me to tag you, did you? πŸ™‚


Twitter and the bi-directionality of Web 2.0 November 23, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, random thoughts, Twitter.
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While this week (and weekend) has been incredibly busy, I still managed to see Joe Solomon and Jonathon Narvey for a really quick coffee. Both Joe and Jonathon live fairly close to me, and we tend to hang out at JJ Beans. It’s such a cool coffee shop. They were there to play chess, and I just did a mega-ultra-quick visit to catch up with them in real life.

At some point in our conversation a couple of nights ago we discussed the bi-directionality of Web 2.0 and Twitter. I indicated that in fact I DO know many, many of my Twitter friends in real life, and that I’m actually friends with them.Β  Karen Parker and I mentioned it to Shane Gibson at the recent Tweetup: our usage of Twitter is much more social and less business-oriented. Arieanna and Ianiv mentioned this point to Ianiv’s family one night when we were having dinner: we have been able to develop our friendship through the use of Twitter, because it keeps us connected even though we are in remote places.

David Drucker actually suggested this theme as a potential topic for Northern Voice 2009: how to stay connected when you’re far away (if you remember, I was away from Canada this past summer for about 1.5 months to attend a funeral and be with my family). Even though I wasn’t really in Vancouver, I kept my connections with my friends through Web 2.0 tools – Twitter, my blog, GTalk, Flickr, etc.

One element that Jonathon, Joe and I were musing about is the need for bi-directionality in Web 2.0. In the case of many politicians, their use of Web 2.0 was dismal. Broadcasting your very next move is not what Web 2.0 is all about. It’s about bi-directionality. You speak, I answer. You drop a comment on my blog, I respond (or I monitor the discussion so that I can jump into the conversation at some point). You tweet at me. I tweet back. It’s a 2-way street. I just hope politicians and newcomers to Twitter and the rest of the Web 2.0 applications can understand that.

No Motrin Moms effect on CRTC’s decision on net neutrality November 20, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, random thoughts.
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The writers of an excellent New-West-based-and-focused blog, “10th To The Fraser” tweeted earlier this morning:

Where is the #motrinmoms effort for #netneutrality? Where’s the passion to put the same level of pressure on the CRTC as moms put on Motrin?

Sadly, nowhere to be found. Numerous (some of the best) bloggers in Vancouver and elsewhere wrote and tweeted about the Motrin Moms Twitter debacle (you can use Summize to find out about that discussion, I think the hashtag is #motrinmoms).

(c) Rob Cottingham, 2008 - Used with permission

(c) Rob Cottingham, 2008 - Used with permission

I have read a few blog posts and tweets about net neutrality and the CRTC decision, but not nearly as many as I’ve glanced at with regards to the Motrin Moms debacle. I admit that even I hadn’t really written much about net neutrality until recently, when Steve Anderson sent me a link to his site, SaveOurNet.ca

I completely agree with 10thToTheFraser’s tweet that it’s unfortunate that the same level of effort is nowhere to be found. This can be attributed to several reasons. Let’s pose a few hypotheses (no need to discount any just yet):
1.- Bloggers/twitterers don’t care about net neutrality.
2.- Bloggers/twitterers don’t understand the implications of Bell Canada throttling bandwith.
3.- Even if they care AND understand the implications, they have better things to write about.
4.- The impact of Motrin’s ad on moms worldwide is larger than the impact of net neutrality on Canadians.
5.- …. [insert your own hypothesis]

Why is it that when it comes to galvanizing people’s opinion, we seem to be unable to do so? This irks me to no end. I have undertaken scholarly studies of environmental mobilizations, and have found that, unless the issue at stake is of PERCEIVED vital relevance (e.g. toxic emissions in the vicinity of your neighbourhood), environmental non-governmental organizations fail to mobilize the public. Inertia and inactivity are just too easy. It seems that the same is true for social media. ARGH.

EDIT – Hat tips again to Rob Cottingham who pointed me out to this blog post of Michael Geist.

Statistics Canada provides us a full RSS feed of statistical goodness! November 20, 2008

Posted by Raul in academic life, environment, food for thought, public policy issues, random thoughts, sustainability, wastewater, water, water policy.
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Hat tips to Greg Andrews (TechVibes) and Darren Barefoot (Capulet) for pointing me out to Statistics Canada’s RSS data feeds. You’ll see – even though I’m a chemical engineer, during my Masters and PhD degrees, and in my post-graduate work I have done quite a lot of qualitative research.

My personality traits work to my advantage when using qualitative research methods. I am pretty good at interviewing people, analyzing textual data, coding using Strauss and Corbin’s axial coding methods, undertaking ethnography, etc. I am considered a specialist in institutional analysis because, well, I know how to study rules and routines. And the majority of these studies are undertaken by observing and interviewing.

The thing is, during the course of my PhD, I became REALLY quantitative. Since my advisor’s training was quantitative, he impressed it upon me. I’m quite grateful to him for doing that because thanks to his sage advice and training, I have examined wastewater governance and policy using quantitative methods (something that is rather atypical in this body of literature). And of course, there’s my love of game theory and econometric methods. WOWSA.

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I drooled (just as Greg tweeted earlier this morning) when I saw StatsCan’s RSS feeds. Given the kind of research I do, economic, government, population and environmental indicators are the RSS feeds I grabbed. You can grab any others as you may see fit.

Unfortunately, and this is quite sad, I can’t get any quantitative data on water through those RSS feeds (or at least I haven’t been able to get any so far). I do know where to find some water-related statistics in Canada, but the state of the art in regards to accurate water stats in Canada is (as mentioned in Karen Bakker’s edited book) rather appalling.

If I manage to get my hands on some good data, you’ll see some pretty graphs here sometime soon.

Music – St. Marks Square by Black Science Orchestra November 19, 2008

Posted by Raul in music, personal life, random thoughts.
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I’m a big fan of deep house music, and particularly of Black Science Orchestra. One of their best tracks, New Jersey Deep, is always on my iPod. The song whose video I’m inserting here is pretty much another one of those “tunes that define me“.

The rhythms in this song are completely along the lines of what I like to dance to, what I dance to when I am at home or in a club. Although I think the last time I heard this type of tunes was (believe it or not) at Bar None (in Yaletown, Vancouver)! Oh no, that’s not exactly true. It was at the Media 2O party (one of the best parties I’ve ever attended – only comparable to BarCamp Vancouver 2008 party!)

What board game are you? November 19, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, random thoughts.
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Via the always resourceful Raincoaster, here is a board game quiz. Apparently, I am not only a Virgo (my birthday was in September, rational and analytic) but I am also checkers.

You Are Checkers

You are very logical and rational. You are able to understand what is and isn’t a factor.
You’re able to compartmentalize and focus on the essentials.
You appreciate simplicity. You can see the layers of complexity and beauty in anything.
You are also playful and good natured. You don’t take life too seriously!
What Board Game Are You?

Yes, I am super rational, and I think about what my options are, etc. But I have to be honest. I have played checkers but more than that I’ve played chess.

Social media tools and academia November 18, 2008

Posted by Raul in academic life, random thoughts.
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As I was archiving and packing some stuff, I realized that I now have way many more tools to do the kind of research I do, and that, should I want to really engage in broader dissemination of my research, I can create a website, generate content for a blog, create an information-dissemination campaign, raise awareness of my latest research project, all through the magic of Web 2.0 tools. I had already talked about this with several of my geeky academic friends, but it hit me really hard today as I was going through some papers, I thought “oh, this journal article is online for sure – all I need to do is de.licio.us it and it’ll be there always for me“.

Before I engaged fully in social media, I wouldn’t even have thought about it and would have accumulated yet another printed copy of a paper. But thanks to Web 2.0 tools, I’ve become more and more efficient. Shane Gibson gave yet another example last night at the Vancouver Sales Performance Meetup with LinkedIn. All great tools for me, as a professional of environmental issues. Good times!

The Eastside Culture Crawl is coming up! Nov 21-23rd, 2008 November 16, 2008

Posted by Raul in random thoughts, Vancouver.

I’m an East Vancouver boy and proud of it. Everybody who knows me will be a witness to how much I love to promote Main Street, East Vancouver, Mount Pleasant, and to my commitment I am to do work for the Downtown East Side. My friend Kris Krug tweeted recently that he had been asked to have his photography exhibited in a group event for the Eastside Culture Crawl.

So I’ve got now even more reasons (in addition to the fact that, well, I’m an East Vancouver boy) to attend the Eastside Culture Crawl. From their website:

The Eastside Culture Crawl is an annual 3-day November event that involves artists who live in Vancouver’s Eastside in an area bounded by Main St., 1st Ave., Commercial Drive, and the Waterfront. Painters, jewelers, sculptors, furniture makers, musicians, weavers, potters, writers, printmakers, photographers, glassblowers; from emerging artists to those of international fame… these are just a sampling of the exciting talents featured during this unique chance to meet local artists in their studios.[Eastside Culture Crawl website]

I would strongly encourage you to attend the Eastside Culture Crawl. If you plan to do so, drop me a comment and maybe we can organize a group to hang out there together.

Proposition 8, gay rights and the movie Milk November 15, 2008

Posted by Raul in random thoughts, Vancouver.
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Somehow, there are still people out there that think that they have the right to REMOVE RIGHTS from people. In this particular case, Proposition 8 (California) eliminates the right of same-sex couples to wed. I have previously written about how appalled I feel about such a progressive state voting AGAINST the civil rights of their LGBT population. San Francisco was the city where the very first openly gay man was ever elected to public office, Harvey Milk… hello, people?

Speaking of Milk (the San Francisco supervisor), the movie Milk (starring Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco as Milk’s boyfriend and Sean Penn as Harvey Milk) is premiering soon in Vancouver. Can’t wait to see it! The timing could not be more perfect. I think it’s time that people start being educated in that every human being has rights, and that LGBT people should also have the right to marry. The trailer for “Milk” is shown below.

World Diabetes Day – November 14th, 2008 November 14, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, random thoughts, Vancouver.

Today has a bittersweet flavor, unfortunately. While it is one of my loveliest nieces’ birthday, it’s also World Diabetes Day. My Grandpa died of complications that the disease gave him. He was a strong man, he worked hard and was always an example for us. Grandpa was also one of the sweetest and kindest men ever.

Grandpa would stay up watching TV while I was doing homework, and would always ask me how I was doing and if I was ever going to sleep, given the long nights I put while doing my undergraduate in chemical engineering. He succumbed at the age of 86 and I still miss him to this day. Sadly, two of my Mom’s brothers are also affected by diabetes, so we (me and my brothers) are particularly careful to check our blood sugar levels all the time, and try to lead healthy lifestyles.

In 2007 and 2008, the theme of World Diabetes Day is Diabetes in Children and Adolescents. Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. Type 1 diabetes is growing by 3% per year in children and adolescents, and at an alarming 5% per year among pre-school children. It is estimated that 70,000 children under 15 develop type 1 diabetes each year (almost 200 children a day). Currently, an estimated 440,000 children live with type 1 diabetes globally. Type 2 diabetes was once seen as a disease of adults but today, it is growing at alarming rates in children and adolescents. [World Diabetes Day website]

Two Vancouver bloggers have been raising funds for this worthy cause: Buzz Bishop (who is auctioning some stuff on eBay today) and Tanya Davis (who has organized amongst other things, a Comedy Night and a $500 prize auction). Both of them are going on Team Diabetes and will be running a half marathon. I admire their efforts and salute them for contributing to this very worthy cause. Please consider donating to their causes. Diabetes is a deadly disease and every dollar you contribute will help fund research that seeks to find a cure.

Your dose of lunacy: VanOC asks businesses to temporarily close down November 13, 2008

Posted by Raul in random thoughts, Vancouver.
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My very good friend Monica Hamburg (a social media maven and one of the funniest people on the planet) writes a personal blog very aptly named, “Your Dose of Lunacy“. It’s one of her creative outlets, where she dissects some really weird stuff that happens around the World Wide Web.

The news I’m going to quote below MUST certainly qualify for her blog and I would love to hear her viewpoints. Not only because she is really funny and has a great sense of humor, but also because I really think that these statements kind of qualify as being an unhealthy dose of lunacy.

Don’t take my word for it, but apparently, the VANOC CEO John Furlong suggested to businesses to consider shutting down temporarily. According to this news snippet from The Vancouver Sun, Furlong is quoted as saying:

5. Time off. Encourage “or even mandate” vacations at Games time. “Consider if it’s feasible for your business to close entirely to celebrate the Games,” Vanoc said.[The Vancouver Sun]

Um, I’m not even remotely implying that they’re actually crazy, but what part of “entrepreneurs are in business to make a profit” does VANOC not understand? How exactly are businesses supposed to temporarily close down and still make a profit, and why must they have to pay staff so that these staffers go and do unpaid volunteer work at the 2010 Winter Olympics? How are people who are “mandated” vacation going to make their rents, and put food on the table?

Again, I did not hear this myself, but just read it on The Vancouver Sun, and you can take it with a grain of salt, but … seriously! Somebody needs to really get a reality check. Preferably with a healthy dose of seriousness. Honestly, I am disappointed to hear some proposals that have absolutely no practicality and feasibility.

And on a related note – $ 48 million deficit already? Weren’t these Games supposed to be sustainable?

Greening fashion in the Vancouver Fashion Week November 11, 2008

Posted by Raul in random thoughts, Vancouver, Vancouver Fashion Week.
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Many of my friends went to Vancouver Fashion Week this past week (even though I did want to get a media pass, I was also in the middle of some administrative bureaucracy with the university so, really, I couldn’t have gone anyways). I know that Friday was eco-designs, and since I didn’t make it to VFW, I would like to know if whoever did attend on Friday would mind leaving a comment (or if you write a post, you could either send it to me as a guest post on my blog or I could link to your post).

I’ve previously covered some eco-fashion stuff here on Hummingbird604.com too. For example, I wrote a profile of Dahlia Drive in North Vancouver (fashionable recycled garments). I also had some coverage when I did EPIC 2008. But I didn’t get a chance to see the eco-designs of VFW, so if you did, do let me know!

Bridging the blogger world in Vancouver November 10, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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A couple of weeks ago, Pat Zaph and I were having lunch downtown and we were talking about the fact that there seems to be like, two (or more) groups of bloggers in Vancouver. We kind of know OF each other but we don’t seem to know each other very much.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Danielle and Chad (with whom Pat hangs out on a regular basis), and I know that Duane has hung out with them too. But I don’t get to see them very often. We all read each other’s blogs but we seem to find little time to actually organize gatherings.

One of my goals as the Organizer of Vancouver Bloggers Meetup is to actually build more bridges amongst local bloggers. It’s part of who I am, and part of what I think my role is, both as a blogger and as an individual. I think I am a good connector. I introduce people to each other and connect them.

Even as an academic and an instructor, I’ve connected my students with potential universities for post-graduate studies or job opportunities. I’ve linked my fellow researchers with other academics in the same field. Why? Well, because for one, I know a hell of a lot of people. And I keep in touch with them, particularly using Web 2.0 tools.

Recently, while having lunch with Rebecca, she reminded me that there is a whole other world of blogs out there. I do hope that those bloggers who write about everything else but blogging (e.g. hockey blogging, religious blogging, outdoor activities blogging, etc.) feel free to engage and join our circles of friendship.

The West End evictions and this week’s municipal elections November 10, 2008

Posted by Raul in Focus on Vancouver, food for thought, politics, public policy issues, random thoughts, Vancouver, West End.

If you are a Vancouverite and able to vote (Canadian citizen, older than 18 yrs old), you probably DO know that Vancouver’s municipal election takes place on November 15th, 2008 (8am to 8pm). You can start doing advance voting at 5 locations in Vancouver (read more here).

There’s an issue that I find has not been discussed at length (or maybe it has but I haven’t read much about it in the past few weeks/months) – the issue of evictions in order to increase rent. While I do not live in the West End, I have MANY very close friends, both civilians and tech/social media/PR people who have their homes there.

It does worry me that evictions to renovate and then increase rents continue to happen. This issue is something that has been written about extensively (I’ve read lots of stories in many major newspapers) . The question I have is – does anybody know if the candidates for city mayor have expressed any formal position on the issue?

Why do I think this issue is relevant, when there are others (homelessness, transportation, etc.) that are also key? Well, simply because if the trend continues in the West End, the likelihood that these kinds of evictions will happen (I haven’t read many reports about occurrences of evictions to increase rent outside the West End) in other areas may increase. My main concern, of course, is my own neighbourhood (Mount Pleasant)!

What do you think of this issue?

Registered for Movember 2008 with BlueFur.com team November 10, 2008

Posted by Raul in Movember, random thoughts.
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If you read my blog with certain regularity, you will know that I’m always passionate about fundraising. This month is particularly challenging, but as you may have read in previous months, I am always passionate about charitable causes particularly if they have to do with cancer. Gary Jones from BlueFur invited me to join his Movember Canada 2008 team and I have accepted. Why? Well, because (a) I consider Gary a friend and (b) I am passionate about fundraising for cancer research and awareness.

For those of you who don’t know me in person, I look HORRENDOUS in a moustache. But since November is the month to raise awareness and funds for cancer research (this event focuses particularly on prostate cancer) and I’ve agreed to collaborate with Gary, I’m going to do it in a special way – I’ll be trying to grow a goatee. Right now I know I’m late, but I can assure you, one way or another, I will show up at the party (or whenever we take the end-of-the-month pictures) with a moustache, be it mine (grown into a goatee) or even if I need to have it painted on my skin!

Please consider donating (I’m in the process of setting up my donation page, but it will be up very soon). For more details, you can check Gary’s blog post.

Thanks to the universe November 9, 2008

Posted by Raul in personal life, random thoughts, Vancouver.

I’ve always a grateful person. I think that there is an intrinsic circle of positive energy whereby “what goes around, does come around” , and at least in my case, that’s always true. No matter how many hardships I may be facing, there’s always that ray of light, that glimmer of hope, that random act of kindness on the part of the people whom I care for and who care about me that just gives me *that* extra push to keep going.

These past few days have been nothing short of awesome. I feel so complete, I’m almost afraid of saying it out loud for fear of jinxing it. Some of my close friends who face seemingly unsurmountable challenges are still going strong and are always an example. My own mother has had a terrible past couple of years, and she is working hard to stay afloat and thrive. And all of these things, I take everything. I take the good with the bad.

I’ve also struggled, and had rough times. Living on a tight budget is not something I always did, but there’s always food on my table, I have everything I need (not everything I want, but everything I DO need, or at least almost everything). I’ve had a wonderful life, and I continue to do so. I have nothing to complain about to the universe. It’s just nice to realize it, every so often.


Meet the child of my upstairs neighbours! November 7, 2008

Posted by Raul in personal life, random thoughts.
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Actually, this isn’t the actual child, but the kid who lives upstairs from my apartment behaves EXACTLY like the one shown in this video (I think it’s safe for the office, but it shows the word “preservative” so you may not want to watch it at the office – no actual preservatives are shown, though). Now you understand why I call him the Demon Spawn? πŸ™‚

Whistler’s Cornucopia – Chef’s Luncheon Series with Anthony Nicalo November 6, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, dining out, personal life, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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My friend Anthony Nicalo (Farmstead Wines) is hosting a Chef’s Luncheon Series during Whistler’s Cornucopia. Admittedly, I’d love to attend, but frankly and honestly, I can’t, because I have a grant application and a grant report to submit over the weekend. But Whistler’s Cornucopia sounds amazing, and knowing Anthony like I do, I am sure the Luncheon will be outstanding.

Chef’s Table Luncheon with Anthony Nicalo & Farmstead Wines
Saturday, November 8
12:30pm – 3:30pm

Enjoy a luncheon highlighting local, seasonal ingredients with gourmet selections from around the world. Share ideas and cooking techniques, learning ways to get the most out of great ingredients. Exploring the connection between the farm and table will extend to the wine pairings, with a selection of naturally farmed, handcrafted wines. Guests will move beyond the rhetoric of 100 mile diets and experience the underlying principles for themselves. [Whistler Cornucopia]

Anthony is passionate about sustainability and its implementation within our food systems. While I wasn’t much of a wine addict before I met Anthony, he’s introduced me to some really good (biodynamic) wines, and I think that participants in the event will have an outstanding time.

I actually thought of Russ for this event as he just started a food and wine blog, and while we are at it, I should probably point you out to his blog. I’ll edit this entry once I obtain permission from Russ to link to it, his is a new blog precisely on the topic of wine pairings with food. Russ and Gus are good friends of mine and I think you’ll love both their blogs (Gus has been blogging for quite a bit already!)

Differentiated rights? The unfortunate passing of Proposition 8 November 5, 2008

Posted by Raul in random thoughts.

Since last night, the United States of America (and the world) are celebrating the historic Presidential win of Senator Barack Obama, President-Elect of the USA. At the same time that the US voters prove to the world that they are ready to welcome an African American to the White House, they also prove that they are NOT ready to recognize that every citizen has the same rights, regardless of sexual orientation. I am APPALLED.

So, we now have differentiated rights? I can’t believe that in a society that prides itself in values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The win by Senator Obama is a wonderful victory for the US, but it’s unfortunately also colored by the darkness of Proposition 8, “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry“.

I was on the bus talking to a couple of wonderful and intelligent ladies and in our conversation, I mentioned that Senator Obama’s win is a stepping stone for civil rights in the US, and that maybe, one day, the world’s most powerful country may be led by a gay man (or woman, for that matter), and one of these ladies indicated that, were this to happen, this might signal the real coming of age of the US.

When there is really no distinction based on skin color, or who we choose to love. I wish we were closer to that day. And I seriously hope that President Obama will help advance the rights of many LGBT voters who, too, chose him as their president, and who have EVERY RIGHT to marry. Because nobody can deny the freedom to love. NOBODY. And in the mean time, all states who approved California Proposition 8 (and similar ones by Arizona, etc. that eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry) – GROW UP ALREADY.

The American Presidential election 2008 – A historic day, November 4, 2008 November 4, 2008

Posted by Raul in Politics 2.0, random thoughts.
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Today (November 4th, 2008) will go down in world history as a historic, hyper-relevant day. Admittedly, it is a day that holds a LOT of weight in the lives of Canadians. Regardless of whether you’re American or Canadian, I do hope that you’ll be voting or have voted in the upcoming elections (American President Nov 4th and Vancouver municipal election Nov 15th).

I am now comfortable with the fact that many, many Canadians (not dual citizens, but Canadian-only) will be paying attention to the US presidential election. Frankly, so will I. But right after it’s over, I plan to refocus (and draw attention) to our municipal elections.

Would I like Obama to win? For sure I would. That would be an Earth-shattering accomplishment, and one that I think will bring lots of positive changes to the US and the world.