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Live November 14, 2009

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Please update your RSS feeds August 28, 2009

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I used to have a domain redirect purchased for my WordPress.com account. That expired a few days ago, and that’s probably one of the reasons why your RSS feeds show posts that are a year old. I apologize if you’re subscribed to Hummingbird604.com and it’s “Random Thoughts of a Student of the Environment” that shows on your RSS. The HB604 RSS button is broken. Apologies for the kerfuffle. I’ll try to fix it if I can.

Mount St. Joseph Hospital and Emergency Health Care December 15, 2008

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Lunacy on emergency

Originally uploaded by Raul P

I was a bit shocked when I first saw this. Does anybody else other than me think this is somewhat wrong? E.g. what happens if I have an emergency at, say 8.15pm and it’s not something that can be treated in St. Paul’s?

“Love is the only label that doesn’t go out of style” November 28, 2008

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Call me a hopeless romantic, but I can’t help but think that this quote encapsulates the way I feel about love. It’s uttered by Carrie Bradshaw at the end of the movie “Sex and The City). I know, it’s a chick flick (and I DID review it on here!). But it’s a movie that has music and a lot of ideas that I absolutely adore.

I am privileged in that I have not 3 or 4 friends. I have LOTS of them, and I do my very best to keep in touch and close with the vast majority. Occasionally I fail to stay in touch with one or a few, but I always come back, and I always have them in my mind and my heart.

I have been heartbroken only once, but I never feel so disappointed in love that I think I will never love again (in the romantic sense of the word). I am pretty sure I will. It just takes time.

Vancouver Bloggers Meetup November 2008 liveblog November 20, 2008

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Technically it won’t be a liveblog because I’m not really listening to the conversations, but it was nice to see Eric, Alex, Tom (who are newbies to the Vancouver Blogger Meetup) and to see some familiar faces and friends (Airdrie Miller, Will Wertheim, Matt Collinge, John Biehler, Lorraine Murphy, Shane Gibson, Jan Karlsbjerg, David Drucker and Karen Hamilton.

I expected a few more people that had confirmed (John Chow himself included!), but I have had a really good time despite the fact that not everybody could make it. It’s hard to attend all the meetups when there is so much going on in Vancouver!

UPDATE – 8.37pm – Even though a few bloggers have left already, Matt, Eric, Jan, Lorraine, Karen, David and myself are still here. We are talking about WordCamp Whistler, and Northern Voice 2009. We also were talking about the podmob at Sushi Bento (I missed it).

Third Tuesday w/ Rebecca Bollwitt at Granville Room November 18, 2008

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I seriously thought that tonight’s Third Tuesday was going to be at Republic, but I stand corrected. It’s going to take place at Granville Room (right across from Republic), 957 Granville St, at 7pm sharp. I do hope that they will have wireless. If they do, you’ll find my liveblog of Rebecca’s talk here.

Academic studies of popular culture: The cases of Star Trek and Buffy The Vampire Slayer November 17, 2008

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I am an academic. I’ve always admitted that my thinking is strongly influenced by my graduate school training. Thus, it’s not strange for me to become fascinated with scholarly studies of popular culture. Not fascinated enough to actually do yet another graduate degree (sorry, I completed a PhD, that’s more than enough for me, thanks). But still, it’s fun.

I was tweeting back and forth with a few of my friends about the upcoming Star Trek movie, and some of them indicated that the first trailer was bad and that they didn’t hold much hope for the actual movie. Doing a search of the Wikipedia entry for Star Trek: The Movie, I found out that the creators read PhD theses on the topic. Yes, there are people who have written their PhD thesis on Star Trek!

Living with Star Trek: American Culture and the Star Trek Universe by Lincoln Geraghty, PhD dissertation, University of Nottingham

Somebody else already did the research for me, so read their post for a list of PhD dissertations written on the topic of Star Trek.

Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, also spawned a whole academic journal (Slayage: The Online Journal of Buffy Studies), and a field of academic research: Buffy Studies. I-kid-you-not.

Sometimes, I wonder if I’d like to be THAT famous or THAT iconic. Can you imagine? Hummingbird: The Online Journal of Studies about Raul. Now THAT is being self-absorbed!

The Hope in Shadows 2009 Calendar – Please buy your calendar November 15, 2008

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It’s easy to write and write and write and talk and talk and talk about all the awesome things we COULD be doing to help our brothers and sisters in needs. It’s another thing to actually engage in contributing our time and/or money. Thus, I would like to encourage every one of my readers to purchase a “Hope in Shadows” 2009 Calendar. Consider giving a copy out as a Christmas gift, or a birthday gift.

The Hope in Shadows Calendar is a unique project based around a photography contest for residents in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver. The prize-winning photos are then used to create a calendar that provides a glimpse of the hope, spirit and courage of people living in one of Canada’s poorest neighborhoods. [Paraphrased from their website]

While the calendar is also sold in retailer stores across the Lower Mainland, I personally would prefer it if you bought your calendar from Street Vendors. You’ll see, these people are also residents from the DTES and engage in selling the calendar to make money for their subsistence. From their website:

The Hope in Shadows calendar is sold by street vendors, community groups and retailers. Trained official street vendors will have a blue and white ID licence with their name and photo on it with the Hope in Shadows logo and “08/09” next to the logo. The Soliciting for Charity licence number from the City of Vancouver will be displayed on the licence.

The best places to find a street seller include:
– Commercial Drive, especially outside the Skytrain station
– West Broadway & Granville
– Howe & Robson
– Capers on 4th Avenue & Vine
– outside any Choices supermarket
– Shoppers Drugmart on West Broadway

Please consider purchasing a Hope in Shadows 2009 Calendar and contribute to improving the livelihood of the residents of the DTES. Thank you.

Friday night plans November 14, 2008

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I’ve almost always been a socializer, although I have had long arguments with my Mom over whether I ever had a time in my life when I was shy – she thinks I never have been shy – I disagree. When I was a teenager, I always was a student of the school “mejor tener plan que tener permiso” (translated as “it’s better to have plans than to have permission“). I would feel my weekend was ruined if I had permission to go out but no plans to go out with anyone.

I admit that, to this day, I still live by that rule. Although I no longer have to ask my parents for permission, I still prefer to have plans for the weekend than to actually actively SEEK what to do. I may not have the energy (i.e. “permission“) to do them all, but at least, I do have plans and I can choose what to do ๐Ÿ™‚

So, on that note – what are YOUR Friday night plans?

A birthday paradox November 11, 2008

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It just hit me now (as the birthday of two of my best friends is tomorrow, JT’s and AF’s) that for various reasons, the one most powerful tool I have to tell the people I care and love how much I care, is often muffled or silenced by the fact that (a) some of my civilian friends do NOT read my blog and (b) sometimes they might feel uncomfortable if they read a blog post celebrating their birthday. I do write for myself, but sometimes it’s nice just to say it out loud. But the paradox is that, a vast majority of my civilian friends do not really visit my blog frequently. Le sigh ๐Ÿ™‚

Personal content November 8, 2008

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Ever since my readership increased from the 3 people who read my blog when I first started (thank you guys, I love you too!), I’ve almost always tried to mix my blog’s content. Some event recaps, some of my own research posts, a substantial amount of Vancouver-centric content, some tekkie stuff, some political commentary, etc. Still, my blog is about me.

But I’ve had friends of mine (particularly civilians who don’t blog) tell me that I don’t include nearly as much personal content as I used to. There’s a fine balance out there. On the one hand, I love writing recaps of what I’ve done. On the other hand, there’s always that part where “we were just hanging out – no need to blog about it”. That is, sometimes I may just want to have brunch with a few friends, and not blog it. Or do some shopping with them. Or order sushi in while we geek out. Or just go for lunch or dinner with them, and I don’t think I should always blog about these gatherings even if the friends I’m going out with are part of Vancouver’s social media scene.

Tonight’s Vancouver Tweetup totally deserves a recap (and lots of link love) but since I’ve had 6 drinks, the best and most reasonable idea is to just not write the recap tonight. But this post is just to say… the personal content IS going to continue ๐Ÿ™‚

And on a really minor side note – it was raining and I got my hair wet (lost my umbrella at Ceili’s) and thus I had a shower (Mom recommends that to avoid getting a cold). And I woke up my upstairs neighbours! YAYAYAYAY! Sorry, I’m not vindictive or anything but – they had it coming! ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Hillary Clinton in Obama’s team? November 5, 2008

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This quick thought just crossed my mind. Now that Obama is President-elect, wouldn’t it make sense to bring Hillary Clinton to his team? Keep shattering the old paradigms and build an alliance to move the US forward? What are your thoughts, dear readers?

Yes, he could! Yes, you could! Barack Obama is the new President of the United States of America November 4, 2008

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In an incredible feat (and I must add, today must have been really stressful for my fellow American expats), Barack Obama is now poised to be the next President of the USA. I’m really happy, somewhat speechless, and just want to congratulate him, for shattering the prejudices and breaking new ground in becoming the first African American president of the US. He is the President-Elect, and I salute him.

Restaurant review – Bin 942 (Granville and Broadway) November 3, 2008

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While I am always up for a good challenge, I am sometimes weary of trying again a restaurant where I’ve had a bad experience. True, one should give restaurants and coffee shops at least two tries, but in the case of Bin, I just hadn’t had neither the interest nor the willingness to change my opinion. I am glad that Arieanna and Ianiv invited me to Bin 942, because my opinion has shifted completely. I *really like* Bin 942.

Ianiv and Arieanna

Credit: Ianiv and Arieanna

We first ordered a mountain of pommes frites. It’s the perfect size for sharing (for four people, as Ianiv’s sister joined us too). Then each one of us ordered a different dish.ย  Their menu is outstanding.

Tamara opted for the Crispy skinย Yucatan Chicken Breast, with traditional mole sauce, poblano chile blue corn bread, chayote jicama salad, cilantro syrup, and pumpkin seed oil, while Ianiv chose their other special, roulades of venison that were accompanied by fries and a salad. Arieanna opted for Kobe Beef, Meatballs as contemporary stroganoff, black truffle pinot noir sauce, handcut papardelle, creme fraiche with a mascarpone garnish.

As for me, they had a wonderful fresh BC Halibut with warm fingerling potato salad with chorizo, crimini mushroom, shaved fennel, warm saffron creme fraiche, but I chose their halibut special with shiitake mushrooms and scallop.

Ianiv and Arieanna

Credit: Ianiv and Arieanna

We also shared a plate ofย  Kalamata black olive hummus with Navajo fry bread, which was presented in a strange form, but really tasty. Overall, it was a great experience, particularly because of the company. It’s funny, but it’s the second time I’ve gone to a restaurant with Ianiv and Arieanna and I’ve had a wonderful second experience (my first time with Brown’s Social House was terrible and the second one was simply outstanding).

Overall, I would rate Bin 942 really high. My only (small) things against this place

– It’s become really much smaller since the bar opened.

– The wait time is slightly on the long side (45 minutes from the moment we got there)

But in addition to the great food and on the positive side, I have to say that the portions are relatively generous (while tapas-sized, the tapatisers are good for one person’s meal – ideal for sharing if you have 3 people at the table, more difficult to share if you have 4). Another great element – the music – slightly loud at times, but really really good.

And finally, there was this female server who was paying attention to EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of everybody’s table, so I have to say that she picked up the slack that our server had (yeah, I wasn’t all that impressed with our original server). But this other “star server” really did a wonderful job. Water glasses always full, always checking on us and asking how we were doing, etc.

I would sincerely go back to Bin 942, although most likely in a smaller group. The tables, unless you are lucky enough to score a booth, make it slightly complicated to sit. But don’t take that as a negative element. It’s a cozy atmosphere. And if you want to see my live-stream review, you can check it out on Ianiv’s Qik stream ๐Ÿ™‚

Bin 942 on Urbanspoon

And TGIF (and Halloween!) October 31, 2008

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So the First Theorem of Blog Traffic is actually true.

Your traffic will go up on Thursdays.

Tyler Ingram

Credit: Tyler Ingram

Yeah, it did. And so did my Technorati ranking. And no, I really don’t care much about that, but it’s kinda wicked to see that those paradigms hold. Veteran, much more experienced bloggers always tell me that traffic usually goes up on Thursdays. So, it did!

In the mean time, it’s Friday October 31st, it’s going to be Halloween night. What are YOU doing on Halloween Night? Besides, potentially, having a stiff drink after work?

Do tell…

Declaring Twitter bankruptcy October 30, 2008

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I know I’ve got more than 10,250 tweets. I know that I tweet (or used to) a lot. But I’ve come to the realization that I can’t really check everything that is going on. I love Twitter, don’t get me wrong. I love it because it has given me a chance to create friendships, establish business relationships, broaden the scope and readership of my blog, amongst many other things.

But I’m going to change my strategy. I can’t read everything backwards, so I’m just going to pick up the conversation where I can, and not try to catch up. I know that to many people, 185 is not a lot to follow (I use Twhirl instead of TweetDeck), but to me, it’s getting to the point where it’s impossible. And if you’ve noticed (if you’re following me), my tweet ratio is coming down. A LOT.

From where I was (and I recognized I was rather noisy) to right now, the number of tweets I send has gone down substantially. Not only because I have way too much on my plate, but also because I can’t function like this. So, I’ll be checking my @ replies but the overall timeline, I’ll just take it from wherever I arrive.

Have you decided on your Halloween costumes? October 29, 2008

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I’m not even sure if I’m going to attend any Halloween parties. Yeah, it’s that kind of a week. I’m not feeling 100% well (my stomach is still in pain after 4 days, which is rather unusual and somewhat worrisome) and I’ve got a gazillion things to do. But I’m still wondering if anyone would be willing to reveal what they’re going to wear for Halloween. Deciding on Halloween costumes must be a tough decision, as I see everybody is googling for ideas!

Events this weekend (Oct 24-25, 2008) October 25, 2008

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I am like, five-times-booked this weekend, but I’m going to have to say no to everything. While I am sorry to miss the company of many good friends (and a chance to see important and relevant stuff), I *have* to finish something (I’m on a deadline). So instead of feeling socially guilt-ridden, I’m going to take a shot at saying no. And I know that my friends will understand.

So here is a really quick roundup of the things that are happening this weekend:

– The Vancouver Health and Wellness Show at Canada Place. My loved friends at HappyFrog are doing a lot of media coverage for the show. Tris Hussey already has a post up, and there’ll be more coverage I am sure (DaveO is podcasting live).

Gus kindly invited me to Sustainability 2008 (which is totally up my alley) but unfortunately, I’ve been ultra busy so I can’t make it either. But they have a totally wicked geo-thermal exchange exhibit today.

The Parade of Lost Souls. Takes place in Grandview Park, procession starts at 7pm. I think that Lorraine (Raincoaster) and Heather (Hez) will be there, my understanding is that Lorraine will be liveblogging, most likely in the FearlessCity website and Hez will be interviewing participants/covering the event. It’s a wonderful event, check it out. And don’t forget about the Digital Shrine project.

– And of course, today is Media Democracy Day. I know that Ianiv and Arieanna are going, Tris will also attend so check his blog for a post on the topic. If you’re going and are covering the event, ping me and I’ll link you.

On the topic of Media Democracy Day, here is some info on the panel on new media [Info is from the Media Democracy Day website]

3:15 to 4:30 (Alice MacKay)
Panel 3: The Battle for New Media and Open Communication

We stand at a crossroads in the history of communications technology, a moment when traditional media are in disarray, and a new form of communications and organizing — more grassroots and decentralized — is on the rise. The Internet is upsetting conventional wisdom about “mass media” and changing media power in ways never before imagined. But change also raises new threats. Will an open Internet succumb to the same companies that control traditional media? The new challenge for us is to organize around and develop new sets of policies, projects, and tools that will finally give us an advantage in the decades-long struggle against the gatekeepers.
Panelists will discuss the fight for an open Internet, prospects for online/social media, and future challenges.
Panel Chair: Kate Milberry – Media and Technology Commentator
-Leslie Regan Shade โ€“ Associate Professor Concordia University, editor of “For Sale to the Highest Bidder: Telecom Policy in Canada.”
-Jeff Davis – Vancouver Open Network Initiative Cooperative (VONIC)
-Mike Tippet โ€“ Co-founder of NowPublic
-Robert Scales โ€“ CEO of Raincity Studios

UPDATE – Interesting Vancouver happened last night. You can read Rebecca’s liveblog here. Presenters included Tom Williams, Darren Barefoot, James Sherrett, Irwin from FearlessCity. Darren is staying over the weekend as he is also presenting at the Surrey International Writers Festival.

So… sorry for missing all these great events, but if there’s a time when I need to buckle down, this would be it.

Geek as a compliment October 24, 2008

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I pride myself in doing my own stunts. I write most of my HTML meta-tags by hand, almost never use the visual editor, and I did the whole redirection of my blog URL (hummingbird604.com) and registration all by myself (with the very capable guidance of Rebecca). Heck, I even have the geek-wear to prove it!

A couple of months back, I was talking with someone (can’t recall exactly who it was) and with Rebecca, and I praised said person “you ARE a geek“. Rebecca was very quick to explain “to Raul, that is actually a compliment, so you should take it that way“. It’s true. If I ever tell you that you ARE a geek, I am complimenting you.

The nouns “nerd“, “geek” and “dork” have been ostracized for so long that, for many people, they have negative and derogatory connotations.

Not for me. I am actually proud of my geekification. Before I started using WordPress, and before I started blogging, I knew nothing about RSS feeds, Web 2.0, domain propagation, clean URLs, hashtags, Twitter, and all that jazz. I now feel comfortable even speaking about cloud computing!

(Hat tips to Anthony Nicalo who just tweeted about how he was trying to gain geek credibility – Anthony, I think you’re pretty geeky alright!).

The Parade of Lost Souls and a Digital Shrine October 24, 2008

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Passing on the information that Raincoaster sent me:

As you may or may not know, the Parade of Lost Souls happens on Saturday, and there’s a project called the Digital Shrine. Here is an explanation provided by Lorraine…

There’s a really creative way for online people to participate in advance and I’m trying to get the word out. Please take a look and pass it along to anyone you think would be interested. This is the first time we’ve done this (as far as I know the first time ANYONE has done this): an interactive, ever-evolving digital shrine to things and people that have passed the barrier of mortality. With my grandmother in the hospital right now, this project has particular resonance for me and there must be many people in a similar situation. Any help you can give us would be appreciated.

Details here

Thanks in advance,