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Upcoming event – Metro Vancouver Sustainability Breakfast – The Opportunities for Urban Density November 25, 2008

Posted by Raul in environment, sustainability, urbanization, Vancouver.
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WHEN – Thursday November 27th, 7:30am to 9:00am
WHAT – Metro Vancouver Sustainability Breakfast “The Opportunities for Urban Density”
WHERE – BCIT Downtown Campus.
WHY – Because urban density is a key issue in the future of the Metro Vancouver regional development.

I would have linked to the Metro Vancouver website but guess what? It’s DOWN! Argh. See you there (despite the fact that it’s going to be the second time I have to be at an event at-7.30-in-the-morning). I am SO not a morning person.

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My new home is at The Network Hub! November 20, 2008

Posted by Raul in Downtown, link love, Vancouver, working spaces.
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Remember how a few months ago I raved about The Network Hub and praised their open office concept, their strong support of young entrepreneurs and the awesome series of events that they’ve been host to? And remember how I called it “my home away from home“?

WordCamp 2008 Vancouver
The Network Hub open office concept

Well, as of this week, my home IS at The Network Hub. I now have a working space in the third floor.

As indicated by their mission statements, they care more much about the idea than the entrepreneur’s age or resume.

The Network Hub was established 2006 after observations of first time entrepreneurs struggling to find fundings from angel investors and venture capital companies. The Network Hub is a special kind of venture capital firm and incubator that care more about your idea than your age, resume and your business plan. [The Network Hub]

The Network Hub has been incredibly kind and supportive with the social media/PR/tech community for a long while now. They’ve been our gracious hosts and location sponsors at numerous events: Third Tuesday with Joe Solomon, the RMD Studio/JenTekk Solutions/PeerGlobe Solutions/Tazzu-organized, first ever WordCamp Vancouver, and several other Third Tuesdays, as a matter of fact.

The Network Hub provides a variety of support services for entrepreneurs, including office space, meeting rooms, and a variety of packages that suit the various needs of different kinds of entrepreneurs.

Moreover, The Network Hub are the awesome hosts and location sponsors of the Vancouver Entrepreneur Meetup every third Thursday of the month, which Pete Quily (ADD Adult Coach) kindly made me realize earlier this month, collides with my proposed date for the Vancouver Bloggers Meetup. I’ll have to deal with that overlap sometime in the next few months! I am pretty sure that I can work something out, since I definitely don’t want to hinder the attendance of entrepreneurs to VBM and viceversa!

If you are an entrepreneur who needs to get your idea off the ground, you should seriously consider coming over and talking to Minna or John. Particularly now that they have expanded! The Network Hub now occupies both the first AND third floors of 422 Richards (between West Hastings and Pender). You can also contact them via email.

I can already tell that my productivity skyrocketed. Just as an example, in less than 2 hours that I was at the office yesterday, I did much more than I had done in the past two weeks! Furthermore, the tenants are great. It’s fantastic to be surrounded by that much brainpower and positive energy! And what can I tell you about Minna and John and the whole team at The Network Hub? They’re simply AMAZING.

So, if you’re in the neighbourhood (downtown Vancouver) maybe we can meet up for coffee or lunch sometime and I can also show you the new digs!

Gregor Robertson is the new Mayor-elect of Vancouver November 17, 2008

Posted by Raul in politics, Politics 2.0, public policy issues, Vancouver.
8 comments

Launch Party Vancouver 5

Well, he did it. Not only did he become Vancouver’s next mayor, he did so with a Vision majority in City Council. That fact sure speaks volumes to the need for change within the Vancouver area. There were, of course, civic elections all over Metro Vancouver, but the focus was inevitably on Vancouver proper.

I wrote a post a few weeks back on homelessness public policy to which the lack of responses completely frustrated me, because I don’t think a lot of people understood that one key issue to address the homelessness challenge (a key element on which Gregor based a substantial portion of his platform) is establishing strong relationships (and by strong I mean, where there is flow of funds!) with the provincial and federal governments.

Unless Gregor is able to create a consolidated, all-encompassing, across-all-levels-of-government kind of public policy for the homeless, we are about to stay exactly where we are.

On the good news front, I am glad that people did take to heart the challenge of becoming engaged in their own, local-level, municipal politics (something I was worried about a few months back). Participation in this civic election was unparalleled and that pleases me.

EDIT – Thanks to Tod Maffin for spotting a mistake on my post – it’s fixed πŸ™‚

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

Posted by Raul in random thoughts, Vancouver.
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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.
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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.
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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?

Thanks to the universe November 9, 2008

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

Thanks.

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!)

I’m in The Georgia Straight! November 5, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, friends, link love, personal life, Vancouver, Web 2.0.
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I may not be nearly as visible on the web as any of the top 20 most visible Vancouver bloggers, but I will never complain, because I have been fortunate enough to have the mainstream media cover my blogging activities (for example, the 24 hrs coverage of Blogathon and Buzz Bishop’s article where he mentioned my involvement as the organizer of Vancouver Bloggers Meetup). The most recent mainstream media coverage I have received is fresh off the presses, and it’s on The Georgia Straight, one of Vancouver’s (if not THE) most read weekly newspapers.

A few weeks back, Jeffery Simpson asked me if I’d like to be interviewed and I gladly accepted. In case you didn’t know, Jeffery wrote not only one, but two guest blog posts during my Blogathon 2008, and he has done really awesome work with Vancouver MetBlogs, so I was quite honored.

In Jeffery’s article for The Georgia Straight “Vancouver bloggers have their say in cyberspace“, Kate Milberry (a phenomenal analyst of digital activism, based out of Vancouver) is quoted. Kate has done research on the way in which activists use the internet to advance their agendas, and as a scholar of environmental studies, I have analyzed the behavior of environmental non-governmental organizations and their use of the Internet to disseminate information about toxic releases in their neighbourhoods, so in some ways, Kate’s work and mine have some parallels.

Jeffery also interviewed Sean Orr, of Beyond Robson/Morning Brew fame. While I haven’t met Sean in person, I do respect his work and that of many of the Beyond Robson writers (even if sometimes we do have our ideological differences, I think we all respect each other and the role we have in Vancouver’s blogosphere).

I really enjoyed Jeffery’s article and I hope you do too. Thanks for the interview Jeffery!

The Vancouver Book of Everything November 3, 2008

Posted by Raul in random thoughts, Vancouver.
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I know for a fact that Rebecca Bollwitt is an amazing history and geography buff.Β  If you have any shadow of a doubt, just read her Vancouver History series! She has, by and large, some of the best historical bits of Vancouver documented on her site.

When we were doing our Metro Vancouver-wide National Digital Media Day live-blog, Rebecca gave me little historical and geographical tidbits of various parts of Vancouver. I can’t recall the last time I had so much fun discovering the city that I call home now.

So I thought that she probably might like this book I came across while browsing some books with Ianiv and Arieanna this past weekend: The Vancouver Book of Everything.

From the quick browse I did, this book has a lot of interesting trivia and facts on the city. While the book seems to be well-researched and sourced, there were parts where I would have liked the authors to provide links to the facts they were indicating. Call me over-zealous, but as an academic, I have made it my life to properly source and attribute. And as a blogger, I have learned from some of the best bloggers in Vancouver some of the rules on how to properly attribute content, link back, etc.

But overall, I liked the book. I haven’t bought it but I figured that it must be a good investment for people who live in the city. If you’re interested in learning more about this book, click on the photo above and you will reach the editorial’s site.

EDIT- I *just* found out that my friend Karen Quinn Fung has a little text box in the book, so I am now a bit tempted to go and buy the book. Maybe some other of my friends may even have stuff in there too!

Public policy lessons on homelessness for Vancouver’s next mayor November 2, 2008

Posted by Raul in academic life, Focus on Vancouver, food for thought, Homeless Action Week, homelessness, public policy issues, random thoughts, social change, Vancouver.
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Vlastula on Flickr

Credit: Vlastula on Flickr

Both of the candidates with actually the best shot at actually becoming the next Mayor of Vancouver (Gregor Robertson and Peter Ladner) have participated in debates on (and broadly proclaimed that they’ll work to end) homelessness in Vancouver (you can read a good recap by Tris here). Well, gentlemen, I seriously do hope that whoever wins, will seriously seek some sound advice on public policy, particularly on the issue of homelessness.

I am not an expert in homelessness policy by any means. I am, however, a specialist in environmental studies and public policy, and particularly I’ve researched issues that are clearly the domain of various levels of government. In particular, water governance in Mexico faces many challenges precisely because of this problem – overlapping jurisdictional responsibilities. Homelessness has the same basic structural problem. It should be a shared responsibility, but no actual level of government takes real responsibility and is truly accountable for dealing with homelessness.

In Mexico, wastewater governance and water supply provision, for example, is fully a responsibility of the municipality. That responsibility is enshrined in the Mexican Constitution (Article 115). Unfortunately, municipalities don’t really have a standing in the Canadian political system. Canadian federalism recognizes the Federation and the provinces (and Territories). However, municipalities/cities are not recognized (see Canada’s Cities report) and therefore, the intergovernmental relationships amongst municipalities, the provincial governments and the Federal have become really complicated [EDIT – Found even better sources on the debate on whether municipalities should be granted constitutional status in the site of the Library of the Parliament of Canada and in the Canadian Encylopedia].

This is unfortunate, and it’s a big problem if you think about it, because – who bears the brunt of homeless as a societal issue that needs to be addressed? The municipality. However, how can a municipality address an issue that requires cooperation between provinces, the Federation and the municipality if there is no actual recognized Constitutional status of the city in Canada? (see the sources I’ve included above on the state of the debate in regards to the constitutional status of the municipality/city)

According to Vision Vancouver’s blog, Gregor suggests to “build relationships with all levels of government” as one of the key actions they’ll undertake if elected.

According to Peter Ladner’s blog, Peter suggests that he will tackle homelessness “through a partnership of federal, provincial, regional, municipal governments and non-profit agencies”.

Well, dear candidates in the November 15th municipal election, you will need to not only build relationships and partnerships, but actually establish sound, solid intergovernmental agreements that lead to the implementation at a local (municipal) level of the Federal Homelessness Partnering Strategy. Although, that being said, I think we need a sound National Homelessness Action Strategy.

Homelessness is definitely a regional/municipal public policy issue, but municipalities can’t solve the problem by themselves, without the support of the Federal government. For all candidates, I suggest you coordinate your strategy with the Federal Homelessness Partnering Strategy (launched in December 2006).

Under the HPS, the federal government will offer the provinces and territories the opportunity to enter into bilateral partnerships, improve collaboration and develop linkages between the federal homelessness programs and provincial/territorial social services to help communities make strategic investments that will best serve their homeless populations.[HPS About Us]

I would also recommend investing in solid, evidence-based research on homelessness using a global, multi-country, multi-region comparative strategy. Surely, other countries have reduced homelessness. How did they do it? What did they do? What was needed?

I am sure someone must have done good research on the topic. I haven’t, but if I was a specialist in urban issues (specifically homelessness) rather than an environmental specialist, I probably would launch a research programme with applied outcomes (e.g. partner with the local communities to actually effect change).

I was able to find a good article on homelessness and health (co-authored by, amongst others, Dr. Jim Frankish, whose research I do respect a lot).

Homelessness and Health in Canada: Research Lessons and Priorities
C James Frankish; Stephen W Hwang; Darryl Quantz, Canadian Journal of Public Health; Mar/Apr 2005; 96.

[Link here]

Additional resources – Not a research paper, but Monte Paulsen’s post on The Tyee “Seven Solutions to Homelessness” is a great read.

One last word – whoever wins, please don’t just give us empty promises.

DO THINGS THAT WILL HAVE POSITIVE, LONG-LASTING POSITIVE EFFECTS!

Jack O’Lantern’s post-Halloween disposal – Greening your celebrations November 1, 2008

Posted by Raul in environment, food for thought, Halloween, random thoughts, sustainability, Vancouver.
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Eric M. Martin

Credit: Eric M. Martin

Ok, so Halloween has come and gone, and you went out and had a blast. The little critters (and adults) had an opportunity to dress up and be The Joker, or Batman, or a mummy, or whatever.Β  Now comes the part that most people forget about (or would prefer to): CLEANING UP.

Since Halloween is such a big celebration in Canada, the United States and many other anglo-saxon countries, numerous Jack O’Lanterns are carved (many as cute as the geeky WordPress one that is shown here – hat tips to Lorraine Murphy aka Raincoaster for linking to this one).

But people tend to forget that they have to dispose of the pumpkin once the Halloween celebrations are over. So, when you think about disposing of your pumpkin, remember that you can

– Compost it – Cut it in very small pieces and throw it in the composting bin.

– Dispose it in the organic section of your trash bin – Don’t forget to separate organics from inorganics!

Given how many households and businesses carve pumpkins, I would appreciate if you thought about the negative environmental consequences of inadequate disposal. Thank you.

Blogging milestones and upcoming events in November November 1, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, random thoughts, Vancouver.
4 comments

According to my WordPress dashboard, I have written 1,200 posts (one thousand and two hundred) [This doesn’t take into account the 162 posts that WP.com didn’t import] and my awesome readers have left 2,400 comments (e.g. 2 comments per post on average).

I seriously thought of taking a blogging break yesterday. Just ’cause. No particular reason. And THEN I recalled that there is stuff I want to say and get out. Today is the launch of Movember, today is Day of the Dead in Mexico, and today is also the launch of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

Thus, even though I really would like to take a break from writing/blogging, I simply can’t. There are events to cover and highlight, people to interview, political commentary to make, new restaurants to try and birthdays of two of my closest friends to attend. Hope you’re having a great weekend (despite the weather!)

Tasting Vancouver Interview October 28, 2008

Posted by Raul in dining out, Vancouver.
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As a personal blogger who happens to love food, I am always intrigued by new sites where restaurants are reviewed. Recently, a Vancouver-based effort has been launched (Tasting Vancouver) so I asked them if they’d answer a few questions and here are their responses πŸ™‚

1.- So TastingVancouver.ca is online now…what IS Tasting Vancouver, in your own words?
Tasting Vancouver is Vancouver’s newest online restaurant guide that set’s itself apart. Offering restaurant profiles with photos, contact information, menus and reviews.

2.- We have a number of online restaurant guides (DineHere.ca, UrbanSpoon, etc.) – how do you plan to distinguish yourselves from the others?
I do yes, but they are either way to big, or way to small… I am focusing on downtown Vancouver and it’s surrounding area’s for the time being. Focusing all our efforts to make the most of the local restaurant scene first before expanding (if we decide too). One thing that we’re going to focus on, is listening to all food lovers and restaurant owners and build a real food social network.

3.- What are your plans for embedding more social media in your site? Maybe create an iPhone app?
That’s funny, because we have already started with a simple iphone application, allowing people to search for their favourite restaurant or cuisine directly from their iphone.

4.- It seems to me that the first focus of Tasting Vancouver is downtown restaurants – What are the most popular so far?
Right now our most popular restaurants are the Water Street Cafe in Gastown, and Yaletown Brewery in Yaletown.

5.- Is the site “a labor of love” or do you plan to make some money with it? (e.g. to support the activities of the site)
I love food, and so for now its a labor of love.

6.- Anything else you’d like to add?
Just pass on the site to all your friends and get them to help build this new online restaurant guide!

So, I’d recommend that you check them online!

Building connections off and online October 26, 2008

Posted by Raul in personal life, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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While this weekend was probably one of the busiest ones of them all (and I’m still stressed by work that I have to do), I managed to say no to a number of things. However, I had to cave in and have a couple of short breaks in what otherwise was a working weekend.

On Friday, my neighbour and good friend DMcN invited me over for a couple of cocktails (small ones to avoid any kind of hangover) and a nice chat. We hadn’t had a chance to hang out in a long while, so it was nice to just have a nice quiet Friday evening. Then I went to a wine tasting hosted by my good friend JH. Very low key, only a few other very close friends attended (ML, HZ and CS) which was actually really nice. And yes, despite the fact that it was a wine tasting, I did not consume one single drop of alcohol. None. As in, all I had was water (and well, lots of chocolate).

On Saturday, I needed to skip all invites because I had a pressing deadline, but I took a very late night quick break and headed over to Two Parrots, where Colleen had called up for a Tweetup. Normally, TP would never be my hangout of choice, much less on a late Saturday night (Granville Street gets an overwhelmingly high quota of drunken early 20-somethings. Not my idea of fun).

But having a chance to spend time with Gary, Gus, Colleen, Jeremy, John and Rebecca, Airdrie and Kerry Anne, Gregg Scott, Rainer and Michael was simply awesome. Although I am sorry I missed a chance to hang out with many other friends (at the Parade of Lost Souls, at Boneta where Karen celebrated her birthday, So, I headed over there rather late (after every other event was pretty much over).

Gary was kind enough to ensure that I had continuous supply of alcohol (prairie fire, monkeys lunch, blue eyed blonde and melon breeze). The strongest was the prairie fire (tequila and tabasco sauce) but I could handle my alcohol quite ok. Thanks Gary, very much appreciated! Overall, was a great evening, a good couple of hours hanging out with friends. And I held my alcohol extremely well. Four drinks and I didn’t stumble, have slurred speech, nor flirt with anyone.

I’ve been discovering that I have a much better chance of enjoying the time I spend with my friends if I just don’t try to do everything and over commit. I feel really guilty about saying no, but sometimes I can’t do everything. I would have loved to do coffee with Jonathon Narvey, Monica Hamburg, David Drucker and other friends. I would have loved to go to Parade of Lost Souls with Karen Parker, Ianiv and Arieanna, Gus and Russ, Lorraine and Heather, for example, or to Media Democracy Day with Tris, Kate Milberry and others, or to the Health Show with DaveO. But work was calling and I had to live vicariously through their tweets. I went out late at night simply because I was almost done with my work (which I think is what I should do – work, and then do a bit of play).

At any rate, this was a good weekend, albeit a reflective one. I still need to learn to navigate the fine line between extrovert/socializer and introspective/time alone. If anybody has the magic formula, feel free to share πŸ™‚ Hope you had a wonderful weekend too.

Bedouin Soundclash Play Free Concert to Support InSite October 23, 2008

Posted by Raul in random thoughts, Vancouver.
Tags: ,
3 comments

I heard about this from both Raincoaster and Hez, so I’m just going to direct you to the FearlessCity blog for information and reproduce their post (with attribution).

WHAT – Bedouin Soundclash Play Free Concert to Support InSite
WHEN – Thursday, October 23rd @ 5:15 pm.
WHERE – 139 East Hastings @ Insite
ADDITIONAL DETAILS – Free food, drinks and free Bedouin Soundclash!! at 6:30 pm. Dress Warmly. We’ll be outside.

AND – speaking of Insite, an interesting post I found on The Globe and Mail.