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BarCamp Vancouver 2008 t-shirts! November 19, 2008

Posted by Raul in barcamp08, BarCampVancouver2008.
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Credit: All rights reserved - Outcome3.com

Did you miss out on a chance to acquire your own BarCamp Vancouver 2008 t-shirt? For a limited time, the BarCamp organizing committee is putting out a call for those who want to buy a BarCamp t-shirt for only $ 15.00.

If you are interested, please drop a comment here (or send me an email) with the t-shirt size you’d like.



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.

Rebecca Bollwitt (Miss604) on branding: Third Tuesday recap November 19, 2008

Posted by Raul in Third Tuesday.
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When I was being interviewed for The Georgia Straight article, I mentioned that it had been only this year that I had gotten involved in the Vancouver social media and blogging scene. However, it was back in the middle of 2007 that I sent an email to Rebecca Bollwitt asking her whether she thought that doing Blogathon. Her email response back to me was really sweet, encouraging and very positive. She even helped me set up the Blogathon badge on my (then) Blogspot blog. Ah, the memories!

WordCamp Fraser Valley 2008

Almost a year and a half and more than 1,200 posts later, I had the pleasure of hearing her distill the wisdom she has imparted to me throughout all the time that we’ve known each other into a short talk at Third Tuesday. I’ve been always very open and forthcoming in indicating that a lot of what I have achieved has been in no small part through what Rebecca has taught me. I still consider her my Blogging Jedi Master.

I would have live-blogged her talk (which was originally the intent) had it not been for the fact that (a) my laptop [on which I am writing this post now and that is NOT failing this time] was failing at the time, and (b) I didn’t get wifi on Rebecca’s (nor my) laptop, so I couldn’t really liveblog. Tris Hussey, however, did an excellent job of liveblogging Rebecca using CoverItLive, and I will seriously consider (after I buy a new laptop!) using the software. You can read Tris’ great coverage here.

What you are about to read are my notes on how Rebecca started Miss604. The text will read as though she is speaking, so bear that in mind.

So how did Miss604 start? Back in Boston – Miss604 would be the name that would associate me back with Vancouver. When I moved back to Vancouver from Boston, 2004 Miss604.com started. I’ve been in the information technology industry for over a decade now.

In 2006 my site started to pick up thanks to several elements. First, I was invited to liveblog a special concert by Matt Good. That same weekend, I signed up to BarCamp Vancouver, my first livebloggage of a BarCamp. I then switched from Blogger to WordPress. Got more involved with blogging. And the rest, as they say, is history.

How to grow your brand and your own presence online.

First off, some blogging basics.

1.- You need to read other blogs. See how people are responding, what people like to read, etc.
2.- Choose a topic you’re passionate about. In my case, Vancouver, BC, Surrey. I had my own voice and passion.

Quoting from Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2008
Reasons bloggers start blogging
1 – 79% of people – to speak my mind in areas of interest
2 – 73% of people – to share my experiences.
3 – To Communicate with like minded people.

Blogging basics again

3.- Choose your name. Have a handle. Buy your domain.
4.- Sign up for your blogger account.
5.- You should join social networks (Facebook, etc.)
6.- Branch out – connect with others.
7.- Set up a blog that people can subscribe to.

The average involvement with social activities online – 5 things
– Comments
– Share videos
– Share photos
– Share links
– Read blogs

8.- You don’t need to get in EVERY single one application
– Rebecca recommends Viddler – videos – audience is in YouTube

9.- Find your audience. Then you have two choices – Go to your audience or have them find you.

Going to your audience
– Do links exchanges.
– Give people exposure and they will link back.
– Write a post including your thoughts on someone else’s posts. Link back on it. “Here are my thoughts on it.”

10.- Add people to your social networks. Check that they have a website, make sure you’re in every social network.

Having your audience find you
– SEO – Search Engine Optimization – try to use keywords and tags on your posts that are relevant.
– Make sure you are on Google. You can basically introduce your site to Google. You can add your site to Google Site Maps.
– Produce content on other sites. In 2005 and 2006 Rebecca wrote for Metroblogging (and still does, occasionally). You can find the specific sites and types of blogs where your message could be best heard.

11.- Once you have your audience, how do you keep your audience coming back?
– Make it easy for them to subscribe to your RSS feed.
– Be engaged and you will lose readers if you are not passionate about what you write.
– Keep writing about something you’ll want to write about several times.

12.- How do you measure the success of your blog?

According to Technorati
– First and foremost, your own personal satisfaction
– Number of comments
– Links

– To keep your audience you need to write often.
– Apparently, the top 10 blogs in Technorati blog 10 times a day although Rebecca wouldn’t recommend that. Rebecca’s maximum eve was 8 posts in one day (Raul – my own maximum was 6, although I think Rebecca forgot to mention that not once, but twice we both have done 49 posts, through Blogathon).

– Most bloggers spend 5-10 hours blogging.
– 2-3 posts a week is a normal average.

13.- Keep the discussion going.
– A huge part of blogging is respond the comments and discussions.
– Don’t sit back – engage in the conversation. If someone provides new information you can include it and update your post.

14.- Make sure you have a contact form so that people can contact you, or a visible email address.

15.- Have a contest you can have people engage.

16.- Ask a question and see what the reaction is on the comments.
– Never be afraid to ask a question.
– You want to make sure that you are aware of what is being said online. Monitor your own presence online.
– Listen to what people are bloggging about etc.
– In the corporate realm, find out what people were saying about the company. Make sure to find what you are listening, be aware of what you find online and make sure that what you write is louder than everyone else’s writing (e.g. important that readers find YOUR blog before anyone else who might be talking about YOU).

17.- Don’t let the worry about privacy put you off. Don’t worry about putting your first and last name. Fake names are very off-putting.

Personal thoughts on the personal brand (Rebecca’s thoughts)

* There are some people who think that personal branding is a crutch that people use when they are unsure of their comapnys real value.
– People who use the concept of a personal brand to be accepted.
– People often associate with personal brands – funny smart intelligent
– They have two personas and the personal and the public one.

* You can have your business and personal site – as long as you are being YOU, you are your brand, no matter who you are or what you do. You need to be who you are and be proud of what you write. You are, however, responsible for what you have written. So you have to monitor comments and stuff like that.
* Set your own boundaries. How much attention you have to you pay.

Examples of owning your brand
John Chow – I make money online by making people online — If I want to go where I can learn how to make money by doing online business, John Chow is the go-to person.

Rebecca considers Tony Pierce her blogfather (who has been writing the BusBlog since 2001) – (Raul side note – I have to confess that I have rarely only — once actually — read Tony’s blog, I read a post where he mentioned some blogging rules, and that was the one time when Rebecca suggested that I read them. I wouldn’t agree with all of them, but from the stories that Rebecca and Duane have given me, apparently Tony is a super awesome guy and I would love to meet him at some point – I know that he does love the way Raimi The Minx writes and that he has been to Vancouver)

He wrote a book called How to Blog. Some rules he has
– Write everyday
– Write twice a day – dont be afraid of doing anything – if you are afraid, write
– Dont be upset if no one comments for a long time
– If people start acting mean, remember that you have a power to moderate a comment

Rebecca reminds the audience “this is your space online, you are responsible for it
– Dont be afraid if you think something has been said before, but you can say it anyway using your own words, as honestly as you can. Your brand is you. Be proud of what you are putting out there.
Make sure that you have your reputation online in the best way. You need to make sure that what you are doing is out there. Be aware of what is being said online.

— End of the talk —

I would like to mention a couple of things that I personally have learned from Rebecca.

First, own to your brand. If you are going to be snarky, be snarky ALL THE WAY. If you are going to be “clean” in your blog (my own blog, for example, is super G rated – I don’t write about sex nor religion) then be clean, all the way.

Second, BE your brand. For example, part of my own (Raul) brand is the social aspect. I *am* friends with many of my Twitter followers, many of my fellow bloggers in Vancouver. That’s one of the aspects that characterizes me. I would like to think that part of the reason why people follow me and follow my blog is because of the personal side that I bring to my blog, and the social (in real life) aspect. I’m a very social blogger. And it’s not fake or anything, that’s who I am. Actually blogging gave me the opportunity to put my social personality to good use 🙂

Third, be transparent at all times. Disclosure is really important. Rebecca is very honest in her disclosure of sponsored ads, etc.

Fourth, blog if/when/because you want to. The posts that you write when you’re tired are the worst kind, so just blog when it’s right for you to blog.

Overall, it was awesome to hear Rebecca give a talk on how she became as successful a blogger as she is, and I am very proud of what she’s done. I was very mortified by the fact that I couldn’t liveblog her talk, but whatever, here are my notes for what they’re worth.

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

Posted by Raul in Uncategorized.
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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.

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!

Net neutrality in Canada: The challenges ahead November 18, 2008

Posted by Raul in academic life, blogosphere, food for thought, geekifying myself, net neutrality, public policy issues, social media.
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While I have become much more involved with social media in the past year than I had ever before (I am in almost every Web 2.0 application except for Facebook), I hadn’t really thought a lot about the issues with net neutrality until the day when I live-blogged Michael Geist’s talk at Saint John’s College (UBC) as a guest blogger for my friend Rebecca Bollwitt (Miss604) in April of 2008.

Recently, I’ve become more aware that my role in Vancouver’s social media scene is much more than just being the Organizer of Vancouver Bloggers Meetup. It is also part of my role to raise awareness about issues that affect those of us who use the Internet on a regular basis. Moreover, we social media folks are also substantially affected by these challenges.

Steve Anderson (the co-founder of the SaveOurNet.ca Coalition and National Coordinator of Campaign for Democratic Media) and Kate Milberry (SFU doctoral candidate, a good friend and an expert in digital activism) both reminded me of the need to think about social media as an ecosystem. As an expert in environmental issues, I often use ecosystems as a metaphor to analyze phenomena. I have to say that I had thought of social media as an ecosystem, but hadn’t thought of Canadian legislation on net neutrality as one of the challenges. Steve’s article actually gave me good insight on this issue. He writes:

The Conservative federal government is NOT inclined to support an open Internet. To keep a level playing field on the Internet we’ll need a robust citizens movement to put pressure on politicians and policy makers and shape policy that protects equal access. The social web community can provide the foundation for this burgeoning movement – perhaps even serve as a catalyst. Consider this a call to action.[SaveOurNet.ca]

Having engaged in academic activism myself, researched and studied environmental mobilizations, and often preaching to the public to become more involved in public policy, I am always up for supporting activism that benefits our society. So, I would sincerely encourage you to get informed, get involved, and become part of the white cells of the social media biological system. You can help, and if you have a stake in the future of Canadian internet, you probably should.

Theatre review – “The 21st Floor” at PAL Theatre (Coal Harbour) November 18, 2008

Posted by Raul in link love, local events, theatre.
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Image (c) Lyrics Stage

Photo by Wendy D. (c) Lyrics Stage

If you only see a play this season, “The 21st Floor” should be the one. Trust me on that one. Being a former stage actor myself, I have a very deep appreciation for well-created, solidly-developed, non-formulaic theatrical experiences.

The 21st Floor, a masterpiece created by Michèle Lonsdale Smith in a harmonious and skillfully coordinated effort with the rest of the cast as an ensemble, is an examination of the lives of 11 residents of a Coal Harbour apartment building. These apparent strangers have their lives intertwine (and at times, collide) by virtue of being neighbours in the 21st floor.

Lonsdale Smith and the Lyrics Stage Project have made sure that the play is consistent with their core objective: to tell stories that are relevant to the people in the time and the place where the play is being shown. This six-month project saw the light just recently (November 11th) but you should totally run and see before November 22nd.

The 21st Floor” is an in-depth examination of the behavioral patterns of Vancouverites through the lenses of their domestic lives. What goes on in 2107 every night? Who is that blogger who broadcasts our daily comings-and-goings to the world?  And the most important question, have we lost the opportunity to create a sense of community by choosing to isolate ourselves within the confines of our apartments? Are the doors to enter our souls closed, as demonstrated by our choosing to close the door behind us and ignore what else is going on in the 21st floor? All of these are questions that I believe the cast was exploring throughout the play.

The stage design was phenomenal, as the stage manager recreated a full floor with different apartments (although we could very easily see through). I was deeply moved and strongly connected with the themes of the play. As you may remember, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, I’ve previously written about the sense of aloofness in Vancouverites and asked the question whether Vancouver is a toxic city.

“The 21st Floor” will definitely resonate with long-time Vancouver residents, and I strongly suggest you to take an opportunity to go and enjoy the performance. The actors are simply phenomenal. I can’t single out any particular one of them, as all did a wonderful job of portraying the characters they were assigned to play. At no point does the play feel cartoonish. On the contrary, it’s such a strong, lived performance, that I really, really want to go and see it again.

I had the opportunity to enjoy “The 21st Floor” thanks to an invitation by Simon Ogden, of The Next Stage Magazine and the Marketing Director of Lyrics Stage Project. Amongst a gazillion other things he does, Simon blogs about theatre in Vancouver and is very passionate about helping raise awareness on the world-class theatre we have in our beautiful city.

One thing you should know is that the show is rated around PG 13 as it contains strong language, scenes of violence, nudity, and sexuality, with some occasional loud noises.  The show’s length is 90 minutes with no intermission. But you won’t even notice. The play flows so nicely that you won’t need the intermission.

Performances of The 21st Floor run Tuesday through Saturday, November 11th to 22nd at the PAL Theatre, 581 Cardero Street, Vancouver. You can reserve tickets online at www.ticketstonight.ca

If you’re not making a lot of $$$, you can go on Tuesday November 18th, as it’s “Pay What You Can” night. You REALLY, REALLY should go and see it. I strongly recommend it. And I do hope to have a chance to hang out with the actors after one of the performances, as I didn’t have a chance to do so when I saw the show. Everyone involved with The 21st Floor should be proud of their work. Maybe at some point, I might be able to participate in one of their plays (not in the near future, though! — too much stuff going on in my life)

UPDATE – You can check details on the UQ Events page!

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

Posted by Raul in Uncategorized.
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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!

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

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

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 🙂

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.

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

Posted by Raul in Uncategorized.
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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.

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.

Friday night plans November 14, 2008

Posted by Raul in Uncategorized.

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 🙂

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

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.

Upcoming events – Nov 16-20th, 2008 November 14, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, Green Drinks, Third Tuesday, Vancouver Blogger Meetup, Vancouver Sales Performance Meetup.
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As the Organizer of Vancouver Bloggers Meetup, I have absolutely no qualms in promoting my group and inviting friends to join us for some coffee and good blogging/geek talk. But this coming week is filled with events as well that I think are worth highlighting. I don’t think I’m going to attend all of them, but at least, a few of them.

Vancouver Sales Performance – Comedy and Technology for Sales Pros at Ceili’s Pub – Nov 17, 2008 (Probably will recap this one)
Third Tuesday Vancouver – Rebecca Bollwitt speaks on Building a Brand, at Granville Room – Nov 18, 2008 (I’ll be liveblogging this one)
Vancouver Bloggers Meetup – I’m the organizer, so of course I’m going to be there! – Nov 20, 2008, 6pm, Gene’s Cafe (corner of Kingsway and Main) – I will do a recap, but doubt I can liveblog it.

Non-meetup events:
– Green Drinks Vancouver – As usual, third Wednesday of the month. I’ve been to the past few ones and I’ve felt them really, really “networky” and less social than I have expected them. Sure, I’m on the job market, and sure, it’d probably help if I attended. But I’m feeling ABSOLUTELY NO DESIRE to do so. I’ll see how I feel by the time Wednesday hits.

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?

Help save the Great Bear rainforest November 13, 2008

Posted by Raul in environment, environmental NGOs, EPIC 08, public policy issues, Web 2.0.
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Credit: Dru!

Many people have asked me throughout the years if I have ever considered a career in conservation. While my PhD degree is in environmental studies, and you could argue that my work in pollution control would pretty much amount to some form of conservation, I hadn’t been much of a fan. And since forestry isn’t really my area, for a while there I neglected discussing or researching anything that was forest conservation-related. Until I heard of Simon Jackson. I met Simon in person and did a really quick interview for HappyFrog when he was a keynote speaker at EPIC 2008. And then Darren informed me that they (Capulet) were helping Greenpeace, Forest Ethics and Sierra Club BC with their campaign to make the Provincial Government “Keep The Promise”

You might ask why did I bring Simon Jackson into the discussion. Well, here is the thing: the work that Simon has done to protect the Spirit Bear is pretty much in line with the work that the coalition of environmental non-governmental organizations (GP, FE and SCBC) are doing: conserving the forest helps conserve the spirit bear’s habitat.

Art Catcher

Credit: Art Catcher

In my research, I’ve written about how ENGOs use various types of strategies to galvanize public opinion (often, through mobilizations). This time, the work that these organizations are doing goes beyond protests and engages in a Web 2.0 kind of mobilizations: writing electronic letters to the Provincial Government.

You, too, can help this worthy cause by sending an email to the Provincial Government (the site is really well designed so all you really have to do is fill out the data form and voila! off you go).

As you can see, environmentalism is not dead, is well alive and kicking! Please contribute with this worthy cause. You can also participate in a photo contest (check links here) and follow their Twitter account (yeah, kinda cute that the Spirit Bear has a Twitter account, hehe – he better follow me back!). Furthermore, you can join the Facebook group (no thanks, I don’t do Facebook, but you can!). EDIT – And you can join the photo contest on Flickr!

In total Web 2.0 fashion, if you need more to be convinced, I invite you to watch this video:

The International Year of Sanitation was 2008 – how much progress have we made? November 12, 2008

Posted by Raul in academic life, wastewater, water, water policy.
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Stuck in Customs

Credit: Stuck in Customs

When I see how little do people think about wastewater and the right of humans to clean water, sometimes I wish I didn’t do research on wastewater governance. Admittedly, I was entirely thrilled at the beginning of the year, as the UN had announced that 2008 would be the International Year of Sanitation.

However, as time has gone by, I have begun to wonder (and a recent tweet by my friend Nadia Nascimento) made me dig a bit deeper in my archives.

Well, I can’t say that there’s been much progress. The “culture of flushing” still seems quite prevalent, and the only recent local news story about water pollution that I read was related to a Langley mushroom farm. Um, do people in Vancouver really think that we have made great strides in the way we manage our wastewater. I sure hope they don’t. Because if they do, they’re in for a big surprise.

I’m going to embark in doing some serious research on local (Metro Vancouver) wastewater governance and I’ll report back with some of my results. In the mean time, I should just say that if you want to be more environmentally conscious, you should make efforts in reducing the amount of wastewater you generate.

Wednesday morning/Tuesday night link love roundup November 11, 2008

Posted by Raul in link love.

Olympic Village

I had been thinking of doing a “link love” roundup in a while, but I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to have a theme or whether I just wanted to highlight recent posts, or especially interesting blog entries. In the interest of not thinking on a statutory holiday (today is Remembrance Day), here are a few items that I thought you should know of.

– The Fearless City is on Twitter now! They do amazing work with the Downtown East Side community. Do follow them here.

– Maktaaq provides us with an interesting post on primary data sources for investigations on World War I.

– Jonathon Narvey provides us with his predictions for an Obama presidency.

– Kerry Anne and Airdrie (Lip Gloss and Laptops) most recent podcast offers a chance to win a bottle of Sweet Obsession (sorry but that’s only for female readers). Totally self-absorbed comment – when I was studying chemical engineering, my parents bought me a different cologne every semester. I used Obsession for Men as my cologne of choice in the first year of my undergraduate. I love Calvin Klein colognes. And YAY! I got a shout-out from Kerry Anne and Airdrie while they were recording the show 🙂 Gotta love Twitter (and yes, my signature cologne is Carolina Herrera for Men).

– Dr. Beth Snow is continuing with her historical series now focused on BC Premiers. The 8th Premier of British Columbia is depicted in this post.

– Arieanna gives a good tip for us BC residents who may visit Capilano Suspension Bridge. Check it out! On a side note, I kind of prefer Lynn Canyon and their suspension bridge myself 🙂

– Via my friend Rob Cottingham, I found out that Social Signal has helped BC Hydro launch their new website, which is pretty cool. You can check it out here. Actually, the kind of work that Rob and Alex do is precisely something that appeals a lot to me (e.g. creating social media strategies for environmentally-focused firms). With my PhD training in environmental studies and all I’ve learned about social media, this kind of project is something I’d like to get involved in the future.

– I really enjoyed this very thorough and respectful post on Remembrance Day by VanCity Buzz (by their own admission, they tend to be kinda politically incorrect, but I like them and they’ve been always very respectful with me.

– I feel bad for not having written anything about Dia de los Muertos, but thankfully, Isabella Mori did, so check out her awesome post.

– I loved that Jen Stoddart posted about the upcoming cover of Vogue with Jennifer Aniston saying “what Angelina did was very uncool“. I agree. The worst part? It appears (at least the gossip blogs say so) that Angelina admitted that she and Brad had an affair while he was still married to Jen. If that’s true then – Not cool.

A birthday paradox November 11, 2008

Posted by Raul in Uncategorized.
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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 🙂