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Have brunch for charity! AIDS Benedict brunch weekend November 26, 2008

Posted by Raul in charities.
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Vancouver’s 3rd Annual AIDS Benedict brunch weekend is happening this weekend (November 29th and 30th). Participating restaurants include the following (I would have done all the linking but I’m exhausted and have a ton of work to do). Hat tips to Raincoaster who informed me of this event.

I am a very big supporter of HIV/AIDS-related charities (as I demonstrated by doing a 24 hour Blogathon in 2007 to raise funds for A Loving Spoonful). Now I’d like to draw your attention to another charitable event: The AIDS Benedict brunch weekend.

YouthCO AIDS Society and Camp Moomba, two non-profit organizations that support and empower children and youth impacted by HIV and AIDS, have teamed up for Vancouver’s 3rd Annual AIDS Benedict brunch weekend. Collectively sponsored by local restaurants, this “eggsellent” event blends scrumptious eggs benedict with public education to help raise awareness about children and youth in BC impacted by HIV and AIDS.

Donations from participating restaurants will give children and youth impacted by HIV and AIDS access to year-long programs and supports that they might not otherwise have access to. Participation in the two-day eggs-travaganza is eggstremely simple: fill your belly with eggs benedict or other promotional items at one (or more!) of the participating establishments on November 29th and November 30th.

Abigail’s Party 1685 Yew Street http://www.abigailsparty.ca
Alibi Room 157 Alexander Street http://www.alibi.ca
Bayside Lounge 1755 Davie Street http://www.bestwesternsandshotelvancouver.com
Checker’s 1755 Davie Street http://www.bestwesternsandshotelvancouver.com
Chopper’s 3298 East 1st Avenue no website
Elixir 350 Davie Street http://www.elixirvancouver.ca
Fish House 8901 Stanley Park Drive http://www.fishhousestanleypark.com
Fountainhead 1025 Davie Street .www.thefountainheadpub.com
Hell’s Kitchen 2041 4th Avenue http://www.hells-kitchen.ca
Main Cafe 4210 Main Street http://www.themainonmain.com
Marmalade 3-1010 Beach Avenue http://www.marmaladekb.com
Nu 1661 Granville Street http://www.whatisnu.com
Ocean’s 6 Seventeen 617 Stamps Landing http://www.oceans617.com
Provence Marinaside 1177 Marinaside Crescent http://www.provencevancouver.com
Provence Mediterranean Grill 4473 West 10th Avenue http://www.provencevancouver.com
Raincity Grill 1193 Denman Street http://www.raincitygrill.com
Seb’s Market cafe 592 East Broadway http://www.hotstuffcatering.com
Slickity Jim’s 2513 Main Street http://www.findmycraving.com/icrave/slickity
So.cial at Le Magasin 332 Water Street http://www.socialatlemagasin.com
Subeez 891 Homer Street http://www.subeez.com
Twisted Fork 1147 Granville Street no website
WaaZuBee 1622 Commercial Drive http://www.waazubee.com/main.php
The Whip 209 East 6th Avenue http://www.thewhiprestaurant.com

I’ve decided that I haven’t tried The Alibi Room for brunch in like, forever. So, if you want to participate, drop me a comment, send me an email or a tweet and let me know so that I can make reservations.

WHAT – Saturday, November 29th, AIDS Benedict brunch
WHY – Because I never celebrated my birthday with the Vancouver tech/blogging community and now I want to before the year is over… Also, because I am a firm supporter of AIDS/HIV charities.
WHERE – The Alibi Room (157 Alexander)
WHEN – Saturday November 29th, 11:00am

Be there or be square. Even if you can’t attend brunch at The Alibi Room on Saturday (for example, if you’re doing DotComPho or some other event), I’d encourage you to do brunch at any other of the participating restaurants. It’s for a good cause.


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!

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

Posted by Raul in Uncategorized.
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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 – 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 – Co-founder of NowPublic
-Robert Scales – 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.

Restaurant review – Zipang Sushi (Main Street – Mount Pleasant) October 20, 2008

Posted by Raul in dining out, Main Street, Mount Pleasant, sushi, Vancouver.
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I know that I had promised a professor who is a really good friend of mine that I wouldn’t review Zipang Sushi to ensure that the place didn’t get even more crowded (lately, I’ve been lucky to find out that people have started to flock to the places I’ve recommended for dinner or brunch, when I come for a return visit, and I am slightly afraid this will be the case with Zipang – but at the same time, it’s crowded already, so I guess I am just going to add a bit more crowding to the system, hehe)

Some people may argue that this is technically Riley Park/Little Mountain. We arrived at 5.20pm on a Saturday evening and the place was packed already. We had a garden fruit sushi roll and a California roll (we weren’t all that hungry, but it was more than plenty for the both of us). The rolls are very flavorful and as somebody mentioned, real works of art (I would’ve taken photos, but I was out and about shopping with my very good friend AF, so I didn’t have a camera with me).

Specialty rolls are slightly more expensive ($6.75-8.75) but very much worth it. The rest of the rolls are priced reasonably (like the majority of Vancouver sushi restaurants, around $3.00). Admittedly, the service can be quite slow (and if you’re hungry, that’s not a good idea) but the sushi is simply amazing.

I would definitely come back, but (a) I’ll make sure I’m hungrier so I can try more types of sushi (b) will bring a camera with me and (c) will arrive exactly at 5:00pm to ensure I’m not waiting forever! Closes on Mondays, just so that you know.

Zipang Sushi on Urbanspoon

Canadian elections results 2008 and poverty – Blog Action Day 2008 October 15, 2008

Posted by Raul in BAD08, Blog Action Day, Homeless Action Week, homelessness, politics, public policy issues, random thoughts.
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By now, I think everyone knows that Canada has a (now relatively stronger) minority Conservative government. Despite the abismal voter turnout (40% of Canadians who are eligible to vote chose not to) the Conservative party gained MP seats and the Liberals lost them. Once the dust settles, my biggest question to the new Conservative government remains. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT POVERTY ALLEVIATION?

I mean, let’s be honest. With regards to homelessness and poverty, a tendency to pass the buck seems common… “it’s not MY responsibility, it’s the responsibility of the other level of government“. Since today is Blog Action Day and the focus is on poverty, will the new Conservative government say that their platform is actually working towards economic recovery or will they say that it’s going to alleviate poverty? Because, really, what progress have we achieved in regards to a national homelessness policy and/or a national poverty alleviation strategy? I’m curious to hear…

Canucks game: Calgary vs. Vancouver October 10, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, random thoughts.
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Ultra-quickie post as I’m on a strict deadline. Once upon a time, I moved to Canada and discover that the national sport here is hockey. Admittedly, I’m not a die-hard fan of the sport, but I have grown to appreciate it. I had a chance to capture very few short glimpses of the most recent game, the Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames (Canucks won 6-0).

Luc Bourdon was honoured, the tribute was very heartwarming and I enjoyed the very little that I could catch. I often listen to The Crazy Canucks podcast and as I have told Rebecca, it’s been very educational.

I really think that in my Canadianization, I’m going to start having to go crazy about hockey. Lucky for me, I’ve got lots of friends both on the blogging/PR/tech community and my offline friends who love hockey, so I’ve got myself covered. Congrats to the Canucks on a well-deserved win!

Ideas on Tap at the Yaletown Brewing Company – October 16th, 2008 October 8, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, Ideas on Tap, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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I know that I had promised to do less events and stuff, but I really want to attend this one, and I’m hoping that by then, one of my biggest projects will be over and thus I’ll have time to participate. Rebecca (Sixty4Media) provided me with some background on what Ideas on Tap is, and quite honestly, I don’t think I should miss it, since I am now part of Vancouver’s tech community (or so I’ve heard!)

ideasONTAP became a mecca for startups and on the third Thursday of each month hundreds of tech entrepreneurs gathered to network and compete in the elevator pitch contest – 60 seconds standing on a milk crate trying to convince the crowd that theirs was the best company concept. Those were the days. With the dot-bust, ideasONTAP went in to hibernation. But no good idea ever dies.[Ideas on Tap]

This should be a very fun event, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve already registered, and should let you know that registration is free 🙂

Restaurant review – The Crime Lab (Vancouver, Coal Harbour) September 22, 2008

Posted by Raul in Uncategorized.
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As many of you know (both my offline and online friends), I absolutely adored The Crime Lab in its previous incarnation. The restaurant was sophisticated, had great food, an amazing list of martinis and everything in the restaurant was crime-themed (but with a very posh flavor, if you can believe that!). The decor and ambience were those of a Paris night bar, yet the food and drinks had a crime theme. Apparently, or so does MartiniBoys say, the former location had previously housed a police crime lab.

One day, someone woke up with the great idea that the spot where the Crime Lab was sitting (the strange convergence of Pender and Georgia, which normally run parallel) was prime spot for condos and thus my beloved Crime Lab disappeared.

There is also a story behind my love for this spot, as my very close friend JT and I had a really important conversation there, and I asked what has become now “The Crime Lab question” (it’s a synonym with tough questions now).

So when I learned from Jeffery Simpson that The Crime Lab was coming back, I knew where I wanted to go for my birthday dinner. The new location is in Coal Harbour, at 100-550 Denman St. The place is very much like I remembered it, great decoration, affordable food, amazing list of martinis (also dangerously sweet) and most definitely, the same flavor they had before, with the crime theme.

The food is definitely affordable, with a range between $17 and $25 for a main course (abundant portions, and very tasty). I chose the risotto with chicken and we all shared a vegetarian platter (for 7 people, nobody really left hungry). There were varied choices for dinner – from burgers with fries AND salad to ravioli to salad with salmon. Very nice menu. The dessert menu is also amazing, in my humble opinion.

There were many details that made my experience very good. While at some points our server struggled a bit with too many tables (I think they were understaffed for a couple of hours), I never felt that we were left down. The service was excellent, and at the end, a very classy gesture by our server: since it was my birthday, she offered to comp my dessert. While I was afraid that if I chose one that could be shared amongst 8 people (the chocolate fondue) they might not see me with good eyes, I was very pleasantly surprised to see that she didn’t even blink. She smiled and proceeded to bring me a “Happy Birthday” chocolate fondue. Now, THAT is classy 🙂

Admittedly, we did consume abundant alcohol, but the martinis are also in good price range $ 8.00, actually slightly less expensive than other Coal Harbour spots. But don’t raise the prices! Keep them there! 🙂 I have to say that I had a fantastic experience at The Crime Lab, and if it sounds as though I’m gushing, I actually am.

If I had to rate my experience at The Crime Lab, I’d say it was pretty much a 9.5 out of 10. I can’t wait to come back!

Crime Lab on Urbanspoon

The Mr. Gay Canada pageant is this week September 16, 2008

Posted by Raul in link love, local events.
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Junn on Flickr.

Credit: Junn on Flickr.

I used to be a fan of pageants. If you wanted to test my photographic memory, you could have asked me the names and countries of each Miss Universe winner since the late 1980s up to about 1997. Right after the Mexican contestants lost very close races (with Laura Elizondo being a very worthy winner when Canada’s Natalie Glebova took the title) I decided to stop watching pageants.

But there’s a couple of pageants I still follow, and one I will be following closely will be the Mr. Gay Canada pageant.

The primary purpose of the Mr. Gay Canada (MGC) is to identify leaders who will take responsibility not only in his own community but on a global stage speaking out for equal rights. MGC is a positive role model and will work on humanizing being gay in the media both queer and mainstream.
PLEASE NOTE: The Mr Gay Canada Competition is a 3-day, indoor/outdoor series of events to help our judges identify a strong spokesman or Ambassador to tell the world about our mission. The Competition includes physical tests and interviews with a panel of international judges. Only 15% of the judging points are assigned to appearance, which means 85% of the points are for qualities other than appearance. [Mr. Gay Canada website]

There are some very relevant and note-worthy elements to discuss here, but there are two that I will just highlight here. First, the fact that 85% of the points are for other qualities. This is an important element for a competition amongst a stereotyped community. Queers, and particularly Vancouver queers are more often than not perceived (even by their peers) as being shallow and just focus on the appearance (six pack abs and perfectly manicured hands). So, this element is perhaps being brought as a way of legitimizing the contest.

The second element is the fact that the contest serves as a way to showcase the diversity of Vancouver and Canada. Why is this relevant? Well, because as you may recall if you’ve read my other posts about queer events and milestones, in other countries, being gay is a crime. In Vancouver, having a gay friend is almost as common as wearing an umbrella (given our rainy weather!).

The Vancouver delegate, Aaron Ursacki, won the 2008 Vancouver’s Next Gay Top Model. And you may ask yourself, how did I end up covering the event? Well, at Third Tuesday on a Monday, one of the promoters pitched the attendees and ended up giving the tickets away to the first person who raised his hand. Even though my dance card is full, and I’ve got events every single night of the week, this was too good a chance to pass, so I’ll be going there on Thursday. I am slightly shocked that they didn’t invite me to the Whistler thingy (given that I *do* indeed cover some queer events), but whatever 🙂 But trust me, if they don’t link to my posts in their Media page, I’m definitely going to be very unhappy 😀

Third Tuesday on a Monday, Vancouver, David Jones, September 2008 September 16, 2008

Posted by Raul in Third Tuesday.
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It is a rare occurrence that Third Tuesday does not happen on the actual third tuesday of the month, but since David Jones from Hill and Knowlton (Who by the way are running the bloggers campaign for Molson, with Brew 2.0 Vancouver, an event to which I’m invited too) was organizing the Tuesday night event, Tanya and Monica decided that it would be better for him to speak on the Monday. So we had a Third Tuesday on a Monday.

Third Tuesday on aMonday

I will let Rebecca’s excellent liveblog give you the 411 of the talk, but just wanted to stress one particular element that I think is key. The bi-directionality of Web 2.0, which should transpire to any PR firm that is doing blogger relations. I think that this is an under-estimated, and often assumed element of social media – the bi-directionality.

I also tweeted this : “Dave Jones is saying almost “darn if we do, if we don’t” re: not being able to pitch EVERY single one of the bloggers.” Well, that’s a problem that probably needs to be addressed in the campaign design. For example, I know that not everybody got an invite to Brew 2.0 (and yes, I’m one of the lucky ones who did). I think that it would be probably a good idea to make it sorta kinda explicit why we were chosen. For example, my blog does do a substantial amount of Vancouver-centric posts, particularly restaurant and bar reviews. I am known for knowing “the local scene”.

Thus, it makes sense for a company that manufactures beer to have me attend an event where social media and beer intersect, even if I’m not a big beer drinker, but I do hang out where beer is served. Probably not the same if your blog is techie (I somehow don’t expect to get invites to EE Road Show). In speaking of transparency, I think it would do wonders for some marketing campaigns to be more explicit about the way in which participants in promotions are chosen.

You can read some of my notes on the Cossette Convergence talk that Darren, Kate and Rebecca gave, although I already had a PR post queued for later this week precisely on the bloggers relations issue. Anyhow, it was lovely to see many of my peeps and I look forward to catching up *slowly* with each and every one of you

Mexican Independence Day in Vancouver 2008 September 15, 2008

Posted by Raul in Uncategorized.
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Ever since I moved to Canada, I have rarely hung out with the Mexican community, not for lack of interest but simply because I am used to having an international, global friendship circle, and thus I don’t *just* hang out with any particular community. However, every year I get the same question and I figured I’d find out some scoop before I get asked “so do Mexicans celebrate the Independence Day while they are away?”. Last year I found some information (see my posts here and here) and this year, I remembered that “September is the month of the homeland

The answer is yes, and many events are being organized in Vancouver. I used to attend the official “Grito de la Independencia” ceremony that the Mexican consulate organized, but lately these have become more social parties and less of a patriotic celebration, so I’ve stopped going since 2002. But that should not stop any of my readers! Here’s what I could find as far as scoop goes.

– The Mexican Consulate in Vancouver (who by the way entirely dissed my efforts to harness the power of my blog in helping victims of the floods in Tabasco last year) organized a “Mexico Week” from Sep 11th to 16th. They are calling it “Mexico Fest”. Sadly, even though they organized a lot of really fun individual events, I couldn’t make it to pretty much any. However, if you can make it to the following two, you should:

Tuesday, Sept 16 th “Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan” – 8:00 – 10:00 PM
Place: Orpheum Theatre
884 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC
Tickests: http://www.ticketmaster.ca

Wednesday, Sept 17 th Tequila y Mezcal Tasting – 5:30 – 7:30PM
Place: Las Margaritas Mexican Restaurant
More info: Veronica Tietzsch at vtietzsch@shaw.ca
1999 4th Avenue West, Vancouver, BC Vancouver, BC
By invitation [Mexico Fest Contacts Page]

There was even a Callejoneada on Granville Island last Saturday! (my parents live in the state of Guanajuato, whose capital Guanajuato is also the host to lots of Callejoneadas). Sometimes I do regret not being more involved with the Mexican community and the consulate, if for nothing else, because these events are really fun and more importantly, they showcase a Mexico that is different from all the negative press that it’s been getting lately, both in Canada and elsewhere in the world. Maybe next year I’ll be an official media sponsor.

The official dish for Mexican Independence Day is “chiles en nogada”, which my cousin prepared last Saturday (and my Mom prepares them every year). Here is a photo for your viewing pleasure.

Chiles en nogada

I’m back in Vancouver September 15, 2008

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

Yaletown, Vancouver

I never thought I’d be so happy to be back in Vancouver. I loved my time in Mexico with my Mom and my cousins and uncle, as well as a chance to hang out with three of my brothers. However, I did miss my apartment, my life here, my friends and now that I am back, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am to be back. See you all soon 🙂

Upcoming environmental events in Vancouver – September 2008 September 9, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, Brew 2.0, climate change, drinks, environment, friends, Gastown, Green Drinks, Launch Party Vancouver, link love, local events, random thoughts, social networking, sustainability, upcoming events, Vancouver, wastewater, water, water policy, Web 2.0.
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Two upcoming events are rather relevant to me and both fall on the same day.

About the Community Sustainability Breakfast [Metro Vancouver’s website]:

Sustainability Community Breakfasts – Nature’s Health Drink – Always on Tap
Wednesday, 17 September, 2008
from 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM
British Columbia Institute of Technology
555 Seymour Street, Vancouver

About Green Drinks Vancouver Sep 2008 [Green Drinks Website]

WHEN the next regular Green Drinks is: Every 3rd Wednesday of the month (except in Dec and July) Our next event is on Sept 17th, 2008
WHERE: Steamworks pub at 375 Water Street on the edge of Gastown near Waterfront Station.
Please be aware that due to changing space availability we cannot guarantee we’ll be in the same room each month – if you can’t find us just ask Steamworks staff which room we are in.

It’s lucky that both of these events fall on the same day, and that I’ll be back in Vancouver by then! And again, I’ve got a full week booked (Brew 2.0, Green Drinks, Launch Party AND a special day!). Can someone please clone me? Thanks.

Homelessness Action Week 2008 – October 12th to 19th, 2008 September 8, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, Focus on Vancouver, food for thought, Homeless Action Week, homelessness, public policy issues, random thoughts, social change, social networking, Vancouver.
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Photo Credit: Matthew Good on Flickr

Last week, I mentioned that I was worried about the lack of interest in local/Canadian politics and the excessive focus on the US election on Canadian and Vancouverite blogs and on Twitter. Well, with the news of an upcoming Federal election (October 14th, 2008), I am very, VERY happy to see the interest of our bloggers, readers and Twitterers renewed on Canadian issues 🙂

During the same week, I tried to remind my readers that in order for us to really participate, and put the public back into public policy, we need to focus on local issues while maintaining a global perspective. One of those hyperlocal issues that I think we need to focus on is the lack of homes and shelter for homeless people. On a side note, I am not too sure that homelessness will be taken up as a Federal election issue, but who knows.

Even though homelessness is mostly considered a regional, municipal/provincial public policy issue, there is an actual Federal Homelessness Partnering Strategy (launched in December 2006). From their About Us page:

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]

Homeless Action Week will take place EXACTLY during the 2008 Federal election week, which is kind of timely, if you ask me. Why? Well, because everything is interconnected. With the 2010 Olympics and the discussions around the gentrification of the Downtown East Side, there will be a need to re-examine the Federal strategy on homelessness. And I have the feeling that Homeless Action Week may be the catalyzer for this re-examination.

Is lack of homes (and affordable housing) an issue? Well, let’s examine the data provided by the Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness.

A 24-hour snapshot count conducted on March 11 th, 2008 indicates that 2,592 individuals were found to be homeless in the Metro Vancouver region. This number is an increase of 427 individuals over the 2005 count data, or an increase of 19% over the number of homeless individuals found in 2005, and a jump of 131% since 2002.[HAW Research Page]

So, the question again is … how can you help? In addition to all of those great suggestions provided on the RSCH page for Homeless Action Week, you can also
– Blog about it.
– Tweet about it.
– Talk about it with your friends, family, etc.
– Write about it (in print).
– Discuss it on national media.

And, two additional things you can do…

One, you could donate your time, clothing items or food to local food banks. Rebecca has for very long been a champion of Metro Vancouver’s food banks, most recently raising over $10,000 dollars for the United Gospel Mission (along with Duane and with the generous help of Matt Good, Matt’s fans and many other participants). Lack of food would most definitely be an issue that homeless people face.

Two, you can participate in the events for the 2008 Homeless Action Week. Last year, I highlighted some of the 2007 HAW events and had a chance to participate in a few. As I mentioned in that previous post, sustainability, social change and social responsibility start at home, and Vancouver is my home, so that’s where I am trying to effect change.

On that note, I would like to invite you to follow @vanpoverty on Twitter, as this is a project where I am partnering with the brilliant Joe Solomon (@engagejoe on Twitter) to use our combined blogging/social media powers to bring issues of poverty and homelessness in Vancouver to the forefront.

Putting back the public in public policy September 3, 2008

Posted by Raul in public policy issues, Vancouver.
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Public participation is touted as “the foremost element of modern democracies“. Since any policy decisions made by politicians and bureaucrats alike will have an impact on society (the public), it would make sense to include those individuals whose lives are affected in the actual decision-making process.


Credit: KeepItSurreal

Environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) take it upon themselves to participate in various ways in the environmental policy-making process. Human rights organizations often seek to galvanize public opinion and protect disadvantaged people. This the basis for a healthy, participatory society.

Unfortunately, it would seem as though not everyone is interested in engaging in public participation processes. Earlier last week I voiced my discomfort when I found out that there was much more interest from people who are on Twitter in the American electoral process than in Canadian or Vancouver electoral issues.

I was relieved to find a number of comments on my post agreeing that we need to focus on local issues (although we can’t forget international affairs). More recently, people have started to tweet more and blog more about the upcoming Vancouver mayoral election and the potential Federal election that could take place as early as mid-October 2008. These are, in my view, good news.

That’s why I would like to encourage my readers to take it upon themselves to put back the public in public policy. There are HUNDREDS if not thousands of issues that we need to focus on, and I am going to highlight just a few (all of them, which I’ve written about before).

* The need to support small local businesses.
* The lack of a strong, nation-wide water policy in Canada and a deficient regional strategy in Metro Vancouver, particularly in the management of wastewater.
* The lack of transparency in the development of Bill C-61.
– The need to re-assess the whole Eco-Density concept and understand the heterogeneities within the Vancouver urban region.
– The whole Provincial Transit Plan of British Columbia and how other countries can teach us lessons on transportation policy.
– The lack of a homeless strategy that really addresses the needs of the needier (which are affected by, amongst other things, snow and other climatic elements).

I could go on, and on, and if you have been reading my blog for a while, you’ll easily find the issues that galvanize MY opinion : water, environment, sustainability, homelessness, urbanization, human rights, electronic rights. Oh, and POVERTY. Let’s not forget about poverty. Now, let’s go back to the issues that galvanize YOU! Never has the phrase “think global act local” been more relevant than now.

I also want to take a minute to thank people who have voted for me on the Vancouver Election Blog contest. Rebecca Bollwitt (Miss604) has been the leader for a few weeks now, and that’s awesome and deserved since she’s been covering all things Vancouver (which have included political issues too!) for over four years. David Eby is also in the ballot, and he has always been a strong advocate for homeless people. There are new blogs, like VanCity Buzz who are highlighting small, local businesses (which is a series I enjoy), and there are more experienced bloggers too, of course… there’s Gordon Price and Paul Hillsdon and Frances Bula and Stephen Rees.

I have also seen the evolution of the contest, and I have to say that, in my view, every one of the nominated blogs are deserving, as each one provides a unique perspective on Vancouver. People may or may not agree on what bloggers write, on their style or their ideas, but as it has been attributed to Voltaire (although some disagree on this too!), “I may disagree with what you are saying but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” (I found that some people attribute these words to Evelyn Beatrice Hall).

Social media for charity and social change roundup (Vancouver) August 27, 2008

Posted by Raul in charities, social change, social networking.
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For those of you who are looking for places where you can effect change and be charitable, here are a few causes you might want to consider:

– Via Jenn Watkiss – Riann Batch is looking to be a Superhero for a Day! The Drop Zone Vancouver is organizing a fundraising event, and Riann is going to be descending single-handedly, as she lost the use of her right arm in a skiing accident last year. Link to Riann’s page is here.

– Via Jay Grandin – Giant Ant Media and The Urban Project are partnering to create a really cool project. In their words [Giant Ant Media – Tanzania]:

Giant Ant Media will be producing a film and web series that follows a group of street youth in the pursuit of recording a hip hop album, with the hopes of breaking out on the Tanzanian music scene. Urban Project, a Vancouver-based charity, will be providing funds to ethically compensate the youth involved via a salary and school fees, while also funding recording studio time.

Their next fundraiser will be a concert at The Anza Club on Sep 10th. Sadly, I won’t be back in Vancouver yet but you’re more than welcome to attend and let me know how fun it was!

And three causes I had already highlighted, but just in case you need a reminder 🙂

– Tanya Davis is joining Buzz Bishop’s Team Diabetes and will be running a half-maraton and she’s now going putting her money where her mouth is! Go check her blog entry right now and donate to her cause here.

Karen Parker is doing the Bicycle Trek for Life and Breath, and you can sponsor her here. Karen is one of the kindest-hearted persons I’ve met. One time, I was feeling down and she took me out shopping and to the Apple Store. How’s that for geek friendship? 🙂

– And last, but never least, Barbara Doduk, Keira-Anne and Matt Good are all doing Paws for a Cause. You’ll find their personal donation pages in each of the posts I’ve linked here.

My friend Gus indicated that he was going to do a charity round-up, so I’ll link here and update the post when he puts his up. UPDATE – Go check Gus’ entry on charity, it’s up already!

Mexican food restaurants in Vancouver: An updated post August 27, 2008

Posted by Raul in dining out.
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Last year, Rebecca asked me to write a review post for the best Mexican restaurants in Vancouver. Not surprisingly, given how widely read her blog is, she is the top result for Google.ca’s search for “Mexican restaurant Vancouver review”. Luckily, that is also precisely my guest post, so I’m just going to update it here.


5. First off, I don’t know exactly how I ended up recommending Las Margaritas as one of my top five choices, given that I had a horrible experience a few months later.

4. El Rinconcito Salvadoreño isn’t right now my fave for Mexican food, but Karen Hamilton recently went there, so read her review and come back.

3. Taco Loco. Haven’t been there in months, so I’m going to hold back on my recommendation.

2. Casa Blanca. Haven’t been there in months either, so holding back on my recommendation too.

1. Sadly, apparently Tio Pepe’s was horrible for a visitor to UrbanSpoon (which is too bad because my experience was good). So, won’t make the top 5 anymore. Ooops.


The first step I took was to narrow down the UrbanSpoon listings for Vancouver’s Mexican restaurants. I then looked at the listing and checked which ones I have recently reviewed to get a general feel.

So, here is the list of Mexican restaurants in Vancouver that I’ve recently visited and that I would recommend, in order of how much I like them.


1. Salsa and Agave – Delicious. Tasty. Authentic. Inexpensive. Best place to have lunch with someone you care for (which then explains why I have been there so frequently with close friends of mine!).

2. La Casita – Inexpensive, surprisingly tasty and authentic, and they make some of the best margaritas in town.

3. Tequila Kitchen – Really authentic, very good food, upscale. A bit on the higher end in pricing, but good and very much real Mexican food.

4. Delicados – Kind of Tex-Mex-y. But filling, and quick for a cheap and good eat.

And of course, everyone and their mother have been suggesting that I go to Doña Cata. I was going to go just before I had to come to Mexico, but you can rest assured that I’ll update this post with a review of Doña Cata as soon as I go there for dinner.


– Topanga Café. Don’t ask me why, but I might venture.
– Andale’s. Not sure about how I feel about this, but may visit.
– Casa de Amigos. They moved, and now there’s Chica’s (another restaurant) but I will try them at their new location.
– Poncho’s. Rebecca and John Bollwitt swear by this restaurant, so gotta try it.
– Zocalo. Even though I live literally 10 blocks away, haven’t tried it. May do it, but not 100% sure.
– Mexicali. Um, no, really not sure if I want to go there.

There were other suggestions in the Lower Mainland, so I might go to the one in New Westminster (Ole Ole I think it was called) upon my return to Vancouver. In the mean time, feel free to drop a comment and/or suggest any other new Mexican restaurants.

Online dating… the discussion continues August 26, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, dating, personal life, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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1 comment so far

I often wonder if being single is what makes those of us who are still not hitched to think about it loudly and write about it on our blogs. At any rate, I share my friends’ concerns and questions, so I am going to give hat tips to Tanya and Duane who started awesome discussion threads on their blogs about the whole online dating thing (read Tanya’s great entry here and Duane’s awesome post here, although his is more focused on who picks up the tab).

For a bit of context, I also had posted questions about dating before, but never really got deep into the discussion (the most recent was an entry about whether dating is a skill that needs to be honed). One time I even gave the website ShagABlogger some exposure and asked about inter-blogger relations and hook ups.

Recently, while looking for a photo, I came across an interview with Pete Cashmore of Mashable.com where he talks about dating. You can see part of the interview below.

What I found interesting (I have no idea who Pete is dating and how he met said person) is that the discussion at some point revolved around meeting someone NOT online but hanging out at specific social circles (like the Meetups I often attend). While I recognize that we are immersed in a “New Normal” where we meet potential partners and friends online (I can now admit that I’ve met some of my best friends online, as blogging has brought me numerous friends to whom I am close now).

The thing is, blogging in my case (and I think in Tanya’s and Duane’s case is the same) has allowed people to get to know me before they actually meet me in person. Also, I might be able to find a potential mate while on Facebook, but… as I’ve said before, I’m not into the whole Facebook Poke thingie.

So, the question remains… what do do, what to do? In the mean time, I’m going to go on the record and say that I thoroughly enjoy my singlehood.

Heads up for 2 upcoming Vancouver tech/blogging events August 21, 2008

Posted by Raul in upcoming events.
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It’s kind of nice to know that, even though I’m 6000 km away from Vancouver, my friends back home still keep me informed of events that are coming up, so I’m just going to write a quick roundup.

– Via Steve Jagger, I heard about Reachd’s upcoming (September) training package on SEO, Google Adwords, Social Media Guided Tour, etc. By the way, if you want to know more about Steve, you can read Rebecca’s fantastic Blogger Profile series. I had the pleasure of attending one of Steve’s seminars earlier this year — pretty awesome.

– Via Travis Smith, I heard about the Expression Engine Roadshow. In Travis’ words “It’s half a day, and would probably be useful for anyone who’s interested in learning more about ExpressionEngine, especially the upcoming EE 2.0 — Rick Ellis, the CEO of EE, is coming to talk about it.“. It was Travis who was kind enough to give me an interview when he was getting an iPhone. Travis’ blog is awesome too (and the layout is horizontal!)

If you have another event forthcoming that I should be aware of (or if I didn’t highlight it on THIS post), please drop a comment here (trust me, I have a great memory but things do escape me sometimes). In case I haven’t covered all the events, you can always check Rebecca’s weekly TechVibes column. The most recent one can be found here.

OH! And if you are going to Gnomedex, and would like to share some of your thoughts, let me know and you can either write a guest post or I can link back to you 🙂

Your favorite restaurant? August 19, 2008

Posted by Raul in dining out, random thoughts, Vancouver.
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A significant portion of my traffic in the past couple of years has come from my restaurant reviews and from cross-linking with UrbanSpoon Vancouver. My page on UrbanSpoon has received about 4100 views (which has put me in the top 25 blogs worldwide).

UrbanSpoon recently launched their iPhone app, which I find very cool. However, people still rely on word-of-mouth (or word-of-tweet) when it comes to restaurants. Lots of people ask me “so what restaurant would you recommend for…

Thus, I’m going to ask my readers to let me know what their favorite restaurant is. Go crazy. Don’t limit yourself. If it is an expensive restaurant, go for it. If it’s a hole-in-the-wall joint, tell me about it. JUST DO IT.

Oh and if you could visit my UrbanSpoon restaurant reviews about 400 times so that I can overtake Kitsilano.ca again, that’d be awesome 🙂 (just kidding!)