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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
i wanna hold you in the bible black pre-dawn / you're quite a quiet domino
— Wilco, I am Trying to Break Your Heart
November 30, 2008

Seattle

Seattle Parking Payment Box Seattle Parking Payment Box

Posted by skooter at 5:02 PM This entry is filed under Camera.
Tags: Black and White, Seattle

Commuter Rail on Vancouver Island but not the Lower Mainland?

It seems strange to hear about the Provincial Government considering a commuter rail service on Vancouver Island and not in the Lower Mainland, stretching out towards the Fraser Valley. Twinning the Port Mann is all well and good, but without an investment in transit all it’s going to do is increase the amount of traffic.

In any case, one of the keys to success of mass transit if volume: you need to have enough riders to make it worthwhile. The population of the Lower Mainland is significantly higher than the Island. Of course we have the West Coast Express but it falls short of providing full service (and provides none at all south of the Fraser River.) An upgraded West Coast Express could be the equal of Ontario’s GO Transit system and could significantly reduce traffic all day long between the Valley and Vancouver.

B.C. considers southern Vancouver Island commuter rail service
Last Updated: Friday, November 28, 2008
CBC News

The B.C. government says it is considering upgrading the old E&N railway to create a new commuter rail service for southern Vancouver Island.

On Thursday, Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon announced he will commission a half-million-dollar study to look at the options for commuter rail and freight on the historic route.

Currently a VIA rail passenger train makes one daily run along the old north to south line between Victoria and Courtenay on the island’s east coast.

Posted by skooter at 4:37 PM This entry is filed under Politics, Vancouver.
Tags: Commuting, Environmentalism, Transportation

November 28, 2008

I Hope it Was Worth It

Charge Wal-Mart inciting the incident. Charge every single person in the crowd with conspiracy. Whatever it takes to send a message.

I hope the deal was worth it. Something needs to change here in people’s value systems.

Wal-Mart worker killed in bargain-hunting stampede
ANNE D’INNOCENZIO AND COLLEEN LONG
The Associated Press
November 28, 2008 at 11:34 AM EST

NEW YORK — A Wal-Mart worker died after being trampled by a throng of unruly shoppers as consumers, who had snapped their wallets shut since September, flocked to stores before dawn Friday to grab deals on everything from TVs to toys for the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, feared to be the weakest in decades.

Retailers extended their hours — some opening at midnight — and offered deals that promised to be more impressive than even the deep discounts that shoppers found throughout November.

The 34-year-old Wal-Mart worker was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead at about 6 a.m., an hour after the store opened, when a throng of shoppers “physically broke down the doors, knocking him to the ground,” a police statement said.

Posted by skooter at 5:14 PM This entry is filed under America, Marketing.
Tags: Economics, Shopping, Wal-Mart

November 27, 2008

Emerson snags plum Crown position

Wherever David Emerson lands you can be sure that he’ll look after his friends and not the public interest. He privatized B.C. Ferries (leaving me wondering why the Premier of the province announced a ‘rate cut’) and the Vancouver Airport Authority. During his tenure at Canfor David did very well, but the stock didn’t.

Emerson snags plum Crown position
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | 11:00 AM ET CBC News

Former federal cabinet minister David Emerson, who decided not to run in the October federal election, has a new job.

The B.C. Liberal government has appointed Emerson as CEO and board chair of the BC Transmission Corporation, a Crown corporation that works with BC Hydro to supply electricity across the province. He will replace chair Bob Reid and CEO Jane Peverett.

I’m willing to bet that despite evidence that a lack of government regulation is a big part of the current Economic meltdown of the world economy, David pitches a privatization plan for B.C. Transmission within two years. I’ll be glad if I’m wrong.

Posted by skooter at 1:14 PM This entry is filed under Canada, Politics.
Tags: Conservative, David Emerson, Energy, Politics

November 26, 2008

Piave, Granville Island

Posted by skooter at 1:48 PM This entry is filed under Camera, Cycling.
Tags: Bikes, Granville Island

November 19, 2008

Toronto’s Bike Routes

A long long time ago, Bicycling Magazine voted Toronto the best city for cycling in North America. It slipped in the rankings quit a bit following that, but moves like this are a good way of getting that rating back.

I used to ride the Martin Goodman Trail in the snow quite a bit, and have fond memories of pedaling along the lakeshore while snow gently wafted around me illuminated by only the lights long the trail and the headlight on my bike. It was glorious.

Toronto plans to clear snow off major cycling routes Sidewalks also to get special attention in pro-active strategy
JEFF GRAY
November 19, 2008 at 4:50 AM EST

With up to four centimetres of snow expected to hit Toronto tomorrow morning, city officials - mindful of last season’s near-record snowfall - were quick to say yesterday that they are ready for winter and are even pledging to keep a pair of key cycling routes clear this year.

Councillors on the city’s parks committee will discuss a plan today to make special efforts to clear two east-west bike routes into the downtown, one along the “multi-use path” along Lake Shore Boulevard and Queens Quay from the east, and the other on the Queensway and King Street West.

The plan also calls for a study of how much it would cost to clear the waterfront Martin Goodman Trail for use by well-bundled cyclists all winter.

Parks committee chairwoman Paula Fletcher acknowledged that some residents of her downtown ward whose streets were left clogged with ice and snow last year might scratch their heads at the idea, but she said it is important to encourage all-season cycling.

Vancouver, incidentally, ignores cycling routes when it snows here. It doesn’t happen that often, and side streets in general seem to be ignored not just bike routes.

Posted by skooter at 1:36 PM This entry is filed under Cycling, Politics.
Tags: Cycling, Toronto, Winter

November 17, 2008

A Vision for Vancouver?

Ok, sorry. That’s about the most obvious and worst pun of a headline ever. I can’t come up with much else though.

Election results give Gregor Robertson the Mayor’s job in Vancouver, and every single one of his candidates was elected.

That’s the good news. Andrea Reimer made council, and it’s my sincere hope that she becomes mayor one of these days. Since living in Vancouver, there are few other people I’ve met who I’ve felt would be more capable of doing the job.

But what about our new Mayor, and the now unelected Peter Ladner?

Continue reading "A Vision for Vancouver?"

Posted by skooter at 2:51 AM This entry is filed under Politics, Vancouver.
Tags: Elections, Gregor Robertson, Vancouver, Vision Vancouver

November 14, 2008

One and a Half Years

It was on May 14, 2007 that Cerberus Capital bought Chrysler Corporation from Daimler. That’s about one and a half years ago: only a moment in the lifetime of an investment of that magnitude; a brief interlude in the lifetime of a corporation.

What’s changed so dramatically in that scant 20 months that Cerberus capital wasn’t prepared to deal with? A recession? Decreased demand for products? The latter, at least, was already happening when the purchase when through.

Apparently now American tax payers are being asked to bail them out of their deal. Hardly seems fair does it. If America does this, Canada will inevitably get on board, or risk losing all those jobs.

Chrysler adds its voice to calls for U.S. bailout
GREG KEENAN
November 13, 2008 at 7:59 PM EST

A government rescue package and alliances with competitors are essential if Chrysler LLC is to ride out the storm battering the auto industry, the company’s chief executive officer said Thursday, shifting the focus of the Detroit crisis away from General Motors Corp. for at least part of the day.

Chrysler posted a video on its website late Thursday urging Americans to contact federal politicians and urge them to support assistance from the U.S. government for auto makers.

Posted by skooter at 1:26 PM This entry is filed under America, Politics.
Tags: Cars, Chrysler, Economics

Those Crazy Markets

TSE, November 13th, 2008 Why it seems like only yesterday that CIBC promised us that markets had found their bottom, and would be more stable.

It makes me wonder how they’ll explain that big dip in the graph for today’s markets followed by the huge climb, gaining back yesterday’s losses and more.

Posted by skooter at 1:39 AM This entry is filed under Politics.
Tags: Banking, Economics, Financial Services

November 13, 2008

If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Another

Highway 97, the major connector road or the interior, opens again after being closed for more than two weeks:

“Highway 97 in Okanagan Valley reopens”http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2008/11/12/highway-open.html?ref=rss
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | 9:35 AM ET
CBC News

A major highway in B.C’s Okanagan Valley reopened Wednesday morning after it was closed more than two weeks ago due to an unstable rock face that threatened to collapse onto the road.

The reopening came as crews were able to stabilize the hillside along Highway 97 by blasting tonnes of rock off the top of the slope and piling it at the bottom to act as a natural doorstop.

But Highway 99 on the coast closes (at least partly) for the same reason.

Rockslide slows Highway 99 traffic
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | 11:28 AM ET
CBC News

A small rockslide on the Sea to Sky Highway connecting Vancouver and Whistler has reduced traffic to a single lane.

The rockslide occurred one or two kilometres north of the junction with Marine Drive near the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal early Wednesday morning.

Posted by skooter at 1:30 PM This entry is filed under Travel, Vancouver.
Tags: Olympics, Roads, Sea to Sky, Travel, Vancouver

This Isn’t a Contest for Mayor…

It’s contest to see who can be the most like the other. These two are spending some much time fighting over the middle of the road, everyone else is going to look like they’re driving on the shoulder.

Vancouver mayoral candidates return Millennium’s donations
Council’s $100-million loan to developer sparks controversies
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | 10:48 PM ET
CBC News

Both Vancouver mayoral candidates have rejected campaign contributions from Millennium Development Corp., the builder of the controversial Olympic Athletes Village for the 2010 Games.

Non-Partisan Association’s Peter Ladner: said Millennium delivered a $2,000 cheque to him last week.

“Somebody at city hall notified me that there was a cheque there for me from Millennium and I said send it back,” Ladner, who is currently a councillor, said Wednesday. “This is too sensitive right now for us to be accepting cheques from Millennium.”

Vision Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson said he received Millennium’s $1,000 donation cheque Wednesday.

“The timing of it is troubling given that decisions have been made and driven in secret by the NPA and campaign donations are arriving after the fact,” Robertson said. “I think we need to ask hard questions about where the dollars come from and why?”

Posted by skooter at 1:25 PM This entry is filed under Vancouver.
Tags: Elections, Gregor Robertson, Mayor, Peter Ladner, Vancouver

November 12, 2008

Oh CIBC, Don’t Tease Us

Given that CIBC was the Canadian bank with the single largest exposure to the U.S. sub-prime mortgage crises, I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in this:

Market near bottom: CIBC
Eric Beauchesne, Canwest News Service
Published: Wednesday, November 12, 2008
OTTAWA — The deep erosion of Canadians’ investment savings is likely near an end, a major Bay Street investment firm optimistically projected Tuesday, even as stock markets around the world were sinking deeper into bear territory and as the initial euphoria from the latest major economic stimulus announcement — China’s $586-billion US fiscal injection into its giant economy — continued to fade.

Posted by skooter at 1:27 PM This entry is filed under America, Canada.
Tags: Banking, Financial Services, Investing

Rock, Meet Hard Place

Having participated, if not led, the nationalization of the financial services industry, it’s interesting to see what will happen with the automotive one.

Democrats Seek Help for Automakers
By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN and CARL HULSE
Published: November 11, 2008
WASHINGTON — Democratic Congressional leaders said Tuesday that they were ready to push emergency legislation to aid the imperiled auto industry when lawmakers return to Washington next week for the first time after the election, setting the stage for one last showdown with President Bush.

It’s a tough choice, to be sure. The automotive industry is a massive part of North America’s economic well being. It employs tens of thousands of people, with the associated multiplier effect of those dollars in local communities. It is the heart of many communities, and devastates them when hard times hit and plants close.

So what to do?

Continue reading "Rock, Meet Hard Place"

Posted by skooter at 3:48 AM This entry is filed under America, Politics.
Tags: Cars, Economics

I Want My Own Damn Bridge

If this city is serious about increasing cycling, which also happens to be the best way to reduce greenhouse gas output, it needs investment. A single lane on the Burrard Bridge would be welcome, but ultimately there needs to be a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian crossing over False Creek to achieve the goal. Anything else is just a stopgap, even is BEST isn’t brave enough to say so.

If the city were smart, they would have had the developers of the (soon to be bankrupt) South East False Creek condos pay for the damn thing.

Vancouver cyclists pan Burrard Bridge proposals
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 11, 2008 | 6:34 PM ET

Vancouver bicycling advocates are once again slamming mayoral candidate Peter Ladner’s plans for the Burrard Bridge.

The chair of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, Lisa Slakov, said on Tuesday the best solution would be to dedicate one lane of the bridge in each direction for cyclists,

“The reason for it is because its cheap as borscht, it’s fantastic. We can put it up right away. We are looking at a reallocation trial, and that was planned a couple of years ago before the last government got in and nixed it,” said Slakov.

Posted by skooter at 3:13 AM This entry is filed under Cycling, Vancouver.
Tags: Commuting, Cycling, Vancouver

November 10, 2008

Advance Polls: Again

Remember what I said about advance voting? Turnout in Vancouver has been high, which likely means our next mayor will be the mega-watt smile.

Controversial loan boosts turnout at advance polls
ROBERT MATAS AND FRANCES BULA
Globe and Mail Update
November 10, 2008 at 5:10 AM EST
VANCOUVER Vancouver voters are flocking to advance polls, with some saying they were inspired to cast a ballot by the controversy over the current city council’s decision to provide up to a $100-million loan to the developer of the Olympic athletes village.

Many surveyed at the city’s advance polls on Saturday said the controversy didn’t sway them from views they already had. Instead, it made them more determined to vote.

But some acknowledged that the news made them actually switch their vote, which could make the loan a deciding factor in what had been predicted to be a tight election.

Here’s the thing that bugs me. Gregor Robertson has been viciously critical of the NPA over this loan and the secret vote that made it possible, but four Vision Vancouver councillors voted in favour of the loan. His argument would hold a great deal more credibility if they’d voted against it.

I voted for Gregor, but I held my nose while I did it. I think it’s going to be close, and I desperately don’t want to see an NPA council with Peter Ladner in the mayor’s chair.

Posted by skooter at 1:20 PM This entry is filed under Politics, Vancouver.
Tags: Gregor Robertson, NPA, Peter Ladner, Vancouver

Europe’s Bike-Sharing Programs

The New York Times discusses the rise of bike sharing programs in Europe.

Among the most notable comments:

Copenhagen and Amsterdam have had devoted bicycling commuters for many years. But the new programs have created the greatest transportation revolution in central and southern Europe, where warmer climates allow riders to ride comfortably year-round. The shared bicycles in Barcelona, Lyon and Paris are heavily used, logging about 10 rides a day, according to officials in these cities.

I’m hopeful we’ll see a program like this in Vancouver sometime in the next few years.

Posted by skooter at 5:00 AM This entry is filed under Cycling, Politics.
Tags: Bikes, Transportation, Vancouver

Youssou N’Dour: Retour a Gorée

Playing in a limited engagement at the Vancouver International Film Centre, the film Youssou N’Dour: Retour a Gorée is well worth seeing. It shows one of the world’s greatest singers in his homeland, and a view of the history of the legacy of colonialism that is educational.

I had never heard of Gorée or its Door of No Return. They seem to have skipped over it in my history education. I’m not surprised.
Gorée's Door of No Return

Posted by skooter at 3:02 AM This entry is filed under Music, Politics.
Tags: Africa, Music, Slavery, Youssou N'Dour

November 7, 2008

Stocking Up: Would You Prefer a Gun Fairy?

I suspect that Gun Snatcher isn’t the worst name that will be used to describe Barak Obama. In my mind, it’s kind of a compliment actually.

I hope there’s finally a chance for reasonable gun control laws in the United States, but I suspect enough Democrats support the NRA that it won’t happen.

On Concerns Over Gun Control, Gun Sales Are Up
Michael Stravato for The New York Times
By KIRK JOHNSON
Published: November 6, 2008

DENVER — Sales of handguns, rifles and ammunition have surged in the last week, according to gun store owners around the nation who describe a wave of buyers concerned that an Obama administration will curtail their right to bear arms.

“He’s a gun-snatcher,” said Jim Pruett, owner of Jim Pruett’s Guns and Ammo in northwest Houston, which was packed with shoppers on Thursday.

“He wants to take our guns from us and create a socialist society policed by his own police force,” added Mr. Pruett, a former radio personality, of President-elect Barack Obama.

Posted by skooter at 1:36 PM This entry is filed under America, Politics.
Tags: Barak Obama, Guns

November 6, 2008

Think About This the Next Time You’re Pumping

From VeloNews

The price of gas, which was running $11/gallon in Italy in September, even with a favorable Euro vs. dollar exchange rate, has produced a heightened interest in bicycle commuting.

11 Euros is CDN$16.63 according to the Bank of Canada. With 3.8 litres per gallon that translates to CDN$4.38 per litre. It might be time to stop complaining (though I wish we had Europe’s rail system.)

Posted by skooter at 4:14 PM This entry is filed under Cycling, Politics.
Tags: Cars, Cycling, Gas, Oil

Gregor’s Misstep

It was a stupid issue, but it was even dumber of Gregor Robertson to let this issue blow up the way it did. If he’d paid the fine earlier, the story would have been dead. I’ve called Gregor a hypocrite before for claiming his business is sustainable while packaging his juices in tetra paks that are shipped to China and only partially recycled. This is just another example that supports my argument.

Sadly, he might be our best candidate.

Robertson drops fare fight, pays up
Transportation minister has some choice words for mayoral candidate
Chad Skelton and Tim Lai, Vancouver Sun
Published: Thursday, November 06, 2008

Would-be Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson said Wednesday he has paid the SkyTrain fare-violation fine that has been embarrassing him this week.
By paying the fine, he avoids a traffic court hearing in December.

He may also be able to escape more of the enthusiastic tongue-lashings Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon has been sending his way.

Posted by skooter at 1:36 PM This entry is filed under Politics, Vancouver.
Tags: Gregor Robertson, Mayor, Vision Vancouver

November 5, 2008

Hope

A lot is going to be written about this day, for many years to come. Barak Obama has, of course, proven that he is more than capable of speaking for himself.

“I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible.

If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription drugs, and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

It is that fundamental belief, it is that fundamental belief, I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.

I’m not talking about blind optimism here - the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t think about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs. The hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores. The hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta. The hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds. The hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.”

- Barak Obama, July 27, 2004, Democratic National Convention

Posted by skooter at 7:11 AM This entry is filed under America, Politics.
Tags: America, Barak Obama, Elections, President

November 2, 2008

John McCain & Tina Fey on SNL


Tina Fey truly does have that little Sarah Palin wink nailed. I’m gonna miss that after Tuesday (at least until 2012.)

It’s also nice to see John McCain displaying a seemingly good sense of humour about his current status:

Continue reading "John McCain & Tina Fey on SNL"

Posted by skooter at 4:02 PM This entry is filed under America, Politics.
Tags: Elections, Sarah Palin, SNL, Tina Fey

A Recipe for a Perfect Day

Any day that includes a walk around Lynn Canyon is almost perfect by definition. Toss is a two year old boy’s first trip to the park and an ending that includes singing Like a Rolling Stone while he falls asleep, and perfect seems like the best way to describe it.

Posted by skooter at 1:54 AM This entry is filed under Family, Friends, Music.
Tags: Benjamin, Bob Dylan

CBC Radio One on FM

With very little fanfare, CBC Radio One in Vancouver has launched its FM signal at 88.1 FM.

I’m a bit uncertain whether this is an unofficial launch or, perhaps, an early equipment test. I think I heard something about it on The Morning Edition on Monday, but that’s only a vague memory. It may be that they’re waiting to make a bit more of a splash about it (the web page still lists AM 690 as the frequency.)

Either way, I’m pretty happy. The FM signal is much higher fidelity in both the car and, most notably, at home where I often chose to stream NPR rather than listen to CBC’s AM signal.

By any measure, of course, this is ten years too late. Toronto switched almost that long ago, and I was shocked at the length of time it took to make this happen here.

Posted by skooter at 1:38 AM This entry is filed under Entertainment, Technology.
Tags: CBC, Radio