Wednesday, April 30, 2008

High(er) Education

Emily Carr joins in the 'university status' parade... students plan collaborative multi-medium installation based on themes of 'arbitrary semantics' and 'the ability of language to define reality, man'?
Morning Brew: April 30

  • Vocational School
  • College
  • University
  • Technical Institution

 It’s all higher education, but each of the above titles/brands has a distinct meaning. Doctors aren’t generally trained at the same institution as electricians. It follows then that perhaps the institution designed to train doctors may be a different kind of organization than the one that trains electricians.

What has happened over the past week in post-secondary education has been very interesting. Kwantlen is now a polytechnic-university. Douglas is now a university, so is Capilano, and Emily Carr, and Malaspina became a university instead of a university-college.

So what does it mean? Well, I personally think it cheapens the university brand. I have a lot of respect for Capilano university, I studied there and learned a tonne, but can any of us honestly say it’s a university in the same way as UBC/SFU/UofA ?

No, not really.

That's not to say I don't believe in higher education outside of the university pool - I'm mostly college and technical-institution educated, and very happy for it. What I do believe in is a little specialization, which I think is being lost here.

I hope for a big boost in our ability to support the transfer of credentials and credits between institutions.

What I fear is an even more unclear landscape for students.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesday Tunes

George Harrison wrote Badge with Eric Clapton. It’s a good song.

Cream - Badge

Found at
This next one is good too. It's probably the "song I learned to play guitar so I'd be able to play that song" song.

Cream - Sunshine of Your Love

Found at

You should go to Dr. Mooney's and find some more songs written by beatles, Clapton, and other people. It's a good blog.

Homelessness :: Photos & Commentary

Over at the Vancouver Sun, Randy Shore and Daphne Bramham have a good slideshow of sorts on homelessness in Vancouver.
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Monday, April 28, 2008

Stealin' Booze

It wasn't me:

...the RCMP released an estimate that its cargo was 1,388 cases of wine — valued between $800,000 and $1 million, or about $60 a bottle.
But then:
...In the end, the thieves got only 168 cases of wine, worth about $20 a bottle.
Wine heist now a beer bust, Mounties say

Which is still a pretty good haul mind you, and paired with the right cheese even a lowly $20 bottle of wine is acceptable. Anyone taking bets on when la Grotta or Amis will be knocked over?
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Saltspring Photos

I Went to Saltspring Island on Saturday with some family. It was nice

Picture 038

I don't know what these are called but they're beautiful.

Assertive Geese
The geese weren't too happy with us clomping around.

Picture 011
The coastguard has some sweet boats these days.

Picture 016
Oh, and the moss in the damper areas is pretty neat-o.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Kerry Roper is Dope

Stumbled across Kerry Roper today. Lots of his work has an
interesting style, but his treatment of type really stands out for me. I really
like finding good type. If you happen to be in London next week go check this out and let me know how it is.


Helvetica is wank... nice.     
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Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Sweet Little Electric Car

They look really nice, at with a 110Mile range and a 65Mph top speed that's more than enough for any city dweller.

Image thiefd from - Think Global Forum

Ford owned this company for a while, and even leased their electric vehicles in the states for a bit. It'd probably be pretty fun to drive; A tiny little car like that up around 80 km/h would feel pretty fast.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Garbage Patch

I've been looking for actual videos and images from the "pacific garbage patch" for a long time. I finally found it at Vice of all places.

Episode 9 is as reasonable a place to start as any. Be warned though, massive massive bummer ahead.

TOXIC - Garbage Island - Part 9 of 12 - VBS.TV

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Oh Tories, You so Crazy!

Elections Canada alleges the Conservative party violated federal election law by funnelling money in and out of local candidates' campaigns so the national party could spend $1.1 million above its legal limit on media advertising in the last election. | Canada | Angry Tories unveil raid documents


Saying they wanted to avoid a "media circus," three party officials also took the unusual step of briefing a "limited number" of invited reporters. But the attempt to frame the party message went awry when other journalists learned of the briefing. To avoid uninvited journalists, the Conservative officials switched hotels, cancelled a briefing, and left via a fire stairwell to avoid pursuit by television cameras. | Canada | Angry Tories unveil raid documents
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Again with the Toothbrushes?!?

This one isn't recycled, it's biodegradable.

Our Biocete Toothbrush is made with Natural Bristles and Biodegradable Cellulose Acetate, a natural substance extracted from Cotton. Bioceta degradation time is compared to that of an Oak Leaf.
Toothbrushes - bioceta toothbrush
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Friday, April 18, 2008

Recycled Toothbrushes

The worst recycling-offender in my house is definitely the bathroom. All that packaging and new material designed specifically to run or wear out so I have to buy more. Toothbrushes piss me off - I consider them my enemy in the bathroom. I like brushing my teeth but I have serious design issues with toothbrushes these days. They tend to look like freaked-out anime caricatures and have so many different plastics that I can't blue-bin them. Worse are the disposable electric brushes. They're like electric drills with a single bit that can't be replaced.

Anyway, I found toothbrushes made from recycled plastic! And you get return-postage to send them back to be re-recycled.
Preserve - Preserve Toothbrush Ultra Soft - 1210 - Home Depot Canada
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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

On Negativity in the Workplace

I just had a very surprising experience. I was treated amazingly rudely by an educator.

No shit! You say. Happens all the time right?

Sure, as a student it does, but in my last three years working in education it hardly ever happens as a colleague.

I’ve been working on a big project that aims to bring together efforts from all different sectors at my place of work, and today we introduced the project as a first step and sought input for future directions.

I always expect some resistance when introducing changes to big processes like this one is, but I rarely encounter outright dismissal and condescension. Let alone from someone who stands to benefit in a very immediate way from the new system and seek to cater to during the early stages of the process.

It really got under my skin because of how disrespectful this person’s approach was.

It’s not just me blowing things out of proportion – which I’ll admit to doing on occasion. Other people commented, “oh he’s just that way” or “that group is a nightmare”.

So what do I do? Call out a senior colleague for being a jerk, or bust my hump more than it is to try to bring the “nightmare” to our side?

In  any large organization you find groups of people banding together around a common philosophy, and I notice it a lot where I work. Generally the philosophies are productive, focused doing the right thing for students or clients or customers. What makes me shake my head are the festering groups, seeping aggressive and counterproductive negativity. While it does make me really happy to know I’m not one of them it really sucks to have to work with them. It also really sucks to see the problems ignored because as they’ve festered they’ve also developed a reputation and their legitimate concerns are often ignored along with the griping.

So if I know you and you notice me behaving in this way please, please, please, punch me in the face. Then get me a scotch, but not before reminding me of this post.

Also, if you are this person: Dude, 'cmon. All I want to do is help you. All I ask is you keep an open mind and treat me with the same respect you expect for yourself.
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tuesday Tunes

"Tropicalia is one of the most significant cultural movements in Brazil encompassing music, film, visual art and theatre."
From Soul Jazz Records

It's all awesome. This album makes me want to grow sideburns. I'm not exactly sure why, but it does. While Beck's take on this stuff is pretty good nothing beats the original. I've been pumping this album for 2 days and I'm hooked like I live on east Hastings.

Gal Costa - Sebastiana

Found at

That cut is from Gal Costa, tropicalialista and activist. One of the best things about this stuff is that while it's fun it was a force and a movement, not just a style. That's what first attracted me to punkrock, and why I've for the most part abandoned me punkrock listening habits now that songs-about-girlfriends-and-angst have taken over.

This was, although short lived, an important movement.

Anyway, here's to the demise of Bossa Nova!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hawksley Workman Rocks!

Holy Crap.

The Rut Discontinued

I rambled on a bit a little while ago about how I’d found myself in a creative rut when it comes to my extraemployular activities.

I managed to break through the wall on Saturday night without even meaning to. That’s led me to a revelation of sorts:

Muses are found where one least expects them, and can affect one in ways that are counterintuitive to say the least.

Duh... right?

Let me explain.

For a long while I’ve considered my then-girlfriend-now-fiancĂ© to be my muse. And in a way she is, just not in the way I expected.

For her I do not want to create great art and music, I want to become a better me. She’s a huge part of the reason I work hard at being a good person in general. In a sense I do all things, small and large, for her. She inspires me to hold down a job, avoid alienating my friends and family, and plan for the future – I have failed miserably at all of these things at one point or another.

What I discovered on Saturday is that I am most inspired to create by a group of my friends. I had a great visit with one of them, a guy nearing forty who despite looking like a goateed thug is one of the biggest softies you’ll ever meet. I love this guy like my brother; we’ve saved each others’ lives more than once.

We drank a little too much and talked our asses off while passing the guitar back and forth, noodling with comfortable old riffs and melodies. After a few hours I found myself playing music that was interesting again, rather than recycling the same old boring lines. I’ve been pouring out ideas since then and it’s the most wonderful feeling.

I found inspiration on Saturday night while drinking with my friend the metalhead. It isn't that he's my muse - that'd be wrong - it's the connection to the creative process that we share.

The deal is, we used to play music together all the time and we’ve developed a kind of synergy where our creative outputs kind of reinforce each other. We had, informally at least, a greater vision of what we created. It’s the most bizarre thing to see because we don’t fit together in many ways, we argue like mad over our preferences for anything from food (marmite, seriously, what the fuck?!?) to music (black metal is not, I repeat NOT good music to wake up to) yet we gel in a way I haven’t found with anyone else.

So maybe that’s it. That touch of symbiosis set off my creative switch. Realizing that someone “gets it”, on a level way beyond simply understanding the concepts, foundations, melodies, structures etc... of what I do, and that I “get” their work, it feels good.

So here’s to you Jimmy-ray! He hates it when you call him that.

Next time I’ll have some scotch on hand – that’s one of the few things we have absolutely no trouble agreeing upon. Yay for punker-trash-turned-metalhead/rootsy-recalcitrant-artists. (that’s art-eeeeeeeeeeeee-sts)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Flickr Video!

Video on Flickr

Check out the Group photo video pool.
I may be a dork but I think this is awesome!
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Stop Panicking!

I found my shoes and orthotics.

I know, massive relief eh?

Funny thing is, they were exactly where I left them. I didn’t check the changing room because for some reason I assumed it’d be cleaned by the cleaners and they’d grab abandoned stuff and either toss it out or toss it in the lost-and-found.

I think this means the changing rooms aren’t really “cleaned” so much as wandered through with broom-in-hand.That’s how they look but I always thought stuff like bacteria and fungus would be enough of a concern that cleaning changing rooms was imperative. I may have too much faith in people.

It's not like the shoes were kind of tucked away in a corner or anything, they were just there under one of the benches. What I mean here is if the floors were cleaned to any reasonable standard the shoes would have been in the way, that or the cleaners are so put off by other people's shoes they refused to touch them... In which case should someone who fears other-people-cooties be tasked with cleaning changing rooms? The poor person would be living a nightmare.

I think I’ll bring me some sandals for the showers and changing room from now on. One more thing, or I guess two really, to lose.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Lost Shoes

I lost my running shoes.
That sucks.
My orthotics were in them.
That sucks even more.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Anyone other than an official-source can tell you security is ridiculous in northern Canadian airports. An official-source would probably tell you the same if they weren't scared of being fired.

That link points to a story about an aids-support group, delayed from flying out of Prince George, because a security guard thought their "diseases" were a risk to other passengers.
Here's Duncan McCue's report on the same story.

At the risk of rambling on I want to point out what I feel is crucial to understanding the story - Let's start with this quote:

"He [the security guard] said that he had recognized one of the members or one of my group from [Prince George] downtown. He said he knew this person has diseases and that he was trying to keep the staff and people safe in the aircraft,"
Alison Paul, an AIDS prevention and support worker with Positive Living North in Prince George, B.C.
So if this guy is making calls like this he's been trained to assess health risks right? This must be someone with some education on which diseases are highly contagious, which ones can be airborne, that kind of thing right? I hope there's a hell of a lot of in-house training because here are the hiring requirements for a preboarding screening officer.
Technical Specialization:
- Essential: high School diploma
- Preferred: bilingual
Garda job posting

I know a city councilor who had to write letters of complaint to authorities because they were sick of having their baggage unpacked every single time they flew out of their northern Canadian town. We're not talking a flight or two a year here either, conferences and workshops are generally held in more southern climates. Also consider that there generally aren't rooms for this sort of thing, it's right there alongside all your friends in the little departure area.

Yeah, because the people dedicated to making their towns more livable are the threat.

I get the planes need to be safe. I actually do understand. What I don't get is that Transport Canada hasn't stepped in in any meaningful way to better a situation that according to most who have flown in the north is abysmal.

Monday, April 07, 2008


We all face it in our day to day lives. Heck, I know some people who thrive because of it.

I find it both and liberating, depending on which side of the corruption fence I find myself on, and which side I find whomever I'm trying to deal with on.

A few weeks ago I would have happily bribed a corrupt staffer to get a replacement ID for my fiancé right then and there instead of having to wait what will probably amount to months as we jump through bureaucratic hoops. I know it's right that we actually prove who we are before we get official photo ID to support our claim, but it sure is frustrating when you actually are who you say you are and you can't do a damn thing about it except wait. and wait... and wait...

Trevor Metz has a good article about corruption and the dynamics of being a small-business owner in China over at Just as interesting, although a bit more dramatic, is Tropa de Elite. It's a great Brazilian movie about cops, BOPE, gangsters, and corruption.

It's an intense movie that looks at the lines drawn between right and wrong. I'm thankful I don't ever deal with anything as stressful as the police, special-forces, and gangsters do in the flavelas of Rio, but it really does make one thing about where they draw the line.

I work in post-secondary education, so I see a boatload of bureaucracy in my day-to-day life. I generally approach my job with the goal of doing the right thing for people instead of the right thing for policy, which on occasion gets me into trouble. Not the kind of murdered-in-a-flavela trouble from Tropa de Elite, just some finger-wagging and a little admonition.

I don’t like to think of myself as corrupt, but I probably am in a very mild-mannered sort of way. I’ll sometimes bump a low-priority item up my list if it comes from a friend, or if regardless of source the request is accompanied by a nice cup of coffee. I know lots of other people do it too. So where does it switch from a favour to a bribe?

Is it when it hurts someone? If so how does one assess hurt?

Is it when it becomes the norm instead of the exception?

Is it when it becomes a wrench in the gears of policy?

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Best Vancouver Blog

No, it has nothing to do with social-network marketing, guerilla-gardening, drupal, the Canucks, porn, pot, or fashion.

David Eby's Blog - The Vancouver 2010 Olympics, displacement and homelessness blog brings a whole lot of context to what we hear about the games, human rights, and civic politics.

It's must-read material because it's one of the few sources of legitimate commentary in a town gone five-ring-mad.

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I Love Northern BC!

5 per cent of Prince George babies born drug addicted, hospital says

"The hospital tracked 43 drug-addicted babies that were born in the
region in 2007, representing five per cent of births, but Hay suspects
the real number may be higher, because doctors can't test newborns for
drugs unless the parents give consent.

In comparison, less than one per cent of newborns suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome."


How completely insane is that?
It's a sign not only of how out-of-controll drug use is in this province but of how little support there is for recovery.
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I look at the guitar but I don't pick it up.
My new strings are still sitting next to my violin.
It's been two weeks since I worked on my last painting.

I am seriously in a creative rut outside of my work. I'm hoping it's just because I'm constantly using that muscle at work. I musiced and arted a lot more when I was fixing computers or working in construction.

It's definitely great having a job that involves so many of my interests, but sometimes I wonder why I've looked for jobs that involve my interests instead of jobs that support my interests in other ways.

I wasn't making amazing money carpentering, drywalling, or painting, but it was enough to get by and my brain was always free to scheme and plan and compose. Now I'm making more but my brain is preoccupied with work.

Is that a trade off I need to accept? I don't think so. I think I just need some new challenges to throw myself into.