Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transformation

with 3 comments

via Photo Challenge: Transformation

I can’t do credit to the subject of today’s challenge in just one photo. Here are a series of photos taken at the Casa Santo Domingo in Antigua, Guatemala. This used to be a convent – now it has become a hotel, spa and houses a number of museums. Visitors are encouraged to wander around. It was the last stop on our walking tour of the old city. We had booked an excursion with the cruise ship company (Holland America) but decided to chose one that allowed us to wander around at our own pace, and look at the things we found interesting, rather than follow a guide. I would have liked to have spent more time here, since we had really left ourselves enough time as it did not sound like it was going to be the best part of the tour. There are a number of ruined monasteries and convents in the city, the result of the earthquake in 1773. The death toll was around 600 with about the same number dying of disease and starvation subsequently. The toll was particularly heavy on the occupants of these massive stone buildings and several still lie in ruins. We did visit another smaller scale hotel at Santa Catalina which was also a convent but nothing like as lavish as this one.

Casa Santo Domingo

Casa Santo Domingo

Casa Santo Domingo

Casa Santo Domingo

Casa Santo Domingo

Casa Santo Domingo

Casa Santo Domingo

Casa Santo Domingo

Casa Santo Domingo

Casa Santo Domingo

From convent to ruin to “best hotel in Antigua” – quite a Transformation

Written by Stephen Rees

November 22, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Translink Phase 3 of Fare Review

leave a comment »

Translink are now narrowing down the options for fares based on what they heard in the first two phases.

  1. Would you prefer a system that prices fares by kilometre on the rapid transit, but maintains a single-zone on buses? Or a system that prices fares by kilometre across the entire system?
  2. How should we structure fare products for frequent travellers? Pre-paid passes or pay-as-you-go with a fare cap?
  3. We receive a lot of suggestions about expanding our customer discounts, particularly to low-income customers. We’d like to hear your thoughts on this possibility.

You can answer these questions and find out more in the survey – but answer before December 8.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 20, 2017 at 4:36 pm

Posted in fares, transit, Vancouver

Tagged with ,

It’s Time

with 2 comments

The Mobility Pricing Independent Commission is conducting a survey in Metro Vancouver. They have asked me to share the link to the survey which closes on November 26.

The following is taken from their web page.

Congestion on Metro Vancouver’s roads and bridges is a challenge many of us experience daily. Lengthy delays can leave us frustrated, stressed, and wasting time that could be spent doing things we actually like.

It’s time we do something about it. It’s time we have a real conversation about combating congestion.

The It’s Time project is looking at how to improve Metro Vancouver’s road transportation network using something called decongestion charging. Decongestion charging is already making travel easier for people in many other major cities around the world such as Singapore, Stockholm, and London. Here in Metro Vancouver we have been paying for road use through the fuel tax and the recently removed bridge tolls. Unfortunately, the way charging has been structured in the region isn’t actually addressing congestion where it’s most needed, wasn’t always fair, and isn’t generating the revenue we need to upgrade and maintain our transportation system.

We want you to be part of the conversation as we explore what successful decongestion charging could mean for our region. Tell us what issues you think need to be addressed, and help us build a tailored approach for Metro Vancouver that gets people moving. Starting in November there will be many opportunities to add your voice to the conversation. Sign up to receive notifications for upcoming events and regular updates on the It’s Time project. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Medium.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 19, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Posted in Transportation

Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental

with 2 comments

Harbour Progress

I was on a cruise last month. I was using my camera quite a lot – over a thousand pictures in 19 days. And ashore I usually had my phone with me as well – searching for free wifi, cruise ship internet connections being both expensive and unreliable. The ship was docked in Corinto, Nicaragua and I had been ashore exploring the little town, but it was very hot and there was not a lot to see. So I had decided to go back on board, and see what I could find in the buffet. I did not have either phone or camera with me. But I had brought the new Samsung Galaxy Tab E tablet which I was using to read e-books I had downloaded before the cruise. I also made  my own journal entries on it.

When I looked out of the window I saw this oil tanker passing us, and thought I should check out the tablet’s camera. I had seen quite a lot of people using tablets to take pictures – and in my experience with other tablets, that had been a bit awkward, and I was never very happy with the results. In fact I had never used the camera in this tablet. So this was indeed an Experimental picture. I am quite pleased with it, but it is still the only one on the tablet’s SD card.

And that strange UFO looking bright object over the headland is actually a reflection of one of the lights in the buffet. I think the window was pretty grubby too. I did not use any photo editing software in this image but it could certainly be improved by levelling the horizon and removing some of the artifacts, but then that would invalidate the experiment.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 15, 2017 at 10:57 am

Weekly Photo Challenge: Temporary

with one comment

This continues the theme I started with yesterday’s post. This picture was taken in the same city – the Old Town of Cartagena de Indias in Colombia – and is the same technique of peeking in an open doorway onto the street. What we see this time is only Temporary.

IMG_7065

Written by Stephen Rees

November 8, 2017 at 11:51 am

Weekly Photo Challenge: Peek

with 2 comments

I am really late to the photo challenge this week. In fact this is the last day to respond since there will be another challenge tomorrow.

“This week, share a peek of something — a photo that reveals just enough of your subject to get us interested. A tantalizing detail. An unusual perspective. ”

Well this photo was taken on Thursday last week, the day after the challenge was issued. We were walking in the Old Town of Cartagena, Colombia – and a door was open. And I could not resist a peek through it to the private courtyard in the centre of the building. That day was really hot – but the courtyard looked cool and inviting. The Spanish conquistadors really understood how to build for hot countries in the centuries before the invention of air conditioning.

IMG_7015

Written by Stephen Rees

November 7, 2017 at 11:16 am

Posted in photography

Tagged with , , ,

Resolute v GreenPeace: suit slapped down

with 2 comments

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 1.24.02 PM

The following is simple cut and paste from a GreenPeace Press Release.

This blog is going quiet for about three weeks as cruise ship internet connections are both expensive and unreliable. Normal Service will be resumed early in November.

Greenpeace

Federal Court Dismisses Racketeering Case Against Greenpeace

SAN FRANCISCO, October 16, 2017 — Today, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed all claims in the controversial case that major logging company Resolute Forest Products [2] filed against Greenpeace Inc., Greenpeace Fund, and Greenpeace International, Stand.earth and individual defendants, including claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act.

The court’s decision sends a clear message to corporations that attacks on core democratic values like freedom of speech and legitimate advocacy on issues of public interest will not be tolerated. District Judge Jon S. Tigar wrote in his order dismissing the case that “the defendants’ speech constituted the expression of opinion, or different viewpoints that [are] a vital part of our democracy.” Noting that “Greenpeace’s publications at issue rely on scientific research or fact”, the judge added that “[t]he academy, and not the courthouse, is the appropriate place to resolve scientific disagreements of this kind.”

Resolute will be allowed to amend its filing as a formality, but Greenpeace is confident that any such attempt will meet a similar fate.

Greenpeace USA General Counsel Tom Wetterer said in response to the decision:

“We are pleased the court unequivocally threw out this attempt to abuse our legal system and silence legitimate criticism on matters of public concern. This is very positive news for all of us, for the values that we share, and for Canada’s boreal forest. Resolute’s claim that organizations and activists committed to the conservation of the forests were part of a criminal enterprise is absurd and a sad symptom of a wider assault on constitutional rights and democracy. The logging company’s allegations were a clear attempt to silence the voices that advocate for the environment. Recently, Energy Transfer Partners — the oil company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline — decided to follow a strikingly similar path [3] under the legal wing of none other than Trump’s go-to law firm. The similarities are apparent and this underhanded playbook targeting free speech should be a cause of real concern. We’re grateful that the court has shown today it is a losing playbook, but that doesn’t mean corporate bullies like ETP won’t stop trying to use it.

“Energy Transfer’s case repackages many of the spurious allegations and legal claims made against Greenpeace by the Kasowitz firm on behalf of Resolute. The decision on the Resolute suit should be a clear indication that Energy Transfer’s case has no future. Both are classic SLAPPs, or strategic lawsuits against public participation. These cases don’t seek justice. They intend to silence free speech through expensive, time-consuming litigation. This pattern of harassment by corporate bullies led by Trump’s go-to attorneys must be stopped in its tracks.”

Greenpeace USA Senior Forest Campaigner Daniel Brindis added:

“The judge’s decision to dismiss the case affirms that Resolute’s divisive and bullying tactics are a waste of time and resources. It is time for Resolute to finally work with environmental organizations including Greenpeace to address their destructive forestry operations and forge a collaborative and sustainable path forward. Instead of spending more valuable resources to amend this lawsuit, Greenpeace hopes Resolute will finally be ready to work together to find solutions. Thousands in Canada and around the world have called for the protection of the forest, it’s time for Resolute to listen to them too. The world needs a healthy boreal forest and together we can develop long term sustainable solutions that respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples, protect local communities and ensure the survival of species at risk like the Woodland Caribou. ”

ENDS

 

[1] Click here to download a copy of the order.

[2] On May 31, 2016 Resolute Forest Products filed a CAD$300 million lawsuit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in the United States District Court for Southern Georgia, against Greenpeace International, Greenpeace, Inc., Greenpeace Fund, Inc., STAND.earth (formerly ForestEthics), and five individual staff members of these independent organizations. The case was transferred to Northern California on May 16, 2017 when Resolute failed to demonstrate that the case should be heard in Georgia.

This is Resolute’s second lawsuit against Greenpeace. In 2013, the company filed a CAD$7 million defamation case against Greenpeace Canada and two staff members in Ontario, which is still pending. Click here for more information about the existing legal cases between Resolute Forest Products and defendants, or copy this to your browser: http://www.greenpeace.org/resolutelawsuits/

[3] On August 22, 2017 Energy Transfer Partners filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit under under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Click here for more information about the existing legal cases between Resolute Forest Products and defendants, or copy this to your browser: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/global-warming/greenpeace-v-energy-transfer-partners-facts/

Written by Stephen Rees

October 16, 2017 at 1:25 pm

Posted in blogging, Environment, good news

Tagged with , ,