Stephen Rees's blog

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

Archive for August 2017

Merv Adey and Blogging

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There is a tribute to blogger Merv Adey on the Georgia Straight web page. Merv blogged at BCVeritas and was very active on twitter where he contributed a lot to the hashtag #bcpoli. He also followed me there, which I found a great compliment.

But when I read Charlie Smith’s piece I was most taken with his final paragraphs.

Merv chose another path in life. But I have no doubt that had he been given the breaks that I received, he would have reached a much larger audience than he ever did on his blog. Not that this ever bothered him.

I only tell this story as a reminder to mainstream media journalists out there to respect bloggers like Merv, Laila Yuile, and Norm Farrell, even when they’re scorching your work.

Just because someone has a comfy position in the press gallery or hosts a talk show or edits a newspaper or has a column doesn’t necessarily mean they’re more talented, have deeper insights, or they’re a better writer or superior researcher than a blogger like Merv.

It might only mean that they got lucky when they were young because someone offered them a job when these types of jobs were far more available.

Merv often demonstrated a great deal of humility in his writing. Let that stand as an example to the rest of us.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 22, 2017 at 10:01 am

Posted in blogging

Vancouver Mural Fest – part four

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Looking at the photos posted by others, it dawned on me that the map was if not unreliable perhaps a work in progress. So I set out again to cover the gaps.

In the mosaic click on any image for a larger version

And, once again, a number of murals were incapable of being captured into one shot so I have been doing some stitching again. These images are all on the flickr album and the Mural Festival site is also being updated with much more information, some of which I have copied here and to flickr.

Click on the image to be taken to the flickr page to get a much larger version

DAVID SHILLINGLAW - "We Are Croutons Floating in Cosmic Soup"

DAVID SHILLINGLAW – “We Are Croutons Floating in Cosmic Soup”

Artist Statement: The mural explores aspects if the human experience. Signs and symbols, patterns and forms that attempt to communicate a universal language. Inspired by board games and hieroglyphics, my mural works create a visual space to visually negotiate, a collection of separate parts that connect and can be read in multiple directions. The content is full on bold colour forms, a collision of shapes, some recognisable, some more ambiguous.

Kids at Heart

This one is not actually part of the festival: it was painted by Kids at Heart and is at the Beaumont Gallery

JENNY RITTER - Community Mural left
Community Mural - right

Two halves of the Community Mural

This mural is an exploration of water, as illustrated by artists and musican Jenny Ritter. Imagery includes, swimming, boats, creatures etc. Using a monochrome palette of blues, members of the community painted the mural using a paint by numbers technique.

Trees Burn While Flowers Bloom
TYLER KEETON ROBBINS – “Trees Burn While Flowers Bloom”

“Artist Statement: Look closely at the brush strokes – you will see trees, flames, smoke, yet blossoms. This mural is based off a painting depicting British Columbia’s natural ecology, how it is currently being impacted and in turn how nature and we as a community overcome.”

Carson Ting "Ride Wild"
Carson Ting “Ride Wild”

In this piece, we depict to arms reaching from both ends of the mural. In the middle, we have two stationary vehicles waiting at the light. On the left, we see a large arm and hand holding a wheel entering the scene to help fix a broken black car. The left black car has opened up like a Russian doll to reveal a rabbit character sitting on a bicycle. In a similar fashion, the right side depicts a yellow car held by a giant hand. The yellow car also reveals a rabbit sitting on a bicycle inside. The concept behind this mural is based on a fun portrayal the modern commuter’s psyche in Vancouver. We are often faced with the dilemma of whether we should drive or cycle to our destination, but deep down we are often caught longing to be riding freely on our bicycles. This piece will hopefully help remind us to break out of our reliance on cars and ride our bicycles as free as wild rabbits. This mural is generously supported by Native Shoes.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 21, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Posted in Art

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Marine Mammal Rescue

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One of our regular walks is along Spanish Banks from Jericho to the dog beach. This morning, we got lucky. As we were walking back to the car a van pulled into the parking lot.

Marine Mammal Rescue at Spanish Banks

The guy in the broad brimmed hat is the Life Guard. He went with the van driver, who was carrying the grey plastic animal container, to a line of red buoys that mark the limits of the swimming area to a part of the beach marked by traffic cones.

Marine Mammal Rescue at Spanish Banks

At that distance it was a bit hard to see what was going on. As usual we had failed to equip ourselves with binoculars or a proper camera, so these are iPhone images.

When the Marine Mammal Rescue operative got back to the path I asked him if I might take a picture.

Marine Mammal Rescue at Spanish Banks

Lucky me. Lucky little seal – although he was a bit unhappy and making wailing noises. But I am sure he is in good hands. The Vancouver Aquarium has been going through a tough time lately. The Parks Board have brought in a new by-law against keeping cetaceans in captivity. This is a problem for this program.

I must admit to considerable ambivalence about this issue. If it were not for movies like “Free Willy” and “Blackfish” I wouldn’t know very much about it but I do know my children greatly enjoyed every visit we made to this aquarium and others on the West Coast. I do know that I felt uncomfortable watching sentient beings performing: I dislike aquaria now almost as much as I disliked circuses as a child.

I also know that the Vancouver Aquarium is a very important tourist attraction for Vancouver – and the paid admissions help fund the rescue service. And getting this little seal back into his natural environment would not happen without them. It is equally uncomfortable to think of him as crow bait.

There is a donate button for this service on the link I provided. There is also a blog.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 20, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Posted in photography

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12th & Cambie today

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I got invited to an event by a contact on facebook

“Racists and Islamophobic groups are rallying at City Hall to spew hatred against Muslims, immigrants and people of colour in our communities. We, the anti-racist majority, want to be there in a peaceful counter protest to say no to Islamophobia and no to racism!

This rally is to counter the racist rally at Vancouver City Hall, organized by WCAI Canada (“Worldwide Coalition Against Islam“):

Hosted by the ad hoc group; Stand Up to Racism Metro Van. We are teachers, students and activists who want to stand up to Islamophobia and racism in our community.”

For a while there it seemed like a good idea to go to the counter rally and perhaps photograph the people supporting fascism, as I understand that has had a useful role on social media. In Charlottesville a number of individuals identifying themselves as Nazis have now lost their jobs. (Giving rise to chant “If your nazi, and you’re fired, it’s your fault …clap… clap clap” )

According to CTV

“Joey De Luca, the head of the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam Canada, was expected to address his supporters, according to the rally’s Facebook page. About two dozen people RSVPed to attend.

De Luca was expected to be joined by Brad Salzberg, the founder of the Cultural Action Party of Canada. CAPCDA is a B.C. political party seeking to preserve English, French and First Nations culture, according to its website. The anti-immigration group Soldiers of Oden is also expected to attend.”

I took 48 photos which you can find on facebook or flickr, but here are some of my favourites

Oppose the Racists in Metro Vancouver!

Oppose the Racists in Metro Vancouver!

Oppose the Racists in Metro Vancouver!

Oppose the Racists in Metro Vancouver!

Oppose the Racists in Metro Vancouver!

Oppose the Racists in Metro Vancouver!

This last one summarizes my feelings quite nicely. I do not like large crowds at the best of times, and the idea that there might have been confrontations was a bit alarming, but I was also very much aware of the warnings about being silent about fascism. 

Anyway, as far as a rally by fascists, that didn’t seem to get under way. It was swamped by the number of those who turned out to say the opposite. And those people seemed to quite enjoy the experience.

 

Written by Stephen Rees

August 19, 2017 at 4:12 pm

Posted in politics

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Removal of Railway Crossing Signals: Arbutus at 12th

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IMG_5920IMG_5923IMG_5929IMG_5930

I know that recently I read somewhere about the hopes of preserving the railway heritage of the Arbutus Greenway. It had a lyrical bit about nostalgia for the trains and an old guy painting one of the remaining signals. Of course, I can’t find that now.

I am quite pleased to see that the signals at 12th Avenue were being removed this morning. I do understand the nostalgia for the way railways used to be, but in this case I think it is more important that redundant equipment and signs out to be taken away. I want drivers to treat railway crossings with the respect they deserve. Keeping these signals in place after the tracks were removed simply reduces amount of attention a signal will get by people unfamiliar with the neighbourhood. If they get accustomed to ignoring signals here that might get transferred to other locations where trains operate but infrequently and unpredictably – in other words almost everywhere else in Canada.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 16, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Photo Challenge: Ooh, Shiny!

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CN 2627 and 2591 at Ballantine Pier

via Photo Challenge: Ooh, Shiny!

Pingbacks have been causing issues recently – and one reason might be that the way the URL appears in the “post about shiny” button is different to the one in the address bar. As is the one in the instructions at the bottom of challenge Ooh, Shiny!

(I did tell WordPress about this on Twitter and they have fixed it. )

So the challenge this week – “what is guaranteed to distract you? What is your “Ooh, shiny!”?”

Trains.

Yesterday I was out in East Vancouver for the third day running trying to make sure I captured all of the new murals that have appeared due to the annual Vancouver Mural Festival. There are now three posts on this blog about the murals – just scroll down to see them. We were in Strathcona – down by the docks – where there are now two clusters of murals and I was checking the address on my phone when I saw the distinctive red and black of a CN C44-9W. I immediately knew that the two locomotives would not be there for very long. Trains – especially freight trains in North America – can be very unpredictable. Real train enthusiasts carry “scanners”: portable radios that monitor the frequencies used by train crews and dispatchers. That way they can figure out where a train might be photographable. I don’t do that as I can’t usually understand what they are saying and often it’s just chatter.

But while the murals will be around for a very long time, this train was going to being heading east with its load of containers sooner rather than later. While it was sitting about a block away from where we were, I could see at least a couple of possible angles. There is a new, real obstacle on Alexander Street: a high chainlink fence with the metal chain encased in heavy duty plastic. It is possible to get a lens into the mesh, but there is not much wiggle room for a clear shot. But at least the sun was behind me and the cruise ship terminal building was a decent backdrop. I tried several but the picture I chose to use was one that showed both locos and lots of nice blue sky – a novelty in Vancouver this summer – as well as the mountains.

Once upon a time I used to spend quite a lot of time trying to be a railway photographer. It is quite a challenge to get decent shots – and in this region it has got harder as more tracks have been fenced or more strenuously policed by officious security people who have nothing better to do than harass harmless photographers. And anyway there are now other distractions.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 16, 2017 at 9:50 am

Vancouver Mural Festival part 3

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The last two sites are remote from the others, in the industrial port area around the Cordova diversion.

Some of the murals are so large and difficult to get into one shot, so for these I have made large stitched panoramas that are hosted on my flickr photostream

Bicicleta Sem Frio

Tristesse Seliger "Infinite Line"

Stace Forand "Tiny Flora"

Stace Forand “Tiny Flora”
Stace Forand tattoos at the Steveston Tattoo Company, with a focus on contemporary Japanese art.

Destroy All Machines

More information

Written by Stephen Rees

August 15, 2017 at 8:48 pm

Vancouver Mural Festival part 2

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The northern end of Main Street at Industrial Avenue plus the Red Truck Brewery. There are seven more murals at Makerlabs, 780 East Cordova which are now covered in part 3. I have also now made up for missing half of the murals at Belvedere Court which is the large bottom image in the mosaic as well as the featured image (The Present).

Written by Stephen Rees

August 14, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Transit Report Card released

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Nathan Pachal has posted his annual Transit Report Card on the South Fraser blog. This report compares information from the major transit authorities that is derived from the Canada Transit Fact Book published by the Canadian Urban Transit Association.

I am not going to say very much about the report itself because I think you should follow the link and go read it for yourself. It does show that Translink is doing pretty well. Or perhaps I need to rephrase that. It shows that in 2015 Translink did pretty well. Because despite this being 2017 and all of us having the equivalent of the data processing capacity of the Apollo space missions in our hip pocket, it still takes a bunch of publicly funded and regulated agencies that long to get their act together on comparative data. In the United States APTA and FTA seem to be able to do things better in the sense of “easy to get hold of” if not actually faster. Go to the CUTA web site and you will read “Please note that these publications are not available for distribution to non-CUTA members.” In other words you, the people who pay for and use public transportation cannot access this sort of information easily in Canada. So thanks to Nathan Pachal for performing a very necessary public service – and smack upside the head to the people who think this data needs to be locked away somewhere.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 14, 2017 at 11:16 am

Posted in transit, Transportation

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Vancouver Mural Festival

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The festival ran from August 7 to 12 but, of course, the murals themselves will last a lot longer than that. Thinking to avoid the crowds, I went out the day after the festival events were over, but there were still plenty of people out taking pictures. Other blogs are already ahead of me with their postings and so far I have only covered those near Main Street from 14th to 4th. There’s a lot more to come but to get a taste of what else is out there see Ken Ohrn’s series on Price Tags. His pictures show many of the murals being created.

Click on the image in the gallery to see the larger version
Check out the festival’s page for artist details and so on – I have added a copy of their map at the bottom of this post.

 

Some of the murals were much bigger than I could get into one shot so there are some much larger, stitched panorama images on my flickr stream

VMF 2016 GODZILYA

Actually from the 2016 Festival but one of my personal favourites

Native Education College

Native Education Centre

Hoot Suite

And only in that last one was I unable to get a clear shot without people. I do not understand why so many were getting themselves photographed in front of the murals. This last one is on the Hoot Suite building.

Vancouver Mural Festival Map

Vancouver Mural Festival Map

There are now three further posts that cover the murals not shown in this one. There is also a flickr album of all of these pictures, which are downloadable at their original size and covered by a Creative Commons license.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 13, 2017 at 5:13 pm