Stephen Rees's blog

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

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My T Shirt Collection

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Inspired by a Tweet from the New Yorker

“Haruki Murakami bought a Ramones shirt from a secondhand store in Kyoto, but he can’t bring himself to wear it outside. “There are some limits when you’re over 70,” he writes.”

He also owns a T shirt from Heinz that says “I put ketchup on my ketchup”

I don’t recognise more limits on what I wear now that I’m over 70

Most of these have a story behind them, but one I did not photograph – because it is plain white – isn’t mine. It was one my son left behind after a visit when Air Canada lost his bag and gave him a tee shirt and other overnight essentials. Then they found the bag, and none of essentials were used or returned.

Mona Beana

Souvenir from our 2015 transpacific cruise

There are lots of pictures of the cruise on Flickr

A movie I helped crowdfund

Back when I started blogging – this was conference swag

The back of the shirt above lists the sponsors, most of whom are still in business.

Fused Network

May 15, 2018  Vancouver-based technology accelerator Wavefront has ceased operations”

BCTIA now known as BC Tech

Agentic Humans Online seems to be defunct

2Paths Absolute Software Work[at]Play all extant

Sept 5, 2020 — The BC-based mobile commerce platform, Mobify, announced on Friday that it would be acquired by Salesforce

I can’t find kontent creative group, but Incentive Access Group still appears to be active in Surrey, as does TopProducer (real estate software)

But on Sept 4, 2019  FCV Technologies, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based information and technology company, filed for bankruptcy 

Appnovation technologies is still active Backbone Systems now seems to be

An unsuccessful environmentalist campaign
A gift from my sister
The front is very plain but the back is what I like
The beer was pretty good too

Aug 14, 2018 Durango Brewing Co. abruptly closed its taproom in Durango

An Ontario craft brewery that did not survive. I think this shirt came free with a twofour
I would like to think that I bought this there but I suspect it was a later purchase

I don’t have one for the University of Nottingham (HINT!)

I have yet to do this
Nicely understated – no prizes for guessing right

Though I think it is worth noting here that while I admire the long and gloried history of the Irish brewer’s advertising campaigns, there are a lot more and better stouts these days.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 7, 2022 at 3:01 pm

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Book Review: “Everything for Everyone”

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An Oral History of the New York Commune, 2052–2072 by M. E. O’Brien and Eman Abdelhadi

Published by Common Notions 2022

ISBN: 978-1-94217-358-8

There are times now when I feel that humanity – indeed all life on this planet – does not have much of a future. We have been lurching into a climate crisis, preferring the lies of the fossil fuel industry and their tame politicians over what scientists have been trying to tell us. At the same time our political systems seem to be visibly collapsing, with voters preferring to elect posturing fools and other populists over people who are at least in some contact with reality. We may not even live long enough to witness the end of the climate crisis as nuclear war – which once seemed to have been contained as an unthinkable option – now seems to be distinctly possible.

This book sets out an alternative possibility and is written in the past tense about what could happen in the near future. I was born in 1949 and I have already outlived my parents and my older brother, and do not expect to be around for any of these events, if I am lucky. And I cannot say that the possible future described here will be free of pain, and distress and quite a lot of death and destruction before things start getting sorted out. The future envisaged here does not include money. It also gets rid, mostly, of fascists and demagogues – and the exceedingly wealthy. Space travel is recovered from the billionaires and will become just another available service to the people once they have finished building the space elevator. Lots of species – and entire ecosystems – have been destroyed but efforts are underway if not at restoration at least in re-creation of new ones. Most people will live in communes, sharing everything including childcare and working only a few hours here and there on housekeeping and counselling and other essentials. Food is mostly eaten communally too, though a few eccentrics are able to live alone. There are lots of meetings and discussions. There are also many more genders than two. Or if you prefer, none at all. Religion, it seems, continues. People remain attached if they want to but it does not seem that religionists are allowed to make decisions for everyone any more.

There are descriptions over how these changes came about which seem to point to the inevitability of wars and other conflicts but not, apparently the mutually assured destruction that nuclear deterrence has been based on. And, this being America there are an awful lot of guns out there now which we can’t just magic away.

The fact that I won’t be here for most of this actually isn’t much of a comfort, because I have children and an extended family. Of course I am concerned about them – and their offspring. I have done my planning and made my preferences clear – but once I am gone even that is now beyond my control. There is a lot here, in this book, that makes me very uncomfortable and nervous, since in my experience sensible collective decision making seems to be one of the most difficult things we have to do – and there are many decisions which I have seen made which were, to say the least, suboptimal. So while I hope they are right and the will of the people turns out to be a better path, I still fear that the rich and powerful are not going to give up easily. Any more than the people who harbour dangerous delusions and misapprehensions will relinquish them readily.

So while the overall tone of the book is positive I have to say that it is also made very clear that this is not a foregone conclusion and the predicted outcome depends on a large number of unpredictable factors. On the other hand it is very readable and it did not take a great deal of effort to get through. There are other books that I have requested to review where I didn’t get beyond the first chapter, so I think it is fair to say that I do recommend that if you share anxieties about pandemics, and climate change, and international tensions, this will provide food for thought. A better future is possible, just – I am afraid – not very likely if present trends continue. And living through upheavals isn’t going to be all fun and frolics either.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 5, 2022 at 2:17 pm

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Smile

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via Photo Challenge: Smile

This week I face the greater challenge of using my tablet to post.

My MacBook is in the shop awaiting diagnosis of a display issue. That is taking longer than I expected. I have a couple of photos with nice smiles that meet the challenge, both have been used before but that means they are at least accessible.

And they both make me smile too! Good because I am need of cheering up right now.

I saw the exhibition that is referred to in the original challenge, at least I saw it being set up at the VAG, but the staff were most insistent that I could not take pictures of it. And what I did see did not tempt me to return.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 4, 2018 at 11:30 am

Patchwork policing leaves no one in charge

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Gary Mason in the Globe and Mail has a neat quotation from an unnamed  police chief

“If you were to design a policing structure for the region, would you design one like ours? Not in a million years.”

I have been advocating a metropolitan police force for Greater Vancouver on this blog for some time. This most recent thought has been spurred not so much by the recent spate of gang killings as the provincial government’s hastily thought out “strategy” for dealing with it.

But here’s the question that no one seemed to address at the Premier’s news conference on Friday: Who’s in charge of eradicating gang violence in Metro Vancouver?

It’s a question put to me by a Metro Vancouver police chief last week. I didn’t know the answer.

“No one,” he said.

You can’t have a successful strategy for anything without someone in charge. And in this case, there’s no one responsible because of the patchwork nature of policing in Metro Vancouver.

My point would be that it is not just for dealing with gangs that we need a co-ordinated policing system. It is every aspect of policing. The only people who advocate for the present system are the mayors who like the idea of having a police chief report to them and not some remote regional authority. But we can no longer afford this small town mentality.

Anymore than we can afford the arrogance and incompetence that has characterised the RCMP in recent years, and is now on daily display. If the Premier had actually been giving this issue any thought at all in the last couple of years – and there have been plenty of reasons why he should have – he would have seen that the need for change is inescapable. A provincial force for BC and metropolitan police forces for the Vancouver and Capital regions would be my first choice.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 17, 2009 at 4:34 pm

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Road Trip – report 3

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Mission accomplished – I have completed the Myra Canyon trestles, something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I was last up here five years ago when the whole province seemed to be in flames, and many roads were closed by thick choking smoke. The trestles burned soon afterwards and have only re-opened relatively recently.

The drive up to the canyon is an ear popper – and the last 8.5 km are on a steep and twisty forest service road. The Yaris breezed up it easily. There is a large car park at the top and a gate to prevent vehicle access. Then 12 kilometres of the former track bed (mostly) which has been laid with a good loose surface.

Me and my bike

Me and my bike

Before leaving home I had switched out the wheels so I now had off road tires. There are a few spots on the trail where there have been washouts and slides, and surface is not so great, so a good choice on the whole. I was not trying to break any speed records but getting there in the morning before the crowds arrived was also a good idea. While the forecast high in Kelowna was 28 today, up there it was distinctly cooler and everybody else seemed much better wrapped up than me. But once I got going I did not feel cold – except in the short tunnels and longer shady section.

The ride is a major attraction and at the height of the summer 500 visitors a day is not uncommon. I was pleased to meet some of the volunteers who made this possible and swapped yarns with people who had ridden the route before the trestles had decks and railings added. I stopped frequently as the opportunities for pictures are endless. I failed to get any shots of the little ground squirrels or the mule deer which flashed across my path. It is incredibly quiet, at least until around noon when the numbers of visitors started to grow rapidly.

My bike lacks a bell so I found my ability to imitate a steam train whistle quite useful. I also had lights for the tunnels but forgot that the front bracket (a nasty cheap plastic thing) had snapped off some time ago. Not that lights are needed.

Trestle and tunnel

Trestle and tunnel

By midafternoon I realised that one granola bar and a bottle of water was not enough. There is nothing near the canyon – and only earth closets when you get there. Not even a drinking fountain. The first sign of refreshment on the way down a was at a golf club who produced a very satisfying burger and fries and a pint of stout which filled the bill nicely.

It is also extremely dusty up there and I was glad of a swim when I got back. The motel also had complimentary fresh local fruit – huge peaches obviously straight off the tree which made me feel like I needed another bath by the time I had finished.

I will confess that for a long time I have disliked the idea of “rails to trails”. I would much prefer the rails to be put back – something that enthusiasts have achieved extensively in Britain. I always thought that trains would make a comeback as oil prices started to rise – as they have. But I suppose it is highly unlikely that much more of the KVR will reopen – beyond the short stretch in Peachland. The 12 km ride each way is easy because the grades are only around 1% – and anyway no one is in a hurry. I recommend that if you have not been here you should make the effort and get here. Bring a picnic and plan to spend the day.

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September 10, 2008 at 5:28 pm

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Road Trip – report 1

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Hope – The Blue Moose

My favourite restaurant here was kitty corner to this one but is closed. Note to travellers – even if there is no sign saying “free wifi” it doesn’t hurt to ask. Especially when they do not have an open connection and you need a password to log in. And just becuase there is a line up does not means it is necessarily especially good. In this case it means that there are two bus loads of English lawn bowlers ahead of you. But the Blue Moose is OK even if the bowlers seem to have cleared much of the pre-prepared food.

Mount Baker

Mount Baker

The skies were overcast with a steady drizzle all the way to Abbotsford, when a thin stream of sun burst through and I got a shot of Mount Baker. My first stop was near Chilliwack where I learned about the drained lake which explains why the interurban route is not as direct as it could be. When it was built it had to go around – not straight across as the freeway does.

Sumas Lake

Sumas Lake

I am also beginning to see why people will pay for satellite radio

Written by Stephen Rees

September 9, 2008 at 1:40 pm

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London calling

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The high cost of internet access from my hotel – and a lack of desire to lug the laptop around with me looking for free wifi – means there will be little news from me for a day or so. i am still moderating comments – but posting more than this will have to wait for a bit.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 7, 2008 at 1:50 am

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“In a world without walls and fences, who needs Windows and Gates”

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This post is going to be about operating systems and open source software. It has nothing whatever to do with the declared intention of this blog but I make no apology.

This morning I came across a new (to me) WordPress blog that I immediately added to my bookmarks and the blogroll. One of the best sources of views in recent days has been the home page. I don’t not know how I come to be there – and I do not see myself there when I go to it. So I suppose there must be some clever code that decides what to show me that I do not already know about – like my own blog. So I look around and find Linux Owns.

It has a number of things useful to Ubuntu and other Linux distro users. But what I want you to look at is Why the normal pc user should try ubuntu. It does much better than I could what I think needs to be done. If you are still captive to Microsoft, you need to break free. And Ubuntu is the way to do it. (I did try Knoppix but I cannot recommend that in good conscience as it drove me nuts: it may have got better since, but Ubuntu is now much more popular).

You do not have to give up Windows. This machine I am typing on now still has XP – because the hardest thing for me to do is to forget old software, not learn new ones. And there are some things that I know how to do that are easy and work, and are frankly not worth climbing the learning curve again for. But you should know if you use Open Source software (like Open Office) you can still easily use files that need to be used by others on Windows systems.

Linux is free. Ubuntu can be run from a CD. You do not have to give up anything. You can try it risk free.

What are you waiting for?

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming

Written by Stephen Rees

April 16, 2008 at 12:37 pm

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Request for information

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I expected to see or hear something today about a very high profile visitor to Vancouver today. But nothing can I find

At around 11 am a calvacade passed along Russ Baker Way, and all traffic was stopped to let it pass. It was headed northbound. It appeared that the entire Vancouver Police motorcycle squad were invloved and a lot of Vancouver police cars too. The local mounties did not know much. One was behind me on the Dinsmore Bridge and made a U turn rather than get delayed by it. The vehicles included unmarked SUVs with black windows and a stretch limo.

Just curious is all

Written by Stephen Rees

April 1, 2008 at 4:09 pm

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Evolution Continues

Those of you concerned about polar charismatic megafauna are right to be worried. But it looks like this group of penguins has got it sorted.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 1, 2008 at 8:03 am

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