The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

August 30, 2009 at 2:30 am | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • QUOTE:
    Seattle’s Privately Owned Public Open Spaces: A Walking Tour
    8/26/2009: Councilmember Nick Licata defines POPOS: Privately Owned Public Open Space. Under Seattle city zoning laws, building developers can engage in zoning tradeoffs that may allow them to build bigger or higher, if they provide a specified amount of space for public use. Landscape architect Guy Michaelson, representing Seattle Architecture Foundation, leads a walking tour highlighting POPOS buildings, historic landmarks, public art and other public amenities. For more information on POPOS and monthly tours offered by SAE,,

    tags: seattle, urban_amenities, urbanplanning, urban_parks, architecture

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Victoria City Council passes bylaw to borrow $63million

August 28, 2009 at 8:43 am | In johnson street bridge, victoria | 2 Comments

It took them less than 5 minutes to pass 3 “readings” of a bylaw to borrow $63million – and this was done at nearly 1 a.m., with no press, no media in Council Chambers at the time. The only people there was a little band of die-hard policy watchers (including me).

I shot a video with my pocket camera. The visual quality is quite poor, but the audio is good. The dissenting/ questioning councilor is Geoffrey Young. Dean Fortin is in the mayor’s chair.

The video is available for viewing on Picasa here.

It’s about 14 1/2 minutes long, which makes it too long for Youtube right now. Will figure out how to get it on YT later.

JohnsonStreetBridge.ORG update

August 25, 2009 at 10:18 pm | In johnson street bridge | Comments Off on JohnsonStreetBridge.ORG update

We’ve been busy with our Johnson Street Bridge group. Tonight, we hosted a meeting (at Victoria’s Central Library) at which nearly 50 people showed up. That’s not bad at all, given the fairly short notice and relatively low-key advance publicity.

My daughter live-blogged the event (using CoverItLive), and you can see the results if you click through on our blog here. Scroll down a bit on this page and you’ll see the CoverItLive widget embedded (the software works like a charm, by the way. What a great service!)

So, just click “replay” and off you go. There’s some good stuff there, and we had lots of interesting questions from the audience.

Again, click here and read about what happened at tonight’s meeting.

Update Friday.

August 21, 2009 at 12:10 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Update Friday.

I’ve really been slacking off on the blog posts – lots of turmoil and indecision happening on the personal front at present. I’m also consumed by what my city council is plotting to pull over Victoria taxpayers, and have been working with our little group to raise awareness.  We have a website, JohnsonStreetBridge.ORG, which I’ve written about before. Yesterday I posted Space is scarce: self-explaining roads needed to the site – check it out.

For those of us who live and pay taxes here in Victoria BC, I really recommend Ross Crockford‘s blog post to our Johnson Street Bridge site, also posted yesterday: City of Victoria updates timeline on Johnson Street Bridge. The opening paragraph should get your attention:

At its next Council meeting, on Thursday, August 27th, the City of Victoria will introduce a bylaw to borrow $63-million to finance the replacement of the Johnson Street Bridge.

The Council meetings, incidentally, are the evening ones that start at 7:30 (be there by 7:00pm though to grab a good seat) and where the public can speak.

In completely unrelated matters, I’ve felt lackluster about blogging here because I feel adrift on several non-public matters, and then on top of it all, I injured my right shoulder this week. Just woke up on Tuesday with this awful pain – a classic sleep injury, I supposed, but it’s not going away. And it’s the second time in about 10 days that this happened – the first time it went away after a day (or so I thought, but it seems to have lurked instead). It hurts a lot to inhale – what a drag. Went to acupuncture yesterday, which helped; saw the doctor today (she had no specific diagnosis); got three  x-rays, too (they look fine); and am going to try a chiropractor this afternoon. Meh.

The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

August 16, 2009 at 2:30 am | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Busy blogging elsewhere (mostly about the Johnson Street Bridge)

August 11, 2009 at 10:01 pm | In johnson street bridge, politics, victoria | Comments Off on Busy blogging elsewhere (mostly about the Johnson Street Bridge)

Sorry about the lacunae here, but I’ve been busy blogging on our site, Johnson Street Bridge, where I posted Lovin’ the interwebs: corrections on comparisons tonight; earlier today, I wrote  Johnson Street Bridge news continued… (a ‘curation‘) for MetroCascade; and right after that, a related entry on MetroCascade‘s blog, New curations interface thingy on MetroCascade homepage.

The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

August 9, 2009 at 2:30 am | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • Fascinating read about the concept of “forgiving highways” (forged in the 1960s), and why it needs rethinking in built-up areas, and how the Dutch are leading the way.
    Forgiving Highways is a concept that designs roads to “forgive” mistakes made on the road. It seeks to smoothly redirect the vehicles that leave roads, and allow wide enough clear zones to bring vehicles to controlled stops if and when they leave the roads. Breakaway supports, burying the end of guardrail, clearing the roadside of unneeded obstacles, and flattening and rounding slopes and ditch sections became standard design as part of the concept.

    The idea that Forgiving Highways (wider and straighter) would reduce crashes on non-freeways took root during the 1966 National Highway Safety hearings.
    Obviously, “forgiving highways” works well in a non-urban context, but in an urban context, arterials built with those guidelines provide a false sense of security for drivers, and leave pedestrians and cyclists (anyone “weaker”) in the lurch.

    I’m particularly interested in this entry right now, because it seems to me that the City of Victoria’s Engineering and consultants are stuck in a “forgiving highway” mindset as they try to convince us that the city’s Johnson Street Bridge needs to be replaced.

    tags: project_for_public_spaces, roads, transportation, holland, traffic, traffic_safety

  • Page links to a webinar presentation by Peter de Jager for Municipal World. De Jager gives a terrific presentation on problem solving for managers. He present strategies in relation to: 1.People issues; 2.Process; 3.Strategy; 4.Tactics; 5.Tricks; 6.Cheat; and 7.The Hidden Assistant. Brilliant stuff, well worth listening to.

    tags: municipal_world_magazine, peter_de_jager, management, problem_solving, strategies

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Local Johnson Street Bridge discussion heats up

August 6, 2009 at 10:24 am | In johnson street bridge, politics, victoria | 4 Comments

I’ve been busy over at JohnsonStreetBridge DOT org, the website created by Mat Wright, Ross Crockford, and me. My contributions have run mainly to writing some blog posts and brainstorming with Mat and Ross. The latter produced a brilliant letter, delivered to Mayor and Council on Tuesday. It’s four pages long and asks all the right questions – I encourage interested Victoria-area stakeholders to read it (available as PDF, too).

Mat is brilliantly pulling everything together in his role as webmaster and social media engineer. As a result, the site is looking pretty damn good, if I say so myself. We have links to the blog, to a poll, to subscription to a newsletter, to a photo page, to a culture page, to a history page, a video page, and tons of external links to help people get informed.

There’s now also a link to download PDFs of a beautiful color poster (or, alternately, the same poster in greyscale). The photo is by the talented Benjamin Maddison of Victoria Daily Photo. Thanks, Benjamin!

Cutting through clutter, or, unity is overrated

August 4, 2009 at 12:17 am | In housekeeping, just_so, writing | 1 Comment

Advice on getting organized isn’t hard to find these days – it seems every other person has clutteritis and needs a feng shui intervention. I’m not immune to the lure of the organized life either: were I able to arrive at an oasis of oversight, it would feel like coming to my true home.

… I think.

Yes, I think it would. Perhaps.

Here’s the rub: my indecisiveness points to a larger problem, and it has to do with trauma (lower case “t” – nothing major, really, but just compelling enough for me).

Some months ago, I invested in a copy of Regina Leeds’s One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good. Leeds is a Zen Organizer, which I think is a philosophy somewhat akin to the ancient Roman notion of a healthy mind in a healthy body, except that in this case the healthy mind is to reside in a healthy environment, namely organized space.

Makes sense to me. The reason Leeds’s approach seems to work for me a bit better than others I’ve tried to implement is precisely because of her savvy psychological insights into why we become pack-rats or late-nicks or lost in the clutter (er, detritus, really) of our physical lives.

Most organizing books assume that you’ve always been a slob, and that the new advice dished out by the book in hand will open your eyes, and change your ways. Leeds understands that some people have decades of slob-dom under their belt (to the point where for some it really is how they’ve “always” been), but she also writes about those of us who used to be organized, laser-like and filled with the energy of the eternally driven, but to whom something happened to derail us.

And she wants to help us get back on track, taking us gently and psychologically by the hand, from room to room until the job is done.

I knew I could like this book, even if it doesn’t turn into the magic wand that gets me my groove back, when I read on p.18:  “It’s powerful to understand the impetus for any change. Sometimes circumstances move us in positive directions. When they don’t, we want to take back the reins. We want to be the architect of our life, not a victim of circumstance.” In this passage Leeds was writing about those of us who were organized, but who then had something change on us. In my case, moving into the house I currently live in has been an unmitigated disaster. There’s no other way to describe it. We bought the house in a semi-demolished state from a man who owned it for about 18 months, just long enough to begin tearing out all the mistakes of the previous owner.

What that meant is that we found ourselves with a house that had 3 bathrooms partially torn out (not a single bathroom intact), with a kitchen that was a wreck, with wiring that was dangerous, with a roof that needed replacing, with load-bearing walls (both interior and exterior) that needed reinforcing (a steel beam in the kitchen where the house had sagged 2 inches because some idiot had removed interior load-bearing walls, and paralam on an exterior load-bearing wall where only 2x4s were holding up a 12-foot span), with plumbing that was literally held together with tape, with no insulation in the walls and no storm windows on the 17 (in words: seventeen!) 4’x5′ single pane windows, and with an attached “garage” whose double door frame had been chain-sawed out so that the previous owner’s son’s monster truck would fit through it.

We had problems finding contractors to work on the house. After we found one, we continued to stay in rented accommodations as long as possible – much longer than intended – with all our stuff packed up in boxes. Finally, we told the contractor that we had to move in – the house wasn’t finished yet, but after months and months of waiting, we couldn’t afford to keep renting.

When we moved in, it was a nightmare. We had 192 boxes of belongings – at least 1/3 of them were boxes with books. But there were no built-in bookcases anywhere in this relatively roomy house, and a carpenter was still crawling around the floor (and around all our boxes), installing baseboards. And so the boxes remained unpacked for several more months while the carpenter showed up on occasion to nail in another baseboard – and we slowly ran out of money. We did contract to have some bookcases built in, till finally, the books could be unpacked – in part. Something as simple as buying simple, stylish, and cheap bookcases, we found, was a challenge on “the island” since the concept of an IKEA is a Mainland thing, not to be found here. You have no idea how wonderful IKEA is for simple things like shelving until there isn’t an IKEA anywhere to be found.

Meanwhile, the garage was still a wreck, and still open to the street. Homeless people started sleeping in it, and we worried they’d set fires to keep warm – and possibly torch our house in the process (the garage is attached). Since the garage was open to the street, all the garden utensils ended up in the basement – along with all the junk that goes into basements. We don’t have an attic, and some “attic items” (like extra bedding materials) ended up migrating into the basement, too. Anyone who has any idea about organizing knows that this is the beginning of the end, because one cardinal rule of organizing is sorting: thou shalt not mix different stuff. But mix we did, and once we started, it was like being on a bender at a cocktail party, with one mixed drink after another.

Eventually, after several years of worrying about the people surreptitiously sleeping in our open garage, we bit the bullet and found the money to renovate the garage at last. Now the garage had a door (which kept the homeless from camping in the space), and I lugged the garden utensils into the garage – but all I was able to muster in my clutter-intoxicated stupor was to dump them on the floor.

I was too far gone. After all, years had now elapsed during which all of us – the spouse, the son, the daughter, and I – had worked continuously at home: the kids and I were homeschooling, the spouse was working from home, I worked (unpaid) from home, and so we were all at home, 24/7/365, utilizing every damn square inch of the house all the time. It was (is, still) a workhouse.

There was no such thing as “coming home” since we were here all the time. We never left. We slept here, ate here, worked here, cooked here, cleaned here, tidied here, laundered here, ironed here, groomed the dog here…

After a while, I seriously felt like dropping things where they fell. I was always the one trying to clean up after everyone, and the house felt like nothing but a giant work machine.

Last year, the son (then 17) started at university. He got out of the house. The daughter (then 14) left to attend a neighborhood high school for her senior year, so she got out of the house (and she’s off to university in Vancouver next month – so she’s really getting out of the house). That meant that I stopped homeschooling, but I was still (am still) working at / from home, as is the spouse. We haven’t yet …escaped.

But I’ve made some progress in clawing back a degree of organization, which in the first instance involves separation.

From the undifferentiated chaos of a constant home-life, which was a constant work-life, I’m separating things into discrete spheres. I feel that if I ever again want to do any real work – the sort that matters to me, the sort that’s driven by real energy and meaning – I will have to find separations. Spare me the group hugs –  unity, I find, is highly overrated. There’s time a-plenty to fall back into an undifferentiated nothingness once you’re dead.

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