Late night out…

June 30, 2010 at 11:58 pm | In just_so | 1 Comment

Late night out with the GFs from high school – I’m pretty lucky to have friends like Kathryn Popham and Betsy Burke. Among other things, Betsy is now the first real live author I know who has a book on Amazon Digital Services: read her book The Laughing Madonna (Kindle edition) now.

More on this later – for now, I’m calling it a night…!

Tax deadline coming up

June 29, 2010 at 9:21 pm | In taxes, victoria | Comments Off on Tax deadline coming up

I’ve put it off, but it’s due tomorrow (or Friday, after the Canada Day holiday on Thursday): property taxes.

There are some things I’m happy to get for my taxes.

But the state of those off-leash parks, with spear-grass (“the generic term used for any wild grass that has barbed seeds”) growing rampant and left flourishing, leaves me frustrated…

Not sure what can be done about it, though, short of using napalm or flame-throwers. If it’s mowed, but the seed residue is left on the ground (versus being bagged up as it’s mowed, and then taken away to be burned), it just blows around everywhere – and crops up in new places the next year.

Talking to a deaf dog

June 28, 2010 at 8:58 pm | In health, writing | 4 Comments

A while back, I posted that I was worried about my dog. He’s getting on (he’s 12 years old), and he has had some chronic health issues for years (hypothyroidism, eg.)

Well, last week (after I got back from a week away), I noticed that he is really quite deaf. He seems to hear some things (high-pitched calls, some loud noises), but he’s clearly oblivious to most sounds – because he can no longer hear them.

This afternoon we went to see his vet. After two of us restrained him (he has become a most ornery and crotchety animal), the veterinarian managed to inspect both ears: nothing to see, no obstructions, no infections, no damage to his eardrums.

And so, old age it is.

Paraphrasing (and slightly altering) what the Buddha said, Decay is inherent in all compounded things …even ears; sniff on with diligence.

(Use the nose, Luke …er, Jigger.)

I wonder what the next age-related indignity will be. And I’m now more worried about his little attempts to dig his way under the fence in our back garden – his escapes into the neighboring apartment block parking lots and busy nearby streets will present new challenges, now that he can’t even hear us calling him as his search party fans out. One web source suggests ‘belling’ one’s deaf dog – at least that way, the humans can hear the dog.

I suppose I could get one of those harnesses that goes around the ribcage. I could sew some jingle-bells on it; then, add some reflective tape, and clip on a couple of flashing bicycle lights (for when I let him out at night).

Talking to a deaf dog is quite frustrating. I spent years perfecting all these silly voices, just for him – and now he can’t hear them. He still gets the hand signals – when he can see them through his ‘bangs,’ that is.

File this one under #whatadrag…

The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

June 27, 2010 at 2:31 am | In links | 2 Comments
  • Upcoming September conference in Norway on waterfronts and public space.
    The important themes of the conference include creating “Multi-use Destinations”, forging an “Architecture of Place”, expanding the idea of accessibility and the role of transportation on waterfronts and the important potential impact of markets on local economies.

    * Creating “Multi-use Destinations” on Waterfronts: Multi-use destinations define what a city is about and are the premier public spaces in a city that attract and highlight the local assets and unique talents and skills of the community. The combination of uses – educational, cultural, retail, and commercial – are open and available for visitors to freely partake in and are accessible physically, and in terms of how they are perceived. Successful multi-use destinations are always changing because they are flexible enough to easily adapt to different times of day and year and they are proactively managed to take advantage of these differences.

    * Forging an “Architecture of Place”: In many ways, iconic buildings have defined the past 50 years of modern architecture in cities. However, as cities and waterfronts evolve, a new idea of design is emerging called an “architecture of place”, which indicates that cities will become more livable, sustainable and authentic in the future. Public institutions such as museums, government buildings and libraries will become important anchors for civic activity that host a broader range of activities than they currently do and a new type of design will support that quest.

    * Expanding the Idea of Accessibility and the Role of Transportation: In the last 100 years cities, (particularly waterfronts), have been defined by transportation decisions that were geared largely in favor of the car. The result is a system of streets and highways that reinforce a design ethos that is more about seeing or viewing rather than participating in communities. However, we are now seeing a massive shift in cities throughout the world where peo

    tags: project_for_public_spaces, multi_use_destinations, public_space, waterfront, norway, stavanger, conference

  • Some interesting ideas articulated at the two-day Forum on multi-use destinations, held on Granville Island in Vancouver (organized by Project for Public Spaces).
    -Public multi-use destinations like Granville Island have proven to be most successful, and we should replicate them more often. Why do we spend so much money on new developments that don’t work and that don’t attract people?

    -Don’t lead with design. The design of multi-use destinations should be to create a “setting” for the uses that are occurring and that emphasize the products and the authentic aspects of the place.

    -The importance of government learning to say “yes” to new ideas and developing stronger more trusting relationships with the private sector.

    -“If you think you’re done, you’re finished” – Developing spaces that are flexible and that “manage themselves.” In other words, ongoing and innovative management is key to create vibrant multi-use destinations.

    -“The magic is in the mix.” We are moving beyond the simple concept of “mixed use” toward a technique of development that builds authentic places through establishing settings and uses that are intimately related, interconnected and interdependent. True sustainability comes from the relationships between uses, tenants, and the organizations within a place.

    -Find creative funding strategies to keep rents low, attract a range of tenants and incentivize the presence of tenants who may not produce a lot of money for the site, but who bring a lot of foot traffic and are invested in the area.

    tags: project_for_public_spaces, vancouver, granville_island, multi_use_destinations, public_space

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

Royal jazz

June 26, 2010 at 11:58 pm | In arts | Comments Off on Royal jazz

Another night out for me, and now it’s almost midnight – where’s my blog post for today?

I got to hear Joshua Redman and his new collaborative project, James Farm Band, this evening. The concert, which took place at the Royal Theatre, was part of the TD Victoria International Jazz Fest. The musicians: Joshua Redman (saxophone), Aaron Parks (piano), Matt Penman (bass) and Eric Harland (drums).

It takes some doing to get cooking at the staid old Royal Theatre, but Redman and his band did it.

One of the first pieces they played was Astrolabe, composed by Redman. Picture an old-style ornate theater with plush red curtains and curlicues on the walls, throw in a couple of plaster nudes and an audience that’s almost as stiff in its seats – then unleash some great jazz. Good grief, some of us actually started to move! 😉

All the band members are excellent, and Eric Harland on drums was outstanding. One of his compositions, Voyager, showcased his impressive skills. Matt Penman on bass and Aaron Parks on piano were beautiful and also contributed compositions to tonight’s repertoire.

Finally, I loved Star-crossed, another Redman composition: beautiful, complex piece.



PS: The jazz fest continues until July 4, with many many acts, performers, bands making music at numerous venues through-out Victoria, including smaller clubs, lounges, and various outdoor venues. See the website for more details, or try the festival’s Facebook page.

What a head has Hedda

June 25, 2010 at 11:52 pm | In arts | 2 Comments

Hedda Gabler, that is.

Tonight I went to see Theatre Inconnu‘s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. The play is long and it’s past 11:30p.m. now – I won’t even pretend that I’ll come in under the midnight wire with a thorough blog entry about this play or any other topic today.

I’ll venture this, though: Graham McDonald’s adaptation was intriguing. George Tesman (Hedda Gabler’s husband) is now a researcher in environmental matters, and his “rival” Lovborg is in the same field, except that he has found a “solution” to the upcoming dilemma of Dec. 21, 2012 (3 months away, in the play) – the solution, in manuscript form, is what he loses upon leaving Senator Brack’s party/orgy. The environmental aspect is played up – camped-up, you might say – to the max: in McDonald’s version, the play is called “Hedda Gabler 2012 CE,” and subtitled, “An experimental pre-apocalyptic Henrik Ibsen classic.”

Casey Austin played the title role – she was very good, and reminded me of a young Katherine Hepburn: that brilliant, dazzling, but icy smile, the perfectly patrician face with the darting, incredibly mobile eyes.

But what a psychopath the character of Hedda is…

I was relieved when she shot herself off-stage at play’s end, whereas the son (who came with me tonight) was annoyed that she didn’t get a proper comeuppance: he muttered something about how she should have had her ass handed to her and that Aristotle would not have been pleased… Which in turn got us on the subject of entertainment, and whether a play like this can ever be entertaining in any sense of the word. I suspect similar questions informed its rocky beginnings, although Wikipedia’s history of past productions show that it enjoyed greater favor as the 20th century progressed.

Hypericum, Hyperion

June 24, 2010 at 10:09 pm | In just_so | Comments Off on Hypericum, Hyperion

File this under “Strange things we remember”: tonight is St-Jean-Baptiste-Day, aka Midsummer Eve, aka a great huge party with torches and open fires in Montreal where I lived many years ago.

Zoom in on a great throng of us trudging up Mount Royal, two “Anglo chicks” mixed in with the locals. The girls have a couple of boys following close (very close) behind.

What do you think, should we hit them up? asks one.

Non, elles sont trop maigre, says the other.


Can’t remember what the hell we did once we reached the top of Mount Royal, but presumably we went back down again.

Happy St. John’s Midsummer Day, fat flowers for all and a blooming summer to be… 😉

Simple geography, crumpled folds

June 23, 2010 at 9:13 pm | In just_so | 2 Comments

Here I go, worrying about how we’d fare in a real West Coast earthquake, and then a couple of days after I leave the “back East” region, what does the Northeast do? They go and have a headline-making quake.

Oh the irony… The strongest quake I’ve ever felt was in my apartment in Brookline – a third-floor walk-up – where the forced hot-water radiators gyrated and my free-standing kitchen shelves almost dumped their load on the floor. The epicenter of that quake was somewhere near Montreal.

And now there’s today‘s 5.0 quake near Ottawa, but centered again in Quebec (in nearby Val-de-Bois).

As before, the Quebec-epicentered quake makes news as far as Boston, where it generated 911 calls as buildings wobbled: “At least two buildings in the Boston area, more than 300 miles from the epicenter, were evacuated due to concerns about the shaking.” At the end of this article there’s a helpful <sic> reference to a 2006 article about earthquakes in the Northeast. Ack.

Meanwhile, it seems to me that the Toronto Star has the best line about the event – one that characterizes something of the mental geography as well:

The simple geology of eastern Canada helped transmit the earthquake’s vibrations many kilometres from the epicentre, unlike the crumpled, mountainous geology of British Columbia. (source)

Simple geography on the one hand, crumpled geology on the other.

…Straight ahead vs folded in on itself? 😉

Job markets

June 22, 2010 at 11:20 pm | In business, just_so, victoria | Comments Off on Job markets

On June 20, the local paper (Times-Colonist) published a fascinating letter-to-the-editor by Reed Kirkpatrick, Connections everything in this job market. Kirkpatrick’s letter was a rebuttal to an earlier June 13 article by Maclean Kay, Rooting for the promised labour shortage. Kay’s somewhat rambling article eventually focused on a recent prediction about a coming labor shortage, and included (on page 2) the following bit:

Victoria’s job market is breathtakingly tight and what is available tends to be scandalously low-paying — I found an ad asking for a chef with 10 years’ experience and offering $10 an hour. Victoria is also an infamously cliquey town; if you don’t know the person who posted the ad, you’re probably not getting the job.

That’s not to say networking isn’t important or worthwhile, but there’s networking and there’s something more like employment incest.

“Employment incest” – that’s an excellent turn of phrase! Kay ends, however, on an optimistic note: that “an influx of well-trained, educated, talented job seekers” will be a “healthy correction” of Victoria’s job market.

Will it? Can it?

Kirkpatrick’s letter takes issue with Kay: been there, done that, he seems to be saying. He goes back to 2002 (incidentally the year that I moved back to Victoria) to describe a Times-Colonist initiative of publishing a “Jobs Wanted” section during that period’s 7% unemployment rate labor market. He describes how, in 2001, the BC government had laid many people off, which flooded the labor market with …um, “well-trained, educated, talented job seekers” (to use Kay’s words). And who got jobs in that climate? The well-connected:

Realizing that as an independent consultant I would experience difficulty in finding work, I contacted a number of professional people from the Jobs Wanted section. Eventually, we incorporated a business: our bread and butter would be bidding on government contracts. After submitting a number of unsuccessful proposals, we opted for a “debriefing.” I vividly recall being informed “your company had the best proposal but we had never heard of you.” I interpreted this to mean that we were not sufficiently connected.

I’ve heard the same thing from quite a few people. Jobs are also described in such narrow terms that if a candidate is missing even one qualification, s/he is eliminated from the pile of applicants. There’s no chance of taking a risk with a new hire, no expectations of being able to learn on the job.

Kirkpatrick’s letter ends with the kind of realism that Thomas Hardy might approve:

The reality is that many skilled professionals are already here working as cleaners, taxi drivers, housekeepers and security guards. Unconnected, their professional lives have quite literally faded away.

I could add to that stories of people who are connected, but it doesn’t matter: if the jobs aren’t there, they aren’t there. End of story.

…Unless you do that classic “reinvention” thing, which is a very popular thing to do around here. People want to live here for the lifestyle, for the natural beauty, but they can’t work in their careers – so they opt to reinvent themselves in new careers. This sometimes results in amazing creative journeys – or not. In usually means downsizing/ earning less money, too.

I’d be interested to know what other people have observed in their communities and cities.

Next Page »

Theme: Pool by Borja Fernandez.
Entries and comments feeds.