Category Archives: Personal Musings

sometimes i have something to say about me, life and the passage of time – schemes, ideas, holiday dispatches, thoughts and dreams that aren’t too private and other journalling

Festive Greetings: Happy “Whatever you Got” from Kootenay Lake

On Dec. 25th aboard a lake ferry on Kootenay Lake, DaveO offers thanks and greetings to friends and co-conspirators while recounting the highs and lulls of year past plus offers non-dogmatic greetings to all festive people.

Best Year in Years ~ 2010 Flashback

Gathering

Atop a lighthouse
Here's to happytimes

I proceed with this round-up trepidatiously as i tend to look forward to what’s next and try to temporarily forget recent projects once complete. Also, i am (somewhat) hesitant to ramble on about myself (sorta). But, as a note to future self, and for a record of gratitude, here is an endlessly incomplete collection of events, incidents and anecdotes from this past year (pardons in advance for any omissions).

Interested in any of these topics? Rather than me including the handy links (like i probably should), i encourage you to poke around and discover the artifacts and collections about any topics, adventure, project listed… doing so will allow me to share this sooner and move onto the next thing (plus *everything* would end up linked).

I’ll also include a few meditations and manifestations for the 2011 so you can ask me, “hey dave, how’s it going with those things you mentioned you’d do in 2011?”

The other day, i recorded a wee festive video messages to say thanks for letting me participate in your life and thanks for being part of mine:

Recapping

Healing: Abdominal surgery (2nd in years), challenging recovery was significantly aided by kindness and traditional Chinese Medicine (thanks Drs. Trauben & Ying & Nagy)– tried to enjoy films during recovery but, due to pain, watched WW2 movies and documentaries to feel camaraderie from injured comrades

Speaking: Shared my stories on stages including… Pecha Kucha (Fck Stats, Make Art, remix’d), Word Camp Vancouver (Art and Tech) – thanks Duane/Dale/Johnx2/Rebecca, Social Media Camp Victoria (for day-job), plus lecturing classes at BCIT, and TNMH spiels at Capilano University 2x, Fresh Media (also a podcast lecture at this one i think… ) – Also Northern Voice video about finding voice/creativity, etc. – thanks for Andrew Lavigne, Julie Szabo, Monica Hamburg and all who showed up to watch while i lay upon a davenport

Wrangling: True North Media House – survived the tension and negativity to create a social movement of documentation, reporting, funtimes, internationalizing and explore the issues about modern media and global mega-events… from prosestors to journalists, we didn’t fit in anywhere but ended up “being” a story. Interviews/coverage in PBS Media Shift, CBC Radio multiple times, and dozens of other outlets

Internationalizing: Also Olympics in general as a fan saw a handful of freaking awesome hockey games hanging with my face people drinking tall cans in parks, meeting visitors, finding new pubs and parks, riding the bus with happy people, hugging strangers

Documenting: Along the way, i created a bucket load of Olympic Outsider podcasts on-the-go with instant publishing to bring all of you along

Documented: The With Glowing Hearts filmmakers followed me around for much of the above and combined my story with others to make a remarkable soliloquy about a city in change and various approaches to dealing with it

Awarded: Choogle On awarded 3rd place (4th kinda) in Georgia Straight’s Best of Vancouver which is kinda neat. Made a few more episodes (though many are hidden currently)

Traveling:

Yup, always on the go… here’s where (and of course there are podcasts from the trips so you can come along in my backpocket):

Austin for SXSW for the 3rd time – getting more local, finding face cafes, greenbelts with yoga tattoo artists, hidden bars and bar-b-ques. hectic fun hanging with industry luminaries where you can’t tell the millionaires from the bankrupt. Also made podcasts to detail the nuances and form an audio quest guide for rookies and chooglers. also broken leg cyborg rescue mission – cheers to John Biehler, Nadia, Flanders, Amber Case and Dave Delaney + Pugz and Laurie

Toronto including Hockey Hall of fame for 1 rapid hour, wandering new streets, cafes and bars – Canada is different there but some charming people amongst the bustle and smoke

Seattle to Subpop meeting superhero: Mudhoney’s Mark Arm, enjoying the backroom tour and going home with a box of CDs (thanks Dean for making it happen)

Festivaling: Komasket Music fest interviews with great bands and enjoyed vibe of small time fest (see also articles in Vancouver observer) shisha tents with tea, lake canoes paddles, redemption song outdoors, couch green room “backstage” – note: Bocephus King is giant and enjoys swimming. Extra thanks Kazia and “Family Man” Barrett

Roadtripping: Trip to Nelson for Christmas Day lighthouse ferry ride, soaking in a hot springs cave, local organic Nelson beer in a haunted hotel and snowy day drives + met harp/hashman Xomaha. Made a video to tell you i like ya (above) – plus a stop at Duhkabour museum (near Castlegar) in search of Draft dodger statue (a story for another time ( someone wanna fund my trip and article?))

Writing: Along with meta coverage, interviews, and miscellany, articles and essays abounded! including pieces in:

  • RAIN – an interview and art piece about my personal artistic journey
  • Vancouver Observer – dossiers about the inaugural SeaBus voyage, summer festivals, train travel and Remembrance day ++
  • Megaphone – Let’s Get Lost, a tour of forgotten Vancouver counter-culture landmarks
  • Inside Vancouver – Vancouver Tourism featured vancouverite sharing my fave activities, places and tips
  • Exode – Serialized Letters from Russia (in a stylish manner)
  • Granville (Varley forthcoming) – this is a big one which is a true labor of affection

+ Blogging: was “official” blogger (along with Bob from VIAwesome) at TEDX Vancouver and documented a bucket full of talks including Nardwuar and Josh Fox

Culturing: Going the Opera – twice(!) including a contemporary Canadian opera and a more trad Italian preceded by rainy night fun with draft beer and raclette at German festive market with Chris and Cinci

Meeting: Getting friendly with the CBC Radio 3 crew – admire/enjoy what they do + props to Grant Lawrence for book/tour/blog/etc.

Rocking: DOA at Anti-Olympics show with KK, Bev et al, with me in lanyard, pins, Canadian flags and assorted spangles at the Rickshaw – see also: Misfits with mon ami Scales – UPDATE: Vampire Weekend outside Malkin Bowl with a spiked bubble tea

Partying: UW 40 party with so many friends, a whole pig and endless beer and tropical drinks the next morning in the wrecked campground – also a skunk & many fine ales for later – special thanks to analog lisa and R&B Brewing – So pleased Bev Davies came and gave me a treasured gift

Officiating: Conducted a wedding (for Kemp and Sheila) and wrote a celebratory prose with influences from Walt Whitman to Gibran to Chili Peppers

Transcending: Levon Helm with brother Dan on a perfect night with a perfect buzz and all time hero with surprises including Elvis Costello. Also, during Olympics, watched Wilco rock a long, sophisticated set in a drizzly park – really started the good feelings as fireworks reflected in Yaletown and so on… (many other bands included The Stills again)

Camping: Owl Creek Howl year 3 – sitting in stream, beers around lantern during fire ban and making funny-ish videos for Lt. Magnum with Scales and Mariska

Sporting: (drunken) Whitecaps games, (expensive) Canucks hockey, BC Lions at Empire with Dad and brother) and baseball parks around BC including Vancouver Island

Exploring: I was on the bridge for the new SeaBus’ inaugural voyage along with my pal Miss604 – took a week to stop smiling (or was this last year?), Culture Crawl to Boris and Rachel’s, day-trips aplenty to hidden neighbourhoods and dozens of walks on the Varley trail

Sunsetting: Possibly last trip to Olympia for some time. Cashed in Last Word Book credit and last coffee card on a iced chai after a hardworking weekend winding down Zhonka office with Unabonger

Remembering: Observed Remembrance Day at Japanese Cenotaph at Stanley Park with co-conspirators KK, Trauben and Lis. Followed by rainy hike and plenty beers to the Legion hall for Lt. Magnum (now Commander) Brother who made it back and forth to Afghanistan safely – chance to record some fun videos and learn more about contemporary military life and culture (see also: podcast and Vancouver Observer article)

Celebrating: My pal Derek kicked cancer’s ass for another year and i went to his birthday party and danced in his parent’s swinging party room

Visting: Maddog Maccarthy, international man of silicon up from Pacifica for Greek food and Lendog up from PDX for whirlwind hockey and beers and buddy Banghi up for CDN Thankgiving (it’s a tradition) with giant bottle of Bishmills in tow

Working: You prob know i have a wicked job at which i work hard and experience personal satisfaction and significant results and enjoy collaborating with many dear colleagues – i also appear frequently in podcasts, interviews, articles etc. discussing the concerns of the company and observations of the industry but you can find those on your own

Friending: I started a list of all the people i didn’t already explicitly mention… but this will take all day so i’m taking a hike… consider yourself admired

Words & Music: This is where i’d tell you what i read and listened to but skipping this too…

Beers and Meals: ibid (see untappd.com)

Onwards…

2011 is bound to be full of surprises, but there are many things i must do personally to ease my mind (i.e. taxes and biz and exercise), and many i am so eager to do to fill my soul (writing, making), and many which fit in-between (web remaking, archiving).

Here are most:

  1. Shut down Zhonka gently – tough one and overdue
  2. Do my taxes early and pay off CRA
  3. Establish new web *everything* – it’s all a mess, all of it
  4. Archive all podcasts (and release purchasable collections?) – related to above, move audio to archive.org
  5. Craft 5 great fictional-ish stories (flash flood, caye caulker, taos incident,
  6. Participate in a sport(s)/activities frequently (snowshoeing, x-country skiing, trail running, tai chi, inline hockey, swimming)
  7. Attend SXSW music as well as interactive
  8. Refresh wardrobe (new thrift store shirts/pants (possibly in Austin, Texas)
  9. Make a quilt from old t-shirts
  10. Get to know Vancouver Archives, Museum of Vancouver, Vancouver Art Gallery

Shouldn’t be too hard, right? Give me a hand won’t you – especially with the pleasant parts. UPDATE: Need to see a dentist multiple times and aim to drink more water.

Uncleweed's 40th Birthday Backyard Picnic
Cheers for the all kindness (photo @kk)

Next big projects: Revisit the Festival Express remix of a train trip across Canada teaching about wonders of personal expression and media; begin Ole Dead Gramps audio remix project (maybe); revisit Clayoquot Rainforest Dispatches to include others’ stories; make Bev. Davies interview into something.

Same bus, different stop – Trading Kits for Railtown

“The key to a perfect ending is knowing when to roll the credits” Drive By Truckers #

geared for traveling
Keep it light enough to travel

My ukulele-playing pal in Guam would always begin his humourous anecdotes on the boat with “so there i was … ” In this case, my story begins thusly, “so there i was, recording a podcast along the banks of Rice Lake, reflecting on the past year and figuring out my next move – i walked home and then the craziest thing happened in the form of an email from Mexico.”  (here’s the podcast: Festive Greetings to Ice Fishermen – Choogle On #82).

Of all the things i mentioned in the podcast, the note of “staying at one job for the year” struck me as funny. Yup, here we were a year ago New Year, New Gig ~ Moving closer to Self-Actualization in Kitsilano with the media chiming in and high-fives around. And, like a diligent dude, I gave er a full-on effort and left with a list of checked off accomplishment longer than i woulda predicted.

But, in short, i knew i was under-utilizing my passions and wanted to be a little part of something a little more in tune with my love of helping artists and entrepreneurs learn how to grow audience and share their work. In many ways, i’ve moved around dot-coms seeking something as mighty and fun as my first big internety success in Olympia WA ~ Yup, best is working hard with respected friends while providing a service which help all sorts of people fulfil the ambitions – like selling tools to the miners rather than ice to Inuit.

Changing Movies

smart cut bench

Without unneeded details, the ensuing weeks were a whirlwind of giving notice to my gig in Kits, finishing up several big projects, hopping the train to the secret village, paying respects to departed brewer Dick Young and Pe Ell ringleader Lee Roy, interviewing rock n roll younglings Numbskulz and surviving a bus ride back up.

Then i added a maraschino cherry to my professional sundae by publishing the Social Promotion for Movies guide (go ahead and download) and presented to a group of producers (slides) before turning in my laptop and walking out onto the Granville St. evening ~ aflutter with festive bunting.

The next morning, I hopped on the same bus as usual but hopped off a different stop to begin spreading the gospel of the owl as Community Wrangler for HootSuite – a social media dashboard + professional twitter tool which I’ve used since early release and evangelized far and wide to interns, friends and clients.

Kitsilano Flashbacks

I will miss lunchtime walks in Kits and taking a seat in the community gardens along the track – i also worked with a sterling cast of characters at various times in a transitory environment. But I won’t miss trying to change an industry which is resistant (and even hostile) to the web as a communication, distribution and promotion medium.

vancouver skyline

A few highlights for your perusal:

Showing up

I introduced myself to the world at the new gig and laid out my big ideas with: HootSuite adds Owls – I’m DaveO, Community Wrangler and the kind accolades via Twitter, FB, comments and every other channel was truly mighty and a real treat to be honest. {thanks to each of you}

I’d kept the news quiet and tipped off Rob Lewis at TechVibes broke the “news” {thanks} in Dave Olson joins HootSuite as Community Director:

One week after announcing that they raised $1.9 Million from VCs and Angels, HootSuite is putting that money to work and have hired Dave Olson as their new Community Director.

Olson will be responsible for overseeing marketing, outreach, and support for HootSute and already has a number of educational and aspirational campaigns planned to evangelize the social media dashboard to content makers.

Olson was an early user of the initial Bright Kit tool and has actively used HootSuite for promoting his own projects – so this appears to be a perfect fit on both sides.

Up in until very recently, Olson was with Vancouver startup MovieSet – he wrapped up his duties there just last night after presenting a white paper called Social Promotion for Movies to the Canadian Film and TV Producers BC branch.

Olson made some noteworthy improvements at MovieSet during his time there and will no doubt continue overachieving in 2010 with HootSuite.

2009 Highlights and Musings – Art and Diligence

A few notable events this year to document ~ i resisted the urge to add photos, links and such cause i have a keg to pick up and swill and hockey games to watch.

[Update: listen to: Festive Greetings to Ice Fishermen – Choogle On #82: Shortly after New Year’s Day, Uncle Weed recounts highlights from the passing year including a surprising visit with bong-toting ice fishermen on a frozen neighborhood lake, plus recaps on concerts, spreading messages to media and youth, voting often, speaking out, supporting soldiers and peaceniks, resisting cynicism, researching the painter Varley, publishing literature, sparking coverage of Olympics, making a board game, gallery visits, riding the new SeaBus, remembering ole dead gramps, drinking stout and earl grey tea, and the joys of treading on thin ice.]

Gather round the fireplace for a chat won't you? Photo by KK

No chronology given and hierarchy implied.

  • Saw The Dead at the Gorge with my fave friends and caught up with old pals Willis Knapp, Brad Crabtree and Larry Harper – the man who encouraged me to write – Missed Marty K.
  • Spoke at SXSW which is a huge music, film and interactive media event in Austin, Texas – amused the folks with F@ck Stats, Make Art and then ate macaroni and cheese with an oracle, and saw the Black Angels with a drink backstage
  • Walked across a frozen lake near my house and ripped a double-bubbler bong hit midway with some youthful ice fishermen – classic Canada we don’t get on the left coast
  • Published some art and writings in literary magazines including Rain Zine with a Letters from Russia feature and forthcoming “Flying High” board game/art timeline
  • Got 15 year old boy (Austin) transitioned into school full time in Canada + premier league baseball + Argyle basketball
  • Quoted widely in newspaper and TV, Radio about tech, movies, sports, Olympics, literature including numerous times on CBC + 24 hours, Vancouver Sun, CTV, L’express Pacificque…
  • Recorded a bunch of podcasts including epic 9-part Rainforest Dispatches documentary series & Remembrance day special with Ian Bell + started some “remix’d” series of the leftover bits
  • Spoke at Northern Voice 3X (to great reviews, esp. Rock N Roll Photo w/ Bev Davies and Kris Krug) + took the Old-Timey Suitcase to WordCamp Whistler, Island Tech, Purple Thistle Youngunz, W2 Bladerunners, What’s Going on Salon – made a few podcast in process + covered TedX Vancouver as a guest
  • Mailed package to soldiers in Afghanistan and spread stories of peaceniks like Rachel Corrie and Lee Matasi – all humans need treats and stories
  • Voted whenever i could, spoke out when i needed to on public policy conundrums and never left my opinion out of the conversation when needed
  • Camped a few times including kayaking up Sunshine coast with wisemen & Owl Creek in a “chill’cuzzi” with funguys
  • Invited along on the inaugural voyage of the SeaBus after long conniving – Started a column for Vancouver Observer to celebrate and freshen my soapbox – PS Wrote “Rolling to the End of the Line” for the Buzzer
  • Pushed along and inspired a movement for social reporting from the Vancouver/Whistler Olympic Winter Games in 2010 with significant learning and notable frustration
  • Hiked another stretch of Baden Powell trail from Historic Mushroom (not really a mushroom) to Deep Cove on Canada Day including picnic looking at Indian Arm
  • Rocked Halloween with a shaved head as hero Hunter S. Thompson at Police Museum/Cty Morgue on a stainless steel autopsy table
  • Cold ramen at Kintaro after fireworks
  • Saw David Byrne – a true inter-disciplinary artist and thinker + cyclist
  • Saw Luke Doucet at Richard’s before it’s demise – he’s the real deal
  • Saw Geoff Berner at Biltmore – accordionist is too cool for words
  • Acupuncture dozens of time by a master (and friend) Dr. Ying
  • Met #12 Stan Smyl – a childhood hero, career Canuck and hockey grinder in the best sense of the word
  • Smiled each time i rolled by on the side of a bus as part of a Canucks fanzone campaign + saw game from a box
  • Wrestled bears, raccoons, and cougars (well not exactly… but chased them from my house/yard) – told story repeated while at my birthday party with so many kind friends
  • Started a big project about Ole Dead Gramps with Mike B. – Preview: audio collage spanning decades
  • Stayed employed at the same job for one year surpassing my average – is this is a success?
  • Finished a painting from Europa 2005 – gave to Mom for festive gift
  • Researched Fredrick Varley, Group of 7 artist who created art scene in Vancouver and wandered Lynn Valley, just like me

My thoughts go to a few pals i lost to physical demise this year – Ian “The Fonz” Christiancy and Dick “Danger” Young – thank you for your sincere contributions to my life.

In all, I feel like i under-achieved this year but in retrospect, t’was a year of re-jigging priorities and switching the big picture of where i’m bound. In 2010, i’m manifesting an economic situation which is mostly writing, speaking and thinking and working on topics I enjoy with lmited intervention – allowing leisure time for creating projects. I enjoy talking to a recorder and/or audience and also like a regular pay cheque will frequent perks and bonus in a supportive, collaborative environment. If all goes to “plan,” publishing and selling my artifacts becomes substantial income stream and offers occasional pacific rim and European travel (particularly to Scandanavia). I also want to reconnect in a meaningful (read: not Facebook) manner with some old influences and friends from other incarnations of me.

This is all.

New Year, New Gig ~ Moving closer to Self-Actualization in Kitsilano, 2009

Field with drying rice in Gonda
Field with drying rice in Gonda village, Nagano, Japan by Uncleweed

Moving jobs across English Bay

While i keep hearing that staying with one company results in a “career” with more vacations, raises and professional reputation, i’ve never worried much about my resume but rather try to focus on personal results and most importantly, moving closer to self-actualization.

With this in mind, effective immediately, I’ve moved on from Raincity Studios and joined Movieset.com to help jumpstart their mission of connecting moviefans with moviemakers from the office in Kitsilano.

Thanks for snacks and smarts

I’ll truly miss each of my Raincity Studios comrades – we went through some massive projects together under tight timelines, and curious circumstances. To each of you, sincerely thank you.

Each one of the Raincity Studios crew at times soothed my mental health, weary soul, and achey body in this rather treacherous year. Your kind words, wise counsel, sweet snack, or a coffee break (with the magical Dane at Workspaces’ absurdly perfect beverages) will never be forgotten. I am smarter for working with each of you and happier knowing each of you. To get to work each day with your best pals is something everyone should get to do.

Truly thanks to each of Robert, Kris, Mark, Erik, Francis, Roland, Richard, Audrey, Hubert, Steve, Smith, Katherine, and especially Mariska, plus Niall, Nicky, Boris, Djun, Corinn, Ansleigh, and colleagues in China and South Africa.

I’ll still be around working on the Olympic Indie/Alt/Social media centre plan and stopping by to goof around and trying to distract you from your important work. I am very proud with the work accomplished at RCS including winning the Best of 604’s best company blog award, writing most all marketing copy and messaging for Bryght.com and RaincityStudios.com, producing long form blog essays about net neutrality, copyright reform, and heaps of events, and using social web to inform social justice concerns as evidenced in my finals projects – the Phones for Fearless City campaign and a forthcoming Drupal case study about Homeless Nation.

Sampling Vancouver’s finest

ferg

Since moving to my now beloved North Vancouver in Oct. 2005, I’ve assisted a handful of Vancouver’s finest companies in raising their profile, refining messaging, effectuating social media campaigns and magnifying internal culture. At Elastic Path, happyfrog.ca, 3rd Whale and Raincity Studios, I’ve learned much about ecommerce, eco-entrepreneurship, and web community building while riffing with diverse teams to create remarkable projects.

At Movieset.com, I’ll help filmmakers reach out to filmfans using social media tools. As a movie enthusiast and a filmmaker (Hempenroad, 1997), i think i can bring a lot to the table. And I’ll have a chance to work closely with Michael Fergusson who i first met when i interviewed him for a Raincity Radio podcast (thanks Megan Cole). He showed up wearing a vintage Vancouver Millionaires sweater and talked about poetry so I knew we had something in common.

Digital Samurai for hire

On the go with Nordic skiisMaybe it’s my love of Kurosawa films like the Seven Samurai and/or my feeling of being the reincarnation of writer/explorer Lafcadio Hearn (who lived in Shimane, Japan in the early days of modern western cultural exchange 1870-1910-ish), or sailor/diplomat William Adams (who was the first Brit to make it there in early 1600s and became an advisor to shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu), but sometimes i feel like a digital samurai. No not a stealthy fighter, but a hired hand, loyal until i move on to another fortress to defend, quest to fulfill, or princess to save (or is that Donkey Kong?).

Like the earnest Samurai who left money matters to the merchant class (another story for another time), I’m not in it for just the money and I have a sense of intrepid loyalty which drives my daily life … and I deftly handle a big sword (or laptop in this case).

Changing my bus route (again)

So, again I’ve changed my Translink bus route – this time from Upper Lynn Valley to Kitsilano – which will provide even more time to think about the neighbourhoods in the Vancouver gray.

So, a year later, I am in Michaels’ office. I am wearing slippers, there are several dogs wandering about, a green screen room down the hall, and a nice lady just brought me coffee. Anyone who knows me realizes i thrive on change and new input from words, scenes and smells – so there you go, another life remix.

Don’t worry, i am still here and available for beverages and conversation. See me at Wordcamp Whistler, Northern Voice among other funtimes.

##

change my route to think about the neighbourhoods

March 30, 2007

i change my route
from time to time
to think about
the neighbourhoods

switched Cambie 15
for Main Number 3
or Fraser if i don’t mind
cutting across Kingsway

skirted schoolgirls Xavier-bound
headphones, sweaters
in rows

downtown exchanges
spake in broken halts
sometime gleaming
often rain
occasionally sleet, hail or ice

Seeking a Handmade Holiday Gift? Mavili’s Hat and Scarves at Lonsdale Quay

Mavili sells his handmade hats and scarves at Lonsdale Quay during the holidays and reports place him at other markets from time to time. His hats and scarves make great festive gifts and your money is going to a decent man working hard at his craft.

Get on the SeaBus at Waterfront Station for a :15 harbour cruise with a market at the other side where you’ll see Mavili and other fine vendors and fishmongers. Here are a few photos of Lonsdale Quay and North Vancouver etc.

His hats are made from the finest materials (mostly wool) and the workmanship is old-world outstanding – he is often sewing right on site!

This year, his booth he is on a cross aisle in the Quay Market near the bank machine – do not confuse him with the cheap knock of hats vendor. (BTW, Mavili only takes cash so the bank machine is well placed).

Here’s his photo for the record:

Mavili the Hatmaker at Lonsdale quay

He makes hats and scarves in various styles for gentlemen and ladies – i am partial to the designs with earflaps cause my ears stay warm and i feel like Holden Caulfied in Catcher in the Rye.

Some kind Choogle on podcast fans purchased this one for me as a gift. Alas i lost it.

Fortunately Mavili made me a custom made new version with a few minor changes for ever more ruggedness!

Last year i purchased colour and style matched hats for all my brothers who were all pleased. I wear one of his hats each day and am now a proud owner of a matching hat and scarf set while my brother Dan got another lid for his collection.

bros with new hats

Support this talented artisan this festive season and be sure to tell him i said hello!

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What happened in Canadian Election?

My pal Raul asked this question at: What the heck happened this past Canadian Federal Election?

Here’s my brief reply:

The left was split and Canada’s true desires weren’t manifest. The Liberals ran a (sorry) lousy campaign, the Green acquitted themselves excellently but are out numbered everywhere and the Cons slipped right in strategically laughing while Layton attacked Dion.

We need a proportional representative system where the House reflects Canada. We need a run-off style ballot so we aren’t flummoxed by the “strategic voting” conundrum (i vote with my heart).

And the parties need to show – in short, clear statements – how we (they) can protect the environment while promoting the economy.

I am still worked up about they way this election went down and riffed more about it at A Few words for Democracy at happyfrog.

I have a Choogle on! podcast coming out shortly (really) with my emotional reaction to the results in Canada and the impending vote in the USA. And I discussed the Conservative minority win on the Dopecast on Dopefiend.co.uk.
While i am on topic, here are my democratic actionable items, observations etc. cross-posted from happyfrog post A Few words for Democracy:
flying coloursOhhhh Canada

With the Canadian Federal election behind us, a looming USA General election (which will effect everyone), plus a Vancouver Mayoral race in which the winner will preside over the 2010 Olympics and attempt to assuage the controversies around the development, democracy in action is catching the attention of everyone – or should be anyhow.

I’ve personally learned that policy is decided by those who “show up” and let their opinions be heard – not by throwing rocks but rather by civilized discourse and personal expression to the policy makers.

Here are a few tools, events and ideas I’ve come acress to help constructively participate in the political process, while not sinking to the mud-slinging which happens when the issues cut to the core of who we are as a community.

Media Democracy Day- Speak up!

Media Democracy Day LogoThis Saturday at SFU’s downtown campus come “Speak for Ourselves” and learn about the critical issues effecting the media – both in terms of content and delivery – at Media Democracy Day Vancouver 2008.

With mainstream conglomerates amalgamating local media into a generic mish-mash more focused on selling ad space than spreading critical information, and Telcos (with the encouragement of the Federal government) tightening their grip on the gates of what’s “acceptable” there is plenty to educate yourself about.

Noted speakers will share their opinions – including happyfrog columnist and co-founder of Greenpeace Rex Wyeler and Tyee’s chief David Beers – and relevant panels will present different perspectives on this dynamic landscape from open access to citizen journalism to copyright/wrong.

Now Polling Grassroots Opinions

happyfrog at Car Free Fests

I’ve seen and chatted with Pedro from NowPolling.ca at many community events as he spreads the message that “Participation is the essence of Democracy”.

Sign up for a free account at NowPolling.ca and you can weigh in with your opinion on current issues of concern to the community on a local, provincal and federal level.

Here’s how they describe their work:

“This is a non-profit forum where anyone can register their opinions on a broad range of issues. You can choose your answers now, and if you change your mind, you can return to change your vote anytime.

As far as we know, nowpolling.ca is the first in the world to provide a perpetual polling system which facilitates your democratic right to participate in the political process.”

Sign up for an free NowPolling.ca account and see how your opinions jibe with your fellow electors.

Fairer Voting

Despite the optimism I held from watching the debates and CBC engaging X Challenge debate (with a cameo by happyfrog pal Chris Livingstone of EPIC Sustainable Living Expo), the results were a split left and a stronger minority government for the Conservative Party. Ugh.

go green

During the election, many folks rallied for strategic voting for the environment in order to prevent Conservatives from taking seats. While I fervently support the environment, I personally don’t buy into strategic voting.

The solution which has come out of the election with some vigor is proportional representation. You can learn more about this at Fairvote.ca but briefly, this means a House of Commons which reflects the popular vote rather than the minority winner from the patchwork of ridings.

Here’s Fairvote’s statement about the recent election:

As usual, the first-past-the-post system played havoc with voters’ intentions. The Green Party, western Liberals, the NDP and urban Conservatives were among the political victims. The Parliament voters tried to create would have looked quite different from what the voting system gave us. Read the Fair Vote Canada press release.

The impetus for many to rally behind this is seeing the Greens leap up to just shy of 7% of the popular vote yet get no seats while the NDP led the Bloc Quebecois in the popular vote but trailed in the seats.

Sign the petition

Another related idea is to vote for your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice to form a “run-off” in each riding with the lowest candidate dropped and the votes recounted until a candidate had over 50% of the vote rather than the “first past the post” system now.

Whichever way you feel, it is a big question for Canadians and there is a movement for a voting referendum to encourage *more* democracy.

Voteabroad.org & Democrats Abroad

happyfrog at Car Free Fests

Ex-pat BeccaJo explained in her post “Last chance to vote in the U.S.!” the process and importance of voting for Americans living in the Great White North.

Registering is the critical first step. Next up, voting! If you are from the USA, you should have received your ballot already – if not, get on the phone to the county auditor in your last county of residence.

If you have received it, fill it out and get it in the mail or drop it off at the US Embassy. Unlike mailing from within the USA, you gotta pony up for an international air mail stamp.

For Demo-politicos seeking bonding in Canada, consider hanging out with the Democrats Abroad in Vancouver or via email. They are likely to be hosting a results viewing party for a big Nov. 4th.

CBC using Twitter

Some netizens have noticed the new happyfrog_ca Twitter account. Like many new web apps, this is a bit strange to explain at first – basically 140 character mini-thoughts.

The recent General election provided a good example as CBC followed the chatter via Twitter as voters watched the Leader Debates and flowed out a stream on collective consciousness with their off the cuff, candid reactions to the Q&A flowed to OrmistonVotes Twitter account.

Ormiston Voting Twitter

If you aren’t using Twitter, it’s free and fun. If you are, follow happyfrog_ca and pay attention to #vanvotes and other keywords (known as “hashtags” and when preceded with a # sign) to keep a pulse on what the people are feeling/thinking/expressing right now – all in haiku-like length.

And Finally, a By-Election

If you aren’t all voted out yet, great because there is a provincial by-election coming up. happyfrog pal Miss604 has an awesome (as usual) overview BC By-Elections for Vancouver-Burrard and Vancouver-Fairview.

Monte Paulsen gives the low down in The Tyee’s The Hook political blog:

As if Vancouverites needed another fall election, Premier Gordon Campbell has called two provincial by-elections for October 29th in the Vancouver-Burrard and Vancouver-Fairview ridings.

Vancouver-Burrard became vacant in September after MLA Lorne Mayencourt, a B.C. Liberal, resigned to run for the Conservative Party in the Oct. 14 federal election.

Vancouver-Fairview became vacant in July after MLA Gregor Robertson, a B.C. New Democrat, resigned to run as Vision Vancouver’s mayoral candidate in the Nov. 15 civic election.

With some high-profile candidates in the mix, hopefully voter apathy and burnout will be thwarted and the turnout will be high and mighty.

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Chumley’s Speakeasy in NYC – currently a shell – to re-open … one of these days

My on the ground West Greenwich connection pointed out this article “Belly Up! Old Hemingway Haunt Chumley’s Could Reopen by Spring – City inches toward approving wrecked Village watering hole’s restoration” in NY Observer (Dec. 3rd 2007 edition which is in 4 days).

My attempt to drink at this noted literary haunt which oozes with counter-culture history from the underground railroad to prohibition to dog laws (damn health authorities), was thwarted by de-construction and i was met by a mass of scaffolding rather than a tasty pint. You can follow along on my ill-fated, personalized tour at: NYC Speakeasy Stroll with Bubble Bands and Falafel Bars – Choogle on #45.

Tales-ChumleysInterior2H.jpg
[photo Wally G The interior of Chumley’s, pre-collapse.]

So what’s going on? A conundrum betwixt landlord, leaseholders, building permits and neighbors and drinkers … here’s a snippet fromt he Observer article by Chris Shott,

Choogle on! in NYCNearly eight months after a brick wall collapsed, forcing famed Greenwich Village tavern Chumley’s to indefinitely lock up its notably unmarked entrance, the once illustrious literary haunt remains a mere shell of its former self.

Barely a shell, even; the old bar is beyond gutted.

“A gutted building implies that there are walls standing,” said Steve Shlopak, proud proprietor of the former Prohibition-era speakeasy turned fully liquor-licensed landmark turned much-lamented pile of rubble at 86 Bedford Street.

“There are only two walls that are still up,” Mr. Shlopak said. “The rest of the building is held up with construction scaffolding. There is no ceiling and there is no floor; it’s just a dirt hole.

“It’s almost as if you’re watching an old World War II film,” he added. “You know how soldiers would gather in the corner of a bombed-out farmhouse where just two walls are still up? That’s what we’ve got here.”

I took the liberty of commenting at the Observer’s remarkably decent site, thusly (pardon the redundancy):

As an enthusiast of tasty beer and quality literature, I was disappointed to find the scaffolding surrounding the building on a recent trip from Vancouver BC. I recorded a Choogle on! podcast while out and about in the village so all was not lost (i love falafel at 3AM). I’ll be watching for the reopen and hope to make another trip east from the idyllic left coast to imbibe a few pints in the legendary atmosphere.

Jupiter Beer Berkeley

IMG_4216.JPGWhilst on a recent trip to the Bay area, ’twas so busy with conference and such that hardly had moment to explore but managed to enjoy the a most excellent Berkeley bar and restaurant Jupiter twice.

A great bar with their own house beers (though they were out of the Porter and a few others ;-( and fine guest taps too. I mixed it up a bit but mostly enjoyed their Dry Stout (on Nitro), the Red Spot – tried Death and taxes but fond it a bit hoppy for my taste. Also enjoyed a few New Belgian 1554s which is an all time fave.

Three levels of seating, a dumb waiter upstairs, friendly wait staff, a stage and an outdoor terrace with trees, the inky sky, the moon, smell of limes – playing the first night was a jazzy/proggy rock quartet (guitar, bass, drums, sax) and the second night was a mellow Latin conga, vocals, guitar act (i recorded asnippet around here somewhere).

jupiter kegs

Best part though is i came home with a heavy duty Jupiter beer glass – they don’t sell them (or serve in them so you can’t steal one) – instead they sit as decor in a locked glass case. I offered bribes but managed to score one on kind words alone.

I made an oath to never drink schwag beer from this vessel so i am quaffing Howe Sound Hefeweizen (made in Squamish) with lemon while listening to Elvis in Paradise and Joe Jackson’s 3-sided LP Big World on scratchy vinyl and listening to the rain fall on the skylight.

Just though you should know.

jupiter terrace


Canadian Legion threatens White Poppies for Peace folks

White poppies for peaceThis is a case of copyright gone wild. The Peace Pledge Union based in the UK sell white poppies to citizens around the world who wish to show their abhorance and refusal to support war for any purpose. You can read more back story about the white poppies and red poppies for that matter at Remembrance Day Activities in Vancouver.

But the Canadian Legion decided it owned the rights to sell poppies of any kind or colour and threathened the peaceniks with legal action. However, they aren’t giving up and surrendering to the bully who is claiming an absurd trademark right though a Canadian supplier has been forced to stop selling the wee plastic mementos.

Here’s Peace Pledge’s quick overview:Cenotaph in Vancouver

Last year The Royal Canadian Legion through it legal representative demanded that Canadian groups stop distribution them and that the PPU stop making white poppies available in Canada, or else. That was the gist, though expressed in more formal language. According to the RCL’s legal representatives, the white poppy infringes the Legion’s poppy trademark. The PPU replied at length; our central point was that we disagreed with their argument. We have not heard from them since but the Canadian shop at the centre of this complaint regrettably had to acquiesce. You can read more about this at http://tinyurl.com/2mc7pq where you can also find out about the white poppy project and the PPU.

Following the legal threats both the promoters in Canada and Canadians who bought the poppy from us hoped that white poppies would again be available in Canada this year.

White poppies in any quantity are available from us for dispatch anywhere in the world including Canada.

In case you missed it, i recorded a spoken word podcast series based around the White Poppies i received last year and my brother’s involvement in the conflict in Iraq (now home safe – wish i could say the same for the rest). Still one more episode to go – trying to get it all done in less than a year ;-).

You can also subscribe to Postcards from Gravelly Beach in iTunes.

Be sure to order white poppies early (shipped across the Atlantic) and read the loquacious discourse on this most critical of topics. Make no mistake, the way to honour ultimate sacrifice is to ensure no such future bloodshed is required from man’s inability to get along. And we (all of us) have a right to respect the fallen in a manner which suits our conscience and not a method prescribed by the Legion or anyone else.

Honor by not fighting“The power of the white poppy lies in its questioning of the dominant – and fundamentally dishonest – view of war. More than that, it carries the hopes and demands of the mothers, wives, daughters and girlfriends of the men who for whatever reason and in whatever way were diminished by their participation in war. Their hope was that we would find less brutal social institutions to solve problems and resolve conflict. It remains for us to fulfill the wish.”