Soft Serve — Finally!

June 30, 2014

ice creamI quite like gelato and Italian ices, but I much prefer old-fashioned soft-serve ice cream. Finally, at the Maz Market, 1346 Commercial, we can now get it on the Drive.

They have what they call Ice Screamers: fill up half a glass with flavoured slush, pipe in a layer of vanilla soft-serve, and then fill up the glass with more slush.  I didn’t want the flavoured slush and so handed the cashier a half-glass of soft-serve, naked.  He was a bit nonplussed at first, but we quickly agreed a price, and I just as quickly ate the ice cream.

What a pleasure on a sunny day!  Now all we need is soft-serve in a waffle cone!

My apologies to any other place on the Drive that has soft-serve without me knowing.

OCOP To Vancouver Planners: Stop and Answer!

June 30, 2014

As regular readers will know, many of us here in Grandview are disturbed by the process the Planners have chosen in the re-set of our Community Plan.  The Our Community, Our Plan group has issued a challenge to the City planners.  In a firmly worded open letter to the Mayor, Council, and Planning Department, the residents’ group pose a series of questions regarding the process being used to create the Citizens’ Assembly that will drive the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan to conclusion.

1. How does the proposed recruitment process ensure a democratic representation?

2.  What is necessary to ensure the CA’s final recommendations are incorporated, in their entirety, into the final Grandview –Woodland Neighbourhood Plan?

In addition, the letter poses more general questions to the Planning Department:

1. What population growth targets were used to determine the density?

2. What planning principles determined the location and form of development?

The letter concludes with:

As a show of good faith, we request the Planning Department suggest a date to meet before proceeding with any further work of the CA. We request a written response … by Tuesday July 15, 2014.

Now we await a response.

In the meantime, I am still bothered by the fact that a City Council Terms of Reference and a City Council approved budget have both been shredded by the bureaucrats and staff without it having to go back to Council for re-approval.  Who’s running this City?

Reason NOT to use Facebook #210

June 29, 2014

Yet again Facebook comes up with its own reasons why we should not be using it.  This time, we discover they have been deliberately manipulating users emotions to conduct an unethical social experiment.

They tweaked the algorithm by which Facebook sweeps posts into members’ news feeds, using a program to analyze whether any given textual snippet contained positive or negative words. Some people were fed primarily neutral to happy information from their friends; others, primarily neutral to sad. Then everyone’s subsequent posts were evaluated for affective meanings …

Facebook’s methodology raises serious ethical questions. The team may have bent research standards too far, possibly overstepping criteria enshrined in federal law and human rights declarations. “If you are exposing people to something that causes changes in psychological status, that’s experimentation,” says James Grimmelmann, a professor of technology and the law at the University of Maryland. “This is the kind of thing that would require informed consent.”

The Slate article concludes:

Over the course of the study, it appears, the social network made some of us happier or sadder than we would otherwise have been. Now it’s made all of us more mistrustful.

Of course, just thinking about all those millions of people being sucked into Facebook’s maw makes me sadder every day.

Previous reasons not to use Facebook.

Patio Florabunda

June 28, 2014

patio flora

The everloving has, as every year, made a wonderful job of our limited patio space.  In this section, we have geraniums, clematis, ferns, tumbler tomatoes, carrots and various herbs.  Elsewhere we have roma tomatoes, blueberry plants, pansies, a huge jade, and more geraniums.  It is a wonderful time of year.

Click on picture for a much better image.

Happy 100th Birthdays!

June 28, 2014

I spent time this morning and lunchtime celebrating our heritage neighbourhood with the Grandview Heritage Group at their annual birthday bash.  This year we were at Mosaic Park.


We had quite a few of the owners of the properties that had Centenary Signs from us this year, and a lot of drop-ins who helped share our birthday cake and stories.  Apparently because the gods smile on the good, we had a perfect window between the rains from 10:30 to 12:30.

In the next little while, a more comprehensive photo-story of the party will be up at the GHG site.

Responses To The Grandview Citizens’ Assembly

June 27, 2014

Like most Grandview-Woodland residents, I received today my invitation to apply for one of the tiny number of seats on the GW Citizens’ Assembly which is supposed to advance the completion of the GW Community Plan. I do not expect to be chosen because I am, of course, one of “the usual suspects” they are seeking to exclude by this process.

I have written about this dreadful and disrespectful process endlessly (posts just from earlier this month about this sorry process can be found here, here, here, and here) and so I thought it would be interesting to share some of the comments that have been sent to me today by other residents.

  • “The appointment of  a non-GW chair (obviously paid, as well) is simply outrageous. Not to mention the frequent reference to “experts” and the engagement of a high-powered consultant firm.”
  • “I really do not support their process. I think they are arrogant and  do not have the citizens best interest in mind.”
  • “They have  set it up so you have to commit to  many Saturdays   from 9-4  that to me sounds a bit exclusionary. Its all weird.”
  • “As we well know, their assembly will be orchestrated to produce the results they want.”

Those are just from emails I have received in the last couple of hours.  I doubt it is going to get any better.

Happy Birthday Emma Goldman!

June 27, 2014


Today we celebrate the birthday in 1869 of the glorious and inspirational Emma Goldman.  Long may she live in our memory.

Eco’s Prague Cemetery

June 26, 2014

ECOLike millions of others in the 1980s, I read The Name of the Rose, and I later followed it up with Foucault’s Pendulum in about 1990.  But I haven’t read another novel by Umberto Eco since then.  Therefore, I was excited to pick up Prague Cemetery a couple of weeks ago and now I have devoured it. Unfortunately, I don’t believe I digested it well.

Prague Cemetery tells the story of a rather despicable man, Simone Simonini, and his place in a history that ranges from Garibaldi’s campaigns in Sicily and Naples in the 1860s, through the Paris Commune in the 1870s, to the Dreyfus Affair of the 1890s.  In fact, as I was somewhat less than surprised to learn later, Simonini is the only fictional character in the entire book — all of the major players and most of the lesser ones are entirely historical.

Simonini is a forger and a vicious anti-Semite, working for various Secret Services, although it is still not entirely clear to me whether he believed the dastardly material he wrote about the Jews, or whether this was just another way for him to make a living within the context of his times.  Among the numerous important historical documents that Simonini is purported to have forged, are the bordereau that convicted Dreyfus and, most significantly, the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion which would later influence Hitler’s Final Solution and various Russian pogroms.

One of the conceits of the book is that Simonini starts writing a detailed memoir/diary in the late 1890s as a result of meeting with an obscure Austrian doctor who, he thinks, is called Froide, and who has persuaded him that writing down his history will alleviate some phsycological problems he is having.  A second conceit is that, for much of the book, we are not aware of whether Simonini is writing as himself or an alter ego called Father Dalla Picolla who, it seems, enters Simonini’s apartments at night and adds his own comments to the diary/memoir.

The book is thoroughly infused with late 19th century Continental fascinations such as Masonic lodges, anti-clericalism, mesmerism, food, and of course anti-semitism.  The research that Eco has performed is stunning in its detail. The language is often sublime and there were times when I was certain I was back with my beloved Nabokov. However, by the end, the insistent intrusion of so much historical incident takes away from the novel qua novel, in my opinion, and I was rather glad to reach the end of it.

Wise Words

June 26, 2014


Blue Yellow Red

June 24, 2014

Blue Yellow Red

Kerry Jang Lied About Me

June 23, 2014

In response to the lawsuit that I and others filed against Clrs Jang and Meggs last week, Jang issued a statement to the media in an interview with the Georgia Straight in which he tried to deflect criticism of his own actions by making highly personal remarks against the plaintiffs.

That wasn’t a surprise because he has no genuine defence against the actions we have taken issue with, and he is well-known for putting his foot in his mouth. However, he went too far when he talked about me, lying about me in what I consider a slanderous manner.

As he knows (or should have known because his proxies were there at the meeting) I was definitely NOT “kicked out” of GWAC for my “extremism”.  In fact, there was every indication that I would have been re-elected as a Director had I decided to run. Rather, I had, in advance, voluntarily resigned my position on GWAC specifically so as to be more able to speak publicly about the top-down anti-neighbourhood policies that Vision Vancouver have brought this City under its and Jang’s watch.

Jang knows this, and still he lies about it to the press.  Is this the kind of Councilor we want in our great city?

The Remains Of The Day

June 22, 2014

dim sum remains

If I Were Mayor …

June 22, 2014

There are, it seems to me, two types of municipal policies: the public policies (bike lanes, more parks, housing, support for arts, etc) that form the basis of most civic election campaigns; and then there is the question of how the City is run, the policies of governance.  I do have some definite ideas about public policy, but this article is about the second type — how this City is governed.

If I were Mayor with a majority on Council, there would be a lot of fundamental changes in governance policies, enough to ensure that we governed ourselves very differently, with much more transparency and far less politicization.  The difference between my ideas and those of the current Vision Vancouver Council will, I think, be obvious.

  • Public “real time” display of all City expenditures.
  • Immediate elimination of all Non Disclosure Agreements for City business; if it involves public money, then everything must be public; you don’t want to be public, then don’t do business with the city.
  • If you or your company or your family members have made municipal political contributions to a party within the previous four years, you cannot do business with the City(this would be a City rule, no need to amend the Charter).
  • Return to line item budgeting with details enough for everyone to understand.
  • Make Vancouver number 1 in North America with the openness, speed, and efficiency of our FOI system.
  • Move Planning out of the empire of the City Manager and have it report directly to Council. This should stem the distasteful politicization of the Vancouver public service.
  • All documents regarding city policies, planning, and development to be made public at least six weeks prior to Council.  If new documents are created, then the meeting dates must be rescheduled in accord with this rule (no more showing up with 25 pages of amendments on the day of the vote).
  • In camera sessions to be held exclusively for legal and personnel matters only.

There are probably others that should be included but, if just these eight proposals were adopted, our municipal government would be significantly more accountable and, I believe, far more efficient.  These proposals do not include the meta-changes that need to be made with the Provincial Governments help — such as a ward system and strict campaign finance limits on donations and expenditures.

I wonder how many of the parties contesting this year’s election would agree to any of these eight ideas?


It’s Summer!

June 21, 2014


Another Kick In The Teeth

June 20, 2014

I understand that a Chair for the Grandview Citizens’ Assembly has been chosen. She is Rachel Magnusson who, I believe, is a social science prof from UVic.

What I have to say next is meant as no slight on her personally (I don’t know her and she may be a wonderful advocate, who knows), but rather on the people who have hired her.

I suppose after all we’ve been through that we shouldn’t be surprised that such an important position for our neighbourhood should be selected without any discussion with residents or the local groups that have taken such an active and involved interest in this process for the last 18 months. And without any public notification that I have seen.

This is just another kick in the teeth for local democracy; another indication the Assembly will be established as they want it, not us; just another sign from Vision Vancouver that they believe they can do whatever they like in Grandview-Woodland regardless of local opinion.

It is sad and downright shameful.

Having Fun At The Green Party Party

June 20, 2014

Green candidates

I had a really pleasant time at the Green Party bash last night. There were a hundred or more at the Ukrainian Hall and I got to mix with all those folks I tweet with every day, along with a whole bunch of folks I know from the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods and other activities. The speeches were short, the music by the Tall Brothers was excellent, the snacks and drinks flowed, and the good feeling was running high.

These are three fine candidates who have a good grasp of the issues that I consider important for municipal governance, and this summer and fall I will certainly spend whatever political capital I have urging people to vote for Brown, Carr and Fry for City Council.  I was glad, too, that they voted not to seek an electoral alliance with any other party, but to make common cause with like-minded Councilors once Council is elected.

That’s three to vote for.  We need another three at least to ensure that Vision Vancouver’s desire to turn us into the favourite haunt of non-resident  investors, at the cost of you and me and all the city’s neighbourhoods, is brought to a crashing halt. Where can we find the other three we need?

Co-op Bookstore Still Needs Help

June 19, 2014

Earlier this year, I wrote about the emergency fundraising drive that was needed to make sure the People’s Coop Bookstore on Commercial Drive survived the year.  According to an update to Rolf Mauer’s blog, the campaign went well at first but is now sputtering once again.

The People’s Coop, the oldest independent bookstore in Vancouver, is a vital resource for the neighbourhood and we would all be lessened by its closure.  They don’t need a lot of money from each individual, and I urge everyone to help them (and all of us) out as much as you can.


A History In Wallpaper

June 18, 2014

This is a section of the interior wall of the 1889 Black House in Mount Pleasant, showing various layers of wallpaper.


Click in image for a better view.

Wave #1

June 18, 2014


Conflict of Interest

June 17, 2014

I have written before (here and here) about the volley of legal claims that have been launched against the current Vancouver City Council.  I believe there were up to fourteen.  Well, now there is another one and, I have to admit, I am one of the plaintiffs in this case.  The following press release has been issued in explanation:


It is interesting to note that Emily Jackson of the Metro newspaper tweeted this morning that she was specifically told by City staff that no one would be made available to talk with her about this or any other case against the City.  I think this attempt to hide is called going into “bunker mode”.