People, Places, Things

Everything has changed yet much remains the same.

My previous post on this blog was two years ago, chronicling how I was fighting a highway expansion project. Since then I've moved to a new city in another country, taken on a new job, met dozens of new people, and generally kept on living.

I've become an activist for a bicycle group, so I'm still encouraging alternative transport. I've taken up climbing in a big way, and through this I've met quite a few new people and had some great experiences but mostly got to know my buddy Zach. My enthusiasm for the sport has helped some of my friends to get into it too. I've taken up bicycling in a multitude of ways; as a past time, as a commute method, as a fitness aid, and for fun - just wait till you see some of my new tricks ;). And I feel that my work is more relevant now than it ever has been.

Still, I've kept in touch with some of the people I used to know, particularly my old f00f tribe.

I've gone away from and slowly am coming back to the old pleasures of technology, but in a more deliberate way. Linux is still good :) and so is programming for fun and profit. I'm still trying to feed my creative outlets; perhaps even more so now that I feel a lot more settled in San Francisco.

That's enough for now. Hello again!


Pounding the pavement

The Society Promoting Environmental Conservation is running a petition to show the government how many people do care about the absurd waste of money that the gateway project represents. And lots of people do care, I met a great group of volunteers today who do care, we care so much that we all sacraficed our Saturday to run the petition.

Canvassing was harder than I thought it would be. It can be pretty discouraging knocking on 10 doors and nobody's home, or didn't speak english, or "sorry this isn't my house", "I think you're wrong", "I don't like people knocking on my door", or talking with a voice on the other side of a cold video camera. Finally I knocked on the door of someone that did care, and knew the issue, and wanted to sign the petition. After that things became much easier; the knowledge that at least someone would sign was a real boost. In the end I filled my page with signatures.

After meeting up with the gang again to trade war stories and clipboards I went home and drew a hot bath for my aching feet. Yes the bathwater was cloudy but it was so worth it.

I'm looking forward to seeing some of these cool people at the Gateway Sucks! party on friday. Everyone is invited!


Letter to Kevin Falcon regarding Twinning of the Port Mann bridge and the widening of highway 1

Right Honourable Kevin Falcon, Minister of Transportation
108-17700 No. 10 Highway
Surrey, BC
V3S 1C7

Cc: Gregory Robertson, MLA Vancouver-Fairview

Re: Twinning of the Port Mann bridge and the widening of highway 1.

Dear Mr Falcon,

It has come to my attention that you plan to twin the Port Mann bridge and widen highway 1, with the intent of relieving traffic congestion over said bridge. We agree that something must be done, however I believe your plan will fail. Many cities in North America have taken a similar action in response to a similar problem; all of them have found highway expansion to be ultimately ineffective at controlling congestion. On what basis are you undertaking this action?

Have you considered spending money on new buses and transit infrastructure, such as commercial and transit-only lanes? With a stronger transit network, real estate development can occur at an increased rate within the town centres located across our region. Investment in public transit should occur well before any investment in new bridges.

I am concerned that you are helping to bring our cities towards more traffic congestion, greater risk of accidental death, and more pollution. If you can provide evidence that your proposed bridge and highway expansion will reduce traffic congestion over a 20-year period, then I will support your action.

Please, reconsider your plans to twin the Port Mann bridge and expand highway 1.


Benjamin Damm


Ruby happens [tech]

Well it finally happened. After writing dozens of ruby scripts over the last few years, several of them were merged into a module for entirely pragmatic purposes. And that means I'm a ruby programmer. In a last ditch attemt to save some face before finally admitting that ruby kicks butt enough for me to keep using it, I'm happy to report that all my little scripts run perfectly in ruby and JRuby.


Raffi's on Wikipedia

While researching Canadian honourifics, I discovered that Raffi has a page on Wikipedia. Maybe checking it out will bring back old memories like it did for me. Ahh, summer excitement at the children's festival!


Postage: Letters to our MLAs?

By Nov 8th I will have written a letter to Kevin Falcon and Gregor Robertson, both MLAs, regarding the issue of highway expansion. Have you, my dear reader written a letter to your MLA before, and do you know if the envelope requires postage?


Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween people!

This year I actually had fun with my costume and pumpkin. As halloween pre-weekend approached I almost chickened out of my costume - a skunk. But in the end I dressed up (twice) in a not very convincing but fun skunk costume. It was the first that I painted over my entire head for halloween; it's a lot of fun to go out into the city wearing bizarre skin and a tail. It was an appropriate level of fun & scary; not like last year where my costume was so convincingly scary that I became scared of myself.

For the annual pumpkin carving festivities I was struck by an idea a few days in advance and did carve a genuinely scary pumpkin. Lesson learned; when the pumpkin starts to fight back then really, it's done.