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Puzzle Picture: Is this real?

October 20, 2014

What is this man photographing on the forest floor in Stanley Park?


Mushroom (3)



Mushroom (1)


These mushrooms hardly seem real.  And yet …

Anyone know?

Seniors: “They assume they’re going to drive forever”

October 20, 2014

This story from the New York Times has had a lot of play on the transportation blogs and sites – and no wonder: When Planning for Retirement, Consider Transportation


During retirement planning, transportation is often an afterthought. Yet, figuring transportation into plans is essential, experts say.

According to the American Journal of Public Health, Americans are outliving their ability to drive safely — a woman, on average, by 10 years, a man by seven. Over all, the ability to drive safely as one ages depends on health. Some people can drive into their 90s while others begin to cut back at 65.

“When people make retirement plans, they make no transportation plans because they assume they’re going to drive forever,” said Katherine Freund, founder and president of the Independent Transportation Network, a nonprofit organization that provides rides for older adults, with 27 affiliates throughout the country. Nationally, for those over 65, 2 to 3 percent of what distance they travel is on public transportation, 8 percent on foot and the rest by car, Ms. Freund said. …

“If you’re 55, you have to project out into the future,” Ms. Bonilla said. …

Transportation is the second highest household expense after housing, according the Office of Planning, Environment and Realty, which is part of the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.

Those living in households that are car-dependent spend 25 percent of income on transportation. By living closer to work, shopping, restaurants and other amenities, households can reduce transportation costs to 9 percent of their total income. …

Potentially filling the void are a number of new transportation services that provide rides for a fee, including Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. Some senior housing communities have shuttle buses that take residents to medical appointments; each one is different, so it is important to check when you are considering places to live.

Whatever decision you make about where to live and transportation, here are some guidelines from experts:

ANALYZE your current neighborhood in terms of where you typically need and want to go, and determine how you might reach those places if you weren’t driving. Include leisure activities like classes, entertainment and simply meeting friends. “Think about how you’re going to do that when you can no longer drive,” Ms. Bonilla said. “Lay out a grid and see how far these trips are from your home. That will determine where you live, whether you stay in your home.”

What Michael Geller noticed

October 20, 2014

He’s in London, and this is what he saw:



What I find odd about some business and community leaders in a town like Vancouver: their tepid and often begrudging (when not hostile) response suggests a lack of awareness of what is happening in the world around them because it’s not change that reinforces their worldview or adds personal benefit.  Geller, coward or not, sees change in other places that makes it more understandable at home.

Three things I learned about Chinatown

October 20, 2014

This Sunday, I joined a tour hosted by the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of B.C. – “On the Streets and Up the Stairs” – where, four flights above Pender Street, we were welcomed here:



This is the meeting room for the Mah Society of North America – one of the family/clan societies that provided mutual help to those Chinese, overwhelmingly male, who had few options for support outside Chinatown in a hostile Vancouver.  Over the last century, these societies acquired their own buildings, constructing them floor-by-floor on narrow lots primarily along Pender Street.  (You can find out much more here, in a 2005 report done for the City by CCHS on society buildings.)

Looking down from the walls are the faces of prominent members who, maintaining dignity in a discriminatory society, would likely be surprised to experience the Vancouver of today:



Some today – like Councillor Kerry Jang (second from left, below) – represent all of Vancouver, even as the societies struggle to find a relevant role in the large, amorphous Chinese community, many of whose recent arrivals have no historical or geographical relationship to the benevolent associations or even to Chinatown.



Our guides were John Atkin and Bob Sung, here on either side of Larry Wong, below, whose memoir, Dim Sung Stories, reveals the world of his childhood and youth in Cinhatown, from the 1940s to ’60s.



From them, I learned three intriguing things about the design of the society buildings:

Only the benevolent societies had buildings with outdoor inset balconies, a style (often crudely imitated in faux-heritage design mistakenly thought to be a generic architectural feature of southern ‘Chinese’ design).



Secondly, the floors were often added over time, each serving a particular purpose: one for a hospital, another for society meeting rooms, others for commercial uses.

And third, there were no secret tunnels or hidden rooms (constructions of a xenophobic media taking their original cue from Charles Dickens’s last novel) nor were there even courtyards, at least in Vancouver with its shallow lots and dividing lanes – except in one case behind the Yue Shan building, the consequence of the serendipity of construction over time.



A narrow passageway leads to Pender Street to the south; the backs of ancient storefronts, now blocked over, are evidence of the shops that used to line Market Alley to the north – a possible restoration of which might be in the future as energy and diversity return to Chinatown over the next decade.   But it won’t be the Chinatown of memory, or even the one of today, which is already going through a transition as new and non-Chinese-related businesses move in and new condos are constructed.

But the one key thing I learned: without the presence of the benevolent associations, just as in the past century, there is no true Chinatown.




Next event for the CCHS is “From the Silk Road: Asia in Fashion, Fashion in Asia.”

Fashion historian Ivan Sayers will expand your fashion knowledge as he presents extraordinary historic clothing from his own world-class collection.

Thursday, November 6

6 pm (program at 6:30 pm)

Richmond Cultural Centre Performance Hall, 7700 Minoru Gate

Before Nov 6 – $30, at door – $35

Tickets here.  Event 814008.

Twinning Tweets: Hype and Happenstance

October 20, 2014

Occasionally two tweets will come in on my feed, literally one after the other, that make a point larger than either does separately.  For instance, a tweet from Tom Fletcher…

Tweet 1



… followed by this one from from Taras Grescoe:

Tweet 2

Tweet 3


Which either makes Fletcher’s point, or negates it.

No Longer Ageism in American Cycling: True in Vancouver?

October 20, 2014

Last week’s Comment from



The basis for that?

I’ve been using every opportunity over the last few months to talk up a fact I noticed in June: biking is still growing a bit among people ages 18-24. But almost all the growth in the last decade actually comes from older people. American biking rates are now almost identical among people aged 25 to 54, and (this really knocks my socks off) almost identical among people aged 55 to 84.

Is Vancouver’s ‘biking rate’ the same for people 25 to 54 as it is for those 55 to 84?

Ohrn Images: Warm Reception

October 20, 2014

Went out for a little ride this afternoon on a warm and breezy day. So glad I did.


Ohrn R



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