DINER: Sisters Open Vancouver’s Smallest Pie Shop In Chinatown At 721 Gore Street : Scout Magazine

26 02 2013

Who doesn’t love pie?

Someone told me of this place a few weeks ago. They open at 11am… and close when they run out of pie! Simple concept. They bake fresh, and close when it’s all gone.

This little short is how they went from zero to open in only 9 days by tapping into friendships and using their own resources.

DINER: Sisters Open Vancouver’s Smallest Pie Shop In Chinatown At 721 Gore Street : Scout Magazine.

I briefly worked with one of the people in the video. She’s a lot less colourful in monochrome!

GET YOUR ASS OUTSIDE: On Finding Mount Galiano (And Getting To The Very Top Of It) : Scout Magazine

25 02 2013

I love Scout Magazine. It’s got nothing to do with Scouts, but I’ll let it off! It’s full of all those quirky little nuggets that make Greater Vancouver greater. This article’s actually about Galiano – the island not the Harvey Wallbanger ingredient. I bring it to your attention because of serendipity.

Just the other day, I was chatting to a fellow snowshoer at Callaghan Valley about how I’d walked this trail on Galiano, and looked down onto the tops of very tall trees from a vertiginous path.

I smiled as soon as I saw this article because there are the very trees in one of the photos. Please click on the photo or the link and read the short article by Ariel Taylor, as she implores you to get your ass outside. (I’ve noticed that North Americans seem to have a lot of mules and donkeys…). If you don’t actually possess a beast of burden, then I suggest you take your own arse outside instead.

GET YOUR ASS OUTSIDE: On Finding Mount Galiano (And Getting To The Very Top Of It) : Scout Magazine.

GET YOUR ASS OUTSIDE: On Finding Mount Galiano (And Getting To The Very Top Of It) : Scout Magazine

View from Galiano onto treetops. Source: Scout Magazine

Orderliness, De Morgan, Texas and Common Sense

24 02 2013

OK, so if this is your first foray into Quieter Elephant territory, you might want to politely smile, avoid eye contact and slowly back out – being careful not to make any sudden movements or trip over your laces, or that sleeping aardvark you didn’t notice on the way in. Once you’re safely around the corner, run. Don’t look back, just keep going – especially if you hear the familiar sound of a shopping bag full of dragon fruit. (Because let’s face it –  if it’s familiar, you’re just weird, and even we have limits!)

This is going to be one of those tortured, frayed, twisted postings. You’ve been warned. Perhaps come back when the rainbows and unicorns are here. (You’ll see the full-spectrum manure on the street).

Source: Instructables: Unicorn poop

I’ve got a few things on my mind and a keyboard in front of me. Again – you have been warned.

They say dreaming is the mind’s mechanism to clear things out a bit. Do the Spring cleaning, as it were. The theory goes that while you’re sleeping, the hind mind goes to work and does a bit of cross-indexing in the old noggin. I guess that means your hind mind might be one of those sultry librarians with unnecessary glasses, a contrived expression of demurity, and the ability to do the Times crossword in an infeasibly short time.

Called Eric.

Oh I’m sorry – were you filling your mind’s eye with feminine wiles and breathy vixens? My bad. Carry on… we’ll just slowly continue until you catch us up.

Anyway, while we sleep our brain is busy using the otherwise spare processing power sorting, sifting, and generally making future retrievals more efficient by looking for connections and similarities – out-googling Google, as it were. According to Scientific American, some nifty evolutionary architecture gives the average human brain about 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes) of storage. “For comparison, if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows” it goes on. According to WorldWideWebSize.com there are around 50 billion webpages in the web at the moment, just for comparison.

OK, so interesting though that rat hole might have been to some – I was actually just trying to say that my mind has been feeling particularly in need of a good rinsing of late. A mental enema you might say.

If you were particularly odd.

Which those frequenting these pages are wont to be!

Writing seems to work in my case, so I beg your indulgence and ask you to strap in, sit back and join me on this cathartic (to me at least) ride into Ged knows where. (Ged was a colleague in my very first job. A very smart Liverpudlian with an unfortunate – though at the time fashionable – haircut not unreminiscent of Phil Oakey of Human League).

Human League’s Phil Oakey Source: Anna Greenwood – fellow WordPresser

So anyway, to help give us a little more focus, I want to concentrate on three things – the book I’m reading at the moment, a casual conversation I had with a most excellent friend and a news article I recently commented on. In no particular order. Actually, particularly in no order – or more likely still: in all orders at the same time.

I recently completed a particularly tough read – it was Black Swan by Nassim Taleb. It was barely worth the pain. I did learn some stuff… it was just a long slog. If you’ve followed the hyperlink and read the Wikipedia explanation of Black Swans… don’t bother buying the book. You’ve already read the nub of it. The rest of the book is lots of unnecessarily long words, pokes at the French (which though I usually applaud in the general case, cease to be funny when used with meanness), and self-congratulatory waffle.

To try and mix up my reading material I usually oscillate between fiction and non-fiction. A bit like cleaning the palette between courses of a meal, I suppose. So my current read is Snuff by the indomitable Terry Pratchett.

Terry Pratchett. Source – Wikipedia.org

He is now allegedly suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, which I have to admit is not in the slightest noticeable in his recent writing. It remains full of excellent wit and observation of the peculiarities of the human condition – as seen through very English eyes.

My favourite observation so far is when one character describes a woman as having a face like a bulldog sucking vinegar off a thistle. Now come on – tell me that doesn’t conjure up an image!

The main character, one Sam Vimes is a policeman to his very core. He instinctively knows right from wrong… as well as lawful from unlawful. Occasionally they even line up. This humorous murder mystery, set in the Discworld genius of Pratchett, kept tugging at my memories of the story I read about the Texan law enforcers shooting illegal immigrants from a helicopter. I’m quite sure it was a lawful act. But was it “right”?

I was discussing the matter with a retired Vancouver policeman on Saturday. He was explaining that in the US (thankfully not in Canada), merely fleeing an attempted arrest was a felony, and felons could be brought down with deadly force. So a not-known-to-be-definitely-armed person running AWAY from an armed officer, and therefore placing him or her in no direct danger could quite legally be shot dead, it seems. Now this was only my understanding from the conversation I had… but it certainly agrees with plenty of exciting cop’n’robbers TV show I’ve watched. In contrast I recently watched some vintage “Sweeney” where London’s Flying Squad of the 70’s were occasionally forced to let fleeing criminals get away, despite both the criminals and the police being armed (they’re a special squad who are unusual in that they are regularly armed), rather than fire their weapons.

Now this gave me a bit of a sleepless night. Not, as you might assume because of some liberal do-gooder instinct (though I admit that the whole concept of officers of the law being armed as a matter of course with guns does not sit comfortably). No – what kept me awake was a matter of logic.

We in the West – and indeed many other nations in more far flung locales with infinitely more interesting cuisine – have a thing called “due process“. For most of us, this only relates to getting a polite call from the local library about books that they would be awfully grateful to see back on their shelf. If it’s not too much trouble. They’re past due, and this is the process.

Actually, though due process (intended to balance the law of the land and the rights of the individual) originated with the Magna Carta in 1215, the process of law in the UK no longer uses it in its strict form (though has equivalent balances).

To be fair, it’s actually the presumption of innocence that is my real point. As quoted from Wikipedia: Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the burden of proof lies with who declares, not who denies), is the principle that one is considered innocent until proven guilty. The Romans document this going back to the 2nd Century. Been around a while, you might say.

And that’s what got my logic juices flowing. Politics and prejudices aside – the US does have a process of law not too far distant from the UK, Canada, and pretty well most of the democratic world (and even some of the undemocratic bits too!) So here it was… my unease.

If someone is presumed innocent until proven in a court of law to be otherwise, they can’t yet be technically guilty at the time they are evading capture by the long arm of the law (and an assault rifle in the hands of a helicopter-riding official has a pretty long reach these days!) So how can it be justified to shoot them dead for running away? Sure, they might actually be guilty… but it’s not yet proven, so we are to presume them innocent.

To be clear – I’m only struggling with the cases where the would-be arresting officer is not in any danger from the fleeing presumed-criminal.

On what grounds can it ever be right as opposed to legal to shoot a fleeing person who is not currently presenting a danger to either the officers or others? The shooter is no longer merely protecting the rule of law, but meting out judgement and punishment based only on their own un-proven “evidence”. It has not been tested in the court of law by a jury of the accused’s peers. It’s a paradox of logic. You are trying to apprehend them so their guilt can be tested and proven in a court of law. At such time as that becomes difficult due to their attempted escape, the whole process is discarded, guilt is assumed (though the law presumes them innocent as guilt is not proven in a court of law!), instantly judged and potentially terminal punishment carried out.

And De Morgan? Well, back in the early 1800’s the British mathematician Augustus De Morgan put forward a theorem:

\overline{A \cdot B} \equiv \overline {A} + \overline {B}

\overline{A + B} \equiv \overline {A} \cdot \overline {B}

It was one of the first things I got taught in Computer Science back in the early 80’s. (1980’s, I should clarify, perhaps! 🙂 ) It’s a core part of understanding binary logic… computing at its foundation.

A casual discussion with a more recently educated “Computer Scientist” illustrated that it is no longer taught (at least not well enough to last beyond an exam!  🙂 )

In context?

Well De Morgan’s theorem would give us:

If it’s “not right and legal”, it’s the same as it’s “not right or not legal”.


If it’s “not right or legal”, it’s the same as it’s “not right and it’s not legal”.

Apart from the rule itself, De Morgan taught me to make damned sure I used lots of brackets when I was writing software, to ensure the NOT went with the right clauses!

Just to close – with the demise of Amazon Reads in LinkedIn, I have moved over to goodreads.com (and I commend it to you.) It’s got a neat little quotation search engine, where I reacquainted myself with Ambrose Bierce, who wrote in his famous Devil’s Dictionary the following definition: “Lawyer – One skilled in the circumvention of the law.”

Well – that’s a lot better. I can once more feel the currents of a breeze meeting no resistance as it flows unhindered from one aural orifice to the opposing one. I can start cluttering up my mind all over again.

If you made it this far – thank-you! You have the patience of a saint, and as Alex Turner of The Arctic Monkeys wrote:  If you’re gonna try and walk on water make sure you wear your comfortable shoes


Watch out for the Scouts: Signe Bjørg Jensen at TEDxCopenhagen 2012 – YouTube

23 02 2013

I was hanging out at a training course for Scout Leaders today. Equipping them to deliver the Scouting programme to youth in the best and most effective way we can.

I was chatting away with Rovers and other members of the Scouts Canada family. One of the Rovers brought this TEDx talk from Copenhagen to my attention. The speaker’s from Denmark, and does a great job of saying what we’re all about.

If you think you already know what Scouts is about, or perhaps if you don’t – invest 6:29 mins and see how close you were. Signe Bjørg Jensen does an amazing job – as indeed most Scout volunteers around the world do.

“We want to make children the most awesome adults of the future – so watch out for the Scouts!”

Couldn’t have said it better if I tried.

Another humbling observation: Signe is Danish. Her audience is Danish. She gives the presentation in English, makes quite subtle jokes… and the audience laugh! How many of us could do that in Danish?!

Watch out for the scouts: Signe Bjørg Jensen at TEDxCopenhagen 2012 – YouTube.

Oh my giddy aunt!

22 02 2013

OK, so I’m not big on guns. I’m particularly suspicious of arguments that justify them in the context of crime prevention. But this story blew me away (no pun intended).

Texas JUST decided that it was no longer really on for armed law enforcement to go around shooting illegal immigrants from helicopters. Well – unless they or someone else was being shot at, which even I have to say is fair enough. I’m not saying that a strong response isn’t appropriate when you’re trying to to protect your borders (though I’ve always found it fascinating how America seems so attractive to illegal immigrants when there are so many more interesting places to visit.)

And the DPS on the helicopter in the photo… “Department of Public Safety“!

Yeah – you’d think it was in charge of school crossings or putting salt on icy pavements with a name like that, wouldn’t you? Nope – these guys shoot people hiding in the back of trucks from helicopters. It’s like something from Logan’s Run! I admit the details are sparse in the report, but it’s strongly implied that the gun-toting defenders of liberty and justice weren’t actually in any personal danger as they strafed two Guatemalan guys in the back of a moving truck last October.

A couple of years ago, my son – as a Scout – was treated to a film and slide presentation from US Immigration about how they protect the borders of our neighbour to the South. It included images of incredibly creative would-be illegal immigrants hiding in hollowed out truck seats, inside truck dashboards and all manner of things. All intended to show how clever US Border Control was at foiling such folk. All fair enough and reasonable, positive propaganda.

Later in the presentation, there was a scene of two or three folk swimming across a wide river in order to illegally cross the border. Waiting for them was a cozy reception of US officials all aiming guns at these (presumably close-to-naked) people swimming across.

My son (being UK born, and having a retired policeman as a grandfather who has been faced with a double barreled shotgun armed with nothing more than a wooden truncheon and his wits) asked what he thought was a reasonable question: “Why are they pointing guns at them?”

As you can imagine, this flummoxed the Border Guard who took a moment to consider the question, then answered “Because they’re trying to illegally enter America”.

“Yes – but why are they pointing guns at them?” After an uncomfortable silence, the guy moved on and quickly finished the presentation. “Just because” plainly wasn’t going to cut it, and it seems he had no stronger argument! Given they’d just swum a frigid river in the depth of night in a foiled attempt to enter the States, you’d have thought a warm blanket, a strong cup of sweet tea and a swift ride back to the border crossing might have been more appropriate. I guess they should be grateful there was no DPS helicopter in the area…

Texas bans shooting immigrants from helicopters | The Raw Story.

Source: The Raw Story

Love Locks Vancouver to be taken down | Vancity Buzz | Vancouver Blog

22 02 2013

The urban version of carving initials in a tree?

Love Locks Vancouver to be taken down | Vancity Buzz | Vancouver Blog.

Love Locks Vancouver to be taken down | Vancity Buzz | Vancouver Blog

Stupidity and Courage

21 02 2013

“It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”

– Mark Twain

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”

– Coco Chanel

Via 19 Quotations – Pen.io.

Arctic Deepness

18 02 2013

Just doing some housekeeping on my not insubstantial music collection, and listening to The Arctic Monkeys‘ “Suck it and See” album. Such a classic turn of British phrase, don’t you think?

Not actually sure how it translates into Canadiania. “Let the chips fall where they may” perhaps?

It’s not actually in the slightest bit rude, despite what you might think. It just means the outcome is unknown  and the only way to find out, is to give it a go. The analogy is a boiled sweet of unknown flavour. The only way to determine it, is to suck it and see for yourself.

Anyway, there was one line in the title track which I thought was quite evocative, and thought I’d share:

Your kiss it could put creases in the rain

Well – I liked it. You can please yourself… 🙂

Wikipedia: Suck it and See (Single)

Dare to be Different – Just Like Everyone Else

17 02 2013

So last weekend, I caved in, and became the last member of our clan to own an Apple product. I bought an iPod 5G.

Obviously for the music (though I use MediaMonkey to manage and sync my music, rather than the truly appalling iTunes – I refuse to believe that Apple themselves designed that software. It’s a “how not to…” poster child!)

I use Skull Candy earbuds, since the Apple supplied ones – though certainly stylish to look at – keep falling out of my ears at the slightest excuse. Even that isn’t “unique” enough. I replaced the silicon earpiece sleeves that came with the Skull Candy (and pretty much every other “soft” earbud these days) with some more spongy/neopreney sleeves that came with my old JVC earbuds. These not only conform comfortably to my ear canals… but STAY there! Very important when I’m out running.

Anyway, of course now I need to accessorise my iPod, and began looking for a cover. I came across a wonderful design on Zazzle (though at an outrageous $40 price that prevented an actual sale on my part).

In fairness though – there are some seriously cool designs there:

Source: Zazzle - BaCoN

Source: Zazzle – BaCoN

I tracked down the design company as Inspirationz… and found a whole swathe of other products with the same design. Take a look there at lots of other equally quirky design content.

Dare to be Different Birds on a wire | Inspirationz Store.

Source: Inspirationz - Dare to be Different

Source: Inspirationz – Dare to be Different

Pancake Day!

12 02 2013

Busy, busy weekend.

Snowshoe Grind Mountain Run on Saturday; Callaghan Valley “Grand Day Out” snowshoeing on Sunday; Snowshoe Grind up Grouse Mountain again yesterday (in the low cloud – very slow going) because Number Two Child wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It was Family Day in BC, and Grouse Mountain had made most things half price. Despite initial appearances, I was assured the offer was available to non-Asian families. It was a pleasure to see so many recent immigrants like myself enjoying what Greater Vancouver has to offer.

Callaghan Valley: Olympic ski jumps.

Callaghan Valley: Olympic ski jumps.

Callaghan Valley: Now that's a mushroom!

Callaghan Valley: Now that’s a mushroom!

Callaghan Valley shelter: View of Black Tusk

Callaghan Valley shelter: View of Black Tusk

After all that (no blisters though – that’s good!) I lost the princely total of 2lb. That’s nigh on a kilogram, so I’ll take it thank-you very much.

All that just to say that today is Shrove Tuesday. Pancake Day! We like them thin and large – crepe style. Not thick and spongy, North American style. Either way… they’re not exactly conducive to weight loss, so I think I’ll treat this year’s Pancake Day as a spectator sport.

Enjoy yours!