Gabriola Village Trail Open House

There’s a plan to build a trail from the intersection of North Road and South Road to Tin Can Alley, and you’re invited to an open house about it.

The RDN’s Gabriola Village Trail page explains about the project:

North Road is one of the main thoroughfares on Gabriola Island, linking the ferry terminal directly with the Village Core. Due to this direct link to the stores, businesses and other community destinations, it is a busy road and currently offers little separation for cyclists or pedestrians passing through. The community has explored and expressed interest for a connecting trail within this area.

The RDN has recently retained the services of Topographics, a local Landscape Architecture firm on Gabriola Island to undertake the design work for a new trail along North Road, between the junction of South Rd and North Rd and Tin Can Alley. It is anticipated that the trail will be located within the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) road right-of-way along the 1.4km stretch.

(Note that I am not responsible for the odd capitalization of landscape architecture above.)

The open house will be at the Agi Hall on Saturday, March 29th, from 12 to 3pm.

Here is the Huxley_Village Trail Open House poster about the event, in .pdf format.

Related link: Topographics.

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Gabriola chamber wants RDN to consider water taxi

From the Nanaimo Daily News: Gabriola chamber wants RDN to consider water taxi.

Fed up with ferry service cuts and price hikes, the Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce is pushing local government to give water taxi businesses the option of starting service between Gabriola and Nanaimo.

The chamber wants to see a bylaw revision so the publicly owned Descanso Bay Wharf on Gabriola, which is currently used for emergencies only, can also be used by approved water taxi providers.

The chamber believes such a service could be a boon for tourism and already has unanimous approval from seven business organizations in Gabriola Island and Nanaimo.

Gabriola chamber president Ken Gurr will pitch the idea to the Regional District of Nanaimo on Tuesday. [continue]

I’d like to hear what Gabriola paramedics think of this plan.

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About the ferry protest tomorrow in Victoria

Tomorrow (Tuesday, March 11th) Gertie is going from Gabriola to Victoria, so that Gabriola residents can attend the ferry protest. Are you going? Somebody told me yesterday that there are a few seats left on the bus; I bet you could ask at Artworks to get details about that. Or maybe you just get on Gertie and go for it, as that Gertie post seems to indicate.

Here is Stephen Hume’s article from the Vancouver Sun about this protest: Protest against BC Ferries planned for Tuesday in Victoria.

Aggrieved users of the BC Ferries system are planning a protest demonstration at the provincial legislature in Victoria on Tuesday.

Up in the rarefied air of executive suites at the swanky new headquarters building of the debt-ridden ferries Quango — that’s delightfully apt Brit lingo for quasi-non-government organization — the ferry brass is probably not averse to a monster turnout.

A big gathering of visitors from various Gulf Islands, Northern Vancouver Island, coastal outports and First Nations communities, for example, would at least offer a glimmer of good news amid an otherwise dismal record of dwindling passenger loads.

After all, even disaffected customers will have to use ferries to get to the capital to vent their spleen. So, if there’s a big turnout for the demo, at least there’ll be a bump in ferry traffic on beleaguered routes.

Millions of visitor trips have evaporated from BC Ferries’ books since it embarked upon a policy of jacking up prices and cutting services, squeezing more and more money out of fewer and fewer customers.

By the way, interest payments on the billion dollars in debt that the ferries corporation acquired in one decade stood at $16.5 million-a-year at the end of December — pretty close to the “savings” it seeks from slashing services. [continue]

Related post: Defend Our Marine Highways – fundraising campaign.

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DuckDuckGo: The privacy search ruffling Google’s feathers

DuckDuckGo is my favourite search engine these days, so I was pleased to spot this Telegraph article about it: DuckDuckGo: The privacy search ruffling Google’s feathers.

It takes a certain degree of bravery for one man to go up against Google in anything – but taking the technology giant on web search? Some might regard that as just plain foolish.

After all, this is an area where even the goliaths of the industry have struggled to gain traction. Microsoft’s Bing search engine has less than 6pc of the global search market. Yahoo, whose search engine is powered by Bing, has around the same amount. Google, with a 71pc share, has sucked all the oxygen out of the room.

Yet go up against Google is exactly what Gabriel Weinberg did. In 2008, he launched his own search engine, DuckDuckGo, in the gloom of his Pennsylvania basement. The project started quietly, but over the last six months it has gained ground and is now starting to ruffle Google’s feathers.(…)

Weinberg found there was considerable demand for a different kind of service from the one Google offered. A sizable faction of consumers wanted fewer ads, what they deemed to be better quality answers, and – crucially – more privacy. They were wary of the big search engines collecting their data, and using it to target adverts to them based on their past behaviour. [continue]

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The North Road tree thing

North Road tree-thing

Have you noticed this tree thing? As you drive along North Road from the village towards Silva Bay, it’s on the right side of the Tunnel, just a bit before Elgie. And it’s up high enough in a tree that nobody will be taking it down anytime soon. It’s been around for – oh what, a year? Half a year?

I’m guessing that the person who created and placed the thing is also responsible for some other tree things that I’ve blogged about in the past: this one, that one, and that other one.

(I’ve spotted a few others that I haven’t blogged about.)

I never thought I’d find out who makes these things, but I think I did, through a strange coincidence. Ha!

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When people wear cameras

When people wear cameras, sometimes those cameras are embedded in eyewear made by Google. The things are called Google Glass, and they are a privacy nightmare. Here’s an article about it from Through the Watching Glass On privacy, etiquette, and the ever-expanding Glasshole.

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When sharks wear cameras

From Sharks with cameras attached to their fins reveal surprising behavior.

Thanks to some innovative technology, details about the lives of the most mysterious underwater creatures are now coming to the surface.

Apparently, researchers have found that different species of sharks congregate together, challenging the widely held image of sharks keeping to themselves, or at least sticking with their own kind, says Kim Holland, a researcher at the Hawai?i Institute of Marine Biology, who was involved with the study.

Scientists also learned that sharks frequently use powered swimming, instead of gliding, to move through ocean waters.

To learn about the sharks’ lives, researchers from the Hawai?i Institute of Marine Biology and the University of Tokyo equipped several sharks from five different species with video cameras and instrument packages. These packages are like “flight data recorders,” says Carl Meyer, an assistant researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The instruments recorded details such as the speed, temperature, and body orientation of sharks. [continue]

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There’s a trail here somewhere…

photo of snow-hidden trail in the Gabriola woods.In the Gabriola forest, there are still a lot of trails that are completely covered with snow.

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Defend Our Marine Highways – fundraising campaign

Kathy Ramsey wrote to point out this indiegogo campaign: Defend Our Marine Highways.

Defend Our Marine Highways is a community-based campaign to protect coastal ferry services and restore BC Ferries to an accountable, publicly operated coastal ferry system with lower fares and better schedules. (…)

We need to raise $7,000 to ensure thousands will be able to participate in our Defend Our Marine Highways mass rally on the Provincial Legislature on Tuesday, March 11th to help guarantee that the BC Liberals will hear clearly what Coastal and Mainland communities know is wrong with the government’s vision and what is needed to re-vitalize ferry impacted communities. [continue]

There’s no mention of how the group arrived at the $7,000 figure, or what exactly that money will be spent on. Renting buses to help tranport protesters? Giving cash to low-income protesters so that they can afford to make their own way to Victoria?

Are any of you planning to attend the rally in Victoria on March 11th?

Related links:

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What if professors could teach for-credit courses in their homes?

We’ve got a fair number of professors living on Gabriola, and scads of people who have phDs in one area or another. Wouldn’t it be cool if those people could teach college courses out of their homes on a freelance basis? It would make post-secondary education easy to access, and might mean that academics who want to teach wouldn’t have to put up with so much nonsense from university administrations.

For more on this idea, see this article from The Chronicle of Higher Education: Home College: an Idea Whose Time Has Come (Again).

Maybe you should home-college, I joked to a highly educated Ph.D. friend—doctorate in medieval history, two master’s, several years of adjunct teaching experience in three fields. She was worried about how she would pay for her own offspring’s eventual college education on her tiny salary, if she did not soon land a full-time job, preferably on the tenure track.

As the words hung in the air, the idea’s utility seemed obvious. Thousands of qualified, trained, energetic, and underemployed Ph.D.s are struggling to find stable teaching jobs. Tens of thousands of parents are struggling to pay for a good college education for their children. Home-schooling at the secondary-school level has proved itself an adequate substitute for public or private high school. Could a private home-college arrangement work as a kind of Airbnb or Uber for higher education?

I don’t think I am overstating the qualifications of many of my fellow academics in the humanities to say that any one of them could provide, singlehandedly, a first-rate first-year college education in the liberal arts. The colleague whom I kidded about home-colleging is qualified to teach expository writing, multiple languages (introductory Latin, French, and Italian), medieval history, European history, art history, and a variety of literature courses. Another colleague could teach American history, introduction to political theory, introduction to philosophy, African-American literature, and expository writing. Another could teach Surrealism, intro to cognitive science, film, neuroscience, linguistics, and Spanish. I know others who could teach calculus, the history of science, European history, classical literature, film, and art history. [continue]

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Could moss power our homes?

From Modern Farmer: Could Moss Power Our Homes?

Along with two scientists from the University of Cambridge, Felder developed a way to use moss as a biological solar panel. Put simply, moss creates surplus electrons during photosynthesis. Felder’s collaborators have tapped into this electricity on a small scale — they’ve built a functional, moss-powered radio. [continue]

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Stream in snow

photo of stream in snowy forest

The recent dump of snow has filled Gabriola’s streams with water, and is probably doing good things for island aquifers and our summer water supply, too.

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Gabriola bacon!

Gabriola slab baconVillage Foods is doing a very excellent thing these days: selling meat from Gabriola farms. This is fantastic and very convenient. They’ve got Boulton’s beef (Somerset Farms), and sometimes local chicken, turkeys, and pork from local farms as well.

And THIS! Oh my. It’s slab bacon, and it’s scrumptious. I think they’ll probably slice it for you if you ask; we just buy a huge chunk and slice it ourselves.

Imagine my joy at finding this much bacon in one happy piece:

Continue Reading »

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Now that was a lot of snow!

gabriola-snow-windeckerWell, how’d you like that snowfall? In the space of two days we had over a foot of snow on Gabriola, and it sounds like some folks in the middle of the island had two feet of snow or more. I think all of the island lost power, and there were so many trees on power lines that it took days to get it cleared up. Some people still don’t have power, and probably won’t for a couple of days more.

I don’t mind power outages and I love snow, so I’m a happy camper. The snow is thawing and melting now, so we seem to be getting back to normal.

(The photo shows what Windecker and Seawind looked like this morning.)

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Huxley Park snow creature

Huxley Park snow creatureThis snow-creature stands in the middle of the Huxley Park tennis court. What do you suppose it’s supposed to be? (Drunk?)

(It reminds me of the characters that Allie Brosch draws, and publishes on her fantastic Hyperbole and a Half blog. For example, see her This is why I’ll never be an adult post.)

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A generous dollop of snow

snow-covered Gabriola street

It’s not often that we get lots of snow on Gabriola, but today was a happy exception. We woke to a white world, with fat flakes falling. And so it continued for much of the day! How much snow did you get? I think we wound up with eight inches or so here.

I am grateful for the people who clear snow off our streets, for good snow tires, and for a magical bit of winter.

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Free online university now accredited

If you want to earn a university degree without taking the ferry into town a whole bunch of times, you’ll be looking at online classes. There are plenty of those around, and now there’s even a free online university that’s accredited: The University of the People.

From a New York Times article:

The university currently has 700 students from 142 countries enrolled in its degree programs in business administration and computer science. About 30 percent are from Africa and 25 percent from the United States, most of whom were born outside the country. While the first graduating class is tiny, only seven students, it shows the broad reach of the university: One of the graduates is from Syria and another from Jordan.

From the start, Mr. Reshef has said that he aimed to show developing countries that it is possible to provide higher education to all, at a low cost. Classes are deliberately low-tech, with text-based open-source materials, since so many potential students around the world have no access to broadband or video. Some students participate via mobile devices. The university has never charged any tuition, although students pay $0 to $50 to apply, depending on the wealth of the country they come from. In addition, exams, which are proctored in their home country, cost $100, with a variety of scholarships for those who cannot afford that fee.

We want to make sure that no student is left out for financial reasons, Mr. Reshef said. [continue]

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Duke Point Stinks website protests incinerator plan

You’ve probably heard about the proposal to build a huge garbage incinerator at Duke Point, which is about as close to Gabriola as you can get. The latest on this is in the Flying Shingle: Incinerator group requests secret meeting with district.

It’s all very depressing from an environmental point of view. Who wants to have pollution from vast amounts of burning rubbish in the air we breathe?

Some locals have created a website to help fight against the incinerator proposal. It is Go take a look at it if this is an issue you care about.

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