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Wednesday Morning Link Fest: News Roundup

August 12th, 2009 @ 10:26am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Every morning while getting ready for work, my husband listens to the local news radio station. As I slowly wake from my slumber I hear sports scores peppered with weather guarantees and the latest Hollywood gossip that all somehow work their way into my half-conscious dreams. As such, this morning’s Link Fest is dedicated simply to what’s making headlines around the city.

Photo credit: mysighTs on Flickr / Miss604 Group Pool
  • Grow-op busted on Mount Seymour. For those who do not live in BC, a “grow-op” is a Marijuana growing operation and this particular one involved about 300 plants that were spotted from above in a helicopter. The comments section on this story online is almost as entertaining as the face the police officer is making in the photo accompanying the article. [Vancouver Sun]
  • The Today Show will be broadcasting from Grouse Mountian during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. “NBC said Today show fans are encouraged to visit Grouse Mountain every day to watch the live broadcast and get a chance to meet Olympic athletes and the show anchors.” [Vancouver Sun]
  • BC isn’t much closer to banning the use of cell phones (for calls or text) while driving. [CKNW] Meanwhile Ontario has its ban in place (with fines starting at $500) which also includes hand-held entertainment devices such as MP3 players (if they’re not plugged into the vehicle’s sound system).
  • A pipe bomb was found and safely detonated outside of Metrotown Shopping Centre yesterday. They still don’t know how it got there but there was a similar bomb found at Metrotown in March of 2008. [CBC]
  • Critical Mass is a monthly cycling demonstration through the streets of Vancouver to promote bike culture while also cutting off vital vehicle commuting routes on the last Friday of each month. Some feel that this “in your face” approach is a bit much (even though it’s been going on for years) so they have taken action… by taking less action. On August 14th Critical Manners will lead cyclists around the city on bike routes, while co-existing with vehicles instead of cutting them off.
  • If you are a homeowner in the Metro Vancouver area, are you renting out your home during the 2010 games? Turns out not too many rentals are being scooped up with just six months left to go. [CBC].
  • The new Canada Line North Arm Bridge from South Vancouver to Richmond carries under it a bicycle and walking path that will allow pedestrians, cyclists, and transit-riders alike to make the crossing. The new Canada Line trains will also allow for bikes at any time of day (even during peak hours). [CBC] There are areas without seats that have a special hub where you can rest the front wheel of your bike during the train ride.
  • With the Canada Line opening up months ahead of schedule, the City of Vancouver hasn’t quite caught up. The Granville Street revitalization isn’t quite ready so downtown still looks like a construction zone however, the trains will be running from Waterfront all the way to Richmond Centre and the Vancouver International Airport as of Monday August 17th. Which leads me into this poll:

    Are you excited about the Canada Line opening?

    View Results

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    The Road to Canterbury

    August 11th, 2009 @ 5:12pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    It spun me back into Grade 11 English Lit mode but it was one fun ride. The Road to Canterbury is a modern twist on Chaucer’s Tales that takes place all across Queen Elizabeth Park this month.


    The play follows a small cast of Chaucer’s original gang including The Knight’s Tale, The Miller’s Tale, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, The Pardoner’s Tale, and The Prioress’ Tale. All of which are splashed with current-day scenarios and humour.

    Not only do you get to experience this comedic romp in the open air, but you’ll also get a nice tour of the amazing gardens at Queen Elizabeth Park while you’re at it. The show is over 90 minute long so be sure to wear sensible shoes and feel free to bring a picnic blanket to rest during some of the acts.

    The Road to Canterbury is presented by ITSAZOO Productions and will run until August 21st. Evening walks begin at 7:00pm (matinees at 2:00pm) and tickets can be purchased on site near the entrance to the Bloedel Conservatory or reserved by calling (604) 221-6604.

    Please note, the show is not suitable for children under 10 years of age.

    Contest Management from Strutta

    August 11th, 2009 @ 11:02am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    struttaOnline contests are a great way to boost community engagement on your website, blog, or general online presence. I’m noticing photo and video contests are on the rise lately however they’re pretty much all over the place.

    The current options are email a photo (but what about file size limit), or submit a Facebook photo (but what about account privacy setting limits), or add photos to a Flickr group (but what about those without accounts). I understand that content creators should be able to maintain the rights to their images etc. so I’m all in favour of Flickr photo contests, however if you’re going to go big, seek out participants, voters, and run a really cool contest in general, you should be using Strutta.

    It takes about 10 minutes (maximum) to setup a Strutta contest page. Using their platform you can choose a template for your contest site, host it off your own site or theirs, upload rules, and setup voting basics such as star-ratings or judge profiles. The best part is that it’s FREE. Yes, totally free but with bonus options you can add on as you like, for various fees.

    I used Strutta in February for the Vancouver Twestival video competition and that was before it even had all the bells and whistles available today. They also have a handful of other contests running right now that you can check out.

    Now, I’ve been friends with the folks at Strutta for years and they probably have no idea I’m writing this blog post. I just absolutely felt there was a need to inform companies and individuals that services like this do exist. They’re local, they’re a great group of people, and it won’t cost you all that much (if anything) to run an awesome photo or video contest with them.

    eight years of the busblog

    August 11th, 2009 @ 10:06am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    mr pierceWhen people ask me how I started blogging, I first mention my lifelong obsession with technology, and then I list my influences. At the top of the list is Tony Pierce who is currently celebrating the eight anniversary of his busblog.

    Tony shares on his blog, he gives advice, talks about the Cubs, literally wrote the book on blogging, and he’s currently in charge of all blogs over at the LA Times. On top of that, he’s a really fun guy who was one of the first additions to my blogroll in 2004, and probably John’s in 2003 as well.

    If you’ve ever seen me do a “Blogging 101″ talk, you’ll also recognize him from slides 22-24.

    I first met Tony in person in Las Vegas, although the story doesn’t get much more exciting than it should after an introduction like that. However this one time he mailed Keira some chocolate chips and as a result, she invited me to share an evening of sugary cookie-baking debauchery with her. Those were good times. He even made it up to Vancouver a few summers ago and we all watched the fireworks together in English Bay. Again, very good times.

    Tony is the ultimate “blogfather” to hundreds if not thousands of bloggers across the globe. It’s his continuous frank, straight-up, and charming writing style that keeps us coming back to the busblog even though I once heard nothing in there is true.

    ZipCar's Low Car Diet Finale Party

    August 11th, 2009 @ 8:11am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Zipcar Zip Zip!Last year I was introduced to ZipCar during National Digital Media Day and I’ve enjoyed my casual car options ever since.

    This summer ZipCar has taken 15 participants from each of their operating cities in North America and challenged them to a “Low Car Diet”. The Low-Car Dieters vowed to walk, bike, skate and Zip but not drive their personal car for one month. August 13th is their 30th day without using their own vehicle and so ZipCar is celebrating with a party at Yaggers downtown (for Vancouverites). You can read blog posts by all participants in every city online as well.

    ZipCar is basically a short-term car rental service where you have a membership, book cars (from 1 hour to all day) and pick up/drop off at any of the dozens of parking stalls in your area where they reside. It’s a great system with awesome key-less technology and for a couple like us who do not own a car but sometimes find ourselves in situations where having a trunk or a set of wheels would be really handy, it’s ideal.

    The Low Car Diet finale party will take place at Yaggers on Pender Street from 7:00-9:00pm on Thursday August 13th. All ZipCard holders and their friends will get a complimentary drink courtesy of Yaggers, and there will be appetizers served as well. They will also be running their “Refer A Friend” offer ($50 driving credit for each of you, after they sign up for ZipCar for $30).

    With an expanded fleet of hybrids available as ZipCars and a two-way text alert system, it might be a good time to give it a try.

    Capilano Suspension Bridge

    August 10th, 2009 @ 4:14pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Today I crossed the Capilano Suspension Bridge for the first time in my life. When I was growing up in the area we never really did the “tourist in your hometown” thing especially when it came to downtown or North Shore attractions. Sure we explored beaches, parks, and forest trails in the Valley (and I wouldn’t change a thing) although I have always been curious about these points of interest that are so heavily marketed to the visitor-centric crowd. Truth is, they’re pretty much just as fun for locals, if not more so if you head out with the right crowd.

    Capilano Suspension Bridge Capilano Suspension Bridge

    I assembled the best team possible to explore this treetop adventure with me, which included my sister and four of her young ones (the littlest guy stayed home). We grew up absolutely loving the rain (especially walks in the rain) and this has been passed on to my niece and nephews. This trait was key as we were pretty much pelted with rain pouring down on us all morning, either out in the open or under the Cedar canopy. We also failed to pick up our biodegradable ponchos since it wasn’t raining very hard when we first started out but our group was not troubled by this.

    Capilano Suspension Bridge

    The Capilano Suspension Bridge entrance is just along Capilano Road in North Vancouver and the parking lot has a flat fee of $5 for the day. Adult rates for the Capilano Suspension Bridge area are $29.95 although if you are a resident of BC you can purchase an annual pass for $20.10. That will include your initial visit and every following visit throughout the year. Family passes begin at $58.20 although they’re based on a family of four, which I didn’t think would be useful for my sister and her family of seven. However, kids 6 and under do get in free.

    The kids got a map that highlighted special points of interest where they can visit and get a stamp (like a passport). Seeing as how the maps got really soggy, really quickly, we stamped them at the first stop and hid them in my purse for the rest of the journey. Would the weather have been a bit brighter this is something they would have really enjoyed completing.

    Capilano Suspension Bridge Capilano Suspension Bridge

    Capilano Suspension Bridge Capilano Suspension Bridge

    The first area of interest once you pass the main gates is the Story Centre. This interpretive area shares a bit of the area’s (logging) history before you head over to a First Nations exhibit that consists of a variety of totem poles. You’ll then hit the cafe, and the gift shop before you take the plunge and head across the suspension bridge.

    Capilano Suspension Bridge

    Quick fact: Originally constructed of hemp rope and cedar planks in 1889, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is 450 feet long, and 230 feet high. Today’s bridge is constructed of reinforced steel, that is anchored in 22 tons of concrete on either side.

    Capilano Suspension Bridge

    Capilano Suspension Bridge Capilano Suspension Bridge

    Capilano Suspension Bridge Capilano Suspension Bridge

    Once across the bridge, a whole world of forest fun awaits. We headed off to the Treetops Adventure where the kids could travel along elevated wood and rope bridges from tree to tree. Having just watched Return of the Jedi this weekend I had fun pretending to be an Ewok.

    Treetops Adventure

    Treetops Adventure Treetops Adventure

    Treetops Adventure Treetops Adventure

    When we came back down, we took the Cliffhanger Boardwalk around the hillside and right under the suspension bridge. The kids loved the ponds, the rushing waterfalls, and the birds found at Raptors Ridge. The trees around us were massive, most over 300 years old and some with friendly names like “Big Doug”.

    CliffHanger Boardwalk

    CliffHanger Boardwalk CliffHanger Boardwalk

    We would have liked to check out the Kids Rainforest Explorer area however by that time we were thoroughly soaked with rain dripping down our Gore-Tex exteriors.

    CliffHanger Boardwalk CliffHanger Boardwalk

    Even though we didn’t get to see all of the attractions, shopping, entertainment, or take any tours, it was still a fantastic morning with the kids. We piled back into the car and in harmony I was treated to a resounding, “Thank you Auntie Becky!” That in itself is enough to make anyone’s day, really.

    Capilano Suspension Bridge

    You can follow @CapSuspBridge on Twitter for updates, features, photos, and the latest news about fun North Shore adventures.

    Shine: A Burlesque Musical – Ticket Giveaway

    August 10th, 2009 @ 10:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    I once wrote a brief history of burlesque in Vancouver even though the form is still alive and kicking in this town. Such is evident in the opening of Shine: A Burlesque Musical at the Waterfront theatre on Granville Island.

    SHINE: A Burlesque Musical is a tassel-twirling original musical about an infamous burlesque theatre and the family of talented misfits who try to save it from demolition… or worse, respectability

    Shine - flare-med
    Photo credit: Frank Julian Roberts, Helianthus Photography

    Written and created by Cass King, John Woods and Sam Dulmage. Directed by Jen Cressey. Choreography by Lauren Allen (AKA April O’Peel) and Rebecca Franklin (aka Melody Mangler). The show is 18+ and will be running from August 12th until August 22nd.

    You can purchase tickets online for $25 or if you would like to attend any of the performances, please leave a comment below or re-tweet this post and you’ll be entered to win. The winner will be drawn on Wednesday August 12th.

    Update: The winner has been drawn, congratulations Alisha!

    Ice Cream for a Good Cause

    August 9th, 2009 @ 10:09pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    I decided to treat myself tonight and give into the cold, silky, smooth temptation of ice cream. While doing so I was reminded of two dessert-related campaigns for good causes that are currently running…

    If I had a million flavours If I had a million flavours If I had a million flavours

    Being the first-ever Canadian flavour for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, the Barenaked Ladies‘ “If I had 1,000,000 Flavours” truly doesn’t disappoint. However it’s not the chocolate and vanilla ice cream that makes this so wonderful, nor is it the chocolate-coated nuts, toffee bits or peanut butter up chunks. It’s the fact that proceeds from every tub sold support ABC Canada.

    “ABC Canada Literacy Foundation is Canada’s private-sector voice championing adult literacy. Launched in 1990 – International Literacy Year – by a group of business, labour and education leaders concerned about the social and economic effects of wide-spread literacy challenges among Canadian adults, the national charity raises public awareness of literacy issues.

    Working with influential Canadians from a cross-section of disciplines and business sectors, ABC CANADA fosters an environment where all adults have access to opportunities that increase their literacy skills and prepare them to realize their full potential at work, at home and in the community.”

    Photo credit: Keira-Anne

    In case you like to shake things up a bit, you can also purchase a Dairy Queen Blizzard treat on August 13th for Miracle Treat Day. $1 or more from each Blizzard sold that day will go to the Childrens Miracle Network partner in your area, in this case the BC Childrens Hospital Foundation.

    “Miracle Treat Day encourages the support of many communities who work together for local kids who may, someday, require the care they can only receive at a children’s hospital.

    On this special day in August, proceeds from the sale of their popular Blizzard® treats will be donated to Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. They have even incorporated the use of the Internet to pre-sell Blizzards® to businesses in cities and towns across Canada.”

    So go ahead, indulge, cave in to the sweet silky chocolate and the fresh blast of the Girl Scout Thin Mint Blizzard knowing that even though that sugar’s probably going straight to your thighs, funds are also going straight to some deserving causes as well. At least that’s how I’m justifying the ice cream kick I’ll be on until August 14th.