You know how people exaggerate the olden days by saying they had to walk to school uphill both ways? Well my biking commute is almost like that: on the way to work it's downhill most of the way save for an uphill climb at Lakewood Drive, where on the way back it's uphill approaching Commercial, then downhill after Renfrew and then back uphill, then, saving the worst for last, a steep uphill climb at Boundary and Union in Burnaby. Like Roland, I drew my bike route on Google Maps, but I drew both my to and from work routes. (To work is in red, from work is in blue.) According to Google Calculator, my commute to work is 10.8 KM, and 8.5 KM back home. (I typed in "6.71 miles in kilometers" and "5.31 miles in kilometers" and rounded off the answers.) Because there are more hills on the shorter route, both directions take about the same time, from 45 minutes to an hour each. Two Google maps after the break.
As you can see, the route to work takes me next to Burrard Inlet and underneath the Second Narrows Bridge, technically over the train bridge and under the road bridge. It therefore takes me near boats and trains, and sometimes big ocean liners.
Those serious about biking should pick up the paper copy of the TransLink biking map. It's very detailed, with many types of bike routes—on street, off street, and alternate routes, with hills and caution areas noted.
In Friday's edition of The Globe and Mail, Canada's oldest national newspaper, I was interviewed and quoted about the OK Button, a social experiment in which wearers signal that it's okay to strike up a conversation with them. I'm reported to have said something like the following: "[I wear the button] to keep myself accountable when people do want to talk to me." After growing up in Courtenay, B.C., "I'm still used to giving people a signal on the street that acknowledges that they exist." The story appeared in the second last page of the entire paper (not just the front section), and can be read online, at least for the time being. Vancouver blogger Lesli has a copy of the article as well as some commentary about the OK button: “I don't think buttons or a capitalist scheme are necessarly the answer, but perhaps we've come to the part where neighbourliness and smiling require a viral marketing campaign?” I'm pretty sure I heard about the OK Button through Djun. The timestamp on his post is later than I remember, but the earliest I documented having a button was January 7th, 2007.
I've stopped listening to none of the podcasts listed in earlier installment of my monthly podcast subscriptions list, but did add two early this month just in time for this month's rundown:
- A Buddhist Podcast (podcast feed), but so far haven't listened to any of the episodes. If you know of any complimentary (or better) podcasts, please add a link to them in the comments. I'm looking for light fare, since all I've read on the subject is Buddhism Plain & Simple by Steve Hagen.
- AP Radio (podcast feed) by The Aesthetic Poetic, a group blog written by Vancouverites Matthew Nelson, Douglas Haddow, Kristen Dyck, William Campbell, and Alex Munro. Favourite episode so far: hiphop butters, with, except for an out-of-place RJD2, very Pete Rock-esque productions throughout.
I saw this first at Miss604, Roland took a photo of the article from The Vancouver Courier and a photo of the Google search, but apparently officials at what was, until this month, formally known as the Greater Vancouver Regional District and now known as Metro Vancouver are upset that they're not at the top of results in the Google search engine. The screenshot that appears in The Courier shows, at the bottom, two links to Urban Vancouver, but the article doesn't mention us by name. Their "webmaster" has recommended adding META tags to the site's HTML, when others like myself might recommend making the site a little more dynamic with interesting content so that we will link to it, or provide an RSS feed so we (Urban Vancouver) can syndicate the content and automatically link directly back to their site every time they post a new story. The algorithm Google uses to determine ranking might be 'arcane', but it's thoroughly and continuously being reverse-engineered. Besides, don't we all know that Wikipedia entries tend to dominate these days anyway and this is likely to be the case for 'Metro Vancouver' as well?
Roland did the search this morning, and confirmed that "Metro Vancouver" shows Metro News as the #1 result, with Urban Vancouver in the top 10 before the official Metro Vancouver website, which redirects to gvrd.bc.ca. (If you change the brand, wouldn't you normally redirect from the old domain to the new one, not the new one to the old?) I created a fun poll about whether people liked the name Metro Vancouver, though it didn't make it higher than our special series on the new Vancouver news daily.
Search engine ranking matters because rank confers authority. Urban Vancouver gets a couple of phone calls a week from people who ask about this and that because we're in the top 10 for whatever they're looking for. I'm sure way more people search for "Vancouver" than "Metro Vancouver", and that will always be true. Besides, I still call the region "Vancouver" or "the Lower Mainland" and people from outside and inside the region get the idea.