Power Success

Well, we’re back to the 20th cen­tu­ry (we’ll get to the 21st in a few more days, I think). The pow­er came back on at about mid­night last night. So far, the only per­ma­nent dam­age is a lot of spoilt food in the freez­er and fridge. Most of the clocks have been reset (except for the Rice Cook­er — who thought of putting one on that? Oh, right, some peo­ple set it in the morn­ing to cook rice for when they get home from work).
The com­put­er seems 100%, but the TV is still dead. Actu­al­ly, it died a day or two before the pow­er fail­ure, so it’s not relat­ed, as far as I can tell. Too bad that it didn’t mag­i­cal­ly heal itself when the pow­er returned.
The rea­son for the pow­er not com­ing back in our build­ing (when it did for the rest of the area of South False Creek that was affect­ed) was that our Main switch blew (and that is to say ‘splod­ed!) when the cur­rent start­ed flow­ing again. With lit­tle or no com­mu­ni­ca­tion (some of the land­line phones were out as well) we relied on the old fash­ioned game of tele­phone. Rumours were run­ning ram­pant as we came and left the build­ing. “It was a huge rat that got torched.” said one neigh­bor. “It’ll be down for 4 or 5 days.” said anoth­er. I’m sur­prised we didn’t get sto­ries cir­cu­lat­ing of aliens or zom­bies in the Gen­er­a­tor room.
Hav­ing show­ered, shaven and reset most of the radios and clocks, etc. I now have to get to the task of throw­ing out all of the bad food. It could have been much worse; this week we had less left­overs than we usu­al­ly do in the fridge.
I still chuck­le over the for­tune cook­ie (which I tweet­ed last night) that we got at the end of din­ner: NOW IS THE TIME TO DEPART FROM YOUR REGULAR ROUTINE. Yes, Mr. Cook­ie, it was indeed. Now, I’m just hop­ing to get back to some sem­blance of that rou­tine, if you don’t mind.

Lights Out

I was in the mid­dle of an email ear­ly yes­ter­day evening (about 7PM), when *poof* all the pow­er went off. It wasn’t as much of a shock to me as it was to Pam, who was down­stairs in the base­ment stor­age room, but she was able to feel her way out in the total dark — emer­gency light­ing kicked in after a minute or so, just as I was mak­ing her way to get her, should she have become locked in. There was a Blue­ber­ry Buck­le in the oven (it’s off now, leav­ing the dessert about half-baked. I had already made a light din­ner of tuna sal­ad and some hot rolls (which were, for­tu­nate­ly, done).
I checked with BC Hydro peri­od­i­cal­ly, and yes, they were work­ing on the out­age, which spanned about 6 streets (5th thru 11 or so), in rough­ly a 15 block area from Hem­lock Street to Yew or so (we are at the far­thest east­ern point of the out­age. The oth­er side of Hem­lock to the east is fine — Doh!). They first post­ed that it was a cable prob­lem and would be fixed by 7 PM. Then the set it to 11 PM. Curi­ous­ly, they said the out­age only affect­ed 1100 res­i­dents, but since we know for a fact that there are 500 in our block of Hem­lock thru Granville, that num­ber is seri­ous­ly out of whack.
We ate din­ner, locat­ed some can­dles and flash­lights, took a walk, got back and went to bed. Still no pow­er. I checked again (although my phone was start­ing to run out of pow­er), and BC Hydro had updat­ed to their esti­mate of when pow­er would be back to 2 AM. Then this morn­ing, we got up at about 6:30, and still no change. I went to the near­by Wicked Café to get some cof­fee (since mak­ing our own was out). Appar­ent­ly pow­er was restored at 2AM to every oth­er build­ing but ours. Great. Our build­ing man­ag­er is out of the coun­try, on vaca­tion, so that might account for the prob­lem, but it doesn’t help, either. Anoth­er call to BC Hydro reports that it is ‘A prob­lem with Cus­tomer Equip­ment’ and that the time they esti­mate that pow­er will be restored is 4 PM, but giv­en that the his­to­ry of this set of missed mile­stones is start­ing to sound a bit like BP in the Gulf of Mex­i­co, I’m not hold­ing my breath.
So, it’s about 9:45 and I’m writ­ing from Waves down­town. I plan on head­ing to the library at 10 when it opens, and have an appoint­ment about 3PM, which I will attend unshow­ered, unshaven (no hot water) and in what­ev­er clothes I could put togeth­er. I’m hop­ing that my com­put­er will come back with all dri­ves and that not too much food in our fridge and freez­er was spoiled, but it’s hard to say how much dam­age has been done.

A Bit of an Ode to Granville Island

Entrance to Granville Island at Dusk

Entrance to Granville Island at Dusk

I often tell peo­ple that liv­ing near and shop­ping reg­u­lar­ly for food at Granville Island has ‘changed my life’. It’s true, and I thought I’d spend a lit­tle time try­ing to explain how and why.

First of all, it’s changed the food that I buy. I rarely get food that comes in a box or is pre-processed, and get most­ly fresh meat and veg­eta­bles. The things I do buy that are cooked or pre­pared include sausages and oth­er meats and paté from Oya­ma Sausage com­pa­ny, soup from the Stock Mar­ket soup kitchen, the occa­sion­al pie (dessert or entrée) from À la Mode, and bread from any of the 3 bak­eries (French — La Baguette & L’Echalote, Arti­sanal — Ter­ra Breads, or English/North Amer­i­can — Stu­arts). I try to buy what’s in sea­son (although that can be hard in Jan­u­ary or Feb­ru­ary), and look for­ward to cer­tain months when I know some­thing will be appear­ing and grad­u­al­ly (or swift­ly) going down in price. We are about to hit the sum­mer fruit sea­son, and I love see­ing the arrival of peach­es, apri­cots, plums and blue­ber­ries. Because of this, I’ve learned which ven­dors have the best of each vari­ety of fruit, veg­etable or meat. While I do get some organ­ic veg­eta­bles (onions and pota­toes), I also try to buy things that are grown local­ly. Again, this makes the win­ter months a time when I have to com­pro­mise a bit, but most of the year it’s quite pos­si­ble.

We are very lucky in that we live a short walk from the mar­ket, and I quite frankly can’t imag­ine liv­ing far­ther away from it. The fact that we walk there and car­ry our gro­ceries back adds just a lit­tle bit of exer­cise (or at least the excuse to go out­side and get some air, even if the weath­er is rainy or sim­ply drea­ry.) For the vast major­i­ty of vis­i­tors to Granville Island, the mar­ket is a curios­i­ty, a kind of liv­ing muse­um of the way peo­ple used to shop for food (and still do in many oth­er coun­tries out­side of North Amer­i­ca). I’m always amused to see some­one tak­ing a pho­to­graph of a stack of cher­ries or straw­ber­ries (although they are pret­ty); They’re get­ting a snap­shot of my gro­cery store, and in a few cas­es where they flood the aisle and are obliv­i­ous to the rest of us, I wish they’d just get out of the way and let me get on my shop­ping. That doesn’t hap­pen too often, but some days, when a tourist bus lets off, the mar­ket has to walk the thin line between attrac­tion and gro­cery store.

I shop at the mar­ket often, and near­ly always bring a sack. Since I’m there so much, I’m rec­og­nized by near­ly all of the mer­chants, and am on a first name basis with sev­er­al of them. I’ve also learned about their fam­i­lies, heard some sto­ries, found out their likes and dis­likes, and think of them as peo­ple, not just some­one at a cash reg­is­ter. I’m impressed with the close-knit fam­i­lies who work in the Mar­ket, and am often been cheered up (or calmed down) by sim­ply enter­ing the mar­ket, espe­cial­ly when it’s not crowd­ed with tourists, which unlike a Super­mar­ket, is not lit sole­ly by flu­o­res­cents. (I should add that on Foursquare, the social media ‘game’, I’m the may­or of Granville Island Mar­ket, and have yet to be replaced by some­one who checks-in there more.)

Speak­ing of Super­mar­kets, I do go to Cost­co about once every 2 months or so for a few items (olive oil, paper goods, maple syrup), and also go to an organ­ic gro­cer on Broad­way (who used to be the Dan-De-Pak home office, or so it seemed) for rice, the odd box of break­fast cere­al or crack­ers, etc.) I always feel kind of dis­ap­point­ed and maybe even a lit­tle depressed when I walk into a cav­ernous Safe­way, IGA or Save-On Foods, all lit by those flu­o­res­cent lights, and very cold from the frozen aisles.

Back to the Granville Mar­ket: In addi­tion to the peo­ple, the food and the light, there are the smells. I can near­ly nav­i­gate the mar­ket by my nose. In the fish mar­ket, I can smell the brine of today’s catch. There’s fre­quent­ly the aro­ma of fresh­ly baked bread by the bak­eries (and La Baguette has that mar­velous yeasty smell of pain de mie near­ly all of the time). The food court (which I must con­fess, I some­times go to first, in order to eat before I shop, which helps stop larg­er pur­chas­es made when hun­gry), there are areas where you smell piz­za, cur­ry, or falafel. In sev­er­al spots in the build­ing, the smell of cof­fee and tea wafts out into the aisle, and you can under­stand why there’s such a line at J J Bean.

In the sum­mer, there is the extra treat of Thurs­days, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the morn­ing, when local farm­ers truck in their pro­duce, and sell some of it out­side, next to the Mar­ket. In recent years, some farm­ers have spe­cial­ized in Heir­loom Toma­toes, and I’ve actu­al­ly tast­ed cel­ery (yes, cel­ery!) that is actu­al­ly mind-blow­ing­ly sweet and tasty. Some of the farm­ers stay all day, but most of them are there main­ly in the morn­ing, so Thurs­days are par­tic­u­lar­ly good to get ear­ly and get the best pro­duce.

I’ve dis­cov­ered new fruits and veg­eta­bles at the mar­ket. We’ve tried Sting­ing Net­tles as a side dish, and boiled down elder­ber­ries into syrup. I’ve cooked sour cher­ry soup, and after our trip to South­east Asia, have made Ataulfo Man­goes (Mani­la Hon­ey Man­goes), Drag­on­fruit, Rambu­tans, Lon­gans, Lychees, Pom­leos and Pas­sion­fruits a treat for break­fast or dessert. Near­ly all are avail­able (although not cheap­ly most of the time) at the mar­ket. I’ve fre­quent­ed the Asian Food spe­cial­ty shop in the mar­ket, The South Chi­na Seas Trad­ing Com­pa­ny, where I’ve final­ly learned to appre­ci­ate the fin­er points of coconut milk, fresh tamarind, lit­tle red chiles, lemon­grass, galan­gal, and even fish sauce. I’m thrilled to have found great fish that is cheap (Rock­fish — big, red, and ugly, but they’ll filet it for you for free, so you have a love­ly, firm white flesh for cur­ry or soup), and am sur­prised at how good the turkey is. I’ve cheat­ed a lit­tle, and got­ten pre-mar­i­nat­ed Maui Ribs, as well as Cor­nish Game Hens, and one of these days this sum­mer we’ll make a Caribbean Goat stew with the fresh goat meat we some­times see them cart in. The spot prawns are in this week, and every year I look for fid­dle­head ferns (in the Spring) and Okana­gan pears (in the Autumn).

All in all, Granville Mar­ket has expand­ed my diet, made me more in tune with the pas­sage of the sea­sons, low­ered my blood pres­sure (at least when I’m vis­it­ing, I think), and pro­vid­ed me with a sense of con­nec­tion to my food with the peo­ple who grow it and sell it. It’s helped me learn to cook new and more com­pli­cat­ed dish­es, and also let me off the hook when I’m stumped and just get a home­made turkey pie or soup. I feel as if I’m rich­er and my life is health­i­er and fuller with the mar­ket in it, which is about the most one can say about any activ­i­ty, espe­cial­ly one as mun­dane as food shop­ping.

Heirloom Tomatoes at Granville Island Market

Heir­loom Toma­toes at Granville Island Mar­ket

In Memoriam

I’ve been think­ing about this post for a long time, and it’s prob­a­bly the hard­est one I’ve ever had to write. The world lost some­one last week. She wasn’t famous, but she was impor­tant. Her name was Rebec­ca Ham­mann.

Rebec­ca, or Bec­ca, as she pre­ferred to be called, will be missed by many peo­ple; I’m clear­ly not alone. There has been an offi­cial obit­u­ary, and there will be memo­r­i­al ser­vices, although I doubt I can attend them. I can’t even begin to sum up a per­son who I haven’t been in touch with on a reg­u­lar basis for a cou­ple of decades; I didn’t know her as an adult as well as I did when she and I were young. I can say that know­ing that we will not meet again seems just as painful as it would have been if we had seen each oth­er reg­u­lar­ly.

We met, back in the late 1970s, at a sum­mer pro­gram called The Walden School, a 5-week pro­gram for kids 9–18 who were inter­est­ed in music, and in par­tic­u­lar, music com­po­si­tion. The Walden School, as it’s web site says, was and is ‘an artist colony for young musi­cians’. The name of the place is from Hen­ry David Thoreau’s Walden, which sug­gest­ed an affin­i­ty with the New Eng­land Tran­scen­den­tal­ists, as well as the idea of retreat to art with­in nature. More recent­ly, when I served on the Board of Direc­tors for the School, we wres­tled with a phrase that sum­ma­rized their approach, which was that at Walden, one could study music as if it were a lan­guage. You learned to under­stand it, as well as ‘speak’ it. As part of their train­ing, all of the stu­dents com­pose, and just about every­thing that they write is per­formed by a com­bi­na­tion of oth­er stu­dents, fac­ul­ty, and pro­fes­sion­al per­form­ers in res­i­dence. When Bec­ca and I were stu­dents, the pro­gram was held in Ver­mont, but since then it has moved to New Hamp­shire. I recent­ly learned with pride, that dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion in New York where a cur­rent Walden stu­dent was receiv­ing an award, it was referred to as ‘the renowned Walden School’.

Here’s what the obit­u­ary won’t tell you: Becky (as she was called back then) was no aver­age stu­dent. She had an extra­or­di­nary mind. She was a fine per­former, but not as excep­tion­al as she was a com­pos­er. At the time, we were both study­ing the opus 11 piano works of Arnold Schoen­berg. In par­tic­u­lar, the first of those three pieces, we real­ized, was the musi­cal equiv­a­lent of a Hirschfeld car­i­ca­ture, where instead of pick­ing out ‘Ninas’, one could find tens, per­haps hun­dreds of instances of a 3-note cell: b,g-sharp,g-natural — a falling minor third fol­lowed by a half step. In fact, Schoenberg’s piece of ear­ly atonal­i­ty is not so much hid­ing these cells, but like a body, it is almost entire­ly com­posed of them. Some of the stu­dents wrote a few pieces based on this method of tight con­struc­tion. As an assign­ment, Becky wrote a con­cen­trat­ed gem of a piano piece that I can still play back in my mind. It also was based on a three-note cell, but her’s was c,b-natural,f-sharp, a ris­ing major sev­enth fol­lowed by a falling fourth. The dra­ma of that ini­tial leap, fol­lowed by the small­er leap down, was fol­lowed by a bril­liant inver­sion of the first 3 notes: a,b-flat,e — a falling major sev­enth fol­lowed by a ris­ing aug­ment­ed fourth. Those first 6 notes dis­played her unique sense of musi­cal dra­ma and bal­ance, and along with the fine­ly craft­ed and dra­mat­ic pas­sages that fol­lowed them, won her a BMI (Broad­cast Music Incor­po­rat­ed) prize at the age of 15. The usu­al age for win­ning a prize like that is per­haps mid-twen­ties. Sev­er­al of my teach­ers, Pulitzer prize win­ners and now-famous com­posers won a BMI prize when they were old­er than she was, and many of them didn’t win one at all. I hope to be able to post or point to an online record­ing of the piece. The cas­sette record­ing I had of it is long lost.

Bec­ca and I stayed in touch, main­ly via spo­radic let­ters, on and off until I went away to col­lege. I know that she pur­sued a life in teach­ing, beat back breast can­cer, and adopt­ed an adorable child in Chi­na who is named Lucy. Those items one can find in her obit­u­ary. What it does not tell you is that she remained extra­or­di­nary — How could she not be? She had her seizure while teach­ing Sci­ence class. Despite the fact that she could no longer teach, she insist­ed in com­ing back in to see her class. She brought with her the images from her MRIs that indi­cat­ed the tumor. I believe that she also met with each of her for­mer stu­dents to talk about what death was, how it was a part of liv­ing, etc. In essence, she turned her ill­ness and prog­no­sis into a vehi­cle for learn­ing. Frankly, I’m in awe of such courage and clear-head­ed­ness.

The obit­u­ary also men­tions that when she learned of her diag­no­sis, she imme­di­ate­ly wrote Pres­i­dent-Elect Barack Oba­ma. In fact, her seizure struck just 2 days after the elec­tion. Here is an excerpt from her online diary:

TUESDAY, JANUARY 13, 2009 5:15 PM, CST

When I first found out about the return of my can­cer and that it was ter­mi­nal, one of my first thoughts was to write a let­ter to Oba­ma. Remem­ber, all this began the day after the elec­tion. So I did write one, telling him to use his lead­er­ship to get us to make hard deci­sions. “Your task is daunt­ing. It is not some­thing you can do alone. You will need to con­vince the peo­ple of this coun­try and in this world that they need to and can change. If any­one can do this, it is you. In a cul­ture of lies and con­ve­nience and ease, you have the abil­i­ty to say the truth clear­ly and, I hope, the peo­ple of this coun­try have the will­ing­ness to hear your words.”

I want­ed VERY bad­ly for him to read the let­ter, but every­one knows how hard it is to get a let­ter to the Pres­i­dent him­self. My sis­ter and her hus­band gave it to some­one who gave it to some­one who gave it to his per­son­al sec­re­tary, the per­son who decides what papers go across his desk. Pret­ty darned close.

Then today, I got a let­ter from Oba­ma. It was beau­ti­ful. It feels incred­i­bly good to know he heard me.

Rather than link to her let­ter and his reply (which are online else­where), I’d like to pro­vide them here:

Dear Pres­i­dent-Elect Oba­ma,

For the last year or so I have felt as if the world was falling apart. Our sys­tem is based on buy­ing more than we need, more cheap­ly than the true costs. We believe that we deserve com­fort and ease and mate­r­i­al things that our Earth can not afford to give us. That is why I hoped so much that you would be elect­ed. You bring hope and true lead­er­ship to this coun­try and this world. There is a chance, now, for my two-year-old daugh­ter to live in a world of beau­ty and love instead of the chaos and greed I had begun to imag­ine for her.

She is a glo­ri­ous child, full of life and love and humor and she alone is worth chang­ing the world for. You must not fal­ter. I know in my head that there are mil­lions of chil­dren to pro­tect; even adults who have cre­at­ed this mess are wor­thy. But I must ask you for her in par­tic ular. The day after your elec­tion I learned that I do not have much time. A sev­en-year-old can­cer has spread to my lungs and brain and will pre­vent me from tak­ing part in the changes that must occur. So I am beg­ging you to lead this world with all your heart and mind, to not take the easy path and to nev­er let the rest of us take it either. This is a lot to ask of you, I know. Our entire par­a­digm must shift. Our deci­sions have been based on mate­r­i­al pos­ses­sions and com­forts. Even mine. I just decid­ed a few weeks ago to try to live with­out my own car. I real­ized that I must be part of the solu­tion now before it is too late. But my tiny real­iza­tion must be mag­ni­fied a mil­lion times if it is to save our beau­ti­ful Earth. Our lives must change. We sim­ply can not sus­tain what we are cur­rent­ly doing.

My hope is that you are hon­est and coura­geous enough to lead us in the direc­tion we must go. You have two beau­ti­ful daugh­ters your­self. You know there isn’t a moment to lose.
But your task is daunt­ing. It is not some thing you can do alone. You will need to con­vince the peo­ple of this coun­try and in this world that they need to and can change. If any one can do this, it is you. In a cul­ture of lies and con­ve­nience and ease, you have the abil­i­ty to say the truth clear­ly and, I hope, the peo­ple of this coun­try have the will­ing­ness to hear your words. The changes we must make will require almost over­whelm­ing amounts of courage and hope — and that is what you inspire in us.

My dar­ling Lucy can do with­out most of what we have grown accus­tomed to — the mate­r­i­al pos­ses­sions and the com­forts. But she needs a healthy Earth and a thought­ful self-sac­ri­fic­ing humankind will­ing to act for our future gen­er­a­tions no mat­ter how dif­fi­cult.

Please, from the bot­tom of my heart, don’t give up this fight. If you could meet my daugh­ter Lucy, you would know why you can not. And there are mil­lions of Lucys in this world.

Sin­cere­ly,
Rebec­ca Ham­mann

Obama’s reply:

Dear Rebec­ca,

Thank you for the let ter that you wrote to me on behalf of your daugh­ter. I was moved by your sense of hope and pur­pose.

You described what makes Lucy unique and glo­ri­ous, and then end­ed by say­ing that “there are mil­lions of Lucys in this world.” I was struck by the seem­ing con­tra­dic­tion, but of course it’s true — we all know that there are hun­dreds of mil­lions of chil­dren, and yet each is unique.

Just like you, I try every day to build a bet­ter world for my daugh­ters, and to make sure they are ready to enjoy it — that their per­son­al­i­ties are shaped by love, knowl­edge, com­pas­sion, a sense of hon­or, and the free spir­it that my moth­er always nur­tured in me. While I can’t imag­ine the anguish you feel know­ing that Lucy will grow up with out you, I am pro­found­ly hon­ored to be part of the hope that buoys you today.

You are right to be hope­ful, because our chil­dren face a future of lim­it­less pos­si­bil­i­ty. We know that a sus­tain­able way of life is essen­tial to our chil­dren and grand chil­dren. But beyond that, the quest for sus­tain­abil­i­ty that you described with such elo­quence and pas­sion is inte­gral as well, because it is a pow­er­ful uni­fi­er, moti­vat­ing peo­ples and nations to act in con­cert so that all may ben­e­fit.
I have every con­fi­dence that your daugh­ter will grow up to be a part of this, liv­ing out the prin­ci­ples that have moti­vat­ed you and which will live on with­in her. My heart tells me Lucy will play a part in cre­at­ing the change you and I seek. My faith tells me that you will be smil­ing down on us the whole time.

Sin­cere­ly,
Barack Oba­ma

With Becca’s death last week, two phras­es come to my mind. The first is Shake­speare, from King Lear, when he mourns Cordelia: “Thou’lt come no more, / Nev­er, nev­er, nev­er, nev­er, nev­er.” I will nev­er again hear her unmis­tak­able voice, nev­er again take in those gray-blue eyes, nev­er again kiss her (we kissed once; I thought there would be more but that one was the first and last), she’ll nev­er see the sketch­es I made of a Sym­pho­ny that includ­ed her name (or at least the let­ters E-B-E-C-C-A) worked into it in sev­er­al sec­tions. We’ll nev­er have a reunion where we laugh over my youth­ful crush on her (and how one day she final­ly wrote me a let­ter telling me to light­en up, that I was becom­ing a bit of a pain).

The oth­er is a phrase from one of the Eng­lish trans­la­tions I read of the Tao Te Ching: “The Tao is the mys­te­ri­ous female.” Like many young girls, Bec­ca talked soft­ly and mum­bled. Rather than ask her to say a phrase again, the awk­ward, pim­ply ado­les­cent that I was, I would just guess at what she had said. This, plus the com­plex work­ings of her mind, made her a great mys­tery to me, and one can’t but help but love a mys­te­ri­ous female.

Final­ly, as a last word, I want­ed to include one oth­er entry in Becca’s online diary, which also dis­plays, for lack of a bet­ter word, just how extra­or­di­nary she was, to the end:

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2008 1:25 PM, CST

This whole expe­ri­ence is pro­found­ly dif­fer­ent than I would have ever expect­ed. I feel over­whelm­ing­ly lucky. There is so much good­ness around me. I have to say I’ve been kind of down on humans as a species for a while. When we just go about their busi­ness, we take too much from our Earth and each oth­er. We are so often self­ish and cru­el. But when faced with chal­lenge, human beings are a glo­ri­ous thing. We are full of love and strength. Any­thing is pos­si­ble. The thoughts and love com­ing from all of you just proves this. Thank you for shar­ing your thoughts and feel­ings with me!

And it seems clear that this whole expe­ri­ence isn’t real­ly about me. It is about the chal­lenge. The thing that makes us rise up and be what we ought to be. I see those around me do this every­day and it fills my heart with hope. Not for the amount of time I may or may not have, but for all of us.

Bec­ca

Imminent BarCamp

Im attending BarCampVancouver 2009

Tomor­row is a big day. About 300 or so peo­ple are going to con­verge at an office park not far from here, The Dis­cov­ery Parks build­ing (old QLT build­ing) at 887 Great North­ern Way. We are all, once again par­tic­i­pat­ing in the annu­al Bar­Cam­p­Van­cou­ver, an ‘uncon­fer­ence’ and part of an inter­na­tion­al net­work of sim­i­lar con­fer­ences, “born from the desire for peo­ple to share and learn in an open envi­ron­ment.” In a Bar­Camp, (a move­ment that start­ed in 2005). It’s hard for me to believe that the first Bar­Camp (in Palo Alto, in August of that year) was orga­nized from con­cept to event,  in less then a week, because this year I’ve been involved in the orga­ni­za­tion­al plan­ning of the event, and I can tell you that it took us longer than a week to orga­nize this one (more like sev­er­al months).

I like to think that I have a lot of smart and inter­est­ing friends. I’m very much look­ing for­ward to some of these pre­sen­ta­tions, includ­ing a remote pre­sen­ta­tion via Skype from my child­hood friend David Saslav, who is lead­ing a dis­cus­sion (from San Fran­cis­co) on “how choral singing makes you smarter and improves mem­o­ry”. Not only is this a top­ic near and dear to me, but I’m also fas­ci­nat­ed by the idea of a remote and inter­ac­tive pre­sen­ta­tion at a con­fer­ence — hope it all works! Oth­er top­ics dur­ing the day range from Data Min­ing Twit­ter, to how sto­ry­telling is remak­ing video games, to a pub­lic dis­cus­sion of how we are going to per­haps fill the hole cre­at­ed in the Van­cou­ver Tech scene by the demise of Work­Space.

If you are in the area, have a free day this Sat­ur­day, and are inter­est­ed in a day of stim­u­lat­ing pre­sen­ta­tions and dis­cus­sions, head on over to Dis­cov­ery Parks on Great North­ern Way. As I always say about Bar­Camp, it proves that every­body is an expert in some­thing, and hang­ing around experts can def­i­nite­ly expand your mind and make your day.