Category Archives: Thoughts

Perspective

I had someone helping me with my job today. The person had just started with the company and did not know the ropes. He was just following my instructions. (He did quite well.)

I found that I was quite busy making sure that he stayed busy and that work items were completed properly.

What I learned from it is that there is a lot of admin knowledge that I have picked up that I have to know in order to do my job even though my job is a labourer position. I appreciate the perspective.

Kamloops Municipal By-Elections Results

“It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.”—Unknown

Well, the results of the by-elections I wrote about last week are in. The candidates I voted for did fairly well relatively speaking.

I voted for Bill McQuarrie for mayor. He placed second with 2,661 votes (18.34% of the votes). The winner was Ken Christian with 9,274 votes (63.91% of the votes). The other candidates all got fewer than 1,000 votes each.

I voted for Ray Dhaliwal and Bill Sarai for councillors. The winners were Kathy Sinclair with 3,421 votes (12.29% of the votes) and Ray Dhaliwal with 3,292 votes (11.83% of the votes). Bill Sarai placed fifth with 2,182 votes (7.84% of the votes). If the percentages look low, remember that there were 21 candidates for two positions. There was no big gap as in the mayoral race; the numbers just gradually become less as you go down the list.

With the number of candidates, I wonder how badly the vote got split. Over time, first past the post voting tends to reduce the number of candidates to two. For an excellent explanation of this, watch
The Problems with First Past the Post Voting Explained by C.G.P. Grey
. He also has other videos on other voting systems (and other subjects, too).

(The election results come from Kamloops This Week which is Kamloops’s newspaper.)

Kamloops Municipal By-Elections

Sometimes, one gets the idea that the local Council is not doing a good job. Apparently, a lot of people in Kamloops are thinking that way. We have by-election coming up on September 30. There are six people running for mayor, and there are twenty-one people running for two councillor positions.

I wonder if the city government will catch on that they are not doing nearly as good a job as they think they are. One questionable decision that they have taken well-deserved flak for is changing the recycling program so that plastic bags are no longer accepted.

If you are a Kamloopsian eligible to vote, please be sure to.

Attack-X Gaming Convention Last Weekend

The big event of the year on my social calendar happened last weekend (from Friday to Sunday, September 15-17, 2017): Attack-X, Kamloops’s own gaming convention.

I played some Dungeons & Dragons.

Once again, I played The Mutant Epoch by Will McAusland (who lives in Kamloops).

I played some board games. I bought some board games.

Oh, yeah, there was tabletop wargaming, too. (It is the main focus of Attack-X.) The wargamers had a good time, and once again, I got to see some very nice painting and game setups.

I had a great time.

Attack-X Gaming Convention This Weekend

The big event of the year on my social calendar is happening this weekend (from Friday to Sunday, September 15-17, 2017): Attack-X, Kamloops’s own gaming convention.

Attack-X is mainly for tabletop wargaming, but once again, I will be there upholding the boardgaming contingent. There will be other gaming, too (some RPG and historical gaming, at least).

Come see some very interesting games. Tabletop wargaming with all those painted figures and scenery is an aesthetic treat even if you do not play.

Come play some games.

Public Transit Planning II

Last week, I wrote about bad public transit planning by transit planners. The other side is not perfect either.

Some routes do not have many riders. The route that I take way east out of downtown to work does not have a lot of riders. The route does end at B.C. Wildlife Park so it is useful to have bus service so schoolkids can get there on fieldtrips. The number of passengers on a trip is usually in the single digits though.

Sometimes, it seems that transit service is wanted only so that people can tick a box. A couple years ago, I was on an inventory counting job in Quesnel, BC. The hotel where I was staying was in the outskirts of town. I decided to check out the hobby store downtown. I got a bus schedule and proceeded to arrange my trip. While riding, I noted that the route was not direct but did a lot of twisting and turning through residential neighbourhoods, and that no one was getting on. I asked the driver, and she said that she had been driving the route for about six months, and in that time, she had picked up only two passengers in the neighbourhoods.

If a route does not exist, there will not be passengers, but if there is a route, it still might not get used much. This is rather expensive.

B.C. Transit, in Vancouver, used to publish a newsletter called The Buzzer. I remember reading an article that mentioned some of the costs. Apparently, the system made money on the Broadway bus route (although it would not have if there were not other routes). Some of the other routes were quite expensive to run. The worst cost approximately $12.50 per passenger trip; this was when bus fare was about $1.25 or $1.50.

Public transit seems to be stuck between the two. I wish I saw a solution. Do you have any ideas?

Public Transit Planning

Do you ride public transit? Do you know any public transit planners who do?

Some of the routes and timings that I have seen over the years are truly boggling. I have sometimes said that a public transit planner should be required to give up his driver’s licence as a condition of holding the position. That way, he might have to actually ride the system he designs. However, he would probably find another way around it.

A common route model for a city is the star. Routes run from the edge/suburbs to and from the center. If you wish to get to an adjacent suburb, you have to go all the way in and back out.

Routes that start late and end early can be frustrating. The earliest that I can get to work by public transit is about 8 AM. My shift supposedly starts at 7:30.

Transfer timings can be bad. I once hopped on a bus in a hurry. While I was riding downtown, I checked the schedule to see when my connecting bus would leave the loop. Unfortunately, three minutes before the bus I was on was scheduled to arrive or twenty minutes after.

It is not all bad, but as bus trips tend to be rather longer than car, any additional issues tend to make it quite a bit longer. Next week, I will cover some of the points of the other side.

The Tyranny of Hierarchy

With so many systems, items are grouped into hierarchies. This is used especially with computer systems. It is argued that this is the way the things are organised, but this is mistaken.

Consider your Web browsing. You might want to save a link as a bookmark (also called a favourite). Many browsers allow you to put the bookmark in a category. The hierarchy is all bookmarks – category – bookmarks in that category.

Similarly, how do you categorise your E-mail?

This is less than totally useful. It works for many cases, but it fails when you have items that fit in more than one category.

Sets make much more sense.

I like humour, and I have a category for humour. I like business articles, too. Why can I not specify that the bookmark is in both humour and business?

I also like good articles about programming. These might be connected with business; why can I not specify that the bookmark is in both business and programming? The article might be humorous, too, and why can I not have it in all three categories?

For the three categories, there are seven combinations. Do I have to create all seven? If I then wanted to find all business articles, I would have to look at four bookmark categories (business, business-programming, business-humour, business-programming-humour).

This might not be the end of it. If I want a category of courses one can take, there would be fifteen possible combinations, and all could happen.

The next number is 31.

I would like to be able to specify that my bookmark is to go into more than one category. It would be easy enough to put it in just one category for those who do not care about this issue.

How about it browser and E-mail programmers?

Cultural Appreciation vs. Cultural Appropriation II

Having done some more reading about cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation after last week’s Cultural Appreciation vs. Cultural Appropriation, I see a wonderful minefield.

Some people have a very good point about cultural misappropriation, but others have a very good point about how participating in other culture’s activities can be educational and enlightening and lots of fun.

My favourite part of the minefield is at Wikipedia’s Cultural Appropriation article, this paragraph: ‘While nearly all Native Americans and their tribes object to depictions as sports mascots, only one tribe explicitly approves of such representations. The Florida State Seminoles, which uses the iconography of the Seminole tribe and whose mascots are Osceola and Renegade, a depiction of the Seminole chief Osceola and his Appaloosa horse. After the NCAA attempted to ban the use of Native American names and iconography in college sports in 2005, the Seminole Tribe of Florida passed a resolution offering explicit support for FSU’s use of Seminole culture and Osceola as a mascot; the university was granted a waiver, citing the close relationship with and consultation between the team and the tribe. In 2013, the tribe’s chairman objected to outsiders meddling in tribal approval, stating that the FSU mascot and use of Seminole iconography “represents the courage of the people who were here and are still here, known as the Unconquered Seminoles.” Conversely, in 2013, the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma expressed disapproval of “the use of all American Indian sports-team mascots in the public school system, by college and university level and by professional sports teams”, and not all members of the tribe’s Florida branch are supportive of its stance.’

You just can not win if you always want everyone to approve of what you do, can you?

I have decided that I am not going to worry about it. If I see an activity that interests me, I may get involved regardless of the culture. I do try to be sensitive to others, but I might miss. Apologies are easy if one did not intend to offend in the first place. I will correct and carry on and understand somewhat better.