Salish Sea Coastline from the Air

The coastline of south-western British Columbia is beautiful jewel, filled with lush islands, sandy beaches and plenty of marine activity. See this amazing landscape from the air in a collection of photos on Gallery. It truly is breathtaking part of our world.

Matamoros Bus

Taking the bus in Matamoros

The border towns of Mexico are the gateway to this amazing country. Getting around Matamoros in the north-eastern state of Tamaulipas by bus is a world apart from public transit in Canada and the US, but opens up the what this bustling city has to offer.

Read more…

Forest Fire Risk

Now that summer is upon us, the temperatures soar and British Columbia’s dense forests dry out and become prone to forest fires. Small fires, including camp fires, are now banned through much of the province due to the risk. If you see a forest fire, call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a mobile device. For more info, click here.

 

Kingdom Hearts III opening video released

With only a month and a half left before the launch of Kingdom Hearts III, Sqaure-Enix has unveiled the opening cinematic featuring the song Face My Fears by Utada Hikaru and Skrillex.

Kingdom Hearts III has a release date of January 29th, 2019 on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Source: YouTube

Joker from Persona 5 joins Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

During The Game Awards on December 6th, 2018, Nintendo announced a new player to join the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster: Joker from Persona 5.

Joker is the first of five DLC packs planned for the title; each DLC pack includes one new fighter, one new stage and music. Each pack is priced at $5.99 USD, or $24.99 USD ($31.49 CAD) for all under the Fighter’s Pass.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was released for Nintendo Switch on December 7th, 2018.

Persona 5 was released April 4th, 2017 on both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.

Source: Super Smash Bros.

Goku makes first appearance in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Among the American Thanksgiving traditions of turkey, pie, and football is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. For 2018, the parade welcomed a newcomer — Super Saiyan Blue Goku from Dragon Ball.

At 56 feet tall, 70 feet long and 36 feet wide, this massive Saiyan required 90 people to handle and selected to promote the upcoming film Dragon Ball Super: Broly, which premieres later this year in Japan.

It’s the first time a manga character has appeared in this 92 year-old parade.

Source: Macy’s

Detective Pikachu live-action film to hit theatres in 2019

There’s never been a Pokémon film like it before. Detective Pikachu is a whole new adventure, based on the recent video game for the Nintendo 3DS.

The raucous Ryme City is no place for a cute and cuddly Pikachu, but this isn’t just any Pikachu, it’s Detective Pikachu and, only one voiced by Ryan Reynolds, can navigate the mean streets. With Justice Smith by his side, searching for his missing father, this duo is expected to be a Pokémon journey like none other.

Detective Pikachu is expected to hit theatres May 11th, 2019.

Source: YouTube

Stan Lee passes away at age 95

Stan Lee at Alamo City Comic Con in 2014

Stan Lee at Alamo City Comic Con in 2014.

Stan Lee, the mastermind behind some of Marvel’s greatest superheroes, passed away Monday at age 95.

Lee, who worked with Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, created new superheroes under the Marvel banner, many of which continue to star in print, digital and film to this day, including Spider-Man, the Hulk and Iron Man.

Continuing to work into his twilight years, Lee made appearances at fan conventions and cameos in movies based on his characters.

Source: CBC

New Kingdom Hearts III trailer with Winnie the Pooh

With only a few months to go before the release of Kingdom Hearts III, Square-Enix has dropped another trailer of the long-awaited game.

Scenes included are from Tangled, Winnie the Pooh, Big Hero 6 and Pirates of the Caribbean, along with a glimpse at some of the new mini-games, as well as interactions with Organization XIII members Demyx and Vexen.

Kingdom Hearts III has a release date of January 29th, 2019 on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Source: YouTube

Remembrance Day services for 2018 in Metro Vancouver

Remembrance Day 2017

Waiting to lay wreathes at the cenotaph in Victory Square on November 11th, 2017.

On Sunday, November 11th, 2018, communities throughout Metro Vancouver will hold ceremonies to honour the men and women who serve and have given their lives for Canada for Remembrance Day. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I on November 11th, 1918.

  • Vancouver – Ceremony and Parade at Victory Square (West Hastings Street between Cambie and Hamilton streets). Starts at 10:00 am PST.
  • Burnaby – Remembrance Day Ceremony at North Burnaby Cenotaph in Confederation Park (Willingdon Avenue and Penzance Drive). Starts at 10:40 am PST, followed by the ceremony at 11:00 am PST.
  • Burnaby – Remembrance Day Ceremony at South Burnaby Cenotaph in Bonsor Park (Imperial Street and Nelson Avenue). Parade starts at 10:30 am PST, followed by the ceremony at 11:00 am PST.
  • New Westminster – Ceremony at the Cenotaph in front of New Westminster City Hall (511 Royal Avenue). Starts at 10:25 am PST.
  • Surrey – Ceremony at Cloverdale Cenotaph at the Surrey Museum and Surrey Archives (17710 – 56A Avenue). Starts at 9:30 am PST.
  • Richmond – Ceremony and Parade at Richmond City Hall (6911 No. 3 Road). Parade leaves Minoru Park at 10:20 am PST followed by the ceremony at 10:40 am PST.
  • Coquitlam – A Remembrance Day service will be held at the Blue Mountain Park Cenotaph (975 King Albert Avenue) beginning at 9:45 am PST, followed by a parade from the Como Lake Middle School to the Cenotaph at 10:30 am PST and concluding with services at the Cenotaph in Blue Mountain Park (975 King Albert Avenue).
  • Delta – Ceremony at North Delta Social Heart Plaza (11415 84th Avenue). Starts at 10:40 am PST.
  • Delta – Parade and Ceremony at Ladner Memorial Park (5010 47th Avenue). Parade starts at 10:15 am PST followed by the ceremony at 10:45 am PST.

FUNimation ends licensing deal with Crunchyroll

FUNimation Entertainment's office in Flower Mound, Texas

FUNimation Entertainment’s office in Flower Mound, Texas

For the last two years, Funimation and Crunchyroll have shared a license agreement where Funimation-licensed titles would also appear on the Crunchyroll streaming service. As of today, October 18th, 2018, Funimation has ended that agreement in order to pursue their own streaming services under FunimationNow.

This change will see “several hundred new shows” appear on FunimationNow, with the loss of some titles; the titles shared with Crunchyroll would continue with some minor changes. My Hero Academia, Attack on Titan, Black Clover, Dragon Ball Z and One Piece are a few of the series shared between the two companies. A finalized list of affected titles was not provided.

An added casualty of this is Funimation leaving the VRV streaming service on November 9th, 2018.

Crunchyroll streams anime series in Japanese with subtitles, where as Funimation was involved with dubbing shows and films in English and handling physical distribution through DVD and Blu-ray.

Sony Pictures Television announced their acquisition of a 95% stake in Texas-based Funimation on July 31st, 2017.

AT&T acquired Crunchyroll’s parent company Otter Media on August 7th, 2018.

Sources: Funimation, Crunchyroll

Fourth season of My Hero Academia announced

With the third season of My Hero Academia finished, a fourth season was announced on FUNimation’s Facebook page. U.A. High School’s Big Three (Mirio Togata, Nejire Hado, and Tamaki Amajiki) and the villain Overhaul are expected to be central to this story arc.

A date was not mentioned for when this upcoming season will air.

The popular action/superhero series is based on the manga by Kohei Horikoshi also recently had a feature film releasedMy Hero Academia: Two Heroes.

Source: Facebook

Metro Vancouver and Transit

Transit in Metro Vancouver is always a hot button topic. Anything and everything from fares, bus stops, right up to the technology used for transit vehicles. It seems that in the last decade or so, TransLink (the operating company behind Metro Vancouver’s public transportation system) and the government (both municipal and provincial) have proven they are incapable of effectively providing any sort of reliable operation to commuters in the Lower Mainland.

I’ve lived in the Vancouver area all my life and watched SkyTrain grow beyond the New Westminster station to Columbia, then over the Fraser to Scott Road and eventually out to King George, the Millennium Line when it only stopped at Sapperton, when there was no fare gates, and that you had to walk up steps when boarding a bus. Before the turn of the century, everything was branded as BC Transit, in its red, white and blue colour scheme of the Union Jack on our provincial flag. While there have been some major improvements and changes to the way we get around the region, not all of it is positive.

Many of those who live in Vancouver proper, Burnaby, New Westminster and parts of the Tri-Cities (Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam), transit is generally available and reliable. The story changes to the communities south of the Fraser River, where buses are frequently delayed or non-existent, and local governments ignore the advice of the people that elected them into office by offering unpopular methods of transportation.

That unpopular method is LRT (Light Rail Transit). For the last decade or more, the City of Surrey has been doing studies and waffling over the idea of how best to connect its many town centres (Surrey Central, Newton, Guildford) together with the existing SkyTrain network. In the last year or two, the city has made the firm decision to implement LRT going down King George Boulevard to Newton and out east along 104 Avenue to Guildford. I could go on and on about why this is a terrible idea (read my thoughts on this), but once the decision from the provincial and federal governments to issue funding for construction for the LRT, there has been a hard stance from all levels government that LRT is going forward. Their lack of vision and all the computer-generated imagery showcasing a happy community with less cars and more pedestrians is short-sighted. Surrey is a growing city and a decade after LRT is in place, the city and TransLink will again be petitioning the provincial and federal governments for expanded SkyTrain service, thus wasting more of our tax dollars which could have been spent efficiently from the get go. The LRT will eventually be dug up and replaced with an elevated SkyTrain guideway (akin to when the express bus lanes down No. 3 Road in Richmond were built to great fanfare only to be torn up a few years later for the construction of the Canada Line).

Now Vancouver is considering LRT along a major east-west thoroughfare: 41st Avenue. Yes, the 41 bus is always crowded and yes it takes forever to get from Joyce-Collingwood station out to the University of British Columbia. Here we go again. If you drive along 41st Avenue, you’ll notice it’s not very wide and always congested. Lined with single family homes, the city will need to expropriate a large number of properties to make this work, driving up the cost exponentially. While the city is trying to find ways to move people to their destinations with fast and affordable service, LRT, again is not the right idea. You’re basically moving the bus onto rails at additional cost with limited room for increased capacity. And with the Oakridge area undergoing major renovations to include high density residential space, this idea will fall flat on its face. A better solution would be dedicated HOV lanes for transit vehicles and cars with two or more occupants.

Furthermore to TransLink’s and the government’s poor knowledge on building transit is the Canada Line. Completed in 2009 before the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the Canada Line became too popular for its own good. Listening to the complaints of local business groups in Richmond that two tracks would make their establishments lose money because of an unsightly sterile concrete guideway, the line became single tracked after Lansdowne station (and out at the Vancouver International Airport). But it’s no joke now that the density in the island city is increasing with plans to tear down Lansdowne Mall to replace it with new high-rises and commercial space. But that’s not the worst of it. The Canada Line was crippled from the beginning with short platforms limiting the trains to two cars total. This lack of thought for future capacity has filled station platforms and crowded trains. TransLink has ordered more cars from Hyundai Rotem (the group that manufactured the first trains) to add more to increase service. There was even talk of making the trains into three cars, but that never materialized. Now Vancouver and Richmond are building up density along this rapid transit route which cannot possibly keep pace with that growth. Let’s not forget the clandestine construction which pitted local merchants along Cambie Street against TransLink and the builders over lost sales from lack of customers avoiding said construction (they’re now finally being awarded damages).

Then there was the Compass card debacle. How many transit systems around the world use fare gates/turnstiles and contactless cards for admission? Quite a few, and yet TransLink managed to drop the ball repeatedly because they didn’t redesign the fare structure beforehand. Trying to get proven technology to work with TransLink’s zone-based fare structure was a headache for the company and the public in general as costs spiralled out of control to the tune of $194 million dollars. The fare gates sat open almost four years before they were all closed in July 2016 finally forcing riders to tap in or out and ending nearly 30 years of the honour system.

The only recently positive news coming from TransLink and the levels of government is the extension of the Millennium Line out to Arbutus Street (and hopefully further out to the University of British Columbia). The Millennium Line has long been reviled as the “SkyTrain to nowhere” and its daily passenger counts are far less than the Expo Line, this has the potential to bring longer trains (no more two-car Mark II trains) as it connects with busy Broadway corridor. As long as TransLink plays its cards right and builds stations with longer platforms, this addition to SkyTrain becomes a much needed respite to the crowded 99 B-Line buses.

And to add a cherry on-top of it all, a TransLink bus stop in Pitt Meadows was named the worst in all of North America. Why? Because it’s on the paved shoulder of Lougheed Highway against a jersey barrier. Passengers are forced to endure speeding vehicles if they wait on the shoulder or they have lumber over the cement barrier to board their bus when it arrives. TransLink said they would address this, but why was it built in the first place? How could this ever have been a good idea from the beginning?

While TransLink continues to roll along like a sow in slop, it’s safe to say their executive leadership (along with the assistance of the Mayor’s Council*) will continue to draft up impractical and ill-considered plans to expand and “improve” the future of transit in Metro Vancouver.

*While TransLink is an independent entity, the Mayor’s Council (that’s 21 Metro Vancouver mayors, the Chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation, and the elected representative of Electoral Area “A”) pretty much has final say over the costs of projects, TransLink board appointments, fare increases, and executive compensation plans.

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