Local, national or global stories that are fairly interesting, screwed up, or guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Got a question? 3-1-1!

The City of Vancouver has a new number you can call if you have a question about city services or for non-emergencies. You can now dial 3-1-1 to get in touch with a city representative who can help you out on most topics and handle instances that do not require immediate police or fire intervention.

3-1-1 is already in use in other cities, like Chicago, where citizens can call about residential services, municipal policies and even report less than pleasant cab drivers. This new number should make it easier for residents in Vancouver to get their questions answered.

High-speed rail from Portland to Vancouver

The reality of high-speed rail between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Portland, Oregon is arriving at the next station.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Portland Mayor Sam Adams signed an agreement that would allow them apply for additional funding from the United States government so the infrastructure can be upgraded.
However, the Canadian government is looking to charge Amtrak an extra $1,500 CAD a day for running a second train between the two cities. Vancouver City Council wants the government to drop this fee on the rail provider as it could implicate the addition of another train.

The two mayors believe this upgrade will bring improved economic and environmental benefits to the communities along the line, plus not to mention cutting the trip from Vancouver to Seattle to two hours down from four. However, the upgrades and service additions are in the planning stages and will take a few years before being implemented.

Source: News1130

Time to panic? Hell no!

So now that the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised their level (almost similar to the US’s terrorism colour chart) to five; which is one level before a pandemic occurs. Basically, it means that there’s been one case of the swine flu that’s been transferred between humans in one region of the world.

Outside of Mexico, only one person, a 23 month old baby, has perished from the flu. Everyone else has contracted mild strains requiring little to no hospital interaction. I’d be more concerned of regular human influenza which kills between 4000-8000 people in Canada annually (that number will probably be more in the United States due to their increased population size). Only one baby, at a vulnerable age, has succumbed to this virus. Come on people, if you do catch it, you’ll be home for a few days with mild symptoms of coughing, fatigue, sore throat and a fever. If you’re violently ill (severe nausea, loss of appetite, extreme difficulty in breathing), then you’d be in a hospital. That hasn’t happened in Canada or the United States and it probably won’t.

And with Mexico closing non-essential services (government offices, businesses, public gatherings) in Mexico City, the fear has spread to other countries where people are now reluctant to go out. I’m going to be in Chicago next week attending Anime Central, one of the largest anime conventions in the United States. Oh dear, a gathering with a large number of people in a hotel and convention center. It’s the perfect breeding ground for the swine flu… Not really. Any contagious disease can be spread through crowded groups of people in confined spaces. Do yourself a favour: wash your hands with warm water and soap. If you need to cough or sneeze, carry disposable tissues with you and promptly place in a garbage bin. Carry hand sanitizer if you’re not going to be able to wash your hands for a while. Also, do everyone a huge favour: if you are sick (with anything) do not attend!! Common sense is the key to keeping a virus at bay.

The media needs to stop freaking everyone out with “pandemic” and “first death in the United States” and “school closures.” Did any of this happen when John Doe caught the human flu last year? Didn’t think so. Calm down, think rationally, and be aware. That’s all you need.

For further information, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Swine Flu

By now, everyone is aware of the latest strain of the influenza virus that’s percolating around the globe. The virus, which started in pigs, spread to humans sometime in March 2009 in central Mexico. Since then, cases have popped up in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Spain. Fortunately, no deaths have been recorded outside of Mexico where close to 150 people have reportedly succumbed to the disease.
However, when the media uses big frightening words like “pandemic” and mention past cases of severe outbreaks, like the 1918 Spanish Flu, where almost 50 million people died.
While it’s unfortunate that people will lose their lives to this, it’s not going to surge out of control where huge swaths of human life will be wiped out. There’s too much fear mongering where people are complaining that this is attributed to the planet being overcrowded and this will signal the end of human life as we know it. I don’t know where people are getting this bull since it seems to be a popular theory in my office.
The only reason why outbreaks like this occur is most often attributed to poor sanitary conditions, lack of available or affordable medical care, and just general misinformation. Right now, there are six cases of the swine flu in Canada: two in British Columbia and four in Nova Scotia, with no new reported cases. Those who are suffering through it are experiencing a mild case of the virus and are expected to make a full recovery. While there almost 45 cases of the reported virus in the United States (possibly more, but until more testing is done, it could just be your average strain of the flu), no-one outside of Mexico has died from it.
You can keep yourself safe from this flu by following the basics:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds or more.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes and nose.
  • If you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth with a tissue and dispose of it immediately after.
  • If you sneeze or cough with your hand over your mouth, wash your hands immediately.
  • If you do become sick, stay home and keep contact with others to a minimum.

Use your common sense people and you won’t even get sick. The swine flu is being blown out of proportion, and while it’s something to be concerned about, just don’t go overboard.

Editorial: Vancouver is not a bad city

Coal Harbour and Stanley Park

Coal Harbour and Stanley Park

Since the beginning of 2009, there has been a scar ripped across the face of this fair city, and it’s frightened a few people. International news agencies are proclaiming that Vancouver’s recent rash of violence is a turn off for tourism. I’ll say this right now — it’s not. But it’s only worrisome if you’re a gangster.
The shootings that have a lot of people worried are between rival gangs, not random targets. Sure, there haven’t been any innocent victims, but it’s a chance you take with being outside. It’s like walking across the street. You don’t know if someone’s going to run the red light and send you flying through the intersection. Always be aware of your surroundings, just like you would in any city.
I visit Chicago quite a bit, and they have a bad rap for being the home of organized crime with random homicides and attacks. But you know what? Chicago is still an amazing city with great people. So is Vancouver.
And with the US Dollar higher than the Canadian Dollar, it’s still a decent price for US tourists. So come up and visit Vancouver. I guarantee you’ll like it. Good weather, good food, good people. We’d like to see you.

The Willis Tower

Sears Tower

Sears Tower

A London based insurance organization, Willis Group Holdings, has leased 140,000 sq. feet of Chicago’s Sears Tower. Along with the lease comes the naming rights to the tallest building in the United States. The group will be moving in later this summer as a part of consolidating their Chicagoland offices.

Among other changes aside from the name, there could be some aesthetic changes made to the landmark, including re-coating the exterior in silver to lower energy costs and attract new tenants.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

Celebration of Light returns

Celebration of Light 2008

Celebration of Light 2008

The fireworks are back in English Bay this year. Three new sponsors have been found for the Celebration of Light fireworks festival and thus keeping them alive for the summer of 2009. Canada, South Africa, the U.K. and China will be participating on the nights of July 22, 25, 29 and August 1, 2009.

More information on the Celebration of Light can be found on the official website.

Source: News1130

It keeps falling

Snow falling

Snow falling

So it’s snowing again. It finally tapered off this morning, but it was pretty thick last night leaving the streets treacherous (as usual).

The weather is supposed to improve as the week progresses.

On Gallery

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