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New skunk in the neighbourhood is a welcome sight

A skunk and I, passing like two ships in the pail light of a chilly Sunday morning.

My first sighting of a skunk in all of 2018 took place Friday evening (October 19th) as I slunk back to my parkade sleeping spot. I was fairly sick with the flu, so I had to wonder later if I wasn’t perhaps hallucinating.

However, my second skunk sighting of the year took place just two days later, a little after 1 a.m. Sunday morning, when I was only half-sick with the flu and this time I managed to get photos.

And given that both sightings took place in the same stretch of alley on the north side of West Broadway Avenue, between Oak and Alder Street, there’s a good chance that what I saw both times was the same skunk. Read more…

McDonald’s exercise in upsizing still has a Monopoly on confusing

My breakfast stickers on the first day of the 2018 Coast to Coast Monopoly contest.

Hey! Your one-in-five chance not to win $10,000 but probably pick yourself up a few free food prizes at McDonald’s Canada restaurant locations is back. That’s right, the fast food chain’s popular Coast to Coast Monopoly contest is in effect until November 11th.

For the next three weeks, select McD’s product packages will be adorned with pairs of Monopoly stickers for customers to peel and collect, all in hopes of completing property sets and winning the related prizes—everything from instant win food prizes and barbeque sets, to gas for life, or a cool ten grand in cash! Read more…

Vancouver homeless hitting the hay while the sun shines

Look on the sunny side, he’s getting quality snooze time—rough sleeper in front of the Georgia Straight offices on West Broadway, just after 1 p.m., October 9th.

Not all of the unconsciousness you may see these days on the sidewalks and in the back alleys of Vancouver has anything to do with intoxication or opioid use, a good deal of it is due to sleep deprivation aggravated by the change of seasons.

For homeless people grown accustomed to more than two months of our hot, dry 21st century summer—when all one needs to comfortably sleep outside is to be tired—autumn’s sudden overnight temperature drop can come as a rude awakening—literally. Read more…

Twenty days of my life backed up for posterity (This old phone, part two)

One of my 2010 sleeping spots—the former 2990 Arbutus Street—overgrown, abandoned and up for redevelopment.

This is part two of my look at the personal documents found on the SD card of a Treo 680 phone I used between 2007 and 2013. Part one looked at miscellaneous files; some relating to a custodial job I had in 2008 and 2009, others to software I purchased for the Treo and one meticulously detailing my entrepreneurial exploits selling specialty beer bottles between 2011 and 2013.

This part reproduces a journal that I kept, beginning in spring of 2010—just as the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics were winding down—and ending 11 months later in the winter of 2011.

For all that time, there are only 20 entries. Still, they do shed some light on my day-to-day activities and concerns as a homeless person in Vancouver, over seven years ago.

I have edited the entries for typographical errors and clarity and reversed the written order to begin with the oldest first. Editorial comments are in italics enclosed by square brackets.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

  • Paralympics opening ceremony
  • Clocks spring forward tomorrow

Fine, steady rain. Tonight I’m bedding down in a small parkade—has the proportions of a tipped-over cereal box. It’s about sixty-feet deep. I’m at the very back, where the prize would be.

[This refers to my current sleeping spot. In 2010 it was an alternate to my regular spot: the entrance way of the Lonetree kitchen store, then at Arbutus and 14th Avenue.]

Monday, March 15

First day of Spring? Not a strong opening. Just after midnight so it’s practically still Sunday. Steady light rain. Dull day. Did not one thing of note. Expect to do more of the same after a good sleep. Need to be up by five a.m. so as not to inconvenience the early-to-work folks. Be nice if the rain will have ended by then. Read more…

Back in time with my Palm Treo (aka This old phone, part one)

What insights into my early life as a homeless person lurk on this old phone?

This is the first of a trio of posts looking at (of all things) my Palm Treo 680—specifically the contents of the 11-year-old smartphone’s SD card.

This post focuses on interesting miscellaneous documents on the SD card. The second post will reproduce a journal I kept intermittently on the phone from March of 2010 until February 2011. The third post will examine a spreadsheet I maintained of my daily earnings from collecting returnable beverage containers in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

These posts owe their existence to the fact that in December of 2017 I found (and then lost) a replacement proprietary charging cable for the Treo.

I held onto the cable exactly long enough to charge the phone but (old as it was) it was no longer a fully functioning device. It could neither recognize its installed SD card nor would it sync with the old Palm desktop app under Windows 8 (due, at the very least, to an absence of modern Palm USB driver software). Sadly, I didn’t have the charging cable long enough to see if I could use the Treo’s integrated Bluetooth 1.2 to send files to my laptop.

However, in the Treo’s salad days, I used a program called Resco Backup to weekly write select contents of the mobile’s 64MBs of built-in storage to the installed 4GB SD card.

So, while the Treo itself was a brick, the functional SD card still held a vintage backup of much of the phone’s contents. At first glance there were the usual difficult-to-deceipher proprietary PDB (Palm Database) files, as well as easily opened stuff, such as PDFs, doc and text files and spreadsheets.

What interesting things, if any, might I find, I wondered. Read more…

Terribly good morning…photo

It was a good morning to blog and I have the bad panoramic photo to prove it.

Thursday morning (October 11th) I made sure to look for returnable beverage containers in all the recycling blue bins and dumpsters along my way to breakfast—that’s what binners do.

I also looked for photo opportunities, so that I might write about this inconsequential trip through some back alleys along West Broadway Avenue—that’s what bloggers do.

In particular, I took a slew of photos of the sunrise, as seen between 7:13 and 7:16 a.m., rising behind the complex structures of an 1100 block alley on the north side of West Broadway Avenue.

Once I arrived at McDonald’s—being in no mood to deal with complexity—I plugged all the photos taken at 7:16 a.m. into Autostitch, my least demanding panoramic stitching application, developed and patented by the University of British Columbia.

The Autostitch I use is a 13-year-old freeware evaluation version. The simplicity of its operation (point it at a folder of jpg images and press a button) is matched by the simplicity of its results.

Unlike the powerful (and very configurable and complex) Hugin panoramic photo stitcher, Autostitch only has two modes: success and failure.

Because the nine input photos were hasty and many of them were blurry I fully expected the program to fail to stitch them together cleanly. But Autostitch surprised me (as it can). The panoramic image came together nicely. Read more…