Introduction to Sunday Quotes

I’ve always been fascinated with quotes. Perhaps it is an offshoot of my ability to remember randoms bits, but I’ve always appreciated the humour or wisdom a good quote can bring. So, I’ve decided to share some of my favourites, along with some personal comments, with you! I’d like for them to appear regularly on Sundays, and it will be a while before I run out of material, so there’s hope for a good run. If there’s a quote you’d like to appear, email me and I’ll see what I can do. I’ll start this week with a quote on the power of love from Mother Teresa. Enjoy!

•  ~1 min to read •  read more  

Bretona Corner

School projects make for interesting things to post. This time, it’s the presentation from a class I took in traffic modelling. I started playing with the images I wanted to use in PowerPoint and I realized that it would probably be easier (and more fun) to just put everything into a video! So I played my in-class presentation from YouTube! The presentation is on the junction of Highway 14 and the Anthony Henday (Highway 216) on the southeast corner of Edmonton.

•  ~2 min to read •  read more Homepage Redesign

Homepage redesign is kind of a big deal; people get used to seeing a site look a certain way and a site design can completely change that look. I am in the middle of doing that. On one hand, I’ll be sad to see my header image from Hawai’i go, but like the simplicity of what is replacing it. All told, the design is something that I’ve been working on in spits and spurts for almost two years. Hover over the images in the middle of the page and it will tell you what they link to. Check it out! (For those of you who want to see what the old version looked like…)

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Olympic Hockey and Water Use

A little over a week ago the Olympics in Vancouver came to a finish, which concluded with the Men’s Hockey final between Canada and the United States. It promised to be epic, and it delivered. Being away from home, I had the ‘pleasure’ of pulling out my big Canadian flag and watching the game with some American friends, although I did wish from time to time that it was a Canadian network (instead of NBC) so that the commentary on the game would have been better. But I digress, it was an epic game, and an epic finish indeed with Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning goal for Canada seven minutes into overtime.

Reports since have claimed that it was the biggest event in Canadian sporting history, with 80% of the population tuning in at one point or another. To illustrate the effect of this, EPCOR (the water utility in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) release a graph showing the city’s water demand while the game was on. It’s amazing to watch the swings between when the game picks up and the end of the periods.

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The Health Care Pricing Fallacy

The often supplied answer, in some circles, to any question that seems to do with economics is “let the market decide!” However, the limits of what the market can do effectively are rarely discussed. What the market allows is for rational actors to compete for limited resources. Where that falls apart is where one of those assumptions fails: the actors cease to be rational, the actors can’t compete, or the resource (or demand) is not longer limited. And often times, when someone faces an out-of-pocket hospital bill, all three assumptions fail. When someone is severely hurt, it is hard to argue that they are in a frame of mind to make rational decisions; people in the hospital are rarely in a state of mind to ‘comparison shop’ hospitals; and many people value their health to such a point that effectively their ‘demand’ is unlimited (think what life insurance policies pay out…). In short, it seems to me that leaving the market alone to set the price of our health care services is not a bright idea. I value my health and agree that healthcare professionals should be paid well for their services, but I am much more appreciative of healthcare I can actually afford!

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Transit in Toronto: Lessons in Land Use Planning

Toronto has achieved a unique situation in North America; it is a major city that has maintained a dense core of population and employment with a well-functioning public transit system. This combination has made Toronto one of the most liveable cities on the continent. This is a result of years of deliberate decisions to integrate land-use and transportation planning, through policies such as zoning and parking controls, promoting public transportation and bicycle use, and limiting freeway construction.

A review of the various policies implanted, as well as their effects where appropriate, is presented, along with conclusions about what has brought Toronto success and how that can be repeated elsewhere.

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Network Security Flaws

One of the problems with security, especially as it pertains to computers and computer networks, is that it is often not done well. If the rules are too loose, they become trivial to ignore, and so then the security procedures are annoying and ineffective; set the rules too tight and they constrain the users to the point where the user can’t really use the computer or network in question. (This second situation is perhaps more annoying than the first…) Done well, security should be such that it is hardly noticed, at least it my humble opinion.

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Emotional Response

Geers (or ‘engineers,’ to the uninitiated) have a thing for numbers, and thus like to make full use of them to solve any problem that comes their way. For example, to size a pipe, you take the flow rate (a number), work a little bit of calculus (or black magic…), and you get out the pipe diameter (another number). ‘Geers like their numbers enough they’ve even figured out how to assign numbers to things that usually don’t get numbers, like public support, personal preferences, safety ratings, the simplicity of the solution, etc.

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Two Weeks In (Life in Québec)

So I realize according to my blog, I’ve been stuck in Dallas for the last 2 weeks, but I’d like to invoke Jorn Barger’s “Inverse Law of Usenet Bandwidth;” that is “The more interesting your life becomes, the less you post… and vice versa,” and my life has been anything but boring.

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Day 13: Erie PA to Montreal QC

Friday, May 8, 2009

Today is the home stretch — the plan is to make it to Montreal and meet up with friends there tonight for dinner. I do wish I was another 2+ hours closer though…

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