This guy has got to be getting nervous.

There was a lot of snow in the mountains this year, and a tons of rain in Calgary through the spring and early summer. We should be out floating on the river by this time of year but it's still way too fast and too high.

It's got to be making this homeowner a little nervous (before photo is courtesy Google Streetview). He picked a rotten time to sell.




Pond Hockey from Enki Studios on Vimeo.

This strikes a chord for me for a couple of reasons:

  • It's getting cold out;
  • The water will be freezing soon and I'll get to take my Texan girlfriend skating;
  • The Oilers are an extremely fun team to watch this year and has rekindled my love for the sport which had been dormant for a couple of years;
  • Working on my hockey coaching/training software (AIM Hockey) has been very time consuming lately but a lot of fun.

I also like short films and this was a well done piece. I'm excited to get on the ice!

Vote for Naheed @Nenshi tomorrow. Here's a 30 min video where he explains why. #yycvote

Definitely a bit of a cheese factor in this infomercial-style vid, but this at least demonstrates that he has a bit of actual substance and some realistic ideas that back some of the broader campaign promises that are common pretty much across the board within this Calgary election (accountability, fiscal responsibility, sustainable development, public transit, yada yada).

A few things that I particularly liked:
  • Express buses down 14th Street in the south, and 2 express buses to the airport (from downtown and the end of the east LRT final station)
  • Getting rid of the $3 park & ride fee
  • Upgrading the traffic lights synchronization system & lane reversals as an alternative to massive highway style roads
  • A modern downtown library
  • Community-focused policing beyond downtown
  • Eliminating the sewer/water subsidies for new developments
  • Developer incentives for walkable communities & ability for families to get by on one car
  • Publicly disclosing all meetings with the mayor

If you haven't read his platform, go check it out at - and then, if you have time, compare it with and

A couple of things that I haven't found any detail about but am interested in are the following:
  • Improving the taxi system
  • Inner city traffic flow (I think of 17th and 14th, 11th Ave between 2nd & 14th, and 4th Ave during rush hour and how inefficiently traffic moves in those spots)
  • Calgary Parking Authority
  • Abandoned developments with giant holes in the ground
  • Empty lots where development never started but also restrict parking

Calgary Mayoralty Debate Mashup

When one candidate doesn't want to participate in a mayoralty debate, leave it to the internet to make one up. It's actually a pretty great way to see where the candidates stand on various issues. It's funny to see how some candidates talk one way to an audience of developers and another to "regular folk".

Huge credit to Calgarian Gordon McDowell, who created the video but has also been posting a bunch of great election stuff on his blog.

Related: Barb Higgins is annoying.

Calgary Parking Authority

There is a mayoralty election in Calgary this month that should prove to be one of the most interesting in many, many years. The outgoing mayor, Dave Bronconnier (aka 'Bronco') is a brilliant politician, although someone who I believe has damaged our city to a horrific extent.

When he became mayor 9 years ago, he ran on a platform of roads, roads, roads. Calgary had come off several years of prudent provincial and municipal budgeting and, although the economy had rebounded, the infrastructure had somewhat lagged and it was noticeable with some already massive population growth.

So what did Bronconnier do when he won? Spent unprecedented money on roads. This was done at the expense of balanced budgets, snow removal, transit, common sense and any noticeable difference in traffic. The past 9 years have seen so much construction that nearly all major arteries (Deerfoot, Glenmore, Crowchild, Sarcee, Mcleod) have been at a nearly constant crawl due to construction alone. And when construction is finally done on a section, it usually just means that the traffic has been diverted elsewhere. What does a brand-new overbudget multi-million dollar overpass in your neighborhood mean? Typically that you will be waiting an extra half hour in your neighborhood to get on to the overpass in the first place.

The maintenance cost alone of all of these new roads and bridges might bankrupt Calgary one day, so how did the city led by Bronconnier get enough money to fund all of these projects? Well, taxes were raised, Bronco did a lot of whining through the media to the provincial government for transfer fees, the city debt increased substantially, and a number of 'user' fees were raised.

One of the many fees that went up was parking.

Parking in Calgary is an absolute joke. This is a city of barely one million and of low population density yet has one of the highest costs of parking of any city in the world. Know what else? The Calgary Parking Authority apparently runs at an annual deficit (I recently read that it was as high as $8 million per year in the red).

How does this city department try and combat the deficit? Increase ticketing and the penalties of the tickets. How do they do that? Increasing restrictions on parking and hiring more people to ticket you (thereby increasing costs, which are funded by taxpayers).

I am writing this as I am now standing in a 1hr long line to talk to a peace officer to plead not guilty to one of 3 tickets I got for parking in front of my house (tickets were for not displaying a permit, which I actually had displayed - demonstrating the quality of CPA's hiring practices). Of course I am paying a ton for downtown parking while I sit here pleading not guilty.


This year's election has my attention and hoping for some major changes to the Calgary Parking Authority. It's probably too much to ask that they all go to prison (joking) but an overhaul is necessary. I have some thoughts on what needs to be done but I will save that for another ramble.

The one bright spot at the Calgary Parking Authority? A guy named Ken at the call centre. Talk about excellent customer service. This guy must have the most difficult job in the world, working for one of the most incompetent organizations around and dealing with irate Calgarians who rightfully hate the CPA's guts. Poor Ken.

Bottled Water is Completely Pointless

Term Life Insurance
Via: Term Life Insurance

I've been telling my friends this story for years: I used to do some work with Calgary Water back in the day, working on some of their internal training materials. In a meeting it was brought up that Coca-Cola was their biggest customer (for Dasani) - and there was a lot of laughs about how many bathtubs full of water you could fill of tap water on the cost of one bottle of water... the irony being that they didn't even need to test the Dasani water versus the rigorous testing that they had to do on Calgary city tap water. So buyers of Dasani got to pay for bottling, shipping, marketing and Coke's profits, whereas those that drank from the tap got the advantage of water quality checks at a very small fraction of the cost. This was shortly after the Walkerton incident in Ontario, so basically, having the advantage of tested water was a big one.

My friends always have insisted that there was way more to bottled water than simply tap water. This infographic probably won't sway them, but here it is anyways. Coke's not the only culprit in this game, but they are in the news again lately with a lawsuit against them over Vitamin Water (Guess what? It's not healthy for you!).

The Best Video Store I've Ever Been To

Video Store?

"Brian," you might be saying, "you're at the leading... no, BLEEDING edge of technologies and the internets, why are you going to a video store? That's so pre-2007." Well, first of all, thanks for the recognition. Secondly, I happen to like to rent the odd video and I especially love independent video stores.

In Calgary, we have Bird Dog - which is awesome & you should go there if you are from Calgary and haven't been. While in Austin, I went to I Luv Video. It was great. A few things that made it so great:
  • Giant mural on the back wall incorporating images from everything from Star Wars to Oldboy.
  • Canada was a foreign films section.
  • The wall of shame, which names the people who didn't return their videos.
  • My favorite: comments from the staff taped on the covers of notable videos.

(for the record, we rented 'Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job, Season 3' and 'Broken Embraces'... but only saw the former)

There isn't much room for video stores in today's day & age. Big name stores in Canada (and I'm sure elsewhere) have been creating a lot of available retail space recently. The shops that survive are going to have to make sure they carve out a niche for themselves if they will survive for the next 10 years. Bird Dog & I Luv Video have done a good job of that so far - it is enjoyable to go to those places. They have created a brand for themselves that has allowed them to thrive when the big players are suffering big time.

They are a few years behind what the record shops have been experienced at the hands of the internet. In the music world, the likes of Virgin, Tower and HMV are all but extinct. Megatunes, a Calgary & Edmonton institution, is now also closing up shop. I hope that in the next few years that Bird Dog and I Luv Video will be able to adapt & avoid the fate of their record store counterparts.

Interview with Garrett Camp (Calgarian who invented StumbleUpon)

Watch live streaming video from internetweekny at

Garrett Camp is from Calgary. He is the guy who invented StumbleUpon. I love StumbleUpon & I live in Calgary... therefore he's a bit of a hero to me.

You may or may not be interested in this interview, but there are a couple of reasons why I enjoyed it. First, his laid back attitude is something I can identify with - maybe it's a bit of the Canadian effect, but he doesn't come across like a lot of the hyper-active, self-absorbed, 22 year old assholes that you commonly come across in this industry. He's a guy you could have a beer with.

Secondly, he talks a bit about getting angel investment and start-ups (something which directly pertains to me). It's not mind-blowing advice, but reinforcement always is valuable.

Finally, I found it entertaining to watch Melanie Wells. She seems completely out of place in this interview, she was maybe going for some friendly sarcastic ribbing but Camp's affable personality just made her look a little like a condescending bitch. I'm a little unsure what Forbes would even be doing here, she seems like she would be more comfortable interviewing a dying 90 year old CEO of a dying publishing empire. She seemed genuinely shocked that someone wouldn't have a boss (someone should tell her it is fairly commonplace in the Internet industry).