Guangzhou – the south

Last of the stash In China, Guangzhou is known for many things – Cantonese (Perhaps the dialect furthest from standard Mandarin); a somewhat irreverent culture perhaps owing to its location far from the edicts of Beijing and from exposure to centuries of foreign trade, and of course, Cantonese food. The Chinese expression “When eating, eat in Guangzhou” sums it up. Cantonese food, up until recently, was what the rest of the world generally considered to be “Chinese” food, mainly because many Chinese emigrants from the Gold Rush up until about the 1990s were from the Guangzhou area. To sample the … Continue reading Guangzhou – the south

Lunch and the Great Wall

More notes from the forgotten stash The next day we were off to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, although our driver (Who I later found out was not a professional tour driver) did have some slight trouble finding it. Guide and driver camped out in the parking lot below while we took the cable car (“The strongest cable car in China” we were assured) up to the wall itself. We were both glad to be able to do some walking and exploring on our own without having to follow the guide around. The guide did however, mention that … Continue reading Lunch and the Great Wall


I was cleaning out my Google Drive and found some notes. How did people file in the Paper Age? Every year since starting work I have taken time off to visit Southern China to see my family. This year however we first visited Beijing as my traveling companion had never visited Asia before, and since it’s along the way from Toronto to Guangzhou it’s certainly worth a stop. The first person to test my Mandarin Chinese skills after the 12 hour flight was the Chinese Immigration officer who asked me about my flight number. I fumbled around for my boarding … Continue reading Beijing


Months into my first real job, I bought a motorcycle – a 2001 Suzuki GS500. Just a few weeks before I’d done the rider safety course and received my M2, and followed it up by devouring every ‘how to buy a motorcycle’ guide I could find on the internet. The course was a lot of fun. From a shipping container in a university parking lot a stable of motorcycles emerged, some cruiser style, some sport style, some standards, and a handful of dual-sports. All were 200 cc and under. I tried the sport and and standard and liked the standard … Continue reading Motorcycles

Five weeks since Bitmaker Labs

It’s been five weeks since my demo day at Bitmaker Labs. The next cohort is already over halfway completed their program, exactly where we were in the beginning of February – sorting out the details of a restaurant booking engine and making reservations over and over again our fictional Sushi Hut restaurant to test it out. Techraking Toronto Since finishing I’ve attended Techraking Toronto – a two-day event put on by the Centre for Investigative Reporting and Google in an effort to advance digital and data-driven journalism. There were panel discussion on journalism, demonstrations of Google products that can be … Continue reading Five weeks since Bitmaker Labs

Public-private partnerships for public transit

The Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway Corporation is something unheard of in North America – the profitable public transit operator. In 2012, the MTRC published a tidy two billion US dollar profit. The Atlantic summed up their model thusly: In exchange for transporting customers, the transit agency receives a cut of the mall’s profit, signs a co-ownership agreement, or accepts a percentage of property development fees. In many cases, the MTR owns the entire mall itself. The Hong Kong metro essentially functions as part of a vertically integrated business that, through a “rail plus property” model,  controls both the means of transit … Continue reading Public-private partnerships for public transit

Rebranding the flu vaccine

“It is estimated that in a given year an average of 12,200 hospitalizations related to influenza may occur; and that approximately 3,500 deaths attributable to influenza occur annually.” “All Canadians are encouraged to get vaccinated against the flu to protect themselves and their families as vaccination is the best protection available against flu.” – Public Health Agency of Canada Every year public health authorities exhort the public to get the flu vaccine, and every year they fret about why so few people actually get it. An Environics survey for the federal government pegged the rate at 37% in 2006 for … Continue reading Rebranding the flu vaccine