Founders Food Hall and Market

I dropped by the Founders Food Hall and Market this afternoon for their opening. Well executed I think. Enjoyed some wonderful BBQ wood fired pizza from Fiamma and some kind of bacon, chocolate and coffee on a stick concoction from Holy Fox. This was washed down with samples from Receivers and RAW Juice. The sandwich meat was superb as well. I’m sure that different use cases for this space could be argued but it looks to my eyes to be the best looking space of this type on the Island. I didn’t catch the hours, but if they manage to have weekend hours it will be a more convenient alternative to the Charlottetown Farmers Market.


Secret Design Bunker Pop-up

I love the exterior of this building. So much more inviting than any blue glass monstrosity.

I dropped in to the Nine Yards Secret Design Bunker pop-up early this afternoon – it was a nice display of ideas. It would have been nice to have some explanation behind the work but my timing was off, as a large group arrived shortly after myself, which kept the sole person managing the affair busy answering their questions, afterwards they disappeared into what I guess was the secret bunker part of the exhibition.

It’s nice to see this kind of work – great aesthetic, perhaps a cross between Eslite and some of the work I have seen produced by NCTU GIA.

Hopefully this will be a regular event.


The Brass Shop

We had coffee at the Receivers on Water St. yesterday and I agree with what was said at the table that the experience is far superior to their Victoria Row location. Better service and the latte’s better prepared.

The Victoria Row location would appear to not be designed for the flood of customers it often receives, particularly when the downtown is busy with guests enjoying the city. Sheryl and I had breakfast there earlier in the week while sitting outside; the environment was nice and the food ok if not comparatively more expensive. The latte did not look like the one pictured above.

I often mention the trials of finding good coffee in Charlottetown, but our friends we were chatting with thought it was richer tasting than I assume what they are used to in Singapore. I have little experience with coffee there but I have come to realize that my views on coffee are in the minority, or I’m just accustomed to, or romanticize the variety of tastes available in our former home.

Seeing as this location is only adds 2 minutes in walking time from Water & Queen, I’ll try visiting there when the need arises.


Comparisons are odious

As I was sitting at my desk sweating while waiting to talk with a CRA representative, I took the opportunity to connect with old colleagues and companies to see what kind of projects they have been working on. Comparing oneself to others, even other companies, is seldom a good thing, and it adds to my internal struggle as to whether to stay in PEI or to leave.

Working independently whether as a freelancer (not in my future), remotely for someone else, or as some kind of entrepreneur allows for the kind of freedom that I have always wanted in my life. It would be almost unheard of to take a 9am CrossFit class with my daughter while working in Taiwan, we would both be too busy and the political price for “custom” hours at a tech company too high. If you can manage the difficulties inherent in making a livable wage on PEI, the amount of free time people, including myself, have here makes for a higher quality life. Time > $$. The past year has felt somewhat like a vacation.

But, what I can accomplish alone, with very limited support, pales in comparison to what I was confronted with before. And what friends of mine are doing now. While they are building software that potentially affects the lives of many, I attempt to create things on a much much smaller scale. I’m not sure I can be content with creating podcasts, simple apps, and ed. services. Much of my experience and education has gone unused this past year; I feel rusty.

I guess this is an internal struggle many go through when they downsize or move to a more sane locale, some resolve it very quickly, and I suspect some struggle with it over longer periods like I do.

The beautiful summer skies here certainly help to push the problem to the back of my mind.


The past 5 days

With Sheryl’s arrival this past Tuesday on a delayed 1 am flight, my adventure as a single parent has come to an end.


Before my wife left Taiwan a student graciously gifted a huge box of coffee including these 3 bags. Good coffee is difficult to find on PEI, and shipping from elsewhere a tad too expensive, so after these are gone it’s back to home roasting.


What better way to kick off Sheryl’s first year in PEI than attending this years Business Women’s summit which was relocated to the Delta due to the Startup Zone’s ongoing AC troubles. They did a great job pulling it off considering, but I enjoyed last years more.


I’ve always marvelled at the skies on PEI; clean, free from pollutants and beautiful.

We attended the Pride PEI BBQ on Saturday, which I thought was well attended. After a quick chat with Sean Cassey we were off to Cornwall to attend Heath McDonald’s Strawberry Social. Despite not having any affiliation with the Liberal party, we attend (crash) their strawberry socials every summer.

We still feel like tourists here, so our annual sojourn to Cavendish still seems fitting.

It’s for the tourists. It’s fake. But Avonlea Village is the kind of city density that I appreciate. It’s walkable, free of cars, and well maintained. While I wouldn’t suggest a Disney-fication of all of Charlottetown, I would love to see this kind of density continue past the tourist area of the downtown.

I’m convinced though, that a walkable city is unpopular with many, if not most Islanders. Charlottetown is wonderful in the summer – kids running around, parents walking with strollers, all kinds of people enjoying the downtown in a myriad of ways, but these people are primarily visitors. Once they leave the city dies. Driving between the box stores seems to be more the norm.

Sheryl and I were in Georgetown for a 10k race on Sunday. It was so humid one would think we were running in Taiwan.


Good bye old girl

Elsa was the last of our 3 dogs. Our first dog in Taiwan was Buster, a large black lab and my daughters protector, who I had to send over the rainbow bridge due to a burst liver. Lulu, another Lab and an adopted sister to Elsa, developed cancer and I had to send her as well over the rainbow bridge, my last task before leaving Taiwan. All our dogs were adopted, Buster from the streets of Kaohsiung, Elsa and Lulu from the streets of Taipei. All had acute behavioural problems which required loads of time to work through as they became integral parts of our family. The kids miss them all.

Elsa didn’t join us here partly due to her age, we aren’t entirely sure, but we guess her age to be close to 15 years, which might make the stress of a long international flight too harrowing. There is also the simple fact that with the housing crisis on PEI, there was no place available that would allow pets. Our current lease forbids it and with the uncertainty of our life here the commitment of a house seems unwise.

Finding her a new home was an almost 1 year heart wrenching task for my wife; finding a home for any dog in Taiwan is difficult, we have re-homed many, but a senior dog is especially so. Luckily, in the end Elsa has a found a family that she can enjoy her final days with in love and comfort.


St. Peter’s Harbour Lighthouse Beach

I’m not much of a beach person – I don’t swim and the kids seem to be just outside the age that we need to be concerned about beach shovels and the like. Also, I don’t particularly like going somewhere to relax, and can’t fathom travelling anywhere to just lay down (the beaches in Thailand are as much about the scenery, people watching, and sharing my kids love of the water as anything). But I appreciate the beach at St. Peter’s Harbour Lighthouse for its beauty, PEI has some of the best beaches I have seen anywhere (no medical waste garbage problems here), and for the fact that few if anyone ever goes there, so we often have the beach to ourselves.

That was the case yesterday and the kids and I walked along the beach talking, arguing, and enjoying the warm sun without any of the hubbub of the touristy areas. My son also collected drift wood, creating swords to protect against possible zombie attacks, and my daughter wondered if the buildings in the distance had any food. Admittance was free, as it should be.

Since it was only a short drive further, we drove to Ricks Fish ’n’ Chips in St. Peter’s Bay where we all had the haddock.

I’m glad we took this little afternoon diversion, as the weather this summer seems to be unusually cold and wet which would seem to continue for the next 10 days or so.


An Island moment

Yesterday, I had an eye exam at the Family Vision Centre, which encompassed far more tests than the garden variety done by teenagers at the ubiquitous eye glass stores in Hsinchu, and seemed lest harried than visiting the famous eye doctor on Dongda Rd in Hsinchu who has massive photos of herself covering the outside of her office. Afterwards, I hopped on my bike to see the on call eye doctor at the QEH ER.

The pace from eye exam, to further tests at the QEH, to sitting in a chair for a procedure was entirely unexpected. I didn’t even have time to consult with Dr. Google. This is how it should be, but I have been conditioned to having to wait from months to never for any kind of treatment here on the Island.

The fact that I have a health problem has chipped away at my belief that I am somewhat invincible. For the past 7 – 8 yrs or so, I’ve had an almost religious conviction that refraining from bad habits, eating right and vigorous exercise would shield me from the advancing maladies of middle age. While I can run up flights of stairs with greater ease than the colleagues of old who were half my age, there seems to be no avoiding some of the challenges brought forth by Father Time. Anyway, at this point it’s nothing serious.

After getting an injection in my eyeball, which at the time conjured up images of Blade Runner and had me wondering what the doctor now knew about me, the doctor asked how I was getting home. He knew I had arrived by bike but was concerned that I shouldn’t be riding over the bridge after having the procedure. Either due to the bridges reputation for carefree driving or concern over my now inability to see clearly out of my left eye, he insisted he drive me home.

So we walked out of the emergency room, I grabbed my bike, threw it in the back of his van, and he drove me over across the river to Casa MacLeod.

This could have happened no where else.


The CBC has taken a detour into the lifestyles of the rich and famous with a piece on an expensive renovation project by AmberMac.

Reading Amber MacArthur gives P.E.I. historic home a high-tech makeover one would be led to believe she is transforming a century home into a Jetsons like experience. What we get is a short piece detailing things which as far as I’m concerned have been commonplace for years.

This piece seems more like a wasted opportunity to have her explain in more detail the “green and sustainability angle” of what she is doing, instead of the self-promotion piece it is. AmberMac has a talent for explaining technology in a way that most people can understand, it’s a shame they didn’t utilize it.


Unexpected efficiency

I have been experiencing problems with my left eye to the point that I’m finding work more annoying than it should be. As this has been ongoing and getting progressively worse a trip to the doctor was in order. “You only get one set of eyes” said someone who never watched scify movies.

My first planned stop was a walk-in clinic. PEI does not for some reason cover visits to an eye doctor as part of its universal health coverage, so keeping up with my el cheapo persona, I thought it best to discount any generalized causes before I paid out of pocket for privatized medicine. I half expected the doctor to tell me to stop running and going to CrossFit because almost every doctor I’ve met seems to be against pushing your body to it’s natural limits.

As it turns out it was a complete waste of time as the doctor simply flashed a light in my eye and sent me on my way. A very friendly yet perfunctory experience not unlike Taiwan.

As an aside, I find interesting the start contrast between visiting the offices of the public walk in clinic and the privatized eye doctor. It’s stark. The staff in the eye clinic are obviously paid far more (all wearing matching smart watches), the environment more relaxing, and you can actually see a doctor, and keep seeing that doctor within reasonable periods of time.

The problem with all this was the timing of the clinic visit. I used the Skip the Waiting Room system to book my time with the walk-in clinic doctor. It’s an effective, yet surprising, privatized efficiency infusion to a social system. I started the registration process shortly after it opened online and no doubt due to it’s popularity I wasn’t given a spot until close to closing. With my 15 minute lead time I was told I wouldn’t have to leave until about 3:10pm. I figured later.

Unfortunately I had somewhat of a scheduling conflict. I had a short meeting at 2pm discussing the possibility of helping various tourism SME’s develop a more cohesive experience strategy for their business. Businesses here have seemingly endless options for marketing expertise but few seem to be talking about customer experience or service design or other jargony speak. Intense competition in Taiwan makes staging an experience a necessity for survival for many businesses; but they call it something else and seldom hire experience designers specifically. Since I am a poor capitalist and dislike the word consultant, I envisioned doing this advising somewhat for free, much like what I do at StartUp Zone.

The meeting was short, a 30 minute meet and greet, so I decided to keep both appointments. That turns out was a mistake.

We were just in the midst of discussing customer journeys, and all that boring stuff you need to mention, when I started to get sms notifications to come to the clinic – a full 45 minutes earlier than expected. This doctor would seem to be quicker than most.

So I had to quickly wrap things up, bid adieu, and race out the door. No doubt never to hear from this government official again.

In the future when booking appointments with doctors here, I’ll be sure to block out either the whole morning or afternoon for the visit. I experienced a similar problem with a visit to Dr. Flemmings office with Camren recently, when a short visit became multiple hours due to delays and his fastidious attention to detail.

Lesson learned.


New Bike

I purchased a bike recently for a number of the usual reasons, but primarily as a means of maintaining some ability to get downtown when Sheryl arrives next month. As the fall arrives she will have more pressing needs for a car than I, and acquiring a second car at this point seems unwise. Finding a bike was a bit of a challenge as I found the selection was limited and prices here in PEI were far higher than what I would have paid in the past (this is a common refrain for me, as almost everything outside of “fast fashion” is more expensive on PEI than elsewhere I’ve recently lived). The used market was also surprisingly devoid of choice. After a brief infatuation with a fixie that a shop in Montreal was selling, I found a Specialized commuter bike at MacQueen’s Bike Shop which magically dropped $150 in price when I mentioned I was also looking at a Giant at Sporting Intentions, a brand I prefer.

Peter quotes Elmine on her experience riding in Canada from a Dutch perspective, and her experiences ring true to me:

But it’s not just the roads that needs a redesign. It will take a generation to retrain everyone driving the road, both by car and on bike.

Riding in Hsinchu was always a challenge. It often seemed like a death match between rider and driver. With the narrow streets packed with cars, pedestrians and angry dogs you really had to learn to drive with extreme awareness of your surroundings. Good brakes helped too. But people there are accustomed to all manner of vehicles on the streets and there is a sort of intuition that develops over time. As a result, despite facing down dump trucks on narrow mountain roads, and fighting through crazy traffic, I survived unscathed. The pollution was a bit harder to avoid.

Riding in Charlottetown should feel much safer and yet it doesn’t. Particularly when crossing the bridge, which drivers seem to treat as a raceway or major city highway, for which they would seem to lack the experience or skill to drive on.

The first problem is the condition of the roads themselves, which particularly on Water street where rocks from trucks force me to ride out in traffic when a perfectly good bike lane is available. The city of my youth used to have a street sweeper that kept the roads clean but perhaps that program has disappeared. Potholes and general disrepair make predictable riding more difficult as you need to duck and weave, otherwise you are likely to either ruin your rims or end up on your head.

With the exception of the bridge, drivers on the roads in PEI I find exceptionally polite, sometimes to a fault. But I’m not convinced that they have complete awareness of their surroundings. I’ve already seen a number of close calls in my short time riding. Perhaps as more cyclists hit the road drivers will be more accustomed to occasionally checking the right side mirror.

One thing I haven’t grasped yet is the expected riding behaviour. Some ride their bikes as if they were a car, while others are on the sidewalk some of the time, and on the street the other. In Hsinchu I followed scooter behaviour. You stay to the right and you don’t turn left at intersections. There are actual painted boxes for scooters and bikes at each intersection. This is what I have been doing here thus far, particularly at the Stratford main intersection where I walk my bike across.

Charlottetown is so small that you can easily cover all of the city in under 30 minutes, making the whole city suitable for travel by bike, something I hope to do more of as the summer progresses.


System Malfunction

Yesterday my daughter Catriona remarked at how hot the floor was in our kitchen, at the time I dismissed it as some combination of heat coming from the fridge and perhaps her penchant for exaggeration.

That is until I woke up this morning and saw that the temperature in the livingroom was 29.

Our place has in-floor heating which sounded really great prior to our moving in. I envisioned cold snowy days enjoyed inside with comfortably warm tile flooring. In practice, while we were warm in winter, the living room only had one strip of heat emanating near the wall. I thought it was a case of ChaBuDuo-ism or simply a developer cutting corners to reduce cost.

But as I discovered the morning, the whole floor only gets warm, blazingly so, when you turn the whole system off like I did. There is a cool setting too, but as far as I can see that’s never worked.


Last vestiges of winter?

It started yesterday morning, after a somewhat sleepless night, the scratchy throat and general hoarseness in my voice, indicators of a cold in bloom. This will be my 3rd cold in 2 months which must be some kind of record for me.

A quick check with Dr. Google states I could be suffering due all kinds of reasons, including vitamin d deficiency, poor diet, sleep deprivation, poor hygiene, bad oral health and the biggie, an immune system disorder. Luckily I don’t smoke, as that seems to be a catch all for every malady.

Hopefully the good weather we are finally due will serve as a suitable tonic and I’ll be on the mend asap.


A CrossFit Intervention

In hindsight perhaps I should joined a fitness class for seniors at the nearby retirement home.

This past winter has been particularly dark, both literally and figuratively, and before I spiralled any further down the depths of despair, I decided to do something drastic to rid myself of the funk I had been in for months. So I signed up for CrossFit.

This year I discovered just how much I dislike winter on the Island. For 5 months I have been completely inactive; didn’t run, hardly walked, and stopped my nightly yoga/stretching routine. Gradually as the weather worsened I stopped heading downtown to work and didn’t socialize much at all, preferring to stay in my closet sized office where it was warm. This isolation coupled with the challenges of trying to work alone meant that my productivity, and as a result my general mood, worsened over time. My diet hasn’t been that great either – we ate primarily fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat in Taiwan but in an attempt to keep costs comparable, we ate far more prepared food and breads than I should.

I’ve been going to CrossFit for just about a month and my goal, other than enjoying the benefits of exercise, was a kick in the pants that you get from the commitment to group activities. The first class resulted in me hobbling home to have a nap, and I was sore for days afterwards. 4 one-on-one coaching sessions followed where I learned a number of different warm-ups, discussed my limitations, and did some olympic lifting minus the olympic sized weight. I’ve been attending regular classes since and despite my conscious attempts to keep my tendency to want to kill myself through exercise in check, I’ve been teetering on the verge of serious injury ever since.

Coach to CrossFit would seem to be a bigger challenge than I anticipated. But it seems to be working and if I can strike a balance between challenge and safety, I think it will work out for the long term and perhaps make me a better runner, and a happier, more productive person.


Downtown for the summer

I’ve taken up residence at the Start Up Zone for the summer, planting my monitor and associated apparatus on a desk with my back against the wall. It’s only been the 3rd day (I like working on Sunday afternoons) but so far it’s been going fine.

As far as a working environment goes I see working in the fishbowl as the lessor of 2 evils. I generally hate open offices and since the StartUp Zone for some strange reason combines kitchen, conference area, and work space into one, the distractions reach at times an insane level. But it beats the isolation of my closet at home and the stamping, yelps and hoots that appear out of the blue from my Upstairs Neighbor.

One of the main attractions for working downtown is that Charlottetown is a great place to be when the sun shines, the air warm, and people present. The city is very walkable and will make for some pleasant breaks from work. It’s much better than the desolation of Bunbury.


I decided to noise-cancel life

I own three pairs of noise-canceling headphones. Two go over my ears, enveloping them in cozy tombs of silence. One pair consists of earbuds, one of which I jam into my ear to block out the world while I use my other ear for phone interviews. Besides the noise-canceling kind, I have headphones for basically every activity I do. In fact, I recently came to the disturbing realization that there’s rarely a moment of my day when my ears are not filled with or covered by something.

[…]

I realize the dangers inherent in this overall trend—I might even go so far as to call it “socially alienating” and “destructive of relationships”—but I nevertheless feel it’s inexorable. At this point, everything is curated—except, of course, what we hear. And as long as unfamiliar sounds are going to be foisted on me all day, it feels good to draw a private, firm border. The buck stops at my cochlea.

This is a somewhat new habit for me. One of my goals for moving to PEI was to escape the constant din of noise that I experienced elsewhere and yet during the day I am either wearing noise cancelling headphones or Etymotic Research Earplugs, and non-vented earplugs to sleep. Wearing earplugs has some risks but so does a lack of sleep.

What Happens When You Always Wear Headphones


Some perspective

I have a tendency to see things as they should be compared to how they could be or how they have improved. This comes up often when I express disappointment with Catriona’s academic performance, she the optimist states that she has improved, while I state that she still isn’t reaching her potential.

This frames my frequent grumblings about the local medical system and my anxiety with the possibility of growing old here on the Island. My mothers quality of life was greatly diminished by a lack of timely diagnosis and care, until the end, when she was in palliative care where she experienced what can only be described as the best attention that people can give to others; a shining example of what quality care should be.

But as the screenshot of Alberto Cairo’s tweet below shows, things could be much much worse:

I don’t know much about the US health care system, but I feel there is no way we could attempt to lead the life we want to live here, in the manner in which we are attempting, south of the border. In that context we seem very lucky.

Via DoctorbyDesigner


Negative communication

Someone was angry when they created the messaging for this sign.

In a recent post, Peter gives an excellent example of how we can use language to frame a reality – in this case a street sign which sends a negative message in what should be expressed as a positive. That area is pretty much the lifeblood of the city in summer.

The picture above taken at an old exit inside the Confederation Court Mall, takes this to a needlessly hostile level. In this case you need to find a way to balance the requirement for an exit/entrance with peoples tendencies to make mistakes without treating everyone like a criminal. What message does this sign give to visitors to the space?


Giving it away is more profitable

The day before yesterday, despite the protestations of my son, I sold a Samsung 40” TV that has been sitting under my desk for the 10 months I have been here on the Island. It sat there mostly due to laziness and some vague idea that I might “use it for something”.

I listed it on Facebook for $50, which I thought was reasonable, and would guarantee a quick sale. Later I learned that that might have been a tad low, as it wasn’t 5 minutes after posting, that a flurry of messages starting dinging on my phone from interested parties. And the messages kept coming.

I initially tried to respond to each and every message that came my way. Eventually it was becoming too laborious, so I created a template in Drafts to help automate replies. This too was taking too much time so I set up a who-looks-like-they-deserve-this-old-TV filter to help me decide who to interact with.

I fell into the same trap I criticize companies of; poor communication (it’s only an ad on FB but I felt bad about how I interacted with people).

Eventually the buying customer came all the way from Kensington just before I had to go pick up my daughter from choir. All in all, it took over an hour of my time to sell that old TV.

I should have given it away.


District 5

I went to the Green Party’s district 5 headquarters a couple of times before I voted in the advance poll. The first time I had hoped to talk to Michelle Beaton about a range of issues that are important to my family, and to get some clarification on a few contradictory statements I heard in Peter Bevan Bakers speeches (the second time was simply to purchase more of her mothers excellent baked goods). I was impressed by her genuine interest in engaging with her potential constituents, her belief that this was “her life’s work”, and how we could find common ground for a conversation that lasted just shy of 45 minutes. What most impressed me about her was the simple fact that she upon realizing that she didn’t know the answers to all my questions, admitted as much, and set out to find the answers. Which she immediately did and my questions were answered. That quality is valuable I think and I suspect rare amongst those engaged in politics (or leadership in general).

I’m confident that district 5 is in good hands.


It’s broken and no one knows how to fix it

My son has been suffering from an infection from an in-grown toenail for about the past month. Of all the problems one can experience this is certainly no where near the top of the list, except that is, for the infection and the blood. And of course the discomfort.

The first time we went to a walk-in clinic I was surprised by the efficiency of it all. I was also surprised by having to pay a small fee to “Skip the Waiting Room” (previously I called this Skip the Wait I error). Isn’t this socialized medicine? That time we left with some medication and instructions for self-care.

That didn’t work, and the infection got worse, and was having an effect on his ability to enjoy his time training in Jujitsu. And well it’s an infection.

So we found time for another visit to the walk-in clinic – it can be difficult to see a doctor, but this doctor graciously worked over the Easter weekend. Again, no wait and the doctor agrees with me that something more invasive needs to be done. So a referral to another doctor is made.

This morning I received a call from Dr. Flemmings office about a referral for my son. After clearing some initial confusion about his name, I explained that his toe is swollen, bleeding, infected, and rather sore. I was given an appointment for 2 months from now (with an appointment booked that far in advance there is no guarantee).

I did my best to hold back my laughter.

These conditions are apparently have a hereditary component, and my daughter suffered the same problem when we were in Taiwan. There after the initial consult, she had to wait a week, as it was for some reason deemed surgery.

The situation here on PEI is of course ridiculous and peaks my interest as to how despite an increase in taxes by over 260% this year (compared to Taiwan) we can’t manage to enjoy the considerable talents of Canadian doctors, in any reasonable period of time.

This can’t compare to cancer patients or broken bones or the Charlottetown woman who waited 13 hours in an emergency room, but I can guarantee that this issue absolutely scales, and no matter the severity of the condition the problem of access to care remains.


I Voted Yes!


I'm not a fan of the "upgrade our democracy" trope either.

Prior to arriving at the polling station on Thursday I was all set to vote for the status quo, a term I’ve adopted for situations like this, after 20 years of following Taiwan politics. It was more a reaction against what I thought was completely ill formed communications from both sides of the debate, than an out right disbelief in the positive aspects of this proposed proportional system.

Both sides showed a complete lack of empathy, exhibited little understanding about how the human mind works, lacked the ability to educate people on the pros and cons, and politicized the whole process. And I was annoyed that the current government gave such little time for people to understand a change that would may a greater effect on peoples lives than who becomes premier.

On Wednesday, I had a meeting with Anna Keenan of the Coalition for Proportional Representation and she helped me put aside my criticism’s of the other paid campaigns and focus on the positive. Forget ugly billboards spreading FUD or ads emphasizing how easy it is, it’s these kinds of grass roots efforts, simple conversations between people, that real change can occur.

I think Prince Edward Island is at a point where it can handle this kind of change, a change where people of more disparate viewpoints are required to work together in government. A little well directed conflict will be a good thing.


PEI political party websites are a mess

The websites of PEI’s major political parties are without exception a mess. Empathize for a moment, pretend you are someone short on time and/or with poor eyesight, and try to complete these common tasks as quickly as possible:

  • Who is my constituent and what is her qualifications for the job?
  • What is the party doing to meet my needs (the platform)?
  • Are there any upcoming events in my area?

Some websites will be more successful than others. Some quick annoyances I’ve found:

The PCparty doesn’t bother introducing their candidates, they don’t have any events, nor do they seem to have a platform.

Someone told the Liberal party that putting their platform as a pdf in a “3D Flipbook” was a good idea. It’s not. It’s completely inaccessible and not scannable. Also, how they have chosen to disseminate their platform puts too much of a cognitive load on us the voters, we’re supposed to piece together all these tiny media releases into one coherent whole? That’s their job.

The Greenparty appears to have a number of different landing pages depending on which link in Google I click. One leads to a huge picture of nature (a pdf I believe), another to a face of the party leader, and yet another which emphasizes the two successful members of the party. Luckily one landing page gives you access to an html version of their party platform, which allows you to use the accessibility features of your computer, but it suffers from a common problem of organizing data for their own understanding, versus the understanding of their prospective constituents. Their PDF version looks great but isn’t scannable and thus unusable.

I didn’t bother looking at the NDP party because they don’t seem to be even trying.

Serving your electorate involves transparency and convenient access to information for all. How the party’s attempt to disseminate information is a key indicator for me of their values as an organization. Designing for outliers (inclusive design) is important for public organizations. All party’s seem to be struggling in this regard.

This was by no means a comprehensive review of any of the websites. I had 10 minutes to spare and was dismayed at what I experienced. Having said that, if I had trouble, then it’s fairly reasonable to expect others will too.


A First: An Election and Taxes

This month marks both the first time I have had the opportunity to vote in any kind of an election, let alone a referendum, and the first opportunity I’ve had to file taxes in Canada without the assistance of an expert (I don’t actually remember ever filing taxes). I have very little understanding about how any of these processes work so I expect I’ll be spending most of my free time this month ensuring that I actually can vote, understanding the various political parties platforms and seeing where my concerns and values match with theirs, and crossing my fingers that I make no mistakes with my tax file.

I like how the proximity of both filing taxes and selecting those who spend this contribution adds a more practical air to the whole process.

I’m very much a political novice and know little of the issues concerning Canadians. For the past 20+ years, politics, like religion, was just not something that was wise to talk about. In China, a mere mention of Taiwan is good cause for being forcibly placed on a flight out of the country. I made that mistake once, to a party member no less, but fortunately he thought it was just another example of my poor sense of humour.

As far as the election goes, my concerns are entirely practical. I’d like to consider more nuanced, or issues affecting my children’s future, but it’s difficult (but not impossible) to be concerned about environmental topics like zero carbon when you are concerned with keeping a roof over your head. If we lose the apartment we live in tomorrow, we would effectively become homeless. Affordable housing, and housing in general is of great concern. As is PEI’s broken medical system. We paid an effective tax rate of 9% in Taiwan, that combined with a small monthly MHI contribution entitled us to access to care, that puts what we have great difficulty accessing here, to shame. I’ve had to set aside a couple small investments to cover the costs of a flight overseas in case we need prompt medical care.

There are a myriad of other concerns … I find it extremely disconcerting to see people homeless, or begging on the streets, while people brag about taking their kids out for $16 burgers for burger love (the optics of such, seems to be lost on a particular Green Party candidate). For a peoples so concerned about social inequality, we seem overly fixated on over priced burgers.

After I become more educated in the local political environment, if possible, I hope to become involved in some small way. Until then I’ll spend my time listening, pay my taxes, and try to be an educated voter.


Punishment for laziness

Charlottetown is a small place and none of the 3 parkades more than a 7-10 minute walk from anything in the downtown. But a parking spot right outside the office is hard to pass up on these cold days, so when I saw one available this AM I grabbed it immediately. I had just enough change for the meter to allow me to run to the bank to get cash (resulting in paying their exorbitant fee), run to a couple businesses begging for change, and then top up the meter. Naturally, I lost track of time and missed the meter expired time by about 3 minutes. The guy in charge of writing tickets was much more punctual.


Farmers market in winter

I find the Charlottetown Farmers Market far more enjoyable in winter, as the crowds are smaller, and the line up shorter. I still believe that it should be 3x the size it is now but perhaps that might in some way make it less personable.

My Saturdays used to be about a long run – an hour or more on my feet. Now I spend an equivalent amount of time at the market sitting, drinking cheap coffee, and eating delicious sweets. I need to learn to combine these 2 activities – what better way to end a long run than with blueberry sweets.


Storm Chips

With the approach of yet another purported snow-apocalypse I keep hearing about the necessity of having storm chips on hand; there is even a beer and storm chips scale to rate the severity of the incoming storm. So in order to prepare, the kids and I went Asian Grocery to stock up. Obviously, I’m not quite yet in tune with the culture of my homeland, but the kids seem pleased.