Caveat lector

This site is a Blog. It started because I like to write, and often have many things to say.

Back in the Naughts, I started by blogging about things going on in New West, my experiences with the New Westminster Environmental Partners, local/regional/national politics, general “environmental stuff”, and random thoughts about whatever struck me at the time. I had a lot of opinions (and still hold some of them), but tried to draw from my scientific training to keep things factual and informative. But this blog was also an excuse for me to dig deeper into topics important to me, so I could work on my writing and learn, and that learning continues today.

When I ran for City Council a couple of years ago, a major part of my “platform” was the idea that the City needed to communicate better. Not necessarily “more”, as I think the City is pretty transparent and rises above most others in public engagement efforts, but “better” in not just explaining what is happening, but in telling the story of why. I vowed to continue blogging on City issues, and to use this forum to explain my thinking when I am making decisions on behalf of the members of the New Westminster community. Hopefully, through this I can shine a light on the sometimes-ugly process that is governance.

I was initially a little worried (and warned by some!) about blow-back in this social media world. People might take something I said a few years ago out of context (or even in context, frankly) and use it against me. I have had a couple of very minor examples of people attempting to discredit me with my own words, but the cranky Facebook Quarterbacks don’t seem to catch traction for what I (perhaps naively) think is a simple reason: I put my opinions out there and use own my words. I am happy to discuss my ideas, and to disagree. If you bring a contrary opinion with good data to back it, I’m compelled to look at your point of view, because the best conversations are when you don’t agree. Sometimes I even change my mind.

Everything I write here is in my own words (outside of quotes, of course), and opinions are mine. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the City or of my Council colleagues, and this is in no way City-endorsed communications. Similarly, I have a full time job (these are not the opinions of my employers) and I volunteer for various causes and organizations (these are not the opinions of any of those organizations). I am very aware of conflict-of-interest, and will not be commenting here on topics that are related to my work, as that would be unprofessional, and not fair to my employer. I do use my professional education and experience to inform my opinions, but please don’t ask me about my work directly.

I am an Environmental Scientist. I have a science degree with a major in Physical Geography and a Minor in Earth Sciences. I have a Masters Degree in Earth Sciences. I have studied active volcanoes in Hawaii, mapped aquifer sensitivity for the Great State of Illinois, dropped out of a helicopter to spend weeks in remote flycamps far from the nearest nowhere in the Canadian Cordillera, and have bobbed around the Gulf Islands mapping sedimentary units while trying my hand at genetic stratigraphy. I have drilled many holes in many pieces of ground to avail myself of the secrets held in the soils and groundwater below. I know scary things about ichnology; like what it is and how to apply it. I am a registered Professional Geoscientist with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia. I also read a lot of science and am skeptical by nature (thanks to Carl Sagan and James Randi). However, nothing sciencey that I write here should be construed to represent a professional opinion.

I am both an environmentalist (political opinion) and an environmental scientist (scientific discipline). My environmental concerns are informed by science, not by fear mongering or by conspiracy theories. I am convinced by the body of scientific evidence that WiFi does not cause cancer, and that homeopathy cannot cure it. I am a strong believer in both Hanlon’s and Occam’s Razors. My environmentalism stems from my parents’ small-c conservatism: the idea that we should all carry personal responsibility for the results of the decisions we make. I do what I can to reduce my impact on the planet, but I also live in a modern North American city. I own a car. I fly in planes. Sometimes, I use a plastic bag, I sometimes take a longer shower, or shower more frequently, that is absolutely necessary. I do my best to reduce my personal impact on the planet, but ultimately, I believe what we do on the ground in our day-to-day lives will make much less difference than fundamentally changing how we govern our society and attribute “externalized” costs in our economy. Go ahead, call me a hypocrite, I can take it.

I don’t have a copy editor, and do most of my writing in frenzy, late at night when other pressures on my time and consciousness are abated for a few hours. If I took the time for sober second thought and reflection (never mind fixing spelling), nothing would ever be posted. I often start sentences with conjunctions and end them with prepositions, and my favorite piece of punctuation is ellipses. I know these are bad habits, but I suppose, like it or hate it, but that is my voice. Please forgive the typos and recognize this as a volunteer effort, with volunteer results.

I have, more in the past than the present, used profanity to make a point. So going back through the Archive, you will find the occasional adult word. I don’t apologize for it, and will not, now that I am “An Elected Official”, retroactively censor myself. I learned to use profanity from my Mom, who was of the notion that overuse of profanity was lazy, and demonstrated a lack of vocabulary or comfort in self-expression. As a result, when she (very rarely) swore, you know she really meant it.

I have a sense of humour; despite how those last few paragraphs read, I don’t take myself too seriously. Still, I reserve the right to call people jerks, and would argue for their right to call me the same (although I would expect them to make a compelling case). I will tend to treat anonymous commenters here with less respect than people who stand behind their comments with their real names. I love to debate, and can get passionate about topics, but I respect those who make me think about an issue more than those who agree with me without knowledge behind their convictions. I often sound like a know-it-all, but that is mostly bluster. Proving me wrong and changing my mind are the best ways to get a free beer out of me.

So, fairly warned, please read, enjoy, share with your friends and neighbours, and tell me what you think.