Today the New West Record printed a response to the Yes In New West story that ran a couple of weeks ago. It was written by Susan Dextras, a New Westminster resident, who has been outspoken about the proposal in the draft Official Community Plan to change the land use designation (note: not zoning) of the block that she lives on from single family houses to rowhouses and townhouses.
Her letter was fairly NIMBY and since she addressed my family directly, I’m responding to her points.
My husband and I are long time residents of New Westminster since 1984. When we first arrived in the Lower Mainland, there was no affordable housing in Metro Vancouver, so we looked in New Westminster and found the property where we have resided and raised our family for the last 32 years. We plan to continue living in our home for many years to come and we have no intention of selling to a developer or anyone else in the next 25 years.
In 1984 the average price for a single family home in Greater Vancouver was $116,444, and the average total family income was $30,070, which is a ratio of just under 4. In 2014 the average price for a single family home in Metro Vancouver was about $1,400,000 and the median family income was $76,040, which is a ratio of over 18. Since 2014 the housing prices have grown even more, yet incomes have not kept up.
There was affordable housing available in Metro Vancouver. House prices were not huge multipliers of income like they are today.
I would note that Mrs. Dextras’ husband holds a BEng in Civil Engineering, which he obtained in 1976. Civil Engineering is a fairly advanced field of work and pays well, so the odds are quite good that the Dextras family had an above average income in 1984. For Mrs. Dextras to say that “there was no affordable housing” is a stretch.
I would also note that the Dextrases (is that how you pluralize it?) managed to have enough money to tear down the 1903 house they purchased and build a new one in 1990. People who complain about housing not being affordable don’t generally build their own house six years into a mortgage.
Oh, and she says that she has no intention of selling to a developer. Great! Then don’t! Nobody’s forcing you to. Just like how you shouldn’t be forcing your views on your neighbours, over half of which didn’t sign your petition, by the way.
So my advice to Mr. and Mrs. Cavanagh and young couples like them would be to search for affordable housing in the outlying municipalities of the Lower Mainland where land is cheaper and more available, much like we did when we first arrived here. And yes, there will be a commute to and from work but it is what most people have to deal with to be able to afford housing of any kind in our expensive city. Such is life.
Basically what Mrs. Dextras is saying here is “we don’t want anybody young or poor to move into our city”. It reeks of classism. She also seems to be in favour of people not spending time with their families. Mrs. Dextras, I like my family. I like spending time with them. For you to say “just suck it up an commute” is offensive. You might not like spending time with your family, but I like mine and I would rather spend my time with them instead of commuting.
Mrs. Dextras also seems to be proposing that our traffic get worse. Instead of being able to live close to where you work, you should have to live out Langley, Abbotsford, Mission, or Chilliwack and drive through New Westminster to get to your job, right? One of the best solutions for traffic is reducing the need to drive to and from work, and Mrs. Dextras seems to think that maybe more traffic on our streets is a good thing. More pollution is a good thing. Greater dependence on oil is a good thing. Right, Mrs. Dextras?
When we became aware in September of this year of the City’s Draft Future Land Use Map which was sent by Canada Post to the households in our neighborhood, we were astounded to see that the City Planners had arbitrarily colored our 5th – 6th Street Corridor (from 10th Av. To 6th Ave.) “orange” to designate that our streets had been changed from RS1- Single Family Detached zoning to Residential Townhouse zoning – without our consent.
I’ve been told that you’ve been told numerous times that you’re wrong about this. Well, here’s one more time:
YOU ARE WRONG.
The zoning isn’t changing. After the OCP is implemented your property will still be zoned RS-1. The land use designation may change to townhouses, but that is not rezoning! What that means is that if someone wants to rezone their property, the densest it could go is to townhouses. They wouldn’t be able to rezone it to a condo tower (at least, not without a huge fight).
Let me give you an example of the difference between land use and zoning. Queen’s Park is a lovely park in the middle of the city. It has an arena, a baseball diamond, some tennis courts, a nice rose garden, a really good playground, a petting zoo, and wonderful trails. It’s a park. It’s also zoned RS-1. Now do you see the difference between land use and zoning?
If Mayor Cote and the City Councillors take the time to walk down 5th Street, they will see a lovely eclectic collection of old and new homes, all well maintained, some with manicured gardens where neighbors meet for special events and family gatherings.
If Mayor Cote and the City Councillors take the time to walk down my street, they will see a lovely eclectic collection of old and new homes, townhouses and low-rise apartment buildings, all well maintained, some with manicured gardens. We had a street party right in front of my house this year, and another one right around the corner. There are Christmas lights everywhere, and people are always out walking on the sidewalks. Kids play in their front yards, whether they be in front of single family homes or apartment buildings. It’s a vibrant and diverse community, and it should be held up as a model community for the rest of New Westminster.
This is NOT a neighborhood which should be rezoned by the City and then offered to a developer who would then systematically over the next 20 years, demolish each house and begin construction on 450 townhouse units in our 15 acre Corridor.
That’s not how rezoning works, and that’s not how this process works. Again, just to make this clear, the OCP process is not rezoning. Nobody is offering developers anything. There are no bulldozers coming for you. Stop with the paranoia.
What the OCP process means that should one of your neighbours decide to sell their house, someone can buy it. And then maybe their neighbour sells their house, and that same someone buys that one too. Now they own two neighbouring properties. At that point, the landowner can apply for a rezoning. Only after that gets approved would there be any hint of demolition.
In fact, this is exactly the case of the block of houses up for sale along Eighth Avenue at Cumberland Street. One man bought one of those houses decades ago. Then the neighbouring house came up for sale, and he bought that. Let one of his kids live in it. He did that for four or five of the houses there, and members of his family were living in each house. And now the families have grown up, started moving away, and the gentleman has decided to try to sell all of the properties at once so that the adjoining lots can be rezoned to townhouses, making more affordable housing for young families to move into. His view is that young families should be able to enjoy New Westminster and afford to live here, and he’s trying to help that by trying to increase the number of family-friendly townhouses in New Westminster.
It’s a shame that you can’t see that, Mrs. Dextras. It’s a shame that you got lucky on the land lottery and are now so selfish that you can’t bear to see a few younger families move into your neighbourhood.
And all of this done to meet the City of New Westminster’s OCP agenda, which ultimately was initiated by Mayor Cote and council … to satisfy Metro Vancouver’s regional growth strategy and its need for more densification. However, Metro Vancouver’s strategy is “only guidelines and not the rule of law,” as Chief Justice Sharma of the Supreme Court of B.C. has outlined in her decision of the (Metro Vancouver vs. the City of Langley) court case in 2014.
Here’s a tip for readers at home: if someone who isn’t a lawyer starts talking about court decisions, they’ve usually misinterpreted that decision. In this case, she not only gets the defendant wrong (it was actually the Township of Langley, not the City of Langley) but the entire jist of the case. Metro Vancouver was trying to get the Township of Langley to not develop a “University District” because it didn’t fit into Metro Vancouver’s regional growth strategy. The Township of Langley argued that they were operating under the old plan. And yes, the judge did say that the regional growth strategy is “guidelines expressing policy” and that Metro Vancouver “does not have superiority over land use management within the boundaries of a municipality.” But Metro Vancouver isn’t telling New Westminster how to manage its land use within New Westminster. The whole point of the OCP is that New Westminster is telling New Westminster how to manage its land use within New Westminster. Is New Westminster supposed to take New Westminster to court to try to get New Westminster to not manage its land use?
(Astute readers will note that I’m someone who isn’t a lawyer and I’m talking about a court decision, but my information comes from this news story and you can go read it and determine for yourself if my synopsis makes sense instead of Mrs. Dextras’ throwaway line with no backstory.)
Therefore, the city is not legally bound to follow Metro’s strategy and should not be using it as an excuse to rezone, devalue and eventually dismantle our existing private property neighbourhoods in the name of creating more affordable housing in the future for someone else’s benefit.
New Westminster is not rezoning your property. Pay attention.
But I guess we just have different views about the future of our city. I see a city that embraces newcomers of all kinds. I see a city that’s welcoming to young people, to immigrants, to people who aren’t as well off as others. I see a dynamic and evolving city. And I think Mrs. Dextras wants to wrap the city in Saran Wrap and keep it the way it is forever, to the detriment of future generations.
And that’s a shame.
Without fail, when you tell me about a new productivity system, editor, or typeface, I will drop everything I am doing and give your new productivity system, editor, or typeface a whirl.
This happens weekly. It’s a problem.
The majority of these excursions are brief and can be summarized thusly:
I usually find a deal breaker in the first few minutes of entering and managing tasks, writing a thing, or staring at a new typeface. Typical meh-ness can be attributed to the productivity system frustrating amount of opinion, the editor missing an essential feature or keyboard shortcut, or a typeface having juUuUUUUst a bit too much personality. Infrequently, an app or a typeface makes the cut. Bear made the cut.
Bear is a thin text editor. It’s not attempting to be every editor to every person. Bear is the designed for the tech savvy, multiple device, and design-minded humans. Starting with the name – Bear – the application is an elegant combination of design, whimsy, and voice.
Here are a few of my favorite feature and design choices:
Other than a currently mysterious relationship with Markdown3, my biggest gripe with Bear is that you can’t purchase it outright, you need to purchase a subscription. While I was fully prepared to lay down cash money for Bear, I paused for many weeks because subscription models feel like credit cards Like credit cards, subscription models are more profitable because humans are lazy. While I have no issue with dollars going to the developers, I do have an issue with myself forgetting to act managing my subscriptions. I would much rather pay as I go as new and better releases of a product are released.
But I did get a subscription. Bear is that good. No meh.
A while ago (2014) I wrote an article on TPS being disabled by default in future release. (Read KB 2080735 and 2097593 for more info) I described why VMware made this change from a security perspective and what the impact could be. Even today, two years later, I am still getting questions about this and what for instance the impact is on swap files. With vSAN you have the ability to thin provision swap files, and with TPS being disabled is this something that brings a risk?
Lets break it down, first of all what is the risk of having TPS enabled and where does TPS come in to play?
With large pages enabled by default most customers aren’t actually using TPS to the level they think they are. Unless you are using old CPUs which don’t have EPT or RVI capabilities, which I doubt at this point, it only kicks in with memory pressure (usually) and then large pages get broken in to small pages and only then will they be TPS’ed, if you have severe memory pressure that usually means you will go straight to ballooning or swapping.
Having said that, lets assume a hacker has managed to find his way in to you virtual machine’s guest operating system. Only when memory pages are collapsed, which as described above only happens under memory pressure, will the hacker be able to attack the system. Note that the VM/Data he wants to attack will need to be on the located on the same host and the memory pages/data he needs to breach the system will need to be collapsed. (actually, same NUMA node even) Many would argue that if a hacker gets that far and gets all the way in to your VM and capable of exploiting this gap you have far bigger problems. On top of that, what is the likelihood of pulling this off? Personally, and I know the VMware security team probably doesn’t agree, I think it is unlikely. I understand why VMware changed the default, but there are a lot of “IFs” in play here.
Anyway, lets assume you assessed the risk and feel you need to protect yourself against it and keep the default setting (intra-VM TPS only), what is the impact on your swap file capacity allocation? As stated when there is memory pressure, and ballooning cannot free up sufficient memory and intra-VM TPS is not providing the needed memory space either the next step after compressing memory pages is swapping! And in order for ESXi to swap memory to disk you will need disk capacity. If and when the swap file is thin provisioned (vSAN Sparse Swap) then before swapping out those blocks on vSAN will need to be allocated. (This also applies to NFS where files are thin provisioned by default by the way.)
What does that mean in terms of design? Well in your design you will need to ensure you allocate capacity on vSAN (or any other storage platform) for your swap files. This doesn’t need to be 100% capacity, but should be more than the level of expected overcommitment. If you expect that during maintenance for instance (or an HA event) you will have memory overcommitment of about 25% than you could ensure you have 25% of the capacity needed for swap files available at least to avoid having a VM being stunned as new blocks for the swap file cannot be allocated and you run out of vSAN datastore space.
Let it be clear, I don’t know many customers running their storage systems in terms of capacity up to 95% or more, but if you are and you have thin swap files and you are overcommitting and TPS is disabled, you may want to re-think your strategy.
Just wanted to share the Virtually Speaking Podcast with you, this episode (32) is on the topic of VVol 2.0 and features Pete Flecha, Ben Meadowcroft (PM for VVol) and I. Make sure to listen to it, it has some good info on where VVol is today and where it may be going in the near future!
A couple of times now I’ve heard Chuck Puchmayr say that public surveys done by the City of New Westminster aren’t scientific, and by “scientific” I assume he means a survey that samples a representative sample of the population to provide a statistically significant result that can be applied to the overlying population.
And you know what? He’s right. They’re not. They usually only engage the people who are very interested in a given subject, so they artificially bias towards people who have strong opinions on either side. If you don’t care about, say, heritage houses in Queens Park, you’re probably not going to go to the effort to fill out a survey about heritage houses in Queens Park. There are ways to try to unbias the results (weigh them against the demographics of the general population, for example) but even those have biases. It’s tough to make a public opt-in survey scientific, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad.
But then Mr. Puchmayr seemingly goes on to reject them and instead replace them with either his walks around neighbourhoods or with the opinions of people showing up to public hearings.
Walking around a neighbourhood and talking with people that you may or may not know is only scientific if you talk to every single person there, or if you choose people in an unbiased way (and the odds are stacked against you from choosing people in an unbiased way — everybody has biases, either implicit or explicit). And then you’re only targetting one specific neighbourhood. You’re a councillor for the entire City of New Westminster, you’re not a councillor for Fifth Street.
And public hearings are even more biased than public surveys! There’s less effort to fill out a survey, so people don’t necessarily have as strong an opinion about a given subject. But to show up to a public hearing and speak in public? That’s a tremendous barrier and only the very opinionated are going to show up and talk. Using the people who come out to a public hearing as a basis for an opinion that’ll affect the entire city is horribly unscientific!
Mr. Puchmayer, please educate yourself on survey methodology. A public survey of 500 people is more representative of walking around a neighbourhood and talking to a dozen people, and it’s way more representative of listening to five people talk at a public hearing.
Besides, you were elected based on the results of a public survey. Or was that unscientific too?
MIT has a storied history regarding hacking where the act is viewed as a “clever, benign, and ethical prank or practical joke” at the University. Hack is also defined as the act of breaking into computers or computer networks. My definition is a combination of both.
To me, a hack is a clever or unexpectedly efficient means of getting something done. A good hack should feel like cheating because the value created by the hack feels completely disproportionate from the work done.
With this definition in mind, I present five leadership hacks I regularly use. These are not practices designed to redefine your leadership philosophy. They are hacks.
Two minutes early. For everything.
Let’s start simple. I attempt to show up for every single meeting approximately two minutes early, and it has to do with Apple. It may have changed since then or been team dependent, but the expectation at Apple was that every meeting started roughly five minutes after the scheduled start time. It was assumed. We called it “Apple Standard Time.”
If everyone is aware that “Apple Standard Time” is the standard then no big deal, everyone ends up accounting for this handy five-minute buffer. But everyone is not aware. There was no onboarding were we learned about “Apple Standard Time,” so there were not infrequent meetings where half the people showed up and stared at each other for five minutes wondering, “Where the hell is everyone?”
The origins of “Apple Standard Time” are unknown to me, but I bet it started decades ago when someone important, someone with an impressive title kept… showing… up… late. No one said anything because everyone assumed there was good reason for the tardiness. There was a reason: this leader was bad at running their schedule. Worse, this behavior was allowed to exist and – even worse – it became part of the culture.
Two minutes early. For everything. This means I look at my calendar at the beginning of the day and account for transit time. This means I gracefully leave the prior meeting five minutes before the scheduled end. This means I profusely and honestly apologize for wasting people’s time when I walk in two minutes late and this means I don’t let this failure become a habit.
The clock faces you.
Ending a meeting that is going well is tricky. Laura is in the middle of a soliloquy about the powers of a good engineering program manager. It’s great. She’s on a roll, but I need to be across the building for a 2pm meeting, and it’s 1:55pm right now, and I can not hear an ending to Laura’s speech.
Laura knows nothing about my internal scheduling turmoil and she’s looking straight at me because she knows my support for program managers is critical and if I’m busily checking my calendar rather than listening, I am telling the rest of the room, “This thing she is talking about is not that important.”
The first thing I do when I sit down in a conference room is to find easy sight lines to the clock. Hopefully, it’s on a wall, or maybe I need to turn it face me on the desk. The hack is: “I should be able to know the precise time of day at any moment without a single human noticing.”
By having an intimate understanding of the time, I can shape my exit. I can listen for the ever-so-small pause Laura lands at 1:58pm. She’s not stopping, she’s taking a deep breath, so I can jump in and say, “This is great. I have a 2pm across the building, can we continue this discussion later?”
Whether you’re running the meeting or attending the meeting, being frictionlessly aware of the time is the first step to getting a meeting to end on time.
At my last gig, I wanted to meet everyone. First all hands, I committed, “I will personally meet with each and every one of you.”
Admirable. Doesn’t scale.
I started with 1:1s, but it was quickly obvious it’d take six months to get through the entire team, so we quickly pivoted to round tables. Five to ten folks plus me – every week. These meetings were more time efficient, but in each, it was clear that there were always a handful of folks who simply didn’t want to be there. I have work to do.
You can flatten your organization by creating as many communication conduits in as many unexpected directions as possible, and this was the goal with my flawed “meet everyone” strategy. The question is how do you create this communication serendipity for all the humans?
Office hours. They’re announced broadly every two weeks. Two hours total. 30-minute slots. Google Calendar makes this super easy.
The result: my office hours are filled every time I announce them by the folks who want to talk and have an agenda. These are some of the most interesting meetings that I have with the team on a week to week basis. Random thoughts. Emerging concerns. Criticism. Growth conversations. Deep strategic concerns. Communication that only happens 1:1 and in person on a regular basis.
Three questions before any meeting.
Another morning calendar hack: I glance at my day and make a quick assessment: what is the value being created by each of the meetings on my calendar? In a moment, I should be able to answer that question. It’s a new director and we’re going to get to know each other. It’s a weekly sync with a team in crisis. It’s a regularly scheduled 1:1.
Once I understand the why, I then focus on the what. Whether I run the meeting or am a participant, I write three questions that I’d like to get answered at this meeting. For a day full of meetings, the three question exercise should only take a few minutes and it achieves two important outcomes:
First, it frames my goals for this meeting. What is top of mind for me and what am I going to ask when given a chance?
Second, if I am failing to come up with three questions, I ask myself, “Why am I going to this meeting?” Meetings are a virus. They infect and they multiply. The longer they exist, the more likely the humans forget why the meeting was called. If it takes more than 30 seconds to think about my three questions or if I can’t think of a single question that I want to ask, I decline the meeting with a clear explanation.
Continually fix small broken things.
There’s a stack of books on the right side of my desk. They’ve been slowly growing over the past month; I keep telling myself I’ll deal with them, but today I’m dealing with them. The one good book goes in my backpack for reading; the rest go to the bookshelf because I have decided I will likely never read those books.
Sticking with the desk. I’ve been collecting pens, and my pen cup is too full. So, I pour them on the floor and decide which pens are staying in the cup and which pens will be declared free. It takes a little over a minute, but I reduce my pen load by 50% and a lucky someone in the office is going to find a bunch of exceptional pens in our office supply cabinet.
There are five more small broken things on my desk that – in less than 10 minutes – I could fix. These are small broken things I’ve been staring at and stressing about for a month, and in 10 minutes that compounding guilt is better. That 10 minutes made standing at my desk more joyful.
As you walk around your office, you constantly see little things that are broken, but you often ignore them because you are urgently working on the big things. The last hack is the easiest and it’s the best: fix small broken things. Always. It takes seconds to clean that whiteboard, to plug in the clock in the conference room, and to stop, lean down, and pick up a piece of trash. Seconds.
The value created isn’t just the small decrease in entropy, it’s that you are actively demonstrating being a leader. I understand the compounding awesomeness of continually fixing small broken things.
/sbin/bootadm install-bootloader -M -P rpool
title Tribblix 0.19
What social networks like Facebook really offer is empathy in the aggregate — an illusion of having captured the mood of entire families and friend networks from a safe, neutral distance. Then they turn around and offer advertisers a read on more than a billion users at once. Buzz Andersen — a tech veteran who has worked for Apple, Tumblr and Square — told me that in Silicon Valley, “empathy is basically a more altruistic-sounding way of saying ‘market research.’ ”
"Solaris being canned, at least 50% of teams to be RIF'd in short term. Hardware teams being told to cease development. There will be no Solaris 12, final release will be 11.4. Orders coming straight from Larry."
The crazy people that said that Oracle bought Sun just to shut it down and use the patents to sue Google are looking pretty non-crazy now. I guess once the lawsuit was lost (and boy was it expensive) the shutdown was inevitable.
Of course, not funding SPARC development so that it could stay competitive with Intel didn't help much either.