Logjams and Debris Flows

BC, Science, Stormwater, UrbanWorkbench News, Water

Log Debris at Greely Bridge

Log Debris at Greely Bridge

This logjam at the Greely Bridge across the Illecillewaet River was a result of a debris flow last week. I provided information gathered on this event to the Revelstoke Times Review for an article. [click to continue…]

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Finding the Leak

Photos, Photos, Water

IMG_3908.JPG
City of Revelstoke crews operating the vactor truck to locate a watermain break using hydro-excavation.

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Watermain Replacement

BC, Civil Engineering, Construction, Design, Sustainability, Water

Among other things, one of my projects in the past month was pulling an old 40m water main out of a culvert under the Trans Canada Highway. We had no information on the condition of the culvert or exactly how the pipe was held together, we spent several utilities meetings working through possible solutions and problem-solving to find a cost-effective method as our first attempt, working up to more complicated removal and replacement options from there in case the easiest option didn’t work.

So how do you remove an asbestos cement watermain in a steel culvert of unknown condition buried over 8m deep in the Trans Canada Highway road right of way?

[click to continue…]

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When are your creative times?

UrbanWorkbench News

The idea that there is a best time of the day to do your creative work is fascinating. This graphic shows that among great thinkers, writers and artists, there is no common pattern. When are you most creative?

Keen to develop better work habits? Discover how some of the world’s greatest minds scheduled creative work into their daily routines.
Click image to see the interactive version (via Podio).

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Highway One Problems & Solutions

BC, Canada, Civil Engineering, Regulation, Revelstoke, Rural, Technology, Transportation

Summer is time for road-trips and camping, Albertan’s spilling into BC to enjoy the Province’s natural beauty, families travelling to visit relatives, beach vacations – and unfortunately for many of these trips, the Trans-Canada Highway is a necessary part of the route. On twitter, I have several searches that I check before I head out on the Trans Canada Highway from Revelstoke @DriveBC and  #Revelstoke #BCHWY1. Incidents such as this one from earlier this month are the reason why:

Four people were seriously injured and three trapped in their vehicles in a four-vehicle pileup on the Trans-Canada Highway by the Enchanted Forest and Sky Trek on Tuesday, August 5.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky said the accident, which occurred at about 3 pm, closed the highway until just before 8 pm.

He said a West-bound truck pulling a trailer was moving too fast and too close to another vehicle that was turning left into the popular tourist attraction when it hit. Two other vehicles then hit it.

Revelstoke Current – Truck driver charged in Tuesday’s TCH pileup that left four injured

In just 26 days (from July 10 to August 5), the stretch of the Trans Canada Highway either side of Revelstoke between Sicamous and Golden has been closed eight times1. On average, every 5 days or so (since July 1, so far this summer), an accident or incident has occurred that has closed the highway. Typically, these closures are at least an hour, and if a police investigation is required, (if there is a fatality or serious injury or a multi-vehicle incident), the time to opening often extends to over four hours, often up to six.

[click to continue…]


  1. data collected from a very informal search of DriveBC twitter activity – see twitter links at the end of this article 

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How I Keep My Lists in Order – Workflowy

Blogging, Business, Management, Software

Do you make lists? Do you use an orderly system on your computer or in a notebook; or do you scribble them out on sticky notes? In today’s information rich environment, the ability to keep lists, to-dos, projects and tasks in order is important, do you use lists for brainstorming, or shopping lists? Or how about packing lists? I’ve tried all types of productivity software, and those apps that shine are the often the simplest.

One of my favourites that holds a coveted space on my iPhone homescreen and work desktop is Workflowy. It doesn’t have a calendar and it doesn’t beep at you, but it does have an awesome search, tagging, the ability to mark notes as complete, and great export options.

With Workflowy you have one big list that has bullets and sub-bullets, technically it is what is called an outline or hierarchical outline.

Workflowy Screenshot

Workflowy is blazingly fast, works on all devices and allows almost infinite outline levels (or lists within lists). This is software that is simple and the developers are thoughtful as to additional features and attempting to keep things minimalist. Sign up for a free account and watch the tutorials to get started!

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Infrastructure Inspections and Awareness

Cities, Civil Engineering, Construction, Governance, Sustainability, Transportation

Or – Why Inspections are Fundamental to Asset Management

Two engineering departments in the City of Honolulu have very different approaches to the same problem.

The city does not have an inspection program for light poles, despite the fact that there are 51,000 street lights on the island. The city says it doesn’t have the money or staff to maintain one.”For us to stop funding other programs, like providing better lighting to fund pole inspections, is something that’s not going to be productive,” said Ross Sasamura, director of the Dept. of Facility Maintenance…

A different department, Transportation Services, takes care of the lights that are attached to traffic signals, like the one that fell on Atkinson. Director Mike Formby is asking for $180,000 in the budget to get his own inspection program off the ground.”What we’re trying to do right now is a systematic inspection program, where we go through the county and inspect all the traffic lights in this region and we move through the county,” he said.

via: KHON2 – City to inspect poles when replacing street lights

Considering that steel streetlight poles typically have a lifespan of around 20 years, (and even less in corrosive environments such as salt spray near beaches). A proactive inspection and replacement program would appear valuable to ensure that streetlights are kept in good condition. [click to continue…]

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What Have You Shipped?

Blogging, Business, Productivity

Last week I received a report on our departmental progress, it was in effect, a reminder of what we’ve “shipped” over the past six months. Having a regular reminder of your progress seems like a good thing, and it is supported by research:

making headway on meaningful work brightens a person’s inner work life and boosts long-term progress. It isn’t monetary rewards and recognition that truly motivate us. It’s a sense that we are accomplishing something meaningful – day by day.

Why a ‘done’ list beats a to-do list

Tracking these things we’ve done makes sense, we should celebrate our accomplishments, and challenge ourselves on the work we are doing and what we are achieving. Seth Godin asked this question a couple of years ago, and the idea stuck with me…

But what have you shipped?

What have you done with your connection skills that has been worthy of criticism, that moved the dial and that changed the world?

Go, do that.

But what have you shipped? – Seth Godin

Photo Credit: lemonhalf cc

Photo Credit: lemonhalf cc

I’ve started making a note of the my done list. At the end of the day, I write down the things that I’ve shipped/done/achieved that day. For inspiration, the iDoneThis app‘s ebook suggests the following questions:

  1. What did you get done today?
  2. What did I make progress on today?
  3. What impacted your progress?
  4. What did you do today that you especially want to remember in the future?
  5. What good have I done today?
  6. What are 3 good things about today?

So… What have you shipped today?

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