Friday, July 29, 2011

"Why there 'otta be a law..."

Last night on the news, Jon Gerard's only topic of any merit came up. Bicycle helmets.
Oye vey.
Sure, I get it. Bicycle meets semi, (pick up, Prius, fire hydrant, whatever it meets), bicycle looses, rider often falls.
Now I'm not an avid rider but I do own a decent bike and enjoy riding. (No, the new active transportation paths have done NOTHING to encourage me, or the countless other projected to use these stupid ideas to ride more). What I don't own is a helmet, and frankly I'm sick and tired of the media starting to give these clowns time to "make their case".
We've got Police in this city who can't seem to ticket the riders who regularly travel in the wrong direction on the road, blow STOP signs and lights, but I'm sure they could cherry pick the helmets. I bet they'd set up a "trap" where you can't escape like the Sherbrook Bridge, or on Wellington Crescent just to teach these flaunt-ers of any potential new law a lesson.
There's the argument about kids on bikes, but honestly, it's a wonder I made it to adult hood. Unsupervised from about 5 on, (No, I was not a feral child),  we were left to ride our bikes with reckless abandon during our 9-12 year old period, jumping them over natural and man made objects alike. Had only these do-gooders been there to protect us from ourselves.
The continued intrusion into peoples lives, and the dictating of things that were considered to be within the purview of an adult, or a parent is becoming tiresome and scary at times.
Who do these people think they are?
Could we please consider something important instead of re hashing this old debate ever few years?

Since we're on the topic, (sorta'), this idea of bending the rules for cyclists is a BAD on, and will continue to fuel the current animosity between drivers and cyclists in our city.
There are cyclists who are clearly aware of their rights and responsibilities, and then those who simply don't care, seemingly provoking the diatribe meted out by drivers passing them AGAIN because the car had to stop at the light, and the cyclists passed (illegally) on the right (or between the cars), only to blow through the light.
"Hey! We could ALL get to work faster if we ignored the lights in this city!"
What makes these people "tick"? I mean, it can't be "normal" to think you are granted the right to use the road on an equal footing as a motor vehicle, but can choose to be selective regarding the rules. These folks can't be completely balanced in their thinking... it just doesn't make sense. Wanna ride a bike? Do it like they do in Amsterdam, not Beijing.

Since we're (sorta) on the topic, I continue to despise our city and it's traffic department lackies who have sat back and either been completely remiss in any traffic upgrade planning, or been completely ignored by the elected "leaders".
 Sammy promised us synchronized lights, heck he promised me that he'd look into the inability to synchronize the light at Route 90 and Silver. Winnipeg can install a state of the art photo camera, but can't get the light timing right on a major artery with a 70 km/h speed limit. Makes ya wonder if they "planned" that.
Honestly, if we could just bring up the guys working in Grand Forks. They have these little things located on the traffic light standard that does something... it let's traffic MOVE. How many intersections are SO badly timed that only two vehicles can make it through before a yellow comes out?
House cleaning is in order. If Luis Escobar cant do any better than this little gem, http://www.apegm.mb.ca/pdf/PD_Papers/signals.pdf , then clearly those taking orders from him are equally lost. I think almost any reasonable person could stand at an intersection and gauge if traffic is flowing at a reasonable pace, and in a timely manner, so all I can conclude is that Luis and his faithful little band don't get out of the office much.

To tie it all together... (bet you didn't think I could)

Winnipeg's traffic system is a nightmare of poorly planned signs, intersections, and lights that lead to immense frustration for the driver, either obviously, or obliviously. These frustrations are compounded by cyclists, who seem to be unimpeded by these planning fiascoes and the driver develops a "hate on" for cyclists. It's really NOT about "us" versus "them", it's about "them" not having to suffer through the systemic problems of traffic in our city.

Just to save you the response of "You don't know from traffic! If you were in Toronto...", Sure, you're right, and if I were in Morris... because really the size difference between the two is about the same. Compare it to another city of equal size... bet you'll have trouble finding one with a traffic system as bad. (in Canada and the USA).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Free water testing, the Somali Security Forces, and other tidbits

Got a call from the RM office this morning. We drove out to the cabin yesterday to drop a few things off, pick a few things up... generally considered to be a 4 hour wasted effort, but it was very hot, and the air conditioned vehicle sure beat working outside in the afternoon.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the VERY bright smiles of the Security Company employees. Sure, that's a bit of a joke. People of colour really don't have whiter teeth than the rest of us. There is nothing that makes me think, "we should have white folks doing this", as a matter of fact, I think it's laudable that we are providing some work for recent immigrants, after all, my folks weren't from around these parts either. That said, I do think some proper training might actually be of some benefit. When I pull up, roll down my window and say hello, a bit more than "yes" would be a good response.
These folks are positioned at the end of a road that leads to two dead end roads, one north and one south. There really isn't any "control" of entry, the list of people coming and going is getting better, but I'm pretty sure it's still lost by the end of the shift, or never passed onto the next shift.
We are expected to abandon our cottages and homes, and leave the three folks that are there in charge, only to find out they have been padding their hours, in effect, scamming and cheating their employer.
 http://www.cjob.com/News/Local/Story.aspx?ID=1459303
Do you want someone who is scamming and cheating their employer watching YOUR place?
Again, the provisions of the Emergency Measures Act relieves the RM and the Province from this fiasco if something were to happen, but I don't even want to ask my insurance company about the whole fiasco.
I think a bunch of twenty something from the RM would be better able to keep track of vehicles in/vehicles out, likely cost less, and probably not watch movies on the portable DVD player for hours on end.
The Somali Security force is a joke.
The other thing we did out there yesterday was to test our well water. The RM provided kits at a local building, complete with  two pages of instructions, a label, and contact information.
We followed all the instructions, and returned the small bottle, filled precisely to the line as indicated on the bottle to the same local building. We were told "I'll be sure to get this in tomorrow".
Well today is tomorrow, and the RM calls.
"Sorry, but the free water testing goes in on Wednesdays... every second Wednesday... and the sample is only good for 24 hours... so could you resubmit your sample next week?"

This is beyond stupid. A seasonal community, virtually abandoned during the week, and I'm now expected to plan a Tuesday that is during a waxing moon in a month that ends in "R" or some other criteria no one tells any one else about.

I asked her, "How would I know this? Wouldn't this be something to post on the paper you hand out with instructions? is this something that might have been mentioned by the Reeve at the meeting we had, or posted at the building where we pick up the kits?"
"Well,  it's on some signs around town, and I guess people just hear about it."

Really.

Can you believe that someone would even answer in such a nonsensical way? I mean, do these people really get PAID for this work? Is this a favour? Sure the NDP promising "free well water testing in flooded areas" is a nice touch, but the RM providing the sample bottles and organizing to get them in... is this just something I owe them a big thank you for? Would a calendar available in your MS outlook with every second Wednesday highlighted be problematic for you, or is that sort of "service" simply over the top?

I can only hope the well isn't contaminated, because I am too stupid to have my well tested... I can't follow rules I don't know, nor follow instructions I am not given.

The fact that these folks find their way to work every morning amazes me.

Since Wednesday is the day chosen to ferry the bottles in, and since Tuesday is the only available day to gather samples, I can only believe that almost no seasonal folks have availed themselves of the "service". Plan to make the service impossible to use, and no one will use it.

Brilliant.

PS. Still no response from the MB Ag office, or Water Stewardship. Nice to see they are so quick to approve flood proofing measures.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Whadda think this is? The Autobahn?!

Some guy thinks his wife and unborn child's life is reason enough to speed! Can you even get your head around it? It's incredible to a regular reader of the FreeP that this guy thought his actions were justified. Clearly Brian Smiley knows better...

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/he-saves-babys-life-gets-huge-ticket-125679938.html

What a bunch of blathering idiots. Once again we see the incestuous relationship the ever reaching tentacles of MPI have to regulate drivers licences and their inability to see a forest for the trees.

"Though officials from MPI and RCMP would not comment on the specifics of Weber's case, citing privacy concerns, both noted that protocols are designed to keep Manitoba's roads safe"

Hey Brain, you want to keep the roads safe? How about paying to fix them? Instead, MPI is an organization that is supposed to insure our vehicles, but have been given carte blanche control over registration, driver licensing, insurance, and then they indulge in paying to get traffic enforcement carried out. Nice.

Now lets consider the "fine RCMP officers" involved here. . "I'll escort you to Portage La Prairie".  "No, I need to go to Brandon". "OK, I'll take you there, hurry up, let's go. You've already bled all over your car, no reason to mess mine up, follow me!"

Nope. This "hero" spent time reprimanding the guy for speeding, then "warned" his buddy down the road that they might be coming AFTER writing him a ticket for a grand.

 One word. Sure, it's a compound word, and some people write it as two words, but I think asshole can be written as one word. I don't typically resort to name calling here, it almost weakens the argument by lowering the bar, BUT in this instance, there is no lower the bar can go. "Stupid is as stupid does", as Forrest said.

Speed limits on the Trans Canada are set at 100 Kph. There are numerous states where the speed limit was tossed all together, and others where 75 MPH is normal (121 Kph). The autobahn has no limit, but they do encourage you not to travel faster than 200 Kph, (I couldn't get the rental Honda Civic up past 180Kmh, but I did get an Alfa Romeo GTV (1969) up to... well we don't know because the needle didn't register any more. Sure, the Freeways of the United States and the Autobahn of Germany are no comparison to the TrashCanada Highway. Using them in the same paragraph can only be in a situation where you are mocking our "national path through the woods", but SURELY a speed of 170 KmH is NOT reckless in a situation like this. This is COMPLETELY prudent and RESPONSIBLE behaviour.

Brian. Let's say there's a clearly marked "No swimming after dark" sign on a public pool, but YOUR kid is drowning. Obviously you shouldn't jump in Brian, after all, rules are rules, and they are to be applied to all. I think a trespass charge is in your future. You are so outta line... do you really believe the drivel you spew?

And the magistrate that didn't toss the ticket and just reprimand the guy. "Don't ever do that again, unless of course your wife and son's lives are in danger". Nope. Reduce the fine, but leave the charge on the table.

Clearly this is a ticket that should have never been written, but it doesn't end there. The "fine RCMP officer" radios his buddy in Carberry to tell them this guys is coming. An escort?  NO. Another ticket? Yup.

Good work boys. I'm surprised you didn't taser them both!

Clearly my thinking on Po-Po's is right. You don't have to be real smart to be a cop, and the real lackies are out in the country somewhere... waiting.

The incredible lack of compassion, sensitivity and common sense is mind boggling, especially since we trust these guys to use... common sense.

Smiley said, "RCMP and emergency vehicle drivers are trained to drive at a high rate of speed that average Manitobans aren't capable of". (CTV News, paraphrased). Sure Brian... next 60 second driver tip? I don't care if you and Brian Berkely get along famously, or if Jordan Witzel thinks you're his hero, you're a stooge who prattles of the official mantra of the group of thieves who are now threatening this guy with ANOTHER thousand dollar "fine" by way of an increased drivers license fee.

You clowns are too much.

Take heed. If the life of a loved one, or even some stranger I find on the side of the road, is threatened or in danger, and I am in a position to help them by getting them to a hospital, there WILL be speeding involved, and if you think I'm waiting around for you to write me a ticket, I'm leaving. If you're so sure I'm a danger to society, you'd better be prepared to use your push bar on my vehicle and put me in the ditch, because your actions ARE ALREADY endangering the lives of people.

Better still, maybe you should come get me now.

Good luck at the appeal board. I hope the public screams how stupid this all is.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

NDP promises compensation...

... but answers and replies to citizens who file applications, no promise of that.

For those who aren't affected, there's no reason to try to check out the ever changing links on the government's page http://www.gov.mb.ca/flooding/floodrecovery/index.html

Early on it was a link to a page from the ag department, which I filled out and sent in via fax about a month and a week ago... no response.

A few weeks ago, Greg announced an increase to cottage owners and flood prevention assistance which helps people lift buildings and raise the grade levels. The link that day was to Manitoba Water Stewardship, and the forms were CLEARLY dated 2010, but I filled them out, and sent them in via fax... no response.

Now the forms are again to the ag department, but different than the originals. What should I do? Should I fill out another form? I mean, I did e-mail the folks in charge, asking if they received my application and requesting instructions regarding how to file a claim. The address was right off the site, mailto:floodproofing@gov.mb.ca , but there was no response.

Maybe they are busy? Too busy responding to other people? Maybe I should call? Write a letter? CC my MLA A. Swan?

Do you think they'll care? Honestly, with an election three months away, does anyone believe they would have any interest in any "micro" event... like a single persons attempt to contact the department responsible for delivering the disaster assistance?

I understand that often times a politician delivers a "package" that doesn't exist yet, but where did my fax go? Do I just keep faxing until they get back to me? I think that using up all their thermal fax paper would be far more annoying than filling up their e-mailbox.

We had read somewhere that flood-proofing work had to be "pre approved". Great idea. Stipulate that we need your blessing, but don't get back to us until we're wiped out in a storm. True bureaucracy. "Sorry, you don't qualify. We didn't approve your project... you should have waited for us to contact you."

These are the type of things that breed cynicism.

The FreeP reported on the "fast tracked" diversion, but there's a lot of mis information, (which the FreeP is culpable of repeating), or so it seems. For the geo graphically challenged, Lake Manitoba's outlet is the Fairford River which drains into Lake St. Martin. That lake's outlet is Dauphin River, which drains into Lake Winnipeg. In one article the FreeP says,"News the province is working quickly to ease the pressure on the flooded Lake Manitoba, likely through a mini-floodway from Lake St. Martin to Lake Winnipeg, "
(Bruce Owen)
What I read there is that they will drain Lake St Martin. That's all I read there. I DO understand that Lake Manitoba can thus drain as fast as it currently is... but I DON'T read that it will drain any faster at the Fairford control structure. The Fairford dam is currently WIDE open, and allows (I think) 20,000 cfs out of Lake Manitoba.
This reiterates an article by the same writer on the 12th, where he wrote, "Premier Greg Selinger and his officials have already said they've fast-tracked work on an emergency diversion channel between Lake St. Martin and Lake Winnipeg that under normal circumstances would takes years to plan."

Today, Mia Rabson writes, " Much of the problems relates to the Fairford River control structure, which helps regulate water levels on Lake Manitoba. That structure has contributed to chronic flooding in Lake St. Martin, Dauphin River, Fairford, Lake Manitoba and Little Saskatchewan first nations."

What none of these astute reporters have stitched together yet, is that there is no current plan to do ANYTHING about Fairford.

Here's the numbers from a simpleton (me). There is about 57,000 cfs entering the lake, but let's say it's only 50,000, since April (March maybe?), that's 4 months. We'd expect the crest in a few weeks... but who cares, can we add say, three more months at that flow to even out the highs and lows (if there are any lows) and call it an even 7 months?. We expect freeze up by mid November, so we can hope for normal inflows then, but the Fairford Dam can't be opened up until this new outlet is completed, "Optimistically" slated for January 1. That'd be 2 months of partial flow, meaning less than the 20,000 cfs currently leaving the lake. 50/20 is 2.5 times more in than out over 7 months. Now if we get more out than in for 3 or MAYBE 4 months will we "drain" the lake? I don't think so. The numbers that I can't begin to calculate, (because I fell asleep during the math class where we were taught exponents), simply don't make any possible sense to a simple guy like me. It CAN'T happen, yet people latch onto this belief that the current Government is building an outlet from Lake Manitoba to Lake Winnipeg and will drain the lake.

Unless these folks are reading a different paper...or reading some portions without comprehending the entire article... and perhaps the poorly worded portions like Owen's article on the 12th that read, " ...will move more water more quickly from Lake Manitoba to Lake St. Martin and into Lake Winnipeg."
There will be no more water moving through the Fairford control structure than it can currently handle. The inflows will be equal to, or greater than the outflows for the balance of the year, and you can't drain a bathtub that has a fire hose in it.

This is all smoke and mirrors, designed to keep the "people" believing that "they" will look after you. After about a 20 minute conversation with a fellow cottage owner who believed that we'll be saved I asked him this.

"The people responsible for flood forecasting and controlling the lake that got us into this jack pot... do you REALLY believe their predictions and ideas now to save you? Really?"

People simply don't want to grasp the reality of it all. This water is here for a few years... deal with it, but don't put any faith in the people who kept the lake high last fall, increased the level over the winter, failed to forecast the high water on the Assiniboine( or even mention that river in the spring) and then backpedaled all spring claiming that the Portage Diversion only added a few inches to the lake (Topping), and the if there was no diversion, the storm would have caused comparable damage(Ashton), not to mention Greg's favourite response, " No one could have foreseen a one in 350 year flood" of some other drivel... typical ass covering Bovine Scat.

On the 4th it was reported that shovels could be in the ground digging the new diversion in a few weeks.

I'll wait for a ribbon cutting with a big earth scraper on the 18th... NOT