Saturday, November 16, 2013

Distracted Driving... flavour of the month

So before you all go ape on me for this post, try to get your head around this little nugget,

"In 1930, laws were proposed in Massachusetts and St. Louis to ban radios while driving," writes DeMain. He goes on to say a 1934 Auto Club of New York poll said 56% thought car radios were a "dangerous distraction."

The biggest issue with "distracted driving" is that is purely suggestive. The statistics trotted out are speculative at best, and a guess at worst. Who has been in an "accident" where both vehicles operators were completely "in tune" with the situation that preceded the collision? Could one safely suggest that a large portion of driving incidents are a result of being distracted in some way, shape, or form? Today our police Chief has suggested that he'd be in favour of taking away vehicles and suspending the driving privilege of people caught being "distracted".  http://www.winnipegsun.com/2013/11/14/distracted-drivers-could-lose-licences

Great. Now a subjective call by one person I cant argue against because my word isn't equal in weight to theirs, can lead to me losing my ride, and my ability to work. Remember the old folks who got a cell phone ticket that was defended vehemently by our illustrious Police Force and then dropped by the Crown? http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/cellphone-ticket-but-no-cellphone-141398013.html

Sounds perfect Devon... next idea?

I absolutely used to LOVE the single officer cruiser cars where the driver had his lap top open, punching in license plate numbers (which I call fishing) and reading the results while driving along. Police are still allowed to use their cell phones in the traditional fashion while on duty. Are they talking to their spouse? Kids? Mom? Can't really say, but you'd be stupid if you believed that it doesn't happen. With the amount of moonlighting that goes on, you'd be safe to assume that the side jobs scheduled for their day off is being planned. Personal phone? Police issued cell phone? I dunno... does it matter? We're told that it's about how our brains are wired... that we're not capable of processing the information properly... except Police... they are wired differently.

The idea of putting teens in go carts and asking them to text is another great "study" trotted out for those who have never carted to say, "See... it must be true!" A go cart is set up completely differently than a car, the track is purposefully more difficult to negotiate than a road, and they are only similar in the same sort of way that a child's pedal car and a go cart are "the same". Can you steer a go-cart with your thigh? Didn't think so...

I don't really have an issue with the whole notion of texting being a distraction, yet for years I have seen idiots with their lap dogs driving...with their dog steering, or at least hanging on the wheel. Screaming kids in the back? Want to tell me how THAT'S not distracting?

25 road deaths are due to "distracted driving". What does that mean? Were they distracted by virtue of being sleep deprived? Did they see a bear, and were too busy gawking at it to not realize they were in the oncoming traffics lane? "Rubber necking" at an accident scene has been more than one cause of an accident... is that also a "distracted driving" statistic?

When I was young, my old man bought himself (well the family I guess) a brand spanking new car. He got it on a Thursday, and we all piled in on Good Friday to head off tho church. Dad was trying to figure out the new radio, which was one of those new fangled digital things (with an 8 track) and stopped at a STOP sign. He drove out onto the road perpendicular to our direction of travel and "BAM", the new car was heading to the body shop. (True story)

You're thinking, "Nice story, but what's the point?"

You don't need a cell phone to be distracted, you can have a passenger you are arguing with next to you, frustrating you to the point of distraction (insert ex spouses name as required), or perhaps an unruly set of three kids, with the oldest one poking the youngest and Mom yelling at them, or any other number of distractions, (Squirrel!)

MPI continues to "drive" issues to suit themselves, and get their Sixty Second driver infomercials to convince us all about what a huge problem this is, yet there are no concrete numbers provided to support their newest money making "crackdown". At the reported 50 tickets a day, the fine of $200 gets the Provincial coffers $10,000 from Winnipeg alone. The Sun reports that MPI is providing $140,000 province wide, with $80,000 to Winnipeg to "aid with" enforcement.

Hey. News flash. In 8 days the money is paid back. Everything over that is gravy, and don't go telling me about how it's different pockets because in this province the pockets are all in the same suit, even if some are pant, jacket, or a vest pocket.

If MPI REALLY wants to make a difference they should find some other ways. Suggestions? Pay me to get my PAL, my Hunters Safety, and my deer hunting license. 80% of wild life collisions are deer related.

Vehicle collisions with deer are both dangerous and costly. On average, there are about 6,800 vehicle-deer collisions each year in Manitoba, resulting in about 300 injuries to occupants in the vehicles. The financial cost of all of this is approximately $33 million. (From MPI website)

Not really as much of a cash grab though is it? Imagine someone calculating what an increase in hunters BRINGS to the economy as opposed to the sucking sound Government imposed fines are to it.

If we stopped providing a drivers license to almost every one, regardless of their skill level, we might not have to worry about a little distraction.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I pay EXTRA for this?

Last year we received yet another "tax" from our City. I'm sure they have a name for it, which in the mind of our mayor, makes it a user fee or something, but not a tax.

The tax imposed was a flat surcharge on our water bills to help us all recycle.

I wrote about the slush fund solid waste was creating... no real plan for the money, but they needed it, so we all got to fork over another $50 to fund stuff. What kind of stuff?

From the City web site, "The daily waste diversion fee was introduced to fund new programs that provide residents with more ways to reduce, reuse and recycle (e.g., curbside yard waste collection, a curbside kitchen organic collection trial, Community Resource Recovery Centres)."

Ah Ha! So now I suppose I can't complain that I'm not getting my monies worth. You see, we typically go two weeks between recycling pick ups. Sure... I know what you're thinking,

"No way! After all, it's Recycling Day! Don Woodstock had them rename it, and that's the most important part of the whole day, NOT garbage!"

Wrong. The garbage get's picked up (finally), but all the blue bins are left (full of paper and other combustibles) sitting out in front of our vehicles, naively believing that they might just be a little behind (yes fearless leaders, I do go out and move them around every time I need to move one or the other vehicle. Thank you very little).

Is there anything this City can accomplish with any sort of success? Other jurisdictions seem to manage, but really, the whole issue is indicative of the poor leadership we have running this gong show (with all due respect to the Gong Show, where at least clanging the gong made the performer stop, and the pain went away).

We have a CAO who is hired as a result of nepotism, is unqualified, and has the propensity to over rule those under him, and not provide any clear answers. Who would expect anything more from those under him?

Would we really expect the Signal Department under the leadership of Escobar to mange to keep our antiquated traffic lights work when it rains?

Can we expect the Water Department to come up with anything better than, "The water is brown because someone is STEALING water!"

Can we really hope that the Fire Chief knows his place, and realizes that he's out of his league when it comes to making a deal with the largest real estate developer in the City (and a former business partner of the Mayor)? (Or Barry Thorgrimson or Deepak Joshi?)

Can we expect 311 to be anything other than a complaint centre, with no ability to bring any real satisfaction to a caller? Or to gather any useful information that might be used to target City services to areas where they are most needed?

Can we dare to hope that the twit at the weigh scale at the landfill site, and their purposefully deceitful signage care that they are misrepresenting the fees you pay to use the dump?

Is there a chance that we might hope that the parking fiasco that sees vehicles consistently taking up two spaces by virtue of having no lines on the road now that there are no meters to demark a spot?

NO, we can't.

Until we have a mayor AND councillors willing to take on the union and the status quo, and LEAD BY EXAMPLE, we'll continue to have City services run by under achievers who fail to deliver even the basic services they are expected to, while patting themselves on the back for reclaiming all that methane from the landfill... and burning it off instead of using it to fuel vehicles as they said they would.

Good job, I'm sure you'll all be promoted!

As long as the leaders are of questionable quality and character, we truly can't expect those working under them to be any better.

Monday, November 4, 2013

"A Big Fraud"

That's what Senator Mike Duffy called the whole "cover-up" of this mess.
"What mess?" you ask.
The mess Senator Duffy created by defrauding Canadians of monies he claimed for an illegitimate housing allowance... a "fraud".
Now good old Duff is doing the magician routine, attempting to distract you from understanding what you are seeing, rather having you focus your attention elsewhere to pull off his "trick".
Same goes for Pamela Wallin, crying about her besmirched reputation she worked so hard to refine, citing that having been invited into Canadian homes for oh so many years should have left her unscathed by the review that found she stole our money by claiming travel expenses as an expense we should cover, when in fact it was personal.
I'm tempted to bring up a certain RRCC President, but I'll try to stay focused.

This whole mess has now led Duffy to reveal the story teller that he is. There is a reason a guy can schmooze his way through Ottawa for the better part of my lifetime, interviewing every one and any one while making a decent living at the CBC and CTV.  Mike paid his dues as a TV journalist having covered many major news stories. He was the last reporter to leave South Vietnam before the north invaded. Cool. I won't attack what I think is an admirable career. I watched Duff interview Trudeau, Cretien, Mulroney, and even that guy Joe (Joe who? It's a thing you have to be of a certain age to "get").

His good work as a reporter aside, it did not take old Duff long to learn how to be a politician. He falsely claimed that he lived in Prince Edward Island when he didn't. His health card said he lived in Ottawa. Did he know that his health card information was important to the claim? IT DOESN'T MATTER.

Why not? Well if you or I complete a government form, say like your income tax return wrong, we can face penalties and even jail. "Oh I didn't know" doesn't buy you a "pass", and you can't go on talking about what a nice guy you are, or point fingers at someone else... you pay, and that's the end of it.

Mike couldn't scratch together the $90K he bilked us out of, so the Prime Ministers assistant wrote old Duff a cheque. Pretty sad that Mike doesn't have that kind of cash on deposit... I mean he's making (at least) $132K as a BASE salary a year. You'd think he would be able to put a little aside... a vacation fund perhaps?

Regardless, Mike took the cash (cheque) from a millionaire who didn't need it, ostensibly to repay the monies he defrauded us of and hope it all went away. Mike couldn't seem to get his head around the fact that he'd actually done something wrong and so decided the next best thing was take someones money to cover up his "mistake".

Nice. And now he's the victim.

Like poor Pamela. "The government has tried to discredit me." Boo hoo, poor Pam. She has three versions of her outlook floating around, tells stories about where she was and who she was visiting which are clearly lies, and the Government is trying to discredit her? Seriously Pam... get over yourself.

It sure didn't take these two long to become latched to the public teet and become entitled.

Then there is Brazeau, listing all kinds of addresses that he never even visited. I have the most respect for him because he seems to be talking a lot less about how "unjust" this all is than the others. Updated... did you hear his last speech in the Senate?

It's a pity the MSM leaves out the liberal Senator who may have trained those mentioned above. Mac Harb repaid almost $300K of questionable expenses under the threat of being audited. Really... you tell a guy to pay the amount you find easily to avoid doing the deep digging?

How many other Senators have screwed Canadians out of their hard earned money?

If anything, this debacle is a CLEAR mandate to reform or abolish the Senate. I'm not sure why PM Harper needs the advice of the Supreme Court. He has the "notwithstanding" clause... use it.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

RUSH - Movie review

My wife and I are of different times insofar as the mid 1970's goes. I remember some of the going on in F1, watching some of the races, I knew of the rivalries , World Driving Championship outcomes, and other events.

She has come to know F1 because I watch every race in a season, either at 6:55 Sunday morning, or recorded on the PVR. Aside from that, F1 means nothing to her.

Between us, we viewed the movie through different interests insofar as the topic of racing goes, but both came away talking about what an excellent movie we had just seen.

Set in a time when racing was far more dangerous than it is today, Ron Howard does an excellent job of telling the story of race car drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt. I won't spoil the movie for you if you don't know how it ends, but even if you do remember the season, the events, the drivers, this is likely a story that you'll thoroughly enjoy. The casting is incredible in that Niki's accent is spot on, and both are dead ringers for the original men. Little known Daniel Bruhl is an incredible likeness to Lauda, and the character portrayal and accent are amazing.







Chris Hemsworth plays James Hunt, the Playboy/bad boy to a T, and between them we get a glimpse of what the "behind the scenes" life can be like in a world charged with the egos of people who have to be a little "out there", willing to strap themselves to a fuel tank with an engine at speeds that defy the average persons ability to even process information, let alone make a driving decision. Let's face it, these guys are all a little nuts.


You don't have to be an F1 fan to become completely involved in this very entertaining movie.

 Statler and Waldorf give this one "Two thumbs up"

NOTE: D-Box

Perhaps I live under a rock, but I had no idea this was available. I had seen the ticket upgrades at the kiosk, but didn't know what the D-Box up sell was. Moving seats...

The floor rumbles in the last row behind the D-Box enough for me, and I don't know that I wouldn't have found it distracting... I don't have to be "there" to enjoy the movie.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Bombers, IGF, buses, and the food

So it was our first trip to Investors Group Field. Some of me was curious to see what sort of stadium Asper built started, but mostly I thought that by buying a ticket this late in the season, they'd have a decent team.

Well... maybe I'll just focus on the stadium since I'm not really an arm chair coach, and I think that any team that implodes on a 20 point lead... well let's say that attendance was down, and will likely continue to slide.

You see, attending costs money, and opportunity cost. "What else could I be doing?" I could have been going to the cabin... but we decided to go see a game.

We took the bus. The trip there was probably the best part of the evening. The 36 super express was right on time and got us pretty much to the door. No after getting "scanned", we looked for signs to help us find our section. 228. Numbers other than "Level 200" were no where to be seen, so I suggested that we try the section on our left.        Wrong!

Next side. Sure, I suppose that the lower section and upper section numbers would correspond, but since the sign I looked at simply said "Level 200", I made some assumptions. I think a sign with the section numbers would be clearer, but maybe this was just an issue for me.

Now we had found our section. It was about 15 minutes before kick off, so we stood in line at "Gridiron Grill". We stood... and stood... and stood... and wondered aloud what was taking so long. Kick off came and went, as did the first quarter. We stood in line for two burgers for 35 minutes. Ovation Foods had a sign on the condiments, "Tell us how we're doing".

You really want to know? BRUTAL. There were two lines, and one was substantially faster, so much so that people who were behind us left the line we were in and went to that one (obviously paying more attention) and were served before we even ordered. Listen, I don't mind $10 for a burger and fries but the service was so uncoordinated I can't even imagine how you could fix it aside from a clean sweep of staff... or a training day that didn't include the pressure of customers.

It took about 8 minutes between actually ordering and receiving your food. Not bad if you're at a restaurant, but we were not... we were at a fast food joint at a foot ball game.

The girl at the till was SO flustered that SHE signed my credit card receipt. You can't make shit like this up... it was a brutal wait, one I'll never do again. Lemme tell you what you can do with your Winkler wiener.

(add to that, we missed the first 1/4, which was the best part of the game)

The seats were ok, although we were pretty high up. As far as the venue goes, it was nice. You could see the field, see the jumbotron... it was a little smoky though. How much smoke can billow from the concessions? A lot I guess... you can see it wafting in front of the field lights.

Getting out wasn't too bad, but that bus route I liked so much doesn't run after 7pm, so we rode the bus to the Osborne BRT Station and transferred on Osborne. Didn't wait too long and caught another bus north bound (16) and got off at the Bay downtown. Here is where things get a little sketchy. We missed the 15 because we didn't run and jay walk. We took the 14 and walked home. While I'm not sure I liked figuring out the routes I needed to take on the fly (yes, I assumed the 36 would still run), the transportation was probably the least aggravating part of the evening.

All in all, I'm not rushing to go back any time soon, and if I do, I'll take a bus. I'll probably wait until they have a product on the field worth paying admission to see. This loss was so bad, someone should call Lapolice  the police.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A trip to the dump. More fun than it should be.

It seems that I seem to have issues with most City of Winnipeg services. The landfill is no different.

I attended the "dump" this evening with a loaded trailer. As I pulled onto scale #1 (scale #2 is regularly CLOSED), the nice attendant (at 7:16 pm) said, "You're a little heavy, so I'll have to ask you to weigh back on your way out."
"Why's that? I thought the sign said "Pickup trucks and single axle trailers $11"".
"You're allowed 500kg free garbage, but after that it's prorated at $46.50 a tonn."

I drove off to unload and returned after beating the tar out of my full time 4wd, scraping the underbelly on the brutally deficient donkey path. I considered my self very fortunate that I didn't hear the ominous "hisssssssssss" so typical of a visit to the finely oiled machine known as Brady Road. After being told where to dump, I left my trailer full behind and drove back to the scale.

"You dumped 800kg, so that will be $34.80."
"Umm. What about the 500 free kilos, and the prorated charge?"
"Well sir, you have to pay on the entire load after 500 kilo. Had you dumper 600 kilo, I would have charged you about $26. We charge you for everything in the load if it's over 500 kilo."
"But that's NOT what you told me. YOU said it's prorated. You do understand what prorated means... right?
"I just work here."
""Well I just work somewhere too, but my boss would hold me to account if I gave out bad information."
"All the information is on the website, and if you have a problem with that, you can call 311."

Ahh yes. The inept public employee, proud member of CUPE, defender of all things good like water and the public services we all rely on, and likely well compensated in spite of her inability to understand the meaning of the words she strings together in a sentence tells me to go to hell call 311. Isn't THAT choice. Send me to some other useless branch of the city that will promise...nothing and deliver even less.

"BFI dump is at least honest. They advertise a price for pickups and trailers and actually charge THAT price, not some game you play here. Quite a scam you have going!"

"Go there then. Have a nice evening."

This is the level of service you can expect at pretty much every City run facility. "I don't give a shit, no one can fire me, and you can't even complain to my boss because 311 won't let you near them."

Pro rated. I assumed that meant that AFTER the "free 500 kg" they'd charge me, and even THAT goes against everything their signage indicates.

A review of the site she referred me to concurs with everything but her own inability to use the word "prorated" in a sentence correctly.

http://www.winnipeg.ca/waterandwaste/garbage/bradyroad.stm

That said, I don't know how to set my bathroom scale under the wheels of my trailer and weigh my garbage. Maybe if I weighed every item before I put them into the trailer. Even the web site is confusing.

The picture shows lane 2 (never open) as being for pick-up trucks and trailers... that's the ONLY sign there.




Brady Road Resource Management Facility (Brady Road Landfill) entrance sign
You'd just believe that when you have a pick-up truck, or a car with a trailer (as I did), that you're in for $11.

SUCKER!

You're in a vehicle OVER 1/2 Ton. Is that over a half ton... like a 3/4 ton truck? Like a one ton truck?

WTF are you meaning to say on your sign? do you mean all loads over a half a tonne? You see, words have meanings. Are we talking weight? tare, gross? vehicle description? The pictures indicate a 1/2 ton truck a car with a trailer... lane 2, so if you CLOSE lane 2, I have to go through lane 1. NOW you weigh me, regardless of the fact that I am driving neither of the two vehicles pictured.

You're a cheat.

If you mean all loads that tare over 500 kilos (as in a half a tonne) then SAY half a TONNE, don't say over a 1/2 ton. Did you consult with a weasel to determine how to screw people over more effectively?

Randy Park is the head cheese there, (epoisses cheeses I assume, at least the way it smelled when I was there). Did you authorize this sign... and the unclear web info? Perhaps you could review the training for folks at the scale. Teach them how to use the word "prorated".

Don't even get me started on the provincial "tax everything" environmental levy of $8.00 . Didn't you already tax the consumable items I am now discarding? Taxing me again, are you?

Typical terrible service, no one to complain to, and most of all, no one who cares.



Friday, August 2, 2013

Where the left hand and the right have no idea what they're doing

Winnipeg. What can one say about a city where in the same month City Council votes to entice people to live down town with a $10,000 and then flips on it?

Why would council even consider the idea? Is there even a need to be enticed to live downtown?

Not at all. The place is vibrant, with all kids of upsides...at least according to one city staffer.

"It's not discouraging people (from living there)," Topolniski said. "You have cultural, education, residential and businesses. I think this mostly is supporting the balance between all these groups to help the area become an extremely vibrant community." http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/downtown-car-permits-pulled-217881541.html

Excellent. The Winnipeg Parking Authority has spoken, and we all know (having run into one of those "meter maids") that once they say something, it must be so.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not taking a side on the parking permits, or the $10K bribe, I'm just saying that these two are at completely different ends of the spectrum as far as downtown policy goes.

The fact that someone hasn't called him on the carpet amazes me, but that's only if you can draw a line connecting Council actually seriously considering  giving people $10K to move downtown, and this clowns plan to take away the ability of those very people to park.

Listen up Winnipeg staffers. YOU don't get to tell people what they "want" or "need". YOU might make decisions that impact everyone, but you can't seriously believe your own schtick...can you?

Then there's the reporter. Kevin Rollason who pretty much gave Topolinski a by when his opine went unchallenged. I guess I'll have to do it.

Randy. What IS discouraging people from living there? Tell us, knower of all things related to our ailing downtown. (My guess is that it would be pretty quiet)

Here's what I can tell you Randy.

Winnipeg is a very difficult city to live in without a car. I've traveled the world and have never run across a city so hopelessly planned out insofar as public transportation goes. If you have no need to access the rest of the city, then you're right... so can we assume Randy doesn't get out much?

Does Randy park downtown? I'll bet he has a spot assigned to him. Why? Would working downtown be unpalatable for him if he didn't have a spot to park?

How many other people working at the WPA have parking spots the WPA pays for downtown? Does teh WPA have it's own parking? That's all completely unnecessary... pay your own way, after all, it's no big deal! Heck there are some really nice spots you can lease monthly for about $175.

The article states that Topolniski said area residents were given a year to look for alternative parking.

My take on that? You have a year to move.

I'll bet there's even a glowing report that tells people about the "public consultation" that went into this.

It is easy to see why Winnipeg is sick.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A bully in orange clothing

I was wondering... can you charge the NDP with bullying?

Consider Struther's handling of the Jockey Club situation. Does this not a bully make?

Waltz in, threaten people, tell them you're above the law, tell everyone that you're just giving them what they deserve, and then pile your favours on to some other group while leaving that one out to dry...

Never mind what the "rules are".

And Selinger with his PST hike?

Again, the attitude of, "I make the rules so lump it", prevails. The arrogance of a bully is obvious, and they're beginning to become despised for more than being inept. People are starting to notice.

There are some differences between "Today's NDP" and your typical schoolyard bully, but not many. One is that you don't elect a bully, nor do they have terms. Basically in school, you could always stand up to the bully and bloody his nose, but that seems to be increasingly hard to do.

The Jockey Club has, and good on them. What's really smarmy is the defense run by the Government lawyer.

"There's nothing to talk about as this proposed law is not law. It may not even pass in the Legislature."

Right... like the PST? It won't be law by July 1 either, yet we hear that retailers are obliged to collect the extra percent. Is this a little like having your cake and eating it too, or is it bullying?

Well, why don't we let the "law" as proposed answer that. Bill 18 is here for you to review, and you should because you're going to have to modify your behaviour. http://web2.gov.mb.ca/bills/40-2/b018e.php

Interpretation: "bullying"
1.2(1)      In this Act, "bullying" is behaviour that
(a) is intended to cause, or should be known to cause, fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other forms of harm to another person's body, feelings, self-esteem, reputation or property;

Well, so far the NDP fit's the bully definition to a T. Struthers bullied, (and continues to bully) the Jockey club. But this is just an interpretation on my part, I mean is this a fair interpretation? Maybe the Act will clarify this a bit.

Characteristics and forms
1.2(2)      Bullying
(a) characteristically takes place in a context of a real or perceived power imbalance between the people involved and is typically, but need not be, repeated behaviour; 

So far that seems to check out. The NDP certainly are in a position of power, and we're seeing this as a pattern of behaviour.

So there you have it. The NDP are basically school yard bullies, telling schoolyard bullies that they need to stop being bullies... only they get to be bullies... because they make the rules... which in and of itself makes them...bullies (by their own definition).

When is the next "fixed" election? (I think "fixed election" should be re branded. In a Banana Republic like ours, it has a whole different context)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Have you driven a Ford lately?

As in, "driven him nuts"? Ford... Rob Ford.

I guess I considered creating this entry on account of a FreeP survey regarding "Who you'd like to see elected Mayor in 2014"

 http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/polls/Who-would-you-like-to-see-elected-or-re-elected-mayor-in-2014-209751181.html?c=y&pollSubmitted=y&viewResults=y&mr=1&oid=7&pid=209751181&cid=8500584

Not surprising, my favourite answer is also that of the majority. None of the above. I've posted before about how to decline your ballot Provincially, not that any one cares if you decline to vote (how do the NDP scam the vote tax off a declined ballot I wonder... change the law?).

Sorry... squirrel.

Unfortunately, the toxic arena a Mayor is getting into isn't for everyone. Consider what Rob Ford has to endure.

Sure, to an extent, he's master of his own fate. He doesn't choose to use the media, he chooses instead to alienate them. That said, the bias against him on the part of the press is extremely unprofessional as well.

Ever watch a scrum with the Press and Ford. He simply won't answer to the outrageous allegations that he's a crack smoker any more. Good idea? I dunno... but frankly if the question were asked of me publicly I may choose to do the same thing, especially if I've faced personal demons. His difficulties with alcohol are a matter of record, and he had a marijuana charge in Florida while letting go on vacation... but he shouldn't have been driving (DUI). Fact is, he's no Sunday School poster child.

Have you ever seen or met a crack smoker? I have... and it's an education. At first you're not sure about what's going on, you have trouble reading the person, but once you clue in, you see the same traits in the next crack head you meet. Crack smokers don't show up for work on a regular basis... they will steal and lie to anyone to get their next rock, they are (possibly) the least reliable people you'll ever encounter save for a Meth head. Can you really expect the public at large to believe that there's a video of him with a crack pipe in his mouth?

One would think that the media's stock value has plummeted to near zero, being purchased solely to line the bottom of the bird cage, or shredded for the hamster to use as bedding. With the unfathomable publication of a photo shopped "nude" of Ford in NOW (a free weekly paper) after his election, the tone was set. Ford closed his doors to the media, and FIPA requests were useless because the names of people he was meeting with were excluded from the schedule.

"So you wanna play huh?" is how I'd take that sort of action. I think the media would need to take that as a signal. Be fair with me, and I'll be fair with you, be unreasonable, and so will I.

Right or wrong, I can see his point. Our Mayor does the same thing, and the allegations or questions are NOT about scurrilous accusations of smoking crack by some "news" outlet called Gawker who reportedly were offered a video by some unknown, unnamed source they can no longer find, presumably because Ford has his brother shoot the guy in the head (I made that last part up... but wait, I'll bet that accusation is either coming, or is already out there).

Ford HAS commented on this accusation.

"Absolutely not true," he said outside his Etobicoke home on Friday morning. "It's ridiculous. It's another Toronto Star whatever,"

 "Anyways, like I said this morning, these allegations are ridiculous, it’s another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me," Ford said. "And that’s all I’ve got to say for now.”

The problem is, you just can't answer a "When did you stop beating your wife?" question and win. The anti-Ford politicians (of which there are many in the left wing circus that created the likes of Layton and Chow) jump all over the unproven accusations and send everyone into a frenzy, likely resulting in some serious tension within the office.

"I think we should counter this. We should find the guy claiming to have this video."

"No. Spend your time working on what matters. We have a big city to manage."

And that conversation continues, leading to some serious frustration which culminates in someone getting fired... and why not?

If I hired you, and you work for ME and I tell you not to chase something and you continue, regardless of your intentions, you're insubordinate. You don't belong in my employ.

Well... that's a long winded post scratching the surface of why it's next to impossible to find a mayor willing to rattle the cages.

Sam came in thinking he could change things... and guess what? He learned that the unions and the pin heads run the City, NOT the Mayor. Sam shook the cage door a bit, and still drags a stick over the bars every once in a while to let the animals know that he's still the zoo keeper, but as for an outright revamp of the place, he's recognized that it's political suicide.

Bringing about real change would be mired in many years of such turmoil that nothing would ever get done, so you throw up your hands and do as much as you can.

That is NOT in the character of the person we really NEED to be mayor here, and I'm afraid that that person either:
  1. Doesn't exist, or
  2. Wouldn't subject themselves to the type of abuse they'd receive.
BTW, people in Toronto aren't that stupid. Ford still has a 42% approval rating...so what does THAT say to the media?

I know what the editor should be saying.  "FOCUS!"

Squirrel...

Update  The idea of shooting someone was published three days ago (In the Toronto Star go figure)
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/05/30/rob_ford_video_scandal_mayor_ford_said_he_knew_where_video_was_sources_say.html

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Workin' hard at lookin' busy

I'm approaching my fifth decade. In that time, I've followed politics. Not religiously, but more than the average person. I've read and watched the news daily... I've tried to stay informed.

I don't ever recall any government spending so much time, energy, and money on telling me how much they are doing for me.

My rule of thumb is that if you need to tell me how busy you are, you're not.

Consider that you can't hold a cell phone, ipad, navigation device, or anything else other than a slimy, dripping cheese burger while driving, nor can you smoke in your car with your own children in it. (the irony of THAT piece of legislation is likely lost on the gov given the on going Phoenix Sinclair debacle).

Under 18? YOU have to wear a bicycle helmet. We're "Focused on what matters most" and that's protecting you from yourself (and redistributing your wealth). http://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?archive=month&item=17258

Yesterday? Designating historical trees. No shit. You can read allllll about it here http://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?archive=&item=17280

Seriously? You run up a debt larger than Cyprus and you pass tree rules? Lemme guess, Selinger's roof leaks, but he's painting his living room as you read this.

Nothing is safe. Did you read the first flood report? A self congratulatory politicization of an event that continued to be an exercise in providing propaganda to the masses, telling them how much they've done to "help the little people" affected by flooding. The "little people" recently tried to tell us how they haven't been paid while Minister Ashton spouts off numbers of dollars provided as compensation.

Was there political interference causing the delay in the "Flood review" that had it released, along with the billion dollars in costs (many of which are NOT new initiatives to control flooding, rather they have been around since the Portage Diversion was opened) just prior to the PST hike? No... no one would have interfered like that!

Worker safety... this one gets press on a monthly basis. It's gotten so that we need to add people killed on airplanes to drive up the numbers or "work related" deaths. I think the NDP should add all the vehicle fatalities of people driving to and from work too... the list of "work related deaths" is about 60% "related" to work, but "related" can be pretty far removed. (Consider your third cousin you're related to, and have never actually met... you're related). http://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?archive=month&item=17270

Street racers beware! The NDP will be after you! Like this will help? Isn't street racing and impaired driving already illegal? How many minions toiled away at these new, tougher rules? I can hardly wait for the Police to add this one to their Cherry Picking Sunday night enforcement routine. Devon must be giddy with this new "tool". http://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?archive=month&item=17233

Basement flooding. Really? C'mon people... protect your house on your own. Spend some cash, put in your own sump pit/pump. Basements should be covered for absolutely nothing except the exterior insulation and drywall. If you want to put in a rec room, you have the $ to put in a sump pump http://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?archive=month&item=17199

It's tiring... don't even get me going on Hydro's recent propaganda, using the money they get from rate increases to tell me how it' now my responsibility to invest in Manitoba's "future".

I've seen the future. I can't afford it. (ABC- How to be a Millionaire)



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

They redeem themselves

So my beautiful wife went to Home Despot again to get prices on appliances so she could beat up Future Shop. While there, a sales person actually came and tried to help, and then the strangest thing happened.

She actually did help!

My wife explained the difficulty we had at our last visit, and even explained that she was just there to write down prices and go buy the units at Future Shop.

"Oh I can do better than that price. And bases? sure, we can get those, let me find the price. Where are they going? Ohhh out of town, we can deliver them and set them up, even take out the old ones for an extra $20."

New appliances were bought. It is amazing that salesman #1 has a job at all, and salesman #2 isn't store manager material yet.

Perhaps there's hope.

My wife told her about the blog... maybe she's reading it.

Thanks for helping.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Customer Service. A thing of the past...

... that we'll likely talk about as old timers with grandchildren giggling, thinking, "It was never really like that".

Alas, in Home Despot this evening (because Rona didn't have a third of the items on my list), and we mused about firing off a cannon, hitting no staff, and likely not even having them hear us, we found most things on our list... sort of. No ten foot long shelving, only eight foot, (meaning three feet of waste off each piece), a bunch of other things we substituted... a typical deal.

The evening ended when we were trying to buy a washer and dryer set. We couldn't decide on the thousand dollar pair, or the $1200 pair, so we asked for help. You see, we wanted to know how much the bases were for the front load units.

I went looking for a staff member, who seem to scurry away when they see you coming. Finally finding one, we explained that we wanted to know how much bases were for "this set". She looked at us quizzically and said, "One hundred ninety six dollars."
"Oh... OK. For the bases"
"Yes, for these ones. Washer and dryer."
"You mean one thousand ninety six dollars?"
"Oh. Yes."
"I want a price for the bases... to lift them up. I want them higher so I don't have to go down so far to to the laundry." I got down on my knees to demonstrate.

She left, and returned in a few minutes.  "One hundred fifty dollars to lift up. puts dryer on washer."

"Stacking? We don't want stacking, we want bases."
"That all I found on computer."
"We'll go to Future Shop"

Brutal. Loosing market share? DON'T be surprised.

From everything I've seen... no one really cares.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Winter Road Season Extended!

Due to the extended cold weather, and the very cold temperatures this winter, the ice roads are still in great condition.

That means the season is extended, the roads are open, and goods can continue to be ferried to northern communities... right?

Now why on earth would you think THAT?

The season is over, roads are closed, and everyone has gone home, including the "ice road truckers" cast and crew.

Why? The Manitoba Department of Highways said the roads were closed.

You see, when it's an early spring, and the roads are shut because the ice is covered with water, the pressure ridges are seeping, and the snow pack disappears as a result of warm weather, they Department charged with measuring the thickness and inherent safety of the roads deems them closed, and THEN everyone goes home.

When the weather is cold, and the calendar says, "Easter weekend", the pin heads figure out what it will cost to pay staff for Good Friday, Easter Sunday. Easter Monday, and figure that there's not any money in paying that overtime, so to hell with everyone... the roads are closed.

While the roads are officially "open", trucks and their loads are insured. These are official "roads" after all, but if they're closed, and you dump a trailer of much needed heating fuel into a lake, regardless of the fact that it could have happened at ANY time in the season, You're responsible for the environmental clean up, as well as the cost of your trailer, and rig.

How may takers to driving a load up sans insurance?

There are always a few renegades, thinking they'll pull off one more haul and charge through the nose for it, but why in a year like this one?

Mismanagement, a typical and constant theme of the inept bureaucrats that manage our Province.

Where is Steve Ashton, upset at the fact that a longer than usual season has been cut short? We hear about the short seasons... and the impact on all the poor people living without road access. Why doesn't anyone talk about an extended season?

It doesn't sound terribly sexy... so we'll have to wait to watch this years ice road truckers next year... I'm sure it will be VERY exciting, fraught with danger, and have none of the s*!t the real truckers have to tolerate.

"Hey... Buddy. Whatcha' doin' on my land?"
"I'm unloading this heating oil."
"Ya well you better do it fast 'eh... and get off my land."

Typically ,there is an awkward silence, but the conversation should continue something like,

"Listen you stupid shit. It's not YOUR land, it belongs to the Crown, and Her Majesty let's you squat on Her land. Frankly I wouldn't shit in this Godforsaken place, and no one wants to leave faster than I do."

But alas, the trucker figures out that the nearest STARS ambulance is three hours out, and then someone would have to come in and get his truck... so he's quiet, unloads, and heads back for another load, to be delivered to people who take no time to appreciate their efforts. They are after all, entitled.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Bay Downtown... what to do?

This is by no means a "new" topic in our "Great City".

For years, The Bay downtown has suffered from a lack of... people. You could fire a cannon in there fifteen years ago, and not only not hit anyone, but likely have no one even notice.

The reasons "why" are too complex and speculative to even bother tackling, especially since they are not related to solving to problem.  There are matters that require a good understanding of the question, "How'd we get here?" This is not one of those things. What is important to understand are a few key things.

  1. People don't shop in mega department stores anymore.
  2. Government interference and/or involvement will screw up a viable plan.
With those things out of the way, we can begin to consider a solution, and frankly I don't think it's that difficult.

The building is structurally sound, likely needing almost no major structural work aside from the potential reconfiguration. It's loading capacities are well beyond anything we'd potentially re purpose the building for. Antiquated systems are sure to include virtually ALL of the mechanical systems, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. You likely wouldn't need or want the existing systems anyway.

Hydro passed on renovating the building because it couldn't add more windows and had issues meeting E/E targets. A private developer can surely dismiss those challenges as irrelevant. There can be no mandate to alter the facade, and no demand to reach any LEED level of remediation or renovation, rather simply apply "best practices". Architects and engineers typically over complicate projects of this size, leading to systems that are extremely expensive to install initially, and are both difficult and expensive to maintain. The KISS system has to be employed. "Keep it Simple Stupid!"

So you're waiting... aren't you? Waiting for the big well thought out solution to the question burning in no one's mind for the past twenty years?

mixed use

Why the lower case letters? Why not a big sexy bold red italicized line indicating the wunder cure for what ails that block?

It's just too simple, and too proven an idea... it is SO obvious that no one should even have to consider weather it will work or not. It is as plain as the "nose on your face". Anything else will be a much hyped, very expensive, government involved/driven disaster akin to what we witness now at Portage Place, the last "driven" project which is a lot of things, but NOT what we all expected it to be.

Simply, government of any category, is inept at creating, or driving anything in a market based economy. For this reason, I am already very, very afraid.

Government is already well involved, when they need not be. A recent article in the FreeP indicates that there are numerous "studies" going on, that the Empire building of Lord Axworthy is being considered as a potential partial cure, bring more tax payer monies to be spent in perpetuity to keep things "viable", more Government Departments taking up space, (which is what a lot of those folks do... take up space), by virtue of locating the "new" Liquor and Gaming Department and so on.
 http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/fyi/Diamond-in-the-rough-194337731.html

My favourite part of the article?

The Part about the U of W wanting two and a half floors for Aboriginal Studies. Lord Lloyd... what are you thinking?
The Bay approached the University of Winnipeg a year ago, saying it would sell the store to the university for as little as one dollar.
The U of W was interested in the property at one time. It had considered using 2 1/2 floors to establish a national centre for aboriginal study, arts and culture.
- See more at: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/fyi/Diamond-in-the-rough-194337731.html#sthash.EI982NGO.dpuf
The Bay approached the University of Winnipeg a year ago, saying it would sell the store to the university for as little as one dollar.
The U of W was interested in the property at one time. It had considered using 2 1/2 floors to establish a national centre for aboriginal study, arts and culture.
- See more at: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/fyi/Diamond-in-the-rough-194337731.html#sthash.EI982NGO.dpuf
The Bay approached the University of Winnipeg a year ago, saying it would sell the store to the university for as little as one dollar.
The U of W was interested in the property at one time. It had considered using 2 1/2 floors to establish a national centre for aboriginal study, arts and culture.
- See more at: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/fyi/Diamond-in-the-rough-194337731.html#sthash.EI982NGO.dpuf
The Bay approached the University of Winnipeg a year ago, saying it would sell the store to the university for as little as one dollar.
The U of W was interested in the property at one time. It had considered using 2 1/2 floors to establish a national centre for aboriginal study, arts and culture.
- See more at: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/fyi/Diamond-in-the-rough-194337731.html#sthash.EI982NGO.dpuf

Oye.

Six floors of unadorned, "pristine" empty space, and these people are considering filling it with people who bring nothing to the downtown economy for the eight hours they are there aside from taking up parking spots. (that's NOT directed to the potential use for an Aboriginal Studies Centre, rather ANY use that has nothing to add to the economy, like a bunch of Government employees, or a bunch of University pinheads or students).

This building has the potential to be a community, in and of itself. 

The basement.

The area is well suited to the use we enjoyed for years. A grocery store type of location. A destination for all who have access to the skywalk, complete with a "you buy it, we deliver it anywhere downtown" service. With the average "super market" size increasing 10,000 square feet  (from 35,000 to 46,000 sq ft) in the past 20 years, there is certainly room for such a single destination. Smaller shops are easily accommodated as well.

Main floor.

Portage Place has demonstrated that the amount of shops down town can keep viable is less than anticipated... or is it? What is it that makes Portage Place un appealing? Perhaps I could tell you want will make it even LESS appealing and you can take it from there. Service Canada will be locating in Portage Place.

Perfect... JUST what the place needs. As it is I take my food from the food court and eat it somewhere else, we are bringing in MORE disenfranchised people to wander the mall aimlessly, sleeping on the benches? Sure its' entertaining... in a sick sort of way.

I believe that there IS a market for shopping, and not for the low end crap sold by a number of vendors in the Mall and Skywalk kiosks, so for that reason, I'm targeting another WHOLE floor to specialty shops, and service locations. Anchor tenants that can operate without windows could potentially be scared away, so we really have to fix that. It's time for a reduction.

At 80,000 square feet per floor, there is room to loose... as a matter of fact, the available space actually becomes a LIABILITY.

Hollow it out. It's simple. It's been done. How much space to carve out is for architects to consider, but surely an area of at least 25,000 square feet is easily given up and dedicated to a four season "outdoor" atrium enclosure, capable of being accessed on a multitude of levels. Our first building design issue to be sure, but manageable.

Second floor. Anchor tenant space. Here we can drop some 9 to 5 ers. Hopefully they'll shop in the basement before taking the bus home, but better still, maybe some of them will take the elevator home, because floors 4,5 and 6 are a mix of rentals and condos.

Missing a floor? Ahh yes... three. Combined studio/business and living spaces. At 2,000 square feet, these units would only number 25 or so, and would likely cater to a higher end, small operator specialty shop.

Floors four and five are easily configured to have a variety of sizes, ranging from micro lofts to three bedroom units. Heck, some could even be two stories to add some diversity.

Floor six? Never mind... most of us can't afford floor six. A dedicated elevator keeps us away from that area and we're not even privy to seeing how they live, but we can gaze at their well appointed balconies at the top of that fabulous atrium.

It all sounds so... far fetched. Maybe it's time we had some "far fetched". Winnipeg is FULL of exciting people who would drool all over the opportunity. It's our leadership that is weak, and boring, with so little imagination I'm surprised they can plan next week in their day books.

THOSE people should not be left in charge of finding new uses for this grand old building. Let the market do it, and have "those" people HELP the market... just don't let them drive, because the market is NOT a good passenger.

Consistently, "those" people are the reasons things DON'T get done around here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Penny for your thoughts?

That quote, a remnant from a time where perhaps it placed some value on your thought, is now more of an insult than anything else.
Much has been said about the penny in the past few days, but I don't think I hear about how badly our schools prepare people for simple tasks, LIKE ROUNDING TO A NICKLE!

I was in the McD's drive through (Portage and Sherbrook) and ordered two coffees (Medium, one black, one with a cream and 1/2 a sugar). The total came to $3.11 (It may not have... it could have been $3.21, but whatever)

I drove to the window, and provided the young man (who had a voice similar to Emo Philips) with exactly $3.10.

"It was $3.11 sir."

"I thought we were rounding to the nearest nickle today."

"Yes sir. You owe me another penny."

"Umm... if we're rounding...uh... what happens if I give you $3.15? Do you give me a nickle back?"

"No sir. I keep the pennies."

At that he handed me an official Government of Canada guide to rounding, complete with examples.

Let me digress to point out how far our country has fallen. To consider actually having to explain rounding to a nickle to people in an official Government of Canada document is only not absurd in a country where math is taught as "guess and check". I'll bet other "less developed"countries mock us incessantly.

"OK. So in the example here, it says that if it's .01 or .02 you round down to .00, and if it's .03 or .04 you round up. You're doing it wrong."

"I'm doing what my manager told me to do. I keep all the pennies."

"Perhaps your manager needs a math lesson... or to read this piece of paper. He's stealing from people."

"I'm just doing my job sir."

This whole diatribe is funnier with the Emo Phillips' voice. It's rather sad without it.

A manager of a restaurant who can't round to the nearest nickle... really?

Is he stupid, or is he saving for his retirement? Sure, I know it's only .04 cents, but consider the volume of people they see. I see a car a minute. Quick "guess and check" tells me that's 60 cars an hour, or 480 cars in a shift. If these guys really ONLY round down, they are likely getting an extra .02 cents per customer, which is about $10.

Who cares? Lemme think... I DO. If I go in every day and order the same thing, and he takes me for an extra .04 cents that about $10 out of MY pocket. That's MY money to spend, not HIS to take.

Wanna leave feedback for McD's? You need a receipt and a store number, which I don't seem to get in my coffee orders. I guess I'll go back today and get one, and provide them the address of this post.

In the mean time, for all you teachers out there, teach kids to round please... we shouldn't need to re program the cash registers for this.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I'm getting so tired of this

I've tried to write this post a few times, only to have yet another twist added to the sordid story that seems to go on, and on, and on...

It started before some Chief (who I'd blogged about some time ago) decided to go on a diet hunger strike and camp on an island she claims belongs to her, or her ancestors, or someone she was somehow related to in the past (in the same, "we're all related to Noah" kind of thinking).

She wanted a meeting with the Prime Minister Governor General Queen of England I can't keep track, because after she actually was invited, didn't go. Prior to her diet hunger strike, her band was the subject of a "review" in which they determined that no one was able to account for a shit load of money. "A lie!" or something is how they responded. (Visions of the "She's a witch!" skit from Monty Python come to mind) Sure... a lie, all meant to deflect from the "real" issues.

I can't help but write that anyone who falls for this sort of bullshit on the part of their "chief" must be fairly stupid. "Chief Spence is my hero" read one sign... and here is the problem. If this thief who has clearly time and time again so badly mismanaged the funds that she has been trusted to watch over  is a "hero" ,there is no way out of this seemingly bottomless morass we find ourselves in.

I attempted to look deeper into matters, but I don't think the average reader wants to know the difference between Native Rights, Native Title, Ancestral Lands... Let's just say that it's not only the colonial powers that may not have held up their end of the "treaty". As I understand a deal, there are two parties, both of which need to keep their end of it. Neither party has, but one side has done more than the other. The side that has done more, is the side that promised more. The side that promised little... abject failure to keep their end of the deal. What was asked?

They were to keep law and order, and live peacefully, and abstain from (no sale of) alcohol on reserve.

Sure, a deal is a deal. The Treaties don't seem to offer as much as is being received by the First nations. The Crown is (typically) permitted to carry out logging and mining on the lands as a part of the deal, but now we want to "tweak" that. Courts seem to agree with the "righting of wrongs", making law instead of interpreting it. Notwithstanding clause anyone?

Further to "deals" being deals. How many law suits have YOU heard of between a band and a supplier or contractor who did work on a reserve and didn't get paid in accordance with a "deal"? How about Buffalo Point, where people who had "deals" to lease cottages are now being gouged with new taxes up to four times more than the original long term lease costs? Good deal... if you can break it. It seems those deals even had arbitration clauses... you know ,"I demand to see the Prime Minister Chief about these broken promises." "No... go away."

In as much as I AGREE with the Shoal Lake water debacle because Winnipeg was granted water from that lake for Winnipeg only, and now that we're actually SELLING the water to neighbouring municipalities, the band (fairly and reasonably) expects compensation, I don't agree with "reopening" deals that are clearly only going to make matters financially worse for the balance of Canadians.

Now we have the courts deciding that off reserve natives and Metis are also "Indian". Lovely...
Now the Metis can over fish out of season, trap lobster when there aren't enough and the stock needs to replenish, and can "mass kill" Elk, taking "only as much as they needed".

Ever get offered pikerel out of the trunk of a car? That's only slightly illegal...Sure, there are times it's a commercial fisherman trying to get around the Fresh Water Fish Marketing Board's monopoly, but most of the times it's happened to me, it's a FN fisher taking just a bit more than his "family" needs.  I wonder if that practice might increase if we suddenly allow twice as many people that opportunity?

This "Idle no more" is a great idea but I'm sensing that all these people with little to do during the day are not going to be going out looking for work. They'll continue to disrupt our daily routines, hoping to "draw our attention to their plight." Sorry... stop electing corrupt people, and stop paying them more than the Prime Minister or Premier earns to run your gong show that's under third party management.

Theresa Spence is an example of poor role models, poor leadership, and poor politics. People like her do nothing to advance her people's cause.

Try getting someone in there both parties can respect, because people like her aren't in that category.