Well my friends. I think this blog has run it's course.
It all started 6 years ago -- SIX YEARS! -- with a rant about Bipole III. It wasn't long before I branched out into rants about Upper Fort Garry and rants about general government incompetence.
19 Bipole III and 21 Upper Fort Garry rants later, it's time to start winding things down.
I will keep this up on the webz for the foreseeable future. There is a great deal of content on this web site after all. I'm not gonna lie ... a lot of it is crap ... but some is actually researched and still relevant.
I'm also quite proud that my How to get to Vimy Ridge post still draws hits almost on a daily basis, and in fact visits to that one post have increased over time. I think that's pretty cool, because Vimy is an amazing place and I'm glad that I can still encourage people to visit it.
So that's that. Upper Fort Garry is still nowhere near being funded and Bipole III is still a $4 billion burden to Manitobans that can potentially be reversed, but we're all done with those types of discussions here.
If you want more Peanut-esque policy-oriented posts, check out aroundthistown.ca
Wednesday, 18 September 2013
Well my friends. I think this blog has run it's course.
Sunday, 8 September 2013
Last weekend I did some suburban exploration on my bicycle. Among the things I discovered was an elaborate garden on or near a hydro corridor, complete with garden shed, shag carpeting, mysterious 50 gallon drums and other various containers laying about. The whole operation stretches close to 200 yards from one end to the other.
|what's in the shed?|
I was excited to see Bridgwater (Yes, I'm spelling it correctly. There is no 'e'. That was the guy's name. Deal with it.) because we are being told it is going to be a dynamic "new-urbanist" suburb with a town center that promises to reinvent the "neo-traditional architecture of early-20th-century". Already this area is being compared to the walkable Corydon and Osborne Village neighbourhoods. -fp-
Sure, it doesn't look like much right now ...
|Bridgwater Town Centre|
... but just close your eyes and envision the multi-use buildings lining the sidewalks with patios, clock towers, fountains, and people bustling about. This is going to be no ordinary suburb, I'm telling you!
|Nice path to nowhere|
As we also mentioned previously, as the network expands so too will the cost of maintaining these trails.
Especially if they're built like this ...
|It's only an asphalt wound.|
The path above is so new that it's not even shown on the Public Works Department AT plan as a "proposed" or "future" route. It doesn't even go anywhere, because the path that it will eventually connect with, this being the "future" path along Bishop Grandin and Kenaston, is nowhere near being constructed.
|See I told you it was a path to nowhere.|
The crack shown above is certainly not a one-off. There are many more like it, though this one is probably one of the worst on this stretch. But why is this cracking so soon? Did the company that poured the concrete in the new Investors Group Field win the bid to construct these paths? I know that some paths have problems with tree roots causing cracks, but there is not a tree anywhere near this path. It was constructed on newly graded treeless terrain.
Another question: why did these paths even get built at this time when they're not on the Public Works AT plan and don't go anywhere?
Another question: why are we spending $330,000 on an active transportation master plan, when the city goes completely off the map and doesn't follow the plan we already have in place? The thing about a plan is it doesn't work as intended if you use it to prop up the uneven back left leg of your desk.
Perhaps this Master Plan will be followed and will result in an orderly and sensible trail building strategy. That would be great, but there is only so much a plan can do. One thing it cannot do is ensure a path is properly constructed so that it doesn't crack before anybody sets foot on it.
Tuesday, 3 September 2013
More people are turning to the internet for self-diagnosis of health problems. This is one of the great benefits of the technological marvel that is the world wide web, and not only do I fully support it but I wish to contribute myself.
This is why I am sharing a system I developed to accurately pin-point your health problems using a cheap and easily accessible tool: BEER.
This is how it works: your body is a complex mechanism that processes inputs to generate energy and provide the nutrients that your body needs to operate, while expelling anything that is not needed. If your body is not operating effectively, it will expel more of one thing or less of another, and there will be tell-tale signs of this in the colour of your pee. Stick with me here ...
To take advantage of this underrated bodily function, I have developed the Perfect Urine Beer Scale (PUBS). Using PUBS, you can tell what ails you simply by comparing the colour of your pee to the colour of an ale from your local beer store.
The PUBS© diagnosis
If your pee looks like: COORS LIGHT
Diagnosis: The pale colour indicates that you are lacking vitamins and minerals in your diet. Go buy yourself some fruits and vegetables for a change. If your diet consists mainly of Coors Light and empty carbs, your urine will look like Coors Light. Coincidentally, your pee and Coors Light also probably taste the same.
If your pee looks like: KOKANEE
Diagnosis: You are healthy. This is a normal colour, which means that your body is operating normally so you can cancel your doctor's appointment. There is no need for you to waste his time and yours with a needless check-up when you can tell just by looking in the toilet bowl that you're in perfect health.
If your pee looks like: RICKARD'S RED
Diagnosis: The red tinge is a result of blood in your urine. You had better sit down for this part ... you are dying of cancer. If you haven't caught it by the time you start to pee blood then it is probably way too late. You shouldn't have cancelled that doctor's appointment last year. What were you thinking?
If your pee looks like: SLEEMAN HONEY BROWN
Diagnosis: This is darker than normal which indicates that you are dehydrated. The solution is to drink more fluids. No, NO, not BEER. I mean something besides beer. Get a glass of water or juice or something like that.
If your pee looks like: NEWCASTLE
Diagnosis: You are extremely dehydrated. What the hell were you doing? Never mind ... just find a cool room, perhaps a rec room in the basement, drink water and keep drinking until your pee returns to normal. Do it now, before you pass out and require an IV drip.
If you pee looks like: HOEGAARDEN
Diagnosis: The cloudy appearance is due to a kidney infection called pyelonephritis. It sounds bad, but don't worry, it is treatable with antibiotics although severe cases may require hospitalization.
Or you may have cataracts. Better get your eyes checked too.
If your pee looks like: GUINNESS
Diagnosis: You are a zombie. That is all you need to know.
Disclaimer: The accuracy of the PUBS© diagnosis may be compromised by eating Doritos chips with artificial colouring, especially Spicy Chipotle BBQ. Also, everything else may be grievously incorrect.
Tuesday, 27 August 2013
My last post was about an idea to rename the Perimeter Highway after Winnipeg-born national hero Terry Fox. You can read more about it here and sign the petition here.
Response to renaming the Perimeter Highway has been lukewarm, both in the comments of my blog and in various web-polls. Perhaps the choice of thoroughfare needs to be tweaked. In the Free Press poll, 46% of respondents liked the idea in principle but thought a different road should be chosen.
If we were to choose a different road, what road would that be?
I nominate Fermor Avenue.
- Fermor Avenue is part of the Trans-Canada Highway. The Trans-Canada Highway is (obviously) the route that Terry Fox was taking on the vast majority of his Marathon of Hope across Canada, and it was the highway he was running on when his journey ended.
- Of the two Trans-Canada routes past Winnipeg -- around the Perimeter or through the city via Fermor, St.Anne's, St. Mary's, Main, Broadway and Portage -- it is almost certain that Terry would have run through the city, not around it. Running through the city would have brought out more supporters, more media attention and by extension more money for cancer research. It is also a shorter route than the Perimeter
- Of the roads within Winnipeg that comprise the Trans-Canada Highway, Fermor is the least hassle to rename. There are NO business or residential addresses along Trans-Canada portion of Fermor, so NO businesses or homes would be affected.
|click to enlarge|
You might be thinking 'hold on thar Baba Looey .. aren't there a whole bunch of businesses along Fermor in Southdale?' Yes there are, but they all have Vermillion addresses, not Fermor.
If Fermor was to be renamed in it's entirety, then there are 34 residential addresses that would need to change, as well as addresses for the YMCA, St.Vital Library and a minor Manitoba Hydro substation. On the other hand, if only the Trans-Canada portion of Fermor were to be renamed, then that would break up the naming continuity of the street creating yet another multi-name thoroughfare in Winnipeg.
|Fermor west of St.Anne's Rd|
One other concern: who was Fermor? Renaming a street in honour of somebody risks dishonouring the person for whom the street was originally named. I don't even know where to start when it comes to researching this sort of thing, but the street listings from the Manitoba Historical Society do not list anything for Fermor Avenue, so I'll assume this Fermor character was not anybody important. Possibly a small-time blogger or something.
The current proposal to rename the Perimeter Highway would involve dealing with the Province, whereas renaming Fermor is within the City's jurisdiction. Winnipeg's current mayor Sam Katz has not been shy about renaming streets in the past, and a photo-op with a member of Terry Fox's family would provide a nice distraction from auditors reports and the other tribulations of the embattled mayor.
Few plans are perfect, and renaming a significant street is always going to involve compromises or sacrifices. However, if we're going to rename a street after Terry Fox it ought to be a significant street, not some back lane. I happen to think that Fermor Avenue makes a lot of sense.
Fun fact: did you know that there was a notable Winnipeg Historian named Harry Shave? Now that's someone we should name a street after.
Wednesday, 21 August 2013
How do you feel about the name "Perimeter Highway"? Is it too obvious? Is it getting a little stale? Maybe time for a change?
One blogger is calling for the highway to be renamed in honour of Terry Fox.
As most Manitobans know by now, the national hero was born here in Winnipeg, yet there is very little to signify that. A few years ago there was a movement to rename Wayoata school in Transcona in honour of Terry Fox, but in spite of the word "wayoata" not having any real meaning in any language that anyone was familiar with, the motion was denied.
More recently, a bust of Terry was installed in the Citizens Hall of Fame around the formal gardens in Assiniboine Park. It's easy to miss, but it's something .. I guess.
Some people think that an inconspicuous bust in a corner of a park is not enough -- that a native son as notable as Terry deserves greater recognition. One such fellow who writes under the pseudonym "Purple Rod" at the blog The Purple Rod (you probably could have guessed that) has started a petition to rename the Perimeter Highway after Fox.
Let's name a highway after a Winnipeg-born hero, and the recipient of the Order of Canada: Terry Fox. Despite suffering from Cancer, Terry Fox had a dream to raise money for cancer research, by running a marathon across Canada. He gave his life to help others. The annual Terry Fox Run, first held in 1981, has grown to involve millions of participants in over 60 countries and is now the world's largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research; over $500 million has been raised in his name.Terry Fox never made it to Winnipeg on his Marathon of Hope cross-country run. Had he made it this far, he would not have run on the Perimeter Highway. He would have crossed the Perimeter and run straight through the city to take advantage of maximized fundraising exposure, not to mention the shorter distance. However we can't very well rename Portage Avenue. That would be a hellishly expensive nightmare. The Perimeter highway, by contrast, has few businesses that call it home and therefore few addresses that need to change.
Does it make sense to honour a man who, while being an iconic national hero, spent the majority of his life elsewhere?
Is renaming a road a good way to do that?
Is the Perimeter Highway a good road to rename?
If you answered "yes" to these questions, then you should sign the petition:
Sunday, 18 August 2013
After dinner on Corydon Avenue last weekend I headed in the direction of Starbucks for an early evening coffee. On the way there I stumbled upon MAKE / Coffee + Stuff.
|could use a plant or something|
To my knowledge this trend began with Parlour Coffee, opened up by Nils Vik (the younger brother, coincidentally, of a dude I went to school with) a couple years ago. Parlour opened with a splash, both because it was boldly located on a neglected block of Main Street, but also because it was a new concept for Winnipeg.
Nils and his coffee shop have since been profiled in numerous magazines, web sites and newspaper articles. The buzz is likely to continue as Nils is soon to open a second location in Osborne Village called Little Sister Coffee Maker. I believe it will do very well there. The demographics work, and the departure of Fuel several years ago left a gaping hole in the coffee landscape of The Village.
Following in Parlour Coffee's footsteps are Café Postal on Provencher in St. Boniface and Thom Bargen on Sherbrook in the Wolseley area of Winnipeg ... and of course MAKE on Corydon.
MAKE did not arrive with the splash of some of the others. In fact, it has been open over half a year and I had no idea it was there. The interior of the narrow space is sparse and raw, but clean in appearance. The coffee is the focus here. The owner, Jay, is happy to explain everything to you. The beans are roasted on demand in Victoria and couriered out to Winnipeg, where Jay grinds them as needed for his brewed, drip and espresso-based beverages.
|The proprietor making a coffee|
|Architecture storyboards and models|
I am glad to see this trend of high-end independent coffee shops springing up in the city.
On my one trip to Europe I drank americanos because you can't find brewed coffee in the places I went. I began to really enjoy this beverage, and returned to Winnipeg with fond memories of relaxing with an excellent cup of coffee in the cafés and pâtisseries of dense European cities.
When I returned to Winnipeg, I wanted to recapture some of that European café experience, so I ordered an americano at Starbucks. The gave it to me in a 12 oz cup. It tasted nothing like what I had remembered.
I still get my donut shop coffees and my Starbucks coffees, but until recently I have been avoiding americanos unless I was in a restaurant or lounge where I suspected they might know what they're doing. Now these new coffee shops give me another choice, and choice is good.
It's also nice to see small independent places with a good product succeed in a market dominated by giant corporations with their cheaper offerings. These kinds of places add to the character of a neighbourhood.
But as one positive trend continues, another nefarious one is emerging: math in store names.
When I first came across Deer + Almond I thought to myself "there is no bloody way I'm eating in a place with a pretentious bloody name like that." Of course I did end up eating there, and it was very good ... but I still don't like the name. What does it even mean? What does deer + almond equal? Jackalope?
I didn't concern myself with it too much as it's only one restaurant in a quirky part of town. But now ... I might be getting worried.
MAKE / Coffee + Stuff has not only picked up on the concept of adding math to a store name, but they've taken it one step further by including a division symbol as well as an addition symbol. This is getting waaaaay to complicated.
Understand, I'm not afraid of math. I have a Masters degree in Economics, as some of you know, and I can tell you that from 3rd year on economics is almost pure math. My problem here is that math has a place, and that place is not in the name of your store.
But it may be too late. As Derek Sivers explains in the TED talk How to start a movement, it is the first follower who turns a lone nut into a leader and ultimately starts a movement. Now that we have our first follower in this math nuttiness, I am afraid a movement may be starting.
What I'm saying is, a few months from now, don't be surprised if you're walking down Sherbrook and you see a store selling plaid shirts and beard trimmers with a name like ..
Sunday, 11 August 2013
On the list of proposed and current Manitoba Hydro capital projects, the Riel Reliability Improvement Initiative Project is one of the lesser known. It is not as big or contentious as Bipole III or Conawapa, but it is still a significant project by most standards.
The $700 million dollar project to "sectionalize" Hydro's southern electricity distribution is intended to improve reliability and facilitate importing power from the US in a circumstance where our power supply suffers a catastrophic failure. You can read more about it on the Hydro web site if you want, but what you should know is that this investment is being made. What you should also know is that, like most of Hydro's recent projects, it is going to be behind schedule and over budget.
Now I don't know that for a fact, but signs are pointing in that direction. The Riel Converter Station was anticipated to be operational by 2014. That gives them 4.5 months to get this thing up and running, and the things that I'm hearing suggest that it is nowhere close.
One problem: one of the lead contractors, Comstock Canada, has declared bankruptcy. Because of its financial woes it failed to pay subcontractors working on the Riel project, and some of those subcontractors understandably stopped working. Comstock owes creditors almost $76 million dollars, ranging from $200 for Windsor Plywood to $3.7 million for Crown Utilities Ltd (which itself has been involved in probably unrelated lawsuits with Manitoba Hydro as recently as 2010.)
With the subcontractors off the job, aspects of the Riel project ground to a halt until eventually Hydro agreed to pay the subcontractors directly. Of course, when one part of a very complex project falls behind schedule, it normally impacts everything else because of overlapping dependencies between the various workstreams. In short, this whole Comstock issue has been very unhelpful.
By the way, Comstock has other troubles too -- it is embroiled in a $50 million lawsuit with Potash Corp and AMEC Americas over a failed project in New Brunswick. Potash Corp terminated their contract because they didn't get their work completed on time or on budget, or to the satisfaction of Potash Corp and AMEC.
Comstock meanwhile claims that Potash Corp and AMEC made life difficult for them by changing requirements all the time. Comstock therefore had no choice but to "perform its work out of sequence, in an 'inefficient' and 'unproductive manner'".
Perhaps it's no coincidence that work on the Riel Station is being performed in an inefficient and unproductive manner.
It is apparently commonplace on that project for work to be repeated or changed on the fly because of poor planning and coordination. For example, concrete will be poured, then it will be torn up because cabling needs to be installed underneath the concrete. Mistakes will happen on a large project, but that sort of thing is happening a lot more than it should on this Riel project.
I can't say if one particular entity is responsible for the poor work flow and mistakes that are made in the construction of this station, I just know that it's not going well, and ultimately it's Manitoba Hydro's responsibility to ensure its projects are properly managed.
I wonder what the new target date and projected cost is for this project...
Labels: Manitoba Hydro