Tuesday 31 December 2013

2013 at the Peanut

Well, it's been a year, hasn't it?

One of the big goings-on around here was that this blog became mostly-dead. We had a pretty good run, but the defection of one of our researchers and a decrease in the quality of the coffee in our staff room spelled the end of this enterprise. At least for now.

Blogging is a bit of a dying activity it seems. The CreComm program at Red River College pumps out a fresh new batch of bloggers each year, but content and quality are mixed and most are short-lived. Besides that though, we have stumbled across a few new local Manitoba blogs that you should check out. If we have missed any good ones, and I'm sure we have, by all means leave a comment and it will get added to the list.

New Manitoba blogs:

Around This Town - Written with an oddly familiar though slightly stuffy style. Might be worth looking at.

James Hoddinott - This teacher and novelist has a diverse blog, with posts about art, development, and other things.

RPARC - Former Waverly West And Beyond blogger David Watson makes a return here, writing on behalf of the Riel Parks and Rivers Commons organization, mostly digging into the emerging development of agricultural land in south St. Boniface -- something that has the potential of becoming a bit of a debacle.

Open Letters to Louis Riel: Fulfilling the Winnipeg Dream - Dr. Robert-Falcon sets up this blog as a series of letters to Manitoba hero/villain/founder/crazy person Louis Riel, but in doing so he tackles some hefty and important issues.

The Art Of Gettting By In Winnipeg - Melissa explores the 101 things to do in Winnipeg (and more).

Good Day and Great Days - Winnipeg Free Press journalist Lindor Reynolds allows us to follow along as she battles brain cancer.

Dave Shorr - One of Winnipeg's 100 most interesting people also took us along on a very personal and poetic journey through his own battles with cancer.

WHOLLY SHIT  ~ church reviews from a serious punk - A tip 'o the hat goes to James Hope Howard for finding this gem, with its refreshing and hilarious reviews of local churches.

Colin Blog-heed [title pending] - Winnipeg based but not about Winnipeg, this astonishingly well researched blog is a must-visit if you dig cartoons.

365 Portrait Project - Dave Lipnowski committed to posting a portrait every day in 2013. I have seen other one-a-day-for-a-year blogs that failed, but what makes this more remarkable is that each photo was taken the day it was posted, and the quality of the photos are excellent.

Sadly we haven't been following the blogs as closely as we should, but we do have a New Year's resolution to update the blogrolls in the sidebar .. and keep them updated.

New blogs that need just a little more encouragement to keep going:

Cam Does Winnipeg
Tom Scott In Winnipeg
Another Megan
Eden In Winnipeg
From The Mind, Heart & Toe...

Our most read posts of the year:

Derelict Properties Bylaw?
We would like to think that this 2011 post made a resurgence because our novel idea to apply the derelict properties bylaw to vacant lots finally gained traction, but no ... it was Ray Rybachuk's hijinks and eventual demise that sent people scrambling to the internet to find out more about the shady dude with marginal snowmobiling skills.

People in glass houses should buy small furniture
Our sneak peak at the (very small) floor plans for the new Glasshouse Condominiums in downtown Winnipeg. The funny thing is all of the floor plans were completely redesigned from what I posted here.

How to get to Vimy Ridge
Once again this 2008 Vimy Ridge post generated hits almost on a daily basis. Go, if you ever have the chance.

Phil Sheegl: The right man for the job
Gosh, what could have possibly drawn people to this sarcastic little post about Winnipeg's former CAO? I can't imagine ...

Proposed new Winnipeg Jets logo!
We have to admit that our redesign of the Winnipeg Jets logo didn't go over as well as we had hoped. That is to say, the Jets organization didn't email us and offer to buy it for $100,000. Nevertheless, it was fun to do.

The Manitoba Government subsidizes strippers
Perhaps one of our better posts of the year? One of the least bad? At least not so crappy as to prevent assiniboiadowns.com from linking to it. This one sneered at Minister Stan Struthers and the government's claim that it was saving tax payer money by cutting back "subsidies" or "funding" to the Manitoba Jockey Club...

The places receiving this so-called funding includes strip clubs like Teasers, which in addition to featuring "Sleek & Sheek, Sexy, Exotic & Erotic, Applebottom babes, Big bang bootys, MilkJugs, Curvy, Mind Melting Hourglass figures, Long Legged Ladies, Big Bouncing boobs, Shocker Knockers & fun all the way around" also offers VLTs for your gaming pleasure. Each VLT could net Teasers up to $50,000 per year in revenue, thus the government is likely funding "nipple popping snow shows" to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Thank you, Stan!

A big thank you to all of patrons of Anybody Want A Peanut throughout 2013 and since the inception of this blog. Also a special thanks to those who shared these pieces on twitter or elsewhere, and to the other blogs that linked here.

Finally, here are a few other year-end blog posts to check out:

West End Dumplings: Most Read Posts
Slurpees and Murder: 156 Lines
Observations, Reservations, Conversations: Part I and Part II and Predictions for 2014
Nothing In Winnipeg: Bookends
The Crime Scene: Top Stories of 2013
The Black Rod: Newsmaker of the Year
Conceit and Sociopathy: Yeah it's 2014
North End MC: 2013 stats 

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Winding things down at the Peanut

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

Sunday 8 September 2013

Waverley West bike paths already cracking.

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?
This was not far from Waverley West, Winnipeg's largest new subdivision, so I decided to toodle about the Bridgwater area of Waverley West to see what was going on.

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!

Part of this new ethos of suburban sprawl is a focus on active transportation. As we mentioned in a recent post, Bridgwater will incorporate a network of trails that will allow people to get around while mostly staying off the roads. I fully support this concept in principle.

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.
Yes, that's right. These brand news paths started cracking virtually the moment the steam rollers left the scene.

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.
So this brand new path that is already cracking will have to weather at least one more freezing winter and spring thaw before it even connects to something and becomes useful.

 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

Diagnose your health problems using beer.

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

: 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

Should Fermor Avenue be renamed?

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.

  1.  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.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
 To clarify that last point, there are indeed businesses and homes with Fermor addresses, but those are west of St.Anne's Rd, so they are not part of the Trans-Canada Highway.

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

Should the Perimeter Highway be renamed?

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

MAKE Coffee + Hipster Names

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
I had never heard of the place, but MAKE, it turns out, is part of the growing trend of gourmet coffee shops in Winnipeg.

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
An architect by trade, Jay combines his interests in this little shop with a series of displays along the wall featuring unique buildings designed by Winnipeg architects. It gives you something to look at as you wait for your coffee to be crafted, which can take a few minutes depending on which type you choose.
Architecture storyboards and models
He also hosts fashion shows and other events from time to time. What MAKE lacks in furniture and decor it makes up for in diversity.

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 ..

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