Wednesday 30 June 2010

What happens when you cross a Rabbit with a Koala?


It was about ... oh, I'm gonna say 9 years ago ... that I saw a band called Bullfrog at the Winnipeg Jazz Festival. A DJ names Kid Koala was a part of the band then, and at one point in the show Bullfrog left the stage and left Kid Koala on his own to do his thing.

Kid Koala's thing turned out to be a creative and mind blowing mix based on a Jessica Rabbit sound track. It was the most memorable part of the show for me.

Kid Koala returns to the Pyramid this year on Thursday night with a new band The Slew. I will unfortunately not be there, but I would be if I could be.

Kid Koala live:

Sunday 27 June 2010

New Bomber Stadium, Parking, part II

Following up on my last post, I had a quick look at the U of M stadium location in comparison to the Edmonton stadium location. The parking ban around the Edmonton location covers residential areas from 0.8 km to 1.4 km at it's farthest reaches. So, just for kicks, I drafted a proposed residential parking ban area for Fort Richmond:

Red areas represent residential areas that might be covered by the hypothetical ban. It covers all housing (at least that I could tell from memory and Google Maps) within 2.4 km of the new stadium -- a far larger area than the Edmonton no-park zone, yet there is far less housing. Sure, some people have no problem walking further than that, but a 2.4 km zone ought to be good enough.

I think the map above demonstrates how little residential there is to worry about at this location. By comparison, Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton is almost completely surrounded by residential areas:

Without building on the fringes of the city, you would be had pressed to find a location where fewer people are impacted.

There is also the distinct possibility that some people in the area are Bomber fans, and are happy that the stadium is moving into their neighbourhood.

Friday 25 June 2010

New Bomber Stadium, Parking, and Hooligans

When I go to a Bomber Game, I usually park in a residential area. I never get enormously sloshed mind you, and I don't urinate in people's yards. I am generally respectful, but I realize that not everybody is.

I therefore understand the concerns of the group that appealed the construction of the new stadium today.* However, I am also glad that it failed. Delaying the construction could mean sinking more money into the current dump of a stadium, and probably an extra season of me cramming into a seat with 10" of leg room. It's painful, and I don't want to do it anymore. We need to build a new stadium and we need to build it now.

The good news is that we can build a new stadium and address the parking concerns of the surrounding neighbourhood. One option that we may want to look at is the system that they have in Edmonton. They have a parking buffer zone surrounding their stadium, with a ban on non-local vehicles. LINK

Parking is restricted on all signed streets from the start of the game and for the next two hours. Any vehicle not displaying a valid residential parking permit will be tagged and towed at the owner's expense.
I know people who live in that zone, and it seems to work well for them.

The buffer zone would force more people to park in lots surrounding the stadium, potentially generating more revenue for the organization (or the UofM). It may also increase use of rapid transit (are we still doing that, Sam?) or ordinary transit.

Anyhow, I'm sure we could do something like that, or put our heads together and come up with a creative new solution that will keep pissed off drunken Bomber hooligans from crapping all over your yard after an embarrassing loss to the Rough Riders. Oh wait ... Mike Kelly is gone now! I mean: joyful and festive bomber fans, after a dominating WIN over the Riders!

* or the zoning variance, or whatever it technically was.

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Ooooo goodie ... a spy game for geek bloggers!

I turned on CBC about 90 minutes ago, and I think they have spent about 10 minutes of that NOT showing or talking about their interview with CSIS head Richard Fadden. They are pretty damn proud of this interview where Fadden is coyly suggesting that certain Canadian politicians are under the thumb of foreign governments ... without naming names of course. This is a juicy little story about espionage and power and devious communist governments that are using our treasured elected leaders to aid their plans for world domination. Damn it Pinky, we need to stop them!

So now it's up to the bloggers and pundits to figure out who Fadden was talking about. There are municipal politicians and at least two provincial cabinet ministers. He made it very clear that China was one of those countries that's exerting it's influence through our leaders, and suggested that these ties are nurtured in early years through university clubs and alike with people who have natural ties to those countries. Ok ... so we're looking for politicians with Chinese heritage. Olivia Chow? No .. she's federal.

BC is a logical place to start: Ida Chong, Jenny Kwan ... What about Ontario? Mike Chan ... um ... John O'Toole? Hmm.. There aren't that many to pick from here. This should be pretty easy.

What about Manitoba? A quick scan of our MLAs doesn't turn up any obvious Chinese communist sympathizers, although I suspect that Dave Chomiak may be an alien. However, some might suggest that if there is anything resembling a communist hot bed in Canada, it would be here in Winnipeg -- where we once briefly had a mural of Karl Marx. Plus there's that whole thing with the general strike and all that.

Unfortunately it's getting close to my bed time, and I know I'm not going to have the time or motivation to look into this any further. But have no fear. I'm sure that by the time I hit "publish" in my blogger screen, there will be a hundred other blog posts out there speculating about who the traitors are. I think it's that O'Toole guy. He's got that look in his eye.

Interesting stuff. Well done, Mansbridge. Well done.

Friday 18 June 2010

This is a public service announcement ...

... with FISH!

When you think fresh, tasty fish in Manitoba, what do you think of? When you go fishing in the Whiteshell for something to cook up over the fire with a stick of butter, freshly squeezed lemon, and a sprinkle of pepper, what are you trying to catch? Jack fish? Didn't think so. Pickerel? Ya, that's more like it!

Well I've got news for you, buddy. That wasn't a pickerel that they served you at Fude the other day. The fish that everybody calls pickerel in these parts isn't pickerel at all, but walleye. At one time, I thought pickerel was just another name for walleye. In fact, I was so sure of it that I put money on it. I lost my money. A pickerel is a completely different fish.

So if a pickerel isn't a walleye, what is it? A pickerel is a member of family Esocidae, the family that includes the muskellunge (a.k.a. musky) and the dreaded jack fish (a.k.a. northern pike, or you might say, northern pickerel). Yes: a pickerel is a version of that ugly bony fish that you always throw back in the lake -- after taking a picture of it because it's the biggest thing that you've pulled out of the water since that incident with your drunk friend at the pool party. There are different types of pickerel -- the chain pickerel pictured below seems to be the most common -- but it's rare to catch any of them in Manitoba.

Here is a walleye (a member of the perch family):

Here is a pickerel:

Why do we call walleye pickerel? I don't know. We're not the only ones who do it, though. I saw "pickerel" on the menu of a restaurant in Saskatoon. Also, apparently in some circles walleye is called "pike" which is almost worse than calling it pickerel. However, I saw "walleye" on a menu just south of the border, so I think it's mostly a local quirk.

So there you have it. Now get your license and go out and catch yourself something to eat this weekend.

Friday 11 June 2010

The MMF president is a fraud

Not a big surprise:

It appears that David Chartrand has easily won re-election as president of the Manitoba Metis Federation Inc. After all polls reported Thursday night, Chartrand had collected 3,352 votes to 665 for challenger Frank Godon.

Chartrand said the turnout was low — there were 52,718 eligible voters — but attributed that to the low profile by the last-minute candidacy of his opponent, Frank Godon.
Frank's response in the comment section of that story:
So David wants to blame the low turn out on me? Not the fact that Metis people from across Manitoba told me that they weren't voting because the MMF does nothing for them. Not the fact that this was the fastest called election with little room for people who wanted to run to get their nominations in. Not the fact that there were only 37 days of campaigning available. This was a protest vote plain and simple - the people are fed up with the MMF and its dictatorship style of administration.
We here at the Peanut endorsed Frank on May 6 (I am sure that gained him, maybe, zero votes) so we're somewhat disappointed in the outcome. Is there any legitimacy to his comments? Hard for me to say as I am not an eligible MMF voter, but there has to be something wrong with the process when voter turnout is less than 10%.

Some clues to the low turnout might be found on the MMF web site, where the election received second billing to, um, Elsie Bear's Kitchen:

I took that screenshot on May 6 -- one month and 5 days before the election. There was a basic list of candidates, and little else. No instructions on how to vote or where to vote, or advanced polling, or anything like that. Not that I could find. You would figure that the election of the MMF president would be a pretty big deal to the MMF. You would figure they would have profiles of all of the candidates, where they stand on the issues, etc .. so that the Metis people of Manitoba can best judge who represents their views. I guess it's hard to put that stuff together when you only get started one month before you finish.

This is a failure on the part of the MMF to motivate the people they claim to speak for. Tell me: what duty does the government have to consult with David Chartrand, when only 6% of the Metis people agreed to have him represent them?

Keep this in mind next time you see the MMF taking a stand in your friendly neighbouhood newspaper.

** edit: fixed some bad math **

Thursday 10 June 2010

Yes the weather sucks ...

... but it could be worse:

I often check out the Environment Canada Satellite imagery to see how systems are moving around, and it seems like every time I look there is a massive storm passing through South Dakota. Just an observation.

By the way, I noticed that our sunny and 23 weekend is all of a sudden rainy and 17. Lovely.

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Walking with Vince Li

I know that everybody is just dying to hear what I have to say about Vince Li getting supervised walks outside the mental institution where he now makes his home.

Well, I more or less agree with Graham over at PW. I think many people have lost their perspective on this matter. Vince's crime was so horrific that it has created an event horizon around people's brains from which rationality cannot escape. I got dangerously close to that threshold ... I was somewhat appalled when I found out he would be walking in a yard with no fences or barriers separating him from the public, and when his shrink said "I would let him walk my daughter home from school" my reaction was "Worst ... father ... ever." I realized, however, that this is not a completely rational position to take. I mean, the part about letting him outside for a few minutes each day. (I still would not let him walk my daughter home from school.) Murderers in prison get to go outdoors once in a while, and locking Vince up in a dark cell like Henri Charriere in Papillon would likely just make his sequestered demons even stronger.

As I have probably mentioned before, I worked in the same building and on the same floor as Vince Li for about half a year. During that time, I am happy to say that Vince did not decapitate, mutilate, nor cannibalize me. In fact, every single person that Vince has met during his life -- except one -- can say the same thing. The point is that certain conditions and circumstances have to come together to trigger the combination of neurons that caused him to commit those horrific acts. One of those factors, of course, is a lack of medication. He is currently in a controlled environment where he takes his meds and is under constant supervision, therefore he is not a risk.

For that reason, I also do not believe he should be allowed to leave that controlled environment. he may very well reach a point where he appears capable of reintegrating into society, but left on his own there is no guarantee that he will continue to take his medication and will not have another "episode". Given the severity of his last episode, I'm not sure that's a risk society should take.

Nevertheless, at the current time Vince is not a risk, and people -- including our Attorney General Mr. Swan -- are overreacting. Dan Lett makes an excellent distinction between "public interest" and "public opinion" in the paper. They are not necessarily the same thing, and in this case our government representative made the decision to score cheap political points by catering to irrational fear, rather than concentrating on the public interest. Lord knows there are many other pressing crime and justice problems that demand action in the public interest that Andrew Swan should be spending his time solving.

Friday 4 June 2010

Why I hate Safeway, part II

Long time readers of this blog may remember a post from two years ago called Why I hate Safeway. Of the many reasons, one was:

I can't buy 2 bloody pounds of ground beef!! Here are my choices for ground beef: 560 grams or 1.14 kg. What the fuck?? Every recipe on the planet calls for an even pound of ground beef. ONE pound. Not 1 1/3. Not 2 1/2. Of course the beef is also packed in a giant shrink-wrapped styrofoam container to maximize the environmental destruction coefficient of the product.
Even the recipe on their own packaging calls for one pound of meat, fer Christ's sake:

Well, I was desperate for ground beef the other day and didn't have time to go anywhere else, so I ended up in the Dangerway meat department. The meat guy (I won't call him a butcher because I think the meat is actually butchered in a factory in Ontario) was out stocking the ground beef, so I had to ask him: "Why don't you package the meat in one pound increments?"

His answer: when they moved to larger containers, one pound of ground beef looked too small, so they made a decision to add more beef so the containers would look fuller.

Really? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard (while shopping at Safeway.) Why not just buy smaller containers? I can just imagine the conversation in the Safeway board room:

Director of meat: Uh, hey ... we have a little problem with our ground beef packaging ...

VP of marketing: What do you mean?

Director of meat: You know that retarded kid that we hired to fill our "special needs" quota? Ya, well ... I thought it might be kinda fun to put him in charge of reordering our meat trays, and, uh ...

VP of marketing: You did what???

Director of meat: Well, I just though he would bang on some keys and have fun, but somehow he ended up locking us into a 30 year contract with the Giant Styrofoam Tray Company. Our 1 lb meat trays are big enough to hold 5 lbs of meat. What do we do?

VP of marketing: Jesus Christ, Ben. This is a bigger screw-up than the time you ordered grain-fed chicken from Canada instead of factory chicken from Mexico. I guess we only have one choice: put more meat in the package so it looks fuller.

Director of meat: But won't people eat more than they need and get fatter?

VP of marketing: Well yeah, but the fatter they are the more they'll eat, right? Plus we'll also sell more. It's a win-win! Boy am I smart ...


I've been a little busy lately, by the way. I had the above post mostly done already and just threw it out there to let you know I'm still alive. Will be back next week. In the mean time, BBQ yourself some extra large burgers and enjoy the weekend.

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