Resolving Timeline Issues

Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

I wrote a bit back about my pet driving peeves. And while these tend to make my blood boil, there’s one other thing that really, really, bugs me.

I am a grammar queen.

“Could have”, people, not “could of”. Hell, I’ll even accept “could’ve”.

Know the difference between their, there, and there they’re.

OMG, my blood pressure.

Which brings me to my issue with CTV’s Olympic Song: “I believe”

It bugs me. Okay, so I’m a bit of a metalhead, but that’s not the reason the song bugs me. It bugs me because it’s gramatically incorrect, all for the sake of a rhyme:

I believe in the power that comes
From a world brought together as one
I believe together we’ll fly
I believe in the power of you and I

It’s you and me. You wouldn’t say “I believe in the power of I” would you?

And this bad grammar is being broadcast all across Canada and around the world.

:facepalm:

I’ve decided to start participating in Girl Talk Thursday. Hopefully this will mean I post at least once a week. The topic today? Pet peeves.

Most of my pet peeves relate to driving. Are you surprised? I am a pretty angry driver – in fact, I expect the Poptart’s first word to be an f-bomb for that very reason. Here is a sample (and only a sample because otherwise I’d be here for DAYS):

Talking on you cellphone while driving. I don’t care if you have a handsfree set or not. GET OFF THE FUCKING PHONE. You speed up, slow down, don’t pay attention. OMG, my blood pressure.

People who don’t pull up in the intersection while making a left-hand turn. Pull up, ffs. Think about the people behind you.

Be decisive. Make a decision about (i) which lane you want to be in (ii) which way you want to go and (iii) when you’re going to go. I know we all make small mistakes like this, but when you’re constantly weaving and changing lanes, you’re dangerous. And stupid. And OMG, my blood pressure.

Learn to park, dammit. And I’m not talking about parallel parking. I’m talking about straight-stall parking. It shouldn’t take you more than two tries to pull in, and one extra try to park straight. Just because you drive a bigass truck doesn’t mean you can take two or four spots. Because I? Have a baby, stroller, diaper bag, various toys, myself, etc. etc. to haul around and need just one spot.

A yield sign is not a stop sign, or, learn to merge, dammit. Let me make this abundantly clear: IF YOU ARE MOVING, IT IS EASIER TO GET INTO TRAFFIC THAT IS ALSO MOVING.  Pace traffic, find an opening and merge. Don’t stop and have all the traffic pile up behind you.

And OMG, my blood pressure.

I wrote this yesterday when we were supposed to get 20 cm (8 inches) of snow. We didn’t and everything is all melty, but it still holds true. Suggest you take number 1 to heart since we have a bit of reprieve right now.

Dear Drivers,

It’s that most wonderful time of the year when Vancouver gets it’s annual snowfall. I expect this year won’t be as bad as last year, but the rules are the same:

1. Get some goddamn snow tires already

For real. Just because “Vancouver doesn’t get that much snow” if you’re going to insist on going out in your car, in the snow, GET SNOW TIRES. You’ve had a year to save up since LAST YEAR’S snowfall. Buy the damn tires and another set of rims, keep them mounted and have them switched out every Thanksgiving and Valentines Day (or Easter if you tend to go on long drives to the interior).

2. If you park your car outside clear ALL of the snow off the windows, headlights, turn signals and the taillights before you get going

The windows are there so you can see when you drive. If there’s snow covering the windows, you can’t see. Duh.

Also, once you start moving, the snow falls off onto the (hopefully) cleared roads and messes them up, and flies onto the windshield of the car behind you. Really, really annoying. This morning, I drove Darren to the train, and the minivan in front of me had only cleared the windshield. With the wipers. The headlights were on but the taillights weren’t cleared off. I couldn’t tell if the driver was using signals when he/she turned because those were also covered. If it hadn’t been for the streetlights, I wouldn’t have been able to see the back of the car. With that in mind…

3. If you need to clear the white stuff off your car, give yourself extra time.

Get up 15 minutes earlier, assess and get your car ready. Better yet…

4. Take public transit or walk. Or both

I’m not even going to bother elaborating on this.

5. Stay calm and take your time

Duh.

To all the people who are not:

  • pregnant
  • having a chronic health condition

And starting next week:

  • immunocompromised
  • healthcare workers
  • caregivers of children under 6 months of age or people with compromised immune systems
  • children aged 6 months to 5 years

And are sneaking in line and lying about one of the above to get an H1N1 shot early.

You suck. You taking that vaccine means that someone who has a greater chance of getting seriously sick or dying from H1N1 goes without. That’s pretty sucky of you. Instead, I offer the following suggestions: wash your hands, carry hand sanitizer, take your vitamins and be patient.

That is all.

Halloween post to come later. I just had to get this off my chest.

Edited to add: As of this evening, Alberta has shut down its flu clinics, except for target groups. If you queue jump in that case, you’ve escalated from being merely sucky to douchebaggery.

You’ve probably noticed that one of the things I really enjoy ranting about here is our ever-lovin’ regional transit authority – TransLink. And for good reason: they’re essentially a public company that is run with an eye to the bottom line. Now, I’m all for government being run like a business in every way, with the sole exception of turning a profit; ideally, they just need to break even. TransLink is having some issues lately: demands for increased service, inability to provide that, and the opening of the new Canada Line that will run from downtown Vancouver, to the airport and Richmond.

Its no secret that skytrain technology is expensive. Sure, its an efficient way to move people around, but its damn expensive to install, run and difficult to make any money off of it. This is especially consternating when there are perfectly good, unused rail lines that could be used for at-grade light rail systems at a much lower price.

Everywhere, TransLink is trying to push people to take transit (or carpool, or telecommute, or whatever) because transit is a more sustainable (whatever that means) option than taking a single-occupancy vehicle (SOV). And then they go and do stupid stuff like this:

TransLink and the Coast Mountain Bus Company propose to terminate buses bound for downtown Vancouver from Richmond, Delta, Tsawwassen and White Rock at either the Richmond-Brighouse or Bridgeport Canada Line Stations.

What this means is that people who usually take one bus to get from Richmond to Vancouver will now have to hop the bus, transfer to the skytrain, and then go downtown. All in the name of boosting ridership so that, on paper, it looks like the skytrain is turning a profit.

Yes, I said ON PAPER. They’ve done this before, you see.

When the Millenium Line went in, my commute to SFU changed drastically. In fact, I went from taking transit to driving. Before the Millenium Line, I used to walk down to the mall (4 blocks) and take the bus up the hill. It took about 20-30 minutes, depending.

When the Millenium Line went in, I had to walk down to the mall, take the skytrain (which was packed) to the next station and then wait in a line to get on a bus with everyone else to get up the hill.

My commute changed from 20-30 minutes to 45-60 minutes. I lived, literally, at the bottom of the hill.

What this proves to me is that TransLink’s focus is on its bottom line rather than on encouraging people to more sustainable modes of transportation. By shortening, cutting, and changing routes this way to increase ridership on the most expensive form of public transit we have to inflate (at least on paper) your profits for what is really a limited-demand service, you’re not encouraging people to use sustainable transportation. Not one bit.

I have a friend who works in one municipality, and lives in the neighbouring one. If he drives, it takes him 20 minutes to get to the office. If he takes transit, its 1.5 hours each way. He has two small kids at home. You tell me what mofe of transportation he’s going to take.

That same article has a quote from the NDP critic which sums it up nicely:

NDP transportation critic Maurine Karagianis said some of the bus route changes don’t make sense.

 

“Part of the allure of a good public transportation system is that it’s efficient. …They’re going to manipulate the system in order to meet the goals of the Canada Line,” she said.

TransLink also says we need a change in values and attitude to use public transit. I call bullshit. You can’t take away people’s options and then tell them that they need to change their attitudes. That’s not fair – in fact, that’s arrogant and not understanding at all.

In fact, I’d like to know if Tom Prendergast takes public transit to work on a regular basis, or if he drives. I’m willing to bet the latter. When I went to a public TransLink meeting out here in Maple Ridge, the execs who came where asked if they took transit out. Not one of them had.

So TransLink: arrogant and unwilling to use their own product. Why should anyone else use it?

Last night at dinner (roast beast, rare, rice, green beans):

Me: [staring out window] This is fucking ridiculous. Do you know how long its been snowing?
Darren: All day?!!!
Me: [glaring dagger] Two fucking weeks. At least.
Darren: [nodding] You’re right. Its a long time to be snowing.

Tonight I intercepted a tweet from Linda saying its snowing in Seattle. So I checked the window again (its dark so I had to look at the street light).

Fuck. MORE snow after it had started melting:

Me: [going downstairs] Its snowing again!
Darren: Are you sure it isn’t raining?
Me: Yeah, there were these big, white flaky things falling down.
Darren: Yeah, rain doesn’t usually fall like that.

And people, I am DONE. I live in Vancouver for a reason: I don’t like snow.  Sure it can snow a couple of days a year, but TWO FUCKING WEEKS?

Yes, we’re divas about the weather here. But this is why we live here: snow belongs on the mountains to make them all pretty. And it should stay there. Sea to ski and all that. The mountains are snow’s natural habitat.

The road outside my house is just about impassible. I don’t really expect it to be ploughed, but could you send a salt truck down or something? Or at least tow the cars that are parked IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET?

Weather.ca says we’re supposed to get 20 cm (8 inches) tonight.

The other day we got our annual snowfall. I really have no idea how much it was because we barely got a skiff of snow. Of course now its rather cold out, but clear – which is nice (except that my car desperately needs a carwash and I can’t do that until it warms up a bit or the locks will freeze).

A few things about the weather in Lotusland:

1. We’re never satisfied. Its either raining too much, or its too cold or its too hot. Or its too humid. Or its too [insert word of choice here].

2. We don’t know how to drive in the snow. Most of us run around all year on all-season radials expecting them to take care of us. Then we’re shocked when they don’t in the snow.

This is a pet peeve of mine. I have two sets of tires because I live at the mouth of the Fraser Valley. Both have their own sets of rims so its really just a matter of getting the all-seasons swapped out for the snows in October/November (usually thanksgiving).

BUY A SET OF WINTER TIRES FOR YOUR CAR ALREADY. Then you won’t be stranded when transit isn’t running because of the snow. According to the local news, on Saturday there were 44 accidents around Lotusland – there are normally about 3.

3. Transit in the snow here sucks. Last year sometime, transit up to Simon Fraser University stopped before the university shut down for snowfall. People were stranded. On Saturday night, transit basically stopped serving the downtown core.

Drivers were told to avoid driving if conditions were too dangerous; many just parked their buses and went home. But don’t go blaming the drivers, folks. According to one comment on that article I linked above there: “Yes the drivers are struggling with not only shortages of buses, service and support in normal weather, but bald and rain tread tires which give no traction whatsoever in icy and snowy conditions!  Hence the clear directive from company to park the vehicles, and the decisions by responsible drivers to stop/wait for plowing, salting and sanding to meet safe driving standards.” [emphasis mine]

Let’s rephrase that: TransLink is refusing to supply winter tires for its buses. Not economically responsible you know, since we’ll only need them once or twice a year.

I’ve written about my beefs with TransLink before. Of course, my biggest issue is that its a private board  that’s deciding how to spend my tax dollars – Lotusland residents have NO SAY in how its spent, what kind of service they get and when.

What it boils down to: take some responsibility for yourselves, people. I know its a sucky time of year to possibly miss out on a day’s pay, but a lot of the time its safer to stay home if you’re not prepared for the weather than to go out.

In the meantime, some pointers:

  • get some snow tires for your car, if you have a car. They may save your life.
  • Get some appropriate boots/shoes for walking. If you must, get something like yaktrax to make sure you don’t slip and hurt yourselves on icy sidewalks.
  • Shovel your sidewalk if you have one. Its your responsibility.
  • Dress appropriately; don’t expect roads to be plowed and transit to be running. Be ready to walk if you have to: coat, hat, gloves, scarf layers, warm boots.
  • Bring an extra pair of socks along – they may get wet.

Anywhere else in Canada seems to get this. Lotusland, on the other hand, seems kind of special.

Now you’ll excuse me while I get ready to face the day with my hat, gloves, coat, scarf, snow tires and dress shoes in a bag.

The other night, I went to a townhall meeting with TransLink where they presented their Transport 2040 strategy.

Now, at the risk of sounding forgiving, you have to realize that they’ve been given a nearly impossible task. On January 1, 2008, some new legislation kicked in that said they had to have a plan of some sort by August 1, 2008. That’s an awfully short time to develop a comprehensive, 30 year plan. So what you’ll see on this link is a strategic plan – broad brush strokes that point the way to some future.

That being said, after the meeting (and there were a LOT of angry people there – more on that later), and I said to some guy that I thought the whole plan was a load of horseshit.

I live in an area that’s not well-served by public transit. There’s the WestCoast Express which runs only during peak hours. The result of that is this morning was a mad dash in time for last train to get me downtown. I’d planned to go into work late and I did – I got there at 9:15am. There’s the 701 to Coquitlam Station which is an “express” bus – with 30 stops. There are numerous community shuttles – which are unreliable. One 16 year old at the meeting told a story of how she waited for 45 minutes for a shuttle – late at night that never came.

There is little transit east of 200th Street. And Maple Ridge is supposed to be a city centre.

There were a lot of angry people at that meeting. TransLink wasn’t even going to come to Maple Ridge (probably because they knew there was nothing in that plan for Maple Ridge) until the Mayor asked them to come. They looked sufficiently chastised, especially when they were asked no more than 4 times if they’d taken transit out to the meeting (of course not? are you crazy? THEY IS HI POWERED EXECUATIVES!)

But none of that really fazed me – its part of the reality of living here. And I love this town.

What got me what what the accountant guy said:

To me, this isn’t a plan, because its not financially sustainable.

Well, no shit, Sherlock. And yet you want to keep increasing my property and fuel taxes, and we don’t get any benefit from it?

Other highlights:

  • investing $24M in cycling and $29M in WestCoast Express over the next 10 years (do YOU see a discrepancy here?)
  • West Van has half the population of Maple Ridge and twice the bus service to downtown Vancouver (I guess that’s what money can buy you)
  • people out here want to take transit but can’t; its offensive that TransLink believes all that’s needed is a behavioural shift (FOR SHAME. It goes without saying that in order for people to change their behaviour, you have to give them the resources to do so)
  • for what it costs to build one kilometer of underground skytrain (an oxymoron, really), you can build a line of light rail from Maple Ridge to Mission.

Did you know that there’s no bus service from Maple Ridge to Mission? And that people in Abbotsford have to go to Mission, then the WestCoast Express to get downtown?

So kudos to Mayor Robson for getting TransLink out here. And more kudos to him for wanting to get Maple Ridge out of TransLink. I can tell you which Mayoral candidate out here will get my vote in November.

Edit:

Oh and a couple of days later, I found out another interesting thing: TransLink didn’t ask any municipalities for input until the strategy had been created – they weren’t considered stakeholders.

This is crossposted over at WetCoast Women  where Nicole also rants sometimes.

Climate action dividend cheques are arriving in the mail. Apparently, they’re to help people make green choices. And on Monday or Tuesday a new 2.4 cents/litre gas tax goes on (oh and it also goes on natural gas, so even if you don’t own a car, you’re getting hit with it anyways. So are the people who deliver groceries, so you’ll be paying for it anyways. Revenue neutral my ass).

But, back to the cheques. Mine arrived yesterday sometime and I got it (them, really, because I get one and Darren gets one) from the mailbox this morning.

This is the outside:

Hi! I\'m here to help you make green choices!I picked it up and noticed it felt really substantial. I could practically use it as a pillow. Its soft and puffy (although the biodegradable window in the front is sort of crunchy, but whatever). On the back though, it says its printed on recycled paper.

So I opened it. Because I wanted to see what was in it that made it so soft and pillow-like.

And here you goReally! I\'m green!. Its stupendous really. From left to right: a twee brochure on how you can most appropriately spend your Climate Action Dividend. Suggestions include:

  1. Switching to compact flourescent light bulbs
  2. Weather strip windows and doors
  3. Install a high efficiency hot water heating system
  4. Install low-flow showerheads and keep showers under 10 minutes
  5. tune up your vehicle and keep tires properly inflated
  6. Install crawl space insulation

Lovely. I already do 1, 2 and 5. I don’t have a crawl space – just a ground level lower level of my house which is insulated and weather stripped already. So fuck that noise.

I have a low flow showerhead. And I doubt that you can buy and install a high efficeincy hot water heating system for $100. 

Vehicle tune ups should be done regularly since it helps cars pass aircare (hey, look! Emissions controls that have been in place for YEARS) and you don’t generally have to pay $100 to inflate your tires – you can get a tire gauge for under $20 at Canadian Tire and air is free at gas stations.

Back to the contents of the envelope. On the English side (its printed in English and French), in the bottom corner it says “by using 40% post consumer recycled paper for this project we saved…262 trees, 10, 780 kilograms of solid waste, 98, 978 litres of water, 34, 105 Kilowattt hours of electricity, 19, 595 Kilograms of greenhouse gases, 50 Cubic Metres of landfill space.”

Whoa. Like, dude. So if you used more post consumer recycled paper, you could have saved even more! Right (I might be wrong, I really have no idea).

The second thing on the picture is the envelope itself (also printed on recycled paper).

The third thing with the mad paint skillz on it is the cheque itself. Big enough for a tri fold, along with a nifty note from our ever-lovin’ Premier who sends us his best regards. The cheque itself is somewhat less than the bottom third of the page.

Um. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but couldn’t they have saved even more ghg’s, etc (not to mention postage) if they’d just done direct deposit into my bank account? Now, I have to go to the bank to deposit this. Which I’ll combine with other errands, and I’ll turn my car off as I go through the drive through ATM, but still.

Do you see my point? They’ve probably created more waste then what people will save simply by issuing this cheque.

As for what I’m going to do – well, I have a web friend who lives south of the 49th. Her cat recently had a rather expensive surgery to remove a bladder stone. Its going to her to help pay the bill.

Cross-posted at Wet Coast Women

On Thursday, the BC Liberal government forced the adoption of 7 or 8 bills prior to the prorogue of the Spring session of the legislature, among them, the carbon tax and the election gag laws.

According to the Canadian Press:

The Liberals came to an agreement about three weeks ago with the Opposition NDP regarding the passage of 15 remaining bills, but there was no deal on eight others which the government has said will be passed “no matter what.”

So how can they do this? Well, in legislative procedure, there’s a little motion called “closure” which shuts down debate and forces a vote. Its designed to prevent prolonged sessions of the legislature (so that, you know, elected officials can have a summer vacation), while allowing government to take action as necessary. Its quite controversial as it limits any sort of meaningful representation in the legislature. In other words, using closure has a direct impact on your democratic rights. Closure effectively limits your MLA’s ability to advocate on your behalf. When a motion to close debate is moved and approved, all the opposition can do is vote against the item of debate.

I wrote earlier about the budget and the carbon tax (which is now recovered, minus comments) and how it’s a great big fuck you very much to BC citizens.

Apparently, the Liberal government has decided to fuck us a second time. Mike Farnworth (leader of the opposition in the House) said it quite well:

 “The government is ramming through eight bills, two of them particularly controversial,” he said, referring to the carbon tax bill and the so-called election gag law that places spending limits on third party advertising for the 28-day campaign period and for 60 days prior to the writ being dropped.

“That is just wrong, it is undemocratic,” he complained.

And it is unprecedented for a budget bill to be rammed through by the use of closure by any government in the history of this province,” said Farnworth. (emphasis added)

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a particular fan of Mike Farnworth. In fact, I find him generally annoying. But he hit the nail on the head with this one.

In our rather messed up, toe the party line (or is that tow?) system, budgets are supposed to be free votes – this is a time for debate and to use knowledge and effective arguments to try to sway people to what you believe. By limiting debate, this isn’t allowed to happen. Whichever way you look at it, your rights are being eroded. And you should be angry about this.

Vaughn Palmer, in Saturday’s Vancouver Sun (page A3, Saturday May 31) has a couple of lines at the end of his column about this*

Gratuitous insults notwithstanding, the Liberals are surely guilty of reckless disregard for due process.

They set a precedent Thursday that could readily be abused by future governments of any political stripe.

Palmer’s column also includes a blow-by-blow of how it went down. In one hour and seven minutes, because of the closure motion, the following were passed:

  • Bill 20, Oil and Gas Activities Act (I really have no idea what that one’s about, but it ran over 200 sections and took 8 minutes)
  • Bill 21, Medicare Protection Amendment Act (took 6 minutes; a bit of squabbling here and there)
  • Bill 24, E-Health (15 minutes, due to a series of amendments)
  • Bill 37, Trade Investment & Labour Mobility Amendment Act (10 minutes)
  • Bill 37, Carbon Tax Act (runs 60 pages and 157 sections, 10 minutes or so)
  • Bill 42, Election Amendment Act or “gag law” (about 10 minutes, Minister Oppal had some amendments)

It started at 5pm and ended just after 6pm.

It is apparent this government, or maybe it’s the system, really has no regard for any sort of due process or democratic rights.

*the Canada.com website is currently down or busy or something, so I can’t link to it.


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