Saturday, August 27, 2005

Vandals destroy garden

Today Mrs. Stapler gets her letter to the editor published - because the local paper didn't (yet) publish it in their weekly edition. :

I address this letter to the inconsiderate individuals who drove through the vegetable garden at Graminia School:

One day after school, several girls gathered at Graminia School to plant a vegetable garden. We chose to do this as our garden was so successful last year. We managed to donate over 100 pounds of food to the Parkland Food Bank, a substantial donation for our small group. It was a terrific learning activity for the girls.

The summer weeks have been spent tending the garden, which is not easy when everyone is busy with their own lives. At the end of September we plan to harvest the garden and once again donate the food.

I have, in the past, enjoyed the thrill of off-road vehicles and I realize that in our little hamlet that makes up Graminia, there isn’t a whole lot to do on a rainy day. However, the damage done here will affect not only those who were to receive the harvest but it will be disheartening to those who worked to provide it.

In our programs, Girl Guides of Canada encourages our children to be responsible citizens and to contribute positively to their community. Perhaps the vandals responsible for the damage to our garden should consider community service as a more productive and much more gratifying recreation.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Little Guy

There are many shops and restaurants downtown Edmonton, but not all of them are run by the independent businessman or mom & pop.

Recently, as part of their emergency operations procedures, the major telecommunications company in western canada that I work at decided that they would provide lunch and dinner to their employees/managers that backfilled striking/locked-out union workers.

For the first couple weeks, they had a caterer bring in enough food to feed all the people in the building. Eventually, somebody finally noticed that they were about to bankrupt the independent food kiosks down in the plaza. Given the high rents in this busy area, it was probably safe to say that a month or two of catered lunches for 1000+ employees would wipe out several vendors due to lack of customers.

So the telecom company decided to offer vouchers, worth $7.00 towards lunch and dinner at any of the restaurants downstairs.

Just a coffee please, hold the double-double half latte ...

There's a Second Cup in the plaza, just off the subway/light-rail-transit that is very reminiscent of Starbucks. It's always a busy place, but the coffee is pretty much the same as any of the other places.

Several mornings, when the line has grown to more than a dozen people, I moved on to the little convenience shop down the mall. Cost less and he is actually a little more friendly than the young college drop-outs at Second Cup. Although they are cuter than the old italian guy that makes you pour your own coffee.

Chicken For Lunch
But I have noticed that the service I get for lunch at Amy's restaurant is worth going out of my way (past the Tim WHortons and scores of sheep in line). And you know what - if you introduce yourself and actually come back once a week - they will remember you....

Amy often has my order ready for me before I reach the front of a very long lunch line-up. Sometimes we actually get to talk about how's it going, retiring someday and that I think she works too hard. She has upwards of a thousand customers a day from 11-1pm at this kiosk - the busiest in the food mart or any other plaza around. Her spicy chicken is just that good!

I used to work downtown Calgary about 10 years ago. I was visiting there a little while ago and I wandered into a shop that I used to buy my daily coca-cola (coke) fix from.

"Hello Steve, how are you - where have you been?" came the inquiry from the clerk, Nigel I think is his name.

He works/owns on of the busiest corner convenience shops I have ever seen in any city.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Watch

Today, from my cubicle at a major telecommunications company in western canada, I saw the police block all north and south bound traffic on 100st - in front of the hotel macdonald on the edge of the river bank in Edmonton.

Rumour has it that Brad Pitt and his latest conquest (or hers?), Angelina Jolie would be in town 'soon' for the filming Brad's latest movie : "The Assassination of Jesse James."

Several of us were intrigted. Was it Brad ? Perhaps Angelina ? A few unmarked police cars pulled up to the entrance from the north.

After a few seconds and scurring around, a couple exited the second vehicle and quickly entered the lobby of the posh hotel.

"Oh, it's just old people!" came the cry from the next cublice.

Seems PMPM's tour of western canada isn't off to a great start.

The BRANGELINA watch continues...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

You might be my neighbour if

  1. It takes you 5 hours to cut your 1 acre of grass on the lawn tractor 3 times a week
  2. You don't wear a shirt while cutting your grass (see also #1)
  3. You have an old Edmonton Transit bus and 7 cars on your lot/acreage
  4. Your dog freaks out when it sees me while I am in my back yard (100 yds away)
  5. You send your kids out to expend all their energy on the trampoline at/near the same time mine are supposed to be going to bed (see also #7)
  6. You and your teenagers always drive 30km/h over the limit in our subdivision
  7. You let your kids play unsupervised in the yard and often they do stupid stuff like climb on the roof as I try to pretend I'm not watching an accident waiting to happen
  8. Your kids decide to see what happens when a large iron chain is thrown up on the powerlines in front of your house (see also #7)
  9. You play U2 and I complain that it's not loud enough ;D
I might be your neighbour if
  • It seems like I'm always glaring at you while you cut your grass (or is that wincing)
  • I call you at 1:00 am to let you know your dog has been barking constantly for an hour
  • It looks to you like I never cut my grass nor spray for dandelions
  • I write a blog about you

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Dog Days of Blogging

If you follow this blog, you may have noticed that not much has happened here for the last couple of weeks. Or maybe you were doing other things besides staring at the computer screen all day - like enjoying the odd day in Alberta lately that actually was "summer-like" (global warming where are you now ?). As an aside, I've often wondered why I (now) live in a country/province where you need to bring a jacket with almost daily. Then I check the paper or watch the news. Oh yeah - now I remember.

Well, I'll get back into it soon - I'll do what I can between the 9 hour days at my job at a major telecommunications company in western Canada, the daily SUV commute during rising gas prices (better get the miata fixed!) and life, working on the MDI (Million Dollar Idea), potty training and life in general.

YMMV. Enjoy what we have left of the summer. Word is that it will frost/freeze in my area tonight.

One last comment. For those of you coming here through a "telus scabs" keyword search on google (that's my stapler is returned on page one) - I'll have my commentary on what I've seen and can say "soon."

Monday, August 01, 2005

Don't be photo radar sheep

The city of Spruce Grove, Alberta (west of Edmonton) has announced their photo radar program, using the same company that runs the controversial program in Devon :
Effective 1 August 2005, the City of Spruce Grove will be employing Laser Photo Radar Technology within its City limits to reduce speed and increase public safety. Hand held Laser Radar will continue to be operated by the RCMP and City of Spruce Grove Enforcement Services in residential areas, on feeder roads, ... and in all school and playground zones.
Highway 16A runs through Spruce Grove and is now going to policed at 60km from the 100+km/h zone before and after the city limits. It is a 4+ lane highway that is a well traveled commuter and tourist route with at least twice the daily traffic of the Devon highway.

Stop your bleating
If you are reading this after finding this blog on a google search and you live in or near Spruce Grove - well, you're probably searching for other editorials on the subject or wondering what to do about the program's implementation.

Call or email the municipal office. Schedule some time with the administrators of the program. Let them know how you feel. Listen to their concerns, reasoning and then present yours. Do your research, ask for their reasons for implementing the program, articulate your concerns and even offer alternatives to photo radar.
No one seems to have bothered to compile statistics on accidents to justify subject residents to each scrutiny. Everyone who in favour of laser photo radar simply accepts the "perception" it is needed to curb speeders.
Where's the evidence?
- Spruce Grove Examiner Editorial published 20050729

So many questions. How about taking some of that effort it took to write that editorial and do some research ? The program could not be implemented without the approval of the Alberta Solicitor General and/or a review of the "available" statistics. There was no byline or author mentioned, so I think it was a journalist employed by the paper. You'd think they would know better. Perhaps they were looking to start a discussion (see also the definition of "flamebait").

Contact information for local municipalities is easy to find on the web. Town of Devon - Community and Protective Services Staff : Contact information. City of Spruce Grove : General Contact Information Page.

It's probably best to just visit them in person to make an appointment or see if they will make time for you. It's their job to be accessible to you - the taxpayer ! In the discussion, ascertain if they have done their diligence. Ask for a copy of the "traffic safety plan", with statistical analysis of accidents in the area that is required by the Alberta Solicitor General.

Contact Alberta's Solicitor General and/or your local MLA. Photo Radar on Alberta highways is a gray area and needs to be properly legislated (allowed by law or not), with guidelines for their deployment or viable reasons it needs to be employed. The Solicitor General authorizes and provides guidelines for municipalities to hire special constables that can generate photo radar tickets.

Judas Goat
If you're been keeping up with my blog, you'll know that I tried to enact each of the points above when the Devon photo radar program was reinstated. I don't know if any others did, other than a few that wrote into the local paper. Due to issues regarding if/when it will be used on the local highway in Devon, the administrators finally passed the supervisor role to the local RCMP office. But we can pretty much count on the photo radar van being parked on the highway each day.

I haven't received a ticket (in Devon) since last year - but every once in a while, I enjoy knowing that they will probably be there while watching other speedsters ignore the large signs.

When I go to town, I have to turn right onto Highway 60 at the top of hill before the North Saskatchewan River bridge at the town's municipal limits. There isn't much room to ease into traffic and I often end up racing the occasional southbound truck/car that decides to speed up to aggressively announce that they think I shouldn't have pulled out "in front of them." So, they'll try to catch me I accelerate across the bridge and up the hill towards town.

But, I make sure to slow down to the 70km/h speed limit and turn left at the intersection at the top of the hill. It's fun to watch the fervent driver storm off to the south, not knowing or realizing that they have a 50/50 chance of getting a picture of the back of their truck in two weeks.

The Judas goat is trained to associate with sheep or cattle, leading them to a specific destination. In stockyards, a Judas goat will lead sheep to slaughter, while its own life is spared.

Who Links Here