Dear Rob Fucking Ford;

Shortly before I left the insipid city and province I grew up in, I saw change. On October 25, 2010 (1 year ago) I saw Toronto finally vote in a mayor that was no nonsense, said it like it is, and was going to put Toronto on the right track again. Sure, your pundits could find plenty of material to use as fodder. Many challenged your lack of political correctness and rough demeanour, but there were enough of us that saw that it was the required personality to do away with wasteful spending and arcane policies.

Since I moved to New Brunswick, you have continued to make the news with controversy. I’m not talking about political decisions, spending cuts, budgetary concerns or other job related things. I don’t even care that you didn’t attend the pride parade. I’m talking about off the clock: vulgar gestures at your constituents regardless of circumstances but in the same breath, disregard for the same cell phone law that we’re all subject to, then along came this 911 call and the details that unraveled afterward. The call was entirely unnecessary based on the footage I saw, and your behaviour afterward was nothing short of deplorable and unbecoming of your position. Every last bit of controversy surrounding you was initially met with denial, but then recognizance and apology.

Mr. Ford, I turned a blind eye and voted for you in a dying city hoping for change. I’m now ashamed, and glad I’ve left.

Toronto, occupy Nathan Phillips Square. The gravy train may be over, but that doesn’t mean your host should treat you like shit.

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How to change the world.

  1. Chew with your mouth closed. Yes parents, this means you too. I can’t go anywhere nowadays without an intimate study in the reciprocating mandibles of today’s homosapiens and the resulting effect on organic matter. It’s kind of a half-assed job really: if you’re going to show the world how your digestive system begins, why not complete the instruction and have a big shit at the table too?
  2. Learn to spell. More and more I see advertising, spelling, and “professional” emails from corporations or businesses with spelling and grammatical mistakes ranging from synonym-abuse to apocalyptic apostrophes. When advised, the offenders also tend to have a very defensive response, as though I’ve attacked the very force which holds them together. No, I don’t claim to be the king of spelling and grammar but I did put the time and effort in to get it right, or close to it anyway. All I ask is that you know which “your” to use and when NOT to use an apostrophe. As I write this, I wonder how many people even know how to spell apostrophe. If presented with the written word, would they say ape’-oh-strohf?
  3. Quiet down. We have telephones, radios and sign language in our modern world. Yelling is not necessary to even the furthest of people unless lacking the aforementioned tools and proximity to your target audience. 2 kids in the back seat of a van need not yell to each other.
  4. Walk behind people. If you see someone with their family, one of the parents usually walks behind them all so as to keep them visible. Don’t walk through the middle of it! It’s rude, inconsiderate and dangerous. Alter your course a few degrees so you can pass behind them. I teach my kids the same behaviour.
  5. Give a complete answer. I do the opposite of this in a joking way, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life it’s to give a complete answer that encompasses all scenarios. We want the complete picture. Teach the man to fish for pete’s sake.
  6. This relates to #5: Ask a complete question! I admit, I’m a bit extreme in this respect where I cannot understand the context of someone walking up to me and asking me “What ever happened with the thing about the thing?” Is it too much to say, “Hey, last week we were talking about how this guy here was having trouble with that knick knack but you were going to look into it. Have you found anything yet?”.
  7. July 26, 2010 – Pick up your feet when you walk. So many people drag their feet while they walk, sometimes the toes get dragged and other times its the heel. Is it really so much work to completely remove your foot from terra-firma to get it in front of the other one? Wouldn’t you think it was more work to drag the rubber along the sidewalk? Think about it, you’re applying force to overcome sliding friction between two surfaces that are designed to grip each other when introduced. Would you gladly drag one locked-up wheel on your car because you’re too lazy to get it fixed? New concept people: the friction between your foot and air is MUCH lower than the friction between your rubber sole and concrete. Besides, think of the money you’ll save on shoes.
  8. List to be amended as new situations present themselves.

What’s taking so long?!

So last Sunday our front-loading high efficiency washing machine failed spectacularly. It’s only 3 years old, it was there when we moved in and was a selling feature of the house. But today, it’s the bane of my existence. During a wash cycle, one of the springs that suspends the drum broke, causing the drum to swing downward (again, mid-cycle) and crash against the side of the machine repeatedly and violently. This ended up damaging the drain pump as well.

The initial call to Sears home service was quite unpleasant; since we were using my company cell phone (which is really all we have) the rep on the phone couldn’t get past the fact that my name didn’t match what was on his screen and we simply couldn’t proceed any further. After talking with a supervisor, there was no problem. Why then was the first guy completely useless? We had an appointment with a repairman booked for 4 days away (wiht the courtesy that he’d call and come sooner if possible) and we figured we could live with going to a laundromat for that time. In the end, he was actually there the next morning which is great for me, but only hurts Sears’ case. You’ll see why. At this point, we’re expecting to pay around $250-$300 for repairs, almost as much as a new machine.

He came and looked at the machine and determined that the spring and pump were damaged and would have to be ordered. I figure a couple of days tops; here we are over a week later and the parts still are not in. We spoke to the previous owners of the house (fantastic couple, recommend them highly) and they not only told us they bought the washer and dryer but that they bought the extended warranty – good till 2013. They then proceeded to phone Sears and transfer the warranty to our name so that we can get this machine fixed for free! GREAT!

Back to the parts logistics: Moncton is a major UPS and FedEx hub. Cargo traffic comprises some 70% of Moncton airport’s traffic, yet Sears shipped the parts to Moncton via UPS ground which can take several days to get anywhere because the part is being driven instead of flown. If it’s coming from Vancouver, for instance, the part would be here in 2 weeks instead of 7 hours. When you have a major appliance unserviceable this timeline is unacceptable.

I used to work at Bombardier Aerospace handling spare parts logistics for grounded aircraft. My job was to not only find the part in this world (or an alternate solution) but get it shipped from wherever it was to the customer as quickly as possible. I’ve used this phrase before and I’ll use it again, “I could get a part shipped from Chicago to Fiji in under 24 hours”. Why can’t I get 2 springs and a pump? They’re available at most of the appliance repair stores, eBay has a bunch around, but they’re useless to me because they’re not Sears parts.

As of today, they don’t have an answer except they’re on their way via UPS ground (as mentioned before). Who knows when they’ll get here? Who knows if that’s all that’s wrong with the machine? What if other parts are required but not known yet?

Maybe I should have just bought the ebay/repair store parts and done this myself. At least then I’d have a working washing machine in time for the inlaws’ arrival.

This is why I took 4 years of auto..

Andy, up front I apologize.

So I took the van in to the dealership for some pre-warranty expiration work, most of which is irrelevant to my gripe except the “rattle” in the engine, but I’ll start from the beginning.

2 weeks ago I made an appointment with a laundry list of things to be done to the van. For two weeks, they knew the van was coming and needed things to be done. For 8 hours, the van sat at the dealership. In the 7th hour they finally got around to test driving it. When I asked why this happened (because I’m renting a car in the meantime) I was given excuses ranging from a backlog of work from last week (a short holiday week) to low staffing to, get this, people that wait at the dealer get a higher priority.

Give me a break.

That said the dealership had great customer service, they’ll pay for my rental from here forward. Fine, I can live with that. Inefficient, but liveable.

At the end of the day today, I was told that the rattle in the engine could not be heard so I opted to come down early from work to stand with the mechanic and point it out. Sure enough, he claimed he couldn’t hear it. After only a minute of me repeatedly pointing it out, he conceded that there was in fact a sound coming from the front of the engine; a clacking sound, rather irregular. He suddenly remembered something about timing chain problems. Then comes the funny part; he called over a fellow mechanic and said only these words, “Hey Charlie, you hear that?” to which he replied, “My money’s on the timing chain.” So we went from not hearing it to some random guy from the shop instantly hearing it and diagnosing it.

Can someone please explain to me why it takes the owner of the vehicle to tell a dealership mechanic that he’s wrong, that there IS a noise? What if I conceded, and 10k after my warranty expired the timing chain blew causing thousands of dollars in engine repairs?

Folks, I can’t impress upon you enough, learn as much as you can about your cars. It will come in handy. You don’t have to be able to DO the repairs yourselves, just know how it works.

Those that know me…

can attest that I have a slight tendency toward the skeptical/pessimistic side. Maybe I’m just cautious. Even conspiracy theorist in some cases. I just know that when I see a situation and declare it to be one way or the other, some other possibility opens itself up and makes me look stupid.

When Saddam Hussein was captured, tried, convicted and sentenced the world saw it. Every deail. Pictures of Saddam and that other guy plastered the front pages of every American newspaper, citing victory and happiness etc. Fair enough, the world was rid of yet another fascist dictator guilty of crimes against humanity. Karma’s a bitch.

But now Osama bin Laden has been caught, killed, and buried at sea with little more proof than the claims of the few. Sure, it’s made worldwide headlines and I even heartily congratulate not only the guy that had the opportunity to place a few inch-pounds of force on a trigger, all those on the team that made it possible, and even further down the line to those in that part of the world that have either lived or died to bring us this moment. This moment was brought to us but the letters H, K and the number 9.

SO, here’s my skeptical conspiracy theory pessimist view: this story has a huge open end that may mean Osama’s not dead. Now I’m not saying I believe what I’m about to say, just that I haven’t seen proof to the contrary.

Much like the Hunt for Red October made a situation look like it happened one way when in reality it happened another, so too could this situation have been orchestrated. I don’t want to go further into that with wild-eyed suppositions about where he is and so on, just stating that while Saddam had proof, Osama does not.

But what’s with the dancing on the White House lawn? Those familiar with war know that it is not a celebration when an enemy is conquered. One does not openly celebrate the fact that a person was shot to death, despite his crimes. Jumping up and down like there’s a party in the USA was unclassy, improper, and just plain stupid. America prevailed over the schoolyard bully, and immediately celebrated like one.

Congratulations that this battle has been won. Airline security will remain the same, we will always have a terror level, and oil prices will continue to skyrocket unabated. What war was won?

Parking Cop = FAIL

The very nature of having a job as a parking cop means you couldn’t amount to being a full fledged cop, let alone anything else. Let me share my experience:

I pulled in front of the library today so Katie could go in “quickly” and see if there was anything good/new in. The parking in front of the library is pay-parking, but since I was waiting in the van I didn’t think it mattered especially since I was only one of two cars in an area of 10 spaces; not a lot of demand at the time.

The meter maid sauntered up and advised that this was pay parking. Since he didn’t ask me to move, I acknowledged his statement. He didn’t like that much so he reiterated it, but this time I decided I’d just move so I backed up and sat on the curb on the opposite side of the street where another car was parked.

Dorkus starts yelling at me: That’s a no parking zone.

Allow me to digress for a minute: what is the legal definition of “parking”? To me, parking is defined as intentionally leaving a vehicle unattended and turned off with no occupants. If I’m sitting in the car with 3 kids in front of a library with an obvious intent NOT to go in, I am not parked. I may be “stopped”, but that is a different rule altogether.

Back to the story, I suggested the parking cop just wait two minutes for my wife to return, at which point he walked his obese ass over and told me not to give him attitude. His recommendation was to circle the block. Doesn’t that consume gas and produce more “smog” than the anti-idling bylaw is supposed to combat? It’s OK to drive senselessly around waiting for someone, but God forbid you turn off your vehicle in a pay parking spot that nobody wants.

He then walked to the back of the car and began taking down my plate.

In Toronto, a parking ticket is not valid unless delivered to the vehicle or driver. Thus if you can get in your car and drive away before the ticket is affixed to your windshield, the ticket is not binding. This is the tactic I employed, so it’s a good thing he wasn’t taking down my front plate.

Lesson learned: a cop is only your friend if he/she gets to use their gun. This automatically rules parking jerks out.

Stop Paying Unreasonable Prices

What is this economy coming to? In a time of “recession” and layoffs and economies around the world being hit hard, how is it Toyota can profit $2.2 billion? Why are banks profiting off my $1.50 ATM fees? Why does a balsa wood airplane cost $9, a magazine $21, and a 3 foot long headphone cord $15?

I’ll tell you why: because we’re dumb enough to pay it. Supply and demand people! The more we sit our asses back and simply pay the prices without challenging them, the more they will climb. Retailers eek up the prices for stuff penny by penny until they see the volumes start to plateau and drop slightly; they’ve found the price break. This is the point where society as a whole has decided, quite unconsciously I might add, that the price tag is too high for that item.

When I was growing up, these balsa wood airplane kits were a buck and the Styrofoam ones were more like 45 cents. A Linux magazine with a DVD (the contents of which are completely free on the Internet) is $21 at Indigo. I needed a cord to patch the audio of a laptop into the inputs on my TV and the cheapest one I saw at the Source was $14.99. I could make one for half that, but that led me to the renewed realization that nowadays today’s youth is so damn rich somehow that they just pay these outrageous prices without questioning what you’re getting for your money. If the expense-free youth is going to drive up prices, how am I supposed to afford the things I need?

We rioted in the streets during the G20. Those issues (some of them anyway) were somewhat reasonable reasons for upset, but I can’t condone rioting. If we ARE going to riot, or at least demonstrate and revolt, let’s do it for more practical and tangible reasons like property taxes, gas prices and retail profiteering.