We need to stop treating hydro and heat like luxuries..

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Energy Poverty…. a phrase that brings to mind some third world slum with sketchy electrical service that only functions sporadically.

In the Province of Ontario,  its come to mean that people who have to choose between shelter,  food, and hydro.

This isn’t because electricity is scarce in Ontario.

A casual observer might conclude that this crisis arose because of the colossal mismanagement and incompetence demonstrated by the Ontario Liberal party over the past few years.

As I researched this issue, I came to believe that the current pricing structure was deliberately engineered to maximize Hydro One’s value ahead of issuing shares.

I also realized that,  whether deliberate or not, the Distribution Rate model that makes hydro exponentially more expensive in vote-poor ridings than vote-rich ones,  minimizes the political fallout from the efforts to make Ontario One attractive to investors.

There is simply too much data to go over in a single entry.   But I will post what I’ve discovered and allow you to draw your own conclusions.

While driving into work today I noticed that it was darker,  and colder.

I wondered how people who had been unable to keep their power turned on would fare in colder weather.

One of the things that has really irked me is that until recently,  there was simply no data available on how many customers had their power disconnected because they couldn’t pay.

Naturally,  there was no data on how long customers have gone without hydro.

Now,  Winter is Coming.

We don’t have to fear White Walkers,  or The Lannisters,  or GRRM killing us off.

The thousands of people across the province who have given up on trying to keep their hydro on have much to fear.

If you’ve ever read a disconnection notice,  you will likely have seen a warning about how old can freeze pipes and cause massive structural damage.   Along with that warning will come the notification that the utility is not responsible for any damage.

What these notices don’t say is that  cold can kill…it can also take fingers, toes,  noses and ears.

How many people in Ontario will die this winter because they couldn’t pay thousands of dollars to keep their lights on?

What percentage will succumb to the cold?

What percentage will succumb to toxic fumes, or fire caused by whatever heat source they try out of desperation?

What percentage will succumb to hopeless depression and commit suicide?

There are many individual causes that brought us to this point.   And I will talk about them in future posts.

I will talk about how The Ontario Energy Board,  whose mission it is to protect consumers,  is an absolute farce.

I will talk about how MicroFit,  the Green Energy project where the Government of Ontario pays small producers of solar and other green energy for their excess power.

I will talk about how the rate paid to these producers is exponentially higher than the rate billed to the consumer.

I will show you how Hyrdo One passes those costs on to us,  but not to utilities in the US who buy our excess power.

There are many factors in play,  but behind them all,  there is one driving factor…

Apathy

Those who are responsible for the hydro rate crisis completely forgot that their actions have had a significantly detrimental effect on real, living human beings.

They’ve come to view their commodity (electricity),  as a luxury.  Something that people can do without if they can’t afford it.

 

 

 

OK Google! You’re really pissing me off now!

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A couple of weeks ago I discovered the joy of talking to my phone,  and having it answer me back!

I’ve used the voice to speech function before where you enter by talking instead of typing,  but “OK Google” is completely different.

When you want to talk to your android phone,  “OK Google” is how you put it in command mode.

There are fun things like asking it “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck”,  but I’m more interested in not having to touch my phone when I’m driving.

I’ve gotten into the habit of asking my phone how traffic is during my daily commute.

After the “OK Google”,  you can ask, “How is traffic home,  or to work?”

Last week I was heading to work in Guelph,  and encountered two lanes of bumper to bumper traffic on Victoria Road in Kitchener.

OK Google told me that traffic to work was “light and I should arrive in 22 minutes!”

I called bullshit,  but 21 minutes later I was pulling into the parking lot.

This morning OK Google was sick or something….

After I picked up my morning coffee at the Tim Hortons down the street from where I live,  OK Google told me I had an hour and 5 minutes commute to work.   That’s not bad…

When I hit traffic in Kitchener (around Victoria and Lackner) OK Google told me my commute was still an hour and 5 minutes!!!

I wondered what was backing traffic up,  but then realized that the time was the same as my last query.

So I asked OK Google where I was.

“Here is a map of Stratford Ontario!”,  was the cheery reply.

I told it to turn on navigation and guide me to work.   Glancing down I saw the blue dot was in Kitchener…

So I asked Google again where I was…..again I was told I was in Stratford.

I tried various voice commands to get it to update my location to no avail.

I even pulled over and rebooted the phone and stabbed at some settings.

Nothing worked.

For some reason I just needed to have OK Google tell me how long it was actually going to get to work!

With increasing frustration I yelled different commands at my phone.

Nothing worked.

It insisted that I was in Stratford.

Then it occurred to me to do what I would do if I was talking to a human…

“OK Google!”

phone chirps

“I’m in Guelph!”

Nothing…

“OK Google!”

phone chirps

“Where am I?”

phone: “You are in Gulf Ontario!”  (that’s Google for Guelph)

“OK Google!”

chirp

“How’s traffic to work”

Phone: “Traffic is light and you should arrive in 3 minutes!”

That was really weird that the phone knew where I was, but OK Google didn’t…..

There was the time too when I was showing off “OK Google”….I didn’t mean to put it in command mode,  so I told it “Nevermind!”

It played the Nirvana album….well it tried to…I was on mobile data so I quickly stopped that.

 

What happens when your employer can’t pay you…for months?

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Apparently,  if you’re the Government of Canada,  not a thing.

Last winter the federal public service migrated over to a new pay system called Phoenix.

An utterly laughable name when you consider that this move has caused pay problems for approximately 80K public service employees.   Phoenix is an IBM product btw.

Pay problems such as not being paid at all,  not receiving disability pay,  and getting paid after they leave.

The last problem isn’t a pressing one (until they come to collect that).

But imagine going for months without getting paid.  You’re still expected to work,  its just that your pay cheque might be a bit late…like months and months and months late.

You can read about how sorry government official are about this mess here.

While comments on stories like this are largely sympathetic,  it didn’t surprise me to see a few talking about how lazy public sector employees are over paid,  and they don’t really deserve to be paid.   One guy went so far as to say how happy he was reading about other people suffering because of this.

I’ve said this before.  I’ve worked private and public sector jobs.  Yes,  public sector benefits are amazing,   but I’ve worked significantly harder in the public sector than the private.

In the private sector,  if I did well I was rewarded with things like cash.

In the public sector I’d be lucky to receive an atta-boy.  Performance bonuses?   Hahahaha..yeah,  right.

When needed,  we’d work through lunch,  work late,  come in early and the best we could hope for in return was a “Hey thanks!”.

Why is it that there are so many people out there who think that public sector employees don’t take pride in their work,  care about the quality of their work,  and their professional reputations?

Oh wait,  I know…because some customer-facing public sector worker couldn’t do something for them not because it was against the rules and the individual didn’t want to risk getting fired for doing it,  but because they were lazy and entitled.

But I digress…

Most of us know what it’s like to be broke.  To wonder how you’re going to stretch out the few groceries you have to last,  to spend your last $10 on dog food so they don’t go without,  and to trying to decide which bills you absolutely must pay,  and which you hope can wait.

Most of know how utterly devastating that stress is.  The constant, pervasive thought…”If we can only make it to pay day!”

Now put yourselves in the shoes of employees who aren’t being paid at all because of this Phoenix fiasco.   Not knowing when pay day is going to happen.

On top of that,  your bosses keep telling you that they’re working on fixing the problem,   and that they’re sorry….and oh hey,  you can call the minister’s office to complain!

They are in fact hiring a lot of people to get the problem fixed.   I wonder if those people are getting paid.

One of my question is,  why aren’t they hiring a lot of people to manually track people’s hours and write them a physical cheque every two weeks??

Oh yeah…it will add a TON of work to catch up with everything.  It will cost a lot of money too.

But it would show their employees that the public service’s priorities aren’t out of whack….that ensuring their people are cared for (as in being paid on time) is important.

Because right now….while I’m hearing them say it…I’m not seeing much evidence of that.

 

 

RTOD: Other Drivers II

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Some more questions I would like to ask, or things I would like to say to other drivers during my daily commute:

 

Seriously,  why did you speed up while I was trying to pass you???  I know you fricking well increased speed because I had my cruise control set!

 

Thank you so much for coming to a complete stop in the travel lane,  and then proceeding very slowly into the vacant left hand turn lane!  Seriously,  thank you!  Oh look,  that light half a block away is red now!  Yay!

 

Where did you learn to apply make up and drive at the same time?  Oh wait…you didn’t….

 

WTF is so interesting over to your left that you have to slow down and look????  Oh hey, now you have lots of time because we missed the light!

 

Wow,  thanks for giving me the opportunity to closely examine the grill of your pick up truck in my rear view mirror.  I know that from your aggressive driving that you are probably a world famous heart surgeon who is the only doctor on the planet capable of saving a small child and therefore really need to go faster,  but there’s only so much one can do when stuck in a line of traffic over a kilometer long!   Oh,  btw,  you can’t see my tail lights…

 

No,  it’s okay….I’m perfectly happy to wait here at a green light while you look at your phone.

 

MIRRORS!!!!  Look in your fricking mirror, or do a fricking shoulder check before making a lane change into what is usually referred to as the FAST LANE!!!!!  AND WHY THE FRICK DID YOU SLOW DOWN????   There isn’t an intersection in sight,  and you change into the fast lane and SLOW DOWN!!!!   Good thing my brakes work….and I was paying attention.

 

I’ve probably done some stupid things too….you can post them here if you’ve seen me do them.  I drive a  [static][garbled]

RTOD: Other Drivers…

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Hey, it’s been awhile since I regularly drove any distance,  but since starting to commute over an hour each way there’s a question I keep asking….

Is ‘Keep right, except to pass’  still a thing?

Because I’m thinking it’s more

Drive in whatever lane you want, even if you’re driving slowly,  right beside another driver whose driving just as slowly!’ 

featured image: www.fairalbertaroads.ca

Is the quality of Game of Thrones Episodes Slipping?

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People were asking me if I was excited to be starting a new job, and a new chapter of my life on the 20th of June 2016.

I told them I wasn’t.

I was too busy being excited over the Season 6, Episode 9 Game of Thrones episode “Battle of the Bastards”.   Seriously,  I was very excited!

*****SPOILERS******

This is the first season of GoT that has gone past the books.

This is the first season that I recall where there were serious criticisms of some of the plot lines.   Complaints of bad writing.  The most obvious of these was where the whole Dorne plot line was utterly destroyed by who ever wrote the televised dreck.

I haven’t heard anyone complain,  but there was a scene in Battle of the Bastards that was so predictable, and poorly done that I actually groaned.   In fact, if it had been the opening of Season 1, Episode 1,  I likely wouldn’t be an avid fan of the GoT series.

I’m talking the confrontation between The Masters and Daenerys atop her pyramid.

It fell apart when her dragon Drogon flies in.  There’s a big dramatic part where he flies around all intimidating,  then this part where Daenerys clumsily climbs atop him to ride of to destroy the invading fleet.

What followed was a predictable few minutes of dragons putting the fleet to flame.

Order was happily restored when Tyrion started talking, taking our attention away from the “oh look at the cool dragons” sequence.

Seriously,  it was predictable,  and kind of terrible in a story telling sense.

When The Mother of Dragons struggled to climb aboard it just set the whole thing off on a sour note.

If I would have had anything to do with setting up this sequence,  here’s how it would’ve gone…

Dany would tell the Masters that she was actually there to discuss their surrender.

Cut to the Wise Masters looking amused.

The smarmy head guy would turn to her, and finger raised would open his mouth to respond…

His eyes would widen in shock..

Camera would widen to show the similar expressions on his compatriots faces….all starting to gradually look up.

Cut back to Team Dany,  with her three dragons doing a formation fly past

Wise Master flinch when they roar…

Maybe 15-20 seconds of them watching their fleet being destroyed

Cut back to Dany who says, “So, about your surrender?”

It likely would’ve been cheaper to shoot, and in my opinion a much better scene as far as story telling goes.

Sometimes less is more…

 

 

 

My Dogs Raise a Security Concern

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Dear Provider of Food and Thrower of Balls;

We, your loving canine companions, and security force are writing this note to alert you to a grave threat to the safety of the Den.

You are likely aware that we both enjoy looking out the window at the things that wizz past the den day and night.  We especially like the ones with the bright flashing lights and the funny howling.

However, there is one of these things that stops frequently,  and we are both extremely worried that you seem oblivious to the threat it brings to the Den!

We believe the human term for this thing is “BLOODY HELL, CALM DOWN! IT’S ONLY A  BUS!”,  as this is what you bark every time we alert you to its presence.

As you know,  when we hear the squeak the BLOODY HELL, CALM DOWN! IT’S ONLY A BUS! makes when it stops,  we will stop whatever we are doing and run to the windows to bark as loudly as we can in order to let the murders it brings to the neighbourhood that the pickings are easier at other dens.

You’re a pretty relaxed human,  but its reached the point where we wonder if you are taking the threat seriously!

We are worried that you won’t recognize the danger as the murders who climb off the BLOODY HELL, CALM DOWN! IT’S ONLY A BUS! all look different!  Some of them are small humans.  Maybe not a big threat when alone,  but they often travel in packs!

You do realize that these murderous bastards arrive very close the Den,  right?

We also want to point out that this has been going on for a very, very long time!

The implication should be obvious!

There are likely very few people in the area left to murder,  so it won’t be long before our loud and viscous barking won’t keep them away!

We’re worried that you keep answering The Door when someone knocks, despite our warnings and constantly getting in your way when you try to open it.

And seriously….do you think holding us back is a good idea?!  You could get murdered while holding on to our collars and we’d be helpless to defend you!

If you get murdered who would bring us food and throw our balls?   The cat???

In short, we hope you smarten up, and start taking the security of the Den seriously.

Love,

Kharma and Colorado.

dogs

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