Thursday, May 30, 2013

I am a Canadian -- the New Version

Every now and then something on the internet is worth reprinting.

This is one of those, albeit anonymous:

I am Canadian
I am in the minority in Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and every casino in this country.

I was born in the forties, fifties or sixties, yet I am somehow responsible for some First Nations people being screwed out of their land in the 1700s.
I pay import tax on cars made in Ontario.

I am allowed to skydive and smoke, but not allowed to drive without a seat belt.

All the money I make until mid-July must go to paying taxes.

I live and work among people who believe Americans are ignorant.
These same people cannot name their own country's new territory.

Although I am sometimes forced to live on hamburgers and don't have a pot to piss in, I sleep well knowing that my taxes helped purchase a nice six-figure home in Vancouver for some unskilled refugee.

Although they are unpatriotic and constantly try to separate...Quebec still provides most of my nation's prime ministers.

95% of my nation's international conflicts are over fish.

I'm supposed to call black people African Canadians, although I'm sure none of them have ever been to Africa for that matter.

I am being told that paying a 200% tax on alcohol is fair.

I am also being told that the same tax on gasoline is also fair.

Even if I have no idea what happened to that old rifle my Grandfather gave me when I was 14, I will be considered a criminal if I don't register it.

I am being told that spending $15 billion to promote the French language in the rest of Canada is fair when the province of Quebec doesn't support or even recognize the ENGLISH language.

I am being told that paying $1 million for 3 Stripes ("The Voice of Fire" painting in Ottawa) by the National Art Gallery was a good purchase, even though 99% of this country didn't want it or will ever see it.

When I look at my pension and realize that I take home a third of what I actually make, I say "oh well, at least we have better health care than the USA."

I must bail out big corporations who drive their business into the ground and say, "yeah, that's OK."  
And when they move all their manufacturing plants and jobs to a third world country and say "no problem."

I must fork over my portion of the 11.5 million dollars to show the Queen of England and her family a good time visiting in my country even though I can't afford to visit the province next to me.

Canada is the highest taxed nation in North America, the biggest Military buffer for the United States, and the number one destination for fleeing terrorists.

The Lord's prayer is not allowed in our schools anymore because of other religions who chose to move here.

I am an angry white person.

I am one pissed off taxpayer who is broke.

"I'm Canadian too," suggests Kia.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Turbine Operational Again...

At least we think it is.

First a brutal rainstorm while the guys were installing the new micro switch which--by the way--is certainly of better construction than the one that came with the wind turbine 3.5 years ago.

At left is the original and failed microswitch (which reads "turns" of the head rotation) from Yangzhou-Shenzou Wind-Driven Generator Co. Ltd.    To the right is the OMRON replacement (purchased from Digi-Key Corporation in Minnesota).  The OMRON microswitch is more solidly constructed and has a better cover.

The original microswitch (at left) is rusted from a poorly sealed cover; the new one at right is more solidly constructed with a better cover.
The better product, from OMRON, a huge Japanese corporation.
The original cast mounting bracket on the yawing motor, whose two feet broke.

The new -- SOLID STEEL -- mounting bracket machined by Aberdeen Machine of Vernon BC.  Great job!
Then, no wind!

Time will tell if everything works well.

"Steel is better than cast", offers Kia.

Hope somebody tells Yangzhou-Shenzou Company! 

Oh yeah, the weather!  A few shots from today:

Brutal weather!
It's almost June, but you wouldn't know it from the chilly air.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Public Comments from Official Community Plan review

Officials say it's been 7 years since the last OCP review of the 25 year old plan.
So they held Open Houses May 6th and 8th to gauge what the public wants to see in the years to come as the District of Coldstream moves forward.

Dispensing with the normal preamble--residents state they've heard it all before, numerous times--public comments during the open house are listed here.

Some for amusement, some for concern, some for outright disdain.

You be the judge:

Parks and Trails:
  • Would like to see the Grey Canal Trail expanded out through Coldstream;
  • Open up right-of-way access points to Kalamalka Lake; allow parking and parks for disabled persons;
  • Open up access to the foreshore of Kalamalka Lake;
  • Imagine an inter-municipal trail system from Lumby to Vernon to Oyama and north to Armstrong/Enderby, maybe along the railway;
  • Establish a trail around Middleton Mountain at one elevation.
  • The walking path next to Kalamalka Road is too narrow and dangerous (needs barrier or a proper trail).
  • Trail needed on Kidston Road from Torrent Drive to Kalamalka Road (steep bank is difficult and dangerous);
  • Pathway down from Michael Drive should have steps (gravel surface and slope is dangerous).
  • Bike path needed along Kalamalka Road from Alpine Centre to the lake;
  • User friendly commuter trail system linking Lavington to Coldstream and Vernon (should be off the highway) to promote health and a greener community;
  • More biking and walking paths in Lavington and bike trail into Vernon;
  • Safe bike paths to connect to the school in Lavington (easements through Tolko and the glass plant site);
  • Acquire rights-of-way to establish the Grey Canal Trail from Coldstream Ranch east and west;
  • Lakefront should be protected and made into a public trail;
  • Trail needed from Kalamalka Lake to Polson Park;
  • Need a better or improved boat launch;
  • Overpass to access Kalamalka Beach;
  • Bigger and better boat launch (one that can better accommodate tourists);
  • Ban power boats on the north end of Kalamalka Lake;
  • Proper bike paths away from traffic lanes;
  • Bike and walkways llinking all of Kalamalka Road;
  • Existing rural parks be maintained;
  • Trails need to be connected so they make sense;
  • Trail connecting Lavington and Coldstream (using public easements)
  • Part of glass plant property should be made into a park;
  • Bike lanes for children is a priority for Learmouth;
  • More green corridors; grass half of Kalamalka Lake Park;
  • Ban power boats or power restrictions on north half of Kalamalka Lake;
  • Road ends to lakeshore should be set back to public access.
Housing and Secondary Suites: 
  • Secondary suites that are reasonable should be allowed;
  • Secondary suites need to move into 21st Century, not everyone can afford a house but with standards and controls and following best practices;
  • There are already a number of suites, they increase noise and parking problems;
  • No secondary sites without parking; no suites in houses on septic service;
  • Secondary suites should not be allowed especially if it means on-street parking;
  • Secondary suites are good with proper regulations and some flexibility;
  • Secondary suites must only be in owner-occupied homes with adequate parking;
  • Allow secondary suites in R1 and R2 neighbourhoods (2);
  • Secondary suites provide security for snowbirds going south for the winter;
  • Yes, allow carriage houses in Lavington (especially on lots over one acre);
  • Develop downtown area for high-end condos;
  • Develop hillsides for condo developments;
  • Need areas of Coldstream for high end gated villas and condos;
  • Develop hillsides with high density housing;
  • Definitely no small lot designs;
  • Limit urban growth to Middleton Mountain and Coldstream Estates;
  • Residential planning should consistently follow the same rules (i.e. setbacks);
  • New housing should identify the proposed demographic (seniors or families);
  • Infill existing areas before expanding to new ones (urban containment boundary);
  • Higher density housing near town centre.
Agriculture and Farming:
  • Not in favour of home plate regulations;
  • Concerned about pesticide use and particularly how it affects our creeks;
  • Concerned about noise from the new cherry orchard; understood that they are running a business but there has to be respect for the community too;
  • Recognize the difference between viable and non-viable agricultural land;
  • Backyard chickens should be allowed (no roosters);
  • Set strict agriculture boundaries with no urban growth;
  • Support farmers and community gardens and farmers' markets;
  • Municipality needs to sponsor controls for geese and deer pests;
  • Do not use chlorinated water for irrigation (we need separation);
  • Support ALR landowners so they can produce local products;
  • Ensure low cost irrigation water to insure the viability of agriculture land (2).
Commercial and Industrial Land Uses:
  • Focus on land surrounding Kalamalka Lake Park; a plan with Vision (incl. parking);
  • No need for a Town Centre; just a means to stay separate from Vernon which is not sensible;
  • Don't need commercial on the highway (park and mix of housing instead);
  • No town centre plan;  not sustainable and will undermine Vernon businesses;
  • Small scale commercial at Kalamalka Lake could be supported by visitors with beach front opportunities;
  • Change the glass plant property into an industrial park;
  • Support town centre with a mix of commercial and residential zoning;
  • Only light industrial uses on the glass plant property;
  • Maximum use of the railway; railways needs to be reliable;
  • Mixed use in town centre
Heritage and Recreational Facilities: 
  • We need a community hall in Lavington;
  • A community hall is needed in Coldstream for community interest and trust;
  • Heritage preservation of Husband property;
  • Promotion of heritage spaces (i.e. Sovereign House, Ormsby House) and a Heritage Council;
  • Lack of social infrastructure for events and foster community spirit;
  • Need a community hall for Coldstream that is central, modern and affordable;
  • We need heritage promotion and preservation;
  • There is a need for a community hall in Coldstream;
  • Coldstream museum at Sovereign House;
  • Protection for heritage houses and trees;
  • Heritage preservation of Husband property;
  • Promotion of heritage spaces (i.e. Sovereign House, Ormsby House) and a Heritage Council;
Infrastructure Planning:
  • Don't extend sewer until existing serviced lots are connected, especially lots near creeks;
  • Sarsons Road is dangerous for walking;
  • Improvements needed at the intersection of Kalamalka and Kidston Roads;
  • No sidewalks; paved lanes are fine;
  • Better pathway along Kalamalka Road (people are taking risks);
  • Husband Road should not be a collector road;
  • There should be non-treated water on agricultural land;
  • Extend sewer line up Aberdeen Road;
  • Extend sewer line on Giles Road;
  • Put bike lanes and pathways only in strategic areas and spend more money making these few safer (i.e. offset from roadway);
  • Put sidewalks and bike lanes on all roadways.
 "I'm frankly speechless with some of the comments," admits Kia.

You're not the only one, as I recall Winston Churchill's oft-repeated quote:
"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery."
...nuff said.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Wind Turbine Repair

It was a Sunday (end April/early May) and the wind was howling.
Golfers said the 107-yard water hole was playing 145 yards.
And they said the wind turbine's rotors were "really flying, like a helicopter".

Well, all hell broke loose during a rogue gust before the turbine's controls could move it out of the wind.
Immediately, the 10kW wind turbine stopped responding to wind direction.

Something was obviously wrong.
Probably seriously wrong.

So last week, Paul Wende and Hugh Cameron lowered the tower via its hydraulic arm and opened the nacelle. 
Hugh (at left) and Paul lowered the turbine and opened the nacelle for the inspection.

What did they discover?

A cast mounting bracket for the yawing motor had several broken "feet" (one having perhaps failed some time ago).  With the loss of a second foot during this storm event, the bracket could no longer hold the top bearing of the yaw shaft and the mounting bracket failed entirely.

Paul Wende discovers what part has failed.

The two broken "feet" of the mounting bracket for the yawing motor are easily seen (above photo) at bottom left of the exposed orange painted cast part (where the broken two feet failed and were shorn away from the orange-painted bracket.)  The parts were found--and removed--from inside the nacelle.

Pointing the camera inside, standing on my toes, everything else looks fine, says Paul Wende.
The broken bracket (and recovered broken bits of feet) were "rearranged" at Aberdeen Machine Shop, who will cast a new mounting bracket by mid-week.

Then it's fingers crossed that was the only item to fail during the storm!

"Golfers have been asking if the turbine fell down," grins Kia.

Thank goodness the answer to that is NO. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Rhetoric of the Uninformed

But it gets press.
As did this Black Press story by Judi Steeves entitled "Automated watering systems spur debate".

As an engineer who graduated with distinction you would think that Tom Siddon, longtime politician and current director with the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen--and founding chair of the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council--would know what other local engineers know.
But that's not a given, obviously.

He recently spoke at the Okanagan Basin Water Board meeting where discussion centered on modern automatic irrigation systems.
"I suspect automated systems are wasting water by coming on whether they're needed or not."
Tom Siddon, Area "D" Director

Anna Warwick Sears, OBWB executive director explained there are now "smart" irrigation systems as well as "stupid" ones.

The Hunter I-Core, one of three "smart" irrigation controllers at Highlands Golf in Coldstream, BC
Another director, Gerry Zimmermann said he was under the impression that automated systems saved water. 

OBWB Chair Stu Wells added "most systems are set to run for the same length of time in April as in July, and that most people don't know how to operate their systems, never changing the settings.
(Sheesh...wonder who participated in that poll!)

The uninformed leading the misinformed.
And it gets even better.

Mr. Zimmermann then offered:  "Most people also don't turn off their systems during rainy periods when irrigation is not needed."

At this point, engineer Tom Siddon--distinguished engineer Tom Siddon--should have relied on his education to inform the uninformed. 

So I'll now back up to a different meeting six years ago and quote what another engineer told me--when he agreed with my comment at a water meeting of commercial water users:  "On my golf course--with its southslope and exposure to wind--I turn the irrigation system on half an hour after rain has started, and I use less metered water that way!" 
The engineer beside me nodded in agreement.

Others at the table looked puzzled, so the engineer added (on my behalf, because I'm not an engineer), "your south aspect, rocky substrate and high winds--when combined with the light dark soils of that area--actually evaporate irrigation water when applied to the dry and hot landscape.  Rainfall--besides being free from the sky--softens the soil and acts as a wetting agent to better accept the metered irrigation water she then applies with the irrigation system.  Rainfall allows the irrigation water to penetrate, versus x-number of litres of metered water evaporating as irrigation begins.  So less metered water is used in the golf course's case while raining because less metered water is used." 

One by one, the meeting attendees nodded and one added:  "makes sense."
Yes it did.
And still does today.

The engineer at that years-ago meeting?
Owner of Tekmar Controls on Silver Star Road, Don Gibbs.
Engineer Don Gibbs.
Common sense Engineer Don Gibbs.

Now back to the OBWB meeting, whose press item concluded with Gerry Zimmermann's comment that "some education is needed".

That's an understatement.

"Maybe Siddon's years as a politician made him forget his engineering knowledge," offers Kia.

Thank goodness Don Gibbs didn't become a politician.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Just Ask Retailers

They know the North Okanagan's economy.
They feel it every day when totalling cash register receipts.

And the public sees it too, with the plethora of For Lease, For Sale and For Rent signs in the area's commercial and industrial areas, and the burgeoning "inventory", as realtors call it, on the market.

The Chamber of Commerce manager, George Duffy, hears it from his membership.

And youth know it too, as they struggle to find "meaningful employment" as one 19 year old put it last year.
"I can't even afford gas for my car if I'm flippin' burgers for $10 an hour," he says.  So he left Greater Vernon and moved north "where the money is, because there are no employers here." 

But Vernon's Economic Development Manager, Kevin Poole, is splitting hairs with his opposition to the report.  He doesn't have the answers either.

The Conference Board of Canada's just-released report indicates that Vernon's total gross domestic product (GDP) has--in 7 years--dropped from $2.1 million to $1.5 million.   If GDP statistics make your eyes glaze over, then this will hit home:  the report indicated that Vernon's jobs dropped from 31,300 to 19,000 in that same 7 years.

That's 12,300 fewer jobs in seven years!
Whether it's in Vernon alone, or in areas that include Spallumcheen and Lumby (higher manufacturing), the City of Vernon is frantic to attract new employers. 

Mayor Sawatzky was reported in the Morning Star as saying, "We can't give tax holidays as they can in the U.S., which caused municipal bankruptcies."  Businesses are well aware there are no tax holidays.

Yet with all this information--most of which has been obvious to most people throughout these seven years--the District of Coldstream still wants a Town Center.  (reminder: find an incredulity icon???!!!)