Tuesday, January 31, 2017

If You Live in a Bowl

...you'll know that "stuff" settles in the bowl.
In this case, the City of Vernon is the bowl.


"12:30 PM PST Tuesday 31 January 2017 Special air quality statement in effect for:
  • North Okanagan - including Vernon

The Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the Interior Health Authority, has issued a Dust Advisory for Vernon due to high concentrations of coarse particulates, which are expected to persist until there is a change in current weather conditions.

Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions should postpone strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted. Staying indoors and in air-conditioned spaces helps to reduce particulate exposure. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease.

For more information on current air quality, see: www.bcairquality.ca.

Visit www.airhealth.ca for information on how to reduce your health risk and your personal contribution to pollution levels, as well as for current and forecast AQHI values.

Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada

Issued by Environment Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Environment"

If you want good air, live on a knoll.
Versus a bowl.

But tie down that patio table and umbrella otherwise it'll end up in Lumby, thanks to the winds that knolls experience.

...and while we're at it, how about roads crews spreading SAND on winter roads, instead of pieces that resemble GRAVEL.  

Everyone's complaining about broken windshields from tire-tosses. 

RBC Online is horrendous!

Didn't realize how good I have it with Vantage One Credit Union...until I took over paying my elderly Mom's bills online with RBC.
How very, very good I have it with V-1!

One would think that one of the five biggies would, frankly, have their shit together when it comes to an online customer payment system.

You'd be wrong though.

"Who greenlit this steaming turd?" 



Husband heard me grumbling, and reminded me of his struggles last year to assist his elderly mom with online banking--this time through CIBC--when he experienced nearly the same obstacles.

Seems I'm not alone with the RBC complaint.
This reddit site begins with the sentence:  "Who greenlit this steaming turd?"
Some of the comments are a year old, but it appears that RBC hasn't acceded to customers' wishes to change the format.

Is this guy responsible for the horrendous RBC online website?  Secret weapon?  Funny!

I won't even list all the ridiculous clicking one has to do on the RBC online banking site.
For obvious reasons, I also won't include a screenshot of Mom's account.

RBC doesn't stand for Royal Bank of Canada.
Their online banking site should be called Run Before Collapsing.

I may email Vantage One Credit Union a thank you note!
Yes, I will.
There's probably an easy way to do that online.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mildly Confused

...by the routine statements of GVWater bureaucrats on pH (potential of Hydrogen)

Sure, there's no water quality advisory now during winter, but it does give me time to reflect on the frequent mild confusion experienced during water "episodes" in the summer...but I've never jotted it down onto the blog.

Until now.

Let's look at a water source change notice...this one from February 20, 2015, when all customers were on the Duteau source (versus the majority of domestic users on the Kal Lake source).

"Customers who are not normally on the DCWTP water source
 will notice that the water is softer
 and the water has a low alkalinity and pH."

So when bureaucrats issue a notice that says the water has a low alkalinity and pH, I believe that means it's either close to neutral (7), or heading into acidic conditions (the lower the number, the more acidic it is).

Then there's hardness and softness, relating chiefly to calcium: 

Hard water has a lot of dissolved mineral and soft water has very little dissolved mineral in the water. The most common mineral in water is calcium, however, other minerals can also be present. Most people's tap water is either slightly hard or soft depending on where it comes from.  

Mildly confusing, n'est-ce pas?

Suffice to say that the Kal Lake water source is mildly "hard", and Duteau Creek is "softer".
But saying that "water has a low alkalinity" could better be explained as "near neutral", or "mildly acidic", etc.

Here are a few pH scales from the internet, some with interesting examples:



My point in all this is that Duteau Creek water is most often a higher pH than Kal Lake water, so to say "it has a low alkalinity and pH" borders on confusing.

Say it like it is.  Duteau Creek's water pH (at reporting time) is 7.2, softer than Kal Lake's water, which is at 6.7 (for example).

"Kind'a nitpicking?" Kia would've summarized.

Another pH example was in the May 2014 Rotarian, and I found it interesting too:

Drain cleaner pH 14
Bleach pH 13
Soapy water pH 12
Ammonia pH 11
Milk of Magnesia pH 10
Baking soda pH 9
Seawater pH 8
Pure water pH 7
Milk pH 6
Black coffee pH 5
Hot sauce pH 4
Vinegar pH 3
Lemons pH 2
Stomach acid pH 1
Battery acid pH 0

Have you heard of the following ingenious idea? 

An inexpensive option for point-of-use water filtration in the developing world, according to research published in PLoS ONE.  Mechanical engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology investigated whether the porous membranes of plant xylem, the part of a plant that conducts the flow of sap from root to leaf and filters out air bubbles, cold also filter out pathogens in water.  In the study, xylem from a pine tree removed more than 99 per cent of bacteria through simple pressure-driven filtration." 
You can do the same experiment by following the easy instructions here

Here's the project on Youtube.

Great project for the kids!
Hopefully Vernon's Science Center will demonstrate the idea at one of their shows this summer.

Sign off...no longer confused.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Such Dreamers

Some people "shoot high" when they plan or dream, and hope a miraculous intervention will occur to make it so.

Others don't like the disappointment that invariably follows.

One example in the first group is relatively surprising though; it's the Business Examiner.
Actually it was a story in the BE from The Fraser Institute by Charles Lammam, entitled "Debt-Laden Governments Need to Tackle Gilded Public Sector Wages".  (couldn't find it in the online version).

Come on, folks, this isn't new news!

So what is the Fraser Institute--and presumably BE because they published it--dreaming about when they know there's beggar all that any politician will do about it?
Or has done about it, as older studies have shown.

Well, their dreams are shooting high.

Some excerpts from the Lamman story:

"...governments in Canada are projecting
 they will rack up $43.8 billion in deficits
 this year alone."
C.Lamman, the Fraser Institute

"With the pay and benefits for government employees consuming a significant share of government spending -- often about half of a provincial budget -- controlling these costs is key to any government's effort to repair public finances."

The article does recognize what we taxpayers hear ad nauseam:  that "governments must provide competitive compensation to attract qualified employees."

Yeah, yeah.

But it goes on to say "Using StatsCan data from 2015, the study finds that government employees receive, on average, 10.6 per cent higher wages than comparable workers in the private sector.

The article provides more yabba yabba:  "(This wage premium accounts for differences between individual workers in the two sectors such as age, gender, education, tenure, experience and type of work)."

"But wages are just one component of total compensation, which includes pensions (blog note:  government employee pensions are unfunded in British Columbia!), early retirement and job security...it's the total cost of compensation that matters rather than the individual components."

Rather than copying more of the article (because we all already know this stuff), we'll jump to the penultimate paragraph:

"Better information, available more regularly, will hold governments to account for managing compensation costs.  (blog note:  Really?  more data?)  The longer-term solution, however, is to enact measures that link the wages and benefits of government employees to similar positions in the private sector.  Doing so would allow governments to better control spending, rein in debt, and maintain fairness for taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill."

Better information?

Surveys are available, and various Fraser Institute and KPMG studies show the disparity isn't waning.

This 1998 KPMG study uses words that private sector employees haven't heard:  "life insurance", "pay for time not worked", for example.

And one from 2008:


Why hasn't the disparity ended, with government job compensation holding off on increases until private industry can catch up?

10.6 per cent?


"The reason is twofold," says Lamman.  "In the government sector, political factors largely determine the wage-setting process, while the private sector is largely guided by market forces and profit constraints.  The differences are amplified by the monopoly environment in which the government sector operates..."

And it has ever been thus.

Shooting high?

"Mr. Lamman needs a nap," Kia would've said, "so he can keep dreaming."

and this look into the future from an anonymous poster:

"The real question is the cost of running government. Costs only go up here, their wages never sink, their spending retreats little, and for short periods of time. Hard to automate a politician.
Here is where there will be strife. Revenues will be pounded into the ground due to incomes falling off a cliff, taxation of automated plants will have to be handled with care as they could relocate to a deserted island if they wanted to.
Governments have traditionally resisted cuts to services and their wages. What will they do? History says they will try to carve it out of the beleaguered citizenry, I say that’ll drive revenues down even more just like it did in Greece.
Even today, we see government borrowing and taxing more every year, yet it is always coming up short.
Lost manufacturing has impacted them as much as the rest of us.
IMHO, the cost of running government will be the major problem for the 1st world in the future."

A compelling thought, don't you think? 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Disparity of a Few Miles

And they wonder why more businesses don't locate in the North Okanagan...

A Vernon business owner told me today their business license has increased from $135 in 2016 to $350 this year.

That's 259.25 per cent more than last year.

"How can politicians justify this increase?" the owner mused.

How indeed!

Stunned, I had no reply.

Especially since in Coldstream, mine is $85.00 for 2017.

Power Misdirected

More accurately, bossy bee...

Seems we citizens are allowed to tell Canada Post to withhold unaddressed admail from our mailboxes, but we have no such choice when it comes to the local newspaper, the Morning Star.  We either accept the voluminous flyers or we don't get any newspapers placed in the Morning Star box.

only old advertising flyers grace this Morning Star newspaper box on Buchanan Road...newspapers are no longer delivered, supposedly because residents have chosen to reject flyers...

 Can we really reject Canada Post's unaddressed admail?  Sure we can. 

"There is a little known, or should I say never advertised, policy at Canada Post regarding "unaddressed admail" (otherwise known as flyers). If you receive your mail at a Communty Mail Box (Superbox) you can opt out of receiving flyers by taping a note requesting "no Flyers" to the front edge of your mailbox. The Carrier will then mark your box as such and Presto! no more flyers
 (except for politcal/elections notices - by law)"  from Kayshadog, 2007. 
So what's up with, presumably, our right to reject Morning Star flyers...and now receiving NO newspapers delivered to the box?
"A monopoly creates strange power-plays"...Anonymous
Uninformed bossy bee, perhaps.
"Otherwise we simply bring flyers home and place them directly into the Blue Box for recycling," Kia would've suggested, adding "what a waste of time...and muscles taking them back to the curb."

Canada Will Have To Deal With It

This blog doesn't often post "internet stuff", but there's a journalist named Ian O'Doherty, who writes for a publication called the Irish Independent, with a compelling take on circumstances that resulted in the election results in the U.S.A.

First the preamble to Ian Doherty's article, from an email.

"It's interesting that such a perceptive analysis comes all the way from Ireland. From outside the USA it has been clear for many years that the country was stumbling and the average American knew it, they could see it all around them. Average Joe and Jane Citizen have seen their jobs exported, being replaced more and more with a welfare state. The hope and expectation of a steady job that provided a good living and the opportunity to own their own home, secure a comfortable retirement and a solid future for their children  has faded along with their buying power. The elitist overpaid politicians, entertainers and influential journalists genuinely believed they represented the average American, that their identity was the American identity. They had no clue or empathy of the struggles and helplessness of trying to just keep a roof over your head and food on the table which is the life of so many people. These people are the true middle class America and they don't want handouts or welfare, they want meaningful jobs so they can build a future and maybe engage in the American dream again. They aren't stupid or uninformed, they know they have been suckered for years and they finally saw a slim chance to change the system in favour of the common working person again. In Donald Trump the majority saw the only possibility to change the system that had for years been grinding them down. Can he do it? Only time will tell, the next four years certainly will be interesting."

Did this "reasoning" lead to Trump's victory?

The following is Ian's article.  Highlighted phrases were by anonymous contributors to the email.

From: A Two Fingers to a Politically Correct Elite":  by Ian O'Doherty
Ian O'Doherty is a columnist who works for the Irish Independent.  His "iSpy" column is published Monday to Thursday and contains news articles blended with comedy and shock-jock opinions.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 - either a day that will live in infamy, or the moment when America was made great again?  The truth, as usual, will lie somewhere in the middle. After all, contrary to what both his supporters and detractors believe, Trump won't be able to come into office and spend his first 100 days gleefully ripping up all the bits of the Constitution he doesn't like.

But even if the American election's seismic shock-wave doesn't signal either the sky falling or the start of a bright new American era, the result was, to use one of The Donald's favourite phrases, huge. It is, in fact, a total game changer.

In decades to come, historians will still bicker about the most poisonous, toxic and stupid election in living memory.  They will also be bickering over the same vexed question - how did a man who was already unpopular with the public and who boasted precisely zero political experience beat a seasoned Washington insider who was married to one extremely popular president and who had worked closely with another? The answer, ultimately, is in the question.

History will record this as a Trump victory, which of course it is. But it was also more than that, because this was the most stunning self-inflicted defeat in the history of Western democracy.

Hillary Clinton has damned her party to irrelevance for at least the next four years. She has also ensured that Obama's legacy will now be a footnote rather than a chapter. Because the Affordable Care Act is now doomed under a Trump presidency and that was always meant to be Obama's gift, of sorts, to America.

How did a candidate who had virtually all of the media, all of Hollywood, every celebrity you could think of, a couple of former presidents and apparently, the hopes of an entire gender resting on her shoulders, blow up her own campaign?

I rather suspect that neither Donald nor Hillary know how they got to this point.

Where she seemed to expect the position to become available to her by right - the phrase "she deserves it" was used early in the campaign and then quickly dropped when her team remembered that Americans don't like inherited power - his first steps into the campaign were those of someone chancing their arm. If Trump wasn't such a staunch teetotaler, many observers would have accused him of only doing it as a drunken bet.

But the more the campaign wore on, something truly astonishing began to happen - the people began to speak. And they began to speak in a voice which, for the first time in years in the American heartland, would not be ignored.

Few of the people who voted for Trump seriously believe that he is going to personally improve their fortunes. Contrary to the smug, middle-class media narrative, Trump voters aren't all barely educated idiots.
They know what he is; of course they do. It's what he is not that appeals to them.

Clinton, on the other hand, had come to represent the apex of smug privilege. Whether it was boasting about her desire to shut down the remaining coal industry in Virginia, or calling half the electorate a "basket of deplorables", she seemed to operate in the perfumed air of the elite, more obsessed with coddling idiots and pandering to identity and feelings than improving the hardscrabble life that is the lot of millions of Americans.

Also, nobody who voted for Trump did so because they wanted him as a spiritual guru or life coach. But plenty of people invested an irrational amount of emotional energy into a woman who was patently undeserving of that level of adoration.

That's why we've witnessed such fury from her supporters - they had wrapped themselves so tightly in the Hillary flag that a rejection of her felt like a rejection of them. And when you consider that many American colleges gave their students Wednesday off class because they were too 'upset' to study, you can see that this wasn't a battle for the White House - this became a genuine battle for America's future direction. And, indeed, for the

We have been going through a cultural paroxysm for the last 10 years - the rise of identity politics has created a Balkanised society where the content of someone's mind is less important than their skin colour, gender, sexuality or whatever other attention-seeking label they wish to bestow upon themselves. In fact, where once it looked like racism and sexism might be becoming archaic remnants of a darker time, a whole new generation has popped
up which wants to re-litigate all those arguments all over again.

In fact, while many of us are too young to recall the Vietnam War and the social upheaval of the 1960s, plenty of older observers say they haven't seen an America more at war with itself than it is today.

One perfect example of this new America has been the renewed calls for segregation on campuses. Even a few years ago, such a move would have been greeted with understandable horror by civil rights activists - but this time it's the black students demanding segregation and "safe spaces" from whites. If young people calling for racial segregation from each other isn't the sign of a very, very sick society, nothing is.

The irony and hypocrisy of Clinton calling Trump and his followers racist while she was courting Black Lives Matter was telling.  After all, no rational white person would defend the KKK, yet here was a white women defending both BLM and the New Black Panthers - explicitly racist organisations with the NBP, in particularly, openly espousing a race war if they don't get what they want.

Fundamentally, Trump was attractive because he represents a repudiation of the nonsense that has been slowly strangling the West.  He represents - rightly or wrongly - a scorn and contempt for these new rules. He won't be a president worried about micro-aggression, or listening to the views of patently insane people just because they come from a fashionably protected group.  He also represents a glorious two fingers to everyone who has become sick of being called a racist or a bigot or a homophobe - particularly by Hillary supporters who are too dense to realise that she has always actually been more conservative on social issues than Trump.

That it might take a madman to restore some sanity to America is, I suppose, a quirk that is typical to that great nation - land of the free and home to more contradictions than anyone can imagine.

Trump's victory also signals just how out of step the media has been with the people. Not just American media, either.  In fact, the Irish media has continued its desperate drive to make a show of itself with a seemingly endless parade of emotionally incontinent gibberish that, ironically, has increased in ferocity and hysterical spite in the last few days.

The fact that Hillary's main cheerleaders in the Irish and UK media still haven't realised where they went wrong is instructive and amusing in equal measure. They still don't seem to understand that by constantly insulting his supporters, they're just making asses of themselves.

One female contributor to this newspaper said Trump's victory was a "sad day for women". Well, not for the women who voted for him it wasn't.

But that really is the nub of the matter - the 'wrong' kind of women obviously voted for Trump. The 'right' kind went with Hillary. And lost.

The Irish media are not alone in being filled largely with dinner-party liberals who have never had an original or socially awkward thought in their lives. They simply assume that everyone lives in the same bubble and thinks the same thoughts - and if they don't, they should.

Of the many things that have changed with Trump's victory, the bubble has burst. Never in American history have the polls, the media and the chin-stroking moral arbiters of the liberal agenda been so spectacularly, wonderfully wrong. It was exactly that condescending, obnoxious sneer towards the working class that brought them out in such numbers, and that is the great irony of Election 2016 - the Left spent years creating identity politics to the extent that the only group left without protection or a celebrity sponsor was the white American male. That it was the white American male who swung it for Trump is a timely reminder that while black lives matter, all votes count - even the ones of people you despise.

You don't have to be a supporter of Trump to take great delight in the sheer, apoplectic rage that has greeted his victory. If Clinton had won and Trump supporters had gone on a rampage through a dozen American cities the next night, there would have been outrage - and rightly so.

But in a morally and linguistically inverted society, the wrong-doers are portrayed as the victims. We saw that at numerous Trump rallies - protesters would disrupt the event, claiming their right to free speech (a heckler's veto is not free speech) and provoking people until they got a dig before running to the media and claiming victim-hood.

Yet none of Clinton's rallies were shut down by her opponents (unlike Trump's aborted Chicago meeting) and the great mistake the anti-Trump zealots should have learned was that just thinking you're right isn't enough - you need to convince others as well.

But, ultimately, this election was about people saying "enough with the bullshit". This is a country in crisis, and most Americans don't care about transgender bathrooms, or "safe" spaces, or government speech laws. This was about people taking some control back for themselves.

It was about them saying that they won't be hectored and bullied by the toddler tantrums thrown by pissy and spoiled millennials, and they certainly won't put up with being told they're delorable, stupid and wicked just because they have a difference of opinion.

But, really, this election is about hope for a better America; an America which isn't obsessed with identity and perceived 'privilege'; an America where being a victim isn't a virtue and where you don't have to apologise for not being up to date with the latest list of socially acceptable phrases.

Trump's victory was a two fingers to the politically correct.  It was a brutal rejection of the nonsense narrative which says Muslims who kill Americans are somehow victims. It took the ludicrous Green agenda and threw it out. It was a return, on some level, to a time when people weren't afraid to speak their own mind without some self-elected language cop shouting at you. Who knows, we may even see Trump kicking the UN out of New York.

Frankly, if you're one of those who gets their politics from Jon Stewart, CNN and Twitter, look away for the next four years, because you're not going to like what you see. The rest of us, however, will be delighted.

This might go terribly, terribly wrong. Nobody knows - and if we have learned anything this week, it's that "Nobody knows nuthin".  But just as the people of the UK took control back with Brexit, the people of America did likewise with their choice for president.

It's called democracy. Deal with it." 

...and in Canada?     Hmmm.