gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for November 2011

All-American Muslim

November 29, 2011 @ 16:57 By: gordon Category: General

I’ve been fighting a cold the black plague the flu for most of the last week, so I’ve watched a lot of television. So much television that I’ve come to the conclusion that even though I have a fairly über cable package the actual amount of unique content on tv in a given day is lower than you’d think. A lot of channels seem to have six-hour bundles that they run three or four times a day, which with the repetition because of the “time shift” channels means you only have to wait a couple of hours if you miss it first time round. Add in the big networks that are rebroadcast by local channels when they don’t have original content and you can find the same show on many channels at the same time.

But this post really isn’t about the 57-channels-and-nothing’-on problem. It’s about a new reality show I’ve seen advertised. The show is called “All-American Muslim”.


Bohemian Rhapsody à la OC Transpo

November 18, 2011 @ 15:34 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Seen on the 'net

The Singing Driver’s fans respond to his being muzzled by the city:

ATU 279 threatens to strike because drivers can’t blow up at passengers

November 18, 2011 @ 13:49 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, In the news

Apparently the fear of losing their jobs if they lose their cool and blow up at passengers is grounds for threatening a strike, at least according to the president of Local 279 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents OC Transpo bus drivers.

“With the flick of my fingers, we could end up with having the buses not being out on the road” –ATU 279 president Garry Queale

I heard that priceless quote on CBC’s morning show as I was getting ready to head to work this morning and it’s in a story on CBC’s website, too.

In the last week there have been there have been at least three incidents where OC Transpo drivers have behaved completely unprofessionally towards passengers and at least two of them have had repercussions for the drivers:

Most people would probably agree that bus drivers don’t have the easiest of jobs. While they are well-paid, they take the brunt of the complaints and abuse from passengers unhappy with the service for whatever reason, even if it’s beyond the driver’s control, such as the recent changes to the bus routes in Ottawa. Even with this, many bus drivers put up with it and strive to provide good customer service so they can take pride in their work. But this doesn’t seem to be true for every bus driver, as evidenced by the list above.

Contract negotiations between ATU 279 and OC Transpo are scheduled to start December 8th. ATU 279 reportedly is interested in improving workplace conditions instead of salary, but the fact that they’re already threatening to strike suggests that perhaps the union’s negotiation strategy is based on threats and intimidation rather than genuine negotiation. Someone should remind them how that worked out for the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organizaton (PATCO) in 1981 when they tried something like this. (Hint: On August 5th, 1981 unemployment in the US  increased by 11,345 people.)

OC Transpo drivers

November 17, 2011 @ 12:29 By: gordon Category: General, In the news

There have been three high-profile incidents involving bus drivers in the last week or so. One that CBC reported on yesterday involves a passenger who asked a driver why he was 40 minutes late and after a short back and forth between the two of them the driver got off the bus. The ATU 279 has responded by supporting the driver saying he did the right thing in extricating himself from a conflict situation with a passenger. In the video attached to the story on the CBC site, the union is reported as saying that all their drivers should report conflict situations to their controller, pull over and put the four-way flashers on and wait for someone to show up and that if this means that buses are pulling over on the 417 “so be it”.

It concerns me is that this could result in buses stopping at the side of the 417, a highway where there’s often not a lot of clearance at the sides of the road, particularly downtown, meaning that any vehicle at the side of the road is at risk of being hit. In the case of a bus where there could be 30 or 40 people on board, that’s putting an awful lot of people on the bus at risk, not to mention passing drivers. I hope that drivers will be more responsible and leave the 417 and pull over at the side of the road after they’ve left the high-speed highway where it will be safer to stop.

As for the passenger in yesterday’s incident who demanded to know why the bus was 40 minutes late and upon not being told why encouraged his fellow passengers to complain, too, I think he needs to remember that the drivers are accountable to their employer (i.e. OC Transpo) for their job performance and not directly to the passengers. There can be circumstances beyond the driver’s control, such as being called in to replace a bus that broke down or heavy traffic that can cause a bus to be legitimately late. One shouldn’t automatically assume that it’s the driver’s fault that he or she is late. Even if it is the driver’s fault, there’s no need to be a jerk about it and take it out on the driver — call customer relations at 613-842-3600 or file a complaint online at http://www.octranspo1.com/about-octranspo/customer_service.

To the asshat in the silver car at Holland and Scott…

November 16, 2011 @ 13:09 By: gordon Category: Out and about

…pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right-of-way. The fact that you entered the intersection late in the cycle when turning left does not give you the right to block the oncoming traffic while you sit in the intersection at the crosswalk honking your horn and yelling at the pedestrians who are crossing with the light.

Remembrance Day

November 11, 2011 @ 08:00 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General

We pause today to remember those brave people who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving for their country so that we may enjoy peace, security and freedom.

To them and their families I say thank you.

It’s time to fall back

November 06, 2011 @ 00:55 By: gordon Category: Astronomy, Current affairs, General

In just over an hour we North Americans are supposed to turn our clocks back an hour in the vain quest of pursuit of saving energy.

I say “vain pursuit” because although daylight saving time is promoted as leading to an overall reduction in energy consumption, there hasn’t been any proof that this has ever been accomplished. Check out David Prerau’s book Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time (hardcover: 1560256559; softcover: 1560257962) if you want to learn more about the history of daylight saving time. It’s actually more interesting than it sounds.

If you’re a *NIX system administrator you probably updated your systems a couple of years ago, but in case you haven’t you probably should take a look at this. The zdump command should give you something like this:

[gordon@seedling gordon]$ /usr/sbin/zdump -v /etc/localtime |grep 2011


/etc/localtime  Sun Mar 13 06:59:59 2011 UTC = Sun Mar 13 01:59:59 2011 EST isdst=0 gmtoff=-18000


/etc/localtime  Sun Mar 13 07:00:00 2011 UTC = Sun Mar 13 03:00:00 2011 EDT isdst=1 gmtoff=-14400


/etc/localtime  Sun Nov  6 05:59:59 2011 UTC = Sun Nov  6 01:59:59 2011 EDT isdst=1 gmtoff=-14400


/etc/localtime  Sun Nov  6 06:00:00 2011 UTC = Sun Nov  6 01:00:00 2011 EST isdst=0 gmtoff=-18000