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Wayside Observer

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  1. String of wheel thefts targeting trucks at GO stations extends along Lakeshore West route I honestly hope that since Metrolinx appears to be hell bent on running what amounts to a large in-house police department between the special constables and revenue protection squads that, as an organization, they're taking this seriously and doing some aggressive patrolling of the parking lots to deter criminals doing things like this.
  2. I saw 4068 on Bathurst this morning. Maybe, maybe, and it would take a large, deep pocketed company some willingness to eat the cost of doing this, but a small TTC streetcar order priced as a loss leader to break into the Toronto market which Bombardier and the predecessor companies have had sewn up for many decades. I've had a hard time keeping track of the mileposts for the option order because the date, completed cars, and MDBF requirements never came together around the same time. Suffice it to say, all sides screwed the pooch on this one.
  3. Not necessarily. Truthfully, I honestly thought, in this day and age, any new security camera installation would be digital over IP using ethernet, not any of the serial digital formats, or data down a coax LAN connection, and definitely not NTSC/PAL. Analog video gives me nightmares from a previous job I had. Jeez, I was a kid back then. I've had that tape manual so long the binding spiral fell apart when I pulled it out for that picture.
  4. Of course because that’s what co-axial cable means, right? And that’s how it’s recorded too, right? Cripes, I know I’m getting old, but sending digital video down coax cable’s been pretty common since the early nineties.
  5. It's kind of six for one, half a dozen the other for the most part, isn't it? Personally, and this is just my practical experience as systems technologist speaking, I've found it preferable to be able to power up devices independently of the network particularly in no-network problem situations for troubleshooting purposes vs. completely dead and blind when the network and power are on the same line from the same point of origin which creates multiple single points of total failure.
  6. I’m gorging on doe barbecue pork chops with a dry rub on them, steamed broccoli and gravy. Yeah, I nibbled at that one chop a bit before I put the gravy on to try it with the rub only since I crusted all sides of the chops with rub. Delicious! The leftovers are going to work tomorrow for lunch. I guess quality control went downhill when they stopped making those in Montreal and moved production to Mexico. I guess they’re hiring out of the same labour pool that Bombardier was for those cab assemblies on the streetcars...
  7. Pretty much, accompanied by the lack of political will to make the funding happen. Everyone agrees that more streetcars are needed and that it would be less expensive to keep the existing production lines and supply chains running than to restart them in the future. The fact that half the Bombardier workforce in Thunder Bay were given layoff notices hit the media back in the summer because the order book is thin right now. A year or more after they’re laid off and received their severance pay and gone on to other things, if a streetcar order comes in, what’s Bombardier going to do? Try to recall them? To build 60 or so cars and then get laid off again? Hire and train net new workers with the lead time and cost that has? The supply chain issue may not be too bad since those companies make the same and similar for Bombardier plants elsewhere in the world, but it means allocating those costs over a small order and that’ll jack up the price of each car. Unit price goes up to reflect increased costs over a smaller quantity built. Going with a competitor to Bombardier like Alstom or Siemens is in theory possible. Like Bombardier, they’d have to re-engineer a vehicle to meet TTC requirements and set up supply chain and manufacturing both of which have costs and lead times. Alstom might have an advantage here especially if there’s a made-in-Ontario percentage that has to be met in that they just did the Ottawa order and have one from Metrolinx to build still so they’re a going concern right now. But, allocate those costs over a small order of 60ish cars, and that jacks up the price per car unit cost. Additionally, the TTC has to train operations and maintenance on two types of car and maintain two parts inventory streams which adds costs over the service lives of the vehicles vs. a single homogenous fleet. So, the most cost effective, fastest route to more streetcars is placing the option order and that’s exactly what isn’t happening right now. And that’s what prompted my sarcastic quip about respect for taxpayers and evidence based decision making earlier since that’s precisely what we are not getting from the politicians.
  8. I've noticed that too. I wonder what the average time span is between a new hire goes from bright eyed and idealistic to cynical and jaded with that resigned look of another day, another dollar? Liberty Village has turned into something else. Personally, I don't have much reason to visit the area very often but I had a kijiji pickup for an HP 11C scientific calculator about a month ago. I arrived and ended up with time to kill so I sat down on a bench and watched the circus going on. The population density is insane. There is no supporting infrastructure to carry it. I almost asked the lady selling me the 11C how on earth someone living in that area came to own a machine like that. It's something I'd never expect given the demographic and as it was, she was surprised someone even wanted it and there'd be a market for something like that these days. The whole time I was down there, I felt like I was sorely out of place. I know the indoor football people organizers are thinking about renting the Allan Lamport stadium over the winter seriously enough to get pricing quoted and if that happens, it's going to be a nightmare. Getting in and out of Liberty Village by car and finding parking is going to be a disaster and I doubt that the locals would be happy with a ton of football players showing up every Saturday night and ruining the vibe of the area. Wow. Unfortunately, this kind of nonsense from bystanders has become incredibly common these days. Looking back at things now with the benefit of a late 2019 perspective, I really wonder if the beginning of the end of the middle class began in earnest with the recession that happened at the very end of the 1980s and lingered through the first couple years of the 90s. Since then, the economy's never really had long sustained run where things have gotten better for everybody. By the time things started climbing back from that recession, there was that Asian Flu recession in the later 90s, the .com bubble crashed a couple of years after that, 9/11 crashed the economy a couple years after that, then there was the 2008 financial crisis, and things don't seem to have recovered from that still and the tariffs and trade wars that Trump's kicked off is putting additional drag on things. In the meantime, I look back at what my parents were able to do by the time they were my age, most of that time on a single income, and compare against my situation and I've in theory done everything right or fairly close to and there's no comparison. I was never in beavers but I got in cubs and stayed through scouts. It's true, things like that teach you a lot about how to be self sufficient and there's a whole raft of skills there that are sorely lacking with a lot of people now. Basics like how to cook. Each patrol in scouts was responsible for at least one meal during the camps. Contrast with the articles about how a lot of new condos don't have kitchens. The troop I was in owned Camp Endobanah which is just outside of Norland. Getting up there well after dark for a fall or winter camp was great. I miss those. There's a TTC connection too. The mess hall was a building thrown up by the TTC at Eglinton div. during WWII and wasn't needed post-war so it was disassembled and rebuilt up at the scout camp. Getting up there after the sun set and throwing the breakers on and getting the mess hall lit up with the soft glow of the 60 watt bulbs in the rafters and a roaring fire going in the fireplace to take the chill off, and fire up a big cauldron of hot chocolate in the kitchen was always the start to a great weekend as long as nothing set off scouter grumpy. Things start change once you get out of Toronto even as close as the top of Newmarket and the Niagara Peninsula as long as you stay away from the tourist traps and Toronto weekend vacation destinations where it's more of the same because it's been imported. I remember the first year I started playing football, one of the away games was in Sault Ste. Marie and we all carpooled up there and some of the players I was riding with had never been that far from the GTA before and several commented about how people were a lot quieter and more polite compared to down here. I had to explain that this was normal once you get out of the greater Toronto area. Shortly after I got my first car, one of my friends and I took it out for a spin on a Monday and we were driving around some back roads northwest of Toronto and we saw a dirt road. The friend said no, don't go up the dirt road right as I was spinning the steering wheel to get on it and we barrelled up north along a bunch of dirt roads and somehow ended up in Collingwood as the sun was setting. Both of us were hungry so I parked and we found a British pub. The Monday night special was a very reasonably priced beautiful prime rib dinner which we both ordered and enjoyed in a low key, relaxing atmosphere. This was very clearly being put on by the pub for the locals, deliberately scheduled for Mondays once the Torontonians were safely packed up and migrated down south the day before. The atmosphere in that restaurant would've been totally different during the weekend, that's for sure, with a DJ blasting music and a place packed full of loud yuppies. I love cottage country and points north so I definitely understand being depressed upon returning to Toronto. I couldn't believe how hard the adjustment was when I came back from Calgary and Yellowknife. I wasn't expecting anything to hit me at all, never mind hit me hard like that. It is depressing, coming back to the GTA after you've enjoyed being away for a while isn't it?
  9. Honeymoon Suite. 80s hair metal. My temperament has been accused of being similar to the title of the first song. Want to see old fogies have a meltdown? Put music like this on and crank it up and remind them that this is trolley music because it’s what was blasting out of radios when you were cutting class to go ride PCC cars and Peter Witts on the tour tram.
  10. Yes. Yes. Yes. So much for that respect for taxpayers and the evidence based decision making we've been hearing so much about the last 10 years or so.
  11. I continued with my workshop rebuild today and had to move those counters out of the way. So I thought I’d look at the one that acted up quickly. When I fired them up it spazzed out and I brushed my hand against the two of them and got a tingle so I grabbed a meter and measured 60 v on the chassis so I was wondering if the power cord had a bad ground or neutral since realized I had another piece of gear spaz out similarly with the same cord. Low and behold, the cord crushed the ground prong in. I haven’t checked the other piece of equipment but I wonder if the same thing happened and I’ve got a cord with a bad PH-163 connector on the end. I hope nothing got torched in this mess. I made good progress getting the rest of the shelves up and equipment racked even if I put some gouges in the bench surfaces fighting some of the heavier RF stuff into place by myself. If anybody ever breaks into my place, the police would only have to go to the hospital and ask who checked in with hernias to find the suspects.
  12. That's an interesting practical example of how parts of the election campaign and recent history have been unfolding. Back when I went back to school, the 15% public transportation tax credit had just been put in place. That plus the educational credits, I was getting all of the tax deducted on my part time and summer earnings back and had some carryover on the educational credits and I had a third to a half of my next year's tuition ready to go as soon as the tax refund arrived, since tuition was a lot more reasonable back then too. Going by your numbers, that tax credit's worth $60 to you per month or just under $400 per academic year which is a lot of money when you're a student. If you're using Go Transit which the $400/month figure tends to suggest, you're also forking out for the cumulative year over year 7% plus fare increases they stacked up for the longest time while that tax credit was available before Trudeau axed it. Fares didn't go down when that happened either so between the loss of that 15% plus the more modest 3% increase Metrolinx did that year, Go Transit prices went up 18% in a single year on top of all those 7% increases previously. Unfortunately, all this means that you're being screwed just getting to and from campus, never mind what's been done to student aid plus what you're going to be taken for after you set foot in the office of the registrar to pay your fees. Now here's where things get interesting for the election campaign: Trudeau can't really campaign on putting that tax credit back after taking it away. In terms of campaigning towards the middle class and those aspiring to join it, Scheer has out manoeuvred Trudeau by promising to reinstate the tax credit and the money that Trudeau took out of the pockets of you're average middle class or anybody else riding public transportation to and from work every day. The various statistics out there suggest that the tax credit has minimal effect on carbon output but it does line up with both of them campaigning to put more money back in your pocket which this credit does directly. Interestingly, as a working example of bias in reporting, in the media that I've seen so far, both CBC and the Toronto Star have been only reporting the cost vs. minimal environmental benefit side only and not that it would help out people experiencing serious commute costs. You have to be careful about accepting media reports, election promises, advertising claims, press releases, you name it at face value because there's always some amount of spin of some kind being put on it. Aren't you happy you don't live in Ontario? This place veered off the rails head first into a rock face when the "Common Sense Revolution" happened and it's been a smoking wreck ever since.
  13. I like being hands on too. I hate those days where I'm stuck in front of a computer screen all day with noActually, someone on my previous football team who worked for a flat roofing company pouring tar roofs got into it with me about how I 'work in an office' and I had to explain that yes, I usually work indoors but not always, and not really in an office either despite management's best attempts to turn the shop into a room full of Stepford Wives corporate office drones, but I had to make it clear it's still a workshop full of engineering technologists before he calmed down. Nobody including myself ever figured out what set him off about my job in the first place. Unfortunately, there are people who spill drinks, break equipment, stuff like that to get attention and then complain about how the support staff didn't measure up when called upon. I've run into that many times. Wow. It's amazing how so many people are out there treat the workers who take care of things like that and make the landscaping and everything else happen like they're a bunch of ompa loompas or elves that show up, do what has to be done, and disappear again without burdening the real people with their unnecessary presence after the task at hand is completed. Maybe they thought you guys should've piled into your truck, driven somewhere out of site, and eaten food out of a lunchbox discretely. When I was a kid, I always wanted a set of tools of my own. I was always taking things apart to see how they worked and I always had a fort or a clubhouse in the back yard built out of scrap plywood and lumber and bricks that were in the yard and the garage of the house when we moved into it or scrounged from friends, and I always had an outdoor extension cord run over with a couple of lights and a radio, and a heater during fall/winter/summer. It was great fun! I learned a lot by doing all of that stuff and got an appreciation for what it's like to build stuff for real. There's a divide at work for sure where some employees have a snob factor about the people in the technical maintenance department that keeps the place running properly. They're rude and dismissive until something goes wrong and they call in a total panic. Interestingly, that population tracks younger. A lot of the older, long time employees who know and appreciate what the various technical services departments do and rely on us are fantastic to work with and a lot of them drop off cards and boxes of candy or pastries in the various workshops at Christmas time. I think what we both remember about Toronto back in the old days was when it was by and large a middle class, working city. Sure, the Forest Hill and Rosedale and a handful of similar neighbourhoods have always existed, but the city was for the most part middle class. Some people worked in offices, some in factories, some in retail, some in services, but it was mostly middle class and pretty much everyone respected what everyone else had to do to earn a living. Now that things have stratified up and down and the middle's been hollowed out - remember the Toronto Star's series of articles about the two cities that ran a couple of years ago? - you have even small, run down detached houses selling as total gut and renovate or teardown and replace jobs for a million dollars and prices go up from there. Tiny condos go for $450K plus and anything reasonable size starts at around $600K. So other than older people who were able to get established before prices got insane, it's a city of wealthy people who've led charmed lives and never had to work, put in good solid hard work day in, day out, and poorer people in the services industries living in exorbitantly priced rental apartments enduring long TTC commutes to cater to the needs and wants of these jerks. It's just a theory but the anecdotal evidence I've heard and what I've seen firsthand seems to support it. For what it's worth, on what would be considered a middle class income elsewhere in the country, I had to bail out to the 905 area code to buy a small house of my own about six and a half years ago. I don't think I could afford to buy it for what it would sell for today. What got me and kind of forced a mental recalibration against rest-of-the-country standards was those two trips out west and up north to do branch plant equipment upgrades back in August. When I touched down in Calgary, I got a day pass, took the bus and the CTrain downtown, checked into the hotel and took off to ride the CTrain system until the project manager got in and we went for dinner. Right at that time I headed out to ride around and kill time, a lot of downtown construction sites finished up and the workers emptied out, grabbed coffees, stopped in the bank branches, gathered on the CTrain platforms and went home still in full gear. I got on a train with a bunch and I was stunned that this was just accepted as a normal, every day 3:30 PM occurrence with none of the sideways glances, stinkeye, snide remarks, people shifting away etc. that I've always experienced in Toronto. Then, up in Yellowknife, I was killing time one late one evening since I had broad daylight until well after 11 PM hiking along one of the trails around a bunch of the nearby lakes. There was a sign with the trail rules and one of them mentioned the terrain and remoteness and recommended wearing a helmet. Makes sense, it's all exposed hard Canadian shield rock up there, and if you take a spill and smash your head, you may not have a passerby find you for a long time, you may not have cell service to call for help, you're on your own and you're expected to take some responsibility for that. That point got nailed home when the project and I took a drive out into the countryside and it was beautiful. The radio stations faded out. Northwestel cell service vanished and we rolled by a totally destroyed abandoned car at the side of the road. We stopped to look at the scenery and nobody passed by. You couldn't see or hear another person. It was just the two of us and no way to communicate with anybody else. The wrecked car was a stark reminder that up there, if you screw up, you're truly on your own to sort out the aftermath. I also went into the Centre Square Mall up there to grab coffee at the Tim Hortons and saw a sign, and I am kicking myself for not taking a picture of it, but it said "Intoxication and drug use are prohibited. Centre Square Mall security is authorized to remove patrons not complying with mall rules by force if necessary. Centre Square Mall property management and security are obligated to provide a safe environment for mall patrons." My jaw dropped when I read that. They tell you up front right at the door that if you screw up and you don't behave, security will lay their hands on you and you will be thrown the fuck out if you don't behave. Now that's backing from management I would've loved to have had when I used to work security. Can you imagine how something like that would fly in Toronto? That the mean guys in the uniforms have the ok to go ahead and engage in not-niceness with drunk and high idiots to toss them out? Out there, hard work is respected instead of looked down upon and you're expected to take some personal responsibility for your actions. Returning to Toronto was like dropping the clutch hard. When I got back and in between the two trips, I saw Uber Eats hand delivering food to you while you sit at your airport gate waiting for your plane to board, I saw Metrolinx childproofing the Hamilton Go Centre because people can't be trusted to walk underneath moving buses, I saw someone vomiting on the sidewalk outside Union station after I got off the UPExpress train before 8 AM, I almost stepped in a different pile of vomit outside Union station the next morning, I saw suits steering well clear of the construction workers on the various condo, Union station etc. projects on their way to and from the food shops in the new food court there, in the coffee shops in the area, you name it, that's why I was spitting nails pissed off when I got back home and you probably saw evidence of that in some very bitterly sarcastic posts I wrote back in August.
  14. It's not just the Active Surplus staff. Take a look at the reviews for A1 Electronic Parts in Etobicoke and Electronic Surplus Industries on Sheffield Ave. and see how the staff of those places have been written up. I'll have to ask the guys who run ESI if they own the building they're in whenever I see them next because if they're renting, their days are numbered with the way the whole "Castlefield Design District" is encroaching fast. There's definitely an anti-electronics bent for sure. The anti-electronics bent is especially among the Toronto foamer community in particular that's been trotting out the most insane BS for close to 20 years now that doesn't seem to exist elsewhere and I have no idea at all how on earth it got started, but my view on the Torontoism aspect has evolved over time and I think it's a bit narrow of a definition. Here's what I've noticed: Office workers are ok. Service workers are ok. Someone's got to cook the food in the restaurants and serve it, drive the Uber cars, staff the stores, and do the cleaning. Someone has to drive the TTC vehicles - but I'm going to mention a specific incident where I saw the tolerance for TTC employees break below. The problem with this recent Toronto attitude appears to stem for a general disdain for anybody that gets dirty for work. How electronics with the raised computer floors, the clean room manufacturing, the electrostatic discharge protection, dust minimization got lumped in with that is a mystery to me unless it's stemming from a total lack of understanding about the field. Why the Toronto foamer crowd has such an itch to scratch with electronics is totally beyond me and that's strictly a Toronto foamer thing. Foamers from elsewhere don't care one way or another, they just want their train or trolley or bus or whatever. But I first started to notice the attitude shifting towards people who get dirty in the course of work about 20 years ago. I think it was 1998, maybe 1999 and I was heading home from work downtown and I got off the subway at Eglinton station to walk the rest of the way home. The down escalator going from the ground floor of Canada Square on the SW corner of Yonge and Eglinton to the station mezzanine was torn apart and two mechanics were working on it. Some obese, bald asshole in a power suit had just come down the other escalator which was shut off and acting like a staircase with a couple of other people and he stopped to look at the escalator mechanics with his buddies, gestured at the mechanics and then bellowed out for the whole station to hear "How can anybody work like this?!" with a hell of a smirk on his face. They laughed and carried on their way. I swear, a piece of me died inside. The two escalator mechanics were stoic in ignoring this shit. Since then, I've had a few conversations with people who've encountered this sort of crap. I was working with an electrician on a project where we were running fibre optic cable and doing fusion splices one night and he told me he stopped taking the Go train because he was tired of getting shit on and sneered at by Bay St. suits because he was wearing jeans, a denim shirt that said "Plan Group Electric" and carried a small tool bag with his fibre optic tools and a hard hat. The two guys in the machine shop downstairs have told me stories about what it's like if the hop out quickly to the food court next door without taking off their dirty lab coats. Since about 2014, I've had to put my construction gear on frequently after my place got in trouble a couple of times due to parts of the building being renovated and construction permits being in effect. The permits and requirements of construction sites apply to everyone working in the specified areas, not just the construction contractor's staff, so it's led to interesting situations where even after the heavy work of equipment decommissioning, removal, installation and commissioning of new, even when projects are almost done but the permits haven't been cancelled yet and I've been sitting in areas that are pretty much done, everything's installed, and I'm doing configuration and testing work sitting in an office chair flying a keyboard and mouse while wearing steel toe boots, high viz coveralls, a hard hat and safety glasses. Go elsewhere in the building, go outside, go to the food court next door, go to most of the area businesses on a break, or travel to and from home and watch people move away from you fast when you're dressed like that even though you're driving a bunch of glorified computers in a glorified office-ish/data-centre-ish/light-industrial-ish environment that's technically still under a permit because the HVAC company is still working on the equipment cooling after hours which means a ministry of labour or city of Toronto inspector can still write you up and issue fines if you don't comply with the regs surrounding that. I've got a standing joke with one of the guys at work about flipping a coin to decide which one of us has to go into the Starbucks across the street while geared up like that to ask for a double double on a dare. There has been a slight reversal recently where construction workers in the area have become somewhat more tolerated begrudgingly only because of the number of condos being built in this section of downtown right now and people have figured out that the army of people building them is non-negotiable since condo buildings don't sprout and grow upwards on their own overnight. But anyone who works with their hands, gets dirty, works in the trades, you name it is looked down on and tolerated, barely, at least in downtown Toronto now.
  15. No, but maybe the DJ that played "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder on the radio this morning might.
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