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Wayside Observer

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About Wayside Observer

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    In your worst nightmares

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  1. It’s the annual seafood bbq with the team manager from one of the semipro teams in the area. One of the player friends of mine came along at the last minute so we grabbed a box of hamburgers for him. Food prep: Cooking: Friends around the fire pit: And the seafood feast itself: Yum!
  2. I actually found a well stocked store located on my way down to the Niagara peninsula so I loaded up the back of my truck. But yeah, that was the next plan, burn some hardwood down to coals which would be a very churrasco way of doing bbq which would be quite fun. It’s actually on my list to do sometime.
  3. I asked some friend and asked around on a couple of barbecue forums, and it isn’t just me, charcoal really is in seriously short supply across Ontario and parts of the US. The theory is COVID-19, in that people are stuck at home during peat barbecue season, which has lead to people using far more of it than usual and supply hasn’t kept up with demand. That long search on all the store websites I did last night showed only one place with stock and it was on my way to pick up a friend earlier today so I left early. And I stocked up: The fact that I had to stuff the back of my truck to get enough charcoal to last the rest of the summer and into early fall because of pandemic related market distortion is insane but you do what you have to do.
  4. For what it's worth, everyone's on edge now. The last four months has been long and brutal, and the overall mental health of the entire population has deteriorated. People are being short with each other, myself included. I got short with someone at work because this paid professional refuses to learn how to operate employer provided tools and equipment and then calls up the maintenance engineering department to be handheld through it whenever he gets stuck, which is frequent. To further complicate things, he's working from home using the kludgey work from home setup where operations staff were issued middle of the road laptops which they use to remote access the user interfaces back on the real equipment back in the building which means I had to try and walk this guy through what he needed to do without being able to see what he was seeing. Figuring out the problem was pretty easy even though he rambled on about how awful this all is and how he doesn't know where anything is in the control software and was being totally unhelpful. Getting him to click one button, which was all that was needed to fix the problem, took a total of 40 minutes of excruciatingly painful walk through to locate it - right on the front screen so it's not even buried - and then click it, spread across two phone calls. 40 minutes. Two phone calls. Click one button right there on the front screen. I was getting short by the end of it because this is flat out ridiculous. And that prompted the guy to get angry at me because he felt mistreated because I had to dumb it down to that level to get him to where he needed to be. This took place on Thursday and I was surprised I didn't hear about it from my manager on Friday but I'm preparing to defend myself against accusations that the technicians are being mean again tomorrow in case I hear about it then. In the meantime, it's the weekend, I picked up some seafood for the annual seafood barbecue with one of my friends, and I went to go buy charcoal since I'm getting low. Nobody has charcoal. It's pretty much sold out everywhere from Fort Erie to Toronto to Barrie. I checked all the big box store websites for inventory and nobody has any charcoal of any kind in stock as if it's become the new toilet paper. Luckily I do have enough on hand to do the barbecue tonight so I don't have to crank up the oven and broil stuff, but after that I'm seriously low. How the hell is Ontario out of godforsaken charcoal? It can't be the border because even the stuff made in Quebec is all gone.
  5. Citing provincial advice, Metrolinx won’t make masks mandatory on GO Transit despite new city rules This is an interesting difference of opinion between agencies. It'll be interesting to see if Go moves on that.
  6. Had a bit of an indirect drive to work this afternoon to pick up some marine cabling on the way which took me off my usual beaten path and led me to this unexpected sighting. TTC 826. Big truck, obviously a support vehicle of some kind, died on the northbound DVP pretty much where the exit lane for Eglinton eastbound forks off and was being hitched to a large Abrams tow truck at about 3:00 PM this afternoon. You guys don't want to know, Steve Munro does not want to know, TTS does not want to know, HCRR does not want to know, none of you wants to know what evil plans I've got for that marine cabling I was on my way to pick up when I saw this dead TTC truck off on the shoulder being prepared for towing...
  7. That's a good question. In a perfect world that'd be avoided by having only one seat out of each pair occupied but that would imply loading buses and train cars to only 50% capacity at maximum. Going from there, the questions that raises, generally speaking, for Go, TTC, any mass transit system, is what happens to the whole long standing premise that you just pack passengers in like sardines in rush hours twice a day? Go one way on it, masks or not, there's the health risks.Go the other way on it, there's the implications for service levels that would have to be run to mitigate crowding and the financial risks with knock on for fare and subsidy policies that go with it.
  8. That's awful; I thought your hours at work would've gone up as things reopen and people resume doing things and consumer demand picks up. That's too bad it's gone the other way and it pushes that trip even further out of reach. The 14 day quarantine upon return is a steep price to pay for doing a careful visit to another location that has COVID-19 under reasonable control. On the other hand, you could rent a cottage down in the Pointe Pelee, Leamington, Kingsville area in Windsor-Essex where COVID-19 associated with that farm is a huge problem and then come back to the Toronto area with no checks, no self isolation, no problem from somewhere three and a half hours down the 401 where there's a major outbreak. That's perverse. At least they're shutting down the farm(s) associated with that outbreak and quarantining appropriately as opposed to closing the whole province or the whole country back down so maybe some people in charge are slowly beginning to develop a sense of scale. Maybe. It doesn't look like there's going to be any reciprocity with the European Union in the near future. The Toronto Star reported today that the quarantine requirements for everyone entering Canada except for truckers, air crews, essential workers, etc. is being extended to the end of the month. Between that and the border remaining closed to all non-essential travel means nobody from Europe is going to be able to visit until August at least even though they have reopened to us. There's still been no statement from our government on figuring out a way to make it work with the Europeans and that can't be going over well with them. More worryingly, nobody has said anything about sitting down with other countries and figuring out a travel safe zone for places that have it under control kind of like the 15 country whitelist the EU came up with. That would be a good starting point to form a pool of countries forming a safe travel zone to circulate in except there's been no movement on figuring out how to do a reasonable restart of various things on our end. Actually, two things stuck out to me recently. There was a Trudeau press conferences a couple of weeks ago when most of the country and more recently Ontario and Quebec with the highest COVID-19 counts in the country were well into Stage II reopening, and he said that "Canada is still in full shutdown mode" which completely clashed with the actual state of the country being firmly into Stage II. Then there was how he got caught completely flatfooted by the EU reopening to Canada a couple of days ago. It can't have been a surprise; their governments had to tell our government it was coming, and yet several days later now there's still been no information about how the Canada end is going to manage it besides staying closed even longer as if we're still in the second week of April. Those two things were very revealing and it hit me yesterday that that's why we've heard nothing about what comes next, how things are going to be done, what the criteria are for the decisions etc. because it looks like this is it. That's all he's got. As a country, we can't move forward if that's all the federal government starting right at the very top's got and they're completely blanked no idea what to do next. South of the border is a mess. With no firm leadership at the top, it's fallen to the states to handle COVID-19 individually and that's been a YMMV proposition. The places that took it seriously from the outset are in reasonably good shape now. The places that didn't are learning a very painful, very tough, very expensive lesson and are starting to take it seriously. So the epicentre has moved south from NYC to Florida with other states that didn't deal with it out of the gate having their own flareups now. So that giant daily case number needs to be taken with some interpretation otherwise you end up in a situation where you see a scary number and react badly to it; see what I said above about not shutting down all of Ontario or all of Canada because of a regionalized spike as an example. My parents love the hype though. My dad ran down the figures on the phone at me the other night and asked me how my American friends are doing. Well, none of them have died. None of them have gotten sick. One of them told me the other day that his life is carrying on as normal. He goes to work every day, drives rail crews around to where they need to go, goes home, does his hobby stuff including some trolley museum volunteer work etc. and said that the only thing that's changed for him is that he doesn't sit down to eat in restaurants anymore but gets takeout. Another, his two retirement jobs went poof but otherwise pretty much the same as the first apart from not working. They're both in their seventies and have underlying medical issues which places them in prime COVID-19 risk group. I told them that according to the hype up in Canada about the situation down their way, we shouldn't be talking on the phone because both of you should be dead and buried in a plague pit or something like that. They laughed. One of my other US friends is a middle aged essential services working schmuck like me. Bored. Depressed. Burned out. Fed up. Work. Home. Work. Home. Work. Home. Work. Home. Cancel everything. Work. Home. Pretty much the same deal as here. I swear, my parents were floored by the fact that nobody I know down there has gotten sick much less died. The once incident I know of personally, the cleaning lady at one friend's work got COVID-19. She was off sick for a couple of weeks and the workplace got sanitized. The only problem that happened was after the cleaning lady went on her medical leave for it, word eventually leaked out and most of the maintenance technologists the friend manages decided to use it as an excuse to take their one shot deal, use it and it's gone, two weeks paid medical leave no questions asked because of the pandemic to play hookey from work for 14 days which left him seriously short staffed for half of May meanwhile because of the delay between the technologists finding out about this and taking their two weeks meant that they were all still off by the time the cleaning lady who actually did have COVID-19 recovered and was back on the job. So, since there was no backhoe going behind the plant to dig a plague pit to bury all the dead bodies in, if the biggest issue out of the whole thing is a bunch of maintenance technologists playing hookey from work for two weeks while the repair backlog explodes, the reality on the ground is not matching up with the hype at all. It's time for the people that have gotten worked up into a lather to stop, take a deep breath, take a valium, and calm down. Then, start thinking up sensible, reasonable approaches to take to things.
  9. It's a solution that presents its own set of problems for sure. However, the difference between living around this virus versus everything that came before is that the current crop of politicians that are in charge now weren't then. Which brings me to some potential good news for you: European Union reopens to Canadian travellers which means, for the moment, you might be able to visit your family like you were talking about a while ago. The for the moment part is this: Canada remains closed to the EU and Trudeau extended the complete closure of Canada until the end of July yesterday. There was no mention of the EU reopening to Canadians, no mention of reopening to travellers from the EU and no announcement of getting started working on plan to reciprocate at the end of July if not sooner. Total. Diplomatic. Fail. It's entirely possible the EU decides to say no to Canada in the next few weeks if there's no movement on reciprocity and I wouldn't blame them if it turns into a one way street. I've been constantly harping on "What's the plan?", "What are the criteria?", "How are the decisions being made?" Looking at how this went down over the last couple of days with the complete thud and lack of any action or information or anything on the Canada end, I think I got my answer. There is no plan. Obviously. If there was, something would've been said about what it looks like by now. That also probably means there's no criteria or framework for making decisions to back up navigating through the execution of a plan since there isn't one other than to keep the border and as much of the economy as possible shut down knee-jerk reflexively apparently indefinitely. Frankly, the whole premise is wrong. We should be asking, "How do we do a reasonable restart safely and make it work?" instead of "Keep it closed forever". I'm sick and tired of hearing Trudeau trot out crap about "ongoing conversations with our partners" that apparently have apparently produced no results outside of running up the PMO's long distance bill. Honestly, at this point, based on decisions not getting made, based on plans not being outlined, based on information not being provided, based on no movement on anything other than maintaining an early-April status quo and vacuous press conferences, I can't really argue with my conservative leaning friends about Trudeau being an intellectual lightweight. Now, if not several weeks or months ago, might be a good time to come up with some actual substance about how do we go about getting on with as much as possible as safely as possible going forward, instead of stalling and talking platitudes about how great ongoing conversations are.
  10. I just searched the sold items and it looks like six of them sold. Interesting thing number one, now I didn't dig into this exhaustively so I could be wrong, but it doesn't look like there's a way to search completed auctions, just sold articles, so it doesn't look like it's possible to see the CLRV listings that nobody bid on. Interesting thing number two, it looks like two people bought five of the six streetcars that sold. Going by the mostly redacted usernames a******g bought three of them and t*****4 bought two, and someone else bought the last one that sold. Note: I am of course making the assumption that there's no coincidence happening between multiple users having the same first and last characters and name length in their usernames with a different midsection that's getting blotted out by the redaction algorithm since that's probably a very long shot but would be a hell of a coincidence if that were the case. Two things remain to be seen is if the purchase commitments go through. They got all sold with one bid on each car so they buyers all got them at the starting bid. By the time you factor in the buyer's premium, the tax, and getting them moved from TTC to wherever they're planning to have them go, that could get very expensive, very quickly - and that goes X2 and X3 for the people that apparently bought multiple cars. Hopefully they go to good homes. And the second thing that remains to be seen is what happens with the unsold ones; unfortunately, I suspect it's going to be the cutting for them.
  11. Just over two hours to go on the CLRV auctions and two of the cars each have one bid on them. The others have no bids yet. I seriously think the TTC missed the market. Last year when they were ruthlessly having them cut up immediately after arriving at the junkyard would've been the time to auction CLRVs off during the wind down when the interest was high. Instead, waiting until half a year later after the CLRV retirement stopped being a thing until the middle of a frigging global pandemic which logistically complicates everything, it's a bit day late and dollar short. Yeah, I think they missed the market. We'll see what happens in the next two hours.
  12. That’s what my memory is too, that they’re welded built up trucks, not forged or cast. Doing replacement axles to get more length for a wide gauge conversion isn’t a big deal for any shop that does truck work regularly either, eg. the place that 4603’s trucks are at now. Same thing for PCC cars on my end. Have tools. Can’t travel.
  13. That’s a bit disingenuous to not pro rate the figures per capital to account for the population difference. With a much larger population, the per day infection rate is going to be a larger scalar number for sure. Actually, in a larger population, with a lower rate of infection rate you can still easily get a larger infection count per day. Kind of like how the number of positive tests goes up if you increase the number of tests done in a day. My concerns would be location and infection density of the areas visited; you’re not going to encounter every single diseased person wherever you go whichever side of the border it’s on. No what is really bothering me and is really bothering several of my friends is how the government is yet again being very cagey with information. How are these decisions being made? What criteria are being used? How long do they really think the closure is going to go on for? Unfortunately, our media isn’t asking these basic questions and is not holding the government to account on this. So, in light of this new evidence, how soon do you think restrictions on outdoor things like team sports etc are going to be eased, right? I honestly get the impression that there is a certain cross section of demographic that’s enjoying dragging this out for everything it’s worth or is truly absolutely scared shitless and causing some really panicked overreaction. Like the fish delivery at my parents condo building that was over the top. Oh, remember a few posts back how I was thinking of cutting my own hair a few weeks ago? I did it last week out of sheer frustration. It turned out surprisingly well for a first time attempt at a self-inflicted haircut. I was expecting bald patches and burn marks and wildly uneven cut depth but it’s actually not too bad at all. Granted, I was being careful, which meant no music blasting or screaming at the top of my lungs to do that performance art YouTube video, but I still expect that arts grant cheque from Trudeau. Send me some damn money. Just about every other special interest group’s been handed money to deal with unexpected coronavirus expenses, why can’t I have any?
  14. Not to anywhere there’s a CLRV that needs to be regained, welder or not, not these days. In all seriousness though, I really do wonder what range of gauge adjustment UTDC designed into the CLRV trucks to make them easily saleable to multiple customers before massive surgery on the frames and axles is required. I’ve never seen any figures published for this.
  15. UTDC designed the trucks to be regaugable without too much difficulty assuming you've got a rail truck shop at your disposal since they always intended to be able to sell them to more than one customer which meant non-TTC gauge work. As it was, CLRV trucks were standard gauged for testing in Switzerland and for two and eventually third car that went to Boston for the demo there; standard gauge is definitely doable and was already done twice in the early days. What I've always been curious about is how wide the CLRV trucks can be gauged. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh would've been potential customers and they're both broader than TTC and regauge difficulty goes up insanely once you need to go past the limit of what the outboard frames can accommodate as-is, i.e. how wide can you go before that becomes a problem?
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