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Wayside Observer

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  1. The claim, which arrived in my friend’s mail yesterday: That’s not what the lab said. This is what the lab said: And the results from a viable test done later the same day after the indeterminate results came back so I could get home: Negative. The score: one viable test that was negative, one non-viable test that returned indeterminate results, and one eye popping letter with a bogus claim of testing positive that looks like it was apparently based on the indeterminate results. It’s either that or a clerical mistake since I had multiple tests and none of them were positive. Maybe next week they’ll send a letter congratulating me, claiming I tested positive for pregnancy.
  2. I never told you guys about my vacation to the United States. I drove down on Wednesday, November 10. The border crossing was so civilized it was pre-9/11 perfunctory other than being asked if I was fully vaccinated. I had my original Ontario papers with me but wasn't asked for them. Got in at a reasonable time, had dinner with friends, took it easy on went to Strasburg and took a ride on the steam train on Friday and took a look at the stuff outside at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. By the time we got there, the remaining steam train departures and the opening hours of the museum didn't line up well so we didn't end up going inside. Spent Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday troubleshooting and running around PCC cars which was fun. Monday - the friend I was staying with had to go to work and I got tested in advance of driving home at Walgreens. This was a fiasco. The online booking system only works with US addresses so I had to use my friend's address. The lady at the Walgreens didn't know what she was doing and screwed the paperwork up. I think she might have also been accidentally damaging samples as well, but I'll get to that. Test results typically available 24 hours later so by Tuesday morning. Start checking on Tuesday and can't figure out how to get results but I shelved this due to troubleshooting a bad lighting circuit on a PCC. Nothing Tuesday evening so I swung by Walgreens on the way back from the trolley museum on the way to dinner with friends and discover the paperwork I was given was incmoplete and didn't include the instruction sheet for obtaining results and the wrong number had been written down. I was asked when I was tested and the first thing out of the person I was speaking with was "She doesn't know what she's doing." It sounded like I wasn't the first person to come back but they pulled the stack of Monday's paperwork and found my stuff and got me set up. Nothing Wednesday morning on the 17th as I'm getting ready to go home. A friend and I had breakfast at a diner before I left and I checked online while we were waiting to be seated and there were still no results. I checked again after we finished breakfast while we were waiting for the bill and it said the results were now available. Great, just in time, and all I had to do was punch in the authentication stuff to pull them up on my phone and the file loaded and - INDETERMINATE. Not negative, not positive, but no results. Ok, given the total absence of symptoms, and not being around anyone who was obviously sick, but with the Walgreens mess with the lady that screwed everything up, I could see how a damaged sample would turn into an indeterminate result. I can also see a processing delay if the lab has to do a quality control investigation to make sure it's not a lab problem (equipment malfunction, operator error, defective supplies and materials) causing a run of indeterminates before releasing test results, which would also explain the above normal turnaround time. I didn't have time to wait around several days and possibly have Walgreens screw up a retest so I put plan B into action, packed my stuff up, got in the truck and drove to Buffalo and paid the premium for a fast turnaround PCR test, bought a coffee and went for a walk and shot the breeze on the phone with someone at work, got notification the test results were in and punched in the authentication stuff for that one and downloaded the NOT DETECTED (aka NEGATIVE) results, uploaded everything into ArriveCAN, crossed the border and went home. ... fast forward two weeks ... This evening, I got a text message from the friend I was staying with that had two pictures in it. In today's mail, addressed to me at his house was a two page letter dated November 19 from his town's municipal publich health department saying that I've tested POSITIVE for COVID-19 and must quarantine for two weeks. What a joke. Good thing this wasn't time sensitive at all. It is unclear in the letter if the two week quarantine period is from the date the test was administered, which would have been yesterday, the day before the letter saying I have to quarantine arrived, or from the date the letter was authored in which case it expires on Friday. So, in the intervening time between the Walgreens test fiasco and the quarantine letter showed up: - Tested negative - Left the country and went back home - Enjoyed the rest of my vacation - Renewed the mortgage - Started looking for a replacement truck - Did a major fall cleanup on the house - Went back to work Item #1 on that list. A properly administered PCR test came back negative two days after the Walgreens test was done and two days before this letter was written. This bothers me. To my logical, scientific and engineering backgrounded mind, an indeterminate test result with anything means you redo the test, ideally administered at a different testing facility and run at a different processing lab to try to eliminate the the possibility of hitting any potential equipment/materials/process problem twice to the greatest extent possible which is basically how it played out for me having to use one of the fast turnaround places in Buffalo so I could come home on time. Indeterminate test results are not negative and are not positive and it DOES NOT mean you get to make up total bullshit and say people are positive when they are not. The American friends I visited and I have been talking about this all evening and we're all alternating between having a knee slapping laugh at what a totally bungled mess this is and having a serious discussion about all the implications this nonsense has. Can anymore credibility on the file be lost? Anyways, I've got a Lisa Stansfield concert blasting in the living room while dinner's in the oven cooking and on the subject of food, I just realized this same incompetent/malicious public health department claiming fraudulent positive test results inspected most of the restaurants I ate at while I was away. Suddenly I'm not hungry anymore.
  3. I don’t have any answers or insights or other information. All I can say is welcome to the world of inter-agency jurisdictional turf squabbles. They’re happen…
  4. There's a wristful irony about electric bus demonstrators in that Flyer leased one of their rebuilds back form the TTC and demonstrated it in a bunch of places. I've seen pictures of it running in Hamilton, Boston, and Edmonton. I think it was trialled in a few more places and Flyer did get some trolleybus sales out of it. Eventually, it hasn't happened yet, but eventually my travels will have me cross paths with one of the current TTC electric buses but until then, the last time I rode on a TTC electric bus was on Bay St. in the fall of 1992 when they were put out for the last gasp of running out the lease period on the Edmonton BBCs. My regular twice a day electric bus ride got shut down in December 1991 when the 61 Nortown line was changed to bus. There was no reprieve or last stand for the three lines out of Eglinton and even though it was billed as a temporary mothballing pending a final decision later at the time, everyone knew they were never going to come back. I'll gather my thoughts on it and write a more detailed post on it in a few days in December when we come up on 30 years (Where did the last three decades go?) from the beginning of the end.
  5. That's kind of what I was getting at. Every time a previous variant emerged, within a couple of days of being discovered at the origin, it's always turned out to be "it's here too...and has been for a while", and that's when the border was "closed" too except we know what a Swiss Cheese that was due to all the exemptions. It's probably too early to know for certain but if the stories reporting that the new variant's symptoms are mild despite being more contagious are true, this might not be all that bad if it shoves out the previous variants, also very contagious but also more serious if you do get sick, in place of something a lot milder as opposed to the previous variants that were both more contagious and more severe than the last. If that is indeed the case, we might, maybe, hopefully, fingers crossed on this, be starting to see the disease burn itself out and becoming endemic.
  6. This is how to spend a winter evening after being out in the slush and snow.
  7. The sign at the store said “Enjoy Tonight”. So I did.
  8. Very sad. Nobody goes to work at the start of their shift thinking they won't be going home after. I feel for the family and at this time of year too, the holidays are going to be so hard for them. I hope the news coverage gives people pause to think about the inherent danger there is in so many utility/construction/maintenance/industrial type jobs at the best of times, never mind with the additional risks that the pandemic added to what so many "essential" workers face on a daily basis. That work from home laptop warriors got a free tax credit meanwhile everyone doing this kind of work where there is real danger involved got nothing and, tragically, this person paid the ultimate sacrifice on the job working to maintain railway infrastructure so trains could continue running safely.
  9. The neighbour's tree held on to it's leaves for so long before letting them fall that they got snowed under in my driveway immediately. This is going to be a nice, wet mess to clean up when the snow melts midweek.
  10. Unless there's a serious change in approach that wasn't mentioned in the article, do they actually expect it to work more effectively this time around than the previous border closures did against the earlier variants?
  11. I think doing that trip to Slovakia and my trip to the US as soon as it was possible were both good decisions. Nobody I know trusts the politicians not to shut everything down indefinitely again. The emergence of that new variant has me wondering if that might be coming especially if it sidesteps around the existing vaccines easily. The politicians need to STFU about "build back better" and manage the day to day competently which includes making a commitment to working around COVID-19 instead of shutting everything down indefinitely as if it's March, 2020 all over again. We have far more tools in the box plus a better understanding now, a crude brute force approach should not be at the top of the list anymore.
  12. I didn’t get any in progress shots of this cooking but I’m about to taste test some home made chicken parm (minus the cheese): Let’s see if I finally managed to pull off frying chicken…
  13. Metrolinx agrees to new date to complete Crosstown LRT, says credit rating agency (alternate link) Interesting, so it's going to be late 2022 or about a year from now. I did swing by Industry St. the other night and took a look at the Eglinton Crosstown MSF and the bus garage, and the Mt. Dennis bus garage is addressed as 121 so I totally misread the map on that one. Either way, it's interesting to see where that bunch of equipment came from and what's there now. What are the odds it'd end up being a TTC facility?
  14. Ok, I'm sick and tired of hearing about Black Friday. I'm sick and tired of hearing about "The Holidays" that cannot be named. I'm sick and tired of hearing the jingling bells that go with "The Holidays" that cannot be named. I'm sick and tired of the non-denominational mid-winter spendfest and the marketing hype that goes with it. It was the advertising on the radio during the drive to and from work that put this song into my head on the drive home:
  15. Same, just killing time running out the last 15 minutes of my shift.
  16. Is the Mount Dennis bus garage the one that's visible from the UP Express? I was having a bit of difficulty telling where the two transit properties divide on the map I was looking at when I looked up the address. I'm thinking sometime this week after work I'll take a spin up to Weston and check the area out. I haven't spent any meaningful time there ever since Kodak closed down other than to pop in to the Metrolinx open day at the MSF. One of these days I have to tell the "calibrated torque wrench" story. I guess could go either here or in the fishbowl nostaliga thread, but I remember talking with a friend about how many fishbowl shots transit fans must've taken from the Photography Dr. bridge across Eglinton to finish off the last few frames on the roll of Kodachrome in their camera so they could drop it off with their other films going in for processing at the corporate store. The store was way down most of the way to the end of the huge office block, not in the building Metrolinx kept.
  17. Alright, that’s it, vacation’s over, back to work. And that means back to downtown Toronto. Yay. Hear the sound of one hand clapping? Downtown Toronto where part of Front St. is closed because of falling condo glass (nostalgia to 15+ years ago) and streetcars with fleet numbers like this (nostalgia to 25+ years ago): I liked the previous 4601 better. Especially with the paint job oddities that UTDC did on that one. This one, boring, serves only as a reminder of what we used to have when things were more interesting.
  18. Ah ok, I thought it was the Eglinton Crosstown yard from the map. I should really take a drive through the area and see where everything is the next time I'm in the Weston area. I haven't spent meaningful time up there other than the Eglinton Crosstown open day since Kodak's corporate store closed.
  19. I just had one of those small world moments. I picked up a ton of vintage Tektronix stuff a few months ago and I was matching up the manuals to the equipment and I discovered where it all originally came from because there was an address stamp inside of some of the manuals: The address sounded familiar so I looked it up and look what’s on that site today: I always think of Kodak Canada when I think of the Eglinton Crosstown MSF but they gobbled up some of the properties behind it as well including the old Ferranti-Packard lands. I think the gate I went in through for the open day was 117 Industry St. I guess some of the legacy of what was there before the carhouse lives on at my place.
  20. Actually, I remember my mother always used to say she loved the smell of coffee brewing but couldn't stand the taste of it. It's interesting how that works where one can enjoy the taste but not the smell or vice versa. It sounds like your roommate has the diet of a teenager except the difference is, with their fast metabolisms, teenagers can get away with it. I remember being able to do that but I know I sure can't anymore. It sure can't be healthy for her either at her age. As for the American friends, it's no wonder they all have weight issues. They eat at restaurants two or three meals a day, they drive everywhere, and they get no physical activity except for the ones who volunteer at trolley museums.
  21. None of my American friends cook. None. Zero. That was a week of restaurant meals. It was nice not cooking and cleaning, and I had a lot of nice meals but you tire of restaurant food after not too long, at least I do, but I guess that’s not true if the friends who don’t cook. I ended up eating frozen food the first day I was back and ended up getting through most of today on snacks, which means these burgers are the first cooked from scratch, home made, non-restaurant food in over a week.
  22. I had my COVID-19 test yesterday at 9:30 AM so I can drive home tomorrow. No results yet. The results can take up to 72 hours to come back from when the test is administered. However, to return to Canada, the results need to be no older than 72 hours from when the test is administered when you arrive at the border. To be clear: that’s results no older than 72 hours from when you take the test itself, not 72 hours from when the results come back so notice the potential timing problem here - if your results take 72 hours to come back from the processing lab, they’re already invalid for border purposes as soon as you get them. Add driving time from wherever you’re staying and getting tested to the border itself and you’re starting your trip speculatively and hoping it arrives in time for you to upload in time to cross otherwise you’re going to be paying a fortune for a fast turnaround PCR test like Joe you used to pay extra for one hour photo processing or two hour E6 slides, and I’m beginning to wonder if that’s what’s going to happen to me tomorrow when I come home. Of course, going to the United States by car, all you have to do is state that you’re fully vaccinated and have your paperwork with you in case they ask to see it. So, on Friday, November 5, right before the border reopens on Monday, November 8, Tam says they might start looking into that testing requirement: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbc.ca/amp/1.6238235 A bit late to get started when the details of the US reopening were announced weeks ago. It also underscores the total lack of co-ordination between countries that’s obvious to anyone watching what’s been happening the last 20 months instead of accepting the pithy statements about working closely with all the stakeholders and international partners at face value. Given the total lack of a three way concerted strategy to meet the pandemic head on by Canada, US, Mexico on all sides from vaccination, travel, the PPE debacle in the early days, you name it, why even bother tiers that Three Amigos, pardon me, Stooges summit? If it means nothing during an unprecedented global pandemic, is it going to mean anything substantial at any other time? I guess it’s as good an excuse as any for Trudeau to set even more carbon on fire in the engines of that Challenger jet he’s been enjoying flying around in so much lately while preaching climate change due to combustion of carbon-laden fuels to everyone else. Rules, and the exemptions to them, can apply to more things than just COVID-19, apparently. Meanwhile, even if I end up handing over my credit card and paying through the nose on the way home tomorrow, after so long, it’s been great to finally visit and catch up with friends and do some streetcar stuff. A bunch of us had dinner at a nice restaurant last night after checking in on another PCC car. It probably won’t be ready in January like originally thought. Hopefully the border is still open when it is. After all this nobody, nobody trusts the politicians not to arbitrarily close it down again for an indefinite period of time.
  23. Oh brother. I got to see one first hand this morning at a restaurant. I went in and the hostess was tied up with a dispute involving an Uber Eats driver who was there to pick up a huge order with 40 items but the restaurant’s system said the grand total was $2 while the driver’s phone said it was $20. Even at the high end of the two at $20, that’s 50 cents per item which isn’t plausible, and the hostess didn’t want to put the order into the kitchen before getting the billing straightened out which enraged the Uber Eats lady until she finally left. Meanwhile, I’m sure whoever got on Uber Eats and made this huge order probably had a bunch of increasingly hungry people on their hands with no food coming. I finally got a table once the Uber Eats lady stormed out of there. As for the recalcitrant PCC car with the new doors, all work now except for the #1 door. That one needs to be rehung. The guide roller brackets were attached by translating the drill hole positions from the old door leafs to the new ones with varying degrees of success and on the #1 door, the elevation is out and it’s dragging and binding up against the top of the door track. It’ll be filled in, marked off in-situ, then redrilled and remounted. There was also some cam phasing issues with the #1 door which we got sorted out. The #2 door has actually got some severe cam phasing problems with the bottom two cam switches that control the closing field on the door motor where they remain closed at all times. Fortunately they’re both also in series with a relay that opens slightly before they’re supposed to open so it’s actually ok for the opening cycle because the close circuits are still being broken. For the close cycle, the cam switches need to be closed to energize the close field in the door motor anyways so that’s fine as well. The car’s run fine like this for years so we left it since it isn’t causing an over current situation or energizing both fields in the motor at the same time and locking it up or anything like that, but it is on the list to fix up properly albeit fairly low priority. The picture I posted previously with the multimeter in the door mechanism compartment was to validate the cam switches were making and breaking for certain electrically rather than just by visual inspection alone. Tomorrow, it’s going to be an investigation into why one of the 600V body lights circuits stopped working. All the bulbs have been checked already and are good. Even if not, they should short circuit when they burn out so the rest of the series string keeps working if one goes out, so this is going to be a chase through the circuit to see where it’s getting broken. I already checked the fuse fronts for continuity and they’re good. But wow, everything is so crusty and layered up with thick copper oxide I’ve already had to change out my old meter probes for a set of new ones that are factory sharp and it’s still been a lot of scraping and gouging to get onto clean metal in order to take reliable measurements. So we’ll see what’s going on with that and repair it if possible, if not, leave a detailed description of what needs to be done to fix it for the friend who usually repairs the pesky problems with the PCCs. Sadly, he’s having to care for a very ill family member so he isn’t around much these days. Someone brought in a vintage telephone ringer box and was alternately trying to get it to work off a 6V lantern battery or 12V AC transformer with no success. The telephone ring signal is 80-120 volts, 20 Hz so neither of those is high enough voltage to do it. The DC might have moved the bell striker to one side and held it there if it was a lot more than 6 volts and the 12 volts AC off this transformer wasn’t going to do it either. I asked if they did a continuity on it with a multimeter to see if any of the coils had gone open to rule out that potential problem and the answer was, “Well, if you’ve got one.” Since I had, I did, and the coils are good, it should be just a matter of getting the right AC ring signal into the box to make it work, but the comment about the multimeter left me kind of took me by surprise. That’s WTF #2. No multimeter in the trolley museum workshop? I’m going to have to ask about that tomorrow. They may be sticking to traditional tools and methods, but even classic analog VOMs a Triplett 630 or Simpson 260 or AVO can do continuity checks, but that said I think there’s definitely reason to have at least one 600V CAT IV rated multimeter with several good sets of CAT IV test leads with sharp probe tips from a reputable manufacturer on hand because they make troubleshooting things like this sooo much easier. Friends of Philadelphia Trolleys bought a Fluke 87V and that meter is usually in that one friend’s tool kit. I’ve got my Agilent/Keysight stuff including the remote instrumentation stuff that I demonstrated briefly for a couple of friends on Saturday and one of them really, really liked the wireless remote logging display when he realized what it meant in terms of ease of troubleshooting when I started working on that streetcar. Yes, you can live without it, and in the old days people did, but in 2021 why wouldn’t you enjoy the good tools that are available?
  24. One of the things we found yesterday is that the wrench set in the toolbox in my truck tops out at 3/4” and we needed 15/16 yesterday so a stop at Harbour Freight (I know, I know but it was available) this morning. Unfortunately they don’t sell individual wrenches so I had to buy a whole set to get the large ones I needed that my set didn’t include. No bag. No fuss. No headache. I don’t understand why customers walk into stores looking to cause problems. You’d think they’d want to pick up what they need, get out and on their way back to what they were doing.
  25. Tools and equipment. No foam.
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