Friday, September 21, 2007

Hey George!!!! I'm still alive .............

In a speech defending his administration's Iraq policy, Bush said former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's brutality had made it impossible for a unifying leader to emerge and stop the sectarian violence that has engulfed the Middle Eastern nation. Bush stated the following:

"I heard somebody say, Where's Mandela?' Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas"

Now, when JB and I heard this last night on the Jon Stewart show. We both looked at each other with our mouths open and almost fell off the sofa! Is there anything else you can even say? How Americans could keep this man in power for this long is a complete mystery to me. For my quote of the day I feel I have to pay homage to the wonderful Ann Richards by quoting a bit of her amazing speech (audio of speech available here) at the the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Now granted, her comments were directed at G Wubya's Father but I felt since Ms Richards was no friend of the Bush's it could certainly be used for this situation as well. I think it is rather apropos. I mourn the loss of Governor Ann Richards she was an original and a great lady who sadly, passed away a year ago this week. We need more politicians in this world like Anne Richards.

Quote of the Day:

"Poor George. He can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."
Ann Richards

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Autobahn, in Canada you say??

I have worked for the same company for almost 14 years and for those 14 years I have never been more than 20 mins MAX travel time from home to work. I could hop on a streetcar then subway to the office. If I had to, I could even walk home from work, in a pinch. All this came to a screeching halt when last year we started hearing rumblings about moving Engineering and Operations to a new office "campus" purchased by our fearless leader. We dismissed the rumours and balked at the suggestion that they would ever move us. Then we started worrying when we saw the blue bins being delivered to our co-workers in Engineering on the 9th floor of our tower last year. Shortly thereafter, we then noticed guys walking around our offices with floor plans and clip boards. Then in March of this year we were all given the nice glossy "move package" which trumpeted the greatness of our new facilities in BRAMPTON, yes Brampton. Now, for those of you who do not live in Toronto, Brampton is a suburb north of Toronto where NOBODY from Toronto ventures unless absolutely necessary. It is a suburban, cultural wasteland but even after that move package was delivered, the majority of us stayed in denial until more move dates were discussed and really most of us were in denial until those blue moving bins showed up outside our offices.
What does this have to do with the Autobahn you ask? A LOT. Keep reading.

Since generations of Ontario governments have done NOTHING to build a decent pubilic transit system that grew along with the urban sprawl. Our move to Brampton has forced a lot of us to have to drive in to work each day and as there is no subway that comes up here and to take the bus means you are in for an excrutiating 1.5 hour or more commute! This means I am forced to drive and I have to sit in the gridlock shown in the photo. Yes, this is what I have to sit in each day going to and coming from work since May of this year. I snapped this photo while sitting in traffic a few weeks ago sitting on the "on ramp" just to get on to Hwy 401. Now, most people would say, what are you going to do, you have to get to work and I guess this is true but this volume of traffic is ludicrous and I am quite sure that if we had an expanded public transit system that a lot of these cars would be taken off the road. I do believe that Hwy 401 is the most travelled highway in North America as it cuts right across the centre of the city and heads all theway across the Province. But back to the Autobahn......As I can no longer stand to sit in this mess each day I have decided to take the the plunge and purchase a transponder that allows me to travel on the relatively newer Hwy 407.
Hwy 407 began life back in the late 1990s and operates as a toll highway. Now, I am really torn about this decision as I really begrudge having to pay to use any road in this province when we pay a lot in taxes already but my cost to take the 407 from where I get on to where I get off is about $3 one way and the biggest bonus is clearly evident in the photo to your left! I snapped this photo on my morning drive in to work late last week. Granted this is a light traffic morning but even on busier mornings it is pretty much a wide open race track! The 407 was built with concrete which means initially it cost more to build but will actually need less repair work in the long run plus it makes your ride a bit noisy and thus all of us here at the office have basically started calling it the Autobahn. Not only because of the way it was built but also because it appears that there does not seem to be a speed limit or perhaps because it is being used by drivers who are paying, they have asked the Autobahnpolizei to lay off. I will say, if you are a regular commuter on the 407, you really must like to drive and it is not for the faint of heart. I regularly drive at a speeds of 130 to 140kmph and other drivers are blowing by me. 130kmph appears to be the average speed of most drivers and if you are driving 130kmph you better not be in the passing lane. I find that the drivers on the 407 tend to follow proper driving etiquette and nobody drives in the passing lane unless they are actually passing you. It is a bit out of my way to head up to the 407 but what I save in time and my sanity makes it worth it. Would I prefer to be able to just hop on a train or subway to get up here, you bet! But it seems a long time in coming. For now, I will zoom along the Autobahn and pay my $3 and arrive at work a little less exasperated.
Quote of the day:
“Automobiles are free of egotism, passion, prejudice and stupid ideas about
where to have dinner. They are, literally, selfless. A world designed for
automobiles instead of people would have wider streets, larger dining rooms,
fewer stairs to climb and no smelly, dangerous subway stations.”

P. J. O'Rourke