Community disservice. Thanks, Rexall.

Rexall Pharmacy has gotten on a lot of folks’s bad sides in Pembroke this past weekend. As the locals are aware, the 2010 Christmas parade ended up happening on Saturday. We were there, for all the fun that was–a separate entry on that’s coming. The parade’s route this year, as it does nearly every year, took it up Pembroke’s main street, past several stores, at least one Tim Horton’s, and several conveniently located apartment buildings. As a result, sidestreets were blocked along the parade route up to about half an hour before it was supposed to start. Standard operating procedure in Pembroke–one of the very few things that actually makes sense about the place. Enter the suck of the weekend.

The likelyhood of people actually wanting to play customer for the duration of the parade is pretty much next to nill. So we pulled into a Rexall Pharmacy parking lot, intent on leaving our vehicle there and finding us a spot along the parade route–a short walk away–to stand and watch. At least two members of pharmacy staff were quick to come out of the store, and make a very good show of telling us, and the family we were with, that the parking lot was reserved for customers and we were to move our vehicles immediately. One of the members of the family we were with, who was driving their vehicle, was inside having a prescription filled. The staffer who talked to them instructed them to go inside, get the keys from the driver, and move the vehicle. Several more people who had intended to leave their vehicles there, and may or may not have thought about dropping into the store before the parade, got the same lecture.

As said, as soon as the parade started, there weren’t a whole lot of people actually in the store–most if not all of them were standing on the side of the street, with us, watching the parade–and bitching about having been told to give up their parking space for nonexistent customers. But that having been said, the sidestreets on either side of where we were were blocked off, and Rexall wasn’t the only store who’s parking lot was quickly filling with spectators. I’m still curious where, exactly, the pharmacy staffers would have prefered we go. I don’t particularly think there was a preference–just as long as it wasn’t Rexall’s parking lot, which was–as we pointed out to the pharmacy staffer–shortly left pretty vacant after all the evictions were handed out.

A note to Rexall Pharmacy. There’s a parade on. That parade runs pretty well right past your store. Do you think you’re gonna get very many customers for the hour it’s actually running? Trust me, none of your sales are that good. And hey look at that, the prescription wasn’t even ready when the parade winded down–making the folks we were with still your customers for the duration of the parade. Who knew?

Related: When folks actually do have motives for pulling into your parking lot other than to watch the parade–like, for instance, ordering a prescription–it’s probably not a good idea to kick them off your property. You tend to actually *lose* customers that way. Oh, right–they were watching the parade. They weren’t actually customers. Okay forget I said anything.

Own an MP3 player in Canada? You must be a criminal.

So says quite a list of Canadian music artists, anyway, who’re trying to put pressure on the government to introduce a new tax on the players. Naturally, they call it a levy, but look it up–it’s a tax.

The letter urges the ministers to apply a levy to MP3 players that would later be redistributed to artists in royalties, in the same way that levies are currently applied to blank cassettes and CDs as compensation for music that is copied by Canadians.

“MP3 players are this generation’s version of blank media. A copy is a copy and the principle of fair compensation for rights holders should apply whether the copy is made onto blank media or MP3 players,” the artists wrote.

“…We know that you do not want to see a Canada that is devoid of musicians and songwriters, but without fair and balanced treatment, that may be the tragic consequence.”

So once again, for the record, copying CD’s we’ve already purchased should cost us more–even if we’re only doing it so we’re not taking the offending CD’s with us out of the house. Thanks, Nickleback and company, for only proving exactly what I keep saying. And thanks for reinforcing the idea that we’re still getting a better deal from the pirates than you’re offering. I always knew I was making the right decision.

Another touchy feely security oopsy. Have we learned yet?

From the very same folks who brought you this, let me introduce you to an equally disturbing, and just a little tiny bit disgusting, part two.

It certainly appears that the TSA might need a bit more training with these new intrusive groping pat downs. MSNBC has the story of a survivor of bladder cancer, who now has to wear a urostomy bag, which collects his urine for him alongside his body, trying to travel via the airport in Detroit. He tried to explain all of this to the TSA folks, and asked for a private room (as has always been promised) for a pat down, after the TSA decided that something was amiss after he went through the scanner. However, at first the TSA claimed there was no private room, then refused to listen to him explain his medical condition and did not heed warnings about how they were going to break the bag. And, yes, you guessed it, the TSA broke the bag, covering the guy and his clothes in urine, which he was unable to clean up until after boarding his plane.

Training, people, training. Oh, wait. Yeah, forget I said anything. Folks, if you’re going to go on a ranty mcrampage about how the terrorists are everywhere and we should just shut up and be scanned, you might want to give not being an absolute moron about it a try. And yes, when a guy with a urostomy bag says “You’re gonna break the bag, you tool,” he really does mean you’re gonna break the bag, you tool. Once again, training. Go buy you some. Screw flying–I’m sticking with Greyhound.

Dalton McGuinty’s definition of save: Spend more!

So Ontario’s premier finally gets that his environmentally friendly initiatives re: hydro are very slowly and very painfully breaking the bank. In response, he’s decided to offer us a generous 10% rebate on our hydro bills, starting in the new year. Just ignore the 46% increase over the course of the 5-year period that rebate’s supposed to be effective. He’s saving you money, really. And your taxes didn’t go up, either. Stop listening to the provincial conservatives–clearly, they know not what they’re talking about. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a 50-page letter to throw at Hydro One.

Sorry, the TSA just did what?

Okay, I get it. Terrorism’s everywhere and you can never be too safe, yada yada yada. But was this really required, Transport Security Administration?

There certainly are a lot of TSA search stories these days but it’s an important topic, so we’ll keep covering it as long as there are interesting stories. The latest, found via Slashdot, is of a three year old girl who got a full pat down while screaming at the TSA agents not to touch her. Apparently, she was initially upset at having to send her teddy bear through the machine and she then refused to go through the scanning device herself. Her actions somehow set off the scanner’s alarm, leading to a TSA agent trying to do a forced pat down. The girl’s father is a reporter and caught 17-seconds of the pat down on his mobile phone.

Um. Why, on God’s green and blue planet, would you put a 3-year-old through this crap? Is the US government that overly paranoid that they’ll traumatize a kid for the sake of national security? I mean, I know politically the place has gone straight to hell in a handbag the last 10 years or so. Really, I do. But I always figured even that broken system had its limits. Apparently, if it does, we haven’t found them yet. Talk about your perfect way to up the anxiety level. If that kid ever willingly boards a plane again, I’ll be freaking amazed. Meantime, I’m really hoping for a lawsuit or something. Just goes to show ya, any good idea can be a very wicked nightmare in the hands of an asshole. Thanks for that, TSA. Now, please, go die.

Clive Doucet doesn’t get the meaning of “Stop emailing me”. Again.

In 2009, I had a very short, two email long conversation with Ottawa councillor Clive Doucet during the OC Transpo strike. The exchange quite literally consisted of one email in each direction. And the email coming from his direction pretty much told me and my valid–and not disputed–criticisms of the city’s handling of the strike to escentially screw off. Flash forward a few months. I get an email from Doucet related to his position on 2009’s municipal budget. This one contains no unsubscription option–so it gets a reply from me, telling him to kick me off whatever distribution list my one email to him in January of 09 seems to have landed me on.

Flash forward another few months. I get two more emails, in the span of two weeks. They both get replied to, with the same request. All goes quiet, so I figure this time, it worked. Flash forward to late in 2009. I’ve moved out of Ottawa by this point. The first of the emails re: actually doing something with Lansdowne Park besides stare at it come across my desk–for the record, the project was brought up in the media in late 2008. Once again, emails get replied to–this time, with the added note that I’m no longer living in Ottawa and would really like to not have to resort to technical methods of blocking these emails. All goes quiet, until municipal election talk starts up. Then, emails start coming to me from Doucet’s election-related mailbox. This one, thank Christ, has an unsubscribe option. I made very quick use of it. Then, I wrote this entry. I didn’t hear anything more from “Clive Doucet for Mayor”, at least.

Flash forward to today. I was introduced this morning to yet another mailing from Doucet’s city of Ottawa mailbox. And, surprise of surprises, it’s back to discussing the Lansdowne project–which they really can’t be doing much about until the new council takes over in December anyway. Also surprise of surprises, this one doesn’t have an unsubscribe option. Time for yet another reply to a soon to be former councillor.

Another small note to Clive. I already opted out–multiple times–of both your mailing lists. That’s usually an indication I don’t want to be emailed. Please, for the love of everything good and all that, say no to spam. We still don’t like opt-out mailing lists.

Things to keep in mind if you’re a politician: accessible does not mean blame the other guys.

When it’s brought to your attention that your office is somewhat less than accessible, particularly when you happen to be the member of parliament in charge of things to do with people with disabilities, the appropriate response would be to:
A: Appologise and work towards fixing it where possible, such as possibly looking for a more accessible location to have your riding office moved to.
B: Propose alternative locations to meet with people who have difficulty actually getting to the offending riding office.
C: Issue a fluff press release about how much your government’s doing for people with disabilities, then move on.
D: Blame the liberals.

Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, decided to pick option D.

“Bob Speller is simply trying to distract from the dismal Liberal record on helping person with disabilities,” said a statement from Finley’s office. “In fact, Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals are constantly voting against support for persons with disabilities such as when they voted against the creation of the historic Registered Disabilities Saving Plan and the Enabling Accessibility Fund.”

That’s cold comfort to her constituents who must make an appointment with Finley and meet her off-site, perhaps at Tim Horton’s.

I’m not sure what to be more irritated with. The fact this chick’s got a visual impairment and should therefore know better than to make a statement like that, or that statements like that are the norm when folks get called out for crap like this–at just about all levels of government. Or both, in equal proportions.

Small note to Minister Finley. You’re in charge of things to do with people finding employment. You’re also in charge of things to do with people with disabilities. You are, therefore, in charge of things to do with people with disabilities finding employment. Please stop being a tool and actually try removing a barrier that keeps certain individuals in your constituency away from you. And please, for God’s sake, stop with the making it all about the liberals. I’m sure they didn’t put you in an inaccessible office. Nor, I’m sure, are they making it difficult for you to move, should you decide to do so.

Note to Stephen Harper. I think you need a new minister.

I don’t get Rogers.

Run this past the logical part of your brain and tell me if I’m out to lunch. The phone company tells you you owe them 158 dollars by end of month. Because you’re not made of money, and they’re not the only ones who’d like you to hand over what you do have of it, you strike up what you think is a vaguely sensible arangement that will both give them their money and not leave your bank account crying on the floor. The arangement is, according to the phone company, going to result in not needing to drop a nuclear warhead on their accounts receiveable department about your service being suspended for non-payment. So, you pay according to that arangement. Then, fast forward a week or so. You’re trying to do something with your phone, and get the lovely privilege of speaking to accounts receiveable about your service being suspended.

That got to be me with Rogers first thing this morning. Now, I have a question. Is it common practice at Rogers to tell the customer one thing and document the opposite? When I called a week ago, I was told I wouldn’t need to deal with service restoration according to the arangement. In the notes, apparently, was a different storry–I was aPparently made aware that such an arangement wouldn’t guarantee I’d avoid a suspension. Naturally, I provided the agent I got to argue with today with an education. 20 minutes later and service ended up being reenabled.

A suggestion for Rogers employees. If indeed you must insist on not getting your info straight, perhaps give not escentially calling your customers liars during acts of not getting your info straight. It really makes you look like idiots. Well, more so than usual. Please to be seasing and desisting. That’d be awesome.

Attention Sharron Angle: Canada hates you right now.

According to certain fragments of the US political system, Canada’s little more than a terrorist haven. The latest spokesperson of that line of thinking? Nevada senate candidate Sharron Angle. According to this lovely ray of sunshine, the border shared between the US and Canada is the most porous border America has. This, of course, all to further the claim that the 9/11 terrorists came into the US through Canada–a claim that’s been buried so many times since 9/11 I’m actually kind of surprised it’s still breathing.

Hey, Sharron? Turn around. Yeah, that way. See that other border over there? You know, the one with all the “undocumented immigrants” casually jumping the fense? Yeah, there you go. bitch about that one. If you’re looking for porous borders, you can probably start there. Or is the fact George Bush pretty much twisted our arms to slap a requirement for passports to cross the border into the US not secure enough for you?

PS: Canada has no control over border security going into the US, thank you kindly. If we took control of that, you’d still be throwing a fit. So, please, if you must blame the nonexistent Canada/US border problems on someone, throw it at your customs folks–you know, those guys who actually get to decide hey, you don’t get to step foot in the US.

Canada’s not exactly very impressed with you right now. No, scratch that. At the moment, we hate you. Oh well, don’t feel too bad. We hate her too.

Note to american Airlines: It’s a cane, not an explosive.

I don’t think Bill diamond will be flying American Airlines any time in the near future. Particularly not after a flight attendant on his trip from Pittsburgh to Chicago decided his cane was, in fact, some kind of threat to airline security and promptly asked him to surrender it.

Now, whether or not you agree with how he handled himself during the afair, it’s a no-brainer this shouldn’t have even come up. Especially given the thing was folded when he boarded–after being taken, I’ll add, to the plane in a wheelchair. I’m not even going to get into the whole issue of his being told to hand over his cane under threat of arrest. Well, except to say um, hell no.

A little note to American Airlines. He’s not carrying a weapon. He’s not carrying something that any sane/reasonable person would determine to be a weapon. And it sure as hell wasn’t potentially explosive. It was a tool for mobility, and whether or not he could get around without it–apparently, this one couldn’t according to the article–you don’t get to decide whether or not he has the option. But, thanks for trying. Next time, try a little harder.

I have met satan, and it is CPanel.

I pride myself on being a geek. A very patient geek, even. But even still, the more I read about CPanel, the more I grew to hate it. And then, I got a chance to indirectly work with it. Now, I’ve come to despise it with the passion of a hundred thousand suns.

I started out helping Shane throw together some kind of a fix for a problem he was having with his WordPress installs. Or rather, several small problems that, when lumped together, became one very hugely gigantic ball of oh my god what the hell am I doing. That was well over 3 hours ago. From there, we ended up blowing away the WordPress install, trying our damnedest to get it to reinstall, banging our heads against Apache and Suexec, and generally coming this close to screaming. My poking at Suexec config files, at least those I could find in that not so cleverly disorganized mess CPanel calls a directory structure, told me it should be working the way it’s supposed to. But when WordPress went to do something as simple as generate a config file, it crapped out with permission errors. Okay, this wasn’t how I invisioned spending an evening, but hey, what the hell else was I gonna do?

So I poked around some more, and discovered when CPanel installs Apache by default, it compiles things in a not very Suexec-friendly way. And convincing it to recompile, as I learned tonight, in such a way that it would actually do what we want without puking all over the place first, well, it wasn’t about to happen instantly. Apparently, something within CPanel tells it it’s alright to slap a random file in /etc to prevent Apache from actually being shut down, even in situations wherein it needs to be shut down–such as, for instance, to be recompiled. Finding that file, then finding out what it’s doing there, then finding out if just plain ripping it out would break anything, took a bit of digging. Then, after much hair pulling with both the web and command line interfaces to CPanel, we eventually, finally, managed somehow to explain what it is we were trying to do. Getting to that point, of course, just had to involve a tech support person from the hosting company who wasn’t a whole lot more clued in than we were–par for the course when you’re us. So we decided to take a random shot in the dark and rip out that file, then try desperately to convince CPanel that yes, it was perfectly alright to do what we’re asking it to do.

After about 2.5 hours of screwing with it, we finally have CPanel singing the right tune. It does its thing, eventually recompiling both apache and PHP to build in support for what we want to do–PHP as CGI through Suexec. Great, so now we just pray to god it works. By this time, my brain is pretty much sawdust, and we still have the initial issue I was trying to fix before all this to work out. Craptacular. So we get to doing that, and thank the freaking gods that goes through without a problem–now that we managed to exhaust just about everything we had access to to get to that point.

At the end of all this, I’ve come to a very important–well, to me, anyway–decision. If ever I find myself in a situation where I’m forced to use CPanel, I will not walk, but run terrifiedly screaming in the exact opposite direction as though this guy was after me. Faster, even, as I swear that thing is the software reincarnation of Satan. If you’re even remotely technical, at all, stay the hell away from CPanel. You *will* lose years off your life. And develop a strange craving for alcohol. Speaking of, where’d I put mine?

New legal defense: “The elves are coming!”.

And they gave this guy firearms? Really?

A Montreal man who was arrested on several charges, including charges related to child porn and uttering death threats on Facebook, along with a few firearms related charges, was bailed out on $25000, posted by his father. David Abitbol says he bought the guns because he believed himself to be stalked by elves–according to him, they’re everywhere. He’s since been banned from owning or using guns, or using any means of electronic communications device. He should have been banned from existing outside of jail, but hey, that’s our criminal justice system for ya. What really throws my head for a spin is, clearly, this guy’s nuttier than a chocolate bar. Hell, he’s admitted that. And they’re still allowing him to move about freely–with restrictions in place that, really if he actually wanted to, he could probably very easily bypass (hello, public computer terminals). Wonder how safe that Montreal neighbourhood feels right about now. On the up side, he gets points for a creative legal defense–it worked well enough, obviously, to get him bail. Props to you, nutty buddy. Now just stay over there. Good crazy.

Another day, another politician’s resignation demanded.

This one, surprise surprise, over a contract to renovate a section of Parliament Hill. The contract which started, and had problems, before the current minister in charge was actually, you know, in charge. And yet, because it’s had problems from day 1, and because he had the unmitigated gall to be at a fund raiser hosted by the guy the contract was awarded to shortly after it was awarded, the opposition demands his head. Really, guys? If every cabinet minister resigned who you demanded do so, you’d be the government by default. Neverminding the fact they’re still pissy over the fact they screamed for Stephen harper to fire one of his ministers already and he actually did. Folks, unemployment is at 8%. Can we deal with that first, *then* let you get back to sniping at each other? It’s almost as bad as that excuse for a debate I watched last night. Except without Andy Hayden. Hey, there’s a good place for him–go join up with the opposition, Andy. You’re a perfect fit.

This week’s terrorist establishment: Campbell’s soups!

Oh, those whacky US conservatives. If it’s not Canada’s healthcare system that’s evil, it’s Canada’s arm of an American corporation. And this week, a group of US-based bloggers have come together to condemn a line of tomato soup said to have been certified as meeting guidelines according to muslim law. The organization chosen by Campbell’s to do the certifying? The Islamic Society of North America–who some of these bloggers have decided to brand as a terrorist organization. The kicker? The product line they’re protesting isn’t even sold in the US. Yep, you read it here first–Canada’s graduated from harbouring terrorist sleeper cells to harbouring terrorist soups. So much for keeping it secret.

Attention Bell Canada. I paid you. Why for you kick me?

I should probably stop being surprised by stuff like this. And I probably will, just not today. I was getting ready to leave yesterday morning, and take Jessica back to Ottawa so she could get back home to that job she loves so much, and also formulating in my head the content of that update I actually have yet to put on paper–or, at least, online. We were due to leave at about 11:30 yesterday morning. At about 20 after 11, I get a phone call from Bell Canada, who I sadly have yet to fully ditch after losing their internet service over two years ago. It’s from their accounts receiveable department. Strange, I think, since the bill isn’t actually due for another few days–and besides, didn’t they already suck out their alotted portion of my soul for this month? Still, we’re already kind of getting into a time crunch, what with making sure Jess has everything ready so we can just grab her stuff and fly. So, knowing we have to leave, knowing they’re closed today, knowing they’ll be closed by the time I get back from Ottawa–turns out, they closed about 2 hours before I got back from Ottawa, I perhaps slightly less diplomatically than I should, tell them I’ll deal with it on Monday. I’d just add it to the list of about a dozen other phone calls I have to make then. Closed ’til Monday, right? Well, er, not really.

We do the Ottawa run, drop in to see folks before ducking out, get back here at 7. Jess is due into Toronto any time now, so I hang out for a bit then decide to call her, make sure the drop kicking of personnel isn’t required so soon into her trip. Pick up the landline, no dial tone. Weird again, I think–it worked well enough that morning for Bell to call me, and our ride to Ottawa to call me after that to say they’re here. Figure it’s just a temporary glitch type thing–the lines here sometimes will do that, for no apparent reason other than somebody thinks it’s fun to not fix things like that. So a few minutes later, I try again, same result. Well, okay, screw this. Grab the cell phone, dial my home number. Number’s not in service. Okay, now this is getting slightly irritating. So I call up Bell’s tech support via my cell phone, which routes me to accounts receiveable–who just so happens to be closed, call back on Monday. So now, as it stands, before I make any of the multiple calls that need to be made tomorrow, I first need to line up and jump down Bell Canada’s throat. Again. This is almost getting to be routine.

Bell. I paid you. Probably more than I should, considering the current state of my bank account. Kindly give me back my phone service so I may make significantly more progress in being gainfully employed, so I can come up with more money with which to pay you until such time as I can work ditching you completely into my plans. And then promptly shove your overeager bill collectors through the nearest doorway to hell. That’d be all kinds of appreciated.

Verizon borrows a play from Rogers’s book. Anyone surprised?

The next time I bitch about my cell phone bill going up while my service takes a giant crap, somebody remind me about this guy. Currently, he’s on a 5 GB data plan with Verizon for $60/month. According to Verizon’s website, there’s nothihg nigher. According to most of Verizon’s available resources–at least, those this poor sucker got his hands on, anyway–there’s nothing higher. Thanks to one generous online sales rep, though, he was able to discover he was being lied to. There is another option–he can either continue to be screwed over by his current data plan and rates, or he can pay over 3 times the price point for twice the service.

This sounds vaguely familiar. Gee, I wonder why that is? Verizon, please to be not finding new and creative ways to improve on Rogers’s suckitude. Seriously. I really don’t want to have to assign you your own category over here–I can’t even be a customer of yours. And now, I’m not entirely sure I’d want to.

An open letter to Wind Mobile.

I haven’t had much in the way of dealings with Wind Mobile, mostly because they’re not my provider. I’ve thought about switching, though, off and on. Particularly after my well-documented complaints about my current carrier, Rogers. However, this weekend has kind of made me reconsider Wind Mobile as an option for the day when I finally do get fed up enough to switch. Apparently, Wind has a policy in place wherein calls longer than 2 hours are rather abruptly dropped. Now, I’m not exactly one for spending multiple hours on the phone on a regular basis, but there’s times when that’s kind of required. Particularly in situations wherein the first hour is spent on hold and/or being transferred from one department to another–hello, CRA. Jess and I were on the phone with a Wind customer last night, and the night before. Both calls, rather abruptly, got hung up on thanks to Wind Mobile. It’s apparently written into their policies that they have that authority. Just what everyone likes to here, yeah? So after the appropriate amount of WTF, we got it in our heads to actually say something about it.

During the offending conversation in which we were introduced for the second time to the 2-hour cutoff, we pulled wind Mobile into the conversation and the one with the valid account filed a formal complaint. They also received warning there would be an open letter to follow.

In digging up info for a basis for that open letter, we found ourselves another, slightly more irritating, piece of information. Their terms of service, and their offending fair usage policy that was the original spawn for the letter to Wind, are in PDF files. I don’t know how much good or bad luck anyone’s had with PDF files, but depending on the day and which machine I’m sitting behind–hey, some of them aren’t entirely mine–the very act of trying to get into the offending files becomes the source of a whole new brand of headache. So now, Wind Mobile’s Ken Campbell, also known as its CEO, gets a dual-purpose email from me. That email, complete with the newest piece of irritation, finds itself below. Welcome to open communication, wind.

From: James Homuth [] Sent: October 10, 2010 5:19 PM To: ‘’ Subject: Re: Wind Mobile’s fair usage policy, and accessibility concerns.

Mr. Campbell,

I’d like to draw your attention to a policy of a somewhat questionable nature. That policy, being your “fair usage” policy, grants Wind Mobile the authority to intentionally drop calls without warning after approximately the 2 hour mark. As a potential customer who has at one time considered switching to Wind Mobile, this policy has served only to confirm that, in the event I am in need of a change of carrier, Wind Mobile will not be on my list of potential alternatives.

In the first, at present you are the only company who currently disconnects customers, with or without warning, for perceived reasons of fair usage. Given how little network resources are actually consumed by a typical call over a typical cellular network, the reasoning behind this policy fails to be anything more than a perception–and, at the moment, not one that has been viewed favourably. In the second, as this restriction also affects users on your unlimitted packages, I believe advertising those unlimitted packages in light of such a restriction is misleading at best, and extremely dishonest at worst. And in the third, you are aware of customers’ genuine disapproval re: the dropping of calls by the major networks, who claim those calls are being dropped accidentally. To then announce in a “fair usage” policy that you will be intentionally dropping those calls indicates to me, as a potential customer of wind Mobile, that you are either ignorant of that fact, or simply unconcerned. In either event, this policy flies in the face of what I believe to be Wind Mobile’s intentions are re: differing themselves from the major carriers. We don’t need a carrier intentionally doing precisely what the major carriers regularly receive criticism for. We particularly don’t need it from a carrier who spent most of its pre-launch marketting time advertising itself as not like the major carriers. I would strongly encourage you to reconsider and correct what I see as a policy malfunction, as I am aware of a growing number of your current customers who, in light of this, are presently reconsidering their decision to remain with Wind Mobile.

My second concern is re: accessibility of information available on your website. Currently, both your terms and conditions and your “fair usage” policy are available only as PDF’s from Wind Mobile’s website. From an accessibility viewpoint, that is simply unacceptable. It is no guarantee that those without disabilities will be able to open and view PDF files, thus rendering them unable to access the afore mentioned documents. It is even less likely that, in the event the system in use is able to open and display the PDF files, a disabled person will even be able to read them. Which, again, virtually guarantees they will not be able to access the documents in question. You are encouraged, strongly, to consider converting the PDF documents to a more readable format, such as HTML, or have an HTML document available–and easily obtainable–in the alternative. Failure to provide this accomodation may leave you in violation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, among other regulations.

Wind Mobile’s available offerings, these limitations notwithstanding, stand head and shoulders above Rogers, Bell and Telus–all of whom I have previously had dealings with. The removal of the restrictions outlined in this communication will, in effect, also remove the last of the major concerns I have re: possibly switching from my current carrier to Wind Mobile. I sincerely hope you will take this under advisement, and I will be available for further questions/comments on the issues addressed in this letter. Please also be advised that, due to the significance of the issues raised, this will be an open communication, viewable publicly at I will continue to address these issues on this website until such time as they are resolved. I look forward to further conversation with you on how best to resolve the issues in question.

Sincerely, James Homuth (Contact info removed–I hate spam)

There’s a special place in hell reserved for you, sir. Right this way.

Further proof that blind does not, in fact, mean an easy target, just in case folks are keeping track of things like this. A guy in Windsor, Ontario, walked into apartments belonging to two blind people while they were occupied–one was in the bathroom, for crying out loud–and proceeded to steal from them. His first victim, the one who was in the bathroom, reported her glasses and some jewellery missing to the police, and said she got at least a partial look at the guy doing it on his way out–so, okay, she wasn’t totally blind, but still. The second was kind of an act of stupid on both their parts–the victim was apparently asleep, with his door unlocked. The guy leaving woke him up when the door closed, at which point he discovered his wallet and cell phone missing. When police found him, they called the missing cell phone, still turned on and in his pocket. Can we say busted by ring tone?

Needless to say he’s not doing so hot right now. Still, the fact this guy was specificly targetting blind people–yeah, even if he had some incredibly horrible luck with the ones he picked–puts him in his own, special little category. There’s blind folks out there who, for lack of a better way to put it, don’t have the observational skills or the mental capacity to put it all together if something like that should happen to them. Which I get the impression was what this guy was expecting. I should know–I went to school with a few of them. He could have easily walked in on one of those type, plucked up whatever he was interested in, turned around and left without even breaking a sweat. If anyone noticed at all, by the time they did he’d probably have already done whatever he was going to do with what he stole and realisticly, finding him at that point would be a little more than difficult. These two just happened to be part of a shrinking minority, so he was escentially screwed from the second he opened the first victim’s door. Still, for someone who’d try something like that, regardless to his chances of actually pulling it off without the victim either reporting him or just outright kicking his ass, it takes a special kind of character. There’s a special place in hell for that kind of character, if you believe in such things. Personally, if such places do exist, he’s got himself a first class reservation. Here’s hoping he likes the view. makes me aware of their existence, and why I shouldn’t use them.

My LiveJournal account’s been active since 2008 or thereabouts. All those entries, plus the entries of my old blog, were recently ported over here for the sake of my sanity. Since setting up this blog, I haven’t bothered directly posting to LJ–I’ve simply been letting the entries I write here be crossposted over there automatically. Also recently, I’ve taken steps to remove my LiveJournal account from search engines for reasons of benefitting this site. So colour me surprised when, who claims to be yet another job search engine in Canada, sends me an email referencing a section of my LJ. And, rather, shining a light on their business practices that makes me very glad I don’t actually deal with them.

From: Jean-Baptiste Perrin []
Sent: Fri 01/10/2010 9:04 AM
To: Me
Subject: Site suggestion:


I saw the following page of your site:

and thought you might be interested in adding some useful content concerning:

job offers – Canada

To clarify what we do, is a job search engine. In one simple search, it gives job seekers access to a huge selection of jobs that are sourced from various internet sites, saving the trouble of having to visit each site individually.

What I thought useful for your site, would be:
A direct link –
A JobBox –
A SearchBox –

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me by email or telephone.

Kind regards,

Jean-Baptiste Perrin
Production Manager

Tel.: +1 (514) 448-4556

I’m sending this back to him as a response.

Hello, Jean-Baptiste,

Thank you for suggesting that you use my website as an advertising platform. Unfortunately, I do not run an employment advertising service, nor do I possess any interest in being spammed. You are strongly encouraged to reevaluate your business practices in this area, as I have had absolutely no interaction with your website and as of now, will void any potential plans to do so. Thank you, however, for providing me with advanced warning.

PS: Your letter to me, and this response, are now an open correspondence and will, as of the submitting of this response, be publicly available.

In case it isn’t obvious, I absolutely despise spammers. Except when they have mock value. I especially hate it when they come disguised as avenues to help find people jobs. Sorry, but when I get random emails begging for promotion, particularly from websites I have absolutely nothing to do with, it’s red flag city. On the bright side, I now know which site to stay away from. Thanks for that favour, if nothing else, Jean-Baptiste.

Now why didn’t I think of this?

This would have solved my employment issues ages ago. A law professor at the university of windsor, Emily Carasco, has launched a discrimination claim against the university for not appointing her Dean of law. And while the claim is still being heard, the human rights tribunal of Ontario has decided to come out and state rather clearly it has the authority to remove the current Dean and appoint her in place should her claim be successful.

Apparently, she and another candidate were rejected, thus prompting a new search. She’s insisting a colleague of hers sabotaged her efforts to actually gain the position.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario says it has the power to both remove and appoint university deans, according to a new ruling in the case of a woman who claims racism and sexism were behind her rejection as Dean of Law at the University of Windsor.

Professor Emily Carasco alleges a colleague “sabotaged” her candidacy last spring by raising historical allegations of plagiarism with the search committee, and as part of her human rights complaint, she asked the tribunal to over-rule the school and appoint her dean.

And sure enough, according to the article, our lovely human rights tribunals do have that power.

This surprising power derives from the section of the Ontario Human Rights Code that empowers the tribunal to make “an order directing any party to the application to do anything that, in the opinion of the tribunal, the party ought to do to promote compliance with this Act.”

Although it is relatively common in labour relations law for successful complainants to be restored to their rightful jobs, even if they have since been filled, there is no precedent for such a high-level job being dictated by a human rights tribunal, and academic freedom would surely figure prominently in arguments over such an order.

“Anything”, in this case, could potentially include handing over a position to someone whom the university has, for whatever reason, determined doesn’t actually meet the qualifications–or is otherwise unsuitable. I wouldn’t begrudge Emily her day in court–even if I don’t agree this case should have gotten this far, but it kinda makes me think. If all that stands between you and a well-paying job is a discrimination claim, neverminding whether or not the people doing the hiring think you qualified enough for the job in the first place, my employment fortunes may just complete a 180-degree turn. To hell with that other guy’s half dozen more years of experience than me–I’m disabled, and therefore I’m entitled to that job. Yeah, now tell me Canada’s human rights codes haven’t gone out to lunch.

Attention Greyhound. This failing business is not called for.

It used to be, every time I came up with a wicked evil plot to get me on the US side of the border, the Canadian version of the Greyhound service–website, customer service line, occasionally the station itself–would tend to throw a small fit. Or an extremely large one, depending on the phase of the moon. I had thought, on my last trip down there, we’d managed to convince it that it wants to sort itself out once and for all. Clearly, I was categorically wrong.

It actually started before I went down to Rochester this last time–Jessica had come up for my birthday, and so I could propose to her. And, in attempting to organize such an event, or rather in the attempt at its execution, it was the US arm of Greyhound’s turn to successfully fall over sideways. They weren’t exactly experts at organization to begin with, as evidenced by the fact none of them ever seemed to actually have the foggiest idea what the guy next to him was doing. Because of that, she ended up missing by an hour the connection she was supposed to catch to leave Toronto. That was apparently a warning shot.

We’re having a sort of get-together thinggy, as we almost always do, for Canadian thanksgiving. The family shows up at mom’s and doesn’t leave until at least half of us can’t move. Yesterday was mostly spent trying to invent a way of getting Jess up here so she could join us, now that we know she’s got the room to do it. That was also when we stumbled across the company’s apparent constant state of confusion.

Let me throw a little background up here for the sake of your sanity. During the summer, they have two possible ways you can get up here from Rochester, usually. You can either go through Buffalo and then Toronto–the usual way, or they occasionally run a shorter route that goes through Syracuse. Usually by now, the Syracuse route is canceled and you’re just left with the Buffalo route. That route does take roughly twice as long, but it’s usually almost always running, so we tend to lean more towards that one for obvious reasons.

Now, back to yesterday being what it was. I’d intended to look it up and throw the money at a bus ticket while she was at work. So I poked around the site–which, just for the record, is somehow even more of a disorganized cluster fuck than it used to be, and came up with a single solitary bus route. That being the route through Syracuse. Now, me being as observant as I sometimes am, that sets off at least one alarm in the brain–don’t tell me we’re going to have to do this dance again. So I punched up the Canadian answer to Greyhound’s website, ran the trip as if I was going to book it–of course, it won’t let me purchase it on the Canadian side but at this point, I don’t need it to. And wouldn’t you know, the various Buffalo routes I expected to see on the US site are listed right there before my very eyes–er, ears. And no Syracuse route. Well now, isn’t this just peachy.

So clearly, one of the two sites is lying to me. I call up the US number for the line down there, and have a very informative conversation with their customer service monkey. And by informative, I mean they see exactly what I see on their website and know pretty much exactly what I know re: why they’re seeing it. Yeah, colour me educated. So at this point, I’ve got two different versions of the same company’s info telling me two different things, and no actual way to smash the two of them together and form some kind of coherent idea as to what the options for this thing actually are. So instead, we created our own.

Jess ended up buying the ticket to come up through Syracuse, simply because it was there. And because I have a sneaking suspicion doing anything different would require a trip in person to the station–and while it’s not much in the way of cab fare, it’s enough when you’re going to be doing it again in a week anyway. Either the route’s running, and she’ll get here a hell of a lot earlier than usual–which means she can be back here and somewhat rested by mid-afternoon for the first time since the first trip she took up here, or she’ll get to drop kick a customer service monkey in person, and I’ll get to drop kick one over the phone, until such time as her ticket ends up changed to reflect a route that *is* running, at no cost, and she’ll get here no later–well, minus Greyhound’s repeating its earlier failure–than she usually does. She does have a ticket, at either case. the question of for which bus, well, we’ll sort that out when it gets around to being time.

In the meantime, a small little tiny note to Greyhound. Please, for the love of everything relatively sane, stop with the failing. Now-ish. I’d appreciate it immensely.

Another study states the obvious: banning texting while driving doesn’t work.

How many different institutions are going to come up with things like this before governments get the hint? Yeah, I’m looking at you too, Dalton Mcguinty. A Verginia-based organization examined collision claims and accident paterns in several states, both with and without laws against texting while driving, starting before states began instituting these laws. And, surprising hopefully no one with a clue, they stumbled upon the fact that these laws don’t actually do anything. In 3 out of the 4 states they surveyed who have anti-text laws in place, the number of claims actually increased after passing these laws, and the usual collision paterns didn’t change a whole lot when compared to states who didn’t institute these laws.

What I’d be curious to know is what these people thought legislating common sense was actually going to accomplish besides nothing. Particularly when this particular common sense legislation can’t exactly be easy to enforce. Seriously, I can’t even see and it doesn’t take me long to dash off a quick text to whoever. It’d probably take someone who could see even less time than that–thus, the evidence would kind of be long gone before anyone who felt like playing the good samaritan could actually get the attention of the nearest policeman. Yes, we know driving and texting isn’t safe. At least, anyone with even a slight grasp of the obvious knows. But they still do it anyway. They’ll still do it if, God forbid, either the Canadian or US federal government gets around to making it an offense–strictly because of the lack of ability to actually enforce it. The article gets it right pointing out it’s not new laws that are going to change this kinda thing, but rather, social adjustment and education. Now, if only someone would socially adjust and educate Dalton Mcguinty, and apparently a few US governors. Hey, one can always dream.

Update: This Techdirt article does more explaining of my point than me. And they’re better at it. So go read them.

Making piracy look good. Again, thanks, CRIA.

God knows there’s about a hundred million arguments in favour of downloading music for free and, supposedly, illegally. And about 3 against it. Argument number 100000001: the licensing fees they’re asking for are a sad attempt at redefining insane. Take the situation surrounding Pandora, an online music streaming service, as an example. The Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), in its latest attempt to make itself look so hard done by, has decided if the service wants to come to Canada, it’s going to cost them nearly half its gross revenue in Canada to do so. Naturally, in response to the CRIA, Pandora has once again told Canada to go straight to hell. Here’s the kicker, though. According to CRIA president Graham Henderson, it’s not the CRIA’s fault. No, couldn’t be them.

The music industry, meanwhile, says its fees are not the problem. It says music-related businesses are reluctant to enter Canada because of the country’s reputation as a file-sharing haven where music fans can download songs illicitly without fear of penalty.

“Why would you spend a lot of money trying to build a service in Canada when Canadians take so much without paying for it?” said Graham Henderson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association, which represents major record labels.

“(Canadians) just seem to have no appetite for a legal marketplace.”

Sorry, Graham, but not entirely accurate. We just have no appetite for being screwed over 6 ways from Sunday by the recording industry, who already gets money from us for things that don’t have anything to do primarily with the recording of music–tax on blank CD’s, potential tax on flash drives, anyone? But best not to let those inconvenient little facts get in the way of your perception of reality. Yep, it’s all the fault of the pirates. Those pirates you could easily be convincing to change their minds–I even told you how. Graham, please, just stop failing. Like right now. You’re only making yourself come off like an idiot.

In the meantime, if you want similar functionality to what Pandora offers–with, I think, a somewhat more useful interface–give Jango a try. It, for the moment, hasn’t been drop kicked by the CRIA. Enjoy it while you can. I think I’ll go fire it up right now in tribute.

It’s amazing what some folks will call a disability now.

I’m still curious what the human rights people’s explanation is for this.

The Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld rulings that denying two chronic alcoholics long-term support payments would violate the province’s Human Rights Code.

The Ontario Disability Support Program had argued over the years the men should be ineligible for benefits because their sole impairment was severe alcoholism.

That argument had been rejected by the Social Benefits Tribunal in 2006 and last year by the Ontario Divisional Court, and the support program director took the case to the Appeal Court.

The Appeal Court on Thursday upheld the earlier rulings, saying that denying benefits to Robert Tranchemontagne and Norman Werbeski — who died a year ago — would be discriminatory, based on their disability.

It rejected arguments the men should instead collect welfare, which would require them to look for a job and get help with their alcoholism.

Welfare payments would be about half of what recipients receive in long-term disability.

So because a couple people who can’t be bothered making use of the more than a few options open to them re: getting a halfway decent job, the appropriate counselling–paid for by us, most likely–so they can at least have a chance at not drinking, and generally having a far more decent life than they’re giving themselves now are too lazy to do any of the above, Ontario’s human rights commission–and, apparently, the court of appeals–escentially states they get to be lumped in with those of us who just so happen to actually be disabled because… why, exactly? They can’t drink as much on welfare? They might actually have to eventually work? Seriously, I’m clueless here.

How is it, exactly, that two people who’s only “disability” is the fact they can’t seem to let go of the bottle long enough to get their heads on straight get to sit there and say they’re disabled, meanwhile the actual disabled among us pretty much get the shaft, and are at the same time trying to wiggle their way off this fish hook Ontario’s government calls a support program? Okay, I get it–kicking the habbit’s hard. I’ve got an uncle who’s been quitting off and on since before I was born. It sucks. Just like quitting smoking sucks. Or getting over your addiction to pain killers. Or any number of bad habbits people pick up for one or more of several hundred reasons. I get that. But being addicted to smoking, or pain killers, or any number of those other bad habbits, isn’t a disability. Neither, contrary to what our lovely HRC would like us to believe, is alcoholism.

Not entirely too long ago–in fact, I’m pretty sure it’s still going on in one way, shape or form–a relative of mine ended up with some pretty significant health issues. Not to get into any major details–folks I talk to on a regular basis already know the specifics, but it’s resulted in some pretty unhealthy complications that pretty much kept him doing as little as humanly possible while he recovered, on doctor’s orders. That same doctor also told him 3 things he was to start doing, as soon as humanly possible after he was pretty well recovered, in order to avoid a repeat–and, yes, so he could eventually get back to work. In no specific order they were: knock off the smoking, get a reasonable amount of exercise, lose some weight. He did none of those three. Instead, he started the ball rolling to try and collect his own disability paycheck. I don’t believe he ever succeeded, though he may still be trying–in all honesty, I haven’t been bothered to ask. But, he took that approach because it was easier–because he wouldn’t have to change anything then, and he and his family could still keep living most of the lives they were used to. Of course, meanwhile while he was trying to pull off that maneuver, money was tighter than anything and his wife ended up having to take a minimum wage job just to keep the roof over their heads–she hadn’t worked for at least 25 years until then. I continue to maintain he shouldn’t get a dime from ODSP, and neither, in my honest opinion, should these two.

Now, yeah, I’m definitely not the biggest fan MCSS and the Ontario Disability Support Program have at the moment. I’ll admit that. But in this case, if only because it illustrates in its most simplistic way part of what’s making the rest of us come up with the short end of the stick, I’m falling in step right beside them on this one. Save the disability payments for those of us who’re actually, you know, disabled. And get the one guy who’s still alive some freaking help. Seriously.

The state of Oregon screws up huge, wants the victim to pay for it.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. a woman from Alberta, Canada, marries a US citizen who’s still maintaining a residence in the US. She takes her kid down there for a vacation, between the three of them they decide the kid will stick around down there while his mother returns to Canada. The dude’s pretty much been the kid’s father, even though he never officially legally adopted him. Kid gets stopped by the cops for riding a bike without a helmet, has a background check run on him. In the course of that check, the police unearth a Canadian social services file on him, set up at his mother’s request to get her hands on the help he’ll need, what with him having ADHD and/or anxiety issues. Police refer the kid to the department of human services, who show up at the stepfather’s house. They take the kid, toss him in the system. The police, compassionate souls they are, charge his mother with abandonment on account of the kid was left with someone who wasn’t his legal guardian.

If it doesn’t sound familiar, don’t be too surprised–it didn’t catch my attention until recently either. This apparently happened in 2008, and according to the state of Oregon, is far from being over. The kid has since been returned to his mother, and you’d assume everyone lives happily ever after, right? Except not so much. Now, the state of Oregon has taken it upon itself to sue his mother for the costs related to fostering and medically caring for this kid while he was in their custody. So, escentially for the majority of the last two years.

Now, at the risk of coming off as someone who thinks he knows everything, does it really have to be specificly outlined exactly where and how many times common sense has kind of been left on the side of the road, here? I’m completely failing to grasp any sense of an understanding as to how in creation their complete screwing up of a child becomes the financial responsibility of the parents who the state just ran over. I mean, alright–so his stepfather didn’t *legally* adopt the kid as his own. He’s married to the kid’s mother. If she wasn’t present right at that moment she was before. They knew this. They also knew, or were subsequently legally informed, they screwed up huge when they stepped in–hence why the kid’s since been returned to where he belongs. So how does that translate into the mother owes the state of Oregon one red cent? I’m not sure I can find me a clue by four big enough for this mess. Way to make yourselves look like assholes, state officials. You just qualified for moron of the year.