• I forgot Ottawa had 2 area codes. In March, it has 3.

    I grew up around here most of my life. Was born here. Went to school not far from here. So I mean, baked into my brain is one area code for this area–613. It completely slipped my mind that we needed, and received, another one–though I wrote about it before it happened. Which, I suppose, should tell you how many people I know–or have received calls from–who actually have it. Somehow, we’re getting a third.

    The Telecommunications Alliance announced the new 753 area code will be introduced in the regions currently served by area codes 343 and 613 starting March 26.

    Once the new area code is introduced, Ottawa and eastern Ontario residents and businesses requesting a new phone number may receive one beginning with 753.

    “Numbers with the new area code will only be assigned once there is no longer a sufficient supply of numbers with the existing area codes,” the Telecommunications Alliance said in a news release.

    Couple more of these and we’ll start to feel a little bit more like toronto. I’m not entirely sure if that’s the end goal, mind, but… there it be.

    In related news, we now have 3 area codes ending in 3. Either this is a weird coincidence or somebody somewhere has a little superstition thing happening…

  • Redefining the BSOD.

    Windows’s ever famous (or, if you’d prefer, infamous) blue screen of death (BSOD). Cryptic, irritating, and generally all manner of useless–even if you happen to be a technical person with a degree of somewhat impressive Google foo. Basically, a BSOD is a bad time. But with Microsoft apparently getting into the gaming industry in a big way, I mean, maybe–maybe that changes? Maybe?

    Microsoft is buying the gaming company Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, gaining access to blockbuster games like Call of Duty and Candy Crush.

    The all-cash deal will let Microsoft, maker of the Xbox gaming system, accelerate mobile gaming and provide building blocks for the metaverse, or a virtual environment.

    ActivisionBlizzard, formerly–separately–Activision and Blizzard, are so recognized in the gaming community that even the blind geek from the middle of nowhere who’s never playd Call of Duty knows who these people are. So I got to thinking. This could be promising for Microsoft.

    It’s the blue screen of death, right? More often than not, some part of your system has just, entirely, had it up to hear and fried its everything. But it’s boring. It’s absolutely, undeniably, the worst. Not to mention you’ve got a 3-day migraine after reading the thing enough times to properly retain the error code you need to look up from the other machine that’s in the other room because, well, your current one’s dead. So I was thinking. Maybe we pretty it up a little.

    Diablo 2: Resurrected - Diablo Boss Fight 4K

    There. Now that’s a little better. And, if nothing else, at least a little more entertaining. This happens for real, I might not nuke my next blue screen from orbit. Eh, a guy can dream.

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  • I’m not a developer. I just get to play one at work.

    I’ve never had the time, and when I’ve had the time I’ve never had the money, to sit down and properly learn pretty much anything that would qualify as the criteria you’d use to call yourself a developer. Learning code has always been one of those “I’ll get to it when I have free time” type deals that, well, never ended up materializing because I never ended up having free time. Welp, I still don’t have much in the way of free time, but now I can at least mess with some of the tools the code junkies make regular use of.

    We’re doing a pretty significant reorg of some of our internal processes, and that includes some of our internal training–well, most of it, really. And since I’m part of that project, I immediately glommed on to what you might call a bit of a tangle. It’s no secret I work for the WordPress people, so it should be no surprise that much of our documentation happens in a thing based on WordPress. Good idea, except for the parts that aren’t.

    I’m a fan of letting the things that are good at doing stuff do that stuff. WordPress is an amazing communication tool. But projects and issues aren’t a thing it can do. GitHub, on the other hand, pretty much makes that its bread and butter. So where a primary use might be for, say, developing a WordPress plugin, we’re co-opting parts of it for our own undesirable uses. Project tracking and routine maintenance.

    This means I get to play around with automation and try to see what I can break in the span of a week. And, since my coworkers have a bunch of premade automations I can probably punk to fill a hole, and since my very first college Linux prof’s rule number 2 (*) was “work smarter, not harder”, I figure that’ll get me started while I wrap my head around YML–has it really been 10 years since I touched YML? Jesus. I said I like a challenge, but I really need to do better with picking them.

    Sure, what I’m going with is probably overkill for what problem I’m trying to solve. But, the problem will be solved, and if 3 more come up I’ll probably have the equipment left over. If absolutely nothing else, I get to pretend like I’m an actual developer for a while. And, I mean, that can almost never go wrong. Except when it does. But it’s not like I’m pretending to develop a Twitter client for blind people (**).

    (*): My prof’s rule number 1 was “read all the words”. To this day I’m surprised how many people… didn’t–we lost marks for that. Yes, even on the final exam. Especially on the final exam.

    (**): We technically just renamed a couple of variables and maybe added a few shortcuts that didn’t exist previously, but for the most part it was basically just a repackaged/repurposed version of an actual Twitter client for blind people. And we mostly did it because we thought we were hot shit. God I wish someone had slapped me. We were many things. Mostly immature. Definitely not developers.

  • Employment is not the answer to the ODSP problem. Neither is a basic income.

    I have a lot to say on the Ford government, and have had all kinds of time to say it so no need to start now, but one thing they have in common with the government they replaced is a focus on finding employment for people who can’t, or shouldn’t, be employed. It was a bad idea in 2012, and is a terrible idea in the middle of a pandemic in 2022. But removing the pandemic from the equation, the government’s implementation absolutely bites.

    We are concerned that the public is not sufficiently aware of what has been happening with regard to the Ontario government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy launched over a year ago. An American “consortium”, FedCap, has been hired to replace the services previously offered by Employment Ontario in 12 regions of Ontario. This change began as a pilot in Peel, Hamilton — Niagara and Muskoka-Kawarthas in October 2020 and was expanded to nine more regions in June 2021. Part of this organization’s mandate is to help people receiving benefits from the Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works find employment. The problem is – this organization does not have a good track record, and advocates for people with disabilities are sounding the alarm.

    The focus of the Poverty Reduction Strategy is to increase the number of people moving from social assistance to employment. On the surface this may seem like a positive goal – but we are talking about many people who have been medically declared unable to work because of a disability. FedCap may be able to find a short-term job for some people with disabilities, but when the measure of success is simply the number of people placed in jobs, the incentive for this organization is to ignore the reality that many of these job placements are for very short-term work that will leave the recipient returning to social assistance again and again. And it is likely that people will be pressured to accept employment for which they are very unsuited.

    Not very encouraging. I mean, the Wynne Liberals and Horwath NDP were trying to screw over the disabled, sure, but they kept it in-house at least. Not Ford. On top of that, this government’s kind of gone back to its old habits again–assuming, perhaps naïvely, that they temporarily gave them up at some point.

    It also appears that the government has determined that this model works before it has even been tested. The pilot, run in the three districts of Peel, Hamilton-Niagara and Muskoka Kawarthas was not completed or evaluated before the same model was rolled out in nine additional regions.

    This model is similar to a failed program tried over two decades in Australia called Jobactive. A 2019 report to the Australian Senate entitled “Jobactive: Failing Those it is Intended to Serve”, made 41 recommendations including several that recipients of the services should be included and consulted in the planning process. Stakeholder consultation has not occurred in Ontario. Those who will rely on this program have not had an opportunity to comment or critique the changes to these services.Historically, we know that privatization in Ontario has not gone well. Think of the privatization of highway maintenance services, highway 407 itself and long-term care facilities. These things have not saved money in the long run and have resulted in inferior service delivery.

    So in 2018, they didn’t wait for a basic income pilot to complete before they killed it. And in 2022, they’re not waiting for an employment services pilot to complete before they decide this is what we’re running with. In both cases, they decided they had all the data they needed–and in both cases, that’s code for they weren’t planning to do anything differently to begin with.

    Now, here’s the thing. I’m not saying “basic income bad”. Not at all. In fact, financially, I get it. But 1: That’s not the solution to the problem being described here, and 2: the authors spend absolutely 0 seconds telling me why they think it is. In fact, the article’s headline talks about a basic income, but most of the article is about ODSP. And I agree with most of the article. But:

    Social services should be provided by the government with the goal of providing services to those in need while maintaining dignity. The title “Poverty Reduction Strategy” sounds good. However, there is a much better doable, affordable solution to virtually eliminate poverty and to facilitate people being able to live in dignity in Ontario and Canada. It is a Basic Income Guarantee. Many studies have demonstrated that when people receive a Basic Income Guarantee they do not stop working or looking for work. In fact, in many cases, recipients use the benefit to upgrade their skills or education so that they can find better employment and improve their quality of life.

    Okay, but why? We were talking about people who’s disabilities prevent them from working. A basic income is not going to suddenly make their disabilities stop preventing them from working. It’s going to give a lot more people a disincentive to work. I know if I still kept my old job–the job I had when I wrote the post I linked to above, depending on how much the basic income was I’d have happily given my notice in 2020. I mean, give me the same money I’m making while employed but don’t require I be employed? Easy. And if there’s not a pandemic at play, that’s vacation time for me. Win win–in that I win twice.

    I agree with raising the ODSP rates. $1169 if your single may have been fine in 1999. It’s not 1999 anymore. But leave the increases for people on ODSP.

    ODSP is for people who *can’t* work. Ontario Works is for people who *can*, but *aren’t*. They should be treated accordingly. This article makes the mistake way too many people, including people in government, make–lumping the Ontario disability Support Program (it’s for people with disabilities) in with the Ontario works program (basically welfare). Not helpful at all is people with disabilities are encouraged to apply for Ontario Works as a stepping stone to get on ODSP, thus further conflating the two. As a person with a disability, I’d rather have flipped burgers than spent any time on ODSP whatsoever. As a person with my particular disability, they won’t allow me to flip burgers for insurance reasons (theirs, not mine). So ODSP it was. If you have the option of flipping burgers and choose instead to stay home, that’s not a problem the government should solve. If you’d love to have the option of flipping burgers but your mental or physical disability prevents you, that’s a problem the government should solve.

    I agree with the problem as stated. I agree the government’s failing when it comes to solving that problem. I don’t agree with the proposed solution to that problem–and the article’s authors haven’t done anything here to change my mind. Like I’ve said before, I’m not opposed to the idea in theory. The financial argument against it is dead, at this point. But just because we can afford it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. So tell me why it is. This… doesn’t. That’s an advocacy problem, not a me problem.

    Coleen Cooper and Carol Stalker really want me to agree with them. Without a damn good reason, they’re not going to get what they want. I’m listening, ladies.

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  • Ontario’s disability failure: wheelchairs.

    I have… let’s call it second-hand experience with how Ontario handles wheelchair purchase and repairs. Not for me, but for someone I was–at the time–fairly close to (we’ve gone separate ways since and are both probably better for it). The TL; DR version is they don’t, at least not very well.

    Sure, a pandemic probably doesn’t help the situation, but this predates Covid by a long shot.

    It was 4 a.m. on Boxing Day and Shawn Brush was stuck.

    He was trying to watch Christmas movies when his electric wheelchair broke again. This time, it froze in a tilted position. The 52-year-old Burlington, Ont., man was trapped.

    “I couldn’t get in or out,” he said. “My phone was on my bed. I managed to get into the bedroom. I drove in backward, and was able to get halfway out of the chair and call the fire department.”

    Brush has been waiting two years for a new chair, and cites a time-consuming bureaucratic process that slows down people who need assistive devices. He says he’s speaking out for others in his position.

    “There’s all kinds of people going through this,” he said, and “there’s not one person I can blame.”

    He’s right, and while I’d love to get pissed at ODSP for their part in it, the truth is they only have one part in it–and I have gotten pissed about it. Purchasing takes forever. Repairing takes forever. Getting assessed takes forever. And getting people to coordinate takes forever.

    Assistive Devices Program (ADP), which helps people pay for wheelchairs and other devices.

    He said he generally has to replace it every five years. By 2020, Brush said, it had broken down multiple times.

    He also said he has had months-long waits for repairs.

    For example, in 2018, it took him from May to October to get the front wheels of the electrical wheelchair replaced, so he was without it for much of that time and had to use alternatives, like a manual wheelchair.

    ADP is a beast to deal with even for people who don’t need anything overly spectacular. I’m not a wheelchair user, in fact my only mobility aid you can’t exactly get through ADP, but you could not possibly pay me enough to go through one of their processes. That people in wheelchairs don’t have that option has got to be the leading cause of mental breakdowns.

    ODSP isn’t entirely innocent in this, however. Repairs, like those above? ODSP pays for that. Eventually. How long eventually is, though, is anyone’s guess. In this poor shmuck’s case, eventually turned out to be 5 months. That’s 5 months where his independence was reduced because ODSP’s asleep at the switch. And places very often won’t even look at you if they don’t have approval from ODSP (one company will make exceptions, depending on the person doing the looking–at least in Ottawa), because they know ODSP can be for freaking ever, but not very often and you never know when you make the call. So you call the wheelchair place, you tell them what’s broken, they take a look and see how bad it is/if it’s going to require a thing be replaced, then you sit and wait while the wheelchair people and ODSP go back and forth.

    Ontario likes to think of itself as friendly to the disabled–whether or not the current government’s in fact an ableist pile. The reality, though, is Ontario is a hot mess if you’re disabled. It’s manageable if either 1: you only have one disability or 2: your disability(ies) don’t end up being too incredibly inconvenient. But the farther along the disability spectrum you are, the harder Ontario fails. And most of it could be avoided if they’d just, you know… listen to disabled people.

    Tracy Odell, president of Citizens With Disabilities Ontario, said she and others have dealt with long waits too. To get approval for new seating for her electric wheelchair, she needed a physiotherapist to agree it was needed.

    “Most people in my position, we know what we need. You don’t need someone to tell you you’ve outgrown your shoe,” Odell said.

    She waited about six months before getting authorization, but still hasn’t heard if they have the part needed to make the fix.

    Stop failing, Ontario. You’re driving me to drink and you’re not even failing me–well, anymore.

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  • In which Canada generally, and Ontario specifically, still sucks if you’re disabled.

    It’s been a minute since I wrote one of these, and I hate that it needs to be in a pandemic context. But, you know, when that’s been what the world’s revolved around for two years, it sneaks in even when all you want to do is bitch about the government. It helps that the government makes it super easy–yeah, even during a pandemic.

    Let’s start with the super, super easy. The federal government has a tax credit for people who happen to be disabled. Awesome, right? Sure, until you realize that the government has a very particular definition of what being disabled actually means, and that definition almost by design means the people who qualify essentially get lucky, the people who don’t are SOL twice, and the people who aren’t sure are essentially guessing–and so are their doctors.

    Canadians with disabilities have to pay a physician or other qualified health professional to certify that they require “life-sustaining therapy” administered at least three times a week, for a total of at least 14 hours a week. Alternatively, doctors and nurses must attest that patients are “markedly restricted in performing a basic activity of daily living all or substantially all of the time, or that the cumulative effect of restrictions across several activities is equal to being markedly restricted in one basic activity of daily living,” write authors Stephanie Dunn and Jennifer Zwicker.

    And that’s just for physical disabilities. If your disability is mental, good luck. For example, and full disclosure this is me, apparently just being considered blind is–or was–enough to qualify you for the disability tax credit. It used to be explicitly called out as qualifying, but they’ve apparently changed the criteria–and actually made it even more confusing, if that’s at all possible. If I didn’t already have it, I’d have a hell of a time now figuring out if I qualified. And so would my doctor, if I had one (that’s a rant for another day, and not specifically a disability one).

    That works out nicely for the government, as the fewer people who qualify for the tax credit means the fewer people qualify to get an emergency benefit check in the super early stages of a global pandemic. It benefits the government in another way too, but only marginally–that’s fewer disabled folks the government needs to worry about supporting through things like the registered disability savings plan (RDSP) when they turn 65 and the provincial disability systems pretty much all kick them to the curb (I think there’s a countdown clock in most Ontario Disability Support program (ODSP) offices for that reason). In short, the feds have it pretty good when it comes to folks with disabilities. Folks with disabilities, though? Not so much.

    Now, let’s drop down a level to the provincial government. Specifically, the provincial government of Ontario. This won’t end up being an ODSP post (Oh, I can probably get away with a few, but not this one), though ODSP does feature. Let’s start first with the most obvious–testing and vaccinations. If you’re disabled, you probably shouldn’t be standing for hours on end in the cold waiting your turn to get swabbed or jabbed. If your disabled in Ontario, you definitely are.

    As Omicron continues to sweep through the province, with a soaring number of hospitalizations, local health units and Ontario’s Ministry of Health have called for people to get booster shots as quickly as possible. In December, the province also launched a campaign to hand out free COVID-19 rapid tests in order to curb the growing wave of infections.

    Centres saw long lines of people eagerly waiting outside in the middle of winter to get their hands on a rapid test or a booster shot, which people with certain disabilities can’t safely do, says advocate Catherine Gardner, who also uses a wheelchair.

    “If you’re using a mobility device, a cane, walker, you just can’t stand in line that long,” Gardner said, adding there are usually no places for people to sit outside of these sites.

    I’m ignoring the obvious when quoting from this article, because it’s the obvious–disabilities include not just visible issues, but issues with circulation, immune system issues, basically any issue that means cold, or long periods of standing, or… basically doing any of the things you need to do if you don’t have a scheduled vaccine appointment–which, until very recently, were at a freaking premium–is going to be just a wee little bit of a challenge. Disability also includes mobility issues that make spontaneous outings for vaccines because hey this place has space now just a little bit tricky. You may or may not have heard my thoughts on Ottawa’s Para Transpo system. corona cranks that up to 11.

    In a statement, the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility pointed to its Accessible Drives to Vaccines program that launched last summer and helps people with mobility issues get to their vaccine appointments. Ottawa Public Health has similar accommodations available for people in need of transportation.

    However, many pop-up vaccine clinics or rapid test giveaways are hosted on short notice, sometimes on the same day they’re announced. Booking a ride through the provincial program and the city’s website requires at least 48 hours notice.

    So not only can you not have a social life doing the things vaccinated people can do for all the usual para Pranspo reasons, but getting a vaccine in the first place is a trick and a half for all the usual Para Transpo reasons. If they ever release stats on how many people with disabilities actually ended up getting the vaccine, I might cry–and I rarely cry. I’d be surprised to learn a majority of disabled people have been vaccinated to date, and it’s largely because of the things their disabilities force them to have to deal with and the systems we as a society have built to further gum up the works.

    Remember when I said we’d get to the Ontario Disability Support program (ODSP)? This is where they come in–and this is why it doesn’t get that category. They played such a small part in practice that they barely take up any room in text. ODSP’s answer to a global pandemic? Here’s $100 that we’re not going to tell you about. PS: it has an expiration date.

    Single people on Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program can access an extra $100 a month until the end of July to help with pandemic-related expenses. Families can access up to $200.

    But they have to ask for it — and Jason said he didn’t know he could.

    “I had called my worker to inform them that I was moving from one city to another,” he said. “She … asked me at that point if I was receiving the COVID benefit. I said, ‘What benefit?’”

    That was in 2020. Two years ago. We’re still in a pandemic, but it’s business as usual at ODSP–complete with semi-regular screw-ups by underqualified caseworkers, but that’s another more ODSP-specific dumpster fire for later. Inflation is stupid crazy, there’s still tons of extra Covid-19 expenses that didn’t exist 2 years ago (masks don’t replace themselves, y’know), and ODSP offers a single person… $1169. Maximum, unless you’ve got dietary requirements. It’s like 2018, but actually painful.

    Canada never has been great for people with disabilities unless you were working, and the same with Ontario. Even without a disability, generally speaking if you don’t work, you don’t matter. But with the onset of Covid, if you’re a person with a disability, that’s become a lot less easy to ignore. Governments at all levels have pretty clearly outlined their priorities, and disabled folks don’t rank.

    A lot of things are happening around here because it’s 2015, or 2020, or 2022. But one thing hasn’t changed since I was old enough to care about it. Whether it’s 2005, or 2015, or 2020, or 2022, Canada still generally sucks if you’re disabled. And if you’re in Ontario, you don’t need to look far for specific proof.

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  • Everyone in Ontario makes at least $15/hour now. so I can stop tipping, right?

    The logic behind why we tip, at least in Ontario if not elsewhere, seems to have shifted from what I was taught as a child. It used to be that you gave a tip for good service, otherwise you paid the regular price and they lived with it. The explanation was, essentially, you’re already being paid to bring my food to me–if all you did was bring my food to me, I’m not paying you extra for that. That logic made sense. That logic still makes sense, albeit that’s not the logic that gets tossed around today.

    The new logic, which I heard more of after the minimum wage jumped up to $14 in 2018, was that we tip to bring waitstaff and other assorted serving people up to the level of everyone else, since they were still getting about $12/hour. Again, the logic made sense. I mean, I didn’t completely agree with it considering how many of those same serving people basically banked their tips as untaxed income, but it made sense, so I didn’t argue it. Besides it wasn’t worth the headache–I had enough of those from the people who used to pay me. But that was then, and this is now.

    Now, at least as of the new year, Ontario’s minimum wage is $15/hour–for everyone. Well, nearly everyone, anyway. But the nearly everyone includes waitstaff and other assorted serving people. So okay, awesome. Playing field’s level, now. The logic wherein we tip to level the said playing field no longer applies. So I can stop tipping now, right? Or, at least, go back to only tipping because it was earned and not because it’s generally expected?

    See, here’s the thing. I’m not, explicitly, against tipping. I’m against tipping for the reasons society thinks I should tip, but I’m not against tipping in general. But it stops being a tip when it starts being expected/assumed/in some cases almost required. If you want me to pay 18% more (*) automatically/by default, then sure. I will. Build the 18% you want me to pay automatically into the price (note: not as a line item on the bill that says “tip” or “gratuity” unless you never want me to do business with you again), and we’ll talk. But don’t make that your opening offer if we’re going to have the automatic/assumed tipping conversation. That just makes me want to nope right out of there real fast.

    Serving people work their asses off. That’s no lie. The good ones work twice as hard and often barely get a thank you. But that’s the nature of the beast. You work in the restaurant industry, you’re going to, by default, work your ass off. You chose to do that. The people who chose to do that and do that well have earned their tips. The rest should learn from them, not get offended because I didn’t reward them for bringing my food to me nearly cold after it’s been ready for 20 minutes. The people at Starbucks work their asses off as well, but no one’s expecting I tip them on the rare occasion I show up when one of my two drinks from there are in season. Same with the Tim Hortons or McDonalds folks. Sure, some of them are absolutely awesome. The girl who worked the Tim Hortons at the college when I went was pretty much on a first name basis with me for the majority of the time I went to said college. I never tipped her, and she never expected one. So why am I automatically expected to tip the Denny’s waiter who now makes exactly the same as her for, essentially, doing the absolute minimum?

    The other issue I have with what tipping looks like in 2022 is rather aptly summarized by Steve, so since he stole my idea for this rant I’ll steal his description of that issue.

    And why are we tipping people simply for doing what they’re supposed to be doing and not because they’ve gone above and beyond for us? Cab drivers, for example. The minimum requirements of your work day are to get me safely from one place to another. If you do that, lovely. And thank you very much for being competent. But why am I tipping for that if I’m not supposed to tip, say, the person at the grocery store for bagging my things logically and without breaking any jars? If the driver goes the extra step of helping me find my way inside of a building I’m not familiar with or the grocery person helps me carry things some distance, that’s a tip. Otherwise it’s just you doing your job, and the entire reason I’m expected to tip is because your employer doesn’t want to pay you properly.

    Cab drivers, Uber/Lyft drivers, delivery people… all of these automatically expect a tip, and are almost insulted when they don’t get one for doing the absolute minimum required for their job. If you drop me off somewhere I’ve never been and I need to find my own way in, or if you drop me off somewhere and I know exactly where I’m going, and therefore don’t need you, no tip for you. If you’ve pinged me to notify me you’re here with my food, but I have to go downstairs to pick it up from the lobby where you left it on the floor because you couldn’t be bothered to press the 4 buttons that would have told me to open the damn door, no tip for you. Also if I have to put a jacket, shoes and a mask on to meet you in the parking lot because it’s cold and you don’t want to leave your car, no tip for you–in fact, you should probably be tipping me. But why is it that it’s still pretty much automatically expected? Have we, as a society, become that spoiled?

    You’re already getting paid to do the job. If you work in a restaurant, you’re now getting paid the exact same as the guy who bags my groceries–unless that guy’s a student, but I mean presumably you have higher standards than comparing yourself to a student. If you’re delivering my food to me, I’m already paying you a delivery fee for doing that–and all the apps basically say the entire delivery fee goes to you. Now, we can argue whether or not the delivery fee is high enough, but the point is, that’s the price of the service you’re offering. In both cases, that’s the price. If you do the minimum required to offer that service, then I will happily pay that price–but I’m not, on your life or mine, paying more than that price. If you want me to pay extra, I want you to do extra. That’s how this thing works. Or should, in a functioning society where just showing up isn’t celebrated as going above and beyond.

    Waitstaff and other serving people have gotten the short end of the stick for years. I get it. But they’re not anymore. So let’s drop the act of making up for them getting the short end of the stick. Deal? If you want to earn more than minimum wage as a server, put forth more than minimum effort. Or go work at a restaurant that will pay you more than minimum wage–and will price their food accordingly. I hate saying it this way, but it’s the truth–minimum effort begets minimum pay. Solve the one, you’ll solve the other. Don’t solve the one, no tip for you. And the rest of you need to talk to your employers about not being paid enough. That’s not my responsibility.

    (*): Who in the hell decided that 18% was a good idea as a suggested minimum for a tip, and why are they still employed? I mean, you may think your service is worth an extra 18%, and you may be right. But that’s not your choice–that’s mine, and trust me, I’ve rarely received service that was worth an extra 18% on the bill. Your employer may have decided that your service is worth an extra 18%, but that’s your employer’s choice–and your employer’s responsibility. If they want to give you an extra 18%, then they should pay you an extra 18%, not leave that up to me. By trying to pass the 18% on to me, they’re telling both you and me that they think you should be getting paid more but they’d rather not. If I were you, I’d find a new employer. Since I’m me, I’m not paying your employer’s 18% increase. Now, if I get *really* good service, I might do 15. But I also rarely get *really* good service. Hint: *that’s* probably a you problem.

  • What he should have said: “No honey, I’ve got this.”

    Instead, Jon Reyes–a probably soon-to-be former cabinet minister in Manitoba took two thoughts that should never be said together and definitely should never be said together on social media and… put them on social media

    Just in case he smartens up and the tweet goes poof:

    Even after a 12 hour night shift at the hospital last night, my wife still has the energy to shovel the driveway. God bless her and all our frontliners. Time to make her some breakfast.

    I mean I get it. I really do. He’s proud of his wife, and the work she’s doing. Apparently, that includes in the driveway, but whatever. It works for them, so I mean I’m not about to complain too loudly.

    But, and here’s the thing–not now, not here, and not by him. For starters, it’s 2022. All tweeting about his wife shoveling snow does–besides make him look like an ass–is cheapen the whole “frontliners” thing. Which, I mean, he’s a politician so it’s pretty cheap to begin with.

    Speaking of, he’s a politician–and a conservative one at that. You just… no. Why? Did no one talk him out of it? Doesn’t he know conservatives are supposed to be super duper sexist, and so that’s the way somebody somewhere will read that? Didn’t somebody, like, consider warning him? You just don’t say stuff like that if you’re a conservative politician. Come on, John, you know this.

    Doing, or saying, absolutely nothing at all would have probably been a better option for Reyes, I’d think. Keeping his trap shut couldn’t have been more dumb, at any rate. Better still? Getting out there himself–or paying some poor shmuck to get out there on his behalf–and get it done before his wife gets home. You know, like most common folk. But if that’s not an option because politician, then yeah, silence works.

    Cool. Your wife’s a frontline worker. Awesome. And you’re proud of her. Amazing. I’m happy for you. So get up off your butt and clear your own damn drive so she doesn’t have to. *Then* make that breakfast for her. But whatever you do and however dumb that thing is, keep it the hell off social media. Especially if you’re a conservative. That’s just dumb.

  • Life causes cancer, booze edition.

    So today I learned a few things, mostly work related. But over the weekend I learned a little bit more of my life is a lot less cancer free than I thought it was.

    It’s not a secret, but it may as well be. Few Canadians know the truth, and few may want to hear it: Alcohol, any amount of alcohol, can cause cancer. There is no safe amount, and the calls to inform Canadians are growing.

    “Even drinking one drink a day increases your risk of some cancers — including, if you’re a woman, breast cancer — but also cancers of the digestive system, the mouth, stomach,” said Tim Stockwell, a senior scientist with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria.

    So, what it comes down to is the following non-exhaustive list of things may or may not, but probably will, cause cancer.

    On the bright side, I may have stumbled on the cure for cancer. Outlaw drinking, outlaw smoking, require your network be entirely wired, go back to using landlines, and don’t actually *do* anything. Since that’s not likely to happen, I think I’m going to go make me a drink. Or several.

  • If you’ve already said yes to the vaccine, don’t say no to the label.

    I’m trying to minimize the Covid posts on here, but this needs to be said. I don’t get people. You’ve already said yes to the vaccine. You’ve probably–hopefully–already gotten two of them. If one of them was Astrazeneca, you’re already mixing and matching vaccines (we’ve been staying away from AZ as second doses up here for, oh… about 8 months or so now). So why does hearing the name Moderna suddenly make you run for the hills?

    As Ontario rolls out COVID-19 booster shots, some pharmacies are reporting that people are walking out after being informed that they would be receiving the Moderna vaccine rather than Pfizer’s.

    Justin Bates, who is the CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, says he’s hearing from pharmacies that around half of people are refusing to take Moderna.

    “I think there’s a lot of education that pharmacists have to do in other health care providers to demonstrate that (Moderna) is equal to Pfizer. It’s safe, it’s effective,” he told CTV News on Friday.

    I’m the first to admit I’m not a medical expert–I fix the technology the medical experts use to store, access and probably accidentally delete your records. But because I’m not a medical expert, I’m going to be listening to what the hell the medical experts say. And the medical experts I see moving their lips are saying an MRNA vaccine is an MRNA vaccine is an MRNA vaccine. So rather than shop around for a label you like (really, you only have two options), take the one that’s offered and be happy the most you’ll come down with if you get on-nom-nomicroned is a cold.

    Sure, if you’ve already got 2 Phizer, maybe it makes sense to prefer to get your third the same brand. And if Phizer’s offered to you, then you’re laughing. If your first dose was Astrazeneca, then you’re already mixing and matching whether your second was Phizer or Moderna, so you’re losing nothing. In either case, if the answer to “Phizer please” is “no”, the answer to “no” is not”then I’ll take my arm elsewhere”. Not if you actually want the third vaccine, at any rate.

    Maybe someone can explain it to me in simple terms. Like, what is it people prefer–besides the label–about one over the other? Is it the very, very slightly different recipes, which you probably can’t explain without a medical degree? Is it the fact one brand is known for Viagra while the other… well, isn’t? Educate me.

    Full disclosure: All 3 of mine are Moderna. That was not by design–that was just what was offered when I went, and I don’t care. If any one of my doses had been Phizer, I’d still have my 3. Because, again, an MRNA vaccine is an MRNA vaccine is an MRNA vaccine. that’s not my opinion. that’s the opinion of people who do this for a living. Would you question my opinion if I told you your 10-year-old computer wouldn’t run the latest Call of Duty game very well? Okay, bad question–you probably would. But you’d be wrong. The difference is your choices then would be fork over the cash for a respectable machine or don’t play the latest Call of Duty.

    You’ve already said yes to the vaccine. You know your getting boosted. You booked your appointment, showed up, probably taken tomorrow off work in case it knocks you on your ass–I did, and I’ve never had any real major side-effects. You’ve decided you’re doing this. don’t change your mind because of what the label says. It’s essentially the same thing. Get the vaccine. And while you do that, I’ll find something not covid related to write about. Screw you, Covid.


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