We Had a Little Fender-Bender, But All is Good!

Imagen driving down a very dark highway, and you are going from 80km/h to 100km/h, and way out in front of you, you see a vehicle, then from behind it, sparks at random places on the road, and they are getting closer and closer. Then an object bouncing towards you that you can hardly see becuase of its dark colour. What would you do? The quick thinking Suzette did what most of us would have done: stop to avoid the object. She safely came to a stop, just metres from the object, and this is what we saw.

The object was a metal picnic bench, painted dark green, that was being transported on the back of someone’s pick-up truck, and they never bothered to properly secured it to the deck. It fell off as they accelerated in the 100km/h speed zone, so when it hit the road, it was already travelling a 80km/h. So what we saw from behind were sparks, as it bounced along the surface of the pavement then came to rest.

An emergency stop was initiated. The vehicle behind us also had to stop suddenly to avoid hitting us, and as we heard it brake–at that moment I was happy. But then a second later, a third vehicle was not so quick, and collided into the back of the car behind us, then the car behind us was pushed into us. So now we have a three vehicle accident, and loose objects on the road. We waited, and after a ten second pause, we assessed ourselves, and looked outside. There seemed to be no other sounds of crashing cars–it was safe to go outside.

I will not go into the specifics of what happened to all three vehicles, but I will say this, no one was physically injured. All three vehicles had to be towed away, and the metal bench was taken off the road, so we were thankful that it was just our vehicles that were damaged, not anyone else. However, a few things need to be addressed here.

Let me quote Suzette’s Face Book post, using her words:

This piece of metal lawn furniture fell out of a vehicle last night on Kitimat highway just Terrace side of Hirsch Creek. It caused a 3 car fender bender, no major injuries thankfully. I stopped in time to miss hitting it. The woman behind managed to stop in time to not hit me, but the third car hit her, pushing her into my driver side back quarter. So, all 3 had to be towed. PEOPLE! tie down your loads! If I had not seen the sparks when this fell out of the vehicle, I would have had less notice of something wrong ahead, could have hit it, into my windshield and could have caused a major accident. Now my car is heading to the shop…

Two points. First, the owner of the park bench was the cause of this accident. You never move items on your vehicle without first properly securing them to the vehicle to prevent them from falling off and causing damage to the road, property, and people. This is the law.

Secondly, As a driver, you must drive in a safe manner. This means driving with enough space between you and the driver ahead to stop safely, in case of an emergency. Driving too close is not only bad driving, but in the case of an emergency, you are not going to stop in time to avoid the driver ahead of you. This is the only time, that you are one hundred per cent at fault if you cause the accident.

Anyway, we are all good.

On a side note, I told Suzette today, “we were partly responsible of closing down the Kitimat to Terrace Highway for an hour, yesterday”!

 

 

Not Enough Tom

It is beginning to cloud over, with a sprinkle or two, here in the Skeena Valley, this after an awesome two weeks of sun fill days that could cause a suntan if you are not careful. It is hard to believe it is still May here on the North Coast. Awwwww, climate change, marvellous. But that is not what I am going to blog about today. No, this is my monthly round up what is going on in my little corner of the neighbourhood. This month, I call it, “Not Enough Tom” to go around. Between the needy around my place, and all four levels of Government, my hard earned money is being targeted like Mexico paying for the “Trump Wall” along the Southern U.S. border, I keep saying “No,” but the “please” keeps sounding in my ears, louder, and louder, and louder. In our free and democratic country, the need for Taxes grows ever stronger, where “asking” turns into “taking,” and like the Internet scammer, the sound has become more demanding than ever before. The root cause in my mind is, the needy get less back from the Government, so both Government and the needy turn to the Middle-class for more. I ask, “What part of NO don’t you understand?”

In my everyday routine, the to and from work part, I get asked at least once for “something” by my neighbours, in my neighbourhood. It may vary, from hard cold currency, to material items like tobacco or access to the Internet, but in all cases, the asker is someone who is either self medicating or mismanages their income in varying degrees. Whenever I enter my car, or leave it, that is usually where someone will ambush me, and the asking starts. I am an easy target here in the Thornhill Ghetto: I drive my own car, and it is shiny and black, and I have a job–a regular job–yup, paint a “bull’s eye” on me. Even the Government is asking for more, but I have been able to hold them off for now through tax loopholes and investment incentives through reputable programs, but that is still money I can not spend for myself right now. So here is the list: from “least,” to “most often.”

ONE: The Internet scammers are working harder than ever. In the last month (April 15 to May 15, 2018) My phone has logged up an impressive twenty-six callers that use “spoof” I.D. on the call displays. Yes, I screens my calls, and if it is “friend or foe,” it either goes to voice mail, or I answer it back–but “picking up” is almost a no-no.

TWO: The Taxi service out here in the Skeena Valley is very expensive. Unless you are disabled, either through health issues, or through intoxication, walking is the only true and tried method of getting around without a working and licensed vehicle, on a pauper’s income. Most do not like walking, especially if you live way out in the “sticks,” and you want to bring back that “twenty-four Pack” from the Beer Store, to your home. If you do not have money for a Taxi, then you target your buddies who own a vehicle. I get asked at least four times per week for rides. There are only three of us who have our own vehicles here in the Ghetto. I give no rides, becuase once you open that gate, then the flood begins. We have transit, yes, real actual buses that for a small fee, and it gets you back and forth from town–and it works becuase I know from first hand experience. Forget the Taxi Service and take Transit!

THREE: Being asked for money is the most often need I get asked for by my neighbours of all. Usually, it begins with, “I need food,” while they puff on their cigarettes, to “I need money for Cigarettes.” Sadly this is a reflection on the State of Canada’s economic well being, and those who made poor lifestyle choices. We are heading down the path of great economic disparity between the rich and poor. Lines are drawn between the old and the young, the Educated and labourers, all while those who are property rich cling to prosperity, and the “property poor” pay more and more to live in shacks. We have to learn to live without, and adapt to this economic change. We have choices, and drugs and alcohol are easy once to make, you just need the willingness to do it. But most of all, food should be made the first choice over Cable TV, and so on. To date, being asked to give money is by far the most often request I get here in the Ghetto.

In closing, I like say this: there is just not enough Tom. Yes, I save, but it comes with great sacrifice, but I do it. I plan, and it comes battling forces who try to disrupt my goals to their means, but I still plan anyway. For those who do not save up for their future, or plan for it and set goals, then these upcoming days are going to be your hardest ever. The poor need to ask the Government for more, not from me, becuase Government is taking so much as it is, and they make the rules. So, there is not enough of me to go around.

Friday Evening at the Lake: Sunset Included.

Not that I am complaining about the hot dry weather, but it is warm out, and I am getting a tan. With all this goodness, I do not want to be stuck at work, while all of this awesome weather is going on outside, knowing that soon, very soon, the rainy season will be upon us here in on the North Coast. It has been a great last couple of weeks, even knowing that it is still in the middle of May, and we have summer to reach yet. Oh yes, it is Friday, and we are at the start of a long weekend, Victoria Day, or May Day, depending on where you are. So some extra intensive to wanting to get out of work even faster to start the weekend. Spending time with Suz., was the highlight of the evening’s events. Unexpectedly, we went to the beach out at Lakelse Lake, just South of Terrace.

We went to Furlong Beach, now that the camp grounds and park area are open again after the long winter season. It was loaded with people, mainly young high school kids off on vacation, enjoying the super warm weather too. But for the nice weather, and wide open park, I kind of expected more people. The beach had many who were Sun Worshippers, basking out on the sand, then there were some who just walking around, and there were a few swimmers too, though I think the water is still to cold yet. The Sun was awesome, even Suz., sat quietly under its rays, collecting the energy from it. And of course, I could not resist the photo opportunity, while the Golden Hour of the day passed by, with my cameras.

As the Earth turned away from the Sun, leaving us in the dark once again, the people started moving out of the Beach area and back to the their camping areas for the evening. We stayed around for a short while, as the sky darkened. The air was still warm, and as a bonus, the mosquitoes were not out in full force biting yet. One last walk along the beach was in order.

With all the young adults, there was a police presence. Though we saw nothing out of the ordinary, it was nice to see them patrolling the area, keeping the law and order. I remember, as a younger person, this was the time of year to “let loose and be crazy” after being stuck inside all of the time during the winter months. I can imagine that has not changed for this generation, the Millennials.

The photos were taken at Lakelse Lake just at Sunset. I was using a 30mm MACRO Lens, set at f2.8, ISO100 with my Sony A77.

No Test Alert for Me

To be honest, I kind of figured the Network Test Alert would not work on my work’s Smart Phone, nor the Internet Radio I listen to. While some phones sprang to life at exactly 1:55pm this afternoon, many did not at my work. Some said even the local FM Radio gave off the alert sound–I do not listen to off-air radio. However, I did hear it on other phones around me, but thought what if I am all alone, and the impending alert was broadcast, then what–follow the crowds, if I see them running all in one direction?

Strangely, and even more worrisome, some Smart Phone users around me had their phones go off some fifteen minutes later, and one co-worker said that he got the Alert’s text message, but no alarm sound. So the alarm was not constant throughout the local population. I see now that it is based on what type of phone you have, and whether your software can handle the carrior’s Apps for the alert.

Just add to this, my work’s phone is on the Telus Network, and so was everyone around me at my work. One would assume that we would all get the alert at the same time. This alert system appears to be ridden with bugs and very glitchy over different types of phone.

The test alert was scheduled for all of British Columbia, today, at 1:55pm. I knew about the test for today long in advance, some weeks ago. I even placed my Smart Phone on my desk, and cranked the volume up, just to make sure I would hear it. Other were near by too, so I heard their phones going off, but mine lay in silence.

What is humbling, is in the event of a real British Columbia wide Alert, or something local, I would not know it, if I was alone. Say, for instance, I was out hiking, or in some place remote, I would never know. So this made me think what else I could do, or change, that would include me in with those who would be notified? Right now, not much. Even the App’s software I installed, did not work. So I believe that our Governments still have some wrinkles to iron out, and bugs to squish, on this matter.

Missed Earth Day

Yes, I had completely forgotten about Earth Day until Suz., brought it up while we were driving through town. Normally I am on top of these events, but this year our vacations started this weekend, so I was completely preoccupied getting ready for the week, so Earth Day was the farthest thing on my mind. However, I am happy to report that we saw a few people collecting roadside trash in Terrace, BC., so there were volunteers doing their part on this day. Also, at the Junction of highway 16 and 37, we saw a largo mound of trash filled bags siting on the side of the read waiting to be picked up. There were people at other locations on side streets and boulevards, but the main highways through town seem to have the largest amount of trash per kilometre.

Sadly, when we drove out to Rosswood, BC, highway 113 there was lots of garbage strewn along side the roads. I saw everything from disposable diapers to car parts, but the most common items were paper coffee cups from the two main drive through restaurants in town. I will not mention names, but you do not need to be a scientist to figure out who they are, and to fair, it is their customers who are at fault, not the makers and vendors of the beverages. The likelihood of this stretch of road getting any attention on Earth Day is rather low, so the garbage will pile up more than likely.

When we came back into town, we saw the muster point, with marshaling station, at the George Little park for the roadside trash collection volunteers. So it appears that this is a well organized event. I have never been to one here in Terrace, so I have no idea how they operate. Perhaps next year! Suz., did say that the next major hike we go on, she is bringing a garbage bag to collect other people’s littler on the hiking trails we got on. She is right, Earth Day should be celebrated everyday, not just once a year. And Earth Hour, should be practiced 24/7.

April Fools, or Just Fools?

Listening to all the news on the United State wanting to drop out of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), or at least awing it in their favour, got me thinking about what lays in my future as a Canadian. And to be fair, I am only referencing this on my own personal life–a life that is almost spanning five decades now. So I think I have some experience under my belt. I remember a time before NAFTA. There was a time long ago, that Canada only had bi-lateral agreements with other trading nations, and it worked. But people wanted bigger, better, with more profits, and the ability to grow at more accelerated rates, and at the time, this was the Automobile Market that launched it. But this was far from the utopia of free markets that the businesses wanted. There will always be outside forces that could bring down, or at least distort, the economy, and as corporations grew mightier then the countries they lived in, so to were the negative effects of the market shifts.

When listening to the U.S. president say he was pulling out of NAFTA, or at least change it into his favour, I thought to myself this must be a April Fool’s Joke of some kind. Could this be true, or just another one of his “flip-flopping” agendas he is so famous for? Changing his mind through an early morning Tweet on Twitter, like a teenager on social networking. The ramifications of all of this is the Markets bouncing up, then down, reacting to every tweet, like a farmer in his fields watching storm clouds pass by.

Sure, it is nerve-racking, as the media plays on every and tweet the US presidents throws out into the Internet. But remember, you can only cry “Wolf” so many times before no hears again.

So here is how I look at it. And I have lived through a bunch of rescissions in my lifetime. We may have our cars and oil increase in costs, but these are commodities that will not bring down our neighborhoods and governments. Sure, it will sting as a small portion of the work force will have to adapts into new industries, but there basic needs that can be met to keep our nation running as long as we have the will to do so.

We can produce our own basic needs like food, building materials and modes of transportation. Unlike some other countries, Canada has the ability to move forward at both the micro and macro levels inside our borders with self sustaining ease. We are, after all, an exporting country, thought not as efficient as China or the U.S. due to our small population, but we can pick ourselves up and run with it. We are fortunate that we are not reliant upon service industries, and raw resources, we have kept a sizable manufacturing sector alive.

So it is far from not being the end of the world when the U.S. president tweets the end to free trade. In the end, he will only hurt the people he leads–his own country. Sure Canada, and Mexico, will under go a transformation too, but both nations will pick up where they left off, and continue to grow, as we all look for more stable markets to trade with. And with the changing world dynamics through tools like the Internet, and digital money, it is quiet possible the U.S. will be left behind if they stagnate.

We need to eat, and we can grow our own food. We need homes, and we can build them. The only thing that will hurt us in the current market economy, is the mountain of debt that the average Canada carries–this we must get under control. But perhaps we need this market shift to correct the economy after all? Homes are out of reach for now for many people, so a good shake up might be what we need.

The Glass Net

In this post, I was going to talk about cryptocurrencies, their advantages and disadvantages they pose on our daily lives, but that got side-tracked when I started reading about the British Columbia’s new “Speculation Tax.” When I looked at how housing prices are being effected in different regions, I thought this was more of an issue than how we are going to buy things in the future. So I took some time to read further on how this tax was going to effect you and me, but more so, how the money lenders look at this.

There is an lesson I have learned in my life about money: you always need more, and you never have enough, and you fight to keep what you have. This sets the frame work between Land Owners, and everyone else in Canada. In Canada, over the last three decades, we have seen property values climb three fold. There are many factors at play here, but the main factor that I see is that more people want to be land owners, rather than renters, so this automatically ups the Land’s value as our populations grows. This is compounded in desirable areas like Vancouver and Toronto, and negatively dries up value in other parts of Canada. So no two areas are the same in terms of Land Values. But there is one constant: for most, property ownership is the biggest, and most profitable, investment–period–in one’s life. As a property owner, any tax or encumbrances, is a direct threat to that investment. 

The double side of property owners is funny to me. Obviously, the land owner wants their investment to grow in value. Added to this, you want the enjoyment and happiness of your land, minus anything you feel would diminish that state of mind such as gentrification or industrialization around you. Your house, its location to the community, means that of all the investments to your future, your land is your greatest investment of them all, and you are going to fight if anyone taxes, or reduces its value for other means. You want that value to grow.

If you are someone who is looking to buy land, in this day and age, the bench-mark is almost unattainable for the vast majority of people based on their level of wealth and income. With cheap money (borrowing it from money lenders), and the lure of living in centres like Vancouver and Toronto, property values in these areas have tripled in price over the last decades. So many are willing to put themselves in huge debt for the pleasure of living in and around these areas. On the same scale, money lender’s are being ask to increase the criteria for borrowing on property, stamping out further those who wish to be land owners, but money lenders are still willing to lend to make their profits. 

Today, the world seems to be looking at Canada, as our personal debt per Canadian is one of the highest among the G7 countries, noting how much trouble we could potentially be in. With so many carrying these mortgages, some are speculating either a meltdown, or a slow deflated collapse of the market, but nothing positive. Needless to say, we could be in trouble as Interest Rates and Market Forces start turning towards a new course in our economy, and these forecasts start coming true. I would not want to be the person who has to juggle public policies, and Laws, to keep everyone happy. 

March 27, 2018

It was announced that the British Columbia Government has laid out sweeping exceptions to its Speculation Taxes. It appears that many who own land in smaller regions of the Province are spared the tax.  

My Thoughts on Trade Wars Over Oil

The opinions expressed below are mine, and mine alone: this is me thinking out loud.

I believe that British Columbia is in a great position to embark on the path of becoming energy self-sufficient, and adopting the highest standards possible of any industrialized region in the world on Carbon reduction. It is no secret that there is a possible trade war between the Alberta and British Columbia Governments over oil pipelines. The BC Government as slapped limits and restrictions on the oil pipeline that runs through the Lower Mainland, and with that Alberta has proposed to cut off all old it currently sells to BC as a result. This tit for tat trade war could very well be a blessing for BC, albeit cause short term pain for some, but over all, a boon in the long run to both the economy and the environment.

The Lower Mainland gets most of its gasoline from Washington Sate in the US, as I understand. Here in Northern BC, where I now live, we get our gasoline from Alberta. You might be wondering why I would endorse such a cock-o-many idea if it is going to effect me the most, rather than all those in the Southern half of BC? Simple, we can more then likely absorb the increases in fuel costs more than anywhere else under fossil use, until we convert to renewable energies. Sure, it will be painful, and effect our standard of living in the short term, but we will bounce back better, stronger and faster, then the rest of the Country.

Here is my point. We are a smaller, less dense, populations base. Northern BC is primarily focused on Mining, harvesting and Tourism. By harvesting, I mean we log and process trees, and catch wild fish. All of witch is heavily dependent on oil, currently, however; over time all these industries can convert to electricity, something that we create right here, right in our back yards. BC has a huge capacity of potential electric power, through the use of hydro dams, thus, a carbon free and renewable resource.

We have the technology, we now have to implement it. We can drive electric cars, transport our goods with electric trucks which are now available on the market. We send electricity to mines and mills, so that generating electricity through fossil fuels is prevented. And even with all this growth in electric usability, we could probably still have plenty to sell to other markets—all carbon free, with less of a footprint on the environment.

I say, “lets do the trade war over oil with Alberta,” this is our golden opportunity to change, and start reversing the effects on the environment. Let BC become the new frontier in renewable energy!

It is All About Fairness – No Freeloaders!

I cannot stay silent any longer on this subject because I am sick and tired of listening to business people complain about how they are unduly singled out with higher taxes and other parasitic encumbrances to their bottom-line, and that they should be given tax breaks. In traditional fashion, you have the Right-wing saying that all businesses must be taxed in order to stay competitive, while on the Left-wing side, they say businesses must pay more in taxes because they make the lion’s share of the profits. Oh Boo-Hoo. I am tired of everyone from property owners to business people saying that everyone else except them should shoulder the taxes burden. I just heard a small business owner say that all taxes should be dumped on the consumer and property owners while they focus on enjoying their profits and employing more works. Oh-no, I say pooh to that, everyone pays their share—period, especially those who make huge profits in my city!

Ok, we have this issue of gentrification, and it is prevalent in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Gentrification is where you have a depressed area, become affluent and prosperous as a higher class of the socioeconomic population moves in as their boundary spreads outwards. When you have an area where everyone wants to live, that area goes through a cycle of inflation as property prices and costs rise. So too for businesses, as they enjoy rise in the boon of consumers. Nothing is free, as all must pay to enjoy the benefits of this. It boils down to choice. People move to the cities, like Vancouver, because they want to enjoy its weather climate, and the bounty of employment. Businesses do this along the same lines of reasoning too. But sooner or later, inflation creeps in, and so too do taxes. Remember, you have a choice to stay or leave—simple.

The majority of Canadian’s taxes are paid through taxing their income. This concept of paying taxes on the amount of money you make, goes back to the Second World War in Canada, and is one that many have no choice in the matter. You earn a pay cheque, you employer is obligated, in most cases, to collect that money on behalf of the Government. But the bulk of Income Tax goes to both the Federal and Provincial Governments, leaving the Municipalities left to eke out their sources of revue in other ways. So municipalities share the proceeds on mostly businesses and property taxes that they tax directly. I am probably over simplifying the tax laws here, as there are hundreds of different forms of taxation in Canada, but this is a thumbnail sketch of where and who gets what. So as a community grows, in its population and services, so too does its operational costs and development.

The idea of fairness is simple: all of us, who choose to work and live in an area that is going through gentrification, must pay their fair share, no matter who you are. If you are a home owner, then yes, you pay your taxes. As businesses who want to set up in this area as well, they must pay their fair share in taxes too, as they enjoy the prosperity and volume of consumers moving through their doors. Usually it’s the business owner who argues that the market economy should run the world; then let it be so, as the market place becomes over saturated, and the population shifts, then businesses should make a choice. If they have to raise their prices for their wares, then so be it, but to stay competitive by paying less in taxes is not fair—then you need to adjust your profits.

Bottom line, everyone pays their fair share in taxes. No one should be exempt, or reduced, from their fair share in taxes within the population. If you come here to make a profit, then you come here to pay your taxes to enjoy all the benefits that come with living here.

Roundabouts and Terrace, BC

OK, we have all heard the news by now about the main highway from Smithers, and Kitimat, BC, going into Terrace, being changed from a four-way stop to a roundabout. And we all seem to have an opinion on this. So I did an unscientific pole at my work, just to see what everyone there felt about it. The comments were both interesting and entertaining, and full of myths and lore, of what will happen once the roundabout is in operation. But first, please have a look at the link from the British Columbia’s Government website, before I move on in this post.

Highway 16 and 37 Intersection (BC GOV CA, as of December 28, 2017)

So, the number one reason for not having a roundabout in Terrace, BC, is: No one will know how to use it, and there will be accidents galore as everyone tries to figure it out.

Number two: People from out of town will never figure it out.

And three: It will be a complete disaster during rush hour, as driver’s compete with the transport trucks motoring through the intersection.

When I first heard about the idea of replacing the intersection with a roundabout, I was a bit in awe. Having come from the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, I have driven over a few roundabouts in my time. The most frequent roundabout I used was at McCallum Road and Highway 1 in Abbotsford, BC. To see this roundabout, please go to the BC Highway WEB-CAM link.  I was actually quite amazed at well it worked. When I seen it for the first time, I had no troubles navigating over it, as long as I knew which lane to be in. The marking on the road were quite clear about that. So, the one  about to be built in Terrace, should be the same.

The BC Government made this nice animation about how the traffic should flow while using the roundabout versus the existing four-way stop we have now.

Next is a propaganda video about the myths of roundabouts, and why they are better than four-way stops.

Anyway, my personal thoughts about having this intersection changed is a positive one. I see it as something that is badly needed, and was happy to hear that it will be built, starting in spring of 2019. I think this will be a boon for any highway traveller going through Terrace, BC.