This sign says a lot about Saskatoon

Caution: River Weir Ahead

University Bridge signage

This photo sums up a lot of my frustrations about the City of Saskatoon.  First of all, we spend all sorts of money rehabilitating and shutting down University Bridge this summer, one of our distinctive landmark bridges.

  • No one bothers to paint over the graffiti.  It’s all over the underside of the bridge.  Actually it is all over both the University and Broadway Bridges.
  • One one part of the arch to the right of the column, the cement has been patched.  On the left side it hasn’t.
  • The pipe is rusting badly but is not being replaced despite the bridge being out of commission for most of the summer.
  • The sign was made much smaller than the old one.  Instead of making it the same size or creating new brackets for the smaller sign, they covered up the old sign and put the smaller sign on it which looks ridiculous.

Oh right, one of the few popular Saskatoon tourist attractions brings people underneath this bridge twice a night, all summer long.

How hard can it be to do something properly in Saskatoon?  How much money is being saved by doing this job poorly?  Isn’t one massive bridge failure enough for our city?

Mud Creek Trail

Despite my ankle and foot getting way worse, I decided to take the family on one last hike of the year.  So I hopped up on pain killers, put on an ankle brace, grabbed a trekking pole and hoped for the best.

Mud Creek Trail is about a 10 minute drive outside of Waskesiu along the Narrows Road.

Mud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National Park

Here is Mark and Oliver getting ready with Marley in the parking lot.  Oliver has already found a walking stick.

Mud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National ParkMud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National Park

And we are on the trail with Oliver and Mark taking the lead.

Mud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National ParkMud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National Park

I gave Wendy the camera because I was about to throw Marley in the lake. Safety first.

Mud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National ParkMud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National Park

The smoke never seems to go away for Prince Albert National Park.  First it was forest fires from the north and now this is from Washington State.

Mud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National ParkMud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National ParkMud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National Park

This is Marley after discovering a rather angry squirrel.  The squirrel is barking at Marley from the trees while throwing down nuts at her and Mark.

Mud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National Park

This is a view of Mud Creek.  During the spring it is visited by black bears who feed on the spawning trout.  Other than three angry squirrels, we didn’t see any wildlife on our hike, in part because Mark and Oliver are only slightly quieter than a marching band on a hike and also because the wind was blowing off the lake and carrying our scent up the trail.

Mud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National ParkMud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National ParkMud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National Park

So despite being sick with a badly infected ankle all of 2015, we managed to hike The Narrows Trail, The Waskesiu River Trail, Mud Creek Trail, the Gift of Green Nature Trail, and the Johnston Canyon trail as a family.  Mark and I also managed to tackle some trails at Wanuskewin in June.    The Mud Creek Trail may have been my favorite.

Some thoughts of the Saskatchewan Roughriders

I missed the game today.  We were out hiking the Mud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National Park.  I did hear the train wreck that was the postgame show.

  1. This is a pattern of Brendan Taman.  He takes over a team that makes it to the Grey Cup, won’t challenge or change the roster and within a couple of years the team is old and horrible.  It is what happened in Winnipeg and is what is happening in Regina.  There is a reason why Hugh Campbell turned over 30% of his Edmonton Eskimos roster during his dynasty years.  Time is undefeated and the message that no one is sacred is a powerful one.
  2. I don’t think a CFL team should ever hire a Canadian GM.  The best football in the world collegiately is being played in the SEC and has for years.  I think you need a GM that has strong ties in the SEC or the ACC, like Roy Shivers or Eric Tillman.  It is connection with high school coaches, university position coaches and even junior college coaches who can help you identify you players that aren’t on the national radar but can help your football team.
  3. Speaking of Eric Tillman, is it too soon to consider bringing him back?  I think it is but some will consider it.
  4. While I blame Brendan Taman, a lot of responsibility has to stand with Corey Chamblin.  He seems unable to identify why the Riders are playing horrible and doesn’t know how to fix it.  There have been other coaches that are good when things are going along great but can’t fix things when they run poorly (I think of Mike Singletary) because they are over their head schematically.  Chamblin seems lost and over his head right now.  So does his staff.
  5. Everyone gets on Chamblin for the penalties but I think this is on Taman.  It is the kind of players you get.  If you looked back at the player committing the most penalties, they would have a track record of doing it college and probably high school.  As Jimmy Johnson used to say, “Don’t send me stupid players because you can’t coach stupid players”.  We think talent is everything.  It isn’t.
  6. While the Winnipeg Bluebombers defense isn’t amazing, it is better than the Riders and with probably less talent.  Who is coaching that defense?  A gentlemen name Ritchie Hall, previously defensive coordinator of the Saskatchewan Roughriders… back when they had a strong defense. 
  7. I love the hoardes that get upset when you criticize the Saskatchewan Roughriders as “we are all one team”.  No, not really.  I am not on the team.  I am a fan of the team.  I buy stuff from the Rider store, I cheer for the team but what is going on with that office and that field is solely the domain of the directors, the management, coaches, and players.  I don’t get a Grey Cup ring when they win and I am allowed to criticize the team when they are this bad.
  8. Speaking of bad, Chamblin’s post game interview was horrible when he offered up that there were issues with Brett Smith being benched and not being able to go back in.  Umm, why offer that up if you aren’t going to expand on it.  All it does it create speculation and media attention around you rookie QB and create a distraction when you are entering week 11 and still trying to win a game.  Also,  I was really disgusted by CKRM (I think it was Mitchell Blair but I could be wrong) asking Chamblin if he thought he would be fired.  This is a man’s livelihood we are talking about and how did they really expect him to answer that?  “Yes I think I should be fired”.  If It was Chamblin I would have said, “Thanks but I am done with this interview.”
  9. So what’s next for the Riders?  New stadium coming online in two years.  Do they trust Taman to be able to rebuild the Riders for that season?  From his track record, I don’t think I would.

A couple of random late night thoughts on Saskatoon

While on the Prairie Lily cruise I over heard a couple of visiting business travellers who were stunned that Saskatoon would spend some much money on rehabilitating the University Bridge and then not get the graffiti that is all over the underneath of it at the same time.  Also they were stunned at what looks to be a smaller sign warning about the weir placed on a larger sign.  As one of them said, “It looks so bush league”.  I have to agree on them.

Then Wendy and I listened to the shock over the fact that the Traffic Bridge had just fallen apart.  “Who let’s a bridge fall apart?” as they listed off the cities they have lived in and tried to recollect a failed bridge in Canada outside of Montreal.  As someone else said, “Don’t cities just maintain them?”.

I realized that we have become so accustomed to such bad management in the City of Saskatoon that we think it is somewhat normal.  Part of me would wonder where we would be through the boom with a city council that could manage or lead together.

I also couldn’t help but notice that right across from the new mansion on Saskatchewan Crescent East was a tent for a homeless women on the westside of the river.  It looked like it had been there for a while.  Quite the contrasting views and a depressing visual reminder that Saskatoon’s homeless numbers keep growing and few care.

How Snoopy killed Peanuts

As Kotaku sees it.

But near the end of the 60s and well into the 70s, the cracks started to show. Snoopy began walking on his hind legs and using his hands, and that was the beginning of the end for the strip. Perhaps he was technically still a dog, but in a very substantial way, Snoopy had overcome the principal struggle of his existence. His opposable thumbs and upward positioning meant that for all intents and purposes, he was now a human in a dog costume. One of his new roleplays was to be different Joes — Joe Cool, Joe Skateboard, etc.

None of this had any greater, narrative payoff, or ended with Snoopy realizing he was a dog. It was always a pure visual gag, and it lacked the subtlety, pain, and vision that had previously been the strip’s trademark. In short, there was no balance. It was just a series of Snoopy in new costumes, almost as if Schulz was anticipating merchandise demands. Cuteness had replaced depth in a strip that had always celebrated the maturity and adult-like nature of precocious children. And since the strip had become globally, universally loved, there was little impetus to revisit the darker social commentary of years past.

Snoopy even passed for a human in many circumstances — Peppermint Patty referred to him as the “funny-looking kid with a big nose,” and took him to her school dance. And thus, the ‘humanizing’ of Snoopy also meant that the real kids were used less and less. Snoopy filled their roles, and eventually, many human characters were discarded altogether. By the 80s, Shermy and Patty, who started the strip with Charlie Brown and Snoopy in 1952, were gone, or reduced to brief cameos. Violet and her high bred snobbery were gone. Frieda, who used to challenge Snoopy more than any of the other characters, was also gone. Instead, we got more strips of Snoopy in cute costumes.

A little known fact is that my first stuffed animal as  a kid was named “Noopy”.  Apparently I didn’t’ pronounce “S” well.

An experienced US fighter pilot on the F-35

If you had to fly any fighter into an air combat arena today, including an operational F-35A as an option, what would it be?

The F-22. It’s a better jet than the F-35. It can carry at least as much, further and faster. If it was up to me I’d cancel the F-35 and start building more Raptors. A common counter to that is the cost to restart the F-22 assembly line. How much does one pig cost? Another is that the F-35 program is too far along. Yep, let’s just keep paying for a poorly-managed, overly expensive fighter that has three versions that make any one version less than it could be. Can you say F-111? That the F-35’s avionics are better than the F-22’s; how about a Raptor upgrade? I’d also build more advanced versions of the F-15 and F-16.

OK, I’ve spent enough time on my soapbox.

And what does the Canadian government want to purchase?  The poorly managed, overly expensive fighter that can’t fight, can’t run, and can’t hide.

Of course this isn’t the Canadian government’s fault.  It is solely the U.S. governments.

The F-22 was supposed to be the air superiority fighter.  That is what it was designed to do.  It would do that job well except the U.S. government didn’t forsee the USSR or China (or anyone else) becoming a threat and they killed the program because it was too expensive.  They then decided to get a lot of F-35s which would do attack runs and stuff like that.

Then Russia and China have both developed better and better fighters which will be as good as the F-22.  And they are making more than 150 of them.   This could mean that a lot of F-35 pilots are going to be killed in a potential conflict, including Canadian ones.

Canada is only buying 65 or so F-35s which mean that our pilots won’t get the training hours in needed to make them elite dog fighters in a plan that one pilot who has flown it said, “could be clubbed by baby seals”.  So not only is Canada buying a “pig” for a fighter (that isn’t a fighter), it is going to have pilots that won’t be as trained as they need to be.

In a world of increasing tensions, this is a recipe for disaster.

Japan has so many centenarians that the gov’t can’t afford to give them gifts.

From the department of cutting back.

Japan’s government will no longer reward its centenarian citizens with a silver sake dish worth ¥8,000 ($64), saying the growing number of long-lived Japanese are putting a strain on the country’s budget.

The Japan Times reports that the government will find a more frugal gift in time for the country’s annual celebration of the elderly on Sept. 15. Last year, the government spent ¥260 million ($2 million) on the program, which provided dishes for more than 29,000 centenarians. Japan expects as many as 38,000 more people to celebrate their 100th birthday in 2018.

To  be honest, with Japan’s demographic time bomb ticking away, this could be the least of their worries.

What I think I know about the campaign so far

  • After Nigel Wright and then Ben Perrin’s testimony at the Mike Duffy trial, I am pretty confident that Stephen Harper was lying about not knowing about the payment.  The plausible deniability seems less plausible every day.  Or as Andrew Coyne sarcastically suggests, maybe Stephen Harper is a victim in all of this.
  • Far more Liberal lawn signs visible in Saskatoon since 1993 when Jean Chretien swept to power.  In many ways the shift to the Liberals has to be really good for the Conservatives as I think this comes from historic NDP vote.  That being said, I still think Saskatoon West goes to the NDP. 
  • The interesting race may be Saskatoon Grasswoods and Saskatoon University.  Kevin Waugh has been really quiet so far while everyone is asking where Brad Trost is.   Trost doesn’t even have a website (although he has a web domain that goes nowhere).  It’s early but the Conservatives could go 0-3 in the city.
  • I also found it weird that Jason Kenney was in town last night for a fundraiser for Donauer and Block only and not for the east side candidates.
  • I watched Antarctic Edge: Beyond the Ice last night which is on the rapid global warming that is happening in Antarctica right now.  Winter sea ice has declined by three months and temperatures have increased by 11 degrees Fahrenheit, six times greater than the global average.  Yet the NDP and the Liberals seem nervous about talking about it.  Maybe it is an acknowledgement that Canada is indeed what most of the world is calling us, a petro-state (or to throw it back to the 80s; PetroCanada).  Our entire country has become tied to oil and gas revenue.  To tackle climate change in a serious way, it would cause a serious disruption to the Canadian economy and throw hundreds of thousands out of work.  In a day and age where the “middle class” is king politically, no one wants to take a stand that would hurt them, even if it hurts the globe.
  • Interesting interview on The Current with John Ibbitson.  It’s worth the 20 minutes to listen to it.  You may even want to listen to it again.
  • In some way I feel sorry for the political staffers who have to create election material and use stock photos.  They have no budget and are under time constraints and it never turns out wellNever ever turns out well
  • This won’t come up in the election but I tend to give Stephen Harper a pass for messed up military procurement, especially when the Americans who do it better than we do, also have their struggles.
  • Whoever wins, is going to have a tougher go with the Canadian economy.  Oil prices are to stay depressed for another two years.
  • The NDP minimum wage hike makes claims that it can’t back up.  Hey, a NDP populist economic policy that makes no sense, what a surprise.
  • Of course neither leader has the courage to wade into Saskatchewan’s most pressing issue, what’s wrong with the Roughriders?

Back to Football

Mark is trying out for Bedford Road’s senior football team this year.  After playing every position on the defense last year, he decided to test himself against some older and stronger players.  If he makes the team great, if not he will have tried and gotten some work in than if he had just played junior football.

Since practices start on Monday, it meant that we had to get him some gear this weekend.  His cleats and gloves fit but we ran out after work to get him some shorts and some stay dry shirts.  While we were at it, we picked up some cross trainers.  All this so he can increase his chance of long term brain injury by playing football or developing cancer by playing football on the shredded toxic waste we call SMF Field

Of course Oliver was in a bad mood over this.  Despite only going into grade two, he can’t figure out why he can’t play tackle football yet.  Apparently all other sports suck and aren’t worth his time.  He has some time to wait until Grade 6 when Kinsmen Football starts.  He isn’t impressed.  He’ll be even less impressed when Mark takes off to play football.

North Korea and South Korea are exchanging gunfire, with a set of loudspeakers partly to blame

 North Korea is like an out of control toddler.

North Korea has reportedly fired shots at South Korea, according to state-run South Korean media, KBS. The shelling, which happened at 4pm local time, is believed to be aimed at loudspeakers on the South Korean side of the border that have been airing anti-Pyongyang propaganda. South Korea fired shots back at the north. “Our side staged a counter-attack with dozens of 155mm shells,” a ministry spokesmantold AFP.

Tensions between the two Koreas, still technically at war after agreeing to an armistice and not a peace treaty in the 1950s, have been higher than normal recently. Seoul accused North Korea of planting a land mine that killed two South Korean soldiers earlier this month. In response to the land mine incident, South Korea took up a tactic last used over a decade ago, and began blaring anti-North Korea broadcastsover the border. (The speakers have also been used to blast K-pop into the country.) The area between North and South Korea is one of the most militarized borders in the world.

The two countries have traded shots over propaganda before—in October last year, North Korean military fired anti-aircraft guns at balloons released into the country by South Korean protesters. Observers worry that under the leadership of North Korea’s young and increasingly unpredictable leader Kim Jong-un, incidents like this can easily escalate.

My leg

I should have posted this sooner but I have been busy and tired.

The good news is that I am not going to die in the next couple of weeks and they didn’t find a fast acting tumor.  So sorry to disappoint those who were hoping for that outcome.  I appreciated the emails.

I did my tests at RUH, was pumped full of radioactive chemicals (sadly no super powers came from it) and was scanned, scanned in the exact same way, then I was scanned again.  Finally I was scanned the fourth time.  I am assuming they were looking for different things.

I did find some time to read my file and it was alarmingly full of errors.  It mentions two ulcers and there is only one.  It mentions my left leg and it is my right leg that the infection is part of.  It doesn’t surprise me.  There has been sloppy mistakes made constantly in how forms and things have been handled.

What’s worse is the amount of nurses and technicians who say, “It happens all of the time”.  That doesn’t make me feel comforted.

So basically after all of those tests (and about $50 in RUH parking fees – tell me again why RUH parkade is the MOST EXPENSIVE IN SASKATOON? It’s not like you have an option to go anywhere else), and a fine cup of Starbucks coffee, I am told that a part of my bone has died and I get to wait until the middle of September to the next step.  Yes I said a month.  That is healthcare in Saskatchewan for you.  You wait months to see a specialist, then you get the rushed tests, then you wait a month to see the results.

Of course no one is really dealing with the infection which beat it’s way past the antibiotic this week.  I am on a yet different one.  No expectation of making me better but I was burning up earlier today and partly from the fatigue, my breathing was really shallow.  Since the inflection is also in my skin and the bone, when it gets bad, it is really painful.  The ankle swells, is extremely painful to touch and the bone feels like it is going to burst.  If you have never felt like your ankle bone was about to burst, it’s painful.

The pain is kind of manageable but the fever makes it so I can’t sleep.  I find myself going downstairs to get some cold water, take a cold shower, drink more water, find another fan (as if that is going to help), go out for a walk, drink more water, take another cold shower…. it’s not exactly conducive to a good night’s sleep.  Then when that doesn’t work, I browse the web.  The markets in Asia aren’t the most exciting reading but you got to do what you got to do.

So right now for treatment, they are treating my vascular system in my legs which seems wrong to me since I don’t think I have a vascular problem.  The problem I have is that I have a massive amount of antibiotic resistant infection in my bone marrow and when the antibiotics stop and the legs swell up, everyone goes, “vascular problem”.  Yet when I am on antibiotics, the swelling goes away.

So after I lather on a “powerful steroid” leg to deal with the itchiness of the Coban wraps tomorrow. I realize that no one really seems to have a grasp at what is wrong with me despite me getting worse.  The weird thing is that for one of the very few times in my life, I have no idea what to do.

For someone who doesn’t trust others very well, this is a long way out of my comfort zone, what’s worse is that I fear that it is costing me my leg.

No wonder I don’t sleep well most nights.

Update: Progress!  I only have the Coban wrap on the leg that needs it (I am really happy with that).  Am working on seeing if I can get into the infectious disease specialist that everyone thinks I need to see.

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