(Ford) #ExploreSask

Ford Canada is lending me a 2016 Ford Explorer to take to Swift Current tomorrow and take in some of the 2016 Ford World’s Women Curling Championship.  

2016 Ford Explorer

I don’t know if Ford knows this but the drive from Saskatoon to Swift Current is a lot of fun.  First of all you drive from Saskatoon to Rosetown which is no fun at all.  Then once you turn south, the drive gets better.  You get into some hills and curves.  The scenery is great.  There are giant wind farms.  There is Saskatchewan Landing.  Just thinking about taking that SUV down to Swift Current makes me smile.  I love driving that road.

So why am I doing this?  Well let’s get this out the way.

  • I don’t work for Ford.  Nor am I paid for anything that I write about Ford vehicles.  They give me complete freedom to write what I think about their cars. Over the years when I have written about things that I may not like, I have been contacted by people from Ford asking for more feedback and ways I think it could work better.  That’s it. 
  • Basically the only restrictions that Ford places on me is insurance related and I am not allowed to smoke in the car.  Since I have never smoked, that isn’t an issue.
  • For this trip, Ford Canada is paying for my hotel (at the Motel 6 in Swift Current), gas, and some of the food.  I mention some of the food because I decided I wanted to pay for the red licorice I am buying tomorrow out of my own personal money.  That way I don’t have to share if I don’t want to.
  • Having thought long and hard about this but if I could own any car in the entire world, it would be a Ford Escape Titanium edition.  You have your favorite vehicle, that is mine.  I love that vehicle and every Ford I write about is compared to how it stacks up to that car. 

Okay, so I mentioned Ford is putting Wendy, Mark, Oliver and I up at the Motel 6 in Swift Current.  The place looks like the inside of an Ikea show hotel.  I can’t wait to take some photos and show you.  I actually am nervous sleeping in it because I am afraid that someone is going to wander through and want to buy part a piece of furniture on their way to go and look at oversized coffee mugs.  The most cutting edge hotel in Saskatchewan is a Motel 6 in Swift Current.  Try to get your head around that. 

There isn’t a lot to do in Swift Current but I will see what I can photograph and explore there.  Several locals have given me some suggestions on where to eat.

Once we eat and are secured safely back into the Motel 6 with the NCAA basketball tournament on, I’ll post a review on how the 2016 Ford Explorer handles and a little bit about the trip.

One last thing, Mark is in driver’s ed but doesn’t quite have his learner’s license yet.  In his (delusional) mind he was so close to test driving the Ford Explorer that he could taste it.  Then I told him that he had to be either 18 or 21 to be able to drive one which pretty much crushed his spirits, hopes, and dreams.  He was quite happy tonight to be able to ride in the front seat.  As he said, “all he had to do was picture being in the U.K. and it was like he was driving.”  I admire his spirit.

What happened to character in politics?

I don’t know if I am going to write about this for my column in The StarPhoenix.  Probably because it depresses me so much and partly because Murray Mandryk does a way better job of writing about provincial politics than I do but here is my take on the five Saskatchewan candidates who have driving while impaired convictions.

I was in Grade 11 when my first friend was killed by an impaired driver.  He was impaired and killed himself and one other person while driving home from Prince Albert one long weekend.  It was the same thing, they had too much to drink, thought they could handle it and pulled out to pass when they should not have.  It was all over before they knew what happened.  It’s been over 20 years and I still get a sick feeling in my stomach when I think about it.

The story is similar with a few other friends over the years.  Sometimes they were intoxicated and hurt someone else.  Other times they were coming home from work and were hit hard themselves.  End result was that their lives were over or spent months or years recovering from the accident.  

It’s not a unique story, Saskatchewan leads the nation in people who drive drunk something that I can’t understand.  People say they have no options but there are always options.  Sleeping in your car and locking the keys in the trunk, calling a friend, using a cab, walking home are all options.  I have been woken up more then once by sheepish friends who have said, “I am downtown and had too much to drink…”  Each time I have always gotten out of bed and gone and helped them out without regret because loosing someone to drunk driving is an experience that none of us should have to deal with.   Many of you have done the same thing because we all know the risk to our friends, family and strangers from someone getting into a vehicle and driving intoxicated.

So when Cam Broten and Brad Wall both allowed candidates who had not only one conviction but multiple convictions to be candidates for their party like nothing was out of the ordinary, I was incredibly disappointed.  These candidates decided that it was okay to drink too much, get into a vehicle and endanger innocent lives because they were too cheap to call a taxi, too prideful to make a phone call, or too selfish to stay at home and not go out and get drunk.  The same actions which disqualify many people from the same “high paying jobs” and quite a few menial jobs that both parties love to talk about is appropriate for candidates to become MLAs?

This is the government that spent much of the last four years legislating red light cameras, baby seats, and how fast we drive in highways zones but both parties have no problems with candidates who have repeated driving while impaired convictions.  In a province where this kind of behavior is already too prevalent and given tactful approval in many circles as “part of growing up”, what message to both Broten and Wall send?

I know backbench MLAs serve really no purpose other than to clap and bang on their tables on command but shouldn’t we expect more from our MLAs and potential cabinet other than the ability to knock on doors and pose for photos with their party leader.  Shouldn’t a clean criminal record be part of the job qualifications?

At this point in the campaign, I’d rather spoil my ballot or not vote than cast it.  I have voted in every election and referendum since I have been 18 and I have never considered not voting before.

Tammy Robert is blogging over there…

In case you missed it but Tammy Robert is blogging again here.  If you are reading my blog, you are clearly looking for correct opinions and commentary but if you want the, err, contrarian view to what is correct and right, check out her site.

For the provincial election, Tammy is doing some excellent commentary on the campaigns.  If this election gets you excited, her blog may be the best one out there.

New Windows 10 box

Mark wrote about this as well this weekend but I decided to upgrade his laptop this weekend.  His laptop runs Windows Vista and while it does a not bad job of it, it would need some more RAM to handle Windows 10.  I was pricing out the memory and the license for Windows 10 when I noticed that OTV had some Lenovo ThinkCentre desktop computers coming off lease that had way more power and were less than the Windows 10 license.  Not only that but they included a copy of the 64 bit version of Windows 7 (which of course upgrades to Windows 10).  The machine will handle a total of 16 gb of RAM so that was a plus as well.  I’ll add some more memory to this summer.

I picked that up with a $15 Logitech keyboard and mouse and took it home.  We had an extra monitor in the basement but as I go to grab it, Wendy and Mark tell me that  they threw it out in a cleaning purge.  Excellent.  So it was back to OTV where they had a 19.5 inch monitor on for $50.

Still it was cheaper than upgrading Windows and the RAM.

So we got it going, connected it to the interweb, and then used Ninite to download and install the freeware programs like Evernote, Dropbox, Google Chrome, Apple iTunes, Spotify and other programs.  The one thing I didn’t download is Libre or Open Office which I have come to believe are some of the most bloated pieces of software available.  Instead I was going to download AbiWord and have him use Google Sheets for a spreadsheet but I was in London Drugs where they had Corel WordPerfect Office Home and Student on for only $34.97.  It’s not Microsoft Office but it is a lot better than Libre Office in terms of speed and features.

This is off topic but I thought I would take a moment to mention how much I miss Lotus Smart Suite which included Lotus 1-2-3 but more importantly Lotus Ami Pro (later called Lotus Word Pro).  While I am it, I also miss Microsoft Works which I did an awful lot of writing on.  I really miss Works suites.  I wish someone would do one again.

The last bit of freeware software I put on his computer is Serif Publisher Starter Edition.  It is designed for beginners and gives him far more control than either WordPerfect or a word processor will give him.

I am kind of careful about fonts.  So many collections of freeware fonts have commercial fonts in them.  Years ago a graphic designer I know realized he had some illegal fonts in his collection and purged them and then put together some excellent freeware font CDs.  I installed them and then added some excellent commercial fonts that I have the license for.  He isn’t into page layout of print design but if he ever is, he will have a nice system for it.

I love my laptop and have no problems with it but the joy of a full sized keyboard and an almost 20 inch screen was pretty awesome as well.

The upgrade to Windows 10 took overnight to download but once that was done, it was good to go this morning.  Am always amazed at how powerful machine I was able to get him for so little money.  I grew up with DOS and then Windows.  After 4 years with a Mac and OSX, I like being back with Windows and the PC world again.

Turning 42

Stanley Thermos Travel MugIn about 60 minutes I turn 42.  I do however have to get to Saskatoon City Hospital so I can have a coban wrap put on my left leg so excuse me for posting this prematurely.

Rather than letting me sleep in during my old age, I was woken up early by Wendy, Mark, and Oliver.  Seems as if they didn’t get the company wide memo that I am old and need sleep.

They got the dog riled up (wasn’t she supposed to be walked?) and then gave me my gifts.

Oliver gave me a Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Venture WV Air Mattress. which will be great for hiking this summer.

Mark gave me the same Stanley travel mug he has.  It will keep my coffee hot long after it has become stale and gross.  He also gave me some Nike running gloves which will great in the evenings or if it gets cool while hiking.

Wendy also gave me a Fitbit Charge HR.  I have used my Nike Fuelband for years but this takes up a notch.

They all gave me an 11×14 Itoya Art Profolio Advantage portfolio.  Now I have to print out some photos for it.

For dinner tonight, they are talking me to the Bon Temps Cafe where we will dine out on some Cajun food and then meet up with some friends later.

The Clocks at Grand Central Station Are Permanently Wrong

… and they’re that way on purpose.

The Clocks at Grand Central Station Are Permanently WrongThere is very little to be done about all this when space is limited, crowds are large, and humans always — always — put things off until the last minute. But Grand Central, for years now, has relied on a system meant to mitigate, if not prevent, all the crazy. It is this: The times displayed on Grand Central’s departure boards are wrong — by a full minute. This is permanent. It is also purposeful.

The idea is that passengers rushing to catch trains they’re about to miss can actually be dangerous — to themselves, and to each other. So conductors will pull out of the station exactly one minute after their trains’ posted departure times. That minute of extra time won’t be enough to disconcert passengers too much when they compare it to their own watches or smartphones … but it is enough, the thinking goes, to buy late-running train-catchers just that liiiiiitle bit of extra time that will make them calm down a bit. Fast clocks make for slower passengers. “Instead of yelling for customers to hurry up,” the Epoch Times notes, “the conductors instead tell everyone to slow down.” 

You might call this time-hacking; you might call it behavioral engineering; you might call it comical. Regardless, it seems to be working. Grand Central boasts the fewest slips, trips, and falls of any station in the country — quite a feat given how many of its floors are made of marble. And given how many of the passengers treading those floors are, despite their grace period, cutting it this close to missing their trains.

Millennials Spending Power Has Hilton Weighing a ‘Hostel-Like’ Brand

Hilton is making some changes

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., the world’s biggest hospitality company by number of rooms, may add a new brand that focuses on small, cheap hotels in big cities, Chief Executive Officer Chris Nassetta said.

“There’s potential for something that has more of an urban flair, more of a micro-hotel,” Nassetta said in an interview in Berlin. “We haven’t made a decision to do anything in that space, but it’s certainly one of the things we’ve been exploring.”

Hilton, owner of the Waldorf-Astoria and Hampton Inn brands, aims to meet increasing demand by young travelers seeking no-frills, affordable lodging. Large hoteliers face increasing competition for budget accommodation from online providers such as Airbnb Inc.

The brand would offer “hostel-like” accommodation for younger guests, with lower prices and less service, Nassetta said. Hilton prefers to develop new brands itself, rather than making acquisitions, he said.

Spending by young overseas tourists around the world is forecast to rise to $336 billion by 2020 from $230 billion in 2014, according to Stay Wyse. Half of millennials spend at least 1,000 euros ($1,100) during a trip, according to a November 2014 report by the company that represents the global youth-travel industry.

The Abandoned Arthur Kill Ship Graveyard

Wired has some more on it.

REACHING THE MARSHY spot on southwestern Staten Island where good boats go to die requires a car, sturdy footwear, and a willingness to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Though a sliver of the Arthur Kill ship graveyard is visible from the nearest road, the site’s full grandeur only becomes apparent once you sneak beyond the “No Trespassing” and “Beware of Dog” signs and hack through a miasma of seven-foot-tall reeds that stink of brine and guano.

The thicket finally dead-ends at a colossal pile of junk: thousands of splintered beams of lumber mixed in with broken engine parts. Just beyond this debris field lie as many three dozen ghostly ships in various states of decay, abandoned decades ago in this isolated corner of New York City.

The Arthur Kill ship graveyard was never meant to become such a decrepit spectacle. In the years following World War II, the adjacent scrapyard began to purchase scores of outdated vessels, with the intention of harvesting them for anything of value. But the shipbreakers couldn’t keep pace with the influx of boats, especially once people started to use the graveyard as a dumping ground for their old dinghies. Plenty of ships fell into such disrepair that they were no longer worth the effort to strip, especially since many teem with toxic substances. And so they’ve been left to rot in the murky tidal strait that divides Staten Island from New Jersey, where they’ve turned scarlet with rust and now host entire ecosystems of hardy aquatic creatures.

360 degree look at the most expensive train station ever built

The new transit hub at the World Trade Center site is opening to the public this month. The design for the station was first revealed in 2004. It was projected to take five years and only $2.2 billion to complete, but after 12 years and many complications, $2.2 billion turned into $4 billion, making the Transportation Hub the most expensive train station ever. Though the main part of the station that connects to the PATH trains — known as the Oculus — will now be open, other parts, such as the retail space, are still under construction.

The hub was designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, who has worked on buildings in Spain, Switzerland, and Canada. He is currently designing St. Nicholas Church in Liberty Park, another building that was destroyed during the 9/11 attacks.

Yashica Mat-124 G

I never shoot film.  I have taken probably 100,000 photos in my life and since I bought my first digital camera, I have never shot a film camera.  I had no desire to do so.   That being said, I have always wanted a Twin Lens Reflex camera.  My grandfather had one (probably a Kodak Dualflex) and I have always loved the look of Rolleiflex cameras.

The other day while working on something at Don’s Photo, a customer came in with a large collection of gear.  One of them was a Yashica Mat-124 G twin lens reflex camera.

Yashica Mat-124 G

It is a medium format camera (way bigger negatives than 35mm film) and not exactly the easiest to use but they are fascinating to me and I find them incredibly cool.   The gentleman wanted to sell it on consignment and after taking a look at it and the price, I decided to purchase, if only to own a piece of history.  Also, as Paul McCartney shows, it’s a great selfie camera (I’m kidding).

Paul McCartney taking a selfie

The first step was to load some film into it.  Which I’ll be honest, I had to ask a colleague on how to do.  it isn’t the easiest process to master.  After we did that, the camera is extremely easy to use and still meters.  It’s not a point and shoot but it is really easy to use. 

Since the Yashicamat camera is basically a Rolleiflex copy, the controls take a similar configuration. Build quality is very good and when the lens is stopped down, it takes excellent photos.

Now all I need to do is grow a beard, wear tight jeans, and some flannel, ride a fixie and I too can take part of the hipster revival on 20th Street. 

A blog about urbanism, technology & culture.