- We are heading north to Prince Albert National Park this weekend if it doesn’t get snow for Thanksgiving. We will stay in the Narrows Campground and tent in two tents. We upgraded our sleeping bags for this and will have lots of blankets. Plus the dog gives off some heat. The plan is to do some hiking, get some photos of some wildlife and hopefully get a shot of some otters. Of course this all dependent on Mark not getting hurt playing football this Thursday night.
- It’s an insanely busy time for me at work as I am publishing three gift guides a week for the month of October. So basically if you want to buy a camera or a lens this Christmas, I’ll have you covered. At a couple thousand words a piece, it’s like writing 8 columns a week. Oh yeah, I have some of those to write as well.
- Since I have some extra time on my hands, I am launching a new project after the election. It is called The Saskatonian. It’s a longer podcast with video that will be with some public figures in Saskatoon. Where the OurYXE podcast was policy and political, this will hopefully be more casual and have some culture, sports, and banter in it. We won’t be shooting it in any particular place but it will be all over the place, often over a drink and a bite to eat. The length is going to be longer but we will probably have multiple guests per episode. The name came to me when Paul Wells called us Saskatoonians. Umm, nope. That’s not it. It’s Saskatonian. Expect to see some episodes being released after the election.
- I haven’t said a lot about the cuts to The Lighthouse but they make no sense from any kind of policy or even political perspective. The intox beds are obviously double billed as the person who uses that bed is on social services and they are being paid to stay somewhere. But when they show up there out of control or high, they often are turned away. So at that point there are three choices. Get arrested by the Saskatoon Police Service for public intoxication and go to police cells, go to Larson House (which is so full that it is the reason why the program was started at The Lighthouse in the first place) or be put out on the streets where people die yearly. The idea that people are drinking and using drugs so they can somehow abuse the system is long held in governments who see themselves as the victim for any spending in their department but is ludicrous. Addicts won’t go home if the funding is cut for the intox beds, they will end up in police cells or end up in Royal University Hospital emergency which are far more expensive or they will die on the streets. It is why the program was set up but in the minds of social services, it isn’t their budget line so who cares? Governments are asinine and this one is no different.
- I was asked this week if I give campaigns heads up on my columns. The answer is no. They can read them in Monday’s The StarPhoenix like the rest of the world.
- I plan to shoot and upload a video a day in 2018. I don’t mind shooting video and have long enjoyed it. I have edited quite a few over the years, including some that many of you have seen. Doing it has never been that big of a deal for me, I just never have put in the work to make sure batteries are charged every day and the gear is good to go at all times. Also I find it really hard to take photos of a weekend and capture it with video. A friend of mine who is much better at this as I am basically told me the same thing that it is almost impossible to get great photos and great video at the same time of an event. Once I got that figured out in my head on how to do, it made a lot more sense. Everyone sees me with my Pentax K-3 and goes, “Why can’t you do what Casey Neistat does and do both?” First of all, he doesn’t do both. He shoots video with his Canon EOS 70D. Also Canon is a much better video platform that my Pentax (and if I was being totally honest, is a much better photographic system as well but I’m not prepared to be that honest). So yeah, I can plug in a video microphone into my Pentax but it doesn’t have the fast focusing that a Canon EOS 70D and a Canon EOS 80D does. To be honest, even Nikon doesn’t have anything that compares video wise to that camera. Also Canon has some video optimized lenses that are amazing that Pentax nor Nikon really has (why do I shoot a Pentax and not a Canon? That is a long story). So to do so, I am ordering a Rode VideoMic Me to go with my phone and then using some other gear like the Nikon Keymission 80 next summer and the DJI Mavic Pro drone. So yeah, expect to see a lot of Wendy, Mark, Oliver, and Marley on here next year.
- So I did a Twitter poll about whether or not I should get a Bluetooth speaker for my shower and the response was overwhelmingly yes. I now feel like I know more about your shower habits than I should.
- Finally there is a new guy in the neighborhood who walks all over the place, all times of the day and night and he is always loudly busting out these really bad rap lyrics about killing white people and taking back the land. 3:00 a.m. Bad Rap. 10:00 a.m. Bad Rap. 4:00 p.m. Bad Rap. It’s like living just down the street from Drake.
For years I have used a leather wallet with a zipper around it. Â To be honest I hate dropping my wallet and cards going everywhere. Â This wallet works fine for it and lasts about five years before it needs replacing. Â Lately Jeff and Sean have been going on and on about their Umbra Bungee Wallets which look cool but I have never liked carrying. Â They have been going on and on about how slim they are which is something that is kind of important. Â No one wants to haveÂ George Costanza wallet.
Last week I lost my wallet. Â I am 99% sure it is in our house but I fear that it was tossed out by Oliver or Mark while cleaning. Â I was going to swallow my pride and get one of those Umbra wallets but that would mean that I value Jeff and Sean’s opinions on accessorizing. Â The next you know I’ll be taking council’s advice on how many bridge lanes the city needs. Â It’s a slippery slope. Â I was seriously thinking of getting a Bellroy Wallet but $60 for a wallet is more than I wanted to pay. Â
Instead I looked around and found a Joseph Abboud Front Pocket Wallet which as you can see, is extremely thin and compact and minimizes the bulk of most wallets. Â I bought it for $8. Â In case you are thinking that I have lost it and have gone off the deep end, Walmart has a large selection of front pocket wallets, which I don’t know if that helps my point or destroys it.
Of course it is extremely thin now as all I have in it is my temporary drivers licence and my BMO Debit Card. Â I hate losing wallets. Â
In case you want to slim down your wallet, Bellroy has some excellent tipsÂ but I also discovered Stocard which really what Apple’s Passport should have been. Â It scans and keeps track of all of my reward cards in one place. Â Here is the screenshot of what it holds (and you now know what reward programs that I belong to)
Once you enter in your member number (or let it scan in your card’s barcode) all I have to do is fire up the app and let the store scanner scan the barcode (or if that doesn’t work, touch the screen and your member number comes up right away). Â Like most of you, I always have my phone on me so there is no point in carrying it and a wallet full of reward cards). Â It’s free and you can get the app for iOS and Android. Â I can’t recommend it enough. Â That and it’s not an Umbra cardholder so we all win.
As noticed by Chris Enns, OurYXE‘s podcast appeared in iTunes’ New & Noteworthy category last week. Â You can listen to our podcast online, subscribe via RSS, or listen in with iTunes. Â There are also two new episodes that went online this weekend. Â Episode 8 with Pat Lorje andÂ Episode 9 which features Sean and I talking about an independent election commission and Saskatoon’s inability to understand how things like snow removal is an essential service that needs to be provided.
Janice Braden joined us for the OurYXE podcast this week where we talked for a little over an hour about the Municipal Planning Commission, architecture, affordable housing, and city building. Â It was a great discussion and I learned a lot from Janice. Â Next weekend we are looking at chatting withÂ Shaun Dyer, the executive director of the John Howard Society. Â We will be talking about corrections, crime, and our community.
The OurYXE podcast sat down and interviewed Councillor Zach Jeffries (you may know him from such roles as Campaigning for Ward 10). Â We had a good discussion about suburban sprawl, the North Commuter Bridge, and his lucky campaign shirt. Â It’s worth a listen.
Of course if you can’t get enough of Saskatoon politics and policy, you can subscribe to the OurYXE podcast via RSS, iTunes, or just stop by every Monday and see who else we have tormented (next week it is Councillor Charlie Clark).
For those of you who are tired of reading what I have written; I have put together a new medium to grow tired of; a podcast. Â Sean Shaw, DeeAnn Mercier and myself (along with some soon to be announced contributors) are going to talking city politics, urban planning, and other issues that affect us as a city at ouryxe.ca. Â We have some great guests lined up and at times it can get rather testy but a great city needs a place to debate things and talk about new ideas. Â This just happens to be one of them. Â The RSS feed is live and we hope to hear back from iTunes in a couple of days and I can post that link. Â The first episode can be found online here. Â Expect to hear our episode with Councillor Zach Jeffries to go live as soon as our iTunes page goes live.
Sean Shaw has a great post on the proposed North Commuter Bridge and the process that surrounded it.
An internet search pinpoints an announcement on March 15th by the City Administration regarding the Integrated Growth Plan â€“ the blue print that will guide Saskatoonâ€™s growth for the next couple of decades â€“ and the transportation plans included within that plan (Proposed Plan, March 2012 here). An article in the Star Phoenix the following day suggests that a North bridge has been on the planning books for Saskatoon since 1999. However, as recent as 2007, official City planning documents indicate only one proposed North Bridge, the provincially driven â€œNorth Perimeterâ€ Bridge and Highway, which was originally proposed in 2000, with no mention of a second North Bridge (2007 University Heights Sector Plan â€“ here â€“ compare the map on page 2 to the Commuter Bridge Map). Moreover, the Sector Plan for University Heights has not been officially changed by City Council to include the proposed â€œNorth Commuterâ€ Bridge or itâ€™s connecting roadways, including the proposed arterial road that will now bi-sect the ecologically sensitive Northeast Swale (according to the Sector Plan no arterial roadways are supposed to cross the swale).
The lack of any historical documentation suggests that the â€œNorth Commuterâ€ Bridge appeared out of thin-air early last year.
While researching this file last month, I made a request to City Administration to provide any public documents that outlined the feasibility of the proposed â€œNorth Commuterâ€ Bridge â€“ specifically traffic impact studies, like the one conducted for the Traffic Bridge, that demonstrated the requirement for the Bridge. I was told that no such study existed. Infact, the study (Transportation Functional Planning Study) that will determine the feasibility of different river crossings and how they will impact future traffic wonâ€™t be completed until later this month.
Furthermore, its commonly held in the local engineering community that the â€œNorth Perimeterâ€ Bridge and Highway would be a better use of public dollars, in terms of addressing traffic movement for the City as a whole (funny enough, the same was said about the South Circle Bridge, namely that the North Perimeter Bridge should have been built first).
The entire post is worth reading until you realize that Saskatoon City Council has gone ahead and spent $100 million on a bridge that is going to be about 1/2 mile from another new bridge without understanding the impact of that bridge. Â If anything they are doing their best to make city council spending in Regina and Markham sound reasonable.
The weekend that was: The lowlight of the weekend was that I was fiddling with a power adaptor with my right hand and jerked my hand away violently when I got shocked. Â Of course my right shoulder is the shoulder with the torn rotator cuff. Â I have had both shoulders operated on, I have wrecked both MCL and ACLs, I have even had nails go into my feet. Â Nothing was as painful as that pain was. Â I just screamed in pain for a minute while walking over and sitting down before I passed out.
I was hoping the pain would pass but now every time I use my right hand, there is incredible pain in the shoulder which can’t be a good thing. Â Back to my family doctor on Tuesday to see what we can do now.
On Sunday I watched the Lions lose to the Green Bay Packers at Jeff’s place with Sean. Â Doing that brought up a lot of Detroit Lions memories and none of them are good. Â Wayne Fontes, Scott Mitchell, Matt Millen, 0-16â€¦ at least the food was good.
On my to-do list this week:Â Other than seeing a doctorâ€¦
Procrastinating about: Going to see my doctorâ€¦
Book Iâ€™m in the midst of: The Triumph of the CityÂ by Edward Glaesar
Music that seemed to catch my attention this past week:Â The new Sheepdogs album.
How Iâ€™m feeling about this week:Â Pain.
Last night Wendy and I had Sean Shaw, Jeff Jackson, Pat Lorje, and DeeAnn Mercier over to watch the results come in. Â Â The wifi was reinforced, I bugged DeeAnn about her new job, the NDP jokes were sharpened, and I prepared a story about Joe Clark in case Jeff and I needed to reminisce. Â
Wendy made a bunch of food, Sean brought over a bunch of food, and others brought over stuff as well. Â We ate well. Â Other than Obama’s personal victory, the win of the night was that Sean was able to get a box of candy for next to nothing. Â It’s rumoured that when Karl Rove had his meltdown it wasn’t over Ohio but rather over what Sean paid for his candy.
All I know is that between Wendy and Sean there was more food here than at either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama’s parties.
It was a weird night of television. Â We alternated between arguing U.S. politics and then would go argue a couple of city reports. Â It got confusing. Â In the end I think we all agreed that Barack Obama has not been strong as he should be on our north commuter bridge and I think Sean Shaw is thinking of running for a U.S. Senate seat. Â It was all a blur.
Some things broke out on Twitter. Â I was assailed for not inviting more of you. Â Next time we have an election night, I will invite more people. Â While we were all really happy with the election results, I was haunted all night by a comment by Coun. Lorje who reminded me that Mark is closer to growing up than I like to admit. Â I worked on my first election when I was age and he already has a couple under his belt. Â He reads the Economist. Â Girls are starting to call for him. Â Pat’s comment made me realize that I was soon to be a parent of a teenager. Â I don’t think I am prepared well for it. Â Mitt Romney lost the election, I entered into a mid-life crisis. Â Maybe I can ask Mitt Romney for advice. Â He has time on his hands.
Update: Take a look at President Elect Romney’s transition website. Â Awkward.
Speaking of awkward, here is Ezra Levant giving his prediction that Mitt Romney will win big last night. Â Awesome.Â
So after spending last night at City Hall waiting for the election results to be made public, here are my thoughts.
- It was fun doing a quick segment with David Kirton and CKOM on the election. Â I have always been a fan of Kirton and my only regret was not seeing more traction on food trucks (Twitter joke).
- I was shocked to see Troy Davies win in Ward 4. Â I had picked Sean Shaw and all of the metrics that myself and others have used to determine campaign victories showed Shaw winning. Apparently I need new metrics. Â Either that or I need to start putting polls in the field. Â Congrats to Troy Davies for winning and earning the right to be Ward 4 councillor. Â Sean is a good friend and I am sure he will be back politically but it’s hard to see friends lose races.
- I was also surprised to see Ann Iwanchuk win as after 10/11 polls reporting, Mike San Miguel had a sizeable lead but as the old saying goes, “it’s not over until it’s over” and all of a sudden I was looking at a result that I couldn’t believe and that is that Iwanchuk won by 28 votes. Â When I talked to her and Andy last night, they kind of had the same reaction. Congrats to her on a well run race.
- If I am Mike San Miguel, I have to questioning my decision to go negative late in the race with a pamphlet that attacked Iwanchuk and an attacking robo-call that attacked her NDP background. Â If anything it probably motivated people to turn out for Iwanchuk. Â It was a great campaign to watch that came down to under 100 votes.
- Zach Jeffries not only becomes the youngest member on council ever but knocked off three term incumbent Bev Dubois.
- So Tom Wolf came within a hair of defeating a long term incumbent after getting in the race in September. Â Impressive campaign by Wolf and they had by far the best campaign t-shirts.
- Pat Lorje won again in Ward 2 which is what I predicted.Â
- Since this will be long forgotten by 2016, I am planning to do a series of push polls, probably just to candidate homes that go something like, “Would you prefer crazed socialist (or robber baron) [insert councillor’s name here] or well respected columnist Jordon Cooper to represent your riding?” just to feed on their paranoia. Â I have no intention of running but it would be fun to do.
- I had a fun conversation with Andy Iwanchuk which is the first time we have ever met.Â When you think of it, the Iwanchuk family has been in campaign mode for a long time with Ann’s election a year ago, Andy’s provincial campaign and now her re-election campaign which makes for a hectic year. Â No truth to the rumour that both of them are getting away for a vacation by working on someone else’s campaign.
- After following the council pretty closely, I found the entire election disillusioning. Â Part of it is the sausage philosophy where you don’t really want to know how it is made. Â At the last of the last term, it was a very politically divided council. Â That division came across during some of the FOI requests that dropped and also it showed that more than one councillor/candidate had lied to me about some issue or another. Â Hopefully with some new councillors on council those bridges can be rebuilt but I am not hopeful that the partisanship will change.
- I want to thank each of you last night that aggressively shook my hand. Â If you noticed tears in my eyes, it wasn’t because I moved talking to you or about your victory, it is because I HAVE A TORN ROTATOR CUFF and it really HURT ME every time we shook hands. Â I was ready to be put down by about 8:45 p.m. Â It hurt that much.
- The election day someone put up an anonymous Twitter account bashing Darren Hill to the media and anyone who would listen. Â Sadly it was done by someone that knows Wendy and I and lives in Mayfair. Â I have a pretty good idea of who it was but it’s still sad. Â To be honest, if I was going to attack Hill I would stand behind them. Â An anonymous account doesn’t do anything other than provide something to laugh at.
- Got to hang out with Alex MacPhersonÂ andÂ Liam RichardsÂ for the first time last night. Â I always enjoy MacPherson’s writing in Verb and I have long been a fan of Richard’s photography (which always envying his gear).Â
- So this will be it until the next federal and provincial election when some councillors decide to run. Â If they win, we get by-elections and the process starts all over again.
Since I have been posting campaign videos a lot lately, I thought that I would continue the trend with posting Sean Shaw‘s campaign videos.
Not that anyone cares about this other than myself but Sean is the only Saskatoon City Council candidate to use Vimeo rather than YouTube. From the look of the credits, they were done by Flavio Ishii, a local Saskatoon filmmaker. Of all of the films that I have seen so far, the four most recent ones by Shaw (and Ishii) have had the best production quality.
I took a look around the other night and I think I have posted most of the campaign videos now. Let me know if I have missed any and I will get them online.