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Underachiever

Duval, Saskatchewan

Ever since we bought the cabin, I have wanted to go out in March and spend a couple of days at the lake.  Every year since then it has been cold, snowy, and miserable…. basically seasonal temperatures in Saskatchewan but it stinks and we have never managed to do it yet.

Growing up in Calgary, March 11th was not only my birthday, it was the day that I could wear short sleeve shirts to school, often without a jacket.  It was nice, pleasant, and full of life.  I realized that this is the problem with March, it holds so much potential but in Saskatchewan, the month is an underachiever and never delivers.  It just gives up, rolls over and let’s winter bully us while waiting for April and May do the the heavy lifting for us while March complains.

I realized that I can handle a brutally cold December, a frigid January, and a painfully cold February but my March I want a couple of days where I don’t have to go out early and start my car or I can take the dog out for a long walk and not have to apologize to her for where we live.  The Saskatchewan winter isn’t that bad, it’s just one month too long and for that I hold March responsible.

How cold is it in Saskatoon today?

Cold enough to do this.  Seriously.

Blackberry Curve Build Out

Blackberry Curve 8530 from Koodo MobileOn the 27th I went to Best Buy to take a look at DSLR’s on sale.  I didn’t see any DSLRs but while I was there, I saw that Koodo had dropped their price on Blackberry Curves to $150 and no contract.  I had thought about getting a LG Rumor 2 this year but after looking into it, we decided to get the Curve.  I had been quite happy with Virgin but I have had technical problems with my account for two years and it was getting worse.  While Virgin’s tech support and customer service staff have been really helpful, they still could not fix the problem so I finally decided to make the move.

Blackberry by RIMI took the phone home and started to set it up.  Here is how I put it together.

The first thing I did was get my Curve set up to our wifi connection in the house.  That wasn’t working that well.  Then I realized my router was about a billion years old (it was a 801b router) and it needed an upgrade.  Since my new router was on my desk, it was pretty easy to upgrade.  The Curve, my iPod Touch, and our notebook suddenly worked a lot faster.  I upgraded my old router’s firmware and will give it Computers for Kids and if they don’t want it, it can go to SARCAN.

Here is are the apps that made their way onto it over the last couple of days.

Utilities

Social Networks

  • foursquare app for the BlackberryFoursquare | It doesn’t yet use wifi but it allows you to check in and out all over the place.  It’s one of those apps that doesn’t make sense until you use it and then you love it.
  • Twitter | Umm, it’s one of the main reasons why I upgraded to a Blackberry.
  • Facebook (one the off chance for some reason I need to actually log in sometime… maybe in 2012)
  • Flickr | It’s an uploader that uploads my camera phone shots to Flickr.  It rather annoyingly resizes them but I’ll deal with that later.

News and Sports

Am I missing anything?  Let me know in the comments.

Ironic

So I got back from helping Maple Creek recover from their recent flood and last night we had our basement get flooded out after our own storm of the century.  Here is the PSA from the City of Saskatoon.

Saskatoon storm of 2010 Overnight, Saskatoon received approximately 80mm (almost 3 inches) of rain in three hours. In some areas, it was more than 100mm (over 4 inches).

At this time, the initial assessment indicates that numerous locations throughout the city have experienced surface flooding.  As of 6:00 a.m., the City had received 50-60 reports of flooding on streets and homes.  Crews are responding to those flooded streets.

Storm water ponds on the west side filled past capacity.  The new sewage storage superpipes were filled to capacity and then overflowed through manholes to the surface with the pressure.  Combined these storage tanks have a capacity of 3.5 million liters of sewage.  The system worked as it was intended, but was overwhelmed by the intensity of the rain.

Numerous power outages occurred as a result of the storm as well, but power has been restored to those neighborhoods.  Saskatoon Fire & Protective Services responded to 45 storm-related calls, such as downed trees and power lines, cars stuck in flooded intersections, and alarm systems going off.

If your street remains flooded, or if you experienced sewage backup, call the City of Saskatoon at 975-2476. While the City is tracking what areas flooded, you will also need to call your insurance company to report a claim if your basement flooded.

As I was bailing water away from the house at 3:30 a.m. and hoping I would not be struck my lightning or a falling tree, I would guess we got close to the 4 inches of rain that the airport got.  Of course this was on top of the record amount of rain that Saskatoon has already gotten this spring.  From April 12 to June 28 we had 285mm of rain – or close to three times the normal amount.

Our basement wall actually sprung a leak which flowed like a fountain into our basement for a while.  A look at the hole this morning showed some weakened cement in a small area which will need to be patched with hydraulic cement and I think I am going to get a sump pump installed.  We had several inches of water in the basement last night but we have most of that soaked up and being dried out by fans now.

How windy was it in Saskatchewan on Friday?

SGI Head Office in Regina

Well the SGI building was shut down in Regina, a women was crushed and killed as a building blew sideways and pinned between the building and truck, and it lifted a man up into the air before dropping him down on the ground.

In Saskatoon I drove a staff member home after work.  As we were heading up 22nd, you could feel the Festiva getting lifted up on it’s struts as I drove into the wind.  Once I got home, a gust of wind snapped the latch on Oliver’s window, blowing in the window and knocking over his dresser.  Luckily he was downstairs with us.

No damage to the house which was surprising.  That being said, I was quite happy that we had the dying maple tree taken down last month and our elm cut back.  The end result was a lawn covered with snow but nothing wrecked.

Snow Cleanup

I have been enjoying this discussion over snow removal with some enjoyment.  As all of Saskatoon knows, we got hit by a massive snow storm earlier this month.  We called it a storm but anywhere else it would be a blizzard (although in Cincinnati it was once called a giant lizard).  Within three days, the citizens of Saskatoon were sounding like Torontonians and demanding “something be done” about all of this snow and ruts that made our side roads impassible.

Okay, I live on one of those side roads.  Since the bus routes changes, my street has fallen into the category of “never plowed, never repaired” roadway.  It’s not as much fun as living on a bus route but even my 1993 Ford Festiva with mediocre tires could navigate it and it has 12 inch tires.  Our van has no problems navigating it and it doesn’t have all-wheel drive.

The morning of the storm I made it to work despite having to blaze the path down Avenue E and 35th Street.  Even Avenue H was a mess.  The only deviation I took was avoiding Tim Horton’s on 22nd because I had already made some fresh Starbucks at home.  Yes it was some trouble getting around but it is worth higher taxes over?

A decade ago my mortgage payment was $95 per week and now it’s $130 per week, or about 25% higher.  All of that is because of mill rate increases (I haven’t remortgaged and our interest rates are lower now than the were when we signed up for our mortgage).  I am a big fan of Richard Florida and I agree that it is worth paying higher taxes for improved services for a better city.  As I walk along River Landing, I feel that I live in a better city and that I am getting value for what City Council has done.  I am sorry but I don’t think that a tax increase to clear snow is going to make me feel any better about the city.

I do want to qualify this opinion with one caveat, there is no way the city should have allowed Saskatoon City Transit to be immobilized for as long as it did.  People’s livelihood’s depend on their ability to take the bus to work.  Three days some bus routes were out of commission.  I talked to more than one person who was really hurt but this lack of revenue or having to pay for a cab to compensate.  One day of shutdowns is understandable but I can’t remember a multi-day shutdown like this.  As Elaine Hnatyshyn pointed out, it appears from comments coming from City Council, part of the problem was lack of experience in the snow removal department.  Well they have more experience now, let hope things go better during the next storm (and let’s try not to figure out how you work in Infrastructure Services and not have experience with snow storms)

Thawing Out

211 Avenue D North

I worked from midnight to 8:00 a.m. on Monday.  After puttering around the office for half an hour, I decided to walk home as for the first time since early December, it was nice enough to go for a 16 block walk.  I had hoped to get some photos but I left about 30 minutes too soon but I managed to snap this shot as I was heading up Avenue D North.  Over the last couple of years I have taken some other photos of the same building.  How can you tell I have walked this route before.

Sadly the weather is turning cold again so I won’t be walking home that much for the next couple of weeks anyway.  I will have to be content with this view from my front window.

A rather cold Boler trailer

We will see what March brings.  Hopefully it involves colors other than white, gray, and brown.

I am melting

The weather finally broke today in Saskatoon.  I went out today in only one jacket and I didn’t have to get a court order for the dogs to go outside today.  At work it means that guys who have been doing nothing but watching television and trying to stay warm for two weeks are all outside soaking in the -10 degrees weather and loving it.  We can survive in the extreme cold here but it doesn’t mean that we enjoy it.

The Weather on Hoth this Week

Environment Canada

City of Saskatoon
Issued at: 9.48 PM CST Sunday 4 January 2009


Wind chill warning in effect.
Tonight..Clear. Increasing cloudiness overnight. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 29 with temperature rising to minus 21 by morning. Extreme wind chill minus 40.
Monday..Periods of snow. Amount 2 cm. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light late in the morning. High minus 12. Wind chill minus 30 in the morning.
Monday night..Cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 20.
Tuesday..A mix of sun and cloud with 60 percent chance of flurries. High minus 19.
Wednesday..Sunny. Low minus 31. High minus 22.
Thursday..Snow. Low minus 29. High minus 14.

Some context…

A fierce blast of snow and cold was making its way east into Manitoba on Sunday after triggering record low wind chills of -50 C and colder in neighbouring Saskatchewan overnight.

Wind chill warnings were in effect in both provinces throughout the day, prompting warnings from Environment Canada that exposed skin would freeze in less than 10 minutes.

Residents of Saskatoon woke up to the coldest temperatures since 1966, with a wind chill of -45 C, leaving the city shrouded in ice fog.

The actual temperature in Saskatoon at mid-morning was -39 C and Environment Canada lists the record low temperature on Jan. 4 as -40 C in 1966. The Saskatchewan Encyclopedia says temperatures in the -50 C range are the lowest ever recorded in the province.