Friday, October 25, 2013

Does Mike Allen Wonder Why People Don't Vote? I think I may know why.....

Back in the spring I wrote a post about one of our local MLA's here. The guy is foolish enough to go to Minnesota on government business and get caught up in a prostitution sting. Yeah, big oops. Being a politician, he gave the appearance of doing the right thing (after he was caught, naturally) by resigning from the Tory caucus the next day. With an upcoming trial (which has now seen a delay from September until next month) I was hopeful he'd do the right thing and resign his seat as well.

So much for that.  Sure, he's not my MLA as he represents the other half of Fort McMurray, but still, give me a break.  Am I happy about it?  Not in the least.  Apparently, he made the decision to stay on after "many hours in private and public meetings," to quote the CBC story.  I find that remarkable as I do my best to stay tuned in to politics here and haven't heard of too many such meetings.  Private meetings, now I can understand since I'm not part of Allan's private little club.  (Ya, big loss, I know.)  Now, public meetings I'm not so sure but of course all politicians tend to say the same things..... cue Mayor Quimby a la Simpsons here......."After many close discussions with family, friends and associates, and many a sleepless night, I have decided to stay on as MLA despite betraying your trust by traveling to a foreign country and breaking the law."

Now, that's only on the provincial level.  What many people may not realize and what I'm still trying to wrap my head around is all the nonsense that went on before he was elected.  You see, Allan, before becoming an MLA was a on city council here.  He was one of those geniuses that decided that putting a massive 7000-seat arena in our downtown core would be a genius idea.  Sure there's no parking and traffic is already a hey let's add to it, shall we?  Anyhow, construction of said arena involved the city expropriating a number of downtown businesses, one of them being the Oil Can.

Now, wouldn't you know, Allen also had a business on this block, the long-standing Campbell's Music.  At the time I first heard of the expropriations I recall thinking to myself, well surely, they can't be tearing down the whole block.  Campbell's Music is owned by a local MLA.  It just seemed weird.  It's been in business for something like 40 years.  What's going on?

Apparently, Campbell's Music, at least the building it now occupies, is slated for the wrecking ball.  BUT, the business is moving.  But where?  It just so happens it's being moved into another building that the municipality purchased and is now renovating on the public dime.  I even walked right by the place myself earlier this week.    Is it just me or is this crazy??

I guess if you're a struggling business owner in Ontario you can come out here, get on council, make a sweet deal and get a place for you business at a low rental rate.   And if it's a dive, don't worry, the tax payer will pay for your renovations.

But I digress here.  I'm open to the fact that there is more going on that I know and information I'm not privy to.  However, from the way I see it, this whole situation just looks bizarre.  Perhaps this is all hunky-dory on a legal level but really, come on.  Even the mere appearance of something untoward should be avoided.

I was disappointed to hear that voter turnout in our recent municipal election was 20%.  But in light of events I'm not surprised.  I wonder if Mike Allen has asked himself why people don't seem to vote?  I couldn't imagine why.

Forgive me for being all over the place in this post but really, Mike Allen needs to go.  You are a joke, sir.  You DO NOT represent me and you DO NOT represent the community I live in no matter how much you think you may think otherwise.  I'm a bit of a musician myself and I know there are some good music stores down in Edmonton.  And I don't mind the trip.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mr. Photogenic

I originally planned to do a quirky little post either about my failing battle against grey hair or a video of me singing the Somali national anthem at work (apparently I'm becoming somewhat of a polyglot) but rather than that I thought I'd a special fall photo featuring my number one man.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fall Foliage

One thing I still haven't adjusted to here is how short the fall season seems to be and I do miss the brilliant colour of the leaves back in Ontario this time of year. My ash trees do go a long way to make up for things though. Not only have their leaves long outlasted any of my neighbours but they add a nice splash of colour to the front yard.

Since I haven't exactly been trigger happy with the camera the last little while I thought I'd take advantage of a relatively warm day off and play around with it a bit before the leaves completely disappear for the season.

These leaves below are from the hawthorn in my backyard.  It's only been this week that the majority of them have fallen to the ground and if they look like they are piled a bit too neatly here its only because they were swept off the back deck.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Random Airport Guy, Walmart Line Ups....and My Secret Truck Identification Deficiency

Earlier this summer my cousin Douglas got in touch with me about escaping the disaster of Ontario (thanks Premier Wynne for wrecking my home province, by the way) and pursuing a fresh start here in Fort McMurray.  I was keen to help him out, knowing that despite all the lofty rhetoric out there, it can be a bit of a challenge to get settled in here and get working if you just come out cold turkey.  Yes, I've heard the stories too about guys getting off the plane and landing a job within hours of their arrival but for someone starting out here there can be a few challenges (finding an affordable place to rest your head being just one of them) so I was more than willing to lend a hand.

After a few weeks of making plans, my cousin arrived here earlier this evening.  I originally planned to be off this weekend but since I was needed (and being a long weekend during which I'd make a lot of double time) it was hard to turn down the extra hours.  I was a little leery as there is a taxi strike of sorts going on at the moment and the airport is a few kilometres outside of the city.  Fortunately, my very awesome tenant of mine offered to take me out to meet Doug at the airport.

Now the airport is undergoing expansion and it had been at least a couple years since I had been out there but fears that I would get out there and not know where the hell I was going proved unfounded.  To me, airports are huge and confusing but as Douglas had flown out of Pearson this afternoon he told me he found our airport rather small and easy to manage.  Anyhow, my tenant dropped me off to go get him while he found a place to park.  Luckily Doug was waiting outside so I didn't even have to go in.  Now, my tenant drives a black pickup and he's been in my house for over a year so you would think I would know his truck by now.  Apparently not, though.  I took Doug's suitcase for him, scanned the curb side for our ride, saw a black truck and opened the door.  I was in the process of putting Doug's suitcase in the backseat when a young dark-haired girl approached looking a bit confused.  It was then that I heard a voice from inside the truck say "Wrong truck, bud,"  and realized my error.  Apologizing, I retrieved the suitcase and then saw my tenant's truck parked on the other side of the lane.

As we crossed over I saw my tenant putting someone's bag in the back of his truck.  Now, I know I had worked a long day but I was beginning to think I was losing my mind.  How many black trucks could I mis-identify as our ride here?  As it turned out I got it right this time.  As my tenant was waiting for us, some random guy who had just got off the plane as well had asked him if he could get a ride with us into town.  As I mentioned earlier, there is a taxi strike on the go here and this poor fellow was stuck.  Luckily for him, he lived in the same part of the city as me so my tenant agreed to help him out.

I gave Douglas as much of a mini-tour of the city on the drive in as one can in the pitch dark and then had my tenant drop Doug and I off at Walmart (yeah, I know, Walmart) so I could pick up some bedding for Doug since I hadn't had the chance because of work.  My tenant then left with his extra passenger to drop him off before coming back to pick us up.  When I left the house earlier in the evening I joked to my tenant that I didn't know how busy the store would be.  I wasn't sure how many people would shop here at Walmart on a Sunday evening but I guess I'd eventually find out.

I can answer that question now.....a lot.  The line was long but it did move rather quickly.  Poor Doug, I joked, just off the plane and the first thing he's doing in Fort McMurray is standing in a Walmart line up.  I know there are lots of stereotypes out there about this city but I've lived here long enough now to take it all in stride.  I did have to chuckle to myself just a little.

Having successfully navigated Walmart we waited outside for my tenant.  Again, I approached yet another black truck that I mistook for that of my tenant.  I was getting my Fords and my Dodge's seriously mixed up tonight as Douglas told me.  So off we head for home, finally.  By now, close to an hour had passed and I knew Doug would be looking forward to a meal and a chance to catch up on the jet lag.

Only one last bit of quirkiness remained for the evening.  As we were stopped at the first set of lights at the top of Thickwood I noticed a small car pull up beside us. My tenant rolled down his window as we waited for a green light and I assumed it was just someone he knew from work that we had randomly bumped in to.  But no, by some act of complete weirdness, it was the random guy we had picked up at the airport earlier.

Turns out he had left some bottles of water and a cooler of food in the bed of the truck and had been driving around on a rescue mission.  By some miracle, our paths had intercepted again.  It was at this point I told Doug that I really didn't think picking him up at the airport and driving him back to my house would be chocked full of strange drama.  So we pulled over so the random airport guy could get his stuff back and FINALLY reached the house safe and sound if a little bewildered by the events of the drive....or at least I know I was bewildered.

So no worries, Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Brian, Doug is all settled in now and got a little taste of some of the quirkiness here along the way.