Thursday, March 25, 2010

NB keeps going down the tubes

The proposed deal to sell NB Power to Hydro Quebec is now dead. To the vocal people who were against the sale, I have one thing to say: It's your turn to come up with something to help us, and I hope you have a better idea.

Few people truly understood how the deal actually worked, and I'm not one of them. But the overreaction by many NBers to this sale left me with a continued feeling of being trapped in a place that denies change at any turn (ironically, since I dislike and fight change regularly). We're now left with a struggling utility that was in bad shape to start, a nuclear power plant that is currently being refitted and is so behind schedule that it is costing us $1M per day to source extra power, and other old-school power sources (such as coal) that not only use limited resources but are harmful to the environment. We're screwed. Really, really screwed.

The idea was right: we needed help. NB Power made up a huge portion of our debt. The problem was that we overvalued what we had, and the politicians didn't anticipate it being such a hot-bed topic. Even though the deal is dead, it will likely result in the current government getting the boot come September. That is unfortunate. They didn't do enough public consultation, but I truly don't think it's enough of a reason to kick them out of power. In the previous election, we kicked the Tories out of power because they pissed us off, so we're basically just a bunch of flip-flopping voters in this province. We react to whatever the latest news is, rather than examining the work done over the past term and also examining what the other major political party has to offer (not much, and we already have enough Tories and Tory policy in Ottawa). I've had performance evaluations done the same way: well, last month you screwed this one item up, so we're docking you on this evaluation. We'll neglect to mention all of the good jobs you've done, because the screw-up was the most recent.

Overall I wasn't comfortable with the idea of our power system or assets being sold to Quebec. As an English Canadian, I am born with a skepticism about Quebec and their separatist tendencies every few decades. It is also my belief that the buyer of something like this would be getting the better deal: Jean Charest is a smart guy. I wasn't totally ok with it, but I didn't have a better idea. NB needed something to help eliminate our crushing debt. The idea was a step in the right direction, at least.

Power rates will go up: that is a given now. Someone has to pay for maintenance to our system, and service NB Power's debt. SJ itself is already in a lot of trouble. We're already paying the highest property taxes in the province, and yet our municipality is still considering cutting services and making us pay user fees for garbage pickup. SJ's roads are crumbling because we never take a preventative maintenance stance on infrastructure. Our water pipes are, in some cases, 100 year old wooden pipes. The water coming out of it is so green that it is akin to a swimming pool. Our dreams of being an "energy hub" are pretty much down the toilet, with the cancellation of the 2nd oil refinery, Irving Oil world headquarters' new building, and (IMO) an announcement soon on the cancellation of plans for a 2nd nuclear reactor. All I am left with are higher taxes, crappy services, and over-inflated property values from all of the "great things" that were happening. I am rapidly running out of reasons why this is a good place to live. If it weren't for my family and friends, I would probably be living in SoCal... enduring brown-outs and getting an IOU on my tax refund from the state.

Hope to hear from the naysayers soon on their better idea for eliminating debt. These are the same people who will complain the loudest when our power rates increase, mark my words.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Programming circles

I logged in to a supplier's website for work and saw this note:

Action Required ALL [website] Users:
Please review this link with the [website name] Changes and training NOW to prepare yourself for the changes.

I clicked on the link, got kicked out, and saw this message:

Please login to [website name]
You are not authorized to perform this operation.
This is NOT a password problem.

Hmmm, well, then what kind of problem is it? Guess I won't be training on the new changes anytime soon if I'm not authorized. Funny, seeing as how I'm an administrator.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Situational Martyr

I've run across this situation at least 3 times in the last few months. You're having or reading a discussion on a topic, and it is suddenly interrupted by The Situational Martyr.

For instance, I was reading a blog about real vs fake mashed potatoes, initiated by the blogger who paid $25 for a meal at a restaurant only to receive fake mashed potatoes. People were discussing their likes and dislikes, when along came The Situational Martyr. "You can have the luxury of complaining about taste when your belly is full. Everything tastes good when your belly is empty." "You are lucky that you can afford to pay $25.00 for a plate of food."

Thanks, Situational Martyr! I never would have thought about all the hungry people in the world without you there to remind me. It's great that you're so much better than I am, and you're able to attempt to make me feel guilty for affording food. Way to go!

The Situational Martyr also struck recently on my husband's blog. By discussing an issue, it's amazing how the Situational Martyr can swoop in and instantly make you feel small and worthless... if you let him.

The third instance dealt with a friend's Facebook status and I believe the issue was Haiti. Though my memory is fuzzy, I believe The Situational Martyr stepped in to remind us that we should be glad to have a roof over our heads. Again, thanks Situational Martyr! I am never thankful or grateful for what I have, so I count on you to remind me that I'm a pathetic 1st-world greedy slob.

In two of the three cases, The Situational Martyr has chosen to remain anonymous. This is a bullshit cop-out. If you feel this way, why won't you attach your name to it? Does it mean you're embarrassed by your own martyrdom? That can't be possible. The Situational Martyr is too full of himself not to make known his true identity. Another case of the internet creating anonymity so that you don't have to own your feelings and can facelessly hurt others.

I'm confused as to why people can't have a simple discussion about mashed potatoes without being party-crashed by The Situational Martyr. So the blogger wants to discuss potatoes, but you feel the need to make every respondent feel petty and worthless with your reminder that we're lucky to have food? I dare say that this type of response actually makes you worse than those who frivolously discuss potatoes.

What do you do to give thanks, Situational Martyr? Do you never take anything for granted? At minimum, on a weekly basis I consciously pray and give thanks for all that I have in life. I'd be surprised if most people, including you, do this on a regular basis. I'm sick of people like you who try and make yourself look better by putting others down. If I haven't done enough in my life to help the imbalance between rich and poor, then it's up to God to judge me for that, not you.

Florida recap

Overall we had a very good trip to Florida. It was filled only with things we wanted to do, we slept until we woke up naturally, and had lots of time on our hands. I probably would have felt quite rested if it weren't for the sore throat that started on our last day there. I think I'm finally almost over it.

It was cold and windy most of the time we were there. Coldest March Break trip to Florida I've ever had. I wore shorts for a couple of hours one day, that was it; more for posterity than anything else. Temps were in the teens, barely reaching 20°C range. It has been that way in Florida this season, hopefully next year will be better.

The weather limited our activities a bit. I had planned on sitting outside for meals, by the pool reading, or if it was quite hot, I'd even venture to cool myself in the water. Instead, we ended up inside watching TV or movies or reading, which is primarily what we do at home. In that respect, Florida wasn't the best place to go to warm up, but when we booked the trip, we didn't know the temps would be below seasonal.

We got to eat at our favourite places: Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Dennys, Krispy Kreme, Quiznos. We didn't make it to IHOP because John assuaged his pancake desires at Dennys. Breakfast at restaurants is expensive. Other than Krispy Kreme and Dennys, we mostly ate breakfast at home. Some days we had a large lunch and just some leftovers for dinner. I miss having everything so close by, like SoCal.

Arriving around midnight was actually not that bad of an idea. We were tired, but there was no traffic on the roads and we were able to fumble around with directions and wrong lanes without wreaking havoc. It had been 5 years since I was last there, and a lot of roads and routes have changed, so parts were new to me. I actually feel like I know my way around Orange County better than Florida, but this trip was a good Florida refresher.

Our first morning included a trip to Dennys, where we tried the new pancake appetizers. They're like round donut holes fried until crispy and you dip them in syrup. Tasty, but you really need a side plate because otherwise the dripping syrup creates a mess. After Dennys, we discussed what to do next. John suggested SeaWorld, but I didn't feel that going from noon onward was a decent use of the expensive ticket, we really needed a full day to get our money's worth. We stopped at Target for some grocery shopping, and then headed back to the house. We turned on the TV to find out there had been a whale attack on a trainer at SeaWorld. It made national news, and stories as to what happened were conflicting. Glad we weren't there that day after all.

John humored me with lots of shopping time. Most days he was fine, but he was having bad arthritis the day we went to the mall, so I had to cut things short. We decided the next day that he'd bring a book and sit in the car if he got too sore/tired, but it was a better arthritis day and I didn't have as many places to hit at the outlet mall.

We stayed at my Dad's rental house, so it was pretty much like having all the comforts of home. The only exception to that was the lack of TiVo, which you really miss when you don't have it. It probably wouldn't have been missed so badly if the weather had been nicer and we were out and about instead of inside watching TV/Olympics. The TVs were better than home, Dad recently replaced the existing units with new LCDs. That gave us a good test of the Vizio brand. Granted, most LCDs will look better than a CRT these days.

I found a sale online and bought us tickets for Medieval Times. That was an attraction I had driven past plenty of times, but never actually stopped and went in. We enjoyed our time there, the show was entertaining, but the people in our section didn't seem to want to cheer on our knight. We were frequently the loudest people in the red section, and we're not very loud to begin with. I think this is an event where you need to go with a group of friends, and a time when loud, drunk friends come in handy. ;) Because it is emulating a time without cutlery, you're supposed to eat everything with your hands. I had no problem with this rule, but the people beside me brought their own cutlery... lame. So my hands got dirty, big deal. I actually liked drinking my soup. I'd definitely go again, but next time I would prefer to take friends with us.

If we are fortunate enough to go again next year, I hope the weather will be warmer.