28 Oct

A CUPee Worker

While patching holes on the street in front of my house today
A city worker left something else behind during his stay

He turned towards the house and unzipped his fly
Urinating in broad daylight, discretion he didn’t even try

A big puddle next to the asphalt remains for all to see
We don’t need to see a union card to know that he’s a member of CUPee

To 311, a call has been made to report the offending fellow
“You’ve got to be kidding,” the operator said with a bellow

It’s not just dogs who lift their legs and let loose with a yellow stream
Humans are just as bad, or so it would seem

It’s a story that’s getting old
About how some pigs are growing ever more bold

21 Oct

Westman Reptile Gardens

This past Saturday, I visited Westman Reptile Gardens near Brandon. Having first seen their brochure in a nearby shopping center a couple of years ago, I had been anxious to see their collection of crocodiles, snakes and lizards. Saturday at last presented that opportunity.

En route, as many of you might have expected, I stopped to get a shot of this sign at the junction of PTH 16. This Yellowhead sign with the “16” in the middle is among the last of a dying breed, since every sign on the route has been replaced with Trans-Canada signage. The only other remaining sign like this is in the eastbound direction on the other side of the traffic light. Interestingly, I have seen old signs like this cut in half, turned around and repainted for use elsewhere in this area.

The halfway tree, the unofficial halfway point between Winnipeg and Brandon.

Near Road 77W was the first sign for Pile o’Bones, Saskatchewan’s capital that is currently known as Regina.


It would not be a drive in the SPRM without construction.

There is plenty of advance signage for the turnoff at PR 340 north of Douglas that takes you there. As the sign suggests, it is an official Manitoba Star Attraction.

Before going there, however, we had a nice side trip to Brandon, only a few miles to the west.

I took advantage of the light traffic to get a shot of this overhead sign near the P.E.T.R.O.-Canada station. For those of you who are unaware, P.E.T.R.O. unofficially stands for Pierre Elliott Trudeau Rips Off Canada. P.E.T.R.O.-Canada was founded during Trudeau’s autocratic rule over Canada and the Crown corporation remains a sore point in many regions of the country. It is scary to contemplate the fact that Trudeau’s son, a pothead with the maturity of a ten-year-old, leads a major political party today.

This station always evokes memories of a time when I was there with my parents as a young child on our way back from the Farmers’ Republic of Saskatchewan. We had been talking at length with a family with young children who left about a half hour before we did. After getting back on the highway, we saw their car overturned in the ditch. We never found out what became of them, but it certainly didn’t look good. This was in an era before seat belt use and airbags were commonplace.

Grand Valley, west of Brandon. For those of you who have not read Pierre Berton’s book on the settling of the West, the settlement that has become the SPRM’s second-largest city would have been in Grand Valley were it not for the original landowners who had overplayed their hand with the railway.

Back in Brandon for a lunch break at Subway, we had the misfortune of being stuck behind three guys, none of whom spoke much English. It was an entertaining and lengthy game of charades as the three guys and the flustered clerk traded hand gestures to try and get their orders right.

Heading east on PR 457, Veteran’s Way, towards the Reptile Gardens, there was this interesting sight on the road.

This half-wit had stopped to let her big dog run loose amid the heavy traffic in both directions, making no effort to keep the dog contained. Not only could this idiocy have caused an accident and significant damage to a passing car, but the dog was left in mortal peril. It looked as if the dog owner was trying to get someone to euthanize her dog and use an MPI claim to pay the bill.

The Reptile Gardens are well off the beaten path, but there is plenty of signage to direct you there off PR 340.

From the outside, it doesn’t look like much and were it not for the signs, a passer-by could easily mistake it for just another one of the handful of farmhouses in the area.

They hadn’t even swept away the light dusting of overnight snow.

Upon walking in, the pair of disinterested teenagers behind the counter couldn’t even be bothered to greet us. I had to ask as to how much the admission price was and one of then made the supreme sacrifice to get off her stool and accept my money. I haven’t seen such lethargy since I last attended a Fighting Moose game a decade ago. They would make for ideal Mark Chipman employees, but they would have to learn not to give a cursory “thank you” before customers leave, as they did in our case, in order to be considered for employment in a Chipman organization.

I then took out my camera and started capturing digital images of their massive reptile collection.

A turtle near the front entrance. Admittedly, it’s not a great picture, but, considering the circumstances, it’s the best that I could do. The facility was poorly lit and the glass in many of the pens obviously does not get cleaned very often, if ever.

A snake near the front entrance.

A yellow snake shedding its skin.

A lizard sizing up a sludge pond.

This lizard actually had it good by comparison.

Crocodiles were left to soak in shallow pools of murky water and some pens didn’t even have water at all. One turtle was left at the bottom of a dry tub that was clearly too deep for it to be able to crawl out of. Their quarters seemed small and most of the creatures looked like zombies doing hard time in prison. All in all, perhaps the most disappointing part of the visit was to see the poor conditions under which the reptiles are kept.


A turtle trying to escape.

Another snake.

Shedded snakeskin.

A turtle.

More crocodiles.


And another snake.

It’s a snake, trust me, though it’s hard to tell through the dirty glass.

A bullfrog.


More turtles.

Also included in their collection were scorpions, tarantulas and piranhas. I tried to get some shots of them, but again, the fact that the glass had not likely been cleaned since it left the factory rendered fruitless any attempts at getting good shots of them.

I spent about three-quarters of an hour there and I enjoyed my visit. I had expected a little more, but, overall, I still found it to be a worthwhile trip.

For more information on Westman Reptile Gardens and their location, check their Web site at www.reptilegardens.ca.

18 Oct

The Windows 8.1 Upgrade Experience

Against my better judgment, I decided to take the plunge yesterday and take advantage of Microsoft’s free upgrade from Windows 8.0 to 8.1. I had been perfectly satisfied with Windows 8 on my system, but, keenly aware of Microsoft’s intense desire to shove their most recent offering down your throat until you finally cave in, I opted to take my medicine now rather than later.

Upon clicking the icon in the Windows Store, however, the message told me that I had to be logged in as an administrator. I had instead expected to have a box pop up prompting me for an administrative password, just as I normally get when installing an application. This feature was one of the major benefits of post-XP Windows versions, where you did not have to physically log in as an administrator to perform administrative tasks.

Strike one.

After switching to an administrative account, I began the upgrade procedure. Once the download started, I got a cheerful message telling me that I could continue with other work, so I did. Unfortunately, a couple of hours later, as the upgrade process was “gathering info,” the Windows Store app crashed.

Strike two.

To my relief, after restarting the upgrade, it resumed where it left off and continued to “gather info” for another couple of hours. So much for this “minor” upgrade. It took much less time to upgrade from Windows 7 to 8 on this same system.

Following a handful of reboots, the upgrade eventually finished. Then the real adventure began.

Microsoft now wants you to link your local account with a Microsoft account, ie. Hotmail, Outlook. I kept saying no, but the nag screens kept popping up each time I opened an app. Only after clicking the “Sign in to each app individually” link in small print at the bottom of the screen was I finally rid of this nuisance.

Invariably, there’s always a handful of updates after a major release, so I bit the bullet and ran Windows Update. Surprisingly, there were only five, but the second of the two, a Visual Studio update, hung. I eventually stopped the installation, but even after trying to reboot, it kept trying to install the update. I finally had to power off to stop it.

Upon restarting my system, I checked to make sure my USB devices worked, and they did, including my HP scanner. Unfortunately, each time I plugged in a device, there was the annoying wait while the system was “installing files.” I had already used these devices under Windows 8 and given that this was an upgrade, I thought that this was unnecessary. When using the scanner, the “installing files” box actually hung and I had to close it, but the scanner still worked. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope that it still does.

Interestingly, despite all the warning messages in Windows 8 that Office 2003 is not supported and won’t work, it continued to work flawlessly in Windows 8.1.

There are some new apps available for Windows 8.1 users in the Windows Store, including one package curiously called “Essential Apps.” Among the apps was CBC News.

I have never felt that left-wing propaganda was “essential.” Judging from the results of the last federal election, most Canadians feel the same way, in spite of the CBC’s attempts to brainwash Canadian voters.

Perhaps, in future, Microsoft could consider something more politically neutral, such as Al-Jazeera or the North Korean news agency.

Thus far, I haven’t seen much of a benefit from Windows 8.1. I hope that there’s some increased stability and security that will make the “upgrade” worthwhile.

12 Oct

A Government With Too Much Money

Some of you who live in Winnipeg may have noticed in recent weeks and months that virtually every route marker and speed zone sign in the city is in the process of being replaced, if it has not already been replaced.

Three of the many new markers on Winnipeg streets. There are many more where they came from.

These new city route markers feature the new Clearview font, which, I am told, is easier to read at high speeds. In addition, the markers also feature a reflective backing so that they can be read easier at night.

That said, these new features hardly justify a city-wide search-and-destroy mission to replace every marker that city workers can get their hands on.

An argument can be made for this wholesale sign replacement on rural highways, where lighting is poor or non-existent and motorists are travelling at higher speeds.

Within Winnipeg, it is a different story. Speeds are much lower than they are on highways and Winnipeg streets are, by and large, very well lit. There are many reasons for the plethora of motor vehicle accidents within Winnipeg, but I doubt that an inability to read a road sign would be one of them.

By all means, if a sign otherwise needs replacement, then these new markers should be used. To hunt down and replace every single marker in the city, however, is simply ludicrous.

To make matters worse, I spotted one of these search-and-destroy sign replacement crews on a recent Sunday morning. No doubt, they were rubbing their hands with glee while fingering the extra cash that they’ll be raking in as they bill taxpayers double time for this unnecessary job.

This is yet another indication that this municipal government has too much money on its hands. When your councillor or Mayor Sammy starts talking about snow clearing surcharges and cutting fire services because there’s not enough money, you can be rest assured that it’s pure bovine excrement.

There’s plenty of money. They just choose to blow it elsewhere. Greg Selinger Disease has infected City Hall.