Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two days, two horrid drivers

During the past two morning commutes, I approached a major intersection where traffic was stopped because of a red light. I was about eight cars back from the stop line and slowed my car in an incremental way. Given that there was a driveway to access a McDonald's to my right and given that my lane wasn't going anywhere, I always try to leave space so cars on the opposite side of the street can to turn into the restaurant parking lot.

Although it is probably not illegal to block a McDonald's driveway (as opposed to blocking an intersection), it is nonetheless a drivers convention. Also, it would be mean to block the driveway unnecessarily.

So, today and yesterday, I slow down and stop, leaving a car length of space in front of me. The guy on my right did the same. We both noticed the car trying to exit McDonald's and both judged that it would be appropriate to let him out.

Then the driver behind me honked because I left a space in front of me. Note that the traffic light was still red and there were about eight cars ahead of me. We weren't going anywhere. Yet, the driver behind me honked and raised her hands in the air. I pointed to the car exiting McDonald's. I didn't know what else to do.

I wonder if the driver saw the car exiting McDonald's but thought I should have blocked it or if she didn't see it. Evil or stupid?You decide. Either way, a complete douchebag.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The best anti-graffiti initiative of all time

In what is arguably the best anti-graffiti initiative ever developed, an understandably angry property owner posted a sign at 5512 Louis Hebert Avenue in Montreal with the following bilingual text:
Mon ostie de vidange de scribouilleur. Si je te vois encore en train de barbouiller mes mures, je vais te chercher et te trouverai pour t'arracher la tête et te chier dans le corps.
You stupid ass-hole. If I even catch you painting my walls again I will go after you and I will find you to kick your head off and shit all over you !

You can see the Google Maps street view of the sign yourself. I don't know how effective these signs have been and whether it has reduced the amount of graffiti. But maybe the city should plaster the city with threats of violence to vandals who deface stuff that doesn't belong to them. It would be an interesting anti-crime experiment.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mayor of Dollard "deplores" public reaction to Streethockeygate

It's hard to not to feel bad for DDO and its mayor. A public security agent panicked based on a resident complaint about noise and gave a fine (not a warning) to a father who had organized a street hockey game. More than a week has passed since the incident and the media coverage that ensured. A week is to long for a response, but DDO finally responded.

In short, DDO says the bylaw that prohibits street hockey is 25 years old, is based on a Quebec law, but has never been used. Until last week. And that was a mistake.

But I guess DDO is sore about the media coverage and the discussions in the blogosphere about this incident--all critical of DDO.  Mayor Janiszewski in a moment of Nixonian fury couldn't resist taking a swipe and the media and the public. The statement says that "Mayor Janiszewski deplores the public outcry sparked by residents and journalists alike." Yes, it's the media's fault. And the public. If it wasn't for all those pesky residents who live in DDO, the mayor would have a much easier job. You hear that, folks. No more public outcries.

This is a hideously bad reaction.

This was a snafu by an isolated public security agent. You should simply explain that he was overzealous and move on. No need to blame anyone else. And in an era with massive voter apathy and limited public participation at the municipal level, you should be happy anyone is paying attention to anything that happens in your town.
Mayor Janiszewski adresses the question of street hockey
Publish on 3/30/2010

Dollard-des-Ormeaux, March 29, 2010 – The bylaw which prohibits street games has been in effect for over 25 years. The ticket recently given to a Dollard-des-Ormeaux resident for playing street hockey with his son and a dozen other youths is an isolated case and the one and only ticket ever given for street hockey in the City’s existence.

Mayor Janiszewski deplores the public outcry sparked by residents and journalists alike over such an isolated case and wishes to remind all citizens that the City of Dollard-des-Ormeaux strongly endorses sports for youth and is proud to see young persons playing, provided that they are in no danger, do not damage cars or disturb public order and peace. The bylaw which exists in most cities will not be changed, as it is based on a provincial law.
To all parents: "Nothing has changed. Let your children play as usual, but make sure that they are doing so safely and with respect for the property of others.

Online services, for some

I received a driver's licence renewal notice this week from the Quebec Société de d'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ)--the province's DMV.

Included with the invoice was an flyer titled "Quick'n easy!" that included a photo of a woman pointing to the "Q" in "SAAQ", which was shaped like a power icon. I've conveniently included a photo with this post.

I question the appropriateness of the phrase "Quick'n easy!" when juxtaposed with an attractive, young woman who is literally turning herself on.

But let's assume I am over-analyzing this ad. Maybe my government agency wants to get my attention so that I will pay my bill via electric money transfer rather than by cheque or at one of their government offices. The problem is that one can only pay an SAAQ bill with the Caisse Desjardins (credit union) or the National Bank of Canada. If one banks with RBC, BMO, TD, CIBC, ScotiaBank you are out of luck.

If Quebec is going to trouble of producing a colour flyer with a quick'n easy, attractive woman turning herself on, why not also expand the number of banks with whom they interact?

My advice to the SAAQ is as follows: don't publicize your limited online services too much unless you give your customers the ability to pay using any of the chartered banks. And, while you're at it, let me get my bill via ePost.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Public relations problem in DDO

Many municipal bylaws are on the books but not enforced, like the one prohibiting street hockey. The fact is that cities are pretty tolerant but get panicky when a neighbour complains. Now Dollard des Ormeaux has got a public relations problem.

Quebec street hockey dad fights fine
Last Updated: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | 9:06 PM ET Comments115Recommend71
CBC News

David Sasson, fined for playing street hockey with his son, says municipal leaders in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que., should encourage children to play outside.David Sasson, fined for playing street hockey with his son, says municipal leaders in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que., should encourage children to play outside. (CBC)More than 500 people have signed a petition to strike down a Montreal-area West Island bylaw that forbids street sports, after a father was fined for playing hockey outside with his son and friends.

The acting mayor of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, where the offence occurred, says the bylaw won't be changed, but this shouldn't stop street hockey games — unless someone complains.