Never Say Bye Without Your Supply

In spite of the stupidity at work, I think I understand the decision making. Though it was one of her own creation, our friend here was caught in a no-win situation. Do you go back for the drugs and risk getting arrested, or do you let them go, losing more than 40 grand in the process? Not to mention that depending on the structure of the drug operation, not going back could mean having your legs broken or worse. Yeah, I think I’m gambling that maybe housekeeping hasn’t shown up yet or taking my chances with the cops, too.

On Jan. 6, 2018, staff at a west end Guelph hotel located a quantity of crystal meth and cocaine that had been left behind by the people that had checked out of the room. A female returned to collect the forgotten items in the room, at which time she was arrested. The estimated value of the drugs is $42,000.
A 33-year-old London female has been charged with two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

A Real Uber Driver Will Never Try To Negotiate A Price Or Ask You for Cash

Normally when one of us writes about a scam, we’re doing it because we want to either laugh at an incompetent one or at the people who fall for an obvious one. But right now I’m going to be completely serious because I know that even as popular as it is, there are a lot of people out there who have no idea how Uber works.

I don’t know how widespread this is, but there’s no way in hell that this fella in Guelph is the first or the last person to try it. It’s far too obvious a con to have not at least been attempted somewhere before now.

Guelph Police say it all started around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, when two women leaving a restaurant accepted a ride “from a man who was posing as an Uber driver.”
When the women arrived at their destination on Victoria Road, the driver allegedly demanded more money than he had originally agreed on.

At that point, police say, the upset driver grabbed a water bottle and threw it through a window.

He was captured and charged shortly thereafter, so he won’t be out giving repeat performances right away at worst or ever again at best.

But the reason I’m writing this is because as easy a scam as this is to pull off, it’s equally simple to spot before you get sucked in.

Basically, the moment your driver starts talking to you about a price, you’re being lied to. If he asks you for cash or a credit card, you’re being lied to. Neither of these things happen in a legitimate Uber transaction. Everything is handled through the Uber app. It’s both how you call for a ride and how you pay for it. You give your credit card number to the app, which then times your trip while you’re on the road like a taxi metre and then bills you when you’re done. You and your driver have no reason to discuss money unless your conversation turns to the stock market.

That’s not to say that everyone who claims to drive for Uber and offers you a ride out of the blue is a liar. I’d bet most of them are, but it’s possible. And if that happens, you’ll know he’s for real when he tells you to open the app and book a ride to wherever you are even though he’s sitting right next to you. He’ll do that because that’s how legitimate Uber drivers get paid the proper amount for their work. If he doesn’t, offer to do it and watch his reaction. If he’s hesitant and tries to talk you out of it, it’s because he’s full of shit and not a ride you want to accept.

Hopefully this clears things up before any of you run into a situation like this.

Happy National Your Jumpy Ass Just Got Popped For Drugs Day

Dear Nameless Criminal:

Next time the police see you holding a popcorn maker box and playfully wish you a happy National Popcorn Day, try playing it cool. Chances are it would work out much better than the alternative.

A man was spotted beside the street holding a popcorn maker box by officers on patrol.  They stopped to wish the man a “Happy National Popcorn Day”, which was recognized this year on Thursday, January 19.
The man immediately took off.  The officers, now suspecting the package may have been stolen, ran after the man and eventually caught up with him.

When they did, they got a bit more than they bargained for. $2700 worth of various drugs were discovered, leading to him being charged with two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

The report doesn’t note whether the popcorn maker was stolen or if the box was simply a hiding place for his stash.

So Colin Westman Suddenly Cares About Impaired Driving For Some Reason. That’s Nice, I Guess

Looking at Twitter this morning, I kept seeing the headline “In drunk-driving flood, judge criticizes society for promoting alcohol.” At first, I didn’t pay it much mind. Judges rail against things all the time and while it can sometimes be entertaining and they’re often not wrong, there are better ways to spend my reading energy today, I figured. But by the third or fourth time it came up, a thought struck me. This story is local. It sure would be funny if the judge in question was Colin Westman, wouldn’t it? Hopeful but certainly not expecting something that rich to just land in my lap, I clicked it. And guess who I found. Our old pal Justice Westman, lecturing folks about their bad decisions.

A steady stream of impaired drivers in court on Thursday prompted a judge to criticize society for promoting alcohol use.
“The costs are huge,” said Justice Colin Westman, citing a World Health Organization study that found alcohol kills more than 2.5 million people in the world each year.
In one sentencing on Thursday, Westman cited the recent case of Marco Muzzo, who was drunk when his car hit a minivan in Vaughan, killing three children and their grandfather. Muzzo, 29, was sentenced to 10 years in jail minus time served.
“The only difference between you and him is good luck,” Westman told Jacob Beck, 20, a Wilfrid Laurier University student who pleaded guilty to driving with more than the legal limit of alcohol in his blood.

In January, John Blais, 46, who works for a masonry company, was driving erratically on Roseville Road in North Dumfries Township. A motorist followed him and called police. Blais’ car went through two red lights in Kitchener and hit another car.
Breath tests showed he had more than three times the legal limit of alcohol.
Westman fined Blais $1,800 and handed him a one-year driving ban.
The judge asked him if he calculated the total cost of his impaired driving conviction.
“Many thousands, for sure,” Blais said.
Westman said extra insurance premiums could wind up costing him $35,000 over his lifetime.
Blais has a prior impaired conviction from years ago.
Westman said he once sentenced a man on his 18th impaired conviction. The judge said he asked the man if he thought he had a drinking problem. “Who me?” he replied.
The judge said Blais’ high alcohol readings suggest he has a problem. He said Blais may be healthy today, but won’t be if he continues to drink excessively.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s nice to see that after all these years, he might be having a change of heart and seeing impaired driving for what it is. Everybody makes mistakes, and we all deserve a chance to make things right. But while you’re busy RTing and sharing and liking and holding this guy up as a model of justice, right and truth, remember that this is the very same judge who once let someone off for driving while suspended because he was getting coffee for church people at the time and cut off the victim impact statement of a drunk driving victim because it was too negative.

It’s hard for me to sympathize with Westman’s frustration or even to trust him long term knowing that his actions in his position of authority have more than once contributed to the problem. Perhaps, if we treated serious offenses seriously when we’re supposed to, we wouldn’t have to sentence somebody eighteen times for the same damn thing. Just a thought.

A Few Scattered Thoughts On The Death Of The Guelph Mercury

When I moved to Guelph in 2001, I didn’t know much about the place. I knew it had a university because Carin and some other friends of mine went there and I would visit them sometimes, I knew it had a couple of radio stations because that’s the sort of thing I tend to know, I knew it had a mall because I’d been in it once or twice, I knew the names of a few random businesses through word of mouth and years of watching CKCO, and I knew it had hockey and baseball teams for basically the same reasons. All of this is to say that when I got there, I was pretty well lost and useless.

I eventually figured things out, of course. Necessity tends to force that issue. but it wasn’t just necessity that helped me along. There were also those aforementioned friends, more than a few assists from some mostly kind strangers, and the Guelph Mercury.

Until last week when it became the latest victim of media cost cutting, the Merc was Guelph’s daily newspaper of record. And now, as crazy as it sounds, a city of well over 100000 people no longer has one.

I’m not sure how true this is in every town (I can’t say I’ve noticed quite the same thing reading the Waterloo Record, for instance), but once I started reading the Mercury fairly regularly, it didn’t take long for me to start putting together a picture of what Guelph was. Every day brought new stories about fun things to do, places I should avoid, activists doing good work, activists who’s hearts may have been in the right place while their brains had very clearly taken a walk, silly local outrages that some crank felt needed attention, entirely logical outrages that some crank (Carin and I included) felt needed attention and so much more, all put together in a package that gave Guelph an identity and a character I could relate to, making it feel less like a mysterious mishmash of university students, bars and vegetarian restaurants and more like someplace that felt as though it might just be home. thanks to the Mercury, I could have a conversation about something Guelphish with someone without sounding like a total fool. Thanks to the Mercury, my radio shows were a little better and a bit more focused…sometimes. And thanks to the Mercury, even though I haven’t lived there in over three years, Guelph still feels more like a hometown to me than anyplace else I’ve lived.

And now it’s gone, and it sucks.

I’m sure that eventually something will come along to fill at least some of the void. Hell, If I know Guelph, City Hall might already have four or five new citizen reporters lined up to blog the blow by blow of every open meeting. And while that’s great and I absolutely encourage it, it’s not going to teach Guelph to the next me the way that the Merc did, and it’s not going to hold those in power accountable the way that the Merc did, either. It’s a lot easier to bully some dude with a Twitter account into silence than it is a newspaper with the resources to chase down stories. And that’s the biggest shame in all of this. Guelph has so many stories, good and bad, that deserve to be chased down. Who’s going to be able to do that on a wide enough scale now? No matter how you feel about newspapers, the truth is that every city needs them and that all of us, whether we read them or not, are worse off when they disappear.

Help Wendy Fuller Recover From An Eviction That Should Never Have Been Allowed To Happen

This woman is a friend of some friends of ours. It’s sad to see systems that are supposed to be helping give people a hand up fail the very people who are trying to take that hand. If you can help out by sharing, donating or both, I know it would be appreciated. They’re looking to raise $8000 to help her pay back rent and such, and at the time I’m writing this they’ve already gotten almost $1800 in less than a day. That’s impressive and gives me hope that everything is going to work out as it should. Wendy Fuller rent arrears fund.

My friend Wendy Fuller has been living in the Downtown Guelph Matrix building for almost 10 years.
She is developmentally challenged. On Friday morning the sheriffs came and escorted her out of the building and changed the locks. She has been being helped by social workers at Community Living but they really dropped the ball on her case. She was given an eviction notice and had a tribunal to dispute it. Her worker did not attend . Wendy went alone and had no idea what was going on. She was on geared to income and only paying $130 a month which was fine for years. Wendy is a proud person and wanted to work so she got a part time job dishwashing at Coras restaurant. When she started to work her rent up to $300 and that was fine too. She had to report her earnings to ODSP with a copy of her pay stub. That worked out too until Wendy started getting paid by direct deposit. She then had no way of reporting her income with out that stub!
She got kicked off of ODSP and her rent went up to over $800.00 . I have no idea how much she became in arrears because the building manager would not share this with me. I am so disappointed that the social workers at Community Living and ODSP failed this hard working lady. The manager at matrix failed her too! She knew that Wendy had this mental disability. Thank goodness the drop in Center has given her a voucher for 5 nights in the Royal hotel. I just don’t understand why they would evict an 48 year old mentally challenged lady a week before Christmas! This has seriously traumatized this disabled woman. I have emailed friends and many are willing to pitch in to pay her back rent. I know we can straighten things out to get her back to geared to income rent.
I will be her advocate and make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Some Hopefully Uber Helpful Uber Tips

I thought I’d pass on a couple of Uber-related things that I have figured out. I am happy to say I really haven’t had any worse of an experience than I’ve had with cabs, and most of the Ubers have been way better. I’m very thankful, though, that I never had to deal with this disgusting fellow.

First, a few app versions ago, I noticed that it was friggin impossible to hit the call driver button. This is problematic, because that’s the big way Uber kicks cab companies’ butts, and without that contact, it can cause drivers to cancel rides etc. I eventually noticed that Uber uses the same phone number to connect passengers with drivers. As long as you’re in this city, it uses a certain number, to route all the calls through, connecting drivers with passengers. So, for fun, I added it to my contacts. And now, when I request an Uber, if I need to get a hold of the driver, I can just go to my contacts, tap Uber, and it calls the driver. Awesome! Of course, when I’m in another city, that won’t work, but hey, most of my Uber-ing is around this city.

I had also heard a couple of months ago that not only can we rate our drivers, but they can rate us. I hadn’t figured out how we could discover what our rating was, until a couple of weeks ago. I really wanted to know, since I was afraid my having a guide dog might cause me to get a low rating, which might cause drivers to just not take me based on rating alone. I also noticed that it felt like it was taking longer and longer to get the request to go from requesting, to here’s your driver. I was afraid my rating was in the basement, and now only the desperate would take me.

So, to get your rating, go to my account, then help, then account, then “I’d like to know my rating” then submit, and voila!

I’m relieved to know I’m a 4.9, so not too shab. It’s more than likely the gouge in my rating came from the poor unfortunate driver on whom I kind of lost it when he couldn’t be bothered to actually come where I was, expecting me to walk 3 parking lots over to find him…while I was loaded down with precariously-balanced trays, hence, um, why I called the Uber. I had a bad day, and I will readily admit I was definitely less than kind.

And on that note, here’s a helpful article on how to keep a 5 star passenger rating.

Seriously, people have to be told not to ask their driver to break traffic laws? There are some arseholes out there.

One more funny Uber-related thought. I can’t count the number of people who are shocked that I’ll just get in this random’s car. I ask them this. Isn’t this less random than the cabs that I used to get into, whose cab numbers I would never know? In this case, I can call the guy whose car I’m getting into, and I have his license plate number! I would have never had that before.

Oh, and Uber, can you include the vehicle’s colour in the little description thing that comes up with the driver’s name? Do you realize how ridiculous it sounds for me to say “Excuse me, do you see a Honda Civic out here in this huge parking lot?” Just a thought.

Other than that, I’m pretty happy, and would be sad to see Uber go.

Welcome To KW, Uber

Unless something suddenly changes in the next few minutes, at 2 this afternoon Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, Hamilton and London will officially have Uber.

Predictably because this seems to happen everywhere it goes, its arrival has local taxi people and some politicians all upset. I get that part of the issue is safety and that is important, but let’s not kid ourselves here. Part of the problem is that the cab companies are worried they won’t be able to compete on price because of all the regulations and the government types are wondering how they’re going to get themselves a piece of the action.

On the subject of safety, If you’re being honest, you can’t tell me that taxis are always safe places. Have you seen the way some of those people drive? By and large I’ve had no problems, but more than once I’ve wondered if maybe I shouldn’t have put off getting my affairs in order.

Another reason I’ve had few problems is because I’m a man. Those cameras they’re putting in cabs now, they aren’t there simply to protect the drivers. If they were, why has it been mandated that every driver in the region has to take a training course that teaches them, essentially, that raping women is not a recommended on the job activity? All the licensing standards in the world haven’t stopped the repeated incidents around here from happening, so how is Uber that much worse?

As for another issue that’s near and dear to my heart and especially Carin’s seeing as she’s got a guide dog, how many stories have you heard about cab drivers refusing to pick up people and their service dogs? Perhaps we’ll come to find out that Uber is orders of magnitude worse, but for now I’m willing to take my chances and see if the savings are worth it.

Southern Ontario Is Getting Another New Area Code

I’m sure this is old news to some of you, but I’m putting it here so that next June when people start giving me strange phone numbers I won’t have to puzzle over where the hell they live. I did that forever when they brought in 226 back in 2006 because I somehow missed that memo, and I don’t need that happening again because I’m getting too old to keep up with all these damn area codes.

Speaking of which, I think it’s pretty crazy that we already need another one, even though I totally get it. Back when we still had our landline, I had a cordless phone sitting right next to the cell phone on my desk. Each one obviously had its own number, and each one was in a different area code. I wish I could go back and show this to my little kid self, because it would blow his friggin mind. Hell, modern me was even a little amazed by it.

Area code map
A new area code is coming to southern Ontario.

Starting June 4, 2016, the new 548 area code will be introduced in the region currently served by area codes 226 and 519.
Residents and businesses requesting a new phone number may get a number with the 548 area code.
Seven-digit phone numbers with the new area code will only be assigned to customers when the existing supply of seven-digit numbers with 226 and 519 area codes is depleted. So, it is possible for two people to have the same phone number but different area codes.

I know they have to throw that last bit in there, but I can’t resist giving them a giant DUH anyway because come on now, that’s pretty obvious. Anything else would defeat the purpose of the whole system, am I wrong? The full story is here, not that you’ll need it.

Are We A Curse?

I was joking nearly nine years ago when I called us the apartment building kiss of death, but my god, it feels like every place we’ve lived in has had a big ol’ fire in it. Sure, the fires happen mostly after we’re gone, but still.

We’ll start with the fire in the first building where we lived. That was a whole pile of no fun. We were lucky, and aside from some false alarms, we didn’t have any other fires in that building.

Then, several years after we had been out of that building, it had a great big fire on the same floor where we used to live. Try as we might, we can’t find any traces of news on that fire, which is weird. But I know we didn’t imagine it.

Then we left the next building and moved to Kitchener, and…what’s that? A fire? On the floor where we used to live? Yup, a couple of doors down.

Now, last week, I read about this doozer of a fire that broke out in the building where I lived next to Stupidhead and Ditz O Matic. Wow, that’s a fire. I know someone who was in that building when the fire happened, and she still can’t go back.

Now, if I find out that the place where Steve used to live during that time burned down…I’ll be really scared. But at least the super bad fires seem to wait until after we’re gone.

All joking aside, I really hope they can rebuild this last one, it sounded pretty catastrophic.