Posts tagged Yellowknife
I love going for walks to take pictures especially in the clear, cold winter days. Yesterday was such a day. It was a sunny, -32°C winter afternoon. It was cold enough but I was dressed for the weather.
My second stop of the day took me to the trails around Frame Lake and between the lake and the hospital. The trails are well traveled which is good to see. People out walking and running and taking advantage of the area we live in.
Unfortunately there appears to be too many irresponsible dog owners that also walk their dogs on the trails. I was disgusted to see the number of piles of dog poop sitting along the almost pristine trails. I have a hard time understanding the mind set of these dog owners.
My dogs have been trained to go to the bathroom in our dog pen and seldom do they go poop outside the pen but when they do, we always have a poop bag to pick it up. We have always been responsible dog owners this way. But why are there so many dog owners who feel it is ok to leave their dog’s deposits wherever they may go? What makes them believe that no one cares? How can they be that irresponsible?
Do these owners not realize that it is unsightly and even more so, unhygienic? In fact, this is how disease can be spread. 1 gram of dog feces can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria that can cause cramps, diarrhea, intestinal disorders and kidney problems. Sure, it is winter right now and it is frozen, but when the snow melts, the feces melts too and becomes a stinky, disease infested mess on the trails that we like to walk on for pleasure.
These irresponsible owners also can’t use the excuse that they forgot their doggie doodie bags. The trails have dog poop bags along the way so that people who did forget their bags can do the right thing. Unfortunately, too many people just think about themselves and not the rest of us who like to enjoy the outside or about the environment. They don’t care about the health of the rest of us or of our dogs either.
Is it they don’t really know how to pick up their dogs waste? Well here are some tips for them. Take a read if you are one of those people. Take it upon yourself to become educated and become that responsible dog owner.
Don’t you wish you could do a job and it didn’t matter if you were right or you were wrong? A job where everyone listens to what you have to say every day and a job where, while everyone listens to you, no one trusts you? A job where you get the latest and greatest in computers and software? If this is what you want in a job then you need to be a meteorologist.
Sure, you spend thousands of dollars to get a formal education, but it doesn’t really matter. Even someone without a formal education can make a reasonable guess at what the weather is going to be like tomorrow and be as close or more accurate than those who do it for a living. But I guess the education is what makes people listen to you.
It is a funny profession. It is a profession where there are never any absolutes other than the sun rises and the sun sets. But that is about it. It is a profession where you can get a different answer depending on where you work. It is a profession where you can change you mind every hour. But at least the sun rises and sets (except in places that get 24 hour sun or 24 hour darkness).
Here is what I see. I went to bed at 2:00am last night with the temperature at -26°C and the forecast for today of -18°C for a high and -18°C for a low. I get up at 7:30 and the forecast has now changed to a high of -23°C and a low of -30°C. Well that was on one of the three sites I checked. Another site had a high today of -16°C and a low of -20°C. A third site had a high of -21°C and a low of -25°C.
I got up this morning at 7:30am…5½ hours after I checked the forecast. The first site has now changed today’s forecast to a high of -23°C and a low of -30°C. The second site now has a high of -24°C and a low of -27°C. The third now has a high of -17°C and a low of -20°C.
5½ hours and the forecast changes on not 1, not 2 but all three sites. How is that possible? First I have to ask all three sites could have a different forecast…a forecast that was less than 24 hours away. I understand the forecast for a week or even 3 or 4 days away can be off but less than 24 hours? But 3 different forecasts for the same 24 hour period? I guess on the positive side, they all 3 say that it is currently -25°C with scattered cloud, partially cloudy or a few clouds depending on who’s readings you look at.
100s of thousands of dollars of computer equipment, forecasting software and satellites and this is the best they can do? Here is what I am getting for the Tuesday forecast. Site 1 forecasts cloudy with a high of -23°C and a low of -25°C. Site 2 forecasts sunny with a high of -26°C and a low of -31°C. Site 3 has a forecast of cloudy with a high of -14°C and a low of -24°C. So what do we figure it will be like on Tuesday? A mere 48 hours away? My best, uneducated guess for this is it will be mostly cloudy and be cold. That is as good as any of these guys can do.
Let’s go a bit further out. Next Friday for example. That’s a forecast 5 days from now. Site 1 shows mostly cloudy with a high of -2°C and a low of -14°C. Site 2 shows a mix of sun and cloud with a high of -12°C and a low of -15°C. The site 3 forecast shows mainly cloudy with a high of +2°C and a low of -9°C. That is a high variance of 14°C. There is a big difference between +2 and –12.
Are these guys using the same education? Same satellites? Same modelling software?
I started thinking about this at the end of November and on November 30th I posted this on my Facebook page:
The Weather Network and Environment Canada both have the current temperature listed as -32°C. TWN is forecasting -9°C for tomorrow and Environment Canada is forecasting -2°C. That is a fairly big difference for 2 professionals to be forecasting. If they are doing the same job with the same radar shouldn’t their forecasts be closer? And seriously those temperatures considering what it is today is pie in the sky forecasting. I guess we will see. I really don’t think it will get warmer than -15°C. Let’s see who is closer…2 professionals or a guess from someone who has lived up here for 21 years.
So how do you think this turned out? Here is my post from December 1st:
Lets Review: On Wednesday morning it was -32°C. Environment Canada said it was going to be -2°C and overcast on Thursday afternoon. The Weather Network said it was going to be -9°C with light snow. Martin said it was going to be -15°C and snow like crazy. So today is Thursday and what did we get? We got -12°C and it is snowing like crazy…3 inches so far in the last 4 hours.
I would say that my gut feeling and aches did a better job of forecasting the weather than individuals who get paid good money, have thousands of dollars in equipment and forecasting/weather modeling software and have spent thousands on a formal meteorology degrees. If you listened to me Yellowknifers then you are welcome…if you didn’t then I hope you aren’t out somewhere not expecting this foot of snow tonight.
So, like I said at the beginning, if you want a job where you don’t have to be right and that is fine. A job where a guess is as good as an education. The feeling in your gut and bones can be more accurate than thousands of dollars of equipment, software and an education. A job where people listen to you all the time but don’t trust you. Then meteorology is the job for you.
Any of us who drive a vehicle know what it is like to find a parking spot at the mall or other public place we go. Have you ever gone to West Edmonton Mall on a Saturday afternoon? NO PARKING!! You know how it is. We all start by driving around the lot looking for a close place to the entrance and after 5 or 10 futile minutes decide that a parking stall anywhere is better than driving around.
Then you have those times when you see someone getting in their car so you wait behind them to take their place only for them to be doing who knows what before they actually back out of the stall. Seriously! I am sure some people take their freaking time just to make those waiting for the spot wait longer. Or do some people get in and check their hair and make-up and who knows what else while full cognizant that someone is waiting for the spot?
Still the biggest mystery to me is why people find it necessary to either back into a stall or drive through the stall to the other side. What is the point. Those that back in tend to take 3 or 4 times longer to park their vehicle holding up traffic in the process and then they are too far over one way or the other or too far back into the stall.
Here is a story of something that happened to me in November. I went grocery shopping at the Yellowknife Co-op, where we usually do. The Parking configuration, like most shopping malls is like the picture below:
The parking lot this day was fairly busy and I usually have my favourite area that I like to park. When I arrived spot “A” was open so I pulled in. In spot “B” was a vehicle that had either backed into their spot or pulled straight through from the spot I now occupied. I pulled in as far as I could and was about 6 inches from the rear bumper of the vehicle in “B”. The driver had also either not pulled through far enough or backed in too far as the back end of the vehicle was slightly over the center line into spot “A”. No big deal as I pulled up close and was not hanging out with my back end into the drive lane.
I spent about 45 minutes to an hour inside the store getting the groceries we needed, packing them up, paying and pushing the buggy back out to my Veracruz to load them in. Half way out I pressed the key for the power tailgate and voila, the back opened so I could just start loading when I got to my vehicle.
As I pulled up to the back of my vehicle to start loading I had a guy come up to me and say “It’s about time. I have been waiting for you for 15 minutes” “Excuse me” I said. “I couldn’t load my groceries into my car because you pulled in too close to my back end” was his response. All I could do was look at him with a dumbfounded stare for a few seconds. My response was then “well I guess you shouldn’t have pulled through or backed in”. I then said “you know, you could have gotten in your car and drove it forward 3 or 4 feet instead of waiting”. He shot back “I shouldn’t have to move forward to load my groceries. You should have had the courtesy to leave me enough room or park elsewhere”. All I could do was shake my head why mumbling “Yea right”.
I finished loading my groceries and then deliberately strolled to the cart area to return the buggy before returning to my vehicle, backing up and leaving. Even while I was loading my groceries, the guy stood there waiting for me to move my vehicle instead of getting in his and moving his up slightly.
That incident was 2 months ago and I am still dumbfounded that the guy actually had the nerve to say that to me. I have also taken note at both the Extra Foods and Co-op ever since to note the number of people who back into their stall or pull through the stall.
I have one big question – WHAT IS THE POINT?
Time to take a break from the election today and talk about another issue that has been stuck in my craw for a while now. My issue is walking, speeding, attention and crosswalks. Here is what has had me up in arms for several years now.
I walk to work every morning. I usually walk back home for lunch and back to work again afterwards with a final walk back home at the end of the work day. It is not a long walk…only about 3 blocks or so. But many days it is a very dangerous walk. It is dangerous because the road is a busy road and I have to cross it.
Sometimes it is dangerous because of the road conditions, sometimes the sidewalks are pure ice. Sometimes, as on Thursday, I am half way across a crosswalk only to have some moron talking on their cell phone go speeding right behind me and miss me by inches. Sure, they slowed until I was half way across and then sped right through. Sometimes I get half way across the road and have to stop because the driver coming from the right side is not paying attention and will zip in front of me.
The problem with all of this is that my entire walk to work is a school zone. A SCHOOL ZONE. Where people are supposed to do 30km/h and be paying attention. This school zone is also not only for one school but for 3 schools. A section of road that travels in front of 3 schools where approximately 1700 students attend school. I am talking about 52nd Ave. running from 49th St., past the 3 schools and finishing at 50th Ave.
The City of Yellowknife bylaw enforcement does their small (read that as minute) bit to help on this stretch of road. On the first day or 2 of school they manage to set up a couple of speed traps to catch those speeders traveling the road. After that? I see the odd car travel by, and occasionally they even park at the curb in a wide open space so they are easy to see from each direction hoping to pick up the odd blind bat driver. Unfortunately, this does little to curb the speeding that takes place on this road. And don’t get me started about after school hours where the road is used as a race track by drivers in a hurry. I guess bylaw forgets that the 30km/h speed limit is in force 24/7/365. Funny thing is they seem to have little problem in tagging cars who are parked at an expired parking meter downtown. I keep forgetting what a safety issue that is.
I think though that the major issue on the stretch of road is the lack of crosswalk markings. Let’s look around the rest of the city. There is a fairly main road that runs a block in front of Range Lake North School and there are 2 crosswalk crossing lights. In front of St. Joes Catholic School is a busy thoroughfare and it too has a crosswalk crossing light and a 3-way stop. Mildred Hall School, by its location, has traffic lights and the associated walk lights in 2 locations across the street from it. In front of Sir John Franklin, Weledeh and St. Pats? Nothing!! The funny thing is the city knows this is a busy area.
On the stretch of road I am talking about are at least 7 painted crosswalks. That is it. No crosswalk signs, no crosswalk lights. In fact one of the crosswalks has a transit stop on either side and I have watched students get off the Yellowknife Transit System buses, start to cross in front of the bus only to have a car go racing by. Or kids running across the road to catch a bus only to just escape the smack-down of a car as it races by.
Oh yes, those painted crosswalks. Yeah! That’s a good one. This is the land of ice, snow and 3 inches of winter gravel on the road, at least during most of the school year. From the first snow until the street sweepers remove the sand and gravel, they can’t be seen. Even when they become visible at this time of year, the winter sand and gravel has rubbed and faded them so they are almost invisible. The city then makes sure they are freshly painted for the first day of school so they can remain seen for 2 months (maybe).
My question to the Yellowknife council members, bylaw officers and others of the city is why there is no indication of crosswalks on this area of road. Is it going to take someone getting hurt or worse before this is looked at? Wouldn’t it make sense to at least put a crossing light at the crosswalk where the 2 transit stops are and make sure it is blinking at least during school hours to act as a reminder for motorists? The city put in a 4 way stop at 52nd St. on the same avenue to slow traffic down. If a crosswalk light is too expensive then maybe 47th street needs to be made into a 3 way stop? Maybe more patrols and more frequent speed traps along this section of road?
Regardless of what is done, the city needs to do something and the motorists who travel this section of road need to pay more attention. Students are coming and going during the day all along this stretch of road and you need to be more attentive. Did I mention that the person who almost hit me the other day was on their cell. Yeah, trying to make a point. Pay attention when you drive. I don’t want to be out walking one day and see someone get hit…or be hit myself.
- Walk this way: How to get a crosswalk on your street (grist.org)
- Death prompts call for school speed limits (cbc.ca)
- Walkable cities begin at the crosswalk (timesunion.com)
Isn’t it funny how things work out? I had this idea for a post…something that has bugged me and I have been stewing about for the last 6 months. So today I was going to do my post and low and behold the complaint of my post was fixed at least this once.
Let me explain. I live on the corner of a 4 way stop at the start of a school zone. I walk to work and back home twice a day and my entire 3 block walk is in the school zone. At least once a week I am nearly hit when crossing at one of the 4 crosswalks along the route.
The school zones in Yellowknife have a speed limit of 30kph that is in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year. 365 days a year the school zones have this supposedly enforced speed limit. I call BS. Most days along this route I can guarantee that 50% of the drivers don’t do the speed limit. In fact, in the evenings I would think I lived near a freeway with the speed that some people drive. Do the city by-law people seem to do anything about it? No! I think in the 4 years I have walked the school zone I have seen a ghost car (that everyone knows) maybe 6 or 8 times parked in the open for everyone to see hoping to pick off a speeder. Occasionally they get one and then call it a day and it might be 6 months until we see them again.
The same thing with the 4 way stop by my house. After 6:00pm I have watched and counted numbers as high of 80% of the cars not stopping at the stop signs. Does by-law do anything about this? About 2 or 3 times a year, that obvious ghost car sits across the street from my house watching the corner and they will sit for maybe 5 or 10 minutes while drinking a coffee or coke.
The much anticipated Nico’s Market opened this week and it looks like it could be a winner. Chef Pierre, who also owns Le Stock Pot, l’Heritage and Le Frolic has opened his latest venture. I have some more pictures posted here.
I went to the new market on Saturday as part of my Saturday grocery shopping routine and was quite happy with what I saw. I had heard that Le Stock Pot was moving their kitchen supplies over to the new store and there was indeed an entire section for all the high quality knives, pots & pan and other kitchen gadgets that were available at the old location.
The market also has a bright produce section right up front with a dairy case at the back and shelves of the same kinds of oils, vinegars, relishes, jams, condiments of all sorts and other food stuffs that we were used to seeing at Le Stock Pot. There is also a butcher section for fresh meats, a Deli area for sliced meats and cheeses, an Antipasto section that has various dips & spreads like hummus, antipasto, salsa, spinach dip etc., a salad bar and a cafe that serves sandwiches and coffees. They also have a section with bulk coffee beans and a rack full of linens that used to be in a small room at the old store.
Here are my thoughts on what I saw. I liked most of the layout of the store. The produce was up front which was nice although with it up front they are going to have to make sure that it is always full and fresh. A less than brilliant looking produce section might just send customers away before they even get into the store. The dairy case was just another dairy case and unless they are going to carry things like rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, greek yogourts and other specialty items then it doesn’t really fit with the rest of the items in the store.
In April 2009 I attended the Design Yellowknife: Community Conference and Charrette. This was a 4 day event that involved interested citizens along with various city and government employees, engineers of various kinds, urban planners and architects just to name a few of the groups that participated. I was an interested citizen and my reasons for doing the conference was to be more involved in the city, learn more about the place I live, meet new people and get an idea of what the future of Yellowknife will be like. I must say that it was a very rewarding 4 days and I learned a lot about the history of and future plans for Yellowknife.
It was at this conference that I first heard about the idea of Con Mine being used to help heat the downtown core of Yellowknife using geothermal heat. What an interesting concept. Con Mine was one of the 2 gold mines that used to operate in Yellowknife and was closed in 2003. Since one of the mine tunnels runs close to the downtown core it would make sense to use the energy to heat this area.
Back in early 2008 the city had a feasibility study done which showed that Con Mine has the potential to be used as a heat resource for the City of Yellowknife. The resource, if developed could significantly reduce the City’s dependency on fossil fuel, make savings on energy costs, and reduce carbon emissions. This would be a great use of an alternate energy source.
The City of Yellowknife then submitted a plan to the federal government’s $1-billion Clean Energy Fund asking for funds to cover half the project’s estimated cost of $32 million.
It was announced by Natural Resources Canada and reported by CBC today that the city has been successful along with 18 other applicants to share in up to $146 million over the next 5 years. The Northern Application of a Geothermal District Heating System Project with the lead proponent being the City of Yellowknife was listed as one of the projects that is to receive between $10 and $20 million over the next 5 years. This is great news and this is something that will help to reduce energy costs and green house gases in Northern Canada; a place that is famous for its clean, clear air.
All that remains now is for a written contribution agreement to be signed by both parties, and until this is done there is no commitment or obligation existing on the part of the Government of Canada to make a financial contribution to these projects. We will keep our fingers crossed that the “t”s are crossed, the “i”s are dotted and the John Hancocks are added to the signature lines real soon so that this project can start to progress as a viable source of alternative energy. Great job and vision by the City of Yellowknife.
Since I work in “education” I am always interested to read or receive articles dealing with technology in K-12 education I am always looking to see how others are using technology in their districts, schools or classrooms. Mastermaq sent me this article this morning that made my day. The Toronto District School Board decided late last year to stop purchasing Mac computers as a cost saving measure. I must say that the TDSB made the right decision no matter that one of their school board trustees has now come out and questioned the decision.
The Yellowknife Education District #1 (YK1) made the same decision 4 years ago and it is a decision that I have to manage and defend on an almost daily basis as the Manager of Information Technology Services. What Lee Stem, the general manager of IT services at TDSB, talks about with cost savings with the current trend of applications moving to the web is right on the mark. Mac computers cost roughly double what an equivalent or even higher level PC costs. Since both platforms can do the same things and with the emergence of web based applications anyway, the hardware is becoming less important every day. Having an internet connection with a computer running a browser is all you need for much of what people need to do.
How many of you pay attention to the weekly weather forecasts in your area? In the Arctic, we look at the upcoming weather regularly as it dictates what we can plan for the week. At least in the winter this is important. I mean, who wants to go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in -40° weather when they can wait a couple of days until it warms up to -35° C?
On Sunday when MasterMaq and Sharon Y. were preparing to leave Yellowknife I checked the weather forecast both for Edmonton, where they live and were headed back to, and Yellowknife (#yzf for you Twitter people), where they had been visiting us for a week. Their trip to Yellowknife started off with some modest -20° C temperatures the first 2 days which allowed them to go dog sledding but it quickly turned colder and they were forced to endure -30° C or colder weather for the better part of their visit.
So, Environment Canada’s weatheroffice website showed that Edmonton was supposed to get warmer with highs reaching 0° C by Saturday the 9th. The site also showed that Yellowknife was also supposed to get to 0° C by Saturday. For the north, that would be a big bonus considering we are just starting our coldest part of the year. In fact they list the warming trend that is supposed to start tomorrow as an “abnormal temperature trend”. Checking the website again last night I noticed that the forecast had changed and was now showing -10° C as the high for Saturday. This morning I checked the weather forecast again and now it is showing -14° C as the high. I am starting to feel that by Saturday we will just get our normal temperatures.
I have noticed this type of forecasting in the winter before. It’s almost like they are trying to pull a cruel joke on us northerners. Or maybe, just maybe, the GNWT is conspiring with EC to inflate longer term weather forecasts. The reason you ask? Simple!
There are 2 reasons. The first is they want it to look warmer to entice visitors to the north. Yellowknife especially has a large visitor boom in the winter as people flock from every imaginable place to see the northern lights (Aurora Borealis). Yellowknife is known around the world as a great place to view this phenomenon (although MasterMaq and Sharon Y. would disagree as they had clear weather every night here and didn’t see them once). The second reason is to play mind games with those of us who live in the north. Many look at the temperatures and start to think of leaving, either for warm vacations or moving to warmer climes but when we see that it is warming up those thoughts are put on the back burner until the next time those forecasts drop.
The funny thing is how this always seems to happen around the same time every year which is why it seems like a conspiracy.
UPDATE: As of Thursday, January 7th, 2010 the forecast for Yellowknife this Saturday is -19° C. I guess I was right after all.