Cambridge’s own Heavy Lights – Occupy Toronto 2011

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Scenes from Day 1 of Occupy Toronto in St. James Park Toronto in 2011

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Cambridge Potholes fixed with Google Maps

fisheye-streetviewCAMBRIDGE CANADA – June 24, 2019 (AP) – Today, Google ‘s Kitchener development campus was the scene for an unveiling of it’s most recent collaborative project with the City of Cambridge; a system designed to provide Cambridge’s Public Works department with the ability to predict the workload, and better manage the scheduling of the city’s ongoing road repair and maintenance.

Google’s CEO Parry Lage was spokesman for the new technology, developed in conjunction with Cambridge’s Public Works, Information Technology, and Sanitation departments.

“Today marks a milestone in municipal road maintenance technology with our new computer software system designed to provide the City of Cambridge with complete records of every road’s physical condition, provided on a weekly basis, which will permit our municipal partners with the ability to manage their Public Works in a matter that will provide the utmost quality of service to it’s residents. ”

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The hardware in use with this new technology is aptly named the ‘Garbage Cam,’ a magnetically-mounted, self-contained fish-eye camera with built-in GPS and gyroscope for sensing location and movement, that is placed on the front and rear of each sanitation truck in the city.

Software technology developed by Google for use in it’s Streetview portion of Google Maps, is what gives the city a complete perspective of all road repairs needed to be accomplished.

“We developed the Google ‘Garbage-Cam’ to photograph every street, every nook and cranny in the city, every time a sanitation truck stops to make a pick-up.  When the truck reaches it’s depot, all the photos are transmitted wirelessly to our Google Streetview computers.  At the end of the day we have a completely new view on every pothole, every broken curb, every new bit of damage that has occurred on every street in town.  Imaging software identifies all the new damage, and can provide a systematic list of all new repairs that are needed, provided to the city in a format that works with their existing service scheduling systems.”

The ability to systematically identify and schedule road repairs on an ongoing, automatic basis eliminates much of the manual surveying currently used by road crews in most municipalities.   This new technology will be first field tested in Cambridge, with the remaining Region of Waterloo scheduled to put the system in place within the next five years.

“It’s amazing the things you can do with garbage,”  Lage quips, “Now, it’s even helping us keep the City of Cambridge running smoother then ever.”

– AP The Apocryphal Press  (too bad it’s fiction, and Google please don’t sue me, thanks)

The LRT Could Have Been Thought Out Better

region-of-waterloo-bullet-train1During the 2010 Municipal Election, a concerned citizens’ group invited all candidates from all municipalities the opportunity to present their opinions on the upcoming multi-billion dollar Light Rail Transit (LRT) initiative.

All candidates with few exceptions offered their opinion as to whether the LRT system would be cost-effective, practical, and gave their personal recommendations as to how the LRT should be designed.

These opinions were publicly published and presented to the regional officials of the LRT initiative at the time.

One candidate from Cambridge took the proposal one step further;  understanding that rail was a significant factor in effectively moving residents of the region from one location to another, he proposed a system whereby the LRT system, along with the Regional Airport, VIA Rail, and GO Transit system would connect at one central point, located in one location within the region.

He proposed that Breslau, since it already hosted our airport, would make an effective focal point to consolidate all avenues of mass transportation available;  providing one massive, central hub to which all residents of the region would then have access to rapid rail transit to all corners of the region, including Guelph (which would require cross-municipality cooperation, and seemingly missing in the posting), access to our airport, a key terminal to GO Transit for commuters to Metro Toronto via Milton, and long-distance VIA Rail access for travelers.

Ultra-high-speed bullet trains, elevated where needed, would run from Breslau to a Waterloo terminal to Elmira.  Another train would run from Breslau to a Kitchener terminal to New Hamburg, and another from Breslau to a Cambridge terminal to Ayr.

The bullet train lines would first be laid to the primary cities, and extended to the lesser towns as needs prevailed.  Another line would be run from Breslau to Guelph, they of course picking up the tab for costs on that line.

Without getting into details, these bullet trains would carry passengers to and fro from all corners of the region, provide opportunity to extend beyond the region as needs saw fit, and provide all commuters access to GO Transit, air travel, and local GRT bus access within each city as needed, as well as the long-distance VIA Rail services.

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Granted, the cost calculations were not made, but since this outline solved a multitude of problems plaguing the region, in terms of transportation needs now and in the future, in his words, “Let’s make it right for the long run.”

I bet you didn’t hear about this proposal, did ya?   Actually you did not, it was quashed by the same folks who steam-rolled their own idea through;  trains between shopping malls, more buses for Cambridge, and nothing for the outlying municipalities, who also are responsible for footing the entire bill for the entire thing.

Something to think about when you listen to the grand, wonderful plans LRT has in store for our Region’s “Twin Cities,” who get the trains, while everybody else gets to help foot the bill.

Government needs an upgrade, and some long-term visionaries.

All aboard.

Swimming With The Fishes

When I first opened my shop back near the turn of the century, I built a nifty computer for a local kid, and delivered it to his house for installation.   I had to fit it into this lad’s room along with a venerable cornucopia of exotic aquatic marine life, housed in massive salt water tanks. His obvious knowledge of marine biology later manifested into one of Ontario’s premier retailers and importers of the most exotic tropical fish in the world;  a successful new venture built right here in Cambridge. His dad, being the ‘uber’ salesman with an eye for successful endeavours came on board to help his son launch the enterprise;  this is a guy that can sell milkshakes out of an igloo in the middle of a snowstorm.

Suffice it to say, the place just oozes success in the making.

One of Cambridge’s busiest industrial corridors connect the villages of Preston and Galt; home to a wide variety of retail, commercial, and industrial companies providing goods and services to local markets, global markets, and everywhere in between.  These businesses do business in many different ways at the same time all in the name of quality cash flow, and it’s hard to define many private enterprises these days strictly as an industrial, retail, or commercial operation.  There’s one thing everybody on Bishop Street agrees on;  whether it comes off the street, off a telephone, or off a facsimile;  you never turn down a good paying job.

The policies  of our municipal laws forced one of Cambridge’s most successful home-grown retailers into an ultimatum;  pay $10,000 in re-zoning fees or move.  ‘The Men Who Stare At Fish’ nestled right in beside a music store that fixes, sells and teaches guitars, a commercial sheet metal association head office, a manufacturer of nuclear-grade metal fabrications, a machine shop, a sign shop, and (until recently) a courier, all in the same industrial mall.  Perfect fits for the place.

The complex is a living, breathing biosphere;  an assembly of living coral, plants, oxygenation, waste disposal, and filtration machinery, all engineered to warehouse a vast assortment of living product.  This is one of Cambridge’s most successful industries.

They have a shop full of equipment to manufacture plankton for feed and breed fish for reselling to their customers;  they also import and resell fish from the most exotic locations around the world.   On-site servicing of existing aquarium systems rounds out the goods and services being provided to a growing Ontario market niche.

After six months, the city councillor responsible for interjecting on their behalf at the time, Karl Kiefer, seemed to have not been able to juggle it in between vacations and weddings going on.

Pity.

In the years previous the dwelling had another retail tenant who went as far as erecting a road sign, getting the city’s stamp of approval all along the way.  I built about 450 computers there;  lots of finger cuts, let met tell you.  I guess manufacturing imaginary things like software there is okay but not warehousing un-imaginary things like fish.

I should think that Cambridge be thankful it’s not a vacant dwelling, especially in this day and age, and leave it at that.   Our government directly affects the very survival of the private enterprises and civilians that support it;   procedures in our municipal operations must be such that accommodate the needs of the town folk, and to do it effectively. They should have just told the complainer, ‘no dice.’

Absorbing more and more working capital from an already struggling tax base is a recipe for collapse; a recipe that has gone, relatively unchecked, since before the recent global economic crash of the early 21st century. When those who speak for us fall silent, they fail to uphold their sworn duty to take charge in the light of government abuses; our very liberties as free men are weakened.  When injustice prevails, it punishes all.

The ‘System’ needs an upgrade.

Crack Whore

In my youth, a group of us used to hang out, spending our days and nights getting together, traipsing throughout the town, hanging out in the local park to throw a ball around, going to friend’s places for movie night, or to enjoy a barbecue, the typical things teenage kids do.

We all didn’t come from the best side of the tracks, but most of us lived with normal families, who did normal things together, and carried on with their normal day-to-day lives, like most people do.  When we graduated out of high school, most of the gang had already taken jobs, beginning their ascension into adulthood. As was the case, we were becoming productive, active, tax-paying members of society.

She was a good kid in retrospect; a free-soul with a penchant for dancing and singing, and was a genuinely nice person.  She was a lovely young woman, and had her fair share of boyfriends, plenty of suitors in her groups of friends.  She fell for a boy who seemed to be The One; eventually they wound up conceiving a child. The boy was a child himself, and the news of this event caused him to basically leave, not to be seen or heard from again.

Many of her friends were spending their weekdays pursuing various careers.  She wasn’t employed at the time; she was a mother now, raising a baby girl at her parent’s home, no time for a paying job when parenthood becomes a career in itself. Jobs were scarce for the youth in those days; our country was undergoing another typical economic downturn, so she was one of the unfortunate ones who couldn’t land a job that worked with the timetable of her parental responsibilities.

Her only escape from the responsibility of her life became weekends with friends.  Still, she was still enjoying her youth, spending her days with her child, enjoying the summers together or tobogganing in the cooler weather, along with other parents.

We all knew of the local ‘sub-culture’ around town, and our ranks were not immune from its influences. One night someone suggested smoking a ‘joint,’ a marijuana cigarette. She took to it immediately, as did others.   The old adage that one thing leads to another was the case here, as time marched on tastes in ‘social drugs’ can tend to graduate from smoking ‘dope,’ to crack cocaine, amphetamines, and Timothy Leary’s drug of choice, LSD, all available throughout the town, in spite of the police force’s best efforts to quash those responsible for the organized crime factions behind its production, packaging, and distribution.

The time came where there were no friends around to smoke up, no free lines, no tabs of acid.   Drug dealers are shrewd enough to know that young girls who like doing drugs are apt to want to continue with their vices; she was no exception.  He suggested that she didn’t need to purchase her ‘fix’ with money, he was sure they could work out some sort of arrangement.   She proceeded down a path in life she had never expected to find herself in.

Who knows what was going on in her head, the events from that day spiraled out of control; all the drugs she wanted, to escape the life she never planned, never wanted, never asked for. All she had to do was endure emotionless, unsatisfying time with strangers who pretended to be friends.  Eventually, the last bastions of her normal life were destroyed, her parent’s raised her daughter themselves.  The gang she used to hang out with were gone, replaced with the sub-culture; a new group of people always willing to exploit her vulnerabilities, her lack of self-worth, her disgust with the way her life was proceeding. Alcohol and drugs ravaged her life, her family’s life, her child’s life, and there was nothing to be done about it.

I know of the plight she endures to this day. I have a friend who wrote a song about drug addiction, a song that hits home every time I hear it.  I still saw her around town, literally years later. The last time we met I was stopped at a light, saw her and offered a lift in my car.  She fit the bill in terms of looks; a notably toothless smile crowned by soulless, empty eyes encased in a thin, frail body that was obviously sick from lack of nutrition and sleep. She offered me a free bout of her specialty in exchange for a lift across town. I declined and gave her a ride to the bus terminal.  I missed city council that night; just the same, someone was probably there complaining about something, anyway.

What started as a beautiful, vibrant, loving young girl, ended up in this condition.  I had to wonder if she felt like an old woman before her time,  filled with regret, waiting to die.   In the previous municipal election one candidate opposed a drug treatment facility in their neighbourhood, a mistake that may have cost them the election.  Many of us view these people as damaged, useless drags on our society.  Most of us, however, know the true stories of these unfortunate victims; victims of a decadent and brutal world where cruelty and exploitation are the norm.

I was never disgusted with my friend, I feel sorrow for her, as I know many people do when they are dealing with their friends, family members, who have ‘slipped through the cracks’ of society.  The mark of a true friend is to help; we all want to help the less fortunate, and we all have our ways of doing it. The first step is not to shy away from the problem; the first step is to acknowledge it, to accept it, and to do what we can to help. In my case it’s to bring the problem to print; to tell a tale to those sheltered from the harsher realities of life, people not really aware or believing of our world’s ‘hidden culture’ that permeates throughout society, causing havoc in it’s wake.  From this, perhaps, one person out there will have the ability to help someone else save themselves, and I will have done my job.

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The other night as I was heading home, I pulled up to a stop sign downtown.  One of my friend’s latest ‘apprentices’ saddled up to my driver’s window.  She was about  my daughter’s age,  pretty enough to turn heads, looking to meet new friends.   I gave her cigarette a light,  and smiled to her as I departed her company, turning the corner to head home.

 

What’s old is new.

The title of this article reflects a derogatory and spiteful attitude of those who are unaware of a cold reality many of our society face every day; it is this ignorance of perception that needs addressing, in order to provide more assistance to one of humanity’s most helpless demographics.  There’s more to a ‘crack whore’ then meets the eye, and we as a society have not done enough to help them, yet.