sound off – ontario highways, pay for use?

Hwy 401 at Montreal Rd circa 1965?  Notice how little traffic there is

Hwy 401 at Montreal Rd circa 1965? Notice how little traffic there is....

Anyone who has travelled the 400 series of highways in Ontario, will have noticed both the substantial rise in commercial truck traffic and the near simultaneous degradation of the highway infrastructure itself.  A while ago I hummed and hawed about whether it was time to consider usage charges or tolls on our highways.  Usage charges, sometimes known as congestion charges, provide  some significant benefits, (1) primarily by ensuring that those who use the roads the most pay for the wear and tear (2) it prices in what economists refer to as externalities into the total cost of ownership of the road, and (3) depending upon the structure of the charges, it can influence the conditions of use, particularly by encouraging certain types of traffic to use the road at periods of lower demand.   Two recent activities prompted me to revisit the idea – the ongoing widening of the 401 between Sydenham Road and Hwy 15 (and eventually to Joyceville Road), and a visit to Germany and the Netherlands. 

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vodpod widgets

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “untitled“, posted with vodpod


Anyone who has worked with, will have quickly realised that their uncompromising stance on security results in severe limitations on what kinds of widgets can be hosted on their site (self hosted wordpress sites are open to more opportunities) – however vodpod seems to have found a way to not only accomodate policies but allow the hosting of several flash and javascript enabled widgets which would otherwise be blocked. Experimenting – am trying to get the widget to display only in the sidebar – so far vodpod spawns a popout which I am not entirely happy with. This feature may stick around for a while or if I become annoyed with it, could dissapear altogether.

pick up your trash kingston!

signs of spring

signs of spring

Last weekend, junior and family hiked around the barriefield rock garden, through the village, and down and around constantine arena.  Such a lovely spring (at the risk of triggering a late blizzard) day.  Unfortunately one of the of the lesser remarked aspects of the end of hibernation is the blight revealed as the snow recedes.  Amid the new buds forming and the slow transformation of browned grass to green, there before us lay the ubiquitous Tim Hortons cup.    

If only it were the cups of course – rather everywhere we looked in the course of our walk it became immediately apparent that a tremendous amount of trash is swirled and whirled and caught up in the brambles and branches during the winter months.    Among the other items I discovered were:  several plastic drink bottles, one large plastic coolant container, chocolate bar and snack wrappers, small blocks of Styrofoam, and so on.  I ended up filling only a small plastic bag – but could easily have filled several large garbage bags worth. 

Which leads me really to the point of this post: namely, when exactly did kingstonians abandon personal responsibility?   Do you really want kingston to look like this?  How hard is it to place your garbage into a garbage can – or better yet take it home with you?    Of course part of the answer to that question is – which garbage can?  I can’t think of even one public garbage can in the entire area of barriefield.   

Perhaps residents don\’t think it is their problem to deal with?  I note that we seem very happy to have various levels of government collect our trash and recyclables – mostly because participation in these efforts takes very little personal effort, as the collection of our disposables is conducted at arms length financed by taxes – requiring very little in the way of active personal committment.     Perhaps it is too much to ask people not to litter, especially when we have become accustomed to having ‘the government’ take care of it.   However, I would like to think Kingstonians care about their city and the image it projects to residents and visitors –  so I challenge you – clean up after yourselves! 

Get out of your cars, go for a walk and take a bag along with you – I guarantee you will find no shortage of garbage which needs cleaning…..

xposted at the kingstonist

viral funkiness

Doing my part to add to the viral thingy….

Tel Aviv musician Kutiman, who styles himself as a “psychedelic funk architect” has designed and constructed a doozy of a musical mashup. His Internet album Thru You, consisting of remixed youtube music videos completely made out of remixed YouTube footage

around the world – part 35.5 (putten netherlands)

10 March 2009:

And so:  the Audi Nav system earns two strikes against it. (1) It calculated a time of approximately 6hours 20 minutes from Greding Germany to Putten Netherlands (approx 650km) when clearly it only took 5 hours 5 minutes including a 15 minute bio break.  (2)  According to Audi, Putten is ‘not on a digital map service’ which accounts for the declarative statement – ‘you have arrived at your destination’ when surrounded by fields rather than the welcoming embrace of a hotel bar.  “Trousers down, tackle out, Yah-boo sucks to you fritsie” (anyone ?  –first comment citing the source will earn a beer at Kingston Brew Pub) to  audi for producing a sub par nav system.  Still all is forgiven for delivering a very pleasant driving experience……

around the world 35.3 (find of the day in nordlingen)

08 March 2009:

saurer_2dmEvery now and then you come across something worth a second look.  As I was rolling slowly down a side street in Nordlingen looking for a parking place, and ultimately a mid morning coffee and snack, I spotted this rather homely creature parked alongside the curb. 

Without knowing exactly what it was, I felt instinctively that it was no model of military utility truck that had been employed by western armies – but it did not look brutish enough to have been manufactured under duress from the east.  

Sure enough it was neither.  You can take a guess at what make and model it is, or cheat and look here, or here…..