Uber versus taxis

I have absolutely no sympathy for the taxi drivers in Quebec. Too long they had what could be considered a monopoly.

Unlike most other jurisdictions [in the world] where there are both taxi and Uber driver, most seem to get along with each other. The taxi drivers seem to live with the fact that Uber is around to stay.

A number of years ago, the city of Montreal bought out a bunch of taxi permits because there were too many of them and they supposedly couldn’t make a living. So by reducing the number of taxis on the island, there should be more revenue coming in for the taxi drivers. But what also did was increase the wait time to get a taxi if not at a taxi stand.

Fast forward to the last couple of year. Uber moves into Montreal and the taxi drivers are upset. Boo hoo.

Some taxi drivers resorted to harassment of the Uber drivers and clients which included [light] damage to vehicles, physical and verbal assaults, etc. Sounds a bit like a mafia like attitude.

Taxi drivers were told to clean up their act. Proper clothing [white shirts, black pants], clean their cars, etc. They complained.

The provincial government struck a deal with the Uber drivers within the past couple of weeks where the new requirements for Uber drivers won’t be easy for them to complete.

The requirements include permits, taking customer service courses, basic vehicle repair knowledge, restrictions in the number of hours [anything over 50,000 hours a year and Uber will have to pay fees that will benefit the taxi industry], charge a minimum fee, etc.

And yet the taxi drivers are still complaining and contemplating an injunction or go on strike. If they do, I won’t be affected or care. Also more work for Uber drivers and less for them. So who are they kidding?

The taxi industry accused the provincial government of betraying them by negotiating with a company they say operates outside the law. Ummm. Uber will be paying back taxes as part of the deal in addition to taxes and licenses.

The taxi drivers are just acting like a bunch of crybabies who’ve had it so good over the years.

Taxi drivers in my area don’t seem to respect the rules of the road. Going through stop signs, no signals when turning, double parking [with no flashers]. I’ve even seen them make U-turns on a busy main street.

 

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Man suffers major allergic reaction – the fallout?

In case you missed it, in the small city of Sherbrooke, Quebec [about 2 hours east of Montreal] a 34-year old man named Simon-Pierre Canuel went into a dimly lit restaurant in May, sat down and ordered a beef tartare dish.

Just shortly after biting into his dish, it was not beef tartare but salmon tartare. His throat became itchy and began to tighten, his tongue swelled and he had problems breathing. His friend, a medical resident, went to the car to get his EpiPen. Another diner, a doctor, lied him on the floor and administrated mouth to mouth resuscitation while waiting for an ambulance to show up. He is allergic to seafood.

He was taken to a hospital nearby but suffered cardiac arrest the next day and fell into a coma for around two days before recovering and released.

Mr. Canuel has filed both civil and criminal charges against the waiter because it is alleged that the waiter did not write down the order and must have mixed up his order because of it. The waiter has been arrested. A civil lawsuit has been charged against the restaurant.

The Sherbrooke police had gone through a two-week investigation prior to the arrest including serving a warrant and searching the restaurant.

Mr. Canuel claims he mentioned about his serious allergies when he arrived at the restaurant and again when ordering the beef tartare and asked the waiter to make note of the allergy. It is alleged that the waiter did not make note of the allergy.

Mr. Canuel claimed the waiter seemed to be socializing with [probably] friends at another table, drinking shooters, instead of taking care of his order. The waiter may have even been a bit drunk.

One of the co-owners of the restaurant says she also has serious seafood allergies and said her restaurant would do what happened on purpose.

A discussion is starting now on what to do with people with allergies. While many precautions are done to prevent allergic reactions, there are obvious some places that have little choice because of what they serve.

For an example, a “surf and turf” restaurant will serve both seafood and beef. So allergic reactions could be a problem for someone who enters a restaurant even though they want beef.

The same would go for someone walking into a sports bar that generally have peanuts available.

Signs can be placed prior to walking into an establishment warning of possible allergic issues in addition as on the menu [which some do show].

Mr. Canuel claimed he notified the waiter at least three times but that didn’t seem to help too much in this case.

Maybe restaurants won’t take chances and just ban anyone with [food] allergies – but that is less likely.

Maybe waiters will be required to ask a customer if they have any allergies – but what if they forget an allergy?

 

Selfie Elbow?

I think one of the most ridiculous things to come out in the past 5-10 years is the selfie.
Some people are obsessed with taking selfies.

You have the queen of publicity hounds, Kim Kardashian, with a book of selfies – and sold at a premium price – and I think she is coming out with a second volume. Can you imaging 200+ pictures of her doing whatever [I am sure probably in various levels of undress as well].

I’m waiting for her hubby, the king of publicity hounds, Kanye West, to come out with one. Or two. Or three. Maybe they’ll compete to see which books sell the best. I would guess she will – her family has done little as part of the human race and yet she got this far.

For us dull normals, it is OK to take the odd picture, but now there is a new medical issue.
You have heard of tennis elbow, where a tennis player has inflamed tendons in the elbow. [At least I can understand how this happens.]

Well there is what can be described as “selfie elbow”. It seems the way some people hold their smartphone [or a tablet] to take a picture of themselves or them with some buddies.
I am hoping your local state or provincial government doesn’t take this too seriously where an employer will be obliged to pay for someone’s sick leave because of selfie elbow [well unless it really interferes with their job].

The whole selfie concept is ridiculous – made even worse by buying a $10-$15 selfie stick [something that was manufactured for peanuts].

I’ve personally taken less than a half dozen selfies since my first smartphone.

If you have taken many [very many] of them, maybe you like to create your own publicity. But who will actually care?

 

Predictions for 2015

So with about 0.20% of the year gone, here are some of my predictions [some incorporating rumors that started in 2014, some of them less likely, some are probable]:

In technology:

  • Apple will release a new iPhone in the spring – probably a slightly remade iPhone 5S. They did the same thing with the iPhone 5C which as a rebranded and slightly upgraded iPhone 4S [I think].
  • Apple will also have a major issue come to one of their products causing major problems. This would be as surprising as since Tim Cook took over from Steve Jobs, quality control has been less than stellar.
  • While Windows 10 does come out with plenty of fan fare, it still ends up being only a partial success as it still forces many desktop users to go though the tiles/modern interface too often.
  • Meanwhile, Microsoft decides to give a slight discount for some Windows 8.x users but not enough to satisfy them.
  • The Windows Server 2003 comes to a close in July but nasty bit of security attacks force Microsoft to further release some security updates after the end of support for the OS.
  • Google decides that it has had enough and begins to back away from both Google+ and the Chrome OS development. Both are bleeding the company dry even with Google’s advertising arm firmly entrenched in Google+.
  • Not really a surprise but there will be another major cloud breach similar to the one that hit Apple this past year [remember the celebrity nude pictures?]. One still wonders why people put nude pictures of themselves in the cloud.

In entertainment:

  • Yet another breach in an entertainment company, not as serious as Sony, but still high profile.
  • This will also be the year where movie distributors stop gauging the buying public and release Blu-ray movies at very similar pricing as a DVD.
  • The music shoppers will begin to get tired of the boy bands and scantly clad female singers that seem to come and go quite fast.
  • Justin Bieber will finally get arrested [he hasn’t already]?
  • Miley Cyrus will do something so wrong/disgusting that fans will turn their back on him.

In politics:

  • Vladimir Poutine [Putin] will finally cave in and force the Russian “separatists” in eastern Ukraine to come back to mother Russia or be left on their own. Still nothing resolved for Crimea. All this as the oil pricing by OPEC and the financial punishment still cripples Russia coupled by growing unrest by Russian citizens as price of goods continue to rise.
  • Putin gets tired of having OPEC dictating oil prices by trying to start “his” own oil council but fails.
  • In US politics, the early stages of preparations for the primaries in both Democratic and Republican parties fizzle as Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are almost crowned before they start. Meanwhile the Republicans get hit with a few scandals along the way as the Tea Part branch causes further strains within the party.
  • In Canadian politics, an early fall elections has current Prime Minister Stephen Harper ousted with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau taking over with either a slight majority government or a near majority minority government. The NDP party, getting blown back to smaller party status will prop up the Liberals [if a minority government] – this after the Conservative party saying throughout the election that the Liberals and NDP would form a coalition government after they see the writing on the wall and see no chance in forming a government.
  • Devastated by the loss, Harper would end up resigning his leadership with eventually leaving politics in late 2015 or early 2016. As well, NDP leader will decide to leave as leader of party but will stay around.

Welcome to Black Friday – or maybe week if not month

Well, depending on where you are in the world, this week includes the US thanksgiving holiday. And as part of a recent “tradition” [read: in some cases, time to dump old stock!], Black Friday on Friday and the more recent Cyber Monday next Monday [December 1st]. It is the official kickoff of the shopping for gifts for Christmas [and I guess Channukah and others].

I’ve been a part of the online Cyber Monday for a while.

But really things have blurred as online [and in store] sales advertising Black Friday [or Cyber Monday] prices – or so they claim – for a number of weeks already.

The bigger question is whether or not some deals are actually deals or have already been marked down. Even still, are the regular prices over-inflated to begin with.

Here’s an example. A typical audio CD [not a special edition, or import or what have you] sells for about $12-$14 in most cases. The suggested retail price is probably in the $20 range. So if you see a CD at $10 with a 60% off sticker, you know the suggested price is inflated.

What I use to do way back when on Boxing Day [here in Canada] is “case” the local major CD/DVD store [there wasn’t any Blu-rays at the time], made a [mental] note because on Boxing Day [or the day after] when they had the big sales, I could figure out if there was anything really on special. Often enough something was [let’s say] $20 now and on Boxing Day it was $25 or $30 and then discounted to maybe $18.

Over the years this store [as part of a large Canadian chain] has seen stores closed. Their promotions [and not just on Boxing Day] weren’t competitive. They came in early for online shopping but just as online shopping was taking off, they killed the online shopping. Go figure.

So, if you are doing some shopping, do some homework prior to make sure what you are getting is an actual sale price.

PS – Like Canadians are getting into the Black Friday/Cyber Monday of late, Americans are starting to have their own Boxing Day sales – a tradition actually started by the British. Another time to sell good stuff as well as some older stuff.

More types of discrimination? I doubt it.

In case you missed the story that came out this past week, a petition was created by a woman in Edmonton, Canada to make it illegal to discriminate based on tattoos or piercings.

Yup. You read that right.

She was complaining – I’m assuming here – because she has either tattoos or piercings or both and was denied a job or something like that.

She wants it to have the same legal standing as say sexual orientation, religion or skin color.

Well, let us check on this. All the anti-discrimination practices are for things that can’t be changed – in most cases you are born with it [such as skin color]. You theoretically can change your sexual orientation or religion but most wouldn’t do that to get a job.

When it comes to tattoos or piercings, these were put on as a choice by the individual. Piercings can easily be removed [holes may take time to close].

Tattoos are a bit harder to remove. But in most cases tattoos can be covered up. I know of one guy who had tattoos from his shoulder [at least] down to his wrists on both arms. He was hired at the job but was told to wear a long sleeve shirt when on the premises [must be fun on a very hot day!].

There are probably a few exceptions where tattoos or piercings may be part of a religion but in North America, that’s probably less likely.

But if you see someone walking down the street [with skulls or axes or a nasty looking snake], would you want to see that person serving you at the cash register at a store?

I can also guarantee you that the majority of people prefer dealing with someone without tattoos [piercing doesn’t have the same bad vibe, I think].

Debate about only healthy food on campus

You’ve heard the stories going around that some college or university has decided to ditch less than healthy food such as fries and soft drinks [i.e. Coke, Pepsi, … ] in favor of a more healthy food.

We’ve had a couple cases locally.

In one case a college decided to ditch fries, soft drinks and even bottled water [bad for the environment even though the bottles cans with recycled] in favor of healthier food. The college claimed to have lost $40,000 a year in profits made from the sales.

The vending machines on campus are color coded. One color for items that you can eat quite often, another color for items that are not as healthy and the third color for items that you should rarely eat [such as chips and chocolate bars – comfort food for some].

In another case, a university has ditched the non-healthy food. Even the only Tim Horton’s on campus has been closed down [in comparison, a university on a university campus in Ontario has 14 Tim Horton’s].

This brings us to the following question: Is barring unhealthy food actually helping things?

In the case of both schools [and probably the same for most schools across North America], they are located in towns or large cities. If you walk a block [or less] off the campus, you will find plenty of unhealthy restaurants serving pizza, burgers, fries, and the artery killer poutine but also healthy restaurants.

So exactly who is it helping?

Maybe those restaurants off campus. After all, if the students can’t buy a burger on campus, they’ll go off campus. So those restaurants will need to hire more staff during weekday hours.