Back to the Grind

I’ve been away for awhile and haven’t done any new posts during that time. Much of my absence had to do with being extremely fatigued. I have severe spinal stenosis along with disc herniation’s and degenerative disc disease, which requires medications daily to control the various symptoms. Most of my medical problems were caused due to heavy physical work in the mining industry along with some accidents which resulted in neck and back injuries. Doctors like to take various approaches to treat the symptoms, but often the medications involved cause you to be drowsy and have little to no energy. I have found that many of the medications actually cause you to be fatigued to the point you have problems getting out of bed. So I have been trying to find alternatives to medications and getting my physical strength back up along with endurance by doing lots of walking and some light weight lifting to help strengthen core muscles and alleviate some of the pressure on my spine and associated nerves. Before my condition got to the point it is now at, I used to be very active. I attended a gym several times a week to weight train and also did a great deal of running and biking. Unfortunately, as things progressed, I found I could no longer run and eventually no longer ride a bike.

Lots has happened over the last six weeks. Yesterday a number of countries recognized the centenary of the Great War, or what is better known as World War I. The involvement of Canada in the Great War was significant and we as Canadians can be proud of the efforts and sacrifices made by those who served both king and country in many battles during those years. During the war, Canada provided 620,000 people and suffered losses of 67,000 as well as another 250,000 who were injured.

July has come and gone for another year. The weather could have been better, but for the most part it wasn’t that bad. I thought that it was colder than usual for July, but haven’t been able to find any data to support that theory. I usually go out and take lots of pictures, but this summer I have done very little of that. I’m hoping that this month I will be feeling well enough to get out and take some nice pictures and perhaps get a photography site up containing my work.

Now that I have written a little update concerning what I have been doing for the last several weeks, I need to get out and get walking. I’m hoping to continue writing and keeping this blog updated on a regular basis as writing is something that I do enjoy, along with photography. So take care and enjoy the summer weather as it won’t be long before autumn is upon us and then snow – I know, kind of a bleak forecast, but it will happen.


GP Joa

Shooting in Herongate

Black hand gun

Hand Gun

Last night at about 5:20 pm, police were dispatched to the 2800 block of Cedarwood Drive in the Herongate area of Ottawa South. Several people had called into 911 regarding multiple gunshots being fired in the area. News reports indicate the victim was shot in the face with a handgun. A handgun and ammunition were found in the area of the shooting and were seized by police.

The victim of the shooting has refused to cooperate with police suggesting that the incident may be gang related. As with other cities, Ottawa has its problems with guns gangs too. Other incidents have occurred in this area over the years that have been linked to gang activity.

There have been a number of issues recently related to the use of handguns and shots being fired. That more people have not been injured or killed is rather surprising. It seems that there is no area of the city that is immune to the shooting of guns. These irresponsible shootings will eventually result in an innocent bystander being injured or killed.

We need to get these guns off the streets and help prevent the possibility of innocent people being caught in the crossfire.

GP Joa

Ontario Voted

The elections were last week and by now the results have had time to sink in. They weren’t the results that many were anticipating and were somewhat of a surprise. The Liberals who were thought might form another minority government if the Progressive Conservatives didn’t, actually won a majority government. I’m not sure what happened; perhaps the platform the Progressive Conservatives were running on scared people and they decided to stay with what was already there despite their previous downfalls. It seems rather ridiculous that the Liberal Party that was riddled by scandals would be rewarded with a majority government. But that’s what happened last week.

At a dinner party I attended over the weekend, I heard from many who indicated that voters made a large mistake. When I asked some of these people if they had gone out and voted, the usual response was that they had not. Many felt that no party was worth their vote and wasting time to go to the polls could be better spent doing other things. My response was that if you did not want the Liberals to win, you should have voted as voter turnout was dismal. I worked at a polling center where there were 9 polls in place. Of the 9 polls, the one I worked at had the highest voter turnout of 42%. There were some polls in the center with less than 20% voter turnout.

It will be interesting to see how the new government will bring about new jobs to the province with their union hand-holding. Ontario has lost numerous manufacturing jobs and those jobs will never come back without some major changes to employment costs. Auto manufacturing is moving to Mexico where labor is considerably cheaper than Canada along with cheaper transportation costs. With the million people out of work in Ontario, it will be hard putting them back to work without some type of manufacturing jobs available. I suppose the government will continue investing in projects to put people to work for the short term and continue racking up deficits.

Currently, the Ontario government pays about 10 cents of every dollar they take in towards interest on the $580 billion owed. There will not be a balanced budget for at least 4 years and by that time the credit rating of the province will be worse and interest costs will be higher on the current and additional deficit created. Manufacturing jobs will continue to move to other provinces or countries that have lower employment costs. Energy costs are also expected to rise by some 40% over the next couple of years which will further keep businesses from opening their doors in Ontario. Many businesses now don’t know how they will continue because of the doubling and tripling of energy costs under the Liberal government over the last few years.

No matter what Kathleen Wynne thinks, there is a great deal of waste within the government. There are numerous jobs that could be eliminated, with many of those being jobs that should never have been created in the first place by the Liberals. Governments cannot continue to spend their way out of problems thinking they will eventually go away. Students getting out of college or university in the province cannot find a job after having to pay increased tuition costs which occurs almost yearly. Businesses large and small are shutting down, not only putting people out of work, but also taking away their pensions and benefits.

Ontario at one time was the “have” province that helped carry other provinces. It has now become the “have not” province teetering on the edge of bankruptcy with debt that makes the financial problems the state of California said it was in not that long ago seem minuscule. The debt in Ontario equals about $20,000 for every person in the province and is only going up. How can we expect people to stop living beyond their means when we have governments that continue to do exactly that, living beyond their means. The province is broke and continued spending isn’t going to help it get any better. Time to get lean and mean and get things done that will attract businesses to the province and put people back to work doing something other than temporary government projects.

GP Joa

Shopping at Costco

Lately it seems every time I go to Costco, the place is packed. A few years ago you could go to Costco at any time and be able to find a parking spot and be able to walk comfortably down the aisles in the stores. Now you go and you are lucky if you can even get a place to park. A couple of times in the past month I had to park at the nearby PetSmart store and walk over. I did have some shopping to do at PetSmart as well, so I wasn’t at too much of a risk getting a ticket.

Here in Ottawa we have three Costco stores, one that is somewhat east in Gloucester, another in Nepean and the last one in Kanata. There is also another store across the bridge in Gatineau, Quebec that also sells beer at prices much lower than those at the Ontario Beer Store. I live between the Gloucester and Nepean store, so depending on where I am I could end up at either one. I have not been to the Kanata store for quite some time, but imagine it is also as busy as the other two.

I realize that the prices and selection of merchandise are what brings people into Costco, but it has been so crowded recently it has been uncomfortable to shop there. Despite the crowds, we still go because of the prices and are willing to put up with the inconveniences of not being able to find a parking spot and being bumped into by people with their shopping carts in the overcrowded aisles. We have however begun to limit the number of times we do go shopping there because of the aforementioned issues.

When we originally joined Costco a few years ago, there were not near as many people shopping there as now. It seems every time we go there the number of people shopping has gone up since our last visit. I know our politicians have been pushing for a new casino in Ottawa, but the crowds in the current casino are nothing compared to what they are in a Costco store.

And it doesn’t matter what time or day you go to Costco, it is crowded. One would think that going there at 10 in the morning on a weekday would be quieter, but that often isn’t the case. I’m sure there is enough traffic in the current Costco stores to justify adding another in Ottawa. There must be some place near the downtown core that could be developed into a Costco location. I imagine there are many people in the downtown core that do not drive and since the current Costco locations are not so bus friendly, a downtown location would bring in that additional traffic.

I’m not one for gambling and have no interest in another casino, but I do like good prices in a store that is not overcrowded and has ample parking. I think we need another Costco store in Ottawa.

GP Joa

Ontario Voting Day

Today is voting day in Ontario. We have heard all the promises made by the candidates and have also seen the attack ads. Today is the day we need to get out to the polls and make our voices heard. I posted recently on why we should vote and why we all should make an effort to get out to the polls. You may not like any of the candidates for your area or even like the leaders, but if you don’t vote, your opinion is lost. In all elections, when the ballot box is opened at the closing of the polls, all votes are counted, including the ones that are ruined or have no markings on them. A ballot is a ballot and each and everyone must be accounted for. I’m not suggesting that people should ruin their votes or leave the ballot empty, but everyone should vote no matter how they feel about the candidates.

I’m going a bit further in this election by working at the polls and helping people get their votes in. It’s going to be a long day. We start at 8 in the morning and will probably still be counting ballots well past 9 at night. I’ve never actually worked an election before, so I am a bit undecided on how things will work out. With the upcoming weather forecast, I’m thinking that the turnout at the polls will be even less than they were in the previous 2011 election, which was a record low.

Although the weather prediction for today is not the best with rain falling and the possibility of thunderstorms; this shouldn’t be a reason not to get out and vote. As expected, weather generally has an effect on the number of people showing up at the polls, with bad weather keeping people away from the polls.

In any case, I’m hoping to see a good turnout tomorrow at the poll I’m working at and look forward to seeing the results in the evening. The polls open at 9 am sharp and remain open until 9 pm, which should give everyone ample time to get out and cast their ballot.

See you at the polls!

GP Joa


Canada Wide Arrest Warrant

Canada wide warrant issues for Devontay Hackett

Canada wide warrant issued for Devontay Hackett

The other day I posted about a murder that occurred in downtown Ottawa where an 18 year old who was attending his prom was stabbed to death. Since that time Ottawa Police have issued a Canada wide warrant for 18 year old Devontay Hackett. You can find more information on this person on the Ottawa Police Services website. If you do happen to see this person, do not approach him as he is considered armed and dangerous; call the Ottawa Police Services at 613-236-1222 ext. 5493, or Crime Stoppers 613-233-8477 or toll-free 1-800-8477. 

Let’s be vigilant and help the police apprehend this individual as quickly as possible. Police believe Devontay is still in the Ottawa area and have been checking known locations he frequents. More information can be found on the local CTV news website about this ongoing story.

GP Joa

The Importance in Voting

Election Ballot

Election Ballot

Like many other people in Ottawa, I’m getting ready for the Ontario elections. The downside of the upcoming election, is that many people will not vote. I hear people complain about new legislation or policies and when I asked them if they voted, they say they couldn’t be bothered. If you couldn’t be bothered to vote, why should you bother to complain. It’s hard to determine what type of political landscape we would have if every eligible voter turned up at the polls. We each have the responsibility to choose who will represent us in government and our choices do matter.

We have lots of systems in place to make voting more accessible and easier than ever, yet we still have dismal turnouts at the polls. During the last Ontario provincial election, less than half of eligible voters went to the polls. Many young people don’t like to vote and are turned off by the attack ads they see and hear through the media. Unfortunately, such attack ads have become mainstream in the political ring. They do put a bad face on the political leaders and their respective parties and it is something we could all use less of.

In any event, it’s important that all eligible voters go out and vote. It may not seem important, but it is up to each and everyone of us to decide who will represent us whether it be a city council member or mayor, or provincial or the federal government member. We live in a country that allows us to choose our political representatives through democratic process. There are still those in the world who do not have the choice on who will represent them and there are many who have died trying to get such rights. Make your voice heard and get out and vote on June 12th.

GP Joa

Tree Fluff

Poplar tree fluff, much like a cotton-ball being white in color

Poplar tree fluff

I’ve noticed over the last few days this fluff that has been floating through the air, looking similar to the fluff you see from dandelions. The fluff accumulates everywhere and builds up on your outdoor lawn furniture, barbeque and other items. It covers your car as well as your garden with the new growth of vegetables just starting to take hold.

My son has identified this fluff as trees “sperming”, but I have learned that the fluff only comes from female trees. The type of trees that have this fluff are poplars or cottonwoods. This is how the tree spreads its seeds in the spring. So we may need to tolerate having these pieces of fluff flying around for a while longer before the process is over.

The fluff can be somewhat of a nuisance as it can accumulate to large amounts. My backyard now looks like it is covered in snow and I can’t see the soil of my garden. Hopefully a strong wind will come about and blow the seeds away. Until then I guess I will have to get used to seeing white on the ground like the snow that was there not that long ago.

GP Joa

The Weed Man Calls Again

Last night I was sitting at home watching the evening news when the phone rang. The television display showed the caller as private, a call we usually answer as it could be a family member from out of town as some have unlisted numbers. We received a similar call a couple of nights ago and when my wife picked it up, someone on the other end started laughing at her and hung up. This time my daughter picked up to see if she would get the same caller as last time around. However, this time the caller identified themselves as being with the Ottawa Weed Man service.

Every year we get calls from the Weed Man and every year we tell them we don’t want to enroll in their services or get any type of quote or estimate. These people are relentless and despite being told not to call anymore, continue to do so. How many times can you tell a company representative that you do not want them calling anymore before they actually listen? We have told the Weed Man reps at least seven times in the last month and they still continue to call.

I worked in the call center industry and such activity should not be occurring, especially with the Canadian Do Not Call legislation. You should only have to make the request once for the calls to stop, but Weed Man just doesn’t get it. These directions to continue calling people who request for the calls to stop are coming from upper management in the Weed Man franchises. I’m not sure if the call centers are run by the franchisees or are run regionally or nationally by the Weed Man corporate offices. I believe I’m going to have to contact the owner of the Ottawa franchise directly to request the calls stop as making requests to the phone reps just isn’t working.

This is getting to be harassment and no business should be allowed to continue bothering citizens to utilize their services. Weed Man states that we at one time requested a quote and this is why they continue to call, but this is untrue. Even if we did make a request at one time for a consultation, we are allowed to change our minds about the service at any time. Our phone number is published in the phone book and that is where they found it.

Weed Man is a company that needs to change its practices and stop harassing people with unnecessary phone calls. Also, the phone calls they do make should not be hidden as a private caller to entice people to answer. Previously their calls showed up as the Weed Man on call display so you could ignore it knowing you didn’t want to talk to them. Now they show as an unlisted number which could be anyone, perhaps a family member calling about a family emergency.

GP Joa

Prom Night Murder

As many citizens in Ottawa already know, tragedy struck this past weekend in Ottawa. A student of St. Patrick’s Catholic High School was fatally injured outside the Les Suites Hotel on Besserer Street. The student was enjoying his high school prom prior to being stabbed to death early Saturday morning.

Brandon Volpi was walking back to his hotel with a friend when he was attacked by several young men. The 18 year old was stabbed in the chest and the neck and was rushed to hospital where he died of his injuries.

The problem of swarming in Ottawa appears to be a growing problem. My own son was attacked by several people in a similar fashion about and year and a half ago. He was attacked in a location just a few blocks from where the recent stabbing occurred. In the case of my son, a single person approached him and asked him for a light, to which my son responded by providing a lighter. He was then attacked from behind by several other young men. Had it not been for his size and the quick actions of a by-passer who jumped in to help him, his injuries could have been considerably worse. Subsequent to his attack, he was unable to return to work for several weeks and had to be treated for a blood clot in his leg which was a result from a number of kicks to his knees.

These people participating in these swarms seem to get some kind of thrill out of hurting someone and have no remorse or feelings for the injuries they inflict on others. People who would gang up on someone for the mere thrill of inflicting pain and damage can only be thought of as gutless cowards. I’m sure if they were to go toe to toe with someone on their own they would turn and run; but put a bunch of them together and they are all tough guys.

Hopefully the police are able to apprehend each and every individual that was involved in the death of Brandon Volpi and justice is appropriately served. Each and every one of these individuals should be charged with nothing less than first degree murder as it is clearly obvious that this was premeditated. Even if the person they chose to attack was a random choice, they attacked him and did so with the intent to inflict pain and harm upon him and quite possibly meant for him to die.

We need to get these reckless cowards off our streets and setting some type of deterrent will go a long way to getting that done. Multiple people ganging up on a single individual is probably the most gutless, cowardly act I can think of and there is absolutely no reason for such actions to happen.

GP Joa