Electrify the railroad

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Here’s a great article/proposal on the feasibility and advantages of the US electrifying parts of it’s rail system: A synergistic set of solutions to multiple issues focused on Electrified Railroads.  It’s long, with tons of details, and I haven’t yet finished reading all the comments, but I plan to.

Aside from the obvious sustainability advantages they bring up a great point that may help convince the “militarized” US government: electrifying the railroads would create a non-oil strategic backbone transportation system.  The US currently has almost zero non-oil transportation.  When the exponential price curve of peak oil finally sets in, or if there were a massive oil embargo, the US is put into a very awkward position.  If backed into a corner their only choice would be to quickly bomb the crap out of someone to get oil access.  This isn’t a very realistic scenario, however, because the US has enough unwavering oil-supplying allies (like Canada), that their military, at least, could still function indefinitely.  Either way, it’s still a good strategic argument.

Life Changing Event

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The cool new techy gadget I had been waiting (semi)-patiently for since June was the new BlackBerry Bold.  This is by far the coolest BlackBerry yet, mostly due to the beautiful, high-res, screen.  The phone was finally released this past week and my worst nightmare came true: I wasn’t able to get it.

A little backstory: when I signed up my new wireless plan (after leaving RIM, who had provided a phone) with Rogers (Robbers?) 6 months ago I had my own BlackBerry device.  As such, I did not take advantage of a subsidized phone purchase.  In the lead-up to the Bold release I had assumed I would still be eligible for one subsidized/upgrade device purchase.  On the release date I called Rogers to confirm and they said “No, you are only entitled to an upgrade after 12 months, and every 12 months after.”  I calmly explained my situation, which made logical sense, and the guy on the phone became a jackass and replied “Well, every carrier has been like this for as long as I’ve worked in the industry.”

Now, at this point, if Robbers did not have an effictive monopoly in the Canadian market I would have seriously considered paying the cancellation fee and moving to another carrier.  But, alas, they do.  The only other major carrier is Bell but they are CDMA so not a chance.

Further, as badly as I wanted the Bold I would not pay the $700, mostly on principle, but also because I’d kind of feel funny paying that much for a phone.

A few days prior to this a helpful person in a Robbers Wireless store had said “Well if you can’t get the Bold you can get the iPhone 3G at the upgrade price.”  At the time I shrugged it off as blasphemy considering I used to work at RIM.  Now this idea was running around in my head and soon I was getting excited to try it out.  Putting aside my ties to RIM for a minute I was able to see that the iPhone may be a good device for me considering my usage habits.  I was nervous about the touch keyboard but excited for the full-screen device.

I’ve had it for a few days now and Wow is it cool.  The browsing experience is amazing; good enough that I don’t feel the need to move to a computer when I want to check something online.  It has some limitations like no push notifications yet and apps cannot run in the background, but I believe both of those should be fixed soon.

I also can’t wait to try out the full-screen BlackBerry device that shouldn’t be too far off in the future.

Oh, Air Canada


Seems like Mr. Kinsella and I are in agreement on this front: I HATE, HATE, HATE AIR CANADA

Well, maybe not to that degree.  But, it sure felt that way a few Fridays ago when I made my way to Newark, NJ, from NYC, for a flight home only to find out Air Canada canceled it.  NJ and Toronto both had beautiful weather, but of course the reason was “bad weather”.  Further, they couldn’t find a seat on another airline, or any of their own flights later that night.  And, especially “of course”, they wouldn’t pay for the hotel they were forcing me to find since they couldn’t book me on anything until the next morning and the reason was “weather”.

It had been a long time since I had flown Air Canada.  I fly Continental whenever possible and have never been disappointed.  I picked AC this last time, with hesitation, because it was very last-minute and there were no reasonably-priced seats left on Continental.

I will not fly AC again.  This is especially disappointing because I travel to Austin, TX periodically and had been looking forward to a new direct AC flight there from Toronto, as opposed to my one-connection flight on Continental.  However, I will now gladly take the extra connection because spending an extra hour or two traveling is better than not making it home at all.

And, if that were not enough, this was my first trip away from my newborn daughter, and they kept me away from her and my wife for an extra night.

The politics of foreign policy


Comments by Bush on Russia, like that below pointed out by DailyKos, are just so completely frustrating it’s indescribable:

“Russia has invaded a sovereign neighbouring state…. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century…. We have no doubts about it. This is a deliberate attempt to destroy an entire country and change the regime.”

Quote from here.

I won’t try to dissect their logic, as that’s pointless.  However, does no one on their team understand why other countries don’t consider them good-faith partners in foreign policy anymore?  To say something like this, which is word for word what they did to Iraq, is insulting.  I’m sure they could have said something less hypocritical.

Discussing Sustainability

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Over at YouSustain we have added a discussion forum area.  We’re excited to see what interesting things there will be to discuss.  Come on over and put in your 2 cents or ask a question!