Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Manitoba Links Weekly: Merchandisin', Museums, Mayoral Candidates, and in Transconan Winnipeg, Crow Eats You (ManLinkWeek 37)

Geez, how are we already almost halfway through 2012? Time flies when you're gainfully employed, I suppose.

Before we begin:

The above video was emailed to me yesterday morning by a reader; it isn't specifically Manitoba related, but you all know how much I love maps, so here's a neat look at the lengths cartographers went to back in the pre-computer, strangely-Chevrolet-heavy days of yore. (via) I've coincidentally been considering putting up a ManLinkWeek suggestion box, or some similar concept, for a while now; remind me to get back to that later.

Also, in not-specifically-Manitoba-related preamble: if you haven't poked around your Facebook profile settings in a while, you, uh, you may want to look into that.

But enough talk! Have at ManLinkWeek:

[CBC Manitoba: Angry birds halt mail in Winnipeg neighbourhood]
[Metro Winnipeg: Violent crows make delivering mail in Winnipeg a horror story]
Well boy oh boy, I can't wait to get th'old Amazon package in! Got a good deal on a full season of the Murphy Browns, I sure look forward to AUGH JESUS ACK BIRDS AUGH, ACKPTH THEY'RE IN MY HAIR THEY'RE IN MY HAIR OH GOD GET THEM AWAY GET THEM AWAY

Yes, if you'll pardon me the pun, there has been something of a flap (wackity schmackity doooo~) recently over the violent takeover of an otherwise peaceful Transconan street by aggressive crows. The operating theory at first was that the crows were terrorizing the neighbourhood as a preemptive strike to protect their young chicks, but according to the most recent news reports the young can fly and are now joining in the attacks, so maybe the takeaway here is that crows are just dickheads.

If I may, I'd like to advance a potential solution; it is largely non-invasive, may help calm the tension in the neighbourhood, and involves activities that a lot of Winnipeggers involve themselves in already. As I'd mentioned last week, I was at the Red River Ex with a group of friends when the Sheepdogs performed, and shortly after the performance started the entire area smelled like a grow op had caught fire. What I had failed to mention last week about that concert was that, high above the exhibition mainstage, there was a single crow flying around -- and that single crow was observed to spend the rest of the event circling around aimlessly and not accomplishing much of anything, so we came to the collective conclusion that, man, that crow must be baked.

(If you're having a bad day and you need something to lighten your mood, lean back in your chair for a moment and imagine a stoned crow trying to follow the lights on a ferris wheel.)

Now, whatever else that crow ended up doing at the Ex -- squawking at nothing, picking at carnival leftovers to sate its munchies, looking at its feet (I mean really looking, man), getting bear-sprayed -- it certainly did not end up divebombing anyone, or we'd have all heard about it. So! Hereby I propose that concerned residents could band together on a volunteer basis to form a task force of weed-smokers -- a Transcona Tetrahydrocannabinol Troupe, if you will -- and satiate the air with enough marijuana smoke to distract and calm the otherwise bloodthirsty and unmanageable crow population. Volunteers should also be outfitted with Manitoba Conservation's recommended safety equipment, and I am not making this up, "a hat with large eyes painted on the back of the hat"; it is alleged that a sober, straight-edge crow will refuse to attack someone wearing such a hat because it could be mistaken for an alert predator, and I expect as well that stoned crows (and stoned humans, for that matter) would find the hats far too captivating to properly focus instead on attacks and stuff.

(While I'm at it: "Hat with large eyes painted on the back of the hat" sounds like something that would be banned from a Bomber game.)

As I'd said, of course, this plan does not differ dramatically from what was probably already going to happen in the area -- so it'll be interesting to see if the avian antagonism abates any after, say, this upcoming Long Weekend.

[West End Dumplings: Stuff about museums and historic sites]
This week's episode of Winnipeg Internet Pundits, I must unfortunately report, has been cancelled due to a pinkeye outbreak. (No, really.) But here's one of the interesting starting points from last week, a rumination on the local state of affairs for our civic history and the preservation of locally significant artifacts.

[CJOB: Winnipeg exploring pedestrian countdown signals]
[Winnipeg Free Press: City's first pedestrian countdown signal slated for Portage Avenue]
[Metro Winnipeg: Pedestrian countdown signals coming to Portage Avenue]
[Winnipeg Cat: June 26th, 2012]
Hey, better twenty years late than never! I'm actually legitimately excited about these, which should tell you how low I have my standards set for progress in this city, but at least it's something. And pedestrian countdown timers coincidentally also improve driver safety decisions significantly, a not inconsiderable benefit with drivers like ours.

But I'm doing my best to not get my hopes up too high; the City apparently somehow managed to install 'new' traffic-control signal software that can't even handle these timers, which is just, I don't, I can't even. How? Who even signed off on that? Nobody involved with the decision, in any way, ever looked at the feature list and noticed anything amiss? I just-- what is-- rrrrrrrrrrr


[The Winnipeg RAG Review: Please, Winnipeg, don't kick yourself in the face again!]
Well, congratulations to Sam Katz for winning the 2014 election, I guess.

Winnipeggers, as much as they enjoy complaining (at length!) about their civic decisionmakers, are a famously docile and spineless lot when the opportunity to enact change actually presents itself. I know I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: the last time that Winnipeggers voted a seated Mayor out of office, Louis St. Laurent was the Prime Minister of Canada, Doris Day had just recorded "Que Sera, Sera", and Elvis Presley made his first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The last time Winnipeggers voted a seated Mayor out of office, Harvey Smith was nineteen years old. That is how long ago it was.

A lot can happen in the next two years, of course; the possibility still exists that Katz may indeed leave at the end of this term, as he'd initially claimed he would. That would then open the lane for Councilors Swandel and Fielding to both run as Mayoral candidates, each effectively erasing the other from contention because the voters would consider them essentially interchangeable. Unless of course the civic left splits itself, too, remembering how well things turned out the last time it backed a single candidate, and in that case the whole bracket just goes kaplooie and Dave Angus or whoever ends up running the joint. We'll just have to wait and see! I, for one, approach politics wholly as entertainment, and I say that as somebody with a legit degree in Political Studies.

Of course, I realize this also means that I'm willing to put up with politics far longer than most people. So thank you for your patience! Let's move to SPORTS:

[ Buck’s BBQ Chips Tasty for a Charitable Cause]
[ Blue Bombers-Branded Stamps Going on Sale]
Well, after the unpleasantness and trainwrecks of the past few we...months, I'm pleased to note that there's finally some good news on the Blue Bomber front! Is it that the repayment plans for the new stadium are fiscally sound and safely covered? Well, no. Is it that the team has finally solved its longstanding, Sisyphean struggle with field goals? lol, of course not. Is it that running back Chris Garrett is set to put up a stellar season for the Bombers, following his revelatory breakout last year? Not, uh... not so much. (:\)

So what is the good news? As Mel Brooks' Yogurt once put it -- merchandisin'! ("Blue Bombers, the license plate! Blue Bombers, the scratch-lotto! Blue Bombers, the COW-BELLLLLLL!" CLANK CLANK CLANK CLANK CLANK CLANK "The kids love this one.") Starting quarterback and not-quite-yet-restaurant-owner Buck Pierce will appear on bags of barbeque chips across the city, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. That's good! That's a good thing to do. And, hey, when the Bombers inevitably futz their way to a team-record-tying twenty-second season without a championship, True Blue devotees will be able to eat their sadness while still remaining on-brand.

I wanted to joke about how this will also mean all non-Bomber BBQ chips will be banned from the Stadium, but the organization has already banned all outside food, and I didn't see other-brand BBQ chips sold at the game last week, so... I guess reality beat me to the punchline on this one. Man, I hate it when that happens.

As for the other product, part of a full CFL line: I send maybe two letters a year, so I don't even know what to tell you about the stamps. And when I say "stamps" I mean postage stamps, not the Stampeders, lest anybody assume that I'm trying to go Ron MacLean with it. You never go the full MacLean.

"A good tip for all you letter Riders, just in case anyone Esks -- you want your Stamps up on the top right, but not overlapping your Lions. So if the name on the letter ends in an R, make sure you're careful where your Argos. Back after this!"

(If you're curious: going the full Cherry involves an easter-egg-patterned site background and eight straight pages of "TEHRANNA TEHRANNA TEHRANNA TERHANNA" in seventy-point Comic Sans.)

[Winnipeg Downtown Places: 375 York - The Winnipeg Convention Centre]
[Winnipeg Free Press: Governments commit to fund expanded convention centre]
Here's what we know about the Convention Centre expansion: which parking lot it's supposed to go in, and how much government money it's getting. Here's what we don't know about the Convention Centre expansion: what it will actually look like, how much it will actually cost (the closest they've come to an estimate is a $20-million window, because what's $20 million here or there), the identity of the private partner that will actually benefit from this tri-government funding, and whether the expansion even actually makes sense to begin with. Sounds great! Here's $149 million.

I'm not saying I'm necessarily for or against the expansion (although I'm certainly for wiping out the surface lot), but yikes, could you guys at least pretend you've heard of transparency before? The fastest way to sour an assumably good thing is to look like you're hiding something, and the way to not look like you're hiding things is to not hide things.

"Give us your money." "What are you going to do with it?" "You'll see when you give us your money." "Okay, but what are you going to do with it?" "Shut up and give us your money." "Okay!" urghhhhhhhh

[Residential Architect (The American Institute of Architects): 15 young firms to watch: 5468796 architecture, winnipeg]
I still can't recite the firm's name off by memory -- a skill, I'm sure, that counts as a merit badge on the sash of local urbanism -- but 5468796 Architecture has cracked the 15 Young Firms to Watch list of the American Institute of Architects, and I learned no fewer than three new things from reading the writeup therein. So give it a look! It's nice for our fair city to get some national and international exposure that doesn't involve serial killers, mass bird attacks, bus beheadings or goalie contracts.

And on that note:

[shazayum9006 YouTube: Blue Skate Tournament 1992: R.A. Steen vs. Macdonald (via Witchpolice)]
"With play by play for some reason", the description notes.

The Jets locked up Pavelec! The Winnipeg Twitterverse exploded with complaints, because Winnipeg, but the market for goalies was otherwise ghastly (Dan Ellis? Alex Auld? Ty Conklin?) and the Pavelec contract costs less than a lot of really suspect goaltenders (Marc-Andre Fleury? Ilya Bryzgalov? Rick DiPietro?), so I thought -- from an armchair-GM perspective, of course, and the rest of you who own NHL 12 can back me up on this -- I thought the signing was a smart decision.

But all of that, of course, will be moot for the next fifteen months if another lockout happens. So the video link above may not be exactly what you need now, but I'm linking it here just in case fall rolls around and you need your hockey fix. Keep it in mind! You never know.

Thank you for reading ManLinkWeek! With Canada Day looming, you're sure to hear from me sooner rather than later; until then, true believers!

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