Sunday, January 31, 2010

Friday night we had good old deep fried beer battered cod, squid and spuds [potato scallops in the Oz vernacular].


Then yesterday being a snow day it was a good time to knock up a batch of bread and a couple of pizzas with the left over dough.


There seems to be a fine line between what Environment Canada calls a blizzard and just plain old snow and wind.

Friday was a BLIZZARD with snow and winds gusting to 72 clicks.

The Blizzard warning ended yesterday morning but for most of the day we had more snow with winds gusting to 61 but with longer periods and higher sustained winds than Friday. Just saying.



Yesterday was also the first time than an NHL game was broadcast in the Inuktitut language. Fran was switching back and forth between the main CBC national channel [English] and CBC North [Inuktitut].

No matter what language you watched it in Montreal came up short again.


A friend dropped up a nice fresh leg of caribou yesterday too. It will make about four good meals, the first one will be meat cakes, or some call them meat balls or rissoles.

Whatever name you call them when they are made with caribou they are the ultimate.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

That was a fizzer as winter blizzards go, it was a little nasty for a short time and the resulting snow is nice, not too much to shovel at the moment, a little more in the forecast but no big deal.

I am sure the people who had gone into the country hunting also appreciated the storms lack of fury. I know some arrived back around 5 last evening with caribou.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The forecasted snow storm has been working it's way up the coast and arriving here as I write.
Plane just landed, in the nick of time I would think. If you don't here from me for awhile then the towers are down again...........just kidding.

I am also just back from the stores, three time going down to check on the fresh food supplies and finely rewarded.
Some nice looking asparagus, strawberries [don't ask the price] cucumber, lemons, green onions, brussel sprouts. And I just had a call saying that Northern has another delivery on the way up to the store from the airstrip, and Big land has some on another plane if it gets down out of the storm clouds.

Which leads me to say that the delivery of the food by mail is breaking down again just like before. Who's fault it is I have no idea at this time, but if it keeps up this way one will make inquiries sure.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I have received the promised letter from NL Hydro re the estimating leading to some customers being over billed for the month of January; I assume all other customers have received theirs.

Some highlights:

“Immediate steps will be taken to correct the bills and prevent this from happening again”.

“Currently reviewing every residential customers bill in Nain and will apply a credit where applicable. Hydro will redistribute customer’s electricity usage over September to November to align with the First Block of energy usage for each month during this period. Hydro will determine where credits apply and reissue a new electricity bill by the end of January”.

Hydro are also promising to accommodate customers needs if they are finding it difficult to pay the entire revised bill in one go.
They are also revising their estimating procedures and put measures in place to assure accurate estimating of meters as required and make every effort to minimize the frequency of having to estimate meters and the re occurrence of the situation.

I had some nice feed back on the blog from a lady in Edmonton via third hand. Mary is a Nainimuk now living out there and she gets a kick out of the photographs and little bits and pieces of life here now.

I inadvertently hit the reject button on a comment; see below.
Brian: Your photos are amazing. Have you thought about putting together a book of them? They are a glipse into the REAL Nain. Also thought you might like to read a new Blog put together by a young man from here who is travelling Austraila (and the world). "Bobby Sprinkles" Good photos and a read. From Lynne in St. Catharines.


That should have a small minority pulling at their nose hairs, ho ho ho.

Yep, more weather stuff.

Yesterday was a stark contrast to the previous, from walking on wet eggshells to walking on wet soggy marshmallows.


















Took the dog out on the ice for a frolic, one of Siutiks regular play fellows hooked up with us on the way.

I can’t remember ever being ably to stroll along the harbor ice in January in LL beans before.

Meanwhile down in Makkovik they have open water in their harbor; a 91 year old resident said that “the Northern Ranger would have no trouble getting into the dock”.



While out on the walk several planes landed and took off and on arrival back home the hockey helmeted [sans helmets] crowd mentioned in a previous post walked passed in orderly fashion. To the casual observer it looks like there are quite a few ‘independent thinkers’ in this year’s daycare class.


Today we have -17 with wind chills of -26 or so, slightly down from the +2 of yesterday.






Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Warm out yesterday, one fella quipped “this is the third spring we have had this winter”.

Light freezing drizzle had formed a thick crust on the snow, with no sun it did not melt even in the + 5 temperatures.
It was like walking on wet eggshells, safest place was the road where the ski doo tracks had broken the thick crust, venture off the road and it was skate hell, or heaven depending on your skill sets in that area.

Yesterday I was reminded of the communications black out from earlier this month. You see I have this obsession about avoiding interest charges on credit cards if at all humanly possible.

During the black out one of my cards was due for payment so I sent the full amount due by snail mail with a nice little note explaining what had happened and asking for their understanding.

They understood alright, interest on late payment arrived in the latest statement yesterday. It’s not a lot of money but the fact it was not my fault will grate on me.

Actually it was the weathers and Aliant’s fault. In retrospect if you look at the tower that was downed by ice it looks to be a tad overloaded with equipment, I wonder if this played a role in weakening the structure at all.

Which brings me to the point of all this rambling; we have not heard boo from Aliant since the tower down incident, except for December/January statement for phone and internet. Nothing in there like a credit for lost internet time. Perhaps it will be addressed in the February statement, stranger things have happened.

This video below is for Kirk, who has all these modern communications gadgets and uses them extensively to keep in touch with his family and work mates down south.





Tuesday, January 26, 2010

+1 with light drizzle on the 26th January, not right it is. Update, wow +1 to + 5 in three hours, not right it is for sure.


I did not have my camera [darn] but caught sight of the young men parading from the hall to the church yesterday celebrating young men’s day.

On the way home another sight for sore eyes, the kids from the day care going down the road on the back of ski doos and in a komatik [modern version]. All the kids were wearing black hockey helmets, looked real cute especially about 5 black helmeted heads lines up in the komatik.

An update on the Hydro billing issue from CBC Labrador Morning podcast.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A nice January weekend just passed, lot of sun, the wind took the edge off when out in the open but all in all a great one.

There is a warming trend forecast for Tuesday Wednesday; things should be suitably frozen for it not to make travel anymore dangerous.


I happened to see another NL Hydro bill for the month passed [to January 2, same as mine and others].

The difference in this bill was that it was still ESTIMATED, while mine was not.


So we have bills in the month of January that are catching up with past NON readings and that had been ESTIMATED. Bills that are lower than last months. Bills that have 37 days in the month. Bills that are high [due to the 37 day month and are still ESTIMATED, and they are only the ones I am aware of.


Now I know we were told by our MHA on Friday that the whole shemozzle of NL Hydro billing will be revisited and corrections made and apologies given. That said I think things need to go further, I think an independent auditor needs to look at the whole operation of billing policies and procedures, or whatever the appropriate jargon is, at NL Hydro.

On top of the billing problems we are still having many power outages, some short little blips, some up to 20 minutes to half an hour.

The operations of NY Hydro Labrador Division need a good looking into also IMO. After all we were given assurances that were not delivered; mistakes are being repeated to the detriment of the consumer. Not that this has not happened before and was cleaned up for awahile, but to go back to the old ways of the past is just not good enough.

It is the time old negative attitudinal problem that develops within some government departments and even in some private businesses towards the coastal communities and to native communities.

One would have thought with the creation of Nunatsiavut that things would change, not so.

Friday, January 22, 2010

An exceptional approach to the "your package has experienced an exception" sure. Old David did not take too kindly to his jewels being jangled by the look on his face.

Nice sunny day here again, -17 with light winds, great to be alive in it?

The afternoon brings some good news on the NL Hydro billing issue previously mentioned here.

Some nice turn around from my talk with the regional manager for sure, as I have not received anything personally I will have to wait before posting details.

For those that get their nickers in a knot; I take no credit as an individual, it goes to prove my theory that if people get together and lobby from the same play book and with the support of elected representatives change can be made that benefit all.

Update on above; the news has hit the airways courtesy of CKOK radio so here is the gist of what NL Hydro is doing:



* we will send a letter to every customer in Nain tomorrow regarding this issue
* we are reviewing every customer bill and redistributing the energy used over the last four months to more closely line with the life line block of energy for each month. We will issue credits to customers where appropriate based on this redistribution of energy.
* we will work directly with customers to establish an interest-free payment schedule for their Hydro balance

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hard old hit boy, there should not be a cloud over what happens to this bloke, it is clear cut.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A pictorial break from all this [alleged] negativism [for some] of the goings on around town.

Took these shots along the shore of Unity Bay. Gives a reasonable visual of the ice conditions as they stand today.



There have been a couple of guys in town giving some familiarization workshops with council crew on the operation of the snow plough.
After several go a rounds things are looking very good. The roads are smoother and wider now, and speaking for my self much appreciated that’s for sure.

One of the guys has 23 years experience in giving instruction on these types of machines; he said that these conditions are the toughest he has tackled.
Must be all that early snow then thawing and freezing and thawing then drizzle and rain and freezing again.





Finely one of the nice steak meal we had a couple of evenings ago.

I am still a little perplexed by what happened last evening at the community hall.

The public meeting with four provincial ministers was advertised for 7, on arrival outside the hall I was encouraged to see a large contingent of ski doos parked all over the place. Perhaps there is a growing interest in what is going on I thought.

Once inside the porch and glancing into the hall I was greeted with the sight of lots of people and a large projection screen at the front of the hall with the name of a mining company with views of developing a uranium mine near Postville.

“WTF is this” I asked the assistant to our MHA who was standing near the door. “Dunno” was the reply, “but they are just finishing up”.

The finishing up was the traditional [for this company] drawing for door prizes.

Some of the folk then left quietly but many remained for the ministers meet and greet which turned into a more community style meeting with the ministers up front and the audience seated and standing around the room.

After brief introductions and speeches from each minister the floor was open for questions. Silence erupted.

Then the AngajukKak/mayor asked, “Where is our new airstrip”. “Ha ha ha’s” all round at the head table.

“Seriously” said the mayor.

I won’t go into to what next transpired, except to refer you to my previous post.

Next question/questions from a quietly spoken woman who works at the woman’s shelter.

I had trouble picking up some of the discourse between the woman and our MHA, both are low speakers and my hearing could be better for sure. The gist of the questions were something like; concern for the elderly and sick who have no transport to get around town and to medical appointments and to and from the airstrip.

Concern was expressed that there is no shelter or a place for young people to go to when parents are in a domestic abuse situation or just plan drinking all out. With a place for woman to go for shelter and help there is no place to cater for the kids late at night or early morning.

The price of food is very high, the woman said she has trouble purchasing the basics and she has a job, so she felt it would be doubly difficult for fixed and low income people.

The first two questions seemed to catch the four ministers by surprise, some mumblings I did not pick up and referring the woman to the mayor on one issue and the MHA would talk to the lady later on the other.

The price of food question threw any pretence of silence out the window. Nothing was said that has not been said umpteen times on marine shipping [note: that does not address all the reasons for high prices] by both community and government members.

Several retailers gave reasons why the way marine transport is run adds at least 2% to the purchase price. These are all well known and have been constantly pointed out to government.

Several other residents expressed their opinions on any future configurations and what type of vessels required and who should operate them.

Now I am a great advocate of public forums adding greatly to the democratic process, but when they occur once every two or three years it just does not cut it for me personally. There are just too many issues to deal with in a two to three hour meeting. So I departed just after 8 o’clock and headed for home.

One more thing to add; our MHA talked about how she constantly is pointing out to her fellow cabinet member’s issues and concerns pertaining to the peoples of Torngat Mountains. Her fellow cabinet members confirmed this.

I have no reason to doubt that this is so, but the question that comes out of that is; if our member is constantly badgering fellow cabinet members then what does it say about the attitudes of this government towards the North Coast of Labrador considering the deteriorating state of the marine transport for just one case in point.

The minister of transport assured all that things will improve while maintaining the status quo re vessels and operators for next year.

I have since leaned that the meeting wrapped up about 10 PM. The hydro billing issue was raised by a few people.

Yesterday afternoon I managed to make contact with Bill Nippard the manager for Hydro in Labrador.

We had an amicable conversation, albeit a disappointing one from my point of view. Mr. Nippard admitted that Hydro was remiss in not supplying a meter reader in the afore mentioned post. He also admitted that Hydro had not kept its promise of more open and informative communication with the community. Mr. Nippard did not agree with my suggestion that an apology for the latest high January hydro bills should be communicated to the residence of Nain. His rational for that was reasonable from Hydros accounts receivable point of view but not reasonable from a customer relations point of view.

So where to go from here? Our MHA knows about the situation so I await any outcome from that end.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Great day outdoors yesterday, in the – teens and sunny with little or no wind.

Today brings a bunch of provincial ministers to town. A public meeting/meet and greet is scheduled for the town hall at 7 pm.
If history is a guide this will come to naught vis a vis any positive changes, but I don’t mind being proven wrong if indeed something positive does come out of it.
I have some issues to raise, I have already given a heads up to our MHA on the Hydro billing issue, and then there is the ever frustrating and deteriorating marine shipping issue. There should be many complaints on that one, I wonder if they will listen of resort to the time old “yous don’t know nuffin, our people are the experts” spiel.

Then there is the bigger issue of a new airstrip for Nain. Without any interest and backing from the Feds that will go nowhere.

Be interesting to see what else is raised. For inspiration and mental strength in dealing with these issues and the people involved I have dusted off my degree from Wooll-U. That is it on the masthead. If all else fails I can use the boomerang as it was intended.

The suspicious death reported early last week has now turned into a first degree murder charge. People are puzzled why no information has been forthcoming to the community until now, and even now there still is very little.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Had a nice brisk 11/2 hour walk in -32 wind chills yesterday. Helps get the cobweb out that’s for sure.

Looks like will have a chance to replenish our vitamin D deficiencies this week, sunshine all the way through by the looks of it.


I am rabid with NL Hydro with their lack of respect and penny pinching ways. Below is a draft of a letter to Hydro I am working on, I hope it is self explanatory, if not tell me, of course any expletives will be edited out………………………or not.

Back in late 2008 and early 2009 our Hydro meter readings were estimated over several months. This led to Hydro low balling for those readings for those several months which led to a very high reading in the month of January, hence a high bill to pay when a readier actually read the meter come January 2009.

When I received the January 2009 bill I questioned it with Hydro and was told, “Well, the estimates were taken from previous years reading and you have to pay because that January reading is the actual hydro usage”.

OK, I gave Hydro the benefit of the doubt considering the rebuild of the plant after the fire and things were in some turmoil.

Fast forward to late 2009 and early 2010: October, November and December hydro bills were estimated again. Why is a mystery as the weather sure was not a factor. I did not raise this with anyone as I decided to see where this negligence would lead.

Well it has led to a January 2010 bill three hundred dollars plus more than any monthly bill to date.

The previous three months estimated bills were low balled way lower than the previous years low balling.

This is blatantly unfair to consumers hitting them with these high bills straight after Christmas, add to that you are hit with penalties if you do not pay in full by the cut off date, add to that the January 2 2010 bill is calculated as having 37 days. This adds to more KWH use at the highest rate of 10.303 cents a KWH.

My question to Hydro and to anyone who will listen will be; why have these months been estimated for two straight years instead of actually being read? Why can’t Hydro have a meter reader on staff? At least part time to do the reading. Why does Hydro depend on present staff that are doing other jobs to do the readings? Why does Hydro send out very high bills to its customers the month after Christmas?

To give an idea of the low balling I have mentioned:

October 09 usage was 1062 KWH. November 09 usage was 1312 KWH

October 10 usage was 715 KWH November 10 usage was 715 KWH

December 09 usage was 1803 KWH

December 10 usage was 715 KWH


There seems to be a pattern there eh?

Some lazy barstard has not even bothered to look back at past usage to do the ESIMATING for the last three bills. A constant 715 KWH for those months just does not remotely correlate with reality.


This negligence and incompetence has resulted in a January reading of 4017 with a $ value of over five hundred bucks. Not nice for anyone to have to bear at this time of year. Especially very hard for people on a fixed income. Doubly hard if people on low incomes or assistance are to be stuck with these high bills when it is due to the incompetence of Hydro.

Another thing that is troubling; on the hard copy of the bills we receive from Hydro the KWH used is preceded by the previous reading and the present reading. So people could be excused for thinking that since it is there in black and white [see charts below] that that is what has been used for the previous month. Not so it seems.

We trust Hydro to read the meters correctly and bill us accordingly, looks to me that trust has been breached and people should be warned to read there meters themselves to keep a check in things.


1

Head Office: 500 Columbus Drive, PO. Box 12400, St. John's, NL, A1 B 4K7, Toll-free 1-888-737-1296

HST # R121394928

METER

PREVIOUS

PRESENT

DAYS

PREVIOUS

PRESENT

MULTIPLIER

KWH-USED

NUMBER

P47316

DATE

OCT 27

DATE

NOV 26

USE

30

READING

64690

READING

65405

1

715

1


ACCOUNT NUMBER

Head Office: 500 Columbus Drive, P.O. Box 12400, St. John's, NL, Al B 4K7, Toll-free 1-888-737-1296

HST # R121394928

METER

NUMBER

PREVIOUS

DATE

PRESENT

DATE

DAYS

USE

PREVIOUS

READING

PRESENT

READING

MULTIPLIER

KWH-USED


AUG 28

SEP 27

30

63260

63975

1

715





































This usage chart for my account was taken off the Hydro web site. Quite the drematic increase for the past month.



Update at 11.30:
Ran into Harald Paul off the Gypsy Life doing his catching up with mail and such at the post office. All is copacetic with them though he was perplexed as to why it took so long to freeze up.
I said everybody here is as perplexed as you Harald.
They were OK for food but fuel was getting low for the engine and generators.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lucky so far, the blizzard warning has not reached the ferocity predicted. Winds to 87 overnight but dissipated quickly, temps up to -11 then dropped to -17 early morning.

-31 wind chill feels a lot warmer than -39 for sure. Helps with the heating bills, I have a big bitch fest with NL Hydro or Nalcor or whatever it is they call themselves now, pending.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wow, those visuals from Haiti are horrific. Bodies piled up in the streets, some being unceremoniously dumped into rough hewn mass graves.

Badly injured people lying in the streets with what appears to be no medical attention for most.

This is not only a natural disaster; it is a disaster of the poor.

There appears to be very little heavy lifting equipment and I have not seen any teams of rescue experts with sniffer dogs from other countries as yet.


People here are very lucky in the scale of things, makes one wonder even more what these evangelicals that are praying on the unaware and closed minded folk here and the uninformed folk in the south are really all about.


January weather has returned: -22 with wind chill of -39 is considered normal January weather. No news on the Paul’s on Gypsy Life. They are only 15 K from here but it may as well be 15 thousand k. Then again some traveling on the ice should be OK soon.


We installed wireless internet in the house this week, after Aliant had repaired the downed system that is.

A guy staying with us promptly pulled out his Blackberry and started making ‘free’ phone calls to the US [they can be made to anywhere in the world over wireless internet apparently], you learn things every day eh?

Then again if you factor in the cost of the blackberry and the cost of the monthly plan they are not so ‘free’ after all. Still it is sure a handy tool.

Friday, January 15, 2010

No poofters.

I still get a good chuckle out of this skit; actually I still use many lines from it, Bruce, Woolloomooloo University, not so much the no poofter line. Most people don’t have a clue as to what I am speaking about, and that is beauty of it all.

The temperatures are still above the norms but are getting down in the mid to high minus teens, that is good for thickening the ice, but one should still take care.

Word is that our MP was in town yesterday, hugging seniors, giving them rides home from the resource center and stuff like that, as usual nothing substantial.

Not so much a correction than an update: I noticed this morning a notice up on the bulletin board in the post office advising of a round table or some such at the Atsanik Lodge for the evening of the 14th put on by our MP.
The notice was dated the 13th out of the MP’s Ottawa office. It was date stamped the 14th by the post office for posting on the board.
Not very good notice but par for the course up here by politicians and bureaucrats of all stripes. No matter how many times it is pointed out by all and sundry to these people that more notice is needed nothing changes.

Todd is still glad handing it this morning I noticed.



Next week is shaping up to be a busy one; court will be in town, then more politicos.

Word is that 3 to 4 ministers of the provincial crown will be on hand at a public meet and greet. How does the spiel go again? Oh yes, “it will give the new minister [Transport for one] a chance to get a good feel for the place and the people”. Load of hogwash that is.
I would prefer an open public forum where people could speak their minds and for the politicos to sit and listen. Fat chance of that though.