23 Apr 2020

Painting Minis - The Marilith and the Elf

Continued with the Marilith to get a bit further.  First was to fix up the problems with the lower body by adding an extra coat as needed.  I also started to fix a mistake, though another coat may be needed there  Since this is about to get pic heavy, since it involves painting minis, the rest is after the break.

16 Apr 2020

Painting Minis - Finishing Sharkie

It's been a while since I've worked on Sharkie.  I've finished the eyes, teeth, and waves.  I just have the tone wash to go, which can wait for the paint to dry.  Since this is going to be pic heavy, I'll just put a cut here.

10 Apr 2020

Self Isolation

No serials for a while.  Today, though, I want to get a few things off my mind about the self-isolation, physical distancing we need to do to slow the pandemic.

I am naturally an introvert.  Thanks to an incompetent government, I have had extended unemployment where I couldn't afford to go anywhere.  Being alone was something I thought I could do.


Except that I had a social life of sorts, with gaming with friends.  I got out to the library, getting some fresh air and spending time job hunting.  I got out for groceries.

Now?  I'm discovering that I can't completely shut myself in.  I found a good contract, one where the position is considered essential, so I am managing to work.  I was also one of the first to try working from home, and considering that I'm in a call centre of sorts, it's working out better than expected.  The gaming groups are finding a workaround with Tabletop Simulator.  I can order DVDs, books, games, and cushions and have them delivered to me.

I don't have to leave the apartment to work.  I don't have to leave the apartment to game.  I don't have to leave the apartment to shop.

Problem is, I do have to get out to get groceries and do laundry.  I live alone, and if something needs to be done, I have to do it.  And some of my shopping is through just browsing.  I seldom go to a store for DVDs or books or games with a specific title in mind.  I search the racks, looking for something interesting or something I can use for Lost in Translation.  Most of the exercise I get is from walking - to the bus, from the bus, through the building at work during breaks, In the time I've been working from home, the weather has gotten warmer and the ice has melted off the sidewalk.  Walking would've gotten easier.  Instead, I'm cooped up in my apartment.

I need to get out.  Not just for groceries but for exercise.  To be able to keep walkign despite ailments taking advantage of the downtime.  I prefer having a place to go to, but that's not possible now.  Right now, thanks to an old back injury and arthritis, walking around the block leaves me in pain.  That's not good.  But there's no other way to get out.

Time will tell if we ever get back to working in buildings together.  I'm hoping for not too much time.  Turns out, I need some human contact, even if I'm on the periphery of it.

Today, over at Psycho Drive-In, Self-Isolation and Creativity
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Surprise!  It's an Adaptation!

3 Apr 2020

Ottawa's LRT - Still a Mess

Back in June 2019, I worked out how OCTranspo and the City of Ottawa could completely screw up the roll out of the new LRT.  I tend to assume that if there's a way to screw up public transit, OC Transpo will do or has done it.  If there are multiple ways to screw up, OCTranspo will start with the most disruptive way first.  Murphy could learn from OCTranspo.  Go read my original post then come back, or open it in a new tab so you can compare.

1) The 12 days of testing post-handover.  OCTranspo did not have twelve consecutive days of testing.  There was a three day break during the testing around day 8 or day 9, then testing continued instead of restarting from Day 1.  That got the service running in a soft open, where buses ran regular routes alongside the train.  The true opening came at the start of October, where buses no longer ran downtown.

2) Route changes and face planting.  The soft open did well.  Some people tried the LRT, others remained on the buses to see what happened.  The LRT was busy but not crush levels.  No major problems during the soft open.  Once the LRT became the only way to get downtown during rush, problems began.  Overcrowding on the LRT, on the platforms, and on the buses.  Delays came up.  The trains' doors often got stuck open, with passengers being blamed for them being held open.  Definite face planting occurred.  In November, there was an eleven day stretch where over 11 hours of delays happened.  On a system where a five minute delay causes everything to break, having trains out of service threw the entire kit and kaboodle into useless disarray.

3) Winter.  Early November is when winter looms.  End of November, winter has started.  The cold weather caused issues for the tracks.  Switches froze.  Ottawa did not get the weeks of -35 degree Celcius we had the previous two winters.  What we did get is a mix of snow, freezing rain, and rain, with fluctuating temperatures.  One train managed to not only take itself out but also take out the wires above because no one thought to clear the dirt and grime that built up on the train roofs.  At one point, OCTranspo was down to six trains running out of a theoretical 15 (in practice, 13, with two trains on standby, and two other trains that should be there somewhere in the ether), requiring buses to be run downtown.  Again, this is a train that travels mostly outside, and Ottawa gets extreme seasons.

Winter also revealed another problem - the outdoor platforms provide no protection from the elements.  The platforms are great for a spring day, 15 degrees Celsius, partly cloudy with a light wind.  They're not good for -20 degrees Celcius with wind gusts.  Except where there's a bridge over the platform - see Tremblay and Cyrville Stations - people will get rained and snowed on.  There's no shelter, leaving questions about whether the designer had even bothered to check weather conditions in Ottawa.

Bus service has gotten worse.  No one at OCTranspo or the city worked out the math of having 600 passengers every four minutes arriving at stations.  To clear space for the next trainload, and the LRT was running at crush capacity at the beginning, there has to be a way to clear out 600 passengers by bus.  Problem is, OCTranspo cut back on drivers and buses before realizing that there's not enough of either to handle the loads.  New drivers are being hired and trained, but there's not enough buses.  Cancellations and no shows are up from before the LRT opened.

Because drivers are being pulled in to work rush hours, they're too tired to work on the weekends.  Judy Trinh tracked the cancellations, both announced and not, and found that there is a sharp increase.  One Saturday saw 70 announced cancellations and over 210 cancellations total.  Reliability is non-existent.

Austerity costs.  People have lost time and even jobs because OCTranspo cannot get people where they need to go.  I believe I'm allowed a "I told you so!" here.
Really, OCTranspo passengers have told them so.

Stage 2 is starting.  The problems from Stage 1 haven't been fixed yet.  Stage 2 will continue to use the too small, too exposed platforms that were built for Stage 1.  There's no attempt to fix things.  The expansion may be needed, but it needs to be done right, not on the cheap, not using what we know is broken.  But things already look bad, with the roaming SNC-Lavelin scandal striking again, with the company failing the technical portion of the bid but still winning because prices had a higher weight.  Austerity costs, and going cheap means getting cheap and having to pay far more in the long run.

Over at Psycho Drive-In, hiatus week to get ahead on potential reviews.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, creativity in a pandemic.