Fifteen Years

Back on August 1, 2002 I made the 4,880km trek from Hamilton, Ontario to the west coast city of Richmond, British Columbia, just a stone's throw from Vancouver. The move came at a time when I was under an extreme amount of stress in both my personal life and professional. The move from one side of Canada to the other was my way to run from all the problems, lay low for a while, and make a new me. A lot of mistakes were made, many of which resulted in regrets that persist to this day. But a lot of good came from the move as well. I learned who I was and, more importantly, who I wasn't.

The first few weeks were rough. Very rough. I thought I might end up homeless due to my arrogance and over-confidence.

You see, I decided to move across the country on Friday July 26th. On Saturday, I went to work, did what I needed to do, and then drove off to see my step-father and let him know of my plans. He didn't completely approve, but he understood and wished me luck. That night I began clearing out my apartment by tossing things from the fire-escape into the dumpster below. Sunday I bought a plane ticket for an August 1 flight, and afterwards continued clearing out the apartment with the help of some friends. Anything they didn't want, we tossed. One difficult item to lose was my computer at the time. I had invested over $8,000 into it at that point, and it was simply too large and fragile for me to carry it across the country. As I didn't have an address in Richmond, yet, there was nowhere to send it to. I had to let it go. Monday through Wednesday went by in a blur. I went to work, did what needed to be done, but kept my departure secret as the boss had one heck of a temper. I couldn't tell him becuase I was a coward.

The whole move was cowardly, really.

During the evenings I would go online and look for work in the Vancouver area. There was a lot of opportunity from the looks of the help wanted ads, and I got in touch with a company that was in the same line of work I was doing in Ontario; appliance repair. The role they needed to fill required a person with several years of experience who could tell the difference between a Maytag, Whirlpool, Frigidaire, and Bosch component at a glance. I could do that. We had a telephone interview and asked if I could start on August 1st. My response? "I'd love to, but I'm flying to Vancouver that day. Could I start on the 2nd?"

They were surprised that I was moving across the country and applying for a job that paid $10 an hour. I don't blame them. In retrospect, I'd be surprised, too. They asked me to call them when I landed and I hung up the phone confident I had gainful employment lined up. Finding an apartment was more complicated, as I didn't know the area, but I knew I needed to be in Richmond. Every place I called wanted me to come in beforehand, so I decided to wait until I was in the province to look for a place to stay, confident there would be a home waiting for me.

Wednesday night I went to visit my step-father one last time to thank him for everything he'd done, give him the keys to the office1, and chatted about what the future might have in store. The next morning a friend of mine came to pick me up in the early hours of the morning and we drove up to Toronto where I'd catch my flight. My heart was beating hard the whole time as visions of consequences played out again and again.

The move had to go on, though. I could not turn back.

After checking in and confirming everything was good, my friend and I shook hands. I walked towards the security gates, and he went back to his car. Though we'd see each other again, our relationship would not be the same. My relationship with everyone in Ontario would never again be the same. I was leaving everyone and everything, both the good and the bad, to forge ahead on a fool's errand.

Welcome to Vancouver

The flight across the country was rather uneventful. No turbulence. No weather to avoid. The passengers — to the best of my recollection — were all well-mannered individuals. After landing, everyone clapped and we eventually got to leave and collect our bags. One of the first things I did after picking up the two pieces of luggage that contained the last of my belongings was buy a newspaper. While I was confident I had work, I needed to find a place to sleep. I had enough money on me to stay a week at a motel if needs be, but cash was not something I had a great deal of nor access to.

The first few places I called all had the same story. A tenant was found a day or two before, and I'd have to look elsewhere. Eventually I did find a place that was renting a room for $400 a month, and that seemed decent. While shared accommodation is not always ideal, it is relatively cheap. The woman who answered the phone invited me to see the small apartment and gave me the address. Soon after, I was on my way to catch a taxi.

Interestingly enough, when I gave the taxi driver the address I wanted to go to, he started asking me detailed questions. "Where is that? Over by number three? Number four?" I had no idea what he was talking about and said as much, which is not what he wanted to hear. In a huff he grabbed his mapbook and looked it up. "Four and Francis" he scowled, and I repeated it to myself a dozen times so that I'd not make the same mistake again.

After a short 10-minute ride, we arrived at the house and I knocked on the door. A short woman came out and started apologizing profusely in a language I didn't understand. Her son soon followed her out and said that the room had been taken the day before. However, if I didn't mind staying in their part of the house, they'd rent me a room they weren't using anymore for $425 a month, a little more than the room offered in the paper. Not wanting to start the house search over again, I accepted the offer and moved in. The son and I quickly became good friends.

Later that afternoon I called the appliance repair shop I'd spoken to earlier that week to let them know I was in the province, had found a place, and was ready for an interview or to start work as soon as the next day. Unfortunately, they hired someone in the few days since my call. I was now back to square one on employment.

For the next seven weeks I looked for work as though my life depended on it … because it did. I stopped spending money. I walked everywhere to keep the $2 fare for food. I grabbed old newspapers out of the garbage to look at the Help Wanted section. My prepaid phone was fast running out of minutes, but I needed to make calls. In desperation, I called my step-father and asked for some money. He came through the very next day and I was able to eat for the first time in 3 days. As the job search went on, I started eating once every four days. Then five …

I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. The body does some strange things when you go from 232 pounds down to 173 in the space of five weeks. Strange … awful things.

My clothes were all a hundred sizes too big for me. My belt needed new holes to keep my huge pants up. I didn't want to call Ontario for help again. My ego wouldn't allow it. I knew my bank had given me a $1000 buffer with ATM deposits, and I was seriously considering depositing a napkin with an IOU and risking the wrath of the bank for a few measley dollars … but decided against it. That wasn't who I wanted to be.

On a sunny day in mid-September I received a phone call. A printing company in town needed warehouse staff for their busy season, and they were paying $8.75 to start. I jumped at the opportunity, had an interview I found confusing and repetitive, and was awarded a 4-month contract. My shift would be 6am to 2pm Monday to Friday, with occasional weekends if I agreed. I was so incredibly happy …

The work was not easy. I'd lost a lot of weight. Working in the warehouse meant moving pallets of paper that could weigh anywhere between 300 and 4,500 kilograms. I wasn't certified to use the forklift, so that meant using a pallet jack and physical labour. When a person eats every day, this isn't too hard to accomplish. When a person eats the equivalent of a peanut butter sandwich every 5 days, and walks the 4 kilometers to work then again back home every day … even a medium-sized load is a bit too much to bare.

But I persevered. One week later on a Friday, I was called over to recieve my first paycheque only to discover that there was a mix-up. It hadn't been printed. "If you could wait until Monday …" the manager started, but I'd gone too long without food at that point. I didn't want to go three more days. Rather than ask me to wait, we went to the office and had someone write a cheque. $173.74 it came out to, and to this day it's the biggest paycheque I've ever received. Not in terms of dollars and cents, but value. I valued every last penny. I bought some food. I bought $10 in phone minutes to call my family. I bought a pair of pants that fit.

Over time, that temporary job would become permanent as I started writing software to help me do my job better. That caught people's attention and, eventually, I was put in charge of the warehouse and a small team. A year later I was moved to logistics, and six months later to IT. My entire five year stay on the west coast of Canada was paid for by working at that company, and I'm still thankful for every opportunity they offered … and the ones they forgave me for manufacturing.

Fifteen years ago I left Ontario a scared, scarred boy who didn't know anything about the world or himself. The five years in British Columbia, while not always easy, prepared me for what came next ….

  1. we worked at the same place, and I had a set of keys.

She's No Titanic, But Just As Memorable

While attending elementary school I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation by a robotics engineer from the University of Toronto. The year was 1987 and, despite the limited computing technology available at the time, he was very optimistic about the future and what machines could do for us going forward. Nine other people spoke that day about their careers and how important it was to study various subjects, but his 15 minute presentation was chiseled into my young mind and its left a strong mark ever since. Not a week goes by where I don't think about the topics he discussed or his enthusiasm for the field.

The following year my school was blessed with, what they called, a computer lab. Ten computers connected to a big beige box in a stuffy, small room with coaxial cable to serve over a thousand students across ten grade levels. Most of us had just two hours in that first year to sit down and use these magical machines to play games in the name of education. The games always had a purpose, of course, and my favorite was one involving the construction of a robot that had to win a race. My friends and I worked together to determine the best combination of components for the machine, which was relatively easy, but then came the hard part: "programming" it.

The thought of programming was still foreign to my 8 year old mind, but the concept was not. Using a set of simple mathematical equations, we had to tell the robot to move its legs a certain distance at a certain speed in such a way that it didn't fall over. Twenty minutes of equation hacking produced the best results, and our robot not only won the race, but it was the only one to cross the finish line. This might not seem like much, but it taught me the importance of mathematics and how something that seems as simple as walking (which is not simple at all) can be described in numbers.

Fast forward 15 years, some friends and I would spend entire paychecks on radio controlled devices. Cars, boats, submarines, and planes. We had them all. We started small, but eventually worked with the less amateur machines. With the emergence of (what seemed like) portable technologies, we started modifying these expensive toys to include items like cameras, WiFi or Bluetooth transmitters, cell phones for extended wireless communication … you name it, we did it. At one point we had built a model plane with a one-meter wingspan that was semi-autonomous. Inside the fuselage rested a Palm Tungsten PDA connected to a Motorola cell phone that was programmed to take over should communications with the flight control computer be lost. GPS was available at the time, but the weight and expense was just a bit too much for a group of young hobbyists. That said, a digital camera was mounted up front to snap pictures every few seconds, and the unit had a maximum flight distance of about 5 km when carrying 2.3 kg of electronics.

The hobby was put on hold, though, after some of the local authorities started paying attention to this weekend fun. It seems that people were nervous about autonomous flying vehicles in 2003, and it was certainly understandable. Autonomous flying vehicles were typically referred to as missiles, so we had to limit our fun to the simpler planes. Not being one to simply walk away from something involving thousands of hours, dollars, and tiny triumphs, I instead focused my energies on the next stage; submarines.

"But wait," you say. "If a plane with a PDA is called a missile, wouldn't a submarine with the same be called a torpedo?"

Tungsten SubYou'd think so, but the Canadian authorities seemed to have less of a problem with this. For six months work on a semi-autonomous sub took up almost every spare moment. It was my responsibility to develop the software that would be used to control the device while it was incommunicado, but there was going to be something different about this project. Unlike the planes that would fly around snapping pictures for fun, the submarine was going to focus on accomplishing simple "missions". We needed a way to give the system a set of goals, and the ability to carry out those goals when it couldn't communicate with us. The first goal: to plant a flag at a specific location.

GPS doesn't work underwater, so this wasn't going to work. The same is said for most radio transmissions. So how the heck were we going to plant a flag at a specific location?

A friend suggested we drop a small device that would beep every few seconds, and the sub would listen for the sound. We learned quickly enough that this wasn't the best solution, but it certainly let us begin on the project. In the fall of 2004 we successfully tested the sub in a pool. Two weeks later we trialled the system in the ocean … and never heard from the sub again.

The software would have forced the machine to give up on its mission after a certain amount of time and resurface. If it couldn't contact the control laptop with its WiFi transmitter, then it would send a message through the included cell phone. No message was ever received. No trace of the machine could be found …

… until recently.

It seems a friend of mine in Richmond never stopped looking for our little project and discovered it off the shores of Richmond about 250 meters from where the beacon was dropped. He sent me a message this past weekend with the news. The electronics, while deprived of power, are surprising still usable as the sealed compartment held for years, though the software is long gone. The Tungsten T PDA didn't have persistent memory, and would not run software off the SD card.

Our ultimate goal with our hobby was to start a business developing autonomous devices that would be used, hopefully, to explore the depths of the oceans and the far reaches of space. Unfortunately, after losing the test sub, our group of geeks lost interest and started thinking more about the jobs they had than the jobs they wanted. One by one, people said they were too busy to meet up on weekends, and the projects were eventually shut down.

A shame, really. But these things happen. I've asked for some pictures of the sunken sub and will post them up upon receipt.

Wonder what the six of us would be up to now had we kept going ….

Neighbourly Actions

In the Broadway show "A Streetcar Named Desire", there is a song titled "A Stranger's Just A Friend You Haven't Met." This seems to fit in with the small adventure I had after venturing to the local Starbucks after dinner.

While in line, a man was ahead of me with his notebook asking one of the baristas (Jennifer) if he could connect to the Hot Spot that was advertised. Unfortunately, the signal has been down for a few days, and the provider had not yet come to fix it. After learning that the man wanted to confirm that his computer did not have any problems connecting to the internet, I invited him to my home, where he could check out whatever he needed.

As expected, his computer worked just fine on my network.

I learned that a tech support person with his internet provider had tried to blame the extended outtage on this man's computers and network hardware. What didn't add up was the number of computers that were affected, as well as the timing when they all failed. Thinking this might be a similar issue to what I faced with Telus a few weeks ago, I mentioned a few of the possible scenarios.

So we decided to head to his home in an effort to put an end to his problem. After all, a Canadian home just can't be without internet. It's a crucial utility for most of us, now.

After checking that his modem and router were fine, we checked the network's ability to ping an outside site. When that failed, I changed the DNS servers to those offered by great people at OpenDNS. After this change, we had internet again!

Kinda …

It seems that the change had occurred within a slight window of network operation. For two hours we checked and rechecked everything with only occasional success. After changing the DNS servers back to Shaw's defaults (in order to check Shaw's mail servers), we were no better off. So, after it was all said and done, I could not solve their problem … Shaw will need to step in.

I can really sympathize with these people. They've been in this home for only a short while, and the internet is a crucial part of their livelihood. I become incredibly frustrated and irritable when my internet is only remotely acting up, and downright upset when it fails altoghther (my landlords can vouch for this, as they've heard my shouts), so I can understand their frustration with the situation.

But in every dark could, there is a silver lining. The good things that came out of this chance occurrance was the ability to meet some great new people, and help provide some context on what the problems could be (it's not always a customer's fault, Shaw). I really hope that their connection problems can be made a thing of the past, considering how friendly and courteous they were despite these issues.

What to Do About Homelessness

Today I was in Downtown Vancouver with some friends, and a common scene played out before me: the poor and destitue were asking for spare change, or a meal.

Homelessness is something I've thought about for quite some time. What can societies do to help prevent this from happening?

There are lots of programs available to help people who have nowhere else to go, but there are many homeless who will not take part in these programs for various reasons. Before living on the streets becomes necessary, people usually have the ability to find work one way or another … even if it's with a temp agency doing terrible jobs for minimum wage. Anything to keep rent paid and a meal in the stomach is better than the streets.

I've come very close to being on the street before. When I moved to BC several years ago I ran out of money and had no work and no leads. I knew nobody and was 2 weeks overdue with the rent payment for my one room in a family's home. I could have called home and asked for help (again), but my pride wouldn't let it happen. I vowed that if I completely ran out of money, I would walk back to Ontario.

They say that pride is the sign of a foolish man. After that experience, I agree.

Since that time, I've often given some money to homeless individuals or taken them to Subway or some other place for a quick meal. I've been in a position where the smell of food was enough to make you both incredibly hungry, and incredibly ill. These people are humans, just like the rest of us. Though I may not understand why some don't try to get off the street, I can't ignore them completely.

So this makes me wonder: What can we do?

Money isn't the answer. "Affordable Housing" might make things easier for many of the homeless, but doesn't solve the underlying problems. I don't think education is a valid option unless these people had food, shelter and clothing first. So what could trigger a large group of these people to come in off the streets and try to build a better life for themselves?

Some people have told me that the homeless are that way because they want to be that way. Maybe this is true for some, but not for all. I've spoken with a few, and these are people that had some terrible habits that they can no longer afford, with lives and families that they lost because of these habits. I'm sure that given the opportunity, at least some will take the offered hand and rebuild from nothing.

Of course the method for this isn't exactly clear. There is no single solution. Perhaps I should talk to a few of the local ones and see what I can do, helping one person at a time.

At Telus, "Enhanced" Means "Less Reliable"

I've had the Telus Enhanced 1.5 DSL service since March 2005, and it's shared across a few PCs. On a good day, the maximum download speed would be around 140 KB/s, and it would usually average around 80 KB/sec unless I was getting the latest episodes of Daily Show and Colbert Report (my fastest downloading Torrents). This package has certainly had it's problems over the last year and a half as my landlord and I share this connection, and we both love to download (only about 10% of what we download is of similar interest, and these files are often put on a single networked storage device so we don't double-download).

Two weeks ago I noticed that the Enhanced 2.5 DSL package cost the same as my current service, and was being offered for $10 less for the first six months. Considering that my landlord and I had been fighting each other quite a bit that week regarding bandwidth usage and who could use how much during what times of day, this was a perfect solution. Although it would only be an extra 1 Mbit of bandwidth, that translates into roughly 120 KB/sec throughput.

I couldn't refuse, and signed up for that package.

The service was active less than 24 hours later, and I was thrilled to see my downloads were moving not twice, but three and a half times faster than they had been previously. My landlord reported that their internet experience was remarkably better even when downloading large files, and we were all happy. Alas, it was not to last.

Three days later, the internet speed dropped to about 40 KB/sec and stayed at that level for almost a whole week. This is a painful speed for anyone that has to share a network connection with someone who wants to see everything on 4chan. On a Sunday our connection started working properly again, and we were able to download at several hundred K per second. I thought that perhaps there was an upgrade going on at the local switching terminal, but no … because two days later the net connection dropped once again to 40 KB/sec.

According to Telus, there's nothing wrong with the switching station, and nothing wrong with their hardware. They want to send a technician over to my home to examine this, but I'll be charged $100 if they don't find anything. More often than not, I'm charged this amount because the technician doesn't find anything seriously wrong at any given time. Of course to add insult to injury, last Saturday the internet went out completely for about an hour and a half. From what I could gather at the time, the DNS servers not only slowed down, but died completely.

One of the things that has always bothered me is the amount of time it takes to load web pages. Even at 40 KB/sec, it shouldn't take 10 to 15 seconds to load a simple HTML document without any PHP, Javascript or what-have-you. This is typically due to DNS issues for sites that don't have heavy traffic demands. To test this, I switched my primary and secondary DNS servers to the OpenDNS servers.

What a difference.

Within the space of an hour I had noticed that all the sites I typically visit would load quite a bit faster, and several of the issues I had experienced with MSN Messenger and Java-rich websites had gone away. Unfortunately, this doesn't really solve my problems. My net speed is still terribly inconsistent. Some days I'm fortunate to get 100 KB/sec bandwidth capacity, and others I'm reduced to near-dial-up. I'm almost afraid of what the service will be like in a few weeks when all those new gifted computers come online with Windows Vista.

Vista will be hitting the DNS servers twice as hard as the current computers. With the wide-scale deployment of IPv6, Vista will be sending two requests whenever looking up a website or other internet address. If Telus can barely handle the traffic they have now, how will they handle this substantial load increase?

Sure, Vista will not be widely deployed for another 8 months to a year … but will Telus, a massive telecommunications corporation be ready in time? Considering their track record, I don't think so.

Prove me wrong, Telus. I don't mind.

The Power of Mutual Friendships

Today I ventured back to the city of North Delta in an effort to work out some sort of payment structure with the client I wrote about two days ago. In order to do this, I had to leave work early and catch the guy before he left for the day at 4 pm. This shouldn't have been too difficult.

However when I got to the store, his car was not outside. This wasn't a good sign. Since I was in the area anyways, I decided to go inside and see whether he might have just taken something else to work. Who I found inside, though, caught me by surprise.

An old friend of mine who had moved to Yemen two years ago was inside talking to the store owner (the one that I came to meet). Upon seeing me, Ahmed (my friend from Yemen) burst into a huge smile and greeted me loudly. The store owner, upon seeing this, changed his demeanor almost instantly on seeing this. We all chatted for roughly half an hour before Ahmed had to leave, and then afterwards the store owner and I got down to business. He mentioned that he's had some difficulties lately, and wanted to work out a payment plan.

Music to my ears.

This is going to save me so much time and hassle, as I was about to get the ball rolling to have others collect the debt for me. I managed to get three cheques (two post-dated to next year), and we worked out an understanding that once the second cheque cleared, I would give him another temporary licence with his software. Once the third and final cheque cleared, I would unlock his application completely.

It's amazing what happens when two people know others in the same community. Fearing that I might tell Ahmed or others in the area about his debt-skipping, this client was more than willing to work something out like a rational human. This was much better than the "Get the hell out of my store" reception I had grown accustomed to.

I can't be upset over the actions of this store owner towards me. Lord knows that my credit is not perfect. But this lesson has taught me several things about doing business with people, and with how debt affects business. I won't stop writing software for people on the side, but I will be extra careful about how payments are arranged and carried out.

Things Are Lookin' Up!

December is one day old, and it's already shaping up to be pretty positive. I'm not sure what it is, but something is definately in the air. Maybe it was the super warm -1 C weather today …

Tomorrow I'll be heading off to Delta in order to talk some people into paying up for past work, and in less than three weeks I'll be seeing my Reiko-chan. My Christmas shopping is almost done, and I'm under-budget so far. I've lost a skinny 2 pounds (only 16 to go!), and I've cut back my coffee intake at work.

I tell ya … things are lookin' prime for a bomb-shell. Last time I was about ready to leave for Japan, a friend of mine decided it would be funny to say that I had recieved a jury duty letter in the mail just a few weeks before departure. This was not the time I wanted to hear such a thing because I didn't want to use my trip as an excuse, and I didn't want to cancel my trip to sit in a court room all day.

Of course, perhaps the next month will sail by without any problems, and everything will fall into place perfectly. It's only past experience that has taught me that whenever things look way up, it's a head-fake for something pretty profound to come and knock the wind out of my sails.

Hopefully when my Christmas shopping is done, I'll have enough left over to pick up a few things for my trip. I'd love to get a few sweaters and a better set of footwear.

Vancouver Under Siege

The snow is still falling.

It looks as though I might just be working from home, tomorrow … which means barely working as most of the tools I need are on the network at work, which is not directly accessible to me outside.

There have been reports that Vancouver will have about 40 cm of snow fall in total. This is a pretty big amount for a city that hasn't seen 40 cm in the last 5 years combined. I'm not all that concerned about it, and it was pretty funny to see some of the accidents and hear about how the busses couldn't make it up and down certain hills. Funny in retrospect, that is.

The nice thing about what I do and where I work is that it can take place pretty much anywhere. If I were to configure my notebook properly, I could easily do everything for my employer from any place on the planet where internet was available. This would be a great thing for me to exploit … if I could exploit it the way I've wanted to for the last six months.

Reiko is in Japan, and I am in Canada. Long distance relationships are so very hard on both people … and I really don't like how I can't offer my help to Reiko when she needs it the most. I've asked my employer if I could work from Japan for a while, but unfortunately, this cannot occur. There are too many things that need to be done face-to-face … and because of this, I can't quite telecommute.

Of course, this doesn't stop me from trying.

Either way … I'll see how much snow is on the ground tomorrow at 6 am. If there is a sizable amount, then I will not walk through the slush and cold just to put in my eight hours in a chilly office. It's been a while since I last telecommuted … and working from home is often more productive, for lack of distractions.

First Snow of the Season

I love winter.

The cold. The wind. The rain. The snow. I just can't get enough.

Walking through the cold makes me feel great to be alive. The wind is a fierce reminder that even air can hurt. Rain is what Vancouver and Richmond get most of the time, but the snow is what covers the mountains and makes the massive stone walls appear even more impressive for the half hour I'm outside during daylight.

Of course, with the cold comes the warm. Stepping into a home after braving the cold for an hour or two certainly gives one an appreciation for comfort. This also makes me wonder what the people who don't have a home are doing to keep warm. I've often considered this as the seasons change and we edge ever closer to the top of the globe.

Though I can't change the world all at once, I can certainly change someone's world. This weekend I'll donate some new blankets to the shelter. There's apparently quite the shortage, and if it costs me a couple of bucks, then so be it. I enjoy the warmth of my home and my electric blanket every day of the year. It's only human decency to help others enjoy some measure of heat during the coming months.

Bathing In Turpid Water

In the past week, this region of British Columbia has experienced record rainfalls. With this has come the usual mudslides that occur and pollute the water supply, but this year was quite a bit worse than in the past.

Last Thursday, the GVRD (Greater Vancouver Regional District) Water Works issued a warning saying that it was unsafe to drink the water. By late Friday, half the region could once again drink the tap water and/or use it on foods and for personal hygiene. Vancouver, North Van and Burnaby were the exceptions to this, and as of this moment, we're still not permitted to drink the tap water.

On Friday hundreds of thousands of people tried to stock up on bottled water. As usual, this resulted in the occasional fist-fight as those who arrived at the stores early were able to hoard an unnecessarily large amount of water, while those who arrived 5 minutes later were left with nothing. People would sometimes call ahead to stores to make sure that water was in stock, only to be told "no". In the paper, I had read how one store owner was reamed out by an elderly person for not having enough water in stock, and while I can understand the frustration, I do not believe this would magically make more water appear.

I find it funny that we live in the province with the greatest amount of fresh water, yet the most populous city has none. For the most part, I can get by without much drinking water by consuming milk or other liquids. I can get by without using water in my dinners by eating something without rice. Though I must admit that it's been quite an effort to stay away from the water.

I'm also surprised that I haven't seen scalpers try and sell water at inflated prices. One could easily get $5 for a two dollar bottle of water if the need was great enough. Sure, it's unethical, but that has never stopped people from earning a dollar in the past.

Of course it's odd that many of the resterants and coffee shops haven't closed down because of this. These are some of the largest consumers of water, yet they're still getting by just fine. I've never heard of a coffee shop using bottled water … so what is their source? Yesterday at 7-Eleven I noticed some children buying slushies, but this also made me wonder what the ice was made from …

I know that turpid water will not likely kill us. There is a possibility that the bacteria and sediment inside could give some people intestinal problems, but I don't think this would be an issue for most people so long as they consume the water in moderation. The only real question is "how long until the water can be trusted again?"

Heavy rain is in the forcast for the upcoming week. If needs be, I'll just put a pan outside to collect some rain.