You Can Never Be Too Careful

I saw this older gentlemen during the winter with his cane, and more interestingly, wearing his helmet. Winnipeg streets can be treacherous in the winter as they are covered with ice and snow. So a slip could lead to a head smack on the sidewalk. A helmet would help in that scenario.

helmet

Today I saw the old guy walking by again. And lo and behold, he had his helmet on.  The sidewalks are dry and clean. Very good traction. But this fella isn’t taking any chances.  He is really protecting that noggin.

helmet again

Ten Ugliest Cars Ever Built

I’m not much of a car person.  These days, with a few exceptions, cars all look-a-like to me.  Little boxes with wheels that are fighting each other for space on the streets.  The pick-up trucks are even worse.  Big metal contraptions driven by incompetent drivers who bully the little cars for space on the streets.  Lets go shopping at the mall and I’ll park my armoured personnel carrier (F-250 pick-up) in the multi-level parkade with the low ceiling, concrete pillars and tight spaces.  This is the kind of mind-set the body shop owners love. 

There are some good looking vehicles out there like the Corvette, Camaro and PT Cruiser.  I kid about the latter.  And conversely there are many ugly cars out there.  The Nissan Cube looks like it was made for a timid family of nerdy geeks. 

Nissan Cube

But throughout time there have been some magnificently ugly cars out there.  And here is a list of the top ten ugliest of all time.  m

#10

Pontiac Aztek

Malformed atrocity with a big body that is way too big for the wheels.

 

#9

Mercedes Benz G-class

You can’t argue with its capabilities, but the Geländewagen won’t win any beauty contests. Like a lot of Teutonic heavy metal, it was designed to do a job and do it well. Little attention was paid to the aesthetics, and so the G-wagen is a stout, dour fraulein.

 

#8

Fiat Multipla

It came wrapped in sheetmetal that resembled nothing less than a tumor growing on the face of some poor unwitting car.

 

#7

Yugo GV

Yugoslavia’s attempt at mass automobile production, enough said.

#6

Chevrolet Chevette

The Chevette has no redeeming qualities, except for maybe that so few of these atrocious little cars are still around.

#5

Ford Mustang II

The Mustang II, which was essentially a Ford Pinto with a pony emblem on the grill.

 

#4

AMC Pacer

From the asymmetrical doors to the big-forehead (think Neanderthal) profile of the greenhouse, it’s simply not a looker. Is it any wonder that AMC went under after crafting such a turd?

 

#3

Citroen 2CV

French attempt to make a Beetle.  In addition to looking like a metal snail, it was possibly as slow as one, starting out with a 9-HP two-cylinder.

 

#2

VW Thing

VW knew it was weird looking– I mean, who names their car a Thing without consciously being aware of the fact that its appearance can best be described as bizarre.

 

#1

Reliant-Regal

 

The Regal is notable for having just 3 wheels. And that’s about it. It’s slow, unsafe, and didn’t sell very well.  And the word ugly is to complimentary.  A real chick magnet Eh!

 

Subway Pushers of Japan

The Japanese rail network is known throughout the world for its superiority and punctuality. In the capital city Tokyo, nearly 40 million passengers ride the rail every day, heavily outweighing other modes of transport like buses and private cars. Of these, 22% or 8.7 million take the subway.

The Tokyo subway network is a transportation marvel. On most lines, trains come every 5 minutes apart, on average, and during peak times, they tend to run every 2-3 minutes. That’s about 24 trains per hour going in one direction. Despite so many trains, the subway is extremely overcrowded, especially during rush hour. This page from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has data (from 2007) detailing the level of congestion at different stations of Tokyo’s subway. As you can see, nearly all of them run at over capacity with a few running at 200% over rated capacity.

 

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“Oshiya” or “pushers” at Tokyo’s Shinjuku station trying to pack as many passengers as possible into the carriages during rush hour in 1967. Photo credit: CNN

In order to fit twice the number of passengers into a subway carriage, the stations employ uniformed staff known as oshiya or “pusher”, whose goal is to cram as many people as possible into the subway tram. These white glove-wearing personal actually pushes people into the train, so the doors can be shut. This is so surreal, it has to be seen to be believed.

 

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When pushers were first brought in at Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, they were called “passenger arrangement staff” and were largely made up of students working part-time. Nowadays, there are no dedicated “pushers”. The station staff and part-time workers fill these roles during rush hours.

Although a Japanese phenomenon now, subway pushers were an American invention and originated in New York City, nearly a century ago. They were not very well-liked because they were known to push and shove passengers with hostility. The vigor with which the guards often did their job earned them the reputation as “sardine packers”. Their brutality sometimes made national headlines. “The Anxious Subway Guard Who Guillotines His Passengers” —screamed a headline, and “Long Suffering New York Subway Riders Cheer Man Who Hit Guards” —reported another.

Pushers became out of fashion with the introduction of automatic door controls and automatic turnstiles. As the sadistic sardine packers began to lose their job in the 1920s, their demise were mourned briefly. Several movies about subway workers came out during this period including Subway Sadie (1926), Wolf’s Clothing (1927), The Big Noise (1928), Love Over Night (1928) and so on. Subway pushers were also depicted in a 1941 biographical movie called Pusher — the story takes place during World War 1.

More recently, in 2012, Hong Kong- based photographer Michael Wolf created a photo series named Tokyo Compression, where he captured the traumatized and pained expression of commuters as their faces were crushed against the windows. These pictures show how horrible and shameful the situation inside the subway is. Bodies are squished so tightly against one another that most people can’t physically move. Short persons suffer the risk of getting smothered against the coat of their fellow passenger. Getting off at the right station require strength and determination, and fire hazards and emergency evacuation are serious issues. The subways are also fertile grounds for pickpockets and gropers.

 

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Japanese commuters wait in line for the next train, while people pushers push passengers onto the Yamanote line subway train during the morning rush hour at Shinjuku station in Tokyo, Japan. The daily ritual is performed to maximize the number of commuters on trains.

 

“Be Kind; Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle.” Plato.

 

The Widest Freeway in the World

Where else? Houston, Texas of course.

 

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When constructed during the 1960s, the I-10 Katy from Houston, known as the Katy Freeway, was built with six to eight lanes wide barring side lanes, being modest by Houston standards because existing traffic demand to the farming area of West Houston was relatively low. As the population and economic activity increased in the area vehicular traffic increased, reaching an annual average daily traffic (AADT) of 238,000 vehicles just west of the West Loop in 2001.

In 2000 increased traffic levels and congestion led to plans being approved for widening of the freeway to 16 lanes with a capacity for 200,000 cars per day. An old railway running along the north side of the freeway was demolished in 2002 in preparation for construction which began in 2004. The interior two lanes in each direction between SH 6 and west I-610, the Katy Freeway Managed Lanes or Katy Tollway, were built as high-occupancy toll lanes and are managed by the Harris County Toll Road Authority. The section just west of SH 6 to the Fort Bend–Harris county line opened in late June 2006. Two intersections were rebuilt (Beltway 8 and I-610), toll booths were added, together with landscaping as part of Houston’s Highway Beautification Project. Most of the section between Beltway 8 and SH 6 had been laid by September 2006 and work was completed in October 2008.

Tolls on the managed lanes vary by vehicle occupancy, axle count and time of day. High occupancy vehicles may travel for free at certain times.

 

Katy-Freeway

 

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Interstate 10 (I-10) is the major east–west Interstate Highway in the Southern United States. In the U.S. state of Texas, it runs east from Anthony, at the border with New Mexico, through El Paso, San Antonio and Houston to the border with Louisiana in Orange, Texas. At just under 880 miles (1,420 km), the Texas segment of I-10, maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation, is the longest continuous untolled freeway in North America that is operated by a single authority, a title formerly held by Ontario Highway 401. 

 

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The Silent Bus Stop

Since the city of Winnipeg introduced the rapid transit corridor in the central/south part of the city bus routes have been streamlined.  More routes now use the main streets and the secondary streets have lost most service.  The Donald St. at Hargrave Place bus stop has been transformed into a silent bus stop.  Before rapid transit 4 bus routes picked up passengers at the stop.  Now only one, the 99 route, a secondary bus route, utilizes the stop.

The 99 only runs every half hour and stops running at 7:05 pm.  A once vibrant bus stop has now become a ghost bus stop.  No more people hanging around the stop occasionally scanning north to see if the lumbering bus is approaching.  No more buses pulling up to the stop and lowering the entrance door elevator to let old folks and Mom’s with baby strollers on board. 

Now people who previously grabbed the bus at the now silent bus stop have to walk 3 blocks to the east to get the bus.  But the 7 minutes it takes to walk to that stop is made up by the speed of that bus as it hauls down the rapid transit bus track.  As Alexander Graham Bell said: “When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”

Photos of the Silent Bus Stop when it was busy

                                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                   

 The Bus Stop grows silent

 

The Bus Stop is silent

 I preferred the old Bus Stop