Friday, September 22, 2017

Hamilton's New Taxi Apps - Laughing my Ass Off.

Strange things have always gone on in the Hamilton taxi business.

Believe me, I know. I have been in the biz for a long time.

Yesterday, I had to leave my personal car in the shop, so I figured that after I parked my cab in the parking lot at Highway 8 and Dewitt, I would try out Cab Company A's new app to see how great it is for ordering a taxi.

It was about 1:05 A.M.

The first problem with the Cab Company A app is that it is slow to load.

Once it loaded, it showed a blue bar with white letters saying, "searching for the nearest cab."

It just kept on searching and searching. I was getting impatient.

While waiting for the app to locate a cab, I noticed that the address in the location box was incorrect. It had me at 170 Dewitt Rd. That would be the townhouses across the street. I would have liked to input the correct address, but I was in the mini-mall where the Tim Horton's and Mac's Milk are located. I have no idea what the street address for these businesses are. I could have done a google search on Tim Horton's and Mac's to find these addresses, but really? Isn't this new high tech system supposed to require nothing more than tapping an app? And Googling addresses, and messing around with your smart-phone location settings, and maybe even talking on the phone? WTF? I don't think a customer should be forced to do a bunch of research and phone configuration just to order a cab.

At this point, I wonder if it has occurred to anyone that this new way of doing things is pretty fucking stupid compared to the old-fashioned practice of just dialing a number and requesting a cab?

It would have been nice if I could have seen a text box or something in which I could type:

North-East corner of the parking lot in the mini-mall at the north-west corner of Dewitt and Highway 8. Look for the parked taxi.

It makes me wish there were a more advanced technology that would allow the customer to talk to someone in the dispatch office and tell them,

North-East corner of the parking lot in the mini-mall at the north-west corner of Dewitt and Highway 8. Look for the parked taxi.

which they could write down on a small slip of paper to hand to the dispatcher, who would then tell the driver to go to the,

North-East corner of the parking lot in the mini-mall at the north-west corner of Dewitt and Highway 8. Look for the parked taxi.

But that's all so passé when all you have to do is tap an app and fuck around with your pick-up location.

Anyway, I decided to go ahead and order the cab, then try to wave at the driver when he arrived.

The only problem was that the app was STILL SEARCHING for the nearest cab. Apparently, there was not a single Company A taxicab anywhere in the east end of Hamilton.

I finally ran out of patience, so I decided to resort to Cab Company B's dazzling new app.

It loaded much faster than Cab Company A's app, but that was where the fun ended.

It also had the same problem with my location. It also placed me at 170 Dewitt.

Rather than fart around trying to discover the exact address I was at, I decided to go ahead and order the cab and flag the driver when he arrived.

So I confirmed the order by "tapping the app." Boy, that was fun! It told me that my driver was "Curly." (not his real name. Nyuk. Nyuk)

Even more fun was what occurred directly afterwards. I received a text message from Cab Company B, telling me,

"Your Cab Company B cab number ## is on it's way! You can track its progress by clicking the following link..... http://x.xx.xxxx. (not the real URL.)

I clicked the link and saw the image of the cab a couple of Km west of me. The estimated time of arrival was 7 minutes.

After a while, I noticed the cab was apparently not moving. "WTF is going on?" I wondered.

It got worse. The car finally moved, but it was going in the wrong direction. And the E.T.A. had increased to 8 minutes. Then 10 minutes and, finally, 11 minutes all while minutes were passing quickly past as I sat there like a smart-phone addled retard staring at my phone.

I finally said to myself, "This is fucking bullshit. I may as well start walking the 2.2 Km. home. If I see the guy on Hwy 8, I'll just flag him down."

So I started walking.

I pondered just using the old fashioned Luddite/Candle Maker version of ordering a cab by calling one of the companies, but the app had already told me that my options were limited to either "no available cabs" or Curly, who was driving in the opposite direction.

So I continued walking.

I had not gone far when my telephone rang. It was Curly.

This is how the conversation went down:

Curly (in a thick, uhm, German accent): Yes sir, did you call a taxi?

Me: Yes, I did.

Curly: what unit?

Me: I don't have a unit. The stupid app doesn't work very good, does it? I'm walking west on Highway 8 ... just west of the Mac's milk. Where are you right now?

Curly: (unintelligible) doesn't matter. I have a buddy who will come and pick you up.

Curly: Maybe.

Me: That's very helpful.

Curly: (unintelligible.)

It was 1:18 A.M.

After the call I thought that was pretty funny. Just tap an app and "maybe" the driver's buddy will pick you up.

So I kept on walking west toward home. I decided not to call Larry. He drives his cab for Uber.

At 1:19 A.M. I got a text from Cab Company B informing me that my cab "is outside." Curly, wherever he was by then, had apparently tapped the "on-site" or equivalent icon on his tablet, even though he was nowhere near the pick-up location. Curly was not being truthful. "Your cab is outside." Right. Outside of any possibility that I might be able to ride in it. Could it be one of those German colloquialisms, the meaning of which tend to get lost in translation?

A few minutes later, Curly's "buddy" (I'll call him Moe) actually showed up and drove me home. Poor guy. He had a German accent too. He didn't turn his meter on. When we got to my unit, he said, "just give me five dollars." I had already priced the trip out in advance and figured it was $8 and change, so I gave him ten and told him it wasn't his fault the system was such a joke. He earned it after having to hear me rant about how ridiculous the new app system is.

In case anyone gets the idea that Cab Company C (A.K.A. Uber,) is any better, having spent lots of time reading the Uber driver forums, I can tell you, it ain't.

The cab business is still the cab business. The task of matching up riders with drivers cannot be accomplished via computer algorithms and imprecise GPS readings alone. In the end, what it boils down to is the intelligence and resourcefulness of the front line employees, the drivers.

Though the brain-damaged app was seriously deficient in accomplishing its objective, the cab driver himself (Curly) resorted to one of his tried and true lifelines. He phoned a friend (Moe.) And, eventually, though not without some high-tech hassles, I got my ride.

All of this little story I have told you this morning leaves me wondering. If a semi-computer-literate taxi customer like myself, who nevertheless possesses some intimate knowledge of the street-level workings of the taxi business, has to go through such hassles to order a ride, where does that leave the drunks, the crack-heads, and the mentally ill riders who comprise a disproportionate percentage of the personal transportation provider (A.K.A. - Taxi) market?

Finally, in the event that any of you find yourself in the same position as I was when tapping an app to summon a ride, the address of the Tim Horton's in that mall is,

529 Hwy 8, Stoney Creek, ON L8G 4L6

Oh. And if you think those insentient politicians who embraced, and fueled, this new and technologically wondrous taxicab dispatch system will be able to "fix" it, well, that is the biggest laugh of all.



I'm not going to go into another long winded rant on this flaming phony. Suffice it to say that only four minutes into this drivel and I already want to puke my guts out. How can anyone take this bozo seriously?

https://youtu.be/20QqRtLoLFw

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Story of my Distraction

Earlier this evening, I was rummaging around the cabinet looking for something. I pulled out a small e-cig box and thought, "I wonder what I stashed in here?"

So I opened it.

This is what I found:

  • a key-chain with the Lincoln automobile logo on it.
  • a gold-coloured ring (Shit. I put it on one of my fingers and now I can't get it off.)
  • a silver-looking bracelet
  • part of a necklace consisting of a string of Shamrocks(?)
  • a cold-coloured ankle bracelet
  • another ankle bracelet made of tiny links
  • a ring with a clear stone in it
  • a keyring with a nylon fob
  • This thing
  • a hash pipe lid (the kind you screw on. Not the other kind.)
  • another hash pipe lid
  • a dead rat and a string to swing it with (just kidding)
  • This thing
  • another ring with a red stone in it.
  • my old man's dog tag

Hmm. The dog tag.

Maybe I can use it to find out more about what part of the Wermacht my old man served in.

So I did a search on Fl. Ers. Batl. III.

The best I could come up with was this google translation:

As best I can remember, the old man was taken prisoner in Holland, near the end of the war, at the age of nineteen. Since he was Luftwaffe, he was selected to be shipped over to the U.S.A. instead of the U.K.

He wound up at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland. A.K.A. Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

He often used to complain about his treatment as a P.O.W. He claimed that the prisoners at Edgewood were "starved." I have to admit, from the photos I've seen from that period, he was pretty skinny.

So here is my best recollection of what he told me.

The German prisoners were sent out to work on various farms in the area.

He ended up working for a farmer by the name of William Pugh, somewhere in the vicinity of Bel Aire or Joppa, MD.

He explained to me that, as prisoners of war, he and his fellow prisoners had little reason to enthusiastically perform the work assignments.

One day, while my old man was playing stupid as he repaired a fence, Mr. Pugh, in frustration, asked him, "What is wrong with you? Can't you understand English?"

The old man had studied English in school, back in Germany, so he was capable of understanding the farmer's simple instructions. He just wasn't in any mood to cooperate.

He replied to the farmer, "You give eat, (food) I understand. (English)"

Mr. Pugh understood. After that, as I remember the story, the POWs were invited to eat dinner with the family, and the work performance improved.

I recall also, that when the POWs were finally going to be sent home, after the war had ended, Mr. Pugh endured some community disapproval after he had made a politically incorrect statement, down at the general store, expressing his regret that his German "friends" would soon be going home.

I know that as the years pass by, my recollection of stuff is getting pretty rusty, and for all I know, the version of events I have provided, could be complete bullshit.

But I do know this.

I think it was 1966.

The old man packed the whole family into our Volkswagen, and drove us to Bel Air, Maryland to seek out, and re-unite with Mr. Bill Pugh. So there's that.

And he was successful in discovering the farm.

When we arrived we were welcomed with open arms by the family. Unfortunately, Mr. Pugh had passed away by then, but Mrs. Pugh and her daughter, Francis remembered the old man. They invited us to stay. When the old man asked if we could pitch our tent out in the yard, they wouldn't hear of it. We stayed in the house.

Man, I loved that Bel Aire. And I developed quite a fondness for one of the granddaughters, who lived just over the hill, down by the river. When it came time to leave, I didn't want to go.

As part of that vacation, we drove down to Edgewood Arsenal. The old man wanted to re-visit his "home" for four years during that period. I remember him pointing to a tree and saying, "That was where a Japanese prisoner hung himself."

I had trouble believing my old man's claims that he had been starved while an American POW. But I do remember another story he told me about the time he was working as an orderly in a hospital, or something, during his captivity. Someone came out of one of the hospital rooms pushing a cart that contained leftovers from supper. He saw an uneaten steak on the cart, so he grabbed it and ran into the bathroom where he devoured it in one of the stalls.

If the story is true, it goes to show how different a world I have grown up in. I wouldn't fucking eat anything that came out of a hospital ward. Though I might be tempted by a half-smoked Marlboro.

Also. If the story isn't true, who the fuck could make something like that up?

Here is another recollection of a story he told me. Though not a smoker himself, many of the German prisoners enjoyed tobacco. He told me that the G.I. guards were forbidden to give cigarettes to the prisoners. But there was one American guard, a black man, who, when asked for a smoke by a prisoner, would light up a fresh one, then throw it on the ground. The prisoner would pick it up and enjoy it. And the guard could not be accused of giving cigarettes to the POWs, since he had merely discarded one.

This morning, I tripped across an article that reinforces the story that my father told me, as I remember it.

German POWs Who Died in Md. Honored

Different times. Different places.

I have always been an enthusiastic fan of the United States of America. It's the greatest example in history, as I know it, where the common man can live a damned good life. Hence my affinity for the slogan, "Make America Great Again."

My old man, on the other hand, remained bitter to the end of his life over his treatment in that USA POW camp.

I think he was way off base on that. Human cruelty is not restricted to any one government. All governments are cruel.

Even when they show apparent kindness, one thing is certain, they don't use their own money. In fact, they expect to be paid out of taxpayer funds for their "services."

Most politicians are "virtue signalers." They sincerely profess their compassion for their constituents, but someone else always get the bill.


Other Curiosities

The old man always believed in paying his bills.

Don't you wish we could find some politicians with similar ethics?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Uber in Hamilton Update: Maria Pearson, Don't Delete This One.

Molly

A cabbie friend of mine told me that she had recently received a follow-up call from her council rep, Maria Pearson - Ward 10, over a recent licensing issue.

After some small talk, the councilor asked my friend, I'll call her Molly, how things were going in the Hamilton taxi business now that Uber had been formally exempted from Hamilton's "old category" of taxi licensing bylaws.

Molly told her that things were really bad. Then Molly suggested that if Maria wanted more information on the Uber impact, that she should talk to "Hans."

Maria replied, "Hans Wienhold?"

Molly: "Yes."

Maria: "Oh. I just delete his emails."

When I heard this I laughed. First, Maria feigns interest in the plight of Hamilton's cabbies (probably just fishing for a vote, IMHO,) and then, when offered a source of information on the Uber impact, Maria unconsciously intimates that she is not remotely interested in the subject.

Maria: "Oh. I just delete his emails."

As I have said on many occasions before, most politicians are phony people who pretend to care about their constituents, but demonstrate by their actions that they care much more about their own careers. Once you know what to look for it becomes very easy to see.

Step one: do they put on a big show about how much they care about the poor, downtrodden, and marginalized members of our community? (Like Hamilton's cab drivers?)

Step two: ask yourself if their proposed solutions to any given problem involve digging into their own wallets or purses, or someone else's?

Need I go into any more detail?

I call this Hans Wienhold's free, two-step course on Everything you Ever Need to Know about Politics and Politicians.

Molly was absolutely mortified when I told her just how juicy the information she just gave me was, and that I intended to use it in a future blockrant.

"I don't want to get into any trouble," she said.

I could write an essay on that response alone. Where did a person develop the impression that telling the truth about something could get them into trouble?

Of course, this reaction disturbed me. I told Molly that she should not have to fear retribution from a politician, and that the politician, theoretically, is her servant, NOT her master.

“When the people fear the government, that's tyranny; when the government fears the people, that's freedom.” -- Thomas Jefferson

Poor Molly. No citizen should have to live in such fear of politicians.

Alert: Prostitution in the Taxi Business

Last night, as I loitered at the Blueline parking lot while Uber taxis drove our former customers home, the prominent Hamilton taxi consultant, Jaspal Gill, showed up to purchase gas for his cab.

We had a conversation.

We started out talking about how badly Uber drivers were being suckered into believing that their investments in relatively fancy new cars, permitted them to succumb to the illusion that consuming their capital for a few dollars today was a form of "job."

The insanity of the whole concept is staggering in dimension. Some of these Uber drivers actually borrowed money to buy their cabs. How could such a blatant fraud have gained such friction? Tom Sawyer would have been green with envy. Tom Sayer got an apple core and a dead mouse, or something. Uber got to mobilize billions of dollars of worker-owned capital to line the pockets of it's capitalist investors!

You've got to hand it to Uber. It's fucking brilliant. There's a sucker born every minute.

"There's a sucker born every minute" is a phrase closely associated with P. T. Barnum, an American showman of the mid-19th century, although there is no evidence that he said it. Early examples of its use are found instead among gamblers and confidence men.

And poiticians.

The conversation turned to the number of new entrants into the non-exempt taxi sector who, themselves, were purchasing brand new cars to operate as taxis.

We all laughed. "That's fucking nuts!"

Our small group were all seasoned cab drivers. We laughed without prompting, because we all knew how stupid a person had to be to buy a new car for use as a taxi.

Jaspal is not only a very competent businessman. He is a great philosopher as well. He knows how to distill reality into short, concise, and comprehensible anecdotes.

Here is my reconstruction of what he said:

"What people fail to understand, is that a taxicab is like a prostitute. It is something to be used, abused, disrespected, and discarded."

That is not the ideal. But it is the reality.

Therefore, getting married to a brand new car, only to whore it out to random members of the public, is a form of self abuse.

For another perspective on the true nature and value of a taxicab, I recall what my late friend, Uncle Jay, used to refer to his taxicab as..... a toilet, because that is how the public treat them. (Only months before his death, the City whacked him with a spitefull $180 fine for a broken seal on his taxi meter. Uber's meters, as you might already know, are exempt from the seal requirement.) Level playing field?

Jaspal was showing us one of his new cabs. It was clean, shiny, and almost brand new looking. He had picked it up for a few hundred dollars, and done some needed repairs.

An astute businessman knows how much to spend to accomplish an objective without pointlessly pissing dollars away into someone else's (or the government's) pocket. Uber drivers, by contrast, pay in excess of 25% of their earnings to the Uber corporation for the privilege of using their own cars as taxicabs. Uber is astute.

Someone commented on one of my anti-government-Uber-bullshit videos, that Uber had outdone the worst nightmares of the bona-fide communists, by extending the exploitation of workers by the owners of capital to the exploitation of workers using their own capital!

An historic and brilliant insight. And a brilliant business play on Uber's part.

Tim Hudak tried to popularize the concept by calling it the new "sharing economy."

What a fucking joke. Share your car with Goldman Sachs.

Suicide

I spoke to a cab driver this morning who's life had been so seriously distrupted by Hamilton's politicians decision to allow Uber to circumvent the traditional requirements for taxi operations, that he is talking about suicide.

I had read about the suicides of an estimated 50 Dublin, Ireland, cab drivers as a result of a similar catastrophic regulatory reversals. Given the impact similar political malfeasance has had on Ontario taxi drivers in Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, London, Hamilton, Ottawa, and more, I am surprised that I haven't heard of a single case of cab driver suicide in Ontario to date.

But I do have this.

I spoke to a Hamilton cab driver this morning who told me he is feeling so cornered now by the disruption Hamilton's politicians have dumped on the taxi market, that he was actually contemplating suicide.

If something like that happens in Ontario, don't blame Uber. Blame those who facilitated it.

The invertibrates that gravitate to political office.

C*********s.

Aside: That's one reason I like Donald Trump. He is not one of them.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Public Mischief

Harking back to my early (pre) teen years, we went through a mischief phase. We played "knocking on ginger," including the enhanced burning bag of poop version, or we threw snowballs at cars. We even lit a number of field fires. After the fire department arrived we would even help them put the fire out.

We were quite proud to learn by word of mouth that a police officer was quoted as saying that the West Mountain had more mischief complaints than any other area of the city.

We called one of our favorite games "punch out."

We always used the same location for "punch out." It was at the southwest corner of Bendemere Ave and Columbia drive on the property of the St. Vincent-de-Paul Catholic School. And we always played it after dark. Out of five or six of us we would select our voluntary "victim." Then we would wait for a vehicle to approach along Bendemere from the west.

As the vehicle got closer we would would all pretend to be ganging up and kicking the shit out of our volunteer. Most of the cars just passed on by, but every now and then, a driver would take the situation seriously and attempt to heroically rescue the victim.

Sometimes, this could get pretty hairy. There was one time when this Ford Mustang came to a screeching stop. We all ran east into Buchanan Park believing no sane driver would dare drive over the sidewalk and into the park after us. On this occasion we miscalculated and the Mustang came racing after us through the park. Despite the Good Samaritan's heroic act, I don't recall any of our "gang" members being apprehended.

There was only one time that I can remember where one of our members was apprehended. The Samaritan appeared to be on his way to a wedding because he was formally attired. One report said he stumbled and ruined his suit. The guy he finally collared (literally) was the biggest, slowest moving, and slowest thinking member of our group, who tried to explain that the whole thing was just a joke. Unfortunately, due to limited language skills, instead of saying, "it was all pretend," or "it wasn't a real beating," he told the guy in the torn tuxedo, "We was ony doing it for fun!"

By the way, he was the only one who got caught the time we strung a roll of paper towel across Mohawk road as an informal road block. I think the driver punched him in the head.

It was circa 1966 and the entire population of Hamilton's mountain was almost entirely lily white. If we had had any black, Sikh, or other minority gang members at the time, I am certain we would have all agreed that using one of them as our volunteer victim would be a great way to magnify the impact of our mischeivous stunt.

And we hadn't even started drinking that cheap $buck-five-come-alive rot-gut wine yet.


Vermont Issues 57: Racist Graffiti in Andersonville Hits Several Farms

Other Items of Interest

Tucker Carlson Tonight 9/12/17 - Tucker Carlson Fox News September 12, 2017 ESPN, TRUMP, DEMOCRATS

Ezra Levant: The REAL reason schools are banning "racist" Shakespeare

And this just in....

Woman sexually assaulted inside SUV she mistook for Uber: police

I predicted this over a year ago...

Saira Rao - Race Entrepreneur

They call Trump a racist. Well, let's see. I just came upon some Tweets by another US Democrat named Saira Rao. Here are some of t...