Monthly Archives: March 2016

Hump Day: I’m unavailable unless the pope and queen need me

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Moncton Times & Transcript

Unless you’re a student, teacher or retail worker, the concept of a snow day has largely gone the way of the dodo bird. While those who work in the school environment get a number of snow days off per year (except for this relatively snow-free winter) – and retail workers certainly can’t be expected to serve the public when their stores are closed – a large number of the rest of us are now expected to work from home. You can thank the Internet, laptops, smartphones and email for that.

I miss the old days. As a kid, it was always a thrill to listen to the radio and hear CKCW Radio’s Dave Lockhart counting down the school districts closed for the day due to a storm. “All schools are closed in districts 11… 12… 13… 14… and 15.” In Moncton, 13 and 15 were the important numbers, with 13 being the district for francophone schools and 15 serving anglophone schools. It seems like he always dragged out those storm announcements to make it extra torturous on us!

Ever since the popular adoption of email and the Internet in the 1990s, the concept of the snow day has quickly eroded outside of the school and retail environments. Today, many people can work virtually from home and be just as effective as working in person at the office. You can correspond by email, share documents, and even hold video meetings very easily. For the most part, there’s absolutely no excuse for not being as productive as you would be at your regular place of work.

Unfortunately – as far as our own ‘quiet time’ goes – this technology has also snuck its way into our personal lives. It only takes a second to respond to your boss’s email at 10 p.m., right? And it only takes a minute to answer the client’s question at 6 a.m., right? Heck, you can even work while you’re in the bathroom by reading and sending emails. Has it come to this? Are we even working from bed and the bathroom now?

I can honestly say that my smart-phone and tablet have no place in my bedroom at night, however if I was on the witness stand, I’d have to answer truthfully that I’ve sent the odd email or two from the bathroom. (I don’t do it often. You only have to get shaving cream all over your smartphone once to cure you of that bad habit!)

These days, even if you’re on so-called vacation, you’re half-expected to be available. I don’t know many people who completely disconnect unless they fly to the other side of the world – and even then they’re still posting their vacation photos to Facebook. Hey, if you can be on Facebook, you can answer a few work emails at the same time, right?

pope queen collage
The new standard of interrupting your vacation to return to work should only be if Pope Francis and Queen Elizabeth want a meeting with you.

Smart employers don’t allow this to happen. In fact, really (!) smart employers will insist that their employees completely disconnect from work even though they may be tempted to check in or respond to emails. No one is that indispensable that they can’t take a few days (or weeks) off. It takes planning, though. And it takes will power on both the employer and the employee sides of the equation.

I work for myself, and I fully admit to being completely unable to disconnect. I’ve responded to emails at 11 a.m. and 6 a.m. – and everything in between. Holidays? ‘Tis to laugh! What’s a holiday? If you email me, you’ll likely get a response. In fact, when I die, all I ask is that someone slip a fully charged smartphone and a charger into the casket with me. (Please ensure the casket has electricity for the charger.) If you email me after death and I answer, though, please do me a huge favour and dig me back up after you’ve regained consciousness from fainting.

From time to time, though, I’ll just get exhausted and force myself to take time off. This was the case over Easter when I told everyone that I was unavailable for four days. Was I perfect? No, but I did pretty darn well, if I do say so myself!

Actually, I told people not to bother me unless they drove by my house and saw Pope ‍Francis and Queen Elizabeth knocking on my door. Then, you might want to call to let me know that I’d better not ignore the doorbell. Until that actually happens, though, I’m going to force myself to disconnect from work more often for my own sanity.

Having the pope and queen asking you for help should be everyone’s minimum requirement for interrupting your vacation!

TransAqua AGM highlights 2015 achievements

TransAqua logoNEWS RELEASE

March 24, 2016
For immediate release

TransAqua / Greater Moncton Wastewater Commission AGM highlights 2015 achievements

MONCTON, N.B. – TransAqua – the Greater Moncton Wastewater Commission (GMWC) – held its 2015 annual general meeting (AGM) today at the Dieppe Arts and Culture Centre.

“I am very pleased with the year TransAqua had in 2015,” said Winston Pearce, Chair of the Commission. “Our dedicated team of Commission members and TransAqua personnel came together to generate very positive financial results and meet operational requirements, while also setting the stage for the upcoming $90-million upgrade to our wastewater treatment facility to meet new federal regulations. This upgrade, which must be completed by 2020 at the latest, will result in cleaner effluent being discharged into the Petitcodiac River from our facility in Riverview.”

“Our technical staff also worked extensively with consulting engineering firm CBCL Limited to complete the detailed design of the preliminary treatment and septage receiving section of the wastewater treatment process as part of the upgrade to the existing infrastructure as the beginning of TransAqua’s efforts to fulfil our legal requirements by 2020,” he said. “Throughout 2015, we made presentations to the provincial and federal levels of government requesting three level funding for this major upgrade. We expect a funding announcement very soon so we can begin construction this summer”

“TransAqua has been building foundations for the future in 2015 by activating the newest compost pad, installing major automation upgrades (SCADA) and installing Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) baffles at four wastewater pumping stations. TransAqua hosted numerous technical tours on a regular basis to school classes, technical colleges, universities, local community groups and elected government representatives and candidates at both our Wastewater Treatment Facility in Riverview and Compost Facility in Moncton,” Mr. Pearce said.

TransAqua held its annual general meeting today at the Dieppe Arts and Culture Centre. In the photo, General Manager Kevin Rice is shown addressing those in attendance. (Click on the photo for a larger version.)
TransAqua held its annual general meeting today at the Dieppe Arts and Culture Centre. In the photo, General Manager Kevin Rice is shown addressing those in attendance. (Click on the photo for a larger version.)

Commission Treasurer Chanel Michaud highlighted the $6.2-million surplus generated in 2015 by the GMWC. These results were a combination of increased revenues and expense controls. The Commission remained in an excellent financial position again at the end of fiscal year 2015. There are now $30 million in guaranteed investments, excluding a $5-million contingency reserve. As well, there is $3.9 million in interest-bearing operating accounts.

Production of the Commission’s type ‘AA’ compost – some of the best in Canada – had a record year in 2015 and continued to be popular with the public, municipalities and local landscapers in 2015. An expansion was completed in 2015 that will further increase capacity by allowing for an additional 5,000 tonnes of biosolids and 5,000 tonnes of wood waste thereby accommodating anticipated increase in volume of biosolids due to advanced biological treatment, as well as to prepare for future growth.

At the end of the 2015 AGM, a separate Commission meeting was held to elect the new executive officers. “I want to thank the previous executive officers – Treasurer Chanel Michaud and Secretary Clarence Sweetland – who have helped me immeasurably,” said Mr. Pearce, as the outgoing Chair of the Commission. “I am also pleased to welcome the new executive by handing over the gavel to David Muir. Welcome also to Treasurer, George Somers, and Secretary, Julie Theriault.”

TransAqua / Greater Moncton Wastewater Commission (www.transaqua.ca) was established in 1983 to support the wastewater collection and treatment needs of the Dieppe, Moncton and Riverview tri-community. Since then, it has developed a 31-kilometre collection network and a treatment facility to best deliver on this mandate. It has also become a leader in the reuse of biosolids through the generation of type ‘AA’ compost (the highest grade currently achieved in Canada) as opposed to disposal in a landfill site. The organization is now positioning itself to further upgrade its facilities to provide an enhanced secondary treatment approach that will allow it to meet recently introduced mandatory federal regulations prior to the 2020 deadline.

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Media contact:

Winston Pearce, P.Eng.
Past Chair
TransAqua / Greater Moncton Wastewater Commission
506-381-0899
wpearce@transaqua.ca
www.transaqua.ca

Hump Day: Easter is a time for long church services and lots of candy!

Hump Day
BHump Day 2 croppedy Brian Cormier
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Moncton Times & Transcript

Easter is this weekend and from what I’m hearing, you’d think it was Christmas all over again. What’s with all the gift-giving? I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that – a new toy or spring clothing are healthier than a belly full of chocolate, I guess.

When I was a kid, Easter meant church (with its obligatory complaining about having to go in the first place) and lots of candy complete with baskets, a chocolate bunny and various other sugary treats. There were also the snow storms, depending on how early Easter was – and one particularly memorable trip to my grandparents’ place on P.E.I. when the snow was so deep that we couldn’t even get up the lane to their house. Whatever possessed us to go to P.E.I. during a blizzard, I’ll never know.

Going to church on P.E.I. when we visited my grandparents was required. I’m sure my grandmother figured out we weren’t exactly regular churchgoers when I blurted out one day, “But Mom, we never go to church when we’re home!” By the look on my mother’s face, I understood instantly that this was top-secret ‍Cormier family intelligence not to be shared with anyone, especially my religious grandmother. And by the look on my grandmother’s face, it was like telling her we were all godless vampires who burst into flames every time we saw a crucifix. We weren’t, of course, but we might as well have been.

easter church familyI had a conversation with my mother and aunt over the weekend about how church services were so long at Easter. And of course, the conversation went something like, “When we were kids, the priest read the Bible from start to finish every Sunday in church – twice at Easter!” I also found out that my grandfather was always ‘ill’ on Good Friday and could never go to church. Eventually, everyone figured out that he was just avoiding a very long mass. I’m not sure if there’s such a thing as the Good Friday Flu, but my grandfather had it every year.

At Halloween, kids gorge themselves on candy before bed. There’s nothing like going to bed all hyped up on sugar and then having to go to school the next morning with chocolate under your fingernails and teeth as soft as marshmallows from all those treats.

Easter, however, is morning gorging time. I know our treats were hidden – usually under the kitchen table or behind a sofa. I don’t remember having any Easter egg hunts. Just give me the goodies and we’re good to go! No need to get too imaginative and make us work for it. I think my parents were quite happy not to go through so much work. We were easy children to please.

These days, parents go through so much trouble. They do the Easter egg hunts, the treasure hunts, etc. They spend weeks thinking up hiding places and then watch their children go out of their little minds trying to find what is rightfully theirs – candy! All we had to do was look under the kitchen table or behind a sofa. If my parents were extra ambitious, maybe we had to break a sweat opening a closet door.

Perhaps the Easter bunny was exhausted and not terribly imaginative by the time he got to our house. When we were teenagers – but still getting Easter treats – the conversation went more or less like this just before bed on the Saturday night before Easter Sunday: “Yeah, just leave the loot on the kitchen table and I’ll get it tomorrow. Good night.” Then we’d all hug and sob as a family just like they did on The Waltons. OK, maybe not.

My family still gets together for a meal at Easter. My mother and her husband go all out – like they do every holiday. It’s always delicious. I usually bring some weird dessert no one likes – and then I swear I’ll never do it again. And then the next year I show up with dingleberry mousse made with Mongolian yak’s milk. No one eats it. I get mad – and then do it again the year after. “Anyone want a nice slice of kale and dandelion mustard pie? Yummy!” I really need to stop watching the Food Network.

Whether you celebrate Easter worshiping in church or scraping your sugar-laden kids off the walls, it’s important to realize that this is a season for renewal. Spring is here. Hope is here. Speaking of hope, I hope someone eats my weird dessert this year or I’m dragging everyone to church on Easter Sunday to hear the Bible being read out loud from cover to cover – twice.