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All In Hand

Here you'll find the sum total of Miss Vicky's Remarks thus far.

Show us your "enthusiasm"

The Webgeek Thu Jun 30, 2005

So Ottawa Renegades' new owner Lonie Glieberman has a "brilliant" marketing idea for getting fans out to games:

[T]he Renegades will go forward with the introduction of Mardi Gras Madness when they open their home schedule on Canada Day against the Montreal Alouettes. Each male with a ticket in the upper deck, south side will be given beads as he enters the stadium. The female who collects the most beads from the guys will win $1,000.

Now, Lonnie has made it clear that there isn't any need for "extra skin" to be displayed for the women to to obtain said beads, only "fun" and "enthusiasm" -- but I'm pretty sure he's hoping for a few ample chests to swing free in all the excitement. I'll ignore the sexism of this little escapade for the time being -- after all, it is perfectly legal in Ontario for women to go topless should they choose to -- and just point out the stupidity of this little manouver from a business point of view.

1) "Any press is good press" only works if you get the right type of "press". It's obvious that this is a move that's supposed to create controversy. He's hoping for moral indignation, and in turn all sorts of free radio and TV publicity about the issue. While this is all well and good, but it doesn't help promote your product. The team isn't getting press here. Lonie is. No one's talking about the game, or the players or their chances against the Alouettes. They're talking about Mr. "I'm a bonehead" Glieberman. He's alienating a certain percentage of the population in hopes of getting more ticket sales; instead, he's just doing the alienating and making himself look like an ass in the proccess.

2) He's giving away an item that does nothing to promote his product. Giving away bumper-stickers and t-shirts and foam fingers and those annoying "Boom Sticks" works because people will use them to promote the team outside of the game. People wear them again. People bring them to other games again. Giving away Mardi Gras beads is stupid because you can't put a team logo on them and no one wears them ever again. Besides, the point of this promotion is designed to limit the number of people who obtain the promotional material. Instead of every fan potentially becoming a walking billboard, he's asking them to actively give away the promotional material to only a couple of fans. The fan that hoards the most wins. The rest walk away empty handed.

3) Two words -- Sausage. Fest. -- Seriously. As someone who, in my earlier years, has had the misfortune of being dragged to "wet t-shirt" contests by over-sexed moron friends who were hoping to see "teh boobies" I can tell you; the inevitable outcome is a room full of over-sexed morons and ZERO women. I guarantee this will happen here too. The upper south stands, where this promotion is being limited to, will be populated almost exclusively by guys. Stupid guys. Stupid guys holding Mardi Gras beads. Stupid guys who will up and leave and never come back when they realize they're the only boobs there.

So congrats there Lonie. Hot on the heels of a suprisingly successful ticket drive, you've just managed to piss off a good chunk of your fan base to spend money on non-effective "promotional" beads only to disapoint a bunch of morons who didn't show up to see your team anyway, and you had your stupidity announced on the national airwaves in the proccess. Way to go.

Canada Day in the 'hood

Miss Vicky Thu Jun 30, 2005

amckay wrote, wondering whether there were any activities in our neighbourhood for Canada Day.

Good question. I didn't have any luck finding anything directly in the 'hood.

Admission to the Agriculture Museum is free all day. They're open from 10 to 4. They promise "a fun-filled day of games, activities, ice cream and bread-making". There's a special horse exhibit, a giant puzzle, and lots more. Oh, and the Friends of the Experimental Farm are hosting a Strawberry Social from 11am to 2pm.

If you're looking for an alternative to the crowds and activities on the Hill, and willing to travel outside of the hood, there is a community festival in Andrew Hayden Park (Carling Ave, near Bayshore).

Or you can create your own festival... stop by the market to pick up some fresh goodies wander up to Thyme and Again, the Bagel Shop, Three Bakers & a Bike or any of the other fine establishments, or head the other way and grab some of the amazing lebanese fare at Helen's Cafe in the Melrose Grocery. Once you have your picnic fare, wander down to Laroche Park in Mechanicsville (there is a good kids' water park there), or Remic Rapids by the river....or even Westboro Beach.

As for Miss Vicky, she's high-tailing it out of the city for the holiday weekend. Miss Vicky is not one for crowds, really. She takes her holidays on the rock at Mill Lake, refreshing beverage close at hand.

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

Ottawa loses public health champion

Miss Vicky Wed Jun 29, 2005

Well, we're losing Robert Cushman as our medical officer of health, but not losing him altogether. He's taking a provncial appointment on Ottawa's Local Health Integration Network.

I sure will miss him at the municipal level, though. He's been a tireless advocate for proactive responses to public health challenges. From the smoking ban to cosmestic pesticides to addiction and harm reduction, Cushman has never been afraid to tell it like it is. He's frank, he's aggressive, he's forward-thinking and he is tenacious.

And Ottawa needs more of that. Our city's bureaucrats and politicians have an unfortunate tendency toward inertia. They can make some great pronouncements, but lack the drive to resist opposition and ensure that principles become policy, not just platitudes.

Here's a sample of the kind of thing I'm going to miss from Robert Cushman - an opinion piece on cosmetic pesticides. Unfortunately, it's in the subscriber-only version of the Citizen, so I can't link to the article.

" When it comes to human safety, the regulatory framework should be rigorous, not lax. It's time to start questioning corporate influence on our poorly resourced regulatory processes. Potential hazards need to be examined before a product has gone to market, not following an unforeseen tragedy....

I urge city council to pass a cosmetic pesticide bylaw to be implemented in the spring of 2006. The phase-out would include residential and non-residential lawns and gardens. For something as inconsequential as a lawn, we shouldn't jeopardize people's health. The lawn-care industry, pushing the fabricated notion of a "perfect'' lawn, will only change when it is required to do so.

What do we prefer -- obnoxious dandelions, or noxious chemical substances? The decision, to be debated this fall in Ottawa, will have an impact on the health of our children and our grandchildren".

I wish Dr. Cushman well in his new responsibilities. But damn, he'll be hard to replace.

Bring on BBQ season!

Miss Vicky Wed Jun 29, 2005

I was lucky enough to be on the Hill for last night's historic vote on SSM, and joined equal marriage supporters for their press conference immediately following the vote.

After that, we floated between 2 parties - the NDP bash in Centre Block, and the Canadians for Equal Marriage celebration in the market. Great party, and a well-deserved pat on the back (or kiss on the cheek) for everyone.

I don't think I've ever seen Libby Davies' smile as wide as it was last night. Whether it was for this specific vote or the end of a challenging - and incredibly successful - session, I'm not sure. Anyway, kudos to her for doing an amazing job as NDP House Leader. Even Bill Blaikie (her predecessor and the longest-serving MP in the House of Commons) acknowledged last night that the caucus had never been able to get so much accomplished before.

It's not just equal marriage and the budget. Yesterday Alexa received unanimous support for her motion to commit to the 0.7% support for international aid. Now there's a legacy - not unlike Broadbent's child poverty resolution. Hopefully Alexa won't have to come back to parliament in 20 years to call attention to the government's failure to act....

There's a lot of other stuff, too.... progress on Employment insurance reform, banning trans fats, keeping us out of ballistic missile defense (kind of), and so on. The message all of this sends to me: minority governments work. I mean, it's frustrating to have to witness the shenanigans and machinations on the Hill, but if that's what it takes to deliver results, then maybe it's worth it.

Cooling off in Ottawa

Miss Vicky Tue Jun 28, 2005

Surprisingly few people are aware there are easily-accessible beaches in central Ottawa.

Unfortunately, weather, the profusion of geese and other factors can wreak havoc on water quality, and the city is a little heavy-handed when deciding to close beaches. They have a "better safe than sorry" approach, which I suppose is responsible. But there's nothing more diappointing than psyching yourself up for a refreshing escape from the sweltering heat, only to discover the beach has been closed.

This link lets you know which beaches are open and which aren't. Handy, no?

Westboro beach (or Kitchissippi Lookout) is open today and a lifeguard is on duty until 7pm.

Green light for green bin?

Miss Vicky Tue Jun 28, 2005

I went to the Planning and Environment committee this morning, to express my support for the proposed organics collection program. It was interesting. Speakers were there from the Sierra Club, the Composting Council of Canada, an Ottawa-based company that makes organic waste bags (including small ones you can use to line your green bin), and a waste management company that has the green light from the province to set up a compost processing facility in the area.

It looks like many of the necessary elements are there to establish a green bin collection program like they have in Halifax, Guelph and an increasing number of municipalities. All we need now is political will.

So of course I got up and spoke in favour of the plan. Here's a reconstructed version of what I said, minus the pithy lines I make up on the fly and can never remember:

I'd like to thank the committee for allowing me to speak today. I don't represent any particular group. I'm a citizen-at-large, I live in Hintonburg, and I'm here because I want a green bin. I've wanted one for quite some time - I have relatives in Halifax and have envied their composting program for ages.

The decision you have before you today is: Is it worth it - and will people participate?

You've already heard from several sources that the program is worth it. There's no question, the value of meeting waste diversion goals and extending the life of our landfill makes the program worth taking on.

As councillors you play an imoprtant role as environmental stewards - it's just as important as your role as representatives of your constituents. You need to make decisions with the future of our community in mind - long term decisions, which extend beyond a budget cycle or the next election. This is one of those decisions. Leadership and long term thinking is absolutely required if we are to address the serious environmental challenges our community faces, and we need that leadership from you.

I'm a little disappointed that 2008 is now the proposed implementation debate for an organics program - although I understand the logistical concerns at play. Many of us have been waiting for quite some time for this.

Will people participate? I think it's one of those "if you build it, they will come" scenarios. In fact, a lot of people in Ottawa are already doing what we can. I have a backyard composter, for example. Unfortunately it's limited - I can't put nearly the range of materials into it than I could put in a green bin, and I don't have a big enough garden to use the compost I produce. A lot of people in my urban neighbourhood don't have backyards at all, so their options are even more limited. A green bin program would make it easier for everyone, it would expand the range of materials we could compost, and it's pretty easy to use. It's no different to scrape my table scraps into a green bin than into a garbage pail, after all.

As for the "yuck" factor, well.... life is yucky. People already handle plenty of garbage. We change our kids' diapers. We pick up after our pets - heck, council has already passed a bylaw asking us to bring our pet waste home and flush it down the toilet, what could be more yucky than that? I think Ottawa residents are not so squeamish as some are suggesting. They're an educated bunch, they get it, and they will take on this challenge.

We must change our habits. Convenience is a luxury we can no longer afford. What we need is for our council to empower us and enable us to do what we need to do.

It's true that education is necessary. People need to buy in to this, to take ownership. I think we have to start small, with our kids. When I was seven, my greatest ambition was to become a scientist and "cure pollution". Now, I'm no scientist and I haven't been able to accomplish that particular goal, but why not harness the hope and idealism of our kids, and let them teach their parents how to handle organics? Bring the education program into schools, and they're sure to bring those new habits home.

Let's see this program as an investment - in our environment, in our community and in our public health. I'm looking forward to getting started.


Too Hot to Blog Part Deux

Miss Vicky Tue Jun 28, 2005

I'm gratified to observe that I'm not the only person affected by the heat. Apparently, it's getting to Stephen Harper as well.

I'm not sure what else to say about this. Apparently it's perfectly legitimate to cooperate with the Bloc when you want to bring down the government, but not when you want to get something done. I'm not sure how dismissing the elected representatives of most Quebec ridings as somehow not qualified to participate in the legislative process is going to win the Tories the Quebec votes they'll need if the ever want to govern this country.

Blame it on heat stroke, Stephen. It works for me.

Too Hot to Blog?

Miss Vicky Mon Jun 27, 2005

Profound apologies to my Faithful Legion for the lack of content the last few days. I have no real excuse, except the heat.... I've spent the last few days trying to avoid it, or trying not to think about it. Today, I made matters worse by travelling to Toronto for work. Nothing like the morning sun glinting off the smog clouds as you head into town from the airport! Of course, it's pretty smoggy here in the nation's capital, so I couldn't even be smug about it.

So it was too hot to hit Mechanicsville Days in Laroche Park this weekend. I opted instead to accept an invitation to Constance Bay to cool my heels (and the rest of me) in the river. Sunday I busied myself with long-neglected household tasks, and got myself psyched up for today's event: Miss Vicky's Mother's Big Move.

Yep, Miss Vicky's Mom has moved to Ottawa. Haven't had her this close in quite some time, so it will be interesting! She and her new hubby took possession of their swanky space and are busily planning extensive renovations. My upcoming kitchen overhaul will look pretty slapdash in comparison, I'm guessing. I was going to wax poetic about the fridge Webgeek and I have selected, but these two are reinforcing floors with steel beams, replacing porches with additions.... my goodness!

Anyway, more about our kitchen anon.

In other news, the Planning and Environment Committee meets tomorrow to discuss the proposed composting program. The meeting starts at 9:30, in city hall.... if I can get my brain to function, I may head down to see if I can express my support for the initiative.

Lots to celebrate

Miss Vicky Fri Jun 24, 2005

Last night I met up with a mess of Hill staffers at Oz Cafe, a great little bistro on Elgin Street. We were celebrating a couple of milestone birthdays, so we took over the restaurant for the evening. Oz was fantastic - they even made up special cocktails for the event, two dedicated to the birthday guy and gal, and a few with parliamentary themes (the Jack Laytini, the Hansard Blues, and so on).

It was shaping up to be a pretty fun evening. The staffers were in a fairly good mood - although slightly bitter that the session was about to be extended, meaning their bosses would be around for a couple more weeks (when the bosses are away, staff on the Hill can actually get some work done, you see).

As the Webgeek and I were polishing off our salmon (with kalamata olive couscous - soooo good!), word arrived via someone's Blackberry that the house would be voting on C-48 in an hour. This caused quite a stir in the room. We weren't quite sure how it happened, but the budget everyone had worked so hard on was about to pass!

The Laytinis really started flowing then... Posters appeared as if by magic, a laptop appeared and we started monitoring CPAC. Calls were made, and NDP types began to appear to witness a pretty amazing (and historic) moment. And after the vote, Layton arrived with finance critic Judy W-L and House Leader Libby Davies and several other members of caucus. One thing was pretty clear.... getting real results in the House feels pretty darned good. The room was hoppin'.

You couldn't see it on TV, but apparently the tone in the House last night was pretty bad. According to a couple of our members, there was a lot of sour grapes coming from the opposition benches, and it was vicious... swearing and tearing of documents, complaints about the Liberals so-called "sneak attack". Um, hello? Wasn't the shoe on the other foot a couple of weeks ago? Hasn't the Conservative message the last few weeks been that the role of the Official Opposition is to oppose and they're not in the business of cooperating with the Liberals? Haven't they tried every procedural trick possible to filibuster and prevent the House from doing business? What the heck did they expect would happen?

So. The budget's passed. Next hurdle: equal marriage. Then we can let the BBQ season begin!

Miss Vicky's Salad Tool Kit Extraordinaire

Miss Vicky Thu Jun 23, 2005

I've been asked to post more recipes on the site, but haven't had requests for a specific item. So I'll thrown in the recipe Jenn published in her cookbook. Perhaps she can post the most excellent Rosie the Riveter graphic she used to complement the recipe!

I am told this approach has redefined the concept of salad for some.... I'll leave it to you to judge.

Let's start with ingredients. Contents of the Tool Kit are divided into 6 categories (with an optional 7th):

1) Leafy stuff (baby spinach, mescalun mix, or any combination of lettuce-y substances. Avoid Iceberg - this is NOT your mother's salad)

2) Crunchy stuff (some combination of: diced red, yellow, green or orange peppers, red or green onion, cucumber, radish, carrot, slightly steamed asparagus....you get the idea)

3) Sweet stuff (because Miss Vicky's not sweet enough.... fruit is a must. Try dried cranberries, sliced strawberries, blueberries, diced apple or pear...)

4) Cheesy stuff (I prefer goat or feta but use any cheese that strikes your fancy)

5) Nutty stuff (pine, almonds - whole, chopped, sliced or blanched - walnut, pecan, sunflower seeds....)

6) Dressing (olive oil, wine or balsamic vinegar, mustards, honey, garlic, chopped fresh herbs.... and imagination)

7) OPTIONAL Special items (kalamata olives, grilled chicken or shrimp, Saslove's BBQ smoked salmon... you name it)

Salad Construction:

Step 1: Place Leafy Stuff in large bowl. Don't forget to wash it first! Miss Vicky always insists on cleanliness. Pesticides are a no-no, and that hint o' soil can always detract from a good salad. Rip Leafy Stuff into bite-sized pieces. If you have to use a knife to eat it, it's not a proper salad.

Step 2: Wash and chop Crunchy Stuff (see "bite-sized pieces", above). The more colourful, the better.

Step 3: Add Sweet Stuff. Not too much - a handful or two will do. Miss Vicky is always the perfect mix of sweet and bitter....I mean, tart... no, wait....

Step 4: Add Cheesy Stuff. Small cubes or dollops are perfect.

Step 5: Place Nutty Stuff on cookie sheet, place under broiler and lightly toast. Keep an eye on it. Miss Vicky is easily distracted and sometimes forgets about the nutty stuff, thus requiring a repeat of Step 5. Sigh.

Step 6: Add any Special Items your little heart desires.

Step 7: in a small glass or bowl, assemble dressing. Use equal parts of oil and vinegar. Add other ingredients as your imagination dictates. Miss Vicky likes to add equal dollops of dijon mustard and honey, or a clove of crushed garlic and some chopped herbs from the garden behind her Finishing School for Wayward Activists. (The tarragon is doing very well this year, by the way!)

Step 8: Toss salad with dressing immediately before serving.

Suggested beverage: Miss Vicky prefers a chewy red or a glass of Creemore Springs to accompany this dish. Or any dish.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Degree of difficulty: more creativity = better salad. Your inhibitions are your only limitation.

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