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All In Hand

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

Childhood Meme

Miss Vicky Tue Aug 30, 2005

This meme arrived during my vacation, via Miss Twiss.

Five things I miss about childhood:

1. Wonder. You know, that capacity to be amazed, not just at extraordinary things, but at even the most mundane. I don't think I feel wonder the way I used to. Cynicism seems to have taken over.

2. Imagination. That capacity to pretend, the easy creativity. I used to be able to play make-believe for hours, write long stories and act 'em out. Now it seems so damned hard to be creative, like pulling well-established weeds out of an untended garden when it hasn't rained for a month.

3. The joy of silliness. I still get glimmers of this now and then -the ability to be ridiculous and just not care. But I only allow it to emerge in very safe situations. Those who know me well have seen my really silly side; the rest of you have no idea. And that's probably a good thing.

4. Possibility. When I was a kid I thought I could do anything, be anything. Everyone was a potential friend, the world was open and the future could be whatever I wanted it to be. What a betrayal it felt like when I discovered that people could be mean to you or not like you for absolutely no fault of your own, when errors began to have consequences, when doors began to shut and overwhelming obstacles emerged. Suddenly hope and optimism and possibility became flickering moments of brightness rather than constant shiny reality.

5. Energy. Remember when you could run and play all day and not feel tired, until you conked out in your parent's arms and slept like a log until you woke up, leapt out of bed and started it all over again? God I miss that.

who to tag, who to tag..... how about accidental altruist, pinklitva (who has a shiny new blog) and pamused?

CBC unplugged

Miss Vicky Mon Aug 29, 2005

Robert Rabinovitch ruined the last week of my vacation.

It became painfully obvious to me that CBC radio is an integral part of my cottage experience. It keeps me informed, keeps me amused and keeps me company. I spend a lot of time alone up there, you see. There's no phone, no TV and you can only get so much conversation out of the loons.

My daily ritual usually begins with a pot of coffee and Ontario Morning, sitting in a comfy chair on the porch, watching the light play on the water and gradually waking up to the news. If I'm really feeling the effects of the long, deep cottage sleep, I stay put through The Current before I head to the rock for my morning swim or down the road for a jog. The radio will be off and on most of the day, and on again in the evening while I'm making supper. Like I said, it keeps me company. And I've heard some amazing stuff over the years - Ross Porter's biography of Chet Baker, for example, or a piece last summer on the public wolf howls in Algonquin Park. This summer's O'Reilly on Advertising series was hilarious, and while I miss Anthony Germain's wry hosting on Saturday morning's Politics and the many giggles I get from listening to Go, I did get a bit of a kick from Sean Cullen's summer show and Promo Girl's Nancy-Drew-of-the-CBC spots.

Of course, all that was shot when the lockout started. I didn't notice much the first week, since the family was up and the nieces and nephew had my undivided attention (who needs radio when you can hunt for mushrooms?). But after everyone left, it sure was quiet. I felt restless; I read even more compulsively than I usually do when I'm up there. And I couldn't shake the profound sense that something was missing. I tried listening to the scabs for a while, but couldn't hack it. Then I was even more appalled to hear they were filling the airtime with repeats of Sounds like Canada and other shows - the labour of those very employees who now walk the picket lines on Sparks and Front Streets and other studios across the country. Must feel like a double dose of punishment from the Mothercorps for the writers, producers, technicians, journalists and hosts who worked so hard to put those shows together in the first place.

Now I'm back in Ottawa, and again my morning routine has been disrupted. Normally I'd wake up to the radio, listen to Ottawa Morning for a while, get caught up on the national and local scene, then head off on the Bridgehead/River walk with Winston and the Webgeek . This morning: nothing.

The thing is, it's just not home without the CBC. At the cottage or when I'm travelling, the CBC keeps me connected to the rest of the country and is a trusted source of information about what's happening in the world. Here in Ottawa, the local shows help create a sense of community, make me feel like I'm plugged in to what's happening - and provides me with a fine source of blogging inspiration. Plus I really enjoy the dry humour and quick wit of the folks who work here - the Ottawa morning crowd, Alan Neale's noon show, Ian Black's special way of reporting the weather... ok we've lost Brent Bambury, and I'm still getting over that, but you get where I'm going with this. These are people who love their work, and it really shows. They're warm, funny, talented and the radio just isn't the same without them.

The thing is, job stability is a vital part of loving your work. It establishes a connection, inspires loyalty and instils a desire to perform. If your work is appreciated, you're more motivated to produce, right? And it seems to me that this is the key issue in this dispute. The employer wants the right to hire more contract workers, saying they need flexibility. The union's argument is that temporary workers should not be doing the work that full-time, permanent folks could do, and they don't want to give the employer the right to exploit contract workers. Same thing is happening in other sectors - permanent positions are being replaced with cheap temps or part-time jobs with no benefits and no security of employment. People jump from contract to contract, with no access to unemployment insurance in between.... or they're rehired year after year on a contract basis, left in a limbo of precarity even though there is a clear need for a permanent position in their workplace. Heck, I was one of these workers for a while myself, and I deal with academics in this position every day. It's stressful, it's demoralizing and it's frustrating.

So, I'm feeling a bit unplugged myself, thanks to CBC management.

I went searching for a fix today. And I found some good stuff

Tod Maffin's blog, CBC Unplugged, is a good compendium of info and resources. Plus there are cool t-shirts you can make yourself. And you can download some of the guerilla radio podcasts from the various picket sites....

Hadeel's blog gives the lowdown on the Sparks Street picket line.

Here's a site for members of the CBC's key demographic to make their voices heard. The folks responsible for this site made cupcakes for the Sparks Street picket this week.....aw.

Here's the Media Guild's picket line news resource.

Plenty more out there if you feel like surfing for it. I guess I'll have to head down to the picket line myself later this week, and show some solidarity with the folks who usually make my day.

Back to Reality

Miss Vicky Mon Aug 29, 2005

Got in from the cottage about 11 last night. Still have a week of vacation left - which is good because I have a heck of a lot of laundry to do, and a million weeds in the garden! It'll take me a while to catch up on all this discussion and get back into the blogging habit. There was a copy of the new Kitchissippi Times waiting for me, which will hopefully provide some inspiration.

I just wanted to say a big thank you to the folks who've been blogging in my absence, and the readers who've kept the discussion going. Hope your August was as restful as mine!


missvickysmother Thu Aug 25, 2005

Have you noticed the increase in noise, particularly vehicular noise? Do you find it annoying when you're at the Byward Market and the motorcycles with their altered mufflers roar by? Do you find yourself covering your ears because the noise hurts?
What about those cars with the souped up mufflers that roar by and the boom boxes that shake our ear drums. Have you noticed that your head actually vibrates when those sound waves are transmitted through your skull? Did you know that it's illegal to sell a new car with a loud muffler, but it's legal to purchase a loud muffler and alter your car to become very loud?
What is the world coming to as we all watch it get louder and louder and seem to be powerless to stop it? Our hearing is a precious thing, and there's been enough research to demonstrate that regular noise over 85 decibels can damage our hearing. It's bad enough that at over 100 decibels, the drivers of those motorcycles and souped up cars will all be deaf in another decade or so.... but what about the rest of us? Have you noticed how loud the buses are lately? As the ambient noise on the streets gets louder, we'll all be affected eventually. Some of us will lose our high frequency hearing earlier than others. We all have an individual threshold for how much noise we can tolerate before those fragile nerve cells in our auditory nerve start to decline.
When is the last time you've tried to have a conversation with an older person who has high frequency hearing loss from previous noise damage? It could have been from gunfire, explosion, power tools, airports... any number of environmental noise conditions one can be exposed to. There were lots of deaf people after World War II, and then we got smart and instituted restrictions at noisy work places.... mandatory ear protection, regular hearing exams, etc. But somehow the message got lost, because noise on the streets is getting louder than noise is permitted at the workplace without hearing protection.
Then there's the music.... concerts, dances at weddings, wherever modern music is played it's almost always over 100 decibels. That's more than enough to kill your auditory nerves after awhile. The trouble is, the damage is delayed. Noise exposure comes first, then several years later, the hearing goes. That's what makes it so insidious... you don't know you're going deaf until it's far too late.
People aren't educated enough to know that the things they're doing are making them deaf, particularly young people who feel somewhat immortal. So it's up to our government and particularly our health programs to legislate and educate the people. Do we have to wait for a whole generation of loud music lovers and loud vehicle drivers to go deaf before something is done?

pedal pusher - a photo essay

accidental altruist Fri Aug 19, 2005

This summer my husband and I helped organize a Parking Meter Party. What we did was roll up to York Street early on a Saturday, park our bikes on the street and feed the appropriate parking meters. We invited our friends from the HPVOoO to bring more bikes, lawn chairs and snacks.

The whole point of this event was to reclaim space that has been exclusively earmarked for motor vehicles. To challenge assumptions about how we all get from point A to point B. To ask passers by - do you want to live in a city built for cars or for people?

We were interviewed by several TV and Radio reporters. The following is the transcript from CBC Radio, the photos were candid shots taken by Greg.

"Jenn and Greg Farr had barely parked their bikes and plugged
the meters when the first complaint was made."

"A driver wanted one of their two spaces."

"Two people in Byward Market Association T-shirts soon
showed up and politely told them that motorists already
have enough trouble finding parking, without their demo.

guy in yellow shirt said: Basically you're pissing off people
-- I mean the motorists because parking is hard, as
you know..."

"And then a by-law officer drove up.

bylaw officer said: I just got a complaint saying that you
guys are not allowed to park there.

Jenn said: Well we paid for it.

bylaw officer: You guys paid for it?

Jenn: Yeah we have our little stubs on our handlebars.

bylaw officer: Okay, hold on."

"Turns out, they could park there... as long as they paid
for the space. That was the word from the next by-law

"Jenn Farr then delivered her message that too many cars
raise the stress level in an area that should be for people...
and that a lot more people could go to the market without
their cars.

Jenn said: It's just about getting into people's
consciousness and reminding them that there are other
ways to get around than in gas powered vehicles."

"When the Farr meters ran out, other cyclists rode up to
claim parking spaces and keep the protest going... and
slowly circling motorists continued to look with dismay
at the potential -- but unavailable -- parking spaces.

Wayne Anderson, cbc news - Ottawa"

We think the event was a huge success and plan to do it again. The whole morning had been fun and invigorating for all of us. If you're keen on good-natured cycling advocacy, believe in eco-friendly transportation or just love funky-weird bikes - you'd probably enjoy the Human Powered Vehicle Operators of Ottawa (HPVOoO). Our bike group has weekly Sunday dinner meetings at local restaurants. We're holding a beach-themed parade to the Ottawa Folk Festival on Sunday the 21st. On the 28th we're dressing up & riding our bikes in the Pride Parade. And then we'll be at Car Free Day on September 22nd!

Red State, Blue State

Flanders Wed Aug 17, 2005

It’s hardly original to say that there are two Americas. Much of the commentary following last year’s re-election of President Bush talked about “Red” and “Blue” states – red states voting Republican and blue states voting Democrat. To hear some commentators tell it, there is a chasm between the two Americas: citizens from Blue states can’t possibly understand how anyone could have voted for Bush, and citizens in the Red States unable to understand how anyone could not. (There are blogs that perpetuate this idea – I stumbled across Redstate.org recently and chuckled about its paranoia of the “left side of the blogosphere”…) I’ve always felt this dichotomy overstated the case. But on a trip to Chicago this past weekend, I got to see both Red America and Blue America up close. And you know what? They just can’t understand each other.

Why was I in Chicago on the weekend? Well, as a lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs (that’s baseball, for Miss Vicky’s overseas followers) what better way to spend my 40th birthday than a trip to Wrigley Field to watch the Chicago Cubs take on their arch rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. And here’s where the Red/Blue dichotomy kept showing up. The Chicago Cubs wear blue. The Cardinals wear red. Chicago is, of course, in Illinois, which is one of the safest Blue states. (Kerry beat bush 55% to 45% in Illinois.) St. Louis is in the very red Missouri. (Went to Bush in 2004 by 53-46%, though many St. Louis precincts voted Democrat).

As I mentioned, the Cardinals and Cubs are bitter rivals. Every time they play in Chicago, huge numbers of Cardinal fans make the 6-hour trip up Interstate 55 to Chicago, and vice-versa. You saw the red-shirted Cardinal fans all over town, and if I may unfairly generalize, I didn’t have a very hard time imagining that they voted for Bush—particularly the ones I saw chatting on their cell phones while waiting for the hotel valet to park their SUVs.

Inside the stadium, and on the subway to ball park, there was lots of good-natured ribbing of the other team’s supporters, not unlike what you’d hear in Ottawa between Sens and Leafs fans. “Cubs suck!” “Oh yeah, Cards suck!” etc. etc. And in the stands, my spouse and I sat behind a family of red-clad Cardinal supporters. Also in front of us were a pair of Blue-clad men – Cub fans like myself – one who looked to be in his late 40s, the other in his late 20s or early 30s, who were clearly quite close. Now as Miss Vicky can confirm, my support for the Cubs borders on the psychotic, and I was paying very close attention to the game. But my darling spouse was watching the interaction of the two groups sitting in front of us. She eavesdropped on the conversation between younger Cub Fan and the mother of the Cardinal Fan family, when the older Cub Fan had gone to get some beer.

“But if he’s not your father, how do you know him?” Cardinal Mom asked.
“Oh, we’re just good friends,” said the Cub Fan, smiling.
“But how did you meet? Do you work together?”
“No, we’re just good friends.”
“He seems a lot older than you,” said the Cardinal Fan, quizzically.
“Yes he is older than I am, but what does age have to do with good friendship?”

After the game, we talked about the conversation. We agreed we just wanted to say, “Lady, they’re gay! How can you not get it?” And then it dawned on me – the Cardinal Fan simply did not understand how the Cub Fans lived their lives. And we couldn’t understand how they couldn’t understand. Red State, Blue State. The dichotomy lives on.

There’s much more to be said here – Blue America, ultimately, is more urban while Red America is more suburban and rural. (For a fascinating view of the two Americas, see this map.) It’s not really Illinois that’s Blue, it’s Chicago, indeed, 90 of the State’s 105 counties went for Bush. And this urban-rural dichotomy has its parallels in Canada. Ask New Democrats trying to get elected in rural Canada, or Conservatives trying to get elected in urban (not suburban) Canada.

But that’s another story. The truly important matter is that the Cubs won the game, 4-1.Even the beer was great.


Wow! Talk about blogging fodder.

The Webgeek Tue Aug 16, 2005

The Great Canadian Theatre Company
While volunteering at WESTfest Miss Vicky and I happened to enter a draw for season's tickets to the GCTC. There was a phone message last night, and it turns out we were the lucky winners; so we should be getting to see many an interesting play -- and no doubt critiquing them for you here. Just up the road from us on Gladstone, the GCTC is a great little company and an interesting space. Back in my high school improv days I even had occasion to play there once or twice. So I'm glad I'll get to see the old haunt a few more times before they move into their new digs on Wellington and Parkdale. While the new location does look fantastic, I do have a bit of sentimental attachment to the old place. Then again, they are hoping to sell it to another theatre company if possible, so I might get further opportunity later on too.


missvickysmother Mon Aug 15, 2005

My husband and I have just moved to Ottawa from Halifax. We arrived 6 weeks ago and quickly attacked the wonderful cycling paths in this fair city. We are avid cyclists and will cycle about 30km in an hour. What joy to have so many biking paths all over the city. Halifax was not a bike friendly city, but it had one advantage over Ottawa. It had a helmet law. I'm told that there's no helmet law for cyclists in Ontario because Mike Harris' son didn't wear a helmet so his father rescinded the law when he was Premier. Is that true?? I was so shocked to see so many cyclists without helmets here. It's great to see lots of people cycling, keeping fit, using the paths for transportation, participating in family cycling, etc. But my heart saddens to see so many of all ages without helmets.
I remember during my medical training many years ago in Winnipeg, the province passed the helmet law for motorcycles. Later that year I did a month's elective in neurosurgery. So much of the time was spent desperately trying to save the lives of young people with head injuries. One of them was a cyclist who rode full speed into the back of a stopping bus. Most of them didn't survive. The neurosurgeon told me that after the helmet law for motorcycles was passed, their statistics changed so that they saw more head injuries from bicyclists than motorcyclists.
More immediately, a month after arriving here, I wiped out on my bicycle on the Ottawa River trail, just west of the Parliament buildings. I don't remember a thing because I got a concussion, along with some significant abrasions and contusions to face and body. My helmet was cracked and is now replaced by another. Apparently there was some sand on the trail left by some recent construction in the immediate area. I'm very cautious around sand & gravel, but this area was at the bottom of a decline with a 90 degree turn and other cyclists on the path. Although I can't remember anything, I assume that I either didn't see the sand on the path or couldn't go around it due to other cyclists and wiped out. Just think if I didn't have a helmet! When my husband rode back to find me, I didn't know where I was or what we were doing in Ottawa. Fortunately, there doesn't appear to be any permanent brain damage.... but without that helmet, who knows what might have happened. Now, whenever I see a cyclist without a helmet, I want to say "Wear a helmet!!" So all of you cyclists, please wear a helmet and ensure that your loved ones do too.

Get off my radio ya damn scabs!

The Webgeek Mon Aug 15, 2005

Ok, it was a hard enough to deal with the loss of CBC Radio One's acerbically witty Ottawa Morning host Anthony Germain, and the varying quality of the various replacement hosts due to, I assume, summer schedule "experiments". This morning however, I was confronted with something different entirely;

  • poorly read national news and weather;
  • poorly read apologies for the lack of local equivalents;
  • poorly timed pockets of dead air;
  • odd selections of Can-Con soft rock (sometimes identified, sometimes not);
  • poorly read re-affirmations that I was, in fact, still listening to CBC Radio One.

While I'm all for increasing the representation of First Nations in popular culture, the 6:30 am Kashtin double-set had me groggily reciting random English words for fear that I might have had a mini-aneurysm in the speech-recognition centre of my brain. Once it registered what was happening, I bolted out of bed, dreadfully aware that some Toronto-centric song selector would inevitably subject me to Pukka Orchestra (or worse -- Martha and the Muffins) if I didn't make it stop now. It seems the the CBC lockout is now in full effect. All links to the regular CBC shows and talent has been scrubbed from the official site, and the Mother Corp. has put up this handy "guide" to the negotiations. Now, I haven't read through it very much, but even at first blush, it seems rather one-sided in its descriptions and opinions. Hopefully someone can hunt down the other side's (no doubt equally slanted) take on these unfolding events. That way we can do a "he said/she said" point by point comparison.

And for those of you reading this and saying to yourselves, "hey, wasn't he a little harsh on Martha and the Muffins?" I present you this: I know it's out of fashion / And a trifle uncool / But I can't help it /I'm a romantic fool / something something something / something some thing / Echo Beach / Far away in time / Echo Beach / Far away in time (repeat and fade...)

There. Now you can have that damn song stuck in yer Schlecking head all day too.

Weary of That 'Schlecking' word!

pinklitva Sat Aug 13, 2005

Hi Miss Vicky
here is my blogging contribution so you can take a break.

I am tired of the word 'fuck'. I find it overused and difficult to make good anagrams with. I also feel the 'F' sound causes the lips to contort is ways that resemble something between a beever and a cat’s bottom. The reality is that at my age, puckering is not a good idea. The lines stay.

This summer Mark and I returned to Nice for our summer holidays after having such a pleasant time last year. We really enjoy any part of France but Nice is special. It contains those elements that can sooth the effects of a year of stress on the soul – cheap good wine (Red! White! And Pink!), fabulous food, sun, surf and now Schlecker. Mark and I had found a lovely little hotel – we try to avoid chains. However, this year my usual holiday bonhomie was greatly enhanced by the presence of a shop that looked rather out-of-place amongst the boutiques and tourist shops that are found in cities along the Cote d’Azur. Schlecker is a German based shop – I think – that is the European equivalent to BiWay. Aside from having cheap tat and useful item for holiday-ers – clothes washing powder and wet finger wipes – the name appeals! This words just rolls
off the tongue in way that allows any intense feeling to be expressed. It contains that gritty 'k' sound but no facial contortions ! or unattractive lines around the mouth. I spent the rest of my holiday calling my patient, tolerant and much beloved partner a 'Schelcker', telling him to 'Schleck-you' or saying 'You are such a Schlecker' usually during periods of low glycemia or sobriety. I was encouraged by the general utility of the word and the way it is rather meaningless, unlike the word 'fuck'. I put it to Miss Vicky’s followers to explore for themselves the utility of this word in place of other expletive- e.g.'Schlecking Conservatives!'. I admit to being quite excited by initial controlled trials of this new swear word and am interested in any other words that can other reader feel might be additions to swearing vocabulary. And of course, I am always interested in your anagrams of Schlecker…

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