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All In Hand

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

Tony gets teary

Miss Vicky Mon Jan 30, 2006

I'm watching Anthony Germain being interviewed by Rita Celli on CBC's news at six. To my utter shock, he's actually choking up a bit at the thought of leaving Ottawa Morning!

We're choked up too, Tony. Honest!

Partner Yoga!

Miss Vicky Mon Jan 30, 2006

Well, I am starting to recover from the last few weeks of frenzied activity - except there's at least one more week of frenzied activity as I prepare to give a conference talk this weekend and write another article for publication, finalize things with the kitchen, and so on. I had an interesting weekend, starting Friday night. The Webgeek and I tried out a Partner Yoga class at Rama Lotus. Since my shoulder injury is still preventing me from swimming seriously, I thought I would give Yoga a try. Have been to a few classes, and it's been fun, so when this class was announced we'd thought we'd give it a try. As date nights go, it was pretty fun.

The class takes you through a series of poses you can do with a partner - some of it is assisted stretching, other poses allow you to use your partner's body for stability or resistance. And then there is the fun stuff. I'm sure there is a yoga term for it, but remember the "airplane" move from childhood? We did that. And there was this "chair" thing (again, don't know the yoga term, and couldn't find an image) that allowed me to pick up the Webgeek and hold him up in the air. Very cool. Except the Webgeek's Judo training has honed a certain instinct to move quickly to get out of vulnerable positions, and he wouldn't stop wriggling. Or trying to launch over my head. Sigh. The class ends with a massage segment. It was a nice balance of workout, relaxation and fun. I suppose it could have been romantic, too - and it was, but we weren't as demonstrably lovey as some of the couples in the room. Then again I was too tired and prickly this weekend of any of that nonsense. So I concentrated on the "fun" aspect of the night. And it was fun!

GCTC's Democracy: Thinker or Doer?

Miss Vicky Fri Jan 27, 2006

The Webgeek and I checked out the preview of the new GCTC production of John Murrell's Democracy. I think this ranks at the top of the plays we've seen this season. It's more cerebral than the other plays - it takes place during a day beside a country pond with Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson - and the dialogue is a bit more challenging. I walked out stimulated (in a good way this time), talking a mile a minute about the play as we strolled home along Gladstone.

The set was beautiful and the lighting met the usual high standards we have come to expect from the GCTC. But what really drew me in were the performances. Incredible. All four actors were excellent, but Jack Wetherall's portrayal of Emerson was particularly fantastic - an intellect uncomfortable in his own skin, appalled yet intrigued by Whitman's gregarious physicality. Subtly acted, and absolutely brilliant. Geordie Johnson's Whitman was also very very good - not as bombastic as I always pictured Whitman to be, but rather warm, affectionate and quite likeable.

The play takes place during the stormy years of the American Civil War - both poets are struggling to make sense of the toll the war is taking on a whole generation of Americans. Emerson, the thinker, looks to reason for spiritual enlightenment and redemption. Whitman's work as a nurse has brought him close to injured soldiers; he basically collects the wounded and lost and takes care of them, both physcially and spiritually. He finds beauty in even the most terrible of circumstances . So the play is essentially a debate between Emerson's approach to war, death and democracy and Whitman's, between the thought and experience, between finding beauty and truth in the intellectual versus the physical world.

The poets are paired up with younger counterparts - Pete, a dreamy deserter from the South who is being harboured by Whitman, and Jimmy, an injured Nothern soldier Whitman has brought from the hospital to the pond for the day. One would think that Pete's physicality (he spends most of the play buck naked - fair warning folks!) would put him in the Whitman camp, but his aversion to the horror of death and war and his retreat into dream and song reveals more of an affinity to Emerson. Jimmy, on the other hand, trapped in an injued body and unable to experience the physical as he once was, is thoughtful and observant (philosophically, that is - he was blinded by his injuries) searches for balance between the two perspectives.

One disappointing aspect of the night, for me, was the audience's reaction. Where previous productions have been greeted with thunderous applause and standing ovations (whether deserved or not), this one was met with polite applause and bums still in seats. Yet this play was far superior, especially in the quality of the acting. I really thought Ottawa theatregoers were more sophisticated, not just looking for simple entertainment. If I want to be entertained, I stay home and rent action flicks. When I go to the theatre, I'm looking for more. And with this play, I got more.


Tonight: Critical Mass

Miss Vicky Fri Jan 27, 2006

Just got this notice - thought I would pass it on for you hardy winter cyclists.

Come out tonight to celebrate your absolutely awesome mode of self-propelled transportation!

Ottawa's critical mass ride got off to a great start in November, so let's keep up the momentum and make this month's even better.

Meet Friday, January 27th (tonight)
Confederation Park (Elgin and Laurier)
5:00 pm -ish- (I'm sure we won't set off before 5:30 – 6).

The best way to enjoy the ride is to make it your own, so bring your friends, ideas, flyers, noisemakers, flags, musical instruments, or anything you think would make the ride more fun.

Anthony Germain has been trashing winter cycling most of this week on Ottawa Morning - that should be enough motivation to get folks out!


Miss Vicky: Volunteer Wrangler

The Webgeek Tue Jan 24, 2006

Anyone that knows Miss Vicky, knows her penchant for a certain orange and green emblazoned political party. She has, in the past, worked tirelessly -- in mostly volunteer capacities -- for various campaigns, working groups, and ridings. This year she decided to take a step back and focus her energies on Equal Voice instead, but did feel remiss in not doing *something* for the NDP. To that end, we decided to offer up our beloved finishing school as a zone house for the day, and help organize a horde of volunteers as they "pulled the vote".

For those of you who aren't familiar with "zone house" or "pulling the vote"; let me explain. Political parties are allowed to watch over the election process within polling stations and track which registered voters have come in to do their civic duty. Taking this information and coupling it with their internal lists of supporters, they can -- and do -- get a very good idea of how many people who said they'd support them have and have not voted as the day goes on. A properly motivated riding association could -- and does -- keep a running tally of which voters have voted and which haven't, and then -- physically or over the phone -- attempt to contact these lagging supporters to gently remind them of their civic duty. This is known as "pulling" the vote. In large ridings with multiple polling stations, the riding is sliced up into zones and a central location (usually a volunteer's home) is selected to do this pulling from. This is known as "a zone house". This was our house. It was, quite literally, pandemonium.

To successfully pull votes, you need to have people playing different roles. You need "inside scrutineers": people willing to pore over the voters lists in the polling stations and cross names off lists of known supporters. You need "outside scrutineers": people willing to man a phone or -- better yet -- go door to door, to actually contact the supporters who are a little late, and find out why. You need "runners":people willing to go to polling stations and get the crossed off lists from the inside scrutineers and bring them back to the zone house so they can be put in the hands of the outside scrutineers. You also need "drivers": people willing to drive off to voters houses and give them lifts to the polling stations if need be. Some times they also help shovel driveways1. On top of that you need a "zone captain". This was Vicky. If you're lucky, you may also have little helper elves that run around and answer phones and collate papers and keep the coffee brewed and sandwich platter filled. This, for the most part, was myself and Miss Vicky's Mom.

Now, seeing as we will be doing this very thing, on a smaller scale, come the Municipal election this November, I thought a run down of what makes a good zone house would be good.

Here's the list:

Protect your floors
Especially important in winter elections. We thought we had, but we were mistaken. We had two huge floor mats we bought from Giant Tiger and a series of boot racks. Unfortunately with 30+ people running in and out of the house, these not only failed to contain the slush and salt, but actually started floating in a mini-lake of the stuff. The result was a series of volunteers coming in, removing their boots, and attempting to long-jump off the now-useless mats in some fleeting desire to keep their socks dry. A few stalwart volunteers mentioned that the preferred floor covering would have been cardboard and/or newspaper. its more absorbent, and can have fresh layers added over the course of the day. Dually noted. We now have a Citizen subscription and will be stocking up.

Invest in an industrial sized coffee urn
Vicky already had. It kept everyone going. Campaigns live and die by the amount of coffee available. It doesn't have to be wonderful. It just needs to be hot and never ending.

Having a grandmother in the kitchen feeding volunteers rocks!
Miss Vicky's mom parked herself in the kitchen and quickly found her niche as den mother to the horde. As people came in and launched themselves off the floor mat flotilla, they'd land in our kitchen and were promptly fed a sandwich, carrot stick, cookie or cup of coffee. She kept track of everyone's likes and dislikes. She made pots of tea for those who preferred it. She made sure the the ones who (like Vicky) refused food eventually ate, and the ones who (like me) helped themselves a little too often left some for the rest of the team. Best of all, she kept the place spotless. Wandering around clearing plates and cups and tidying the sandwich/veggie platter after endless waves. Cleaning up this morning was much more painless because of it.

Keep a good central list
We started with good intentions on this; but kind of fell short near the end. In the past, Vicky said they'd have a huge list on the wall that one person would update as runners returned with Polling results. This time around we had several "per polling station" lists -- one running tally, one master -- that continually floated around. The master list(s) quickly became outdated.

Keep everything organized, and make sure to recheck your data once and a while
As can be expected, not all volunteers can stay all day. There will be turn over. there may even be gaps in between shifts. Mistakes can be made. Recheck things from time to time. Even with the multi-list system we had, there were clearly marked piles. When data integrity was called into question, we were able to go back and verify and, as needed, correct.

Track everything
Track the number of times a voter's been contacted. track the number of times a poll has been visited by runners. Ideally, lists should have little areas that are obviously made for this very purpose.

Be consistent in your list marking
You can use x's or check marks, or circles or strikethroughs; but for God's sake, make sure everyone uses the same one. If extra information needs to be added, make sure there's a previously agreed upon methodology for doing so. As lists got handed from volunteer to volunteer, markings began to differ. More than once, all work stopped to try and figure out "what does this squiggle mean?" Ideally someone should make a "sample sheet" of how to mark things down. Ideally, volunteers all would get to see this sample sheet. Ideally, all volunteers would actually follow the suggestions on that sample sheet. This may be one thing that will never get done properly, but --for sanity's sake -- an attempt should be made.

Over-estimate the number of volunteers needed
Luckily, this was something we had done. Not all volunteers are as dedicated as you would like. Others, god bless 'em, are limited in their capabilities. Roles will need to change. People will go missing. Jobs will be found for the eager soon enough. It's better to have too many hands than not enough. An upshot of this is that over eager, under utilized volunteers will do things like shovel your front walk, play with your dog whose stuck in the backyard, or do something about the soupy floor mats.

Make sure the volunteers know: Voters Lie.
It's true. People will look you square in the eye and say "Yes, I voted", even though they haven't. We know. Their name isn't crossed off the list. It may be necessary to actually go back and re-ask if they've voted. Be nice about it. Don't actually accuse them of lying. Blame it on "faulty data" -- which it may be -- but just remember. Voters lie.

1Yes, you read that right. On election day you can phone up a campaign's office and ask for someone to come out and shovel your driveway. They'll do it. They'll do it for free. The media may say voters dislike winter campaigns, but they don't. Riding associations dislike them them. Riding associations dislike them because they have to shovel driveways.

Women lose ground

Miss Vicky Tue Jan 24, 2006

Yesterday was not a great day for women's representation. We've slipped a little, in fact. The number of women elected is down by two to 63 - that's 20.45% of the total seats in the House. Just a hair over one fifth. I believe this puts us at 47th internationally - between Poland and China. Woo. Hoo.

So here's what I put together for Equal Voice:

National Totals:
63 Women elected (20.45%)
Conservative: 14 out of 124 seats
Liberal : 21 out of 103 seats
Bloc: 16 out of 51 seats
NDP: 12 out of 29 seats

Total Ridings: 7
Women elected: 0

New Brunswick
Total Ridings: 10
Women elected: 0

Nova Scotia
Ridings: 11
Women elected: 1

Halifax: Alexa McDonough (NDP)

Ridings: 4
Women elected: 0

Ridings: 75
Women elected: 21

Châteauguay Saint-Constant: Carole Freeman (Bloc)
Compton Stanstead: France Bonsat (Bloc)
Drummond : Pauline Picard (Bloc)
La Pointe-de-l'Île : Francine Lalonde (Bloc)
Laurentides Labelle : Johanne Deschamps (Bloc)
Longueuil Pierre-Boucher : Caroline St. Hilaire (Bloc)
Louis-Saint-Laurent : Josee Verner (Conservative)
Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Lachine : Marlene Jennings (Liberal)
Papineau: Vivian Barbot (Bloc)
Québec : Christiane Gagnon (Bloc)
Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques : Louise Thibault (Bloc)
Rivière-du-Nord : Monique Guay (Bloc)
Saint-Bruno-Saint-Hubert : Carole Lavallée (Bloc)
Terrebonne-Blainville : Diane Bourgeois (Bloc)
Trois-Rivières : Paule Brunelle (Bloc)
Vaudreuil-Soulanges : Meilie Faille (Bloc)
Westmount- Ville-Marie: Lucienne Robillard (Liberal)
Ahuntsic: Maria Mourani (Bloc)
Beauport Limoilou: Sylvie Boucher (Conservative)
Laval Les Îles Raymonde Folco (Liberal)
Laval : Nicole Demers (Bloc)

Ridings: 106
Women elected: 23

Brampton West: Colleen Beaumier (Liberal)
Brampton Springdale: Ruby Dhalla (Liberal)
Don Valley East: Yasmin Ratsani (Liberal)
Durham: Bev Oda (Conservative)
Guelph: Brenda K. Chamberlain (Liberal)
Haldimand Norfolk: Diane Finley (Conservative)
Kitchener Centre: Karen Redman (Liberal)
London West: Sue Barnes (Liberal)
Mississauga East Cooksville: Albina Guarnieri (Liberal)
Oakville: Bonnie Brown (Liberal)
Renfrew Nipissing Pembroke: Cheryl Gallant (Conservative)
Simcoe Grey: Helena Guergis (Conservative)
Sudbury: Dianne Marleau (Liberal)
Thornhill: Susan Kadis (Liberal)
York West: Judy Sgro (Liberal)
Newmarket Aurora: Belinda Stronach (Liberal)
Hamilton Mountain: Chris Charlton (NDP)
London Fanshawe: Irene Mathyssen (NDP)
Trinity Spadina : Olivia Chow (NDP)
Beaches East York: Maria Minna (Liberal)
Parkdale High Park: Peggy Nash (NDP)
Sarnia Lambton: Patricia Davidson (Conservative)
St. Paul’s: Carolyn Bennett (Liberal)

Ridings: 14
Women elected: 4

Winnipeg North: Judy Wasylycia-Leis (NDP)
Winnipeg South Centre: Anita Neville (Liberal)
Kildonan St. Paul: Joy Smith (Conservative)
Tina Keeper (Liberal)

Ridings: 12
Women elected: 2

Blackstrap: Lynne Yelich (Conservative)
Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar: Carol Skelton (Conservative)

Ridings: 28
Women elected: 2

Edmonton Spruce Grove: Rona Ambrose (Conservative)
Calgary Nose Hill: Diane Ablonczy (Conservative)

British Columbia
Ridings: 36
Women elected: 9

Kamloops Thompson Cariboo: Betty Hinton (Conservative)
Fleetwood-Port Kells: Nina Grewal (Conservative)
Nanaimo Cowichan: Jean Crowder (NDP)
Surrey North: Penny Priddy (NDP)
Vancouver Centre: Hedy Fry (Liberal)
Vancouver East: Libby Davies (NDP)
Victoria: Denise Savoie (NDP)
Vancouver Island North: Catherine Bell (NDP)
New Westminster Coquitlam: Dawn Black (NDP)

Ridings: 3
Women elected: 1

Nunavut Nancy Karatek-Lindell (Liberal)


Vote today!

Miss Vicky Mon Jan 23, 2006

Elections Canada
It's been a long campaign, but today we get our chance to have our say. Polls open at 9:30 this morning and close at 9:30pm - a long day for poll clerks and campaign volunteers! And it will be a long wait while we get the results from across the country. I spent yesterday crunching the numbers from election prediction sites to develop a list of "ridings to watch" for Equal Voice (I may post it later, but it's pretty long), and will be keeping a close eye on those races this evening.


Gladstone update - rumours abound

Miss Vicky Sun Jan 22, 2006

So I went to the open house about the Gladstone reconstruction the other night. Not a lot of attendance, but a few residents and business owners came to check out the plans and provide some feedback. The reconstruction is primarily about infrastructure - upgrading water and sewer systems - but there will be some changes to roads, sidewalks, lighting and landscaping. There are two phases - this spring and summer, construction will start between Melrose and Bayswater. Phase two will continue the work to Booth St. The more interesting changes are happening on the other side of the O-Train tracks, because for some reason funds have been allocated for landscaping and streetscaping for that phase of the project. No trees for Kitchissippi! And despite the fact that several studios line Gladstone, and I'm sure there are artists who would love to contribute to improving the space, the one-percent-for-art that is supposed to be allocated to capital projects has not been provided for this one. The community association is pushing for trees at the very least, but it would be useful if folks wrote in to support this idea.

In our stretch of Gladstone, you won't see too many changes. Sidewalks will be widened to the city's standard, lighting upgraded somewhat, road width will be in accordance with the city's cycling plan. The primary changes will be to street corners. The corner on St. Francis will be adjusted so snowplows can navigate better - what this will do is reduce the space for pedestrians, and the result will include a hydro pole obstructing pedestrians' path on one corner (I raised the question of accessibility and safety at the open house, and hopefully they will move the pole despite what I am told is a prohibitive cost). Irving's intersection will be narrowed, which should help with sight lines and slow down the drivers who like to speed down the hill. The adjustments were made after the community raised safety concerns.

The number 14 bus will be rerouted during construction this summer - it will head north on Bayswater and follow Wellington to Rosemount, when it will head back to Gladstone (taking it past Connaught School).

The most interesting thing I found out at the consultation had nothing to do with this particular project. According to a source in one of the business associations, staff in the Mayor's office have verbally indicated that the planned LRT station for Gladstone will not be built - in fact, the latest plans have reduced the number of stations substantially. The Gladstone LRT would not just bring a much-needed connection to the O-Train to Preston Street and the south part of Hintonburg - it means improved landscaping, safety, quick access to Carleton and other destinations, potential for development in the neighbourhood and more. If it is indeed true that the city is considering scrapping the plan, we should be voicing our support for the station now. At the very least, the city should come clean about their plans, so that we can make our concerns heard before it's too late.


Miss Vicky Fri Jan 20, 2006

First we lose Brent Bambury to Toronto.... now Ottawa Morning host Anthony Germain has announced he's leaving to work in the CBC's new Shanghai bureau. Shanghai! Whatever will I do without his ascerbic wit to wake me up in the morning? How will I get a sense of what's happening on the Hill with no Germain hosting the House?

I'm in despair.

Gladstone Open House - Tonight!

Miss Vicky Thu Jan 19, 2006

Anyone living on or near Gladstone betwen Melrose and Booth should attend tonight's open house to review the plans for the proposed rehabilitation of Gladstone. The work on the Melrose end will start this summer, so if you're curious about traffic management or what the outcome of the project will be, then you should come on by. Likewise if you use Gladstone to walk your kids to school or cycle to and from work or exercise your pooch.

The setup will be the usual kind of planning consultation - they stick a bunch of engineers in a room with posters of planning drawings and you can ask them questions. And there is a comment form for you to provide feedback - you can also talk to the engineers and project staff directly about any concerns. It's a pretty crappy process, from a public engagement point of view. We asked for a presentation and Q&A session to form part of the evening, but didn't get too far. So if you do go, be proactive, don't hesitate to ask questions or have staff walk you through the project. That's why they are there.

Folks with homes on Gladstone should attend to find out how you can take advantage of the construction period to upgrade or repair your home's connections to the sewer and water system. We asked the project staff to have info on hand but also to be prepared to answer questions.

At the public consultation group thus far, the Hintonburg folks have raised the following issues: concerns about the corner at Irving, which people like to speed through, and which also has visibility problems; the need for landscaping, especially near Breezehill/Loretta/O-Train tracks; traffic management around the routes to the two schools during construction; diversion of the #14 bus and school buses during construction. I'm sure you folks will have plenty to say about this and other issues.

Gladstone Avenue Rehabilitation Open House
Jan 19th 2006 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM
St. Anthony's Soccer Club
523 St. Anthony Street


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