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All In Hand

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

Be back soon

The Webgeek Wed Jul 30, 2008

Hello all,it's the WebGeek here. Just a quick note to let you know that the family is vacationing in Quebec's Eastern Townships. We're visiting my uncle's garlic farm, generally just taking it slow, and recharging our batteries, so to speak. We'll be back in town shortly.

As a bonus, I'll let the more technically inclined out there know how to use your BlackBerry as a modem, assuming of course, you have a decent data plan (if you ask nicely -- or know a sales rep named Aaron -- Rogers will let you use the iPhone's 6 gig data plan for your RIM device)

Keeping the River

Miss Vicky Tue Jul 22, 2008

It must be frustrating to be Meredith Brown. As the Ottawa Riverkeeper, she not only has a massive amount of watershed to monitor - she must also contend with multiple jurisdictions. And since governments and bureaucracies are not known for their ability to play nicely with each other, she is put in the not-too-comfortable position of knowing what needs to be done to protect this vital resource, but without the power to make it happen.

Still, she perseveres, doing an amazing job educating the public about the importance of the river to so many communities, not to mention keeping an eye on several levels of government and goodness knows how many private sector sources of pollution.

Read her latest (and well timed, after this weekend's repeat of the broken sewer gate incident) opinion piece in the Citizen.

Women's advocacy program - spots available

Miss Vicky Mon Jul 21, 2008

City of for All Women Initiative is sponsoring a series of workshops for women who are interested in making a difference in their community. Somerset West Community Health Centre is hosting workshops for women from Dalhousie, Hintonburg and Mechanicsville.

This is an exciting FREE program that runs from September 2008 to February 2009. It will be a great opportunity for women to meet other women in the 'hood and across the City who are interested in bringing their community concerns to City Hall.

Topics will include:
*how City Government and the City Budget process work
*how to talk to your City Councillor
*how to use the media to communicate concerns
*how to share the advocacy skills that are learned in these workshops with others in the community.

Participants will also be a part of a smaller Somerset West Action Team that will meet monthly to identify how to address concerns that are specific to the communities in the centre's catchment area.

Apparently there are 5 spots available in the Somerset West team. Childcare and transportation costs are covered and participants receive a $100 honorarium. They are especially encouraging women from equity-seeking groups to apply (visible minority, immigrant, Aboriginal, LGBTTQ, living on low-income or with a disability).

If you're interested, or know someone who might be, contact Fauza Mohamed, Community Developer @ 613-238-8210 x2322 or fmohamed @ swchc.on.ca

Diaper dilemma

Miss Vicky Wed Jul 16, 2008

Lots of fuss last week over the long-awaited organics program. It seems council has created a bit of a crisis for itself by cheaping out on its implementation. Despite the fact that the Green Box program was initially being promoted as able to take pet waste and diapers, council opted to save 2 million bucks by excluding these items when we finally get organics waste collection in 2009. And as is typical for this council, they didn't quite think through the implications of this decision.

You see, once the green box program is implemented, regular garbage pickup is reduced to once every 2 weeks. Since the messy, smelly stuff all goes in the green box, all that should be left in your garbage is non-recyclable plastics. But by excluding diapers from the green box program, some households (say, with multiple infants and toddlers) will have a lot of extra stinky garbage on their hands at the end of those 2 weeks.

Let's set aside the point that families could avoid all of this by switching to cloth. That goes without saying, and Miss Vicky is happy to discuss the benefits of cloth diapering to anyone who may be sitting on that particular fence. The fact is, we CD-ers are still in the minority. The diaper dilemma remains....

Council has always wavered on the issue of bi-weekly trash pickup once the green box program is up and running. Many of them cling stubbornly to the notion that, despite the fact that organics collection has been successfully implemented in cities across Canada, Ottawa residents just aren't going to participate. So they want to make it easy to not participate by continuing expensive and unnecessary weekly trash pickup. Miss Vicky supposes it makes sense in some people's universes.... what doesn't make sense to Miss Vicky is that council would remove one of the most appealing features of the green box program - the ability to remove diapers from landfills - and force itself to then find some kind of slapdash solution that is going to lead to even more problems. Like charging families a premium to collect their diapers every week.... or establishing a bureaucratic process, making families apply to have additional collection, and deciding who's in and who's not. Or the worst option - continuing unnecessary and expensive weekly garbage collection in addition to implementing the organics program.

Miss Vicky wonders why they don't just reconsider their decision to exclude diapers from the green box. Ultimately, won't the additional collection and the space in the landfill cost just as much?

Hintonburg Outdoor Movie Night!

Miss Vicky Tue Jul 15, 2008

... is this Saturday. They're showing Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium at 7pm inside the Hintonburg Community Centre, and Juno will be screened outside at 9pm . Popcorn and drinks will be available!

Sweating in the 'burg

Miss Vicky Sun Jul 13, 2008

Whew! That was one humid run through the 'hood today! What a great atmosphere, though - a couple of hundred people of all ages, shapes and sizes, strapped on their sneakers today for the Hintonburg 5k Run/Walk. Neither the slightly late start (while we waited for the police to show up) nor the slight light rain dampened the participants' spirits.

Humidity and the sad lack of training these last few weeks bedamned, we forged ahead. Miss Vicky and the Webgeek were a little surprised there weren't more jogging strollers taking part... the good news is that the Webgeek placed first in his (self-defined) category of guys-jogging-with-strollers. Miss Vicky trailed a bit behind her boys, finishing somewhere in the middle of the pack (and not unhappy about it).

Thanks to Jeff, Nat and the others who worked hard to get this race organized, and also to the neighbours who volunteered their time as course marshalls today (some had do deal with more than others - there was some serious road rage from a pickup driver on Holland).

Thanks also to Bridgehead who donated the coffee that accompanied the post-race cake that we ordered to celebrate Newswest's 30th anniversary. Nothing like a sugar and caffeine high to go with your morning endorphins!

Cool and (recently) useful

The Webgeek Thu Jul 10, 2008

Hello all. WebGeek here.

Not too long ago I pointed out a cool new Google feature that let you find transit directions in select cities. I also noted that Ottawa wasn't, at that time, on the list of cities.

Well, it seems that this has changed. Not only that, but OC Transpo has also created their own google map powered search applications: one to find bus stops (you need to search on an address to see the stops) and another to find ticket vendors.

While I'm waxing fantastic about google map transit "mash-ups"; I should also point out that the mobile version of Google maps has been updated to include transit info. Staying on the mobile front, OC Transpo also launched their own Mobile site. So, go forth and search your optimal bus route to work.

Cycling Plan up for a vote today

Miss Vicky Wed Jul 9, 2008

XUP, Ottawa's Pedestrian Blogger, had a great rant about cyclists on sidewalks today - expressing many of the sentiments that have been niggling at Miss Vicky for quite some time. The construction on Wellington has only enhanced the pedestrian/cyclist conflict, especially in areas where the street has been closed. I can understand not wanting to take the long detours if you're just doing errands in the 'hood, but for goodness sake, people, get off your bikes and walk them when you are sharing the tiny and dangerous gravel routes designated for pedestrians, will you?

As XUP points out, Ottawa's draft Cycling Plan is up for discussion at City council today. It's a long-overdue and, as Bob over at Flacklife has pointed out, somewhat problematic. But it's something. Let's pass the thing - then we'll have something on the books, at least.

Of course, Ottawa is notorious for passing plans and then ignoring them. It will be up to the cycling community to hold the city to its word and make sure the plan is implemented. David Reevely has started the discussion over at Greater Ottawa. Citizens for Safe Cycling has a good intro to the plan as well as updates about the debate. If we are to shift the city's approach to cycling to something that takes the need for safe commuter routes and better biking infrastructure (secure bike parking downtown, anyone?), then we should all be getting more involved by supporting CfSC's efforts and holding the city accountable.

There are a couple of interesting motions accompanying the plan, coming from the Transportation committee. One asks staff to investigate and propose a pilot for a dedicated bike lane on Gladstone from Preston to Elgin - on the street, but separated by a median. Another calls for priority in road resurfacing and repair to be given to cycling and transit routes. There is also a motion to investigate the possibility of a "Smart Bike" bike sharing program with the private sector. And of course there is the motion to accelerate the implementation period... something Miss Vicky fully supports.

Now, all of this is going on the same time as a plan for our neighbourhood is under development. There have definitely been some complaints about the consideration (or lack thereof) for cyclists in the road reconstruction plans. And, inevitably, the demand for wider sidewalks to encourage a more walkable neighbourhood means less room for cyclists on the mainstreet. Miss Vicky doesn't think the idea of a designated lane for cyclists on Wellington ever really got off the ground - instead the recommendation is to designate cycling routes on alternative streets (Armstrong, Spencer). This is fine for commuters but not so great for people who do their errands in the 'hood on bikes. It's a quandary, for sure.


Blues Quest

Miss Vicky Tue Jul 8, 2008

A handy tip for Bluesfesters who just haven't had enough great music after the last show closes - or Blues fans who are looking for alternatives this week: check out Blues Quest at the Elmdale House Tavern! There is either a great band or some great blues jamming every night during the Bluesfest. And the beer is better than what you get down at the festival site. (note to Bluesfest organizers: when the heck are you going to get with the program and get a local beer supplier... like... I don't know... Beau's?).


When bad karma turns good

Miss Vicky Mon Jul 7, 2008

Bluesfest got off to a bit of a rocky start for us this year. Thursday night was not so bad... we got down there at a decent time, chased WeeG around while the Fiftymen played and then watched a bit of the Blind Boys of Alabama before it became clear that WeeG would not be as flexible as last year, when he would fall asleep in his stroller so we could enjoy the later shows.

On Friday he came down with a fever (no Bluesfest for us), which thankfully was gone Saturday morning. So after G's afternoon nap we packed up and cycled down to Lebreton Flats to see what we could see. We decided to install ourselves at the River stage, where Adrian Belew and Zappa Plays Zappa were playing. WeeG may not have been feeling 100%, though, because he was pretty difficult to please. We did a lot of walking, drank a lot of "nemonade" and fed him ice chips... at the beginning of Zappa Plays Zappa he seemed to be starting to settle... but nope. Toddler meltdown was imminent, so we packed up and high-tailed it out of there, much to the crushing disappointment of the Webgeek, who was really looking forward to that show. As we were pushing through the crowd (a difficult task at that time of night, especially with stroller), we had to give the brush-off to a good friend who came up to say hi (sorry, Sam - we were in meltdown avoidance mode and needed to get the heck outta there)... got to the bikes and fumbled around getting them unlocked and the trailer switched over from jogging mode to bike mode. Made it home and put a very tired G to bed, only to discover that at some point on our journey, the neon orange wetback full of dirty diapers went missing from the trailer.

Now, some of you may think, big deal, dirty diapers.... but there were 4 quite pricey pocket diapers in there, including our favourite cow print Happy Heineys. This was a significant (and costly) loss. So the Webgeek grabbed a flashlight, hopped on a bike and headed back down the path to look for it. Nothing. The next morning we retraced our path during our weekend river walk with Winston. Nope.

So imagine Miss Vicky's surprise when she received the following email from a good friend:

E. and I were heading home Saturday night, enjoying a late night stroll along the river. We were gazing up at the stars, admiring the moon, when I stumbled across something in the dark. Not wanting a cyclist or rollerbladder to go for a spill, I picked it up, ready to drop it in the trash. But it was in a pretty snazzy orange bag, and I thought maybe it was a windbreaker or something. When we got to the streetlight, I undid the zipper and realized, no, it's a bag of dirty diapers. But I'm a cloth diaper-mom and of the practical sort, so I brought the bag home, washed the diapers, and made up a Lost and Found poster. Which apparently I no longer need to post. :-)

You sure don't. And thanks to whatever forces put your feet and our missing diaper bag into contact on Saturday night.

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