Friday, January 30, 2009

Okay, now it is over (kind of)

The union and city decided at the last minute that they would go to binding arbitration instead of risking having the federal government enforce back to work legislation.

About an hour before the scheduled emergency meeting in the House they both called it off. It means they are, as of now, not on strike. The kinks have not been worked out and it will be a week before we see buses on the road but oh boy it's going to be good to use public transit again (or at least have that option in my case).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

And it couldn't be soon enough

Hooray! History has been made! People are returning to their senses! No I am not talking about Obama. This is bigger than that. After 50 days of the idiotic transit strike here in Ottawa - It Is Over! (kind of).

Earlier today some tool at the city declared that the strikers would not be forced back to work since it was not an essential service. But in a stroke of brilliance a bunch of MPs called a emergency meeting in the House of Commons and it ended with Rona Ambrose, the Transportation Minister, forcing them back to work.

This is special because every other transit system in Canada is under provincial or municipal control. OC Transpo falls under federal control when it comes to these things apparently. I guess the MPs were getting annoyed with the traffic problems.

It'll probably take a month before its back up and running but it's better than nothing. I hope they get their act together before Winterlude. But I do wonder what will be the result of the scheduling conflict the union had better not win that fight.

Update #1
Apparently my breaking news source was wrong. The MPs have called a meeting, Rona Ambrose said she would be willing to force them back to work, and several other MPs said they would consider it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Family Stuff aka Awwwww

Every once in a while I feel I must bow to the pressures of the competitive family oriented blogosphere and do some touchy-feely nice post about family stuff instead of my regular cold-hearted useless drivel.

Now is one of those times:
So we went on a little road trip to Fergus (pronounced with a scottish accent) to see our niece and nephew (and their parents).  The trip was quick and uneventful, the kids were cute and we had a splendid time.

Here is Nethaneil chillen.  He does that a lot.
Here is Hadassah and me watching The Simpsons and a skiing competition in Austria.
And here is Irene and Hadassah taking pictures of themselves.

So that pretty much sums up our weekend.

Well that wasn't so bad was it?  I may have lost all 3 of my readers who actually enjoy the uselessness of this blog but perhaps I have gained 3 readers who usually would not let themselves get caught dead reading such a trivial waste of gigahertz.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

2nd Annual Enjoyment Awards

It is the new year and I figure that I should continue my annual tradition which was started last year. This are my most enjoyed random stuff of the 2008 year.
Once again, I am not confining my list to music and it is not necessarily only from this year. My list is all about the stuff I got the most enjoyment out of in 2008.
Anyways, here it is:

My most enjoyed artist of 2008 was:
Justin Rutledge because he seems like a real cool guy who happens to make fantastic indie folk/country tunes. I even got to meet him.

Some runners up were Sufjan Stevens (he will probably always be close to winning in this section), Stars and Fleet Foxes.

My most enjoyed album of 2008 was:
It is a tie between Swift Feet for Troubling Times by Ohbijou and Asking for Flowers by Kathleen Edwards.

Some runners up:
Man Descending by Justin Rutledge
Cease to Begin by Band of Horses
Oh, My Darling by Basia Bulat
Where the Bungalows Roam by Jim Bryson
Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes (I am still really into that one)

It's just so hard to pick.

My most enjoyed song of 2008 was:
Nothing really is catching my attention here. Apparently my enjoyment was spread over so many songs this year. If I had to pick (and I don't have to because this is my blog and nobody is forcing me) it would be between Royal Wood's Julia or Gonzalez, Working Together.

Runners up:
The Other Side by Ohbijou
Scared at Night by Kathleen Edwards
In the Night by Basia Bulat
Clear the Crowds by Jim Bryson

My most enjoyed live performance of 2008 was probably Radiohead in Montreal because we were so incredibly close to the stage and the after party, jumping out of windows from bar to bar until 5:00 in the morning with a great bunch of people was so fun.

The runners up would have to be Kate Maki at the Black Sheep (with Nathan Lawr and Jim Bryson) or even Royal Wood also at the Black Sheep. Basia Bulat also put on a great show on Canada Day at Jazzfest but it wasn't quite intimate enough as the last time I saw her open for Great Lake Swimmers.

My most enjoyed Local Band (Greater Ottawa Area) of 2008 was:
Kathleen Edwards and her bandmate Jim Bryson.

Runner Up:
Ohbijou and their album compilation with Ottawa band The Acorn.
If I moved out of the Ottawa area I wish I could pick Library Voices (who won a Bucky Award for their band name) but I haven't listened to them enough to really pick them.
Also, I wish Forest City Lovers were from Ottawa so I could pick them too.

My most enjoyed music venue of 2008 was:
Black Sheep Inn, Wakefield QC hands down. I have a feeling it will win every year. It is just too perfect if you get there early enough to snag a seat in front of the stage.

I also nominated it for CBC's Searchlight contest (as did many other people) for best small club for seeing music. I hope it wins and I really think it has a good chance.

My most enjoyed beer of 2008 was:
This is so hard to pick. Probably that smoked beer that I had at Pub Italia in Ottawa’s little Italy or that McAuslan Cream Ale that you can only get on tap in a few places (including the Black Sheep).

Runners up would be the Danish strong beer Faxe or the white beer Hoegarden or the many cervezas we had in Spain (many because of location though, not the distinctness beer). Spain did have the best sangria though as I am sure it always will.

My most enjoyed TV show of 2008 was:
Fringe. I know maybe it's a bit cliche but I still really love the sci-fi craziness. It also has a healthy dose of conspiracy. It is made by the same guys as Lost but unlike that show it is actually understandable.

Pushing Daisies is also a great show but there just wasn’t enough new episodes.

My most enjoyed movie of 2008 was:
I just can't think of anything....I don't watch enough movies I guess. Nothing really stands out. Maybe I could pick the Wallace & Grommet shorts that we re-watched during the Christmas holidays.

My most enjoyed technology of 2008 was:
Linux Ubuntu because it has changed my computer expectations forever. I will never use Windows Vista.

My most enjoyed purchase of 2008:
Without a doubt it was the Vespa.

My most enjoyed city of 2008 was:
San Sebastien, Spain.

Madrid and it's sourrounding towns are close runners up though.

My most enjoyed sport of 2008:
Definitely snowboarding since I went once a week in the winter. This year we aren’t going quite as often it seems but I don’t have any other sports.

And last but not least my most enjoyed person of 2008 was:
Irene - she wins again!?! amazing!!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

And the speech was...

Typical Obama rhetoric.

I did like how he is trying to inspire Americans to quit whining and get off their ass. I hope it does change the attitude from 'I deserve' to 'I can do it'. I hope it gives motivation and inspiration to the lower classes to get up and make their country a better place. Listening to the interviews with people on the street you get this sense that they are inspired which really is a good thing in this economic time.

Oh Obama

I am currently listening to the inaugeration of Obama streaming live.

My first impression is that it sounds like the Super Bowl. All the trumpets and cheering and the announcements.
The announcer sounds like he belongs at a monster truck show.

Americans are crazy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Yes it is very cold today.
This was our thermometer when I woke up this morning.
It's almost too cold for snowboarding.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fleet Foxes on SNL this week!

I rarely watch SNL but if I remember then I may want to watch it this week just to see the Fleet Foxes.
Fleet Foxes are one of my favorites of the moment. Check out this Pitchfork video/review of them at SXSW. It is pretty cool when they are doing vocal practices under the bridge. Those guys have some phenomenal voices.


I have always thought tattoos were kind of strange. I guess if you get a meaningful one that makes people think, then it is pretty cool but most people get the same thing as everybody else. The boring armband around your bicep or the cliche little butterfly on the lower back. Borrrrring!
But this is highly original and it looks awesome and it has entertainment value.
But you still have the problem of what happens when you get old.....poor giraffe.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Living In Ottawa

I am sure everyone has heard about the Ottawa transit strike by now. It has been going on for more than a month now. It has the entire city in complete chaos and everybody (even the non bus-riders) has an opinion on it.

Personally Irene and I (and most of my suburban friends) are not totally messed up. We are in the enviable position of owning a car and Irene is able to get a ride to work with her dad. However I would prefer to take the bus to work, especially on the really snowy days.

The problem is there are many people in this city who totally depend on the buses to get around for everything. A lot of those people are probably in the lower income bracket and they certainly don't have the luxury of buying a car or getting to work late.

Basically what I am saying is that there is not a lot of sympathy for the bus drivers. Personally I think they are a bunch of greedy bumcaps. First of all there is so much economic uncertainty right now and these guys are saying that they want more, more, more. They already have very good job security, high pay, etc. and all this with a high school education. (It reminds me of GM and Ford). Secondly, the main issue they are arguing for is control of the scheduling. But in every other transit system in North America the scheduling is run by the management. The city of Ottawa wants to be able to take control of scheduling in order to save money by hiring less drivers and buying less buses. It would also be safer since currently some of the younger drivers have to work insane shifts because the senior guys take all the good ones. It doesn't make sense to have the inexperienced guys doing the harder shifts - accidents are bound to happen.

From the city's side I have never seen the city council and mayor agree on anything since Larry O'Brien was elected. But on this issue the council is tight. It makes sense to all of them that OC Transpo needs some changes.

Recently the city proposed a new contract (much the same as the first one) that included some serious raises (7% I think!) and a good signing bonus. Who gets a 7% raise?!? That is ridiculous. But it is all a ploy to pay off the drivers so that they accept the scheduling being handled by the city. The union voted to turn down the offer. About 75% voted 'no' according to the union. And now it's back to striking, and insane traffic and people's lives being messed with.

I think a few things should come out of this:
1. Public transit should be designated an essential service - so they can't strike.
2. The city should control scheduling - it just makes sense.
3. The city should set a deadline and if they aren't back to work by that time, fire 'em all.
4. The provincial/federal government should step in and get some legislation through that forces them back to work.

The somewhat humourous aspect of this is that the city is saving millions of dollars while the transit system is down while the union is losing huge. That is because OC Transpo, like every other transit system in the world (except Tokyo I think), is a money losing system and it is not like a regular business. But it is essential.

So get back to work you stupid bumcaps.

Edit: Apparently the term asshats (as hilarious as it sounds) is not appropriate. I have reverted to the more subtle term: 'bumcaps'. Please notify me if that is inappropriate too.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Interesting Music News

There is some interesting news coming from Amazon concerning their best selling MP3 album of 2008. According to this story, you could have downloaded it for free - legally.
The latest album from Nine Inch Nails was put under a Creative Commons license which meant you could download it legally for your personal use. But it was still the best selling downloadable album on Amazon.

Pretty cool stuff. Oh and I don't really recommend downloading that album. NIN isn't really for everybody.

The Whopper Sacrifice

Burger King has really been upping it's advertising these days with such campaigns as the Whopper Virgin and Subservient Chicken. They don't seem to mind dealing with social/ethical issues by throwing in some humour.

The latest campaign is offering you a free Whopper if you DE-FRIEND 10 people from your friend list on Facebook. The funniest part is the "sacrifices" show up in your activity feed. So it'll say, for example, "Reuben sacrificed Irene for a free Whopper."

I have to think about whether I have 10 friends on Facebook I could stand to lose - everybody does. But I don’t know whether I really want a whopper that badly. I have only gone to Burger King once and it was disgusting. Now if it was a Harveys burger then everybody would be gone.

World Juniors in Ottawa

I know this post is a little late and everyone knows that Canada won Gold in a game against Sweden. But what about bronze? No one pays attention to that game. The bronze medal game took place just before the gold medal game and we were there! Yup on Monday Irene got the tickets from her boss who had tickets for all the games. She wanted to go see Canada play Sweden but wasn't planning on showing up early enough to see Russia and Slovakia play for bronze.

So we went and it was an awesome game. I was wondering who everybody would cheer for. We picked Slovakia since they were underdogs and apparently Ottawa likes underdogs because by the end of the game everybody was cheering for Slovakia.

We had pretty awesome seats on the 100 level just in front of the boxes.
The game play was pretty fast and there were plenty of good chances on both ends. Both goalies made some fantastic saves.
We ate some crummy food. Note to self - always double check that you got what you ordered before walking all the way back to your seat.The place was already filled with Team Canada fans getting pumped for the next game. These guys were so excited they put their underwear on over their pants. Good thing they chose the Team Canada underwear.
Russia ended up winning the game 5-2 but Slovakia got more cheers from the Ottawa crowd who are used to cheering for underdogs - at least this season.
The best players of the game got Swiss watches.
The winning team standing for the Russian national anthem.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Mac Wins Again?

In light of my last blog post I thought this latest comic from xkcd was pretty funny.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Yay for Itunes

So the annual Mac symposium was held today. Other than all the rumours surrounding the health of Steve Jobs there really wasn't all that much super exciting news. Those super exciting rumours were quelled by Steve himself in a letter to all apple fanboys.

The only things that interested me was the news that Picasa is now availiable on Macs and....wait for it..... iTunes are now DRM free!!!!! Yes you read that right. Apple is relinquishing it's deathgrip, albeit slightly, on it's users. I am sure not everybody will be as excited about this as me and my ilk but it means a lot for apple to do something like that. They like being able to pull all the strings, even after you buy their products and try to bring them home and use them for what you want.

Now all they have to do is make iPods able to plug into multiple computers without deleting everything. Yes, all you iPod drones, regular MP3 players can do that without a problem - why can't yours?

In other news, my father-in-law just bought a Macbook Pro and iPod touch both of which I am really in love with.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Happy New Year from Microsoft

Remember Microsoft's supposed Ipod killer from a couple years ago? Yeah the Zune! Well it's back in the news again. I came across this story about every 30Gb Zune crashing on December 31st at 2:00AM. Apparently it has something to do with the latest firmware not being able to support the extra second that was added to the year on New Years Eve.
Whatever it was, it is extremely amusing to me.

Here is another quote from this story:

Late Wednesday, the Redmond, Wash.-based company said the outage affected only the 30-gigabyte Zune models and was caused by a problem with their internal clock. Microsoft expected the problem to clear up as the clocks ticked over to Jan. 1, though users will have to jump through some hoops to get their Zunes back to normal, including letting the batteries die down completely before the devices will restart successfully.

Oh Microsoft, when will you learn.