twayne's blog

More Lansdowne Park

The Lansdowne Park ever changing approach to consultations with open houses / town hall meetings / information sessions are now over. Currently easiest way to contribute to the conversation about this development is to use the online consultation tool. This is a flawed tool that is somewhat difficult to use. The site is organized into topics. It is possible to comment on each topic and to reply to existing comments.

It is unclear from the site how the comments and replies will be compiled into a report. I could not find the methodology for evaluating the comments or for summarizing free flowing comment threads. The conversation found at is a good example. This is an interesting back and forth about a fundamental aspect of the City's plan. How will this be evaluated.

Some commenters have added many comments, some just one. Will all comments be counted equally?

It is possible to rate each comment anonymously. Will higher ranked comments count for more?

I have posed these questions by e-mail to Nik Nanos the moderator. If I hear anything substantive back I will post it here.

Using this terrible process we have been given should not be read as an endorsement. Seeing as how a better evaluation process does not exist we should use this one to the best of our abilities. If you haven't made you opinions known do so. Add your comments. Rate other people's comments. Comment on comments.

We don't know how the online comments, the written comments and the feedback from the question and answer sessions will be integrated. We don't know if the raw data from each of these sources will be made available for independent assessment.

Lansdowne "Park" "Consultations"

After attending Monday evening's consultation session at Lansdowne Park I made a few notes about my impressions of the project and of the process. Since then I also went to Wednesday evening session which included a two and a half hour question and answer period. I have more notes on that session and will edit them a little and hopefully publish a post tomorrow.

These notes reflect the fact that the session raised more questions than answers. Since Monday the City has decided to add more question and answer opportunities at more venues. This is surely a sign that somebody within City Hall is getting the message that just because the Mayor and a group of developers think this is a done deal many citizens don't agree.

  • The City staff that planned the 'consultations' are more interested in doing a sales job than in feedback
  • City staff were not prepared to listen to anyone's opinions. Nobody was taking notes.
  • Sole feedback mechanism was survey forms dropped in a box. Many people asking what is going to happen to the forms. I heard different answers to this question from different City representatives.
  • There is a high level of frustration with the lack of input. This was of course demonstated by a guy with a megaphone standing on a chair to make his opinion known.
  • The farmers market will not survive this plan. Representatives of the market were at the session. They can't see how the space being made for them could possibly support the market. The lack of parking and the two years (minimum) of construction time means the end of the farmer's market.
  • Arguing with a sports radio host is not productive.
  • There seems to be only two real ways to stop this proposal 1) legal action against OSEG and/or the city 2) suburban councillors changing their minds.
  • City and OSEG roles are blurred. Who is selling this vision and who is listening to feedback. The display boards have the City's mark on them, but look like they were created by OSEG for the purpose of selling their proposal.
  • The OSEG proposal clearly breaks the guidelines handed down by council to the City's negotiators in April (Motion 65/12 I believe). and that is just the proposal. Once development starts holding OSEG to a specific plan is going to get even harder.

This summarized my impressions after Monday's session. It is hard to describe how surprised and frustrated people (more than 1000 people attended) were to find that their opportunity for questions and feedback consisted of standing around looking at posters while City staff defended OSEG's proposal. While the senior staff there were clearly defending a vision they support, other staff had as many questions as the citizens around them. Almost every staff person I talked to told me that "we are doing what council directed". 

It is clear that any substantive discussion from now on must include as many City Councilors as possible.

What's New

I was once an early adopter. Sort of. I used to know when new books or movies or music was released. I would generally buy a new Dylan album or a new Tony Hillerman novel when it was released. Sometimes I would wait for the paperback, but often I couldn't wait. Lining up for movies the day or weekend they were released was a regular thing.

When I saw the new Margaret Atwood on the Coming Soon rss feed of the Ottawa library I immediately placed a request. It came in and is now sitting on my to read pile. I am so far behind on reading / listening / watching that it really doesn't matter when something is released, I'm not going to get to it anytime soon.

I took a similar approach to updating my technology. When I could afford to I upgraded my operating system, software versions, etc... Even if I couldn't get the latest technology I surely coveted it. Lately I've realized the advantage of waiting to adopt new technology. Sometimes I even let software versions pass me by. Let other people debug. That being so, it is inevitable that as soon as I get around to updating my Drupal installation a new version will be released.

I'm trying to think of an artist or author or movie that I would need to get right away and I can't think of anything. I'm more likely to go along with one of the kid's enthusiasms (Star Trek on opening weekend) then my own.

All this being said, I now have an iPhone.

Drupal + Twitter

I have added my Twitter feed to this site's homepage. Doing so was not without some challenges. All became clearer afer relearning a little about Drupal views. It turns out that using a tool once every few months is not often enough to remember important details. This little project also gave me a good reminder to find AND read as much documentation as you can.

I can also send notification of updates to this site to my Twitter feed. In theory these updates will then show up on the site. Alas, the temporal relationship between updating Twitter and the sidebar being updated is unknown and maybe unknowable.

The whole thing would have taken me 2 minutes on Facebook and perhaps a minute more on Blogger. In Wordpress I could have downloaded and installed the plugin and probably configured it in the time it took me to create the proper Drupal view. And yet Drupal offers a level of self satisfaction missing elsewhere. Like starting a fire without matches. Sure you could use a lighter, but what would be the fun in that.

I will announce the creation of this post on Twitter, I'll see if the sidebar gets updated.


"Taking on a single-minded, driven, hyper-competitive billionaire in a battle that revolves around cash, lawyers and resolve was perhaps unwise."

Stephen Brunt in today's Globe

Family Canoe Trip


Brief Update: We all had lots of fun. Due to the size of the group and the comfort of the campground there was less canoeing and more beach / card playing / novel reading / hanging out. We did the entire planned trip the final day paddling from the campground to Mattawa only stopping for snacks, lunch and more snacks. The weather was great, sunny days and cool nights. We would defintely do this again.

Original text: Many months ago many Waynes started planning a multi generational family canoe trip. This is the weekend! We are starting here  and finishing a few metres downstream in Mattawa. This is one step from car camping, but hopefully a start of a nice tradition of future camping trips.



Some number of books meme

"Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Select fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. Choose the first fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes." It took a little longer than 15 minutes. Its amazing how many of these I read ten years ago or longer. Now if the challenge had been "New Yorker articles I read and have a vague recollection of" the list would be much fresher I bet.

  1. Count of Monte Cristo
  2. Watership Down
  3. Maus
  4. Man in the High Castle
  5. The Incompleat Folksinger
  6. Princess Bride
  7. Heart of Darkness
  8. Oscar and Lucinda
  9. Alligator Pie
  10. Fifth Child
  11. Facing History and Ourselves
  12. Demon Box
  13. Lark in the Clear Air
  14. Devil on the Cross
  15. Cambodia: A Book for People Who Find Television Too Slow

Hewlett-Packard Laptop goes poof

About 11 months ago, I bought an HP laptop at Best Buy. I had previously had a Sony VIAO which was an excellent family computer. Laurie uses a Sony as well that other than being dropped too often has held up quite well. I started my laptop shopping sure I would end up with another Sony or Toshiba (which tend to be well rated). Once in the store looking at all the options the HP with the larger screen and lower price was irrestible. As well, Best Buy has its own repair staff (Geek Squad) that would fix it themselves if something went wrong. Staples send everything out for repair.

Last weekend the screen on the HP laptop stopped working.

Other then the screen not working the computer is working fine. I plugged in an external monitor. when I put it in dual screen mode I could get a flicker on the laptop screen but nothing else. So, off to Best Buy to get it fixed.

When I bought the laptop I declined to buy the extended warranty (as it no longer covers batteries). I figured that 12 months of manufacture's warranty would cover anything major. Right again! I bought the HP at the Merivale Rd. store, so at 8:30 last night back I went. The Geek Squad at Merivale said that they were so busy it would be at least a month before they could get to it. Their advice- go to the Vanier store. Off I go. The Vanier store was able to spend enough time looking at it to decide to send it back to HP. The Merivale store could have done the same of course.

So now the laptop is off the HP land. Nobody knows for how long or if there is anyway to find out.

Lessons learned. The Best Buy Geek Squad at the Vanier location means well and were likely as helpful as they could be. The Geek Squad at the Merivale location send me across town needlessly. Neither Geek Squad could actually fix my laptop or even diagnose it in house. Hewlett-Packard laptops, or this specific Hewlett Packard laptop, will not last 11 months of regular use (limited travel, no physical abuse) without breaking.

Highlights of the Ottawa Folk Festival

UPDATE: Take a look at Laurie's post with pictures. Here are some highlights from the 2009 Ottawa Folk Festival. I'm sure I'm missing some great things I saw and I know I missed some great performances at the festival. This list is likely to grow over the next few days. 

  • Bruce Cockburn put on a great, if mellow, show. He returned for an encore and played Toyko one of my all time favourites of his.
  • Charlotte Conrfield to Arrogant Worms on a workshop stage "You were the first band I ever illegally downloaded"
  • Vishtèn and Mr. Something Something jamming. All great horn sections deserve an additional fiddle or two.
  • Tall Trees, a (very) young local duo, winners of the Galaxie Rising Stars award, wowed the crowd and other performers at  the Moon stage and at workshops. I was very impressed with the songwriting and performances.
  • When you are folk festivaling with a younger kid its not all abaout the music. The Kids Zone was fun as usual, but it was great to see my six year old engaged with other parts of the festival including the Zen garden, building a cob house (playing with mud) and making an oragami flower.
  • This year's edition of the Common Ground Cross-Cultural Collaboration was really fun. I probably heard them do the same set of songs three times. Each time was different. When the artists are having fun it is infectious. Our final daytime show ended with the whole group getting off the stage and leading the audience dancing around the room. One of those special festival moments.
  • James Hill and Anne Davison are always fantastic. Their evening performance included a a chopstick/ukelele combo by James Hill accompanied by a modern dance/harmonica performance by Anne Davison. Not something you see every day.

Marketing Fail

I have recieved an excellent looking three fold glossy brochure for a sushi and noodle bar.The brochure includes a good looking menu, colour pictures and discount coupons. It does not include an address. Wherever they are, I know they are open late on weekends.


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