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Imagine my surprise when I turned on the radio on Monday for a little musical distraction while painting our house and I heard a quick between-the-songs promo for a local radio station.

Err…did I hear that right?

Sure enough, a trip outside to run some errands confirmed what I thought I’d heard. There it was, clear as day on a bus stop advertisement: Ho 89.9.

Seriously, Hot 89.9? Seriously?

I knew right away it must have been part of some ridiculous stunt/shock advertising campaign. They’ve done it before: in the spring of 2009 they partnered with Strathmere for a “Married in 24 Hours” contest where the winner received a quickie wedding complete with wedding bands, a dress, a bouquet and boutonnière, and a ceremony and reception at Strathmere. Sanctity of the institution of marriage be damned! (On a personal note, when Joe and I chose Strathmere for our wedding in 2008 we thought it was a lovely and charming location and had no idea that they would just a year later stoop to this level of offensive marketing…believe me, I would not have gotten married there had I known that was coming!)

Back to the current situation. I have to say that I am unimpressed with this new campaign and underwhelmed by their “creativity”. And I’m not the only one as a recent editorial in The Ottawa Citizen so clearly expresses.

It’s not like the brilliant minds at Hot 89.9 didn’t think it through – this was a well-organized campaign. All the radio spots, the bus ads, and a new domain name for their website, which I imagine they had to purchase from a porn purveyor.

They say that there is no such thing as “bad press”, and this stunt has certainly got people talking. But I can’t imagine that it’s the smartest business move to identify yourself as Ottawa’s trashiest radio station. And what about your listeners, Hot 89.9? You used to call them “Hotties”, which was lame and condescending enough. But now, will you be referring to them as your “Hos”?

At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised.

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I came across the most disturbing photographs today, courtesy of the website Life Without Plastic. Chris Jordan is a photographer who recently spent some time on Midway Atoll, “a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific” as he describes it on his website. There, he found a few of the tens of thousands of albatross chicks who have perished with bellies full of human plastic waste fed to them by their parents.

If there exists a more powerful visual cue of the horrific impact that we ignorant humans are having on this planet, I don’t want to see it. I warn you, it’s pretty heart-wrenching. Please see Mr. Jordan’s website here and click on the “Midway: Message from the Gyre” link to see the collection.

Please – stop using disposable plastics! And for the love of the planet, RECYCLE!

A study out of Western Washington University is the latest in a long list of experiments that demonstrate just how distracted the human mind can be when focusing on a mental task like talking on a cellphone. In psychology, this phenomenon is called “inattentional blindness” and it’s the reason that cellphone usage should be banned for drivers altogether – both hand-held and hands-free. It’s not only the physical dialing or texting on a phone that distracts drivers and causes accidents but the conversations themselves. When the mind is busy focusing on something, even the most obvious things can escape our attention.

Not convinced? See if you can count the number of basketball passes the team in white makes when there is another team in black shirts running around them distracting you in this awareness test (video) from the UK.

Although Ontario’s new law banning hand-held devices is a good start, it’s simply not enough if we want to prevent distraction-caused accidents. Besides concerns about the actual impact of bans and their enforcement, I think what truly needs to happen is a movement that makes people aware of the consequences of driving while distracted and makes it socially unacceptable, much like the anti-drunk driving movement has accomplished in the past two decades. Maybe a TV spot showing a mom driving her children to an activity, the kids buckled snuggly in the backseat while mom is having an animated conversation on her cellphone. The camera angle switches to an upcoming street light, which turns quickly from yellow to red. Mom doesn’t notice and continues into the intersection, where the SUV is broadsided by a fast-moving transport truck. Squealing tires, crunching metal, shattering glass, and then the commercial fades to black while a car horn blows continuously. “Driving while distracted kills” in big bold letters. That kind of thing.

Don’t ever send an email to the mayor!

You know, I can’t say I have a final opinion one way or another about the Lansdowne Live proposal; I haven’t done the in-depth research required to hold an educated opinion. I’m hesitant because it’s a lot of money and it appears that only one company/group was able to submit a proposal. On the other hand, I think Ottawa needs to stop cancelling projects and concentrate on developing an all-encompassing vision of its future. What will make this city better? What will make people want to live here? What will make residents at their wits’ end want to stay?

Until city council has developed such a vision, I think they’ll just be chasing their tails until election time.

Scientists confirmed today what most have already expected…that the scientific community spends far too much time confirming things we already know instead of discovering things we don’t know yet and/or want to know. Did you know that girls cry more than boys? http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Women+more+than+longer+Researchers/2100091/story.html

Hmm…who would have thought a gun-crazed attitude would lead to a violent end? http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/10/08/gun.soccer.mom.dead/index.html

I only feel sorry for the poor children who are left to pick up the pieces. Hopefully they’ll learn the lesson that guns are bad.

As some of you may already now, I am often less than impressed by the workings of Ottawa’s city council and staff. It seems to me that they take too long to make too many bad decisions. A crippling bus strike? Let’s sit on our hands for 50 days! Flooding in Kanata? We’re not legally liable! A major overhaul of an important public site? Let’s have city staffers ignore all the recommendations! Looking for a new communications person? Let’s hire someone with an EXCELLENT track record! Someone is trying to improve their life and career past the age of 27 by going to school? Let’s stretch their already threadbare budget by charging them full price for a bus pass!

Anyhow, I recently heard about a little blog posted by anonymous insiders over at City Hall. Now, this blog is currently under scrutiny as possibly being libelous (it’s quite obviously anti-mayor and it makes some very interesting comments about well-known Ottawa councillors and other public figures) so I’m not going to link directly to it…but I won’t NOT suggest that you type “zeromeanszero” followed by “.blogspot” and then “.com” into your web browser…oh, who am I kidding? Here it is.

Yay for free speech!

UPDATE: So the City of Ottawa did the right thing on Wednesday and lifted the age restriction on student bus passes but this was quickly overshadowed by the tale of a potential $36.7 million settlement for the light-rail project that this council cancelled in favour of its own plan. *le sigh*

There have been a number of stories in the news lately that make me question the state and direction of our society. From men shooting at ducklings while laughing like buffoons to teenagers chasing and beating a baby moose to the point where it had to be put down. From Dany Heatley’s cowardly refusal to speak to the media about his desire to be traded to Michael Vick’s 60 Minutes interview about the “remorse” he feels about his barbaric acts (and the million dollar contract he landed with the Philadelphia Eagles). Then there were those parents filming their seven-year-old while he drove a car. While their other kids were in it. And no one had seat belts on.

I’ve been quite disgusted.

And this is the straw that broke the metaphorical camel’s back.

What person in their right mind leaves a BABY in a CAR? In plus-40 degree heat and humidity? An UNLOCKED car at that?!?!

Certainly not anyone fit to be a parent, in my opinion. A parent is responsible for caring for and raising their child(ren). For protecting them from harm. For teaching them right from wrong. For showing them how to love, how to live, and how to grow up to be responsible citizens of our planet.

Perhaps we need to think about a breeding license for society…

UPDATE: The Ottawa Citizen now reports that the mother will be facing charges of abandonment and failing to provide the necessities of life. There is justice! Read about it here. Also interesting that CBC radio interviewed a police rep who said that in a situation like this, you are legally allowed to use “reasonable force” to get into a locked car with a distressed child inside. This includes breaking windows.

Okay, so I’ve avoided commenting on the bus strike so far. It doesn’t really have a significant impact on my life – my husband and I both commute by car (show me a route that doesn’t take over an hour and three buses to get to work vs. a twenty-minute drive!). But I know people who have had to rearrange their lives because of this ridiculous labour dispute. Not to mention the people this strike is really hurting – the poor and the disadvantaged in our city who don’t have the voice or the political clout to defend themselves, let alone fight back against this corruption and bureaucracy.

Let’s call this what it is – a pissing contest between a hot-headed union rep and an ignorant mayor. If it were up to me (and oh, do I wish it was!), I would have canned them all long ago and found people who were interested in actually doing their jobs – which is, need I remind you, to negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement. And if this isn’t possible? Arbitration. Let a third party decide what’s really critical and come to a conclusion quickly and efficiently.

But alas, both sides dug in long ago and are now playing a war of media attrition. Who’s side is right? Who’s side has the support of the citizens of Ottawa?

Personally, I believe unions had their time and place in labour history. Now, they are woefully out-of-touch with the reality of These Economic Times and quite possibly irrelevant in today’s labour climate. But if they want to be unreasonable and demand ridiculously high wages and benefits and lose all their jobs to the foreign market or to non-unionized workers who appreciate a fair-wage job (hello, auto industry!), then so be it. They’ll learn on their own eventually or they’ll all be out of jobs.

I also believe the City of Ottawa has been shameful in its handling of this strike. The word “clusterf**k” seems apt, if you’ll excuse my language. They took their fight to the media like children, they had no contingency plans, they forced a vote they weren’t confident they’d win (or so O’Brien let slip on a CBC radio interview on the eve of the vote), and they’ve been ridiculously incapable, ineffective and useless.

I, for one, do not plan on voting for anyone involved in this debacle in the future. I will not support such incompetence and I wish I could withold my tax money from their salaries. I also will not be taking an OC Transpo bus or any form of public transit when (or if) they start running again, at least for the forseable future.

Can you blame me for not wanting to become dependent on a system that could be better managed by my cat?

Quite a day yesterday, eh? I know the CBC was getting a hard time from some people about their ample coverage of the inauguration, but even the cynics have to admit – this was a day that will be a marker in history, regardless of how the next four years turn out. It will be one of those “where were you” questions people always talk about. (Me? I was at work, listening to a live stream of CBC radio 1 coverage.)

On top of that, I have a feeling that the next four or eight *fingers crossed* years will be very interesting indeed. Service. Responsibility. Faith. Equality. Strength. Peace. He touched on it all in his fabulous speech. I think it’s high time the United States had a man in charge with a strong sense of civic duty that will be able to inspire Americans to weather the times that are coming (and for many, that are already here). It may be rough, but when you have such a gracious, mindful, and intelligent person at the helm, it’s easier to see beyond the storm clouds and rough waters.

Best of luck, USA!

Why I’m here

My name is Sonya. I live with my husband and our cat in the suburbs of Ottawa. I started this journal to document my thoughts and experiences and share them with friends, family and anyone else who happens to pass this way. My hope is that it will help to keep me focused on the simple things I value most in life and, above all, keep me writing.

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