gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for December 2008

Please support my iKettle

December 14, 2008 @ 13:13 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

So, we’re entering the second work week of no bus service. People are still carpooling and I must admit as a driver it’s kind of nice to not have to content with the buses on the road. Though I walk to work every day, I did have to make a couple of trips during the afternoon rush hour last week and it wasn’t that bad.

A story on the CBC’s website, which is also on the Salvation Army’s website, talks about the effect the strike is having on charities. You’ve probably seen Salvation Army volunteers in the shopping malls ringing bells next to their Christmas Kettles. Because many of the volunteers rely on transit to get to their stations they’re finding it difficult to get to their stations. And, even if they are able to get to where they’re collecting, there are fewer people donating because there are fewer people in the malls. Thus, the 5,000 families in Ottawa that the Salvation Army supports may find this Christmas even more tighter than it normally is. (The Salvation Army helps these families with food, clothing and heating, which are basic essentials of life.)

I’ve registered an iKettle with the Salvation Army, so if you would like to donate, you can do it online.

Do the bus drivers actually like the City’s offer?

December 14, 2008 @ 12:18 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Transit strike

As you know, Local 279 of the Amalgamated Transit Union is on strike. Like many strike votes, not every member actually voted. The question begs to be asked: Do the bus driver’s who didn’t vote at all think the City’s offer is a bad deal?

Larry O’Brien is quoted in a CBC article as saying “We’re getting a lot of calls from drivers, who are saying, ‘We didn’t know what we were or were not voting on. We like what we’re seeing,'” and he’s challenging Andre Cornellier, head of the Amalgamated Transit Union local representing the drivers to put it to a vote.

So, what did the union actually tell its members about the offer before they voted?

It will be interesting to see whether there are any significant differences between the offer on the table now and the one that the union eventually accepts. I hope there are none.

The OC Transpo strikers targetting university students

December 12, 2008 @ 12:59 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Transit strike

By now you’ve probably heard a lot about the strike by OC Transpo drivers. It’s had a lot of coverage in the media and many people have written about it in their blogs. (I walk to work, or I’d have written about the strike sooner.) Its result has been to significantly increase the number of cars on the road in a city that already has too many cars on the road. Some people are carpooling, which is good for the environment, but work schedules are suffering. And even with carpools, the average commute is still longer than what it was before the strike started. Some of my co-workers are spending the better part of two or three hours each day travelling to and from work.

City parking regulations are being eased up for non-metered parking so that people don’t have to run out and move their cars every hour or two and some additional parking lots have been opened by the city. Picketers are hampering access to some of the park-and-ride lots, which is only further reducing any chance of sympathy the drivers might have had.

About ten years ago they city gave the drivers the right to determine their own schedules. This means that drivers with lots of seniority get the choice shifts at the expense of the others. As well, it is contributing to something like $8 million a year in overtime. Because of certain guarantees in their contracts drivers can arrange their shifts such that they end up being paid more hours than they actually worked. The city has caught on to this and wants to retake control of the scheduling in an effort to reign in the costs. In return for this change, the city is willing to give each driver a $2000 bonus because the overall operating costs will be lower.  (You can see the city’s final offer at the City of Ottawa website.)

The Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents the drivers and other OC Transpo staff, has been vocal about their downtrodden drivers.  The annual increases being offered are higher than I’m getting as a civil servant, so I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for them. At least they’re keeping up with inflation. But the thing that really steams me comes from this quote:

“Most of the bus companies would never ever do anything that would be scabbing our members,” said Randy Graham international vice-president for the Amalgamated Transit Union Wednesday afternoon. “We’ll have to deal with it if it does occur. We have to do the things that we legally can do. And we will do it.”

You might think that this quote is referring to the City of Ottawa hiring scabs to drive buses while the union members are standing in the cold and you’d be wrong. Randy Graham is referring to the privately-operated shuttles the universities are operating to help their students get to their exams.

Yes, the Amalgamated Transit Union is targetting university students.

Classy, eh?

I’m sorry, but this single act is the reason why I will not respect an Amalgamated Transit Union strike line ever again. The universities have every right to run their own shuttles and the ATU has no right to block them.

Larry O’Brien is holding a press conference at 1:30pm today to talk about the strike. It’ll be interesting to hear what he has to say. Hopefully he’ll make it clear to the union that the drivers are welcome to stand in the cold for a long time.  Every week they’re on strike the city is saving a huge amount of money, so if they stay out long enough this might not be a bad thing.

WordPress 2.7

December 11, 2008 @ 09:06 By: gordon Category: Meta, WordPress

WordPress 2.7 has been released with a complete overhaul of the admin interface and the addition of new features.  From the reader’s perspective, however, things probably won’t look a whole lot different.  One new feature I’ve wished for a few times in the past is to make a post “sticky” so that it’s always on the main page.

If you’re using Subversion to manage your updates, all you should need to do is run the following command:

And then hit the upgrade URL.  Painless as usual!

Congratulations to the WordPress 2.7 team!

Email from a stranger

December 10, 2008 @ 09:30 By: gordon Category: General

Update (24 June 2010): In response to a polite request from the owner of the email account in question, I have decided to redact the offending email address from this entry.

It’s amazing what some people will say to a complete stranger via email.  For example, I received the following yesterday evening:

From: [redacted]

Date: Tue, Dec 9, 2008 at 21:58

Subject: ott.forsale is dead, dude

as the title reads … stick you charter up a crev-ass

As far as I know I have never met [redacted].  While I am responsible for posting the various ott.* newsgroup charters, I don’t post one for ott.forsale because it’s not an official ott.* newsgroup. (It was replaced many years ago by three more focused groups, but some poorly managed news servers still list it.)

To [redacted], I say this: enjoy the spam, dude.

WordPress 2.7 is almost here

December 04, 2008 @ 00:48 By: gordon Category: Meta, WordPress

According to the WordPress.com blog, WordPress 2.7 is being released this evening at 8pm Eastern. The list of new features is pretty impressive and there are a number that I’ve been wanting for a while.


Dear Governor General

December 01, 2008 @ 17:20 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

Fill in the blanks

As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the ___A___ minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the ___B___ Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program.

We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.

Your attention to this matter is appreciated.

For bonus points, who signed it and when?