gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for August 2009

Racing in the rain at the Rideau Canoe Club Dragon Boat Festival

August 30, 2009 @ 11:50 By: gordon Category: Dragonboats

The Second Annual Rideau Canoe Club Dragon Boat Festival took place at the Rideau Canoe Club yesterday. Twenty-five to thirty teams came out for a full day of racing on the Rideau River just above the entrance to the canal locks at Hogs Back.

If you were in Ottawa, then you know that it rained. All day. And it was windy. All day. At least it wasn’t really cold, though it wasn’t super warm either. Still, people seemed to be having a good time, even when they were huddled in their tents.

Many of the teams that participated were what I’d consider the “hard core” teams of dragon boat racing in Ottawa who practice  once or twice a week from the moment the river thaws in the spring and go to all the local races (ODBF, RCCDBF and the Fall 400 in Carleton Place).

My team, the Algonquin College Singapore Slings, had a great day of races (except for the 500m race where we were stuck in the wake of Gung Ho, who leapt off the start line and finished the race a good 10 seconds ahead of the next fastest boat (which wasn’t us)). Our 200m races were particularly satisfying and our last 500m race felt really good, top. We had the option of doing a 1000m race, which I would have liked to do, but given that even the Goretex-clad people were soaked, we decided to opt out. I don’t think there were many teams who took part in the 1000m.

All in all, we finished third in the Mixed Final C block of teams, which we’re very happy about. I think we get a trophy for this accomplishment, which we’ll probably receive at our practice on Tuesday.

We had a new caller for the RCCDBF: Mary Anne. Normally, she paddles for the Slings, but she volunteered to call for us when we learned our summer caller wouldn’t be able to make the race. Her first time calling was at last week’s practice and I’m happy to report that she rose to the challenge and did a great job calling under less than ideal conditions. The caller’s job is probably the hardest in the boat. I’ve been steering dragon boats for several years, something many people consider difficult, and I wouldn’t want the responsibility of being the caller.

Congratulations to the organizers at the Rideau Canoe Club for another great festival and thanks to all the volunteers on the docks and in the marshal boats on the race course!

Welcome to the Dark Side, Exmortis! (We have cookies.)

August 18, 2009 @ 12:23 By: gordon Category: Meta, Seen on the 'net

A good friend of mine who has been dis’ing bloggers, and blogging in general, for years has come over to the dark side. You’ll find a link to his new blog, A Moment in Exmortis’s Mind, in the rightside column and also on my Ottawa Blogroll page.

Be sure to go and harass him. Lots.
Smakendahed of Random Ogre Thoughts

Sometimes the Youth Criminal Justice Act shouldn’t apply

August 14, 2009 @ 12:00 By: gordon Category: General, In the news

The Youth Criminal Justice Act prohibits the names of young offenders and victims from being identified. Sometimes this means that adults involved in the crime and/or related to the youth can’t be identified. Occasionally, a young offender is charged as an adult, such as the recent case of one of the killers of Stefanie Rengel. Melissa Todorovic was only identified as M.T. until she was finally sentenced as an adult, at which point it entered the public record.

In the case of young victims, I can understand why their names are suppressed and I don’t have a problem with this. There are even some crimes that I can accept the name of a young offender not being published — petty crimes rather than violent crimes, for example. Kids do stupid things when they’re growing up, but this doesn’t mean their name should be splashed across the news à la “Timmy Smith convicted of stealing a chocolate bar, full story at 11!”

But when it comes to crimes involving motor vehicles, such as the seventeen-year old street racer in Orleans who smashed his car, shattered a bus shelter, broke a wall and landed on someone’s front lawn, I don’t think the anonymity afforded by the Youth Criminal Justice Act should apply. If you are old enough to possess a license to drive a motor vehicle, you are old enough to have your name published if you do something stupid or illegal while driving. Driving is a privilege, not a right, and with it comes responsibility.

Argh! The swimmers are back!

August 12, 2009 @ 00:11 By: gordon Category: Dragonboats

A year ago, I wrote about people swimming in the middle of Mooney’s Bay, seemingly oblivious to the boat traffic on the river.

Well, they’re back.

While dodging kayaks, small motor boats and other dragonboats at Tuesday evening’s dragonboat practice, I also had to contend with two swimmers in the middle of the river. Passing within 10 feet of them, we headed upstream to the top of the bay. As I looked back, I watched as they slowly swam into the middle of a dozen kayaks heading downstream. Shaking my head in disbelief, I continued steering the boat upstream.

A little while later while we were lining up at the 800m mark to practice our race plan, I saw the two swimmers about to head back across the lane that we were going to be racing down in a minute or two. Fortunately, they cleared the lane before it became an issue.

I’d like to think that these swimmers would figure out for themselves that swimming in the middle of a busy river is really not the best idea, but I doubt that’ll happen. If they’re out next week, I might try to tell them how much they look like the marker buoys and the risks they’re taking.

WordPress 2.8.4

August 11, 2009 @ 23:03 By: gordon Category: Meta, WordPress

WordPress 2.8.4 has been released. While most releases are important, this one is particularly important. It addresses a security vulnerability that was discovered yesterday. The vulnerability allows a very specially crafted URL could allow a malicious individual to bypass a security check to verify a user requested password reset. It only affects the first account without a key in the database, which is usually the admin account. The owner of the account would receive an email with the new password, so the attacker wouldn’t gain access, unless they had access to the email associated with the account in question, but it’s still annoying.

Party politics in Ottawa

August 05, 2009 @ 11:50 By: gordon Category: General

Tuesday’s Ottawa Citizen has an article about party politics in Ottawa. Apparently, three leading governance experts say that party politics could be the solution to the system of governance in Ottawa, which is “broken”. The current system, according to them, has “much too narrow a focus and inhibits the politicians from taking a more global outlook”.

“Many disparate interests cloud the big picture,” according to Katherine Graham, Dean of Public Affairs at Carleton.

But, isn’t that the point in municipal government? That the elected representatives actually represent the people in their ward?

Party politics exists in Montreal and Vancouver, while it is actually illegal in Ontario. Though the systems in Montreal and Vancouver has been relatively successful, some people doubt whether they’re really in touch with the grassroots. Party politic systems often see the independent candidates excluded because they don’t have the financial resources to compete with the political parties.

Vancouver’s system, for example, currently has a party called Vision Vancouver in charge. Vision Vancouver arose out of a “realignment” of left-wing politicians. Eight months ago, it won over the incumbent Non-Partisan Association, but now it’s suffering from infighting and division.

I’m not sure that a party political system is what Ottawa needs. The party with the majority can ignore the opposition and make decisions behind closed-door caucus meetings. Given the fact that decisions made by Council have a more immediate and direct effect on people living in Ottawa, this lack of transparency and accountability is not a good thing. I want my representative on Council to have a vested interest in my neighbourhood and not be afraid of speaking up because they aren’t toeing the party line.

And what if we end up with a minority situation, such as we have at the federal level, where there’s no distinct ruling party? Does our municipal system grind to a halt while the parties make backroom deals to jockey for power? Do we suddenly have to start worrying about votes of confidence in the ruling party? In the event such a vote is lost, what happens? Would the Lieutenant Governor or the Premier ask the remaining parties to form some sort of coalition or would we have to go back to the polls?

No, I don’t think a party political system is what the City of Ottawa needs. I like the fact that my representative on Council has a vested interest in my ward and isn’t distracted by party politics. I have enough other people I’ve voted for at higher levels of government who have these concerns, thank you very much.

Tuesday’s weather

August 04, 2009 @ 23:23 By: gordon Category: Photography, Weather

People in Ottawa experienced yet another day with rain. Today’s weather, however, included torrential downpours, lightning and strong winds. I noticed within the span of about 15 minutes that the air temperature dropped by more than 5 degrees, confirming that there was a cold front blasting through. As I drove westwards back up to the cottage, I drove through the front and emerged into relatively clear air. Looking back towards the east, I saw some really impressive clouds trailing along the backside of the cold front, so I stopped to take some pictures. (In fact, a couple of the photos were looking west, but still impressive.)


At least we didn’t experience the weather that people living north of Ottawa did. Mike (VA3MPM) was on his way to his cottage near Maniwaki to check on damage caused by the storm. when I talked to him while en route to Golden Lake. I gather he lost a tree that was holding up an antenna, while one set of neighbours had their house dumped in the lake, contents and all, including some of the people and their three dogs. No one was hurt, fortunately, but their house is a write-off, as are most of the boats on the lake. Another neighbour of his was on the couch when he saw “stuff” normally found in/on a house blowing through the sky à la Wizard of Oz. Yikes!