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December, 2010:

Yeah – kids are bratty – but shaddup unless you have one!

This. Is. Crazy. And True.

But only if you are a parent.

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In the spirit of the “season”?

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“Barrett’s Privateers” is my version of a Christmas carol

I don’t quite understand why, but as someone who is not really a “Christmas” type of guy (and HATES carols), Stan Rogers is someone I love to listen to at this time of the year.

And yeah, Barrett’s Privateers has nothing to do with Christmas. Nothing at all. Nada.

Go figger. Can’t explain it. I’m strange this way.

Enjoy the vid.

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Bee study by 10 year olds published in journal – cool!

I HAD to post this! I dunno if it is a gimmick or not (doesn’t seem to be(e)), but a group of 10 year olds in the UK have had a classroom study published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Biology Letters published a report conducted and written by a group of eight- to 10-year-olds from an English elementary school investigating the way bumblebees see colours and patterns.

Check it out.

The thing I don’t understand is that is was presented in “wobbly writing and hand-drawn diagrams”… and what is wrong with that? I get that all of the time at work!

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Quebec bans religious teaching in publicly subsidized daycares – and Ontario stands by…

La belle province is soooo far ahead of Ontario in soooo many ways.

  • You do not have to go to a designated store to buy booze – just stop at the local dépanneur
  • In general, they have better tastes in food and in clothes
  • One word: bagels
  • In general, Quebecois are much more relaxed and less anal retentive than their neighbours to the west.

And finally, they have only one – secular – school system. They abandoned the wasteful discriminatory and anachronistic catholic system in 1997.

And now, the government of Quebec has gone a step further by banning religious teaching in publicly-funded daycares!

Quebec, which has grappled with efforts to limit the place of religion in its public institutions, has decided to bring secularization to the tot-and-toddler set. Starting in June, publicly funded daycares that teach a particular faith to their young charges risk losing their government funding.

Yup. Soooooo far ahead! Congrats to the Charest government (and the Bouchard government in 1998) for showing the cojones that successive governments at Queen’s Park have lacked!

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Hoop snake sighting in Kanata right before Xmas: ain’t that grand?

Warning ! Warning! Warning!

A reader from Kanata, Ontario (just outside Ottawa) sent me this photo of snow hoop snake tracks AND what appears to be a baby hoop.

Hoop snake and baby hoop, Kanata, Ontario: December 20, 2010.

In the lower right, one can see where the baby hoop rolled off its mother and travelled on its own for a while.

Research (1) has indicated that baby hoops, at about 2 weeks of age will bite their tail and roll with the mother hoop… alternating between rolling on it’s own and hitching a ride inside it’s Mom’s hoop. It is very, very rare to see physical evidence of this phenomenon; which is what makes this photo all the more fascinating – and frightening!

This means that they are multiplying, folks!

In spite of the best efforts of many of us in our community, the damned things are proliferating! Thanks a bunch to all those morons at PETA who campaigned successfully against our movement to have these scourges declared a threat to national security and thus ensuring their eventual demise! Fools! All of you!!

So, and pay attention, if you live in south Kanata or Stittsville, PLEASE be careful! You all know what precautions to
take – we learned this back in Grade 2: wear high boots, avoid lingering at the bottom of hills (very important as these snow hoops love the City’s toboggan hills) and always take care when clearing snow off your car as hoops like to lie under the snow on car hoods.

If you have any questions, please ask and I’ll do my best to answer. We don’t want any horrible tragedies at this time of the year, so take care out there!

1. Much of the seminal research in this field was done by Professors Cameron, Lavergne and Fritzsche in the mid 80’s. But subsequent work has been carried out by Herring, Clavet and Vermette (Harvard, 1993), Dewis and Grant (Cornell, 1996), DeLeon and Sawicz (University of Warsaw, 2006). The most recent research was carried out by van Wesenbeeck in 2007 and published posthumously in 2008 after his much publicised demise brought about by falling into a Dutch hoop snake (Farancia abacura) breeding ground.

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Should City transit be an essential service?

Ottawa City Council?

Are you following this?

Toronto City Council has voted in favour of a motion declaring that the TTC is an essential service: http://www.thestar.com/article/909117

Maybe…. or maybe not… what do you think?

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McGuinty backs down… again…

It is clear that leadership at Queen’s Park means caving to special interests whenever the going gets tough.

Headlines:

Sex Ed opponents claim victory in Ontario

Liberals hear consumers’ cry, vow to retool eco-fee

Ontario Ombudsman: Province used ‘dubious’ powers for Toronto G20

Caving to religious groups, anti-tax advocates and Stephen Harper – in that order.

And now they have backtracked on their plan to provide single provider before and after care in Ontario’s school system. Now, instead of having on-site before and after care provided through the local School Board, third party operators will now have the opportunity to provide these services.

But Trashy, you say, isn’t this a GOOD thing? I mean, you’re involved with a local not-for-profit daycare, won’t this mean more business for you.

No, not at all. This latest flip flop is the result of the Ontario Liberals caving to a few very large daycare operators. Check out this headline from the Owen Sound Sun Times:

Locals applaud daycare decision

Yay for the locals!

But wait… what provider is quoted in the story?

The Y is heavily involved.

“We’re probably the largest provider in Grey and Bruce of before-and after-school care. We have 18 programs within the Bluewater school board and the Catholic school board and we serve probably in the neighbourhood of 600 to 700 children and families,” Dennis Morrison, centre manager for the Family Y, said.

Big time operator, the YMCA.

And the School Boards? They didn’t like the idea of seamless all-day early learning one bit.

“It was not a business we wanted to go into,” Marnie Coke, the superintendent of elementary education with the Bluewater District School Board, said Thursday.

See, here’s the problem with having before and after care provided separately from the Board:

The proposed amendment announced by the premier institutionalizes the divide between education and care and the split in the child’s day. It undermines the professionalism of Early Childhood Educators who bring the all-important play-based learning to children’s programming, relegating them to part-time workers whether employed in kindergarten classroom or after school child care.  The perennial problem of finding and keeping qualified ECEs who are willing or able to work split shifts will be exacerbated, compromising program quality.

For large institutional providers like the Y, it’s not a big concern since they have an enormous staff pool from which to select. Smaller, not-for-profit Centres have nowhere near as much flexibility and it will be difficult to attract and retain staff with promises of split shifts and few paid hours.

I, and others, have talked about the need for a greater education community. If School Boards are truly concerned about the quality of preparation for the school-years – be it at the child’s home, a for-profit institutional daycare or one of the smaller not-for-profits, then Boards everywhere in Ontario should build a better partnership with all pre-school care providers. Don’t freeze them out – but rather open a dialogue with the broader community. And do it soon! Are you listening, OCDSB?

From Randall Denley:

Kim Hiscott is the executive director of Andrew Fleck Child Care Centres. She says McGuinty’s plan might not be viable because it leaves organizations like hers with unattractive pieces of work at the beginning and end of the school day.

It would be difficult to attract early-childhood educators (ECEs) to work a split shift with less than full-time hours, Hiscott says.

The problem will be made worse by an impending shortage of ECEs, caused by school board hiring.

The grand plan McGuinty originally endorsed called for a seamless day for children with an ECE there for a full day starting about 7:30, then kindergarten classes and another ECE to work until the parents pick the children up, as late as 5:45.

The modified plan will allow boards to offer kindergarten only and foist the unattractive part-time work off on the non-profit centres.

From OISE – a good summary:

The province is responding to the self-interest of a few large child care
operators and to the fears of a small percentage of parents who already have their child care needs met.  Requiring school boards to offer affordable early learning and care was designed to help the 80% of families who have no access to child care.

Dr. Pascal’s plan was sound but the Liberals in Ontario messed up the planning, administration and delivery of this good idea. Now, in typical fashion, they are making an already ad situation even worse.

Under split delivery of before and after care, the following problems will remain:

  • We have a  fragmented patchwork of programs – and this is stressful for children, parents and those in the child care industry;
  • The inefficiencies and higher costs to taxpayers will continue and the childcare fee savings the premier promised parents during the last election will not materialize.
  • Wait lists? Get used to them. Longer ones too!

WHAT DO WE NEED?

We need political leadership and champions for universally accessible, fully integrated early learning.  We need leaders in Queen’s Park who will not cave to self-interest groups less than six months after passing their own legislation. The child care issue is just the next in a long line of caving.

If you agree, let the Premier know:

https://www.premier.gov.on.ca/feedback/feedback.asp?Lang=EN or call (416) 325-1941

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Ottawa City Committees…

Councilors, new and returning, were assigned their Committees yesterday.

And Ottawans should pay close attention to the Committees’ composition and who is elected to Chair these groups. Council Committees are important components of municipal government. They cover everything from, among others, the Committee of Adjustment (which grants or denies minor variances to the Zoning Bylaw… BTW, I used to Chair the old Township of Humphrey C of A) to the Environment Committee, Planning Committee and now and brand spanking new Transit Commission.

Most of the detail work is done at the Committee level. Staff reports are prepared for discussion and debate at the Committee level. And usually the most important decisions are made here. Following the Committee decision, a recommendation is is put forward to the whole of Council which then decides whether or not to accept the Committee’s decision – and with or without amendments.

Looking at the Committee members, a lot made sense. Chernushenko on the Environment committee – yup. Hume on the Planning Committee – check… and he will likely Chair it again. But then I looked at the Transit Commission and something seemed amiss:

Blais, Bloess, Deans, Desroches, Egli, Qadri, Tierney, Wilkinson.

New transit commission: 5 outside greenbelt, 2 on greenbelt, 1 inside greenbelt – who is Tim Tierney.

I am sure Councillor Tierney will do a great job on the Commission. I think he has a great future on Council. But why is there no one from the core? Given the profile of the OC Transpo ridership, I cannot help but think that having Councillors Clark, Chernushenko or Hobbs wouldn’t have been a bad move! Even Chiarelli or Hume!

Oh well, let’s see how all this pans out over the next 4 years…

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Here we go again…

So, how are you today, Trashy?

I am well, thank-you very much. Had a bit of a, um, stroke this morning when I ran across this short little missive about our famous transit union.

Seems as though the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279 is still miffed at the shift scheduling arrangements and has poured cold water on the idea that negotiations on a new contract will begin any time soon. The contract is up in a little more than 3 months and the Union says that the last thing they want is a strike.

Sure. I seem to recall this same line of discussion from a couple years back.

And didn’t the union agree to arbitration? We all felt safe and sound. The 95’s and 86’s and 98’s felt just pretty damn cozy and hospitable and all?

Didn’t we?

Mike Aldrich, the acting president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 279, told CBC News on Monday that unless the employer changes its bargaining team there won’t be any progress on a new contract.

“We have the same players negotiating the same proposals,” said Aldrich, referring to the 51-day strike in 2008-09 that shut down buses in the city.

“We know what happened last time. I’m not interested in going down that road.”

Hopefully this is just pre-negotiation posturing… but… it’s déjà vu all over again… I wonder how the new Mayor is going to handle this?

If there were another strike in this City, I wouldn’t want to be in his – or any of the Councillors’ – shoes. There will be some seriously pissed off folks in ol’ Bytown! As one of the commenters on the MotherCorp site put it:

City should lock them out in April after their contract is expired and we have nice weather.
Yup. Sounds good.

Oh, and on a brighter note… I HAD to post this link here… seems as though taxpayers in the Ottawa neighbourhood of Westboro will be paying higher taxes soon!

Westboro's new road salt supplier

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