Latest Tweets:

Quality time with this guy.

Quality time with this guy.

Jam of the now: Fool’s Gold - “The Dive”. I’ve had this song stuck in my head for a week, without being able to remember a proper word of it, and waiting for it to come up on Songza.


I say, Facebook, has Photoshop perhaps gone too far?  Could this be clarified somehow??

Ban software! “Photoshop” has gone too far.


I say, Facebook, has Photoshop perhaps gone too far?  Could this be clarified somehow??

Ban software! “Photoshop” has gone too far.

Cuddle buddies.

Cuddle buddies.


Sparks Street BIA: Your Ideas Need To Get Better

I don’t know if there’s a single person in Ottawa that “loves” Sparks Street. For my nearly 29 years in Ottawa, I think it’s only ever been my destination four times, despite being in what is the heart of our city. But it wasn’t until I visited the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade that I realized what a failure of a pedestrian mall it is.

Sparks Street caters to two audiences: 1) federal government employees, either before work, over lunch, or immediately after work and 2) really boring tourists - the type of tourists whose idea of travel is going to a place and buying a t-shirt with that place’s name on it. All of the businesses in Sparks Street cater to these two audiences. A surprising amount of them are already closed by the time most people finish work.

Sparks Street could (and should) be the heart of Ottawa’s shopping, nightlife and tourism. But the businesses are not aligned with that: tourist shops, mediocre restaurants, generic chain shops, and boutiques with a very limited appeal. The best thing Sparks Street has going for it are the limited amount of festivals (like Rib Fest and Busker Fest) that it hosts. But it’s incidental that those are on Sparks, and I think people would travel to other parts of the city if the festivals moved.

The BIA for Sparks Street has proposed a number of ways to attract customers, ranging from “bad” to “astoundingly awful”. Those ideas have been:

  • A Zip Line: A $3-5 million zip line that would run for 300 metres down Sparks, and it would cross “at least one street”.
  • Valet Parking: Because even though it’s a pedestrian mall flanked by the public transit line, people should drive their cars to Sparks Street but not park them.
  • Mascots: A bunch of people in mascot costumes. Because business.
  • Inventing a “Tradition”: What is basically appropriating Newfoundland culture, the BIA created a $13 ceremony involving whiskey and kissing a toy beaver. No idea if they realized the implications of inviting people to Sparks Street to “kiss the beaver”.
  • And their newest idea, a zoo: which is somehow intended to attract tourists. If anything, tourists will misunderstand the size and quality of what Sparks Street calls “a zoo”, arrive in Ottawa, and be very disappointed.

These ideas, effectively coats of turd polish, are all from the past two years. They are not addressing the problem: Sparks Street needs a compelling reason to visit, not a gimmick. Sparks Street should have great retail - both high-end chains and independent, local shops. Sparks Street needs great food options for any time of the day, both high-quality restaurants, and quick options for people on the go. Sparks Street should be home year round to excellent buskers and vibrant arts and culture.

I wish Sparks Street was the place to go in Ottawa. I wish that there was something exciting going on there every weekend that would draw me out with friends. It could be so great. Instead, it’s now a zoo.


Apparently the zoo is an April Fool’s joke. That would be funny if it didn’t blend in perfectly with their other, genuine ideas.


Jam of the now: Delta 5 - “Mind Your Own Business”. Such a sweet post-punk jam!


Jam of the now: Peter, Bjorn & John - “Objects of my Affection”. How is this album seven years old already!?

Throwback Thursday: My Great-Grandfather Hosselet

One of my great uncles recently dug up some history books from Roermond, the small village in southern Holland (Limburg) where my father’s side of the family is from. It has some great photos and text, including this photo and write-up about my opa’s father, Wilhelmus “Willy” Franciscus Norbertus Hosselet. Sweet name, right?

Original Dutch

De kleurrijkste en ‘beweeglijkste’ gemeente-secretaris, die Roermond wellicht ooit gekend heft, was de heer Hosselet.

Met reuze-stappen, kwistig in gebaar, een volle lach en een stentor-stem met-een-barst-erin, stormde hij door het leven.

Deze als champagne bruisende levensdriftige was tegelijkertijd zeer geduldig, behoedzaam, nauw-gezet en grondig, als de omstandigheden dat met zich meebracht…

Roosendaler van geboorte (met waarshijnlijk frans dus ‘Bourgondisch’ bloed in d’aderen) kwam de knap Willy in 1914 naar Roermond.

Even was hij in dienst bij het ‘Gem. Distributie-kantoor (zie biz. 79). Daarna trad hij als 17-jarige toe tot de Roermondse schare gemeente-ambte-naren. Hij begon als ‘schriver’ (achter zo’n loeier van een ‘Hammond’-schrifmachine, die in die tijd méér weg hadden van Hammond-órgels).

Vanaf 1917 raakte de heer Hosselet, geheel naar zijn natuur, in een stroomversnelling, die niet meer te stuiten zou zijn. In recordtempo doorliep hij alle rangen, tot hij in ’28 gemeente-ontvanger werd.

Daarvóór en daarna gaf hij er ‘tussendoor’ blijk van een soort studiewonder te zijn. Links en rechts haalde hij diploma’s weg met de hoogste punten ooit in Nederland voor bepaalde (gemente)akten behaald.

Naast en bij zijn werk also ontvanger doceerde hij, schreef vakartikelen, was voorzitter en/of lid van diverse gemeentelijke en gezelligheidsverenigingen.

In 1945 werd Hosselet gemeente-secretaris. Enkele jaren later vatte hij weer een studie op (rechten). In ’50 daarmee gestart, studeerde hij af in 1954.

Steeds crescendo, nu nog burgemeester?

Hij peinsde er niet over (‘Mijn vak is het mooiste ter aarde!’) ‘Het rijk’ wilde het ook niet anders. (‘Zo’n secretaries is uniek en onvervangbaar!’)…

Een van zijn hobbies was zwemmen in het Gem. zwembad ‘Hattem’. (‘In het ondiep asjeblieft! Ik wil grond onder de voeten voelen.) Een trekje, dat Meen niet, dat mr. Hosselet alleen maar een werk-paard was.

De Bourgondische partijen te zijnen huize waren vermaard.

Degene, wiens kwinkslagen en lachsalvo’s dan domineerden, waren die van de gastheer…

In 1963 is deze 5000.000 Volt in laatste schitter-gloei verteerd. Toen ging iemand heen van een ras, dat dan voorbije tijden is…

English Translation (Approximate)

The most colourful and “most mobile” town clerk that Roermond has ever raised was Mr Hosselet.

With giant steps in lavish gesture , a full smile and a stentorian voice, he rushed through life.

Such a champagne, vibrant life at the time was very patient , prudent, deep and close, as the circumstances involved …

Risen from birth (with French ‘Burgundian’ blood in his veins) came pretty Willy to Roermond in 1914.

For a moment he was employed by the City Distribution Office. Then he, as a 17 -year-old, joined the crowded Roermond municipal officials. He started as “scribe” (behind such a ” Hammond’ writing-machine , which looked more like Hammond organs at that time ).

From 1917 Mr. Hosselet moved with a unstoppable momentum,  greatly to his nature. In record time he moved up the ranks until he was in town receiver ‘28 .

Before that and in between, he was miraculously studious. Left and right he holds diplomas with the highest points ever in the Netherlands for some (city-level) deeds achieved.

In addition to his work and useful receiving, he taught writing essays, was chairman and/or member of various municipal and social clubs .

In 1945 Hosselet was town clerk . A few years later he took another study. Starting in ‘50, he graduated in 1954 .

An increasing crescendo, now mayor?

He was not an over-thinker ( “My profession is the most beautiful on the earth!”) “The rich” did not want it otherwise . (Such secretaries are unique and irreplaceable!)

One of his hobbies was swimming in the city pool ( In the shallow please! I want to feel ground under the feet.) One trait to ensure you don’t think that Mr. Hosselet was just a work horse.

The Burgundian parties of his household were renowned.

The person whose wit and laughter dominated the parties, was the host himself…

In 1963, this 5,000,000 volt dynamo consumed his last glittering glow.

I hope that my great-grandchildren can read something as interesting as that about me.

Jam of the now: Local Natives - “Airplanes”. This song is great on its own, but the lyrics and story behind the song is really touching:



My baby in action. The GPM (Global Precipitation Management) is sending its first images back to earth, in this case of an extra-tropical cyclone off the coast of Japan, 10 Mar 14.

Image credit: NASA/JAXA

My Aunt Jacqueline does some very, very cool stuff.