Monthly Archives: June 2012

Let the helmet wars begin!

The most anticipated (for me anyway) event of the Ontario summer has occurred – the office of the chief coroner has released the cycling deaths report.

The report had a particular privilege of being misinterpreted by the press – please give a hand to the Ottawa Citizen for giving the Ottawa Sun a run for their money in poor journalism. In fact, the report does not recommend mandatory helmets for adults, it recommends mandatory helmets given that further study can prove such law will not be detrimental to cycling participation levels. Since no such study could prove this, the report merely states that it is a good idea to wear a helmet – a reasonable and well documented assertion. I sincerely hope that some silly-billy does not pass general mandatory helmet law in Ontario based on this report.

But enough about helmets and bad journalism, the report is quite interesting otherwise. The most significant recommendation is to develop provincial cycling plan that includes “complete streets” approach. Ottawa has had a cycling plan for years but it does not do enough to make cycling more palatable in my neighbourhood. This is an important recommendation and I hope it will be implemented soon.

Things that were interesting about the report itself include the fact that overwhelming number of accident deaths were of men and particularly of men aged 45 and above. There was no suggestion as to why this is the case.

The report also divides cycling into recreational, sport and commuting. I would have liked to get a better breakdown on where the accidents happened, the speed of the bike as well as the type of bicycle used. Apart from confirming that there is an increase in the number of commuting cyclists, I am not sure what the commission learned from type of cycling data.

In any case, this report was very reasonable and I hope there will be positive change as a result of it. Less frothing about the helmets and more infrastructure and education. I can only hope.

Super bikey weekend

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After not biking for far too long I finally had a few days of good bikerides. We biked to Bundek one day and to Jarun the next.

This year, after decades of hiding, the old black bicycle has re-appeared in the shed. My sister had found a good bike mechanic in Cakovec (the guy rewired my dad’s overworked back wheel with motorcycle spokes – genius!) and got the bike working. Cakovec is apparently where it’s at as far as bikes are concerned. Last weekend my sister took the old bike to the Critical Mass ride. I wanted to take some photos of the ride but could not get there in time. Instead, I tried out riding the bike the next day.

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Alas, I could not ride it! Apart from not being able to brake (I am sure there is a trick to it) the set-up was quite awkward. I kept hitting my hands and handlebars with my knees, the bike was just too small for me. I remember my grandfather, who was the original owner of this bike, to be quite tiny but apparently in the fifties, when he bought the bike, he was very tall. We think that the handlebars were adjusted much higher as the bike mechanic in Cakovec originally suggested we do. We don’t have the tools to readjust the handlebars at this time so a test ride will have to wait.

Film – Madagascar 3

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Adventure!

It has been a while since I’ve been to a movie, but I have managed to get out quite a bit otherwise. I went to the last three Lisinski evenings including performances by Sol Gabetta and Lana Kos. Lisinski is a great place, not only because it is Modern and beautiful, but because this is where Santa Claus drops off the presents, or at least he did in the 80′s.

Apart from already discussed Jenufa, I got to see another play at the HNK. It was “War and peace” and it was very well done. Finally, I got to see Zaz at the Dom sportova. I am getting so spoiled.

How to moralise about everything

Trev, Owen and I have been going to see shows at the Zagreb Puppet Theater (Zagrebacko Kazaliste Lutaka). We’ve seen “Jezeva kucica” i “Tigric” in previous weeks. This Sunday we went to see Senoa’sPostolar i vrag“. This play is based on a poem called “Cobbler and the Devil” by a famous writer who I tend to describe as Croatian Charles Dickens. The poem tells of an honest cobbler who has children he can’t afford to feed. He works hard but there is not enough money to buy food. He calls devil to help him and the devil makes the usual whatever-you-need-in-exchange-for-your-soul deal. In an unrelated incident a bit later the cobbler gets some extra magic powers from god and uses it to beat the living daylights out of the Devil thus freeing his soul.

As the language used was pretty arcane I don’t know how much of it Trev and Owen understood. After the show Trev asked me if it was bad that they were beating up the red guy because beating someone up is always bad. I mumbled something and then I said that the devil was going to kill the cobbler otherwise. Trev looked relieved and said that he really liked the fight scenes, that this was his favourite play so far and that he would like it on CD.

I am still somewhat unhappy with my response, I like to give the kids my opinion and some food for thought but this play stumped me. My initial reaction was that the devil made a fair deal and violence seemed unfair. Upon further thought, this is not a Faustian story in that the cobbler’s choice was not made out of boredom or vanity, if he did not sell his soul, his children would have starved to death. In this case, the cobbler was right to break his end of the bargain. Does this justify violence as answer to unfairness in life? Is it our moral duty to trick and beat up the devils we encounter? What should I tell my kids?!?

I’ll try and see if I can find the poem at the library and read it to Trev and then maybe we can discuss it. Does he even care? Parenting is hard, or maybe I am just over thinking it.

HNK by not the ten year old balerina

When I was taking my opera course in CEGEP we had a choice of seeing two live operas out of three performed in Montreal that semester. I wanted to see all of them, but due to pecuniary concerns, I had to drop Janacek’s “Turn of the screw”. I have been wanting to correct this for a while and the perfect opportunity appeared the last week when I saw Janacek’s “Jenufa” in Zagreb’s HNK (Hrvatsko Narodno Kazaliste).

The prices were ridiculously cheap ($25 for the best seats, how does that happen!!!) so we splurged for the private lodge. It was so exciting to go see an opera at the HNK. You see, I used to be quite in love with this theatre from the time my life’s ambition was to become a ballerina. I’ve only been to a handful of shows and not for many years. The repertoire of the theatre is very classical which,with exception of opera, does not really attract me and there are so many cultural events going on in Zagreb anyway, HNK always gets overlooked. When it comes to opera, I am very impressed. There seems to be a performance on every week compared to eight or ten performances per year in Ottawa. The theatre is small so even seated in the back you can see and hear quite well. The gold painted squiggles, carpets, cherubs, tiny lodges, etc, which would be absurd anywhe else give it so much charm.

As for the performance itself, I truly enjoyed it. I don’t know if I would listen to Janacek at home but the music was perfect for live performance. We also noted that Janacek succeeded in making the opera more realistic in that the score calls for divas that are ugly, heavy and old. Overall, great fun was had even with somewhat macabre opera .