kurtismccartney's blog

Welland Cycling in Autumn

Eglise Sacre Coeur of WellandFall is coming and for a couple of reasons I am very glad that it did. For one, I have managed to cycle to three of the four corners of Welland in one shot. This means that trying for a round trip to Brock may not be too far off. I have even considered starting a mid-range bike club, for the people in town that are enthusiastic about human powered transportation even though they loathe people in spandex shorts. Critical Mass has been another excellent way to do that, though someone might perform a "Die-In" and get mixed up with "Die-Thru" a spray-paint protest/art group in Welland. The City of Welland has put bike lanes into every street that the new LED Street lamps have been installed. Good times for cycling in Welland.

I have included an image of the Sacred Heart Church (Eglise Sacre Coeur) of Welland. Every time that I ride this part of Welland's French Village is included. Even though there are no bike lanes and it hardly seems like an arterial road going down Empire St. in Welland is like a blast from the past. The church is across the street from the Desjardins Caisse which is less impressive visually but equally important to residents that are not yet fluent in the English language. Many of the Francophone Caribbean and Former-Africans also love cycling as an affordable form of transportation.

We all grew up with bicycles, why did you stop?

Campus Sustainability Assessment

Brock University Bright FutureI will be attending the Campus Sustainability Assessment Meeting on Thursday Sept. 11th at Brock University. This initiative has existed for some time and I was honoured to receive a personal invitation to the event. I know that Brock had a 58% waste diversion rate for 2007, making the recycling and organic diversion projects a relative success. Though there is a lot more that can be done.

Everything from heating, lighting, doors, etc. has been included in this assessment. This makes the greentech dork inside me very happy. The results of this meeting will indicate what kinds of development Brock will pursue and in turn set an example to local governments in the Niagara Region. We already have a headstart with the LED conversion away from High pressure sodium and it is beautiful. I will post more during and after the meeting until then check out these resources:

OPIRG will also be all over this event so be sure to check out OPIRGBrock.org for their involvement.

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Election Issue: Civil Infrastructure

Everything I talk about tends to have a close connection to Civil Infrastructure, the services and technology implemented developed nations. Most of the time I advocate building things better, stronger, more efficient and with only top quality materials. I have had a chance to speak briefly with each of the major candidates running for office in my riding (Welland/Niagara Centre)- all of them can agree that infrastructure is important although their plans for implementation and development differ greatly.

Considering all plans there are a couple of ways that this batch tip-toes around. Disclaimer: I still prefer to remain non-partisan as I have at least one disagreement with each of these candidates, no names will be used.

Manufacturing Bailouts - I understand the importance of keeping jobs in Niagara, my father worked at John Deere for just shy of 30 years. However without investing in infrastructure we missed numerous opportunities in middle and south Niagara. Road, Ship, Rail, and Electrical Utilities promoted development in the early twentieth century and these have fallen apart due to neglect. The workers have been punished for this - charity bailouts only seem to make the hurt go from the pocketbook to local pride.

Transit Funding - Great idea, I have seen growth happen before my eyes due to the new money put into this system. Welland Transit, St. Catharines Transit and Niagara Transit are practically one seamless network. Runs into Port Colborne and Pelham give NOTL residents hope they will be serviced soon. Even more hope for all Niagara to have commuter rail soon.

Incentive Based Taxation - Gas taxes usually go to road and highway maintenance, and cigarette taxes indirectly help healthcare. Carbon taxes should not be implemented as a punishment but as a way to promote rapid infrastructure change. The trust system doesn't sound adequate to deal with the environmental dangers already present. This is not about Global Warming - it is about our rivers, our canal and our land. I would hate to see a contaminated zone like the INCO Nickel zone in Port Colborne come to Welland. I support the incentive based carbon tax where it goes right back into the bottom line of the companies it is taken from.

Lots more for this election but these are my biggies federally that have been ignored in the past. When you vote federally, think local.

Brock Senate 2008/2009

Brock SenateAs the academic year begins another tradition at Brock University comes into effect. Brock Senate, as described by Jack Lightstone, is a component of the Bicameral system found at Brock since its creation in the twentieth century. Bicameral in a similar, if not the same, way as the government that funded the initial development of the institution. It was a eloquent interpretation of our reason for being there.

The introduction of committees for the 2008/2009 academic year was made on September 3rd. I will continue my work on the IT and Infrastructure Committee, and it has been brought to my attention that an opening is available on the Teaching and Learning Policy Committee. I hope that I can continue to support the Sakai project from the student side on these committees.

More information available on the Senate website:
http://www.brocku.ca/secretariat/senate/index.php

Orientation 2008 - Club Fail

BUSU and Brock Orientation week Orientation week has come to Brock again this year, for those of you lucky enough to attend I hope you have a chance to see my friends and i at the club fair. Club fair (or Club fail) is an event intended to introduce incoming students to clubs, services and each other during the orientation week. I will also be publishing promotional material for some of the clubs though I cannot mention which ones at this time.

Frosh week is another off campus component to student orientation. Though I wouldn't recommend doing keg stands, attempting to join the century club or any other type of drinking game I cannot say that I haven't tried a couple prior to 2008. Sometimes the world seems better when you are looking up to your peers. Literally.

Get involved, it probably won't kill you.

More Linux Please

Ubuntu 2008Going into another year with Linux I cannot emphasize how it has changed my life. By focusing on what is important about computing, namely sharing, processing, and storing massive amounts of information made easily available. This website is hosted on my Ubuntu Server, which would be at 8 months of non-stop uptime if there were no power outages in the Niagara Region. (Still looking for a UPS solution, preferably integrating solar technology.) Even large vendors use Linux in their servers, Amazon has been using Linux for nearly a decade. Uptime isn't everything and I would like to highlight some of the other benefits of using a Linux based operating system.

I find myself working face to face with more people, in a pleasant environment. People come first, not machines and it is easier to do all of this when one does not have to worry about IF their technology is working. Linux works, it works harder and is great at what it does. When I notice new Linux development making Linux more attractive to Creatives and business types of people and I am proud of the versatility of Linux in these fields. Linux is best suited to academic functions, mass rendering and large scale networking something that other software vendors cannot even compare to.

If you are interested in discovering a new world of usability and excellence, Linux may be for you. Otherwise nobody is forcing you to make the switch.

I will not be hosting a Ubuntu Install party for 8.10, though I would show up to one if anyone else is planning one for the Brock/Niagara community.

OPIRG Brock Revision

OPIRG 2.0Great news for OPIRG members and social media enthusiasts at Brock University as the newest revision of the OPIRG website came online today. This new revision includes easier access, easier readability and many new features. Some highlights of the additional coming changes includes sitewide page translation, podcasting, a new polling engine and a lightweight RSS feed aggregator. All this and more using an open-source backbone, namely Drupal. Already a mainstay on OPIRGBrock.org it has now opened a world of opportunities to the campus and community members of the OPIRG.

The Volunteer and Program co-coordinators for 2008-2009 have expressed their need to reach out to a larger community and encourage involvement at Brock University. Although the Blogspot site for OPIRG will continue to exist for the time being eventually all information can be found easily at OPIRGBrock.org. Check it out now, you'll hear more about this later - believe it.

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Niagara Region Organic Recycling

Recycle GreenThe Green Bin program has been re-launched in the Niagara Region and hopefully it catches on to more households this time. For those unfamiliar with the program it is essentially composting for urban environments, where citizens leave their organic waste out alongside waste and recyclables and curbside pickup takes it away. Great for people in small communities where composting becomes more of a hassle than a benefit.

Common household organic setups include placing a small bin on the kitchen counter to collect unusable or unused organic waste (egg shells, apple cores, etc.). This smaller receptacle is sufficient for most people living alone, though families are encouraged to use the larger green bin to collect all of the smaller parts, keep the smell down, and generally make it easier for pickup.

After instating the organics program at Brock it increased annual waste diversion to 58% for 2007 (only 42% of all waste went to the landfill). If this level of success could be carried over into households it could extent the life of the existing landfills in Niagara by decades. Also waste management organizations benefit from the organics collection through the resale of the compost in the same way that aluminum and paper recycling keeps the recycling programs economically sound.

Support the Organic Recycling program or petition your local waste management to join the new standard.

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Greentech Gadgeteer

RecyclingWhoa! Today I received a refreshing reminder from some friends that I haven't seen in a while that I have a lot of Greentech Gadgets. So many that I actually merit being labeled alternative... which is bad news in a couple ways. Many of the technologies that I test and implement are the mushy middle tools that everyday people can use - inexpensive solutions. Though the complete conversion has been gradual, selling the whole package now seems radical.

  • Alternative Lighting (No Mercury, Diode Technology)
  • Alternative Transportation (Electric or self-powered)
  • Alternative Computing (Web based, Lower power consumption) Etc. Bleh.

All standards compliant, good for everyday people. So, it is easy to be extreme-green even on a student budget. Some might argue that the affordability makes it an added bonus while on a student budget. Though everybody is different and I would love to hear more about other experiences -in person and in Niagara. Every change has to eventually feel homegrown otherwise the "foreign technology" stigma shows up and kills mainstream acceptance.

For more info check out Metaefficient, Gizmodo, and Autobloggreen - great recommendations.

Faster and Faster

Bonelli Ultima 1.0 HybridFinally managed to get my hands on an affordable and durable road bicycle. The benefits of cycling are numerous and often boring - so I'll leave that to hardcore cycling bloggers. My appreciation goes to the maintainers of the Niagara Trail Systems, and I have a new reason to support tougher road laws on auto drivers. I will elaborate.

Riding along the Canal is beautiful and actually connects the region in good ways. Meeting other people who also enjoy to travel by their own power along the way. Not much to complain about as most of that land is not able to be used for anything else at this time. I'll have to post pictures another time, though they would hardly do justice to the experience.

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