Laurel L. Russwurm's Free Culture Blog

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Strollers vs Walkers

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priority-seatingYesterday I got on the bus behind a young woman with a tiny baby in a massive stroller.
The priority seating seat was already folded up to the wall, but she asked the people who were sitting on the forward facing seats to move so she could park the stroller there, and they did. After she got the monster stroller tucked in, she sat on that seat herself, with her knees jutting into the aisle. I ended up sitting way at the back of the bus, and didn’t really pay attention until glancing up to see why one stop was taking so long.

The bus had knelt to allow an elderly woman to board, but she couldn’t get past the mother with the monster stroller. Someone in a wheelchair was sitting in the priority seating spot on the other side of the bus.

I saw the woman with the walker try to get past 3 times, but the device kept catching on something and bouncing back.  Finally the young mother seemed to notice there was a problem, so I thought maybe she would move out, but instead she bent down and lifted the front of the walker over so it could get past.  The elderly lady struggled to the middle of the bus, where she sank into the seat beside the back door.

I can understand why a driver might not want to intervene but s/he should have.

When the bus arrived at the terminal, the young mother and her stroller got out easily.  Meanwhile, the elderly woman had to wait for the people exiting at the rear to get off before she could push her walker back to the front of the bus so she could disembark.

Although my baby is college age, I well remember how much there was to learn with a new baby, so it occurred to me the young mother might not realize she had done anything wrong.  So I hurried to catch up with her. I explained she should have moved her stroller to let the elderly woman sit in the priority seating.

She told me:

  • she could not have moved down the aisle because her stroller wheel base was too large to fit
  • she had helped the woman get past her — the other woman’s walker fit in the aisle, problem solved
  • she couldn’t possibly carry the baby when she was going to be out all day
  • another smaller stroller wouldn’t work because she needed to bring her stuff
  • besides, what was she supposed to do, stay home?

I do remember the challenges in getting around with a baby in a stroller.  Back in the day I had been given an old fashioned baby buggy for my new baby.  It would have been fine to take on walks around the neighborhood, excursions to the park, and such, but it was too big to take on a bus. Twenty some odd years ago, buses didn’t kneel, but even if they had, there would have been no place for a baby buggy because back then there were no accommodations for people with mobility challenges in regular buses.  I used an umbrella stroller.

I know how important it is for a young mom with a baby to get out and about.   But it is just as important for people with mobility challenges.  But priority seating areas are not there for strollers.

Priority Seating

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005) S.O. 2005, c. 11″ requires “Priority Seating” at the front of the bus to be reserved for people of all ages with disabilities and mobility challenges.

No priority-seating-2_115235one minds if a stroller takes that spot if no one with a disability or mobility challenge needs it. But when the space is needed, the able bodied are expected to move. That goes for strollers.  If the stroller is too big to fit down the aisle, the only solution I see is that it needs to disembark and wait for the next bus that can accommodate it.  GRT buses can only accommodate only 2 wheelchairs. If a bus has 2 passengers in wheel chairs aboard, it can’t pick a third passenger waiting at a stop in a wheelchair. That person would have to wait for a bus that can.

The accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act exists because people the person who needs a walker to walk needs a walker to walk.

A person with a baby has choices. S/he can carry the baby in arms. If s/he can’t manage that for long, there are also baby carriers parents can wear.

And while a monster stroller might cost hundreds of dollars, umbrella strollers are very inexpensive. A quick online search turned up one for $29.97 at Walmart and another on sale right now for $15.99 at Babies R Us.

If large strollers displace the passengers for whom priority seating exists, there are only 2 solutions for Grand River Transit that I can think of.

  1. GRT could double the capacity of the priority seating area, or
  2. GRT could train drivers to deal with such situations, or
  3. GRT could ban large strollers.

Public Transit has improved enormously over my lifetime, it is something that ought to work for everyone.  But we all need to remember it is a shared space, and there are rules that need to be followed.  We need to respect other passengers, so we can all get where we’re going.

Postscript:  I just found the bit about strollers in the GRT rules:


Strollers must be able to fit through the front doors and down the aisles in order to board the bus. For the safety of all customers, the aisles must not be blocked.

Customers should know the dimensions of their stroller before attempting to board the bus.

Customers with strollers are required to move to the rear of the bus, lock the wheels of the stroller and remain in firm control of it at all times. If possible, strollers are to be folded when standee conditions apply.

Hold on to the stroller at all times to avoid tipping. Position the stroller so passengers can walk freely down the aisle.

Grand River Transit: Passenger Comfort and Safety

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

November 19, 2016 at 9:31 pm

Posted in copyright

Happy Earth Day

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Happy Earth Day

In recent years we’ve gone straight from winter into summer. Although we’ve been having record shattering temperatures in the last few months, we’ve had spring, winter and summer, and then back again. I captured this bee (in photographic form only, thanks🙂 ) on April 19th whilst walking the dogs a few blocks from home. So it looks like it is really spring now.

The natural world is wonderful, and I sincerely hope we humans can stop our race to destruction. The first step in weaning ourselves from our profligate fossil fuel consumption is certainly to #keepitintheground. I hope our governments are clever enough to actually do this.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

April 22, 2016 at 8:43 pm

My NaNoWriMo

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night writingEven on my best day I don’t think I could manage more than 10k in a single day, so I had a pretty good idea I wouldn’t be making it to 50k again this time.

Probably the deciding factor came out of my conversation with my son when he called on my birthday. He asked me if the words I had written were good words…and in fact, they are. I am quite pleased with how this year’s novel is going. And I knew that had I killed myself to scratch up 10k in a hurry, they probably wouldn’t have been very good words.

What NaNo has done is gotten me writing again, even with the political bumps. So here’s to a NaNo experience that worked well for me!

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

November 30, 2015 at 10:17 pm

Posted in copyright

Tagged with

Canadian Political Housecleaning

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The Canadian Bill of Rights after Bill C-51

When I still had hopes some MPs in our Federal Parliament might find it difficult or impossible to vote for Bill C-51, the Harper Government draft legislation that effectively shreds the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights, I did everything possible to spread the word, including reblogging political articles here.  Clearly I was wrong; neither Liberal or Conservative Parliamentarians had the spine to stand up for Canadian civil rights, and our unfair electoral system gave them the power to do so.

The Harper Government dispensed with proper scrutiny or debate and so the fast-tracked Bill C-51 has passed third reading in the House of Commons.  It’s still before the Senate, and will also need Royal Assent, but so far the Senate and the Governor general have proved themselves nothing more than Rubber Stamps, so my hopes are not high.

If you wish to keep an eye on it, Bill C-51 Legisinfo will let you know how far along Bill C-51 is in the process.

Now it’s time for me to return to my day job, and the first order of the day is to clean up the political debris cluttering up my Free Culture blog.  Since it’s poor netiquette  to delete material one has published, I can’t just delete my reposts without making them available, so here is the the list of political articles I reblogged (and now deleted).

But you don’t have to take our word for it… ask the experts:

Law Professors Craig Forcese and Kent Roach (at the University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto respectively) have been raising the alarm in articles like“Bill C-51: the Good, the Bad . . . and the Truly Ugly” which outline many of the very disturbing elements of Bill C-51.  They’ve created a website where they have shared their findings about Bill C-51 in detail

Possibly the single most disturbing element for me is something Mr. Forcese says in one of his information videos:

…the whole thing is covert.

We just have never seen anything like this in Canada before. Personally I would expect judges to consider all this unconstitutional and they could never let CSIS breach the constitution. But you and I may never know because, as I’ve said, this legal question would likely be decided as part of secret proceedings.

— Craig Forcese, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law

Bill C-51 ignores the rule of law and the protections Canadians enjoy under our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is serious enough to worry Canadians across the political spectrum.

You know its a non-partisan problem when legal scholars and ex-judges the legal profession and Rex Murphy and Conrad Black andJean Chrétien and Paul Martin and Joe Clark and John Turner andElizabeth May and Thomas Mulcair and the Communist Party andFirst Nations and a growing number of ordinary citizens are in agreement about how bad Bill C-51 is.

If that hasn’t given you enough to chew on, check out these videos:

Michael Harris at the Registry Theatre

Fair Vote Guelph: The Robocall Scandal ~ Town Hall

Stop Bill C-51 #Privacy matters #HumanRights #Canada YouTube Playlist

My own Bill C-51 YouTube Playlist

Any additional blogs I make will appear on my Whoa!Canada blog.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

May 12, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Posted in copyright

Happy Easter from Albrecht Dürer and Me

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Albrecht Durer's Rabbit

I grew up in a creative family, and although I never formally studied art, it was a staple of my public school education* and so I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know who Leonardo da Vinci was. But Albrecht Dürer? Well, I had seen some of his work, but I had no idea who he was until I stumbled on his work on the Internet.

Albrecht Dürer was a “Renaissance Man” from Nuremberg, Germany. A few decades younger than Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer’s interests and work was nearly as eclectic. Albrecht Dürer created some wonderful paintings, scientific studies of the natural world (like the “Young Hare” I’m sharing here), designed architecture and fortifications, dabbled in type face creation, and worked out a lot of the mathematics of art, writing books about measurement, human proportions and geometry. But I think he’s most known for his incredible black and white drawings, elaborate etchings printed from copper engravings or woodcuts, which spread his name and fame throughout the known world.

Although all of Albrecht Dürer’s work is well into the public domain, you’ll find it all over the Internet. While some of it has been marked with proprietary watermarks by people and organizations seeking to claim copyright on it (a shady practise known as “copyfraud”) you can just bypass these things, since there are plenty of excellent quality reproductions of Dürer’s  work in reputable places like Wikimedia Commons, the National Gallery of Art and the Metropolitan Metropolitan Museum of Art and WikiArt.

I’ve taken the liberty of digitally restoring Young Hare to what I think it would have looked like when it was new.

*public school education in Canada that means the universally available state funded public education stretching from Kindergarden through the 12th grade.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

April 5, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Rijksstudio Awards 2015

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Portrait of Queen Wilhelmina circa 1898 by WG

My digitally framed Queen Wilhelmina (CC0 ~ Public Domain)

This is a portrait of Wilhelmina, the great grandmother of today’s King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. I found her among the Rijksmuseum‘s online collection of its holdings.

One of the best things is that the Rijksmuseum understands that the Public Domain is the Public Domain. No claiming copyright on scanned images of Public Domain art here, this museum makes its collection available to users in high definition.

Better yet, the Rijksmuseum actively encourages users to make use of its works. To facilitate this it provides a web platform called Rijks Studios where people can collect their favourite Rijksmuseum artwork, and/or remix existing Rijksmuseum works into something completely new which can be posted to the site.

Best of all, the Rijksmuseum is providing an incentive to encourage users to create their own transformative works by way of The Rijksstudio Award 2015 contest that anyone in the world can enter!

Every kind of art imaginable is allowed – design, fine art, applied art, photography, video – and everyone can enter the competition. Check out the eclectic mix of last years finalists ranging from Old Master Headware to eye shadow found here.

I’m very busy with my PubSlush video so I hope I will be able to find the time to complete my own entry before the 15 March 2015 deadline — a notorious day in the arts known as “The Ides of March”.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

March 6, 2015 at 6:28 pm

Posted in copyright

Finding a Digital Public Domain Book

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elmira carnegie 2
DRM-Free LabelAn avid Public Library user asked me if there was some way to access the book “Daddy Long Legs” by Jean Webster without having to submit to the Library’s Overdrive system.  My friend believes this book was published around 1912, which places it squarely in the Public Domain.

(This is not to single out any particular library… my understanding is that “Public Libraries” all seem to have fallen into the thrall of Overdrive… I’ll blog about why people might want to avoid the odious Overdrive and DRM later.)

Any number of “free websites” like Public Bookshelf allow you to read online so they can serve you ads:

Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster cover (1912)For myself, I prefer to go the free-as-in-freedom route.  The first place to look for any Public Domain digital book is online at the awesome Project Gutenberg

PG has been digitizing books since the 1970’s, so they have a very good selection.  Sure enough, PG does have “Daddy Long-Legs” which you can:

(1) read online, or

(2) download

  • in the Kindle proprietary format or
  • in the free eBook standard ePub, which can be read with any ePub reader on any digital device, or
  • in Plain Text.

Plain Text can be read in your computer’s text reader (Notepad or Geddit etc.)

If you don’t know if you have an ePub Reader, the one everyone can use is FBReader, the Free and Gratis ePub reader I know will work on windows, mac, GNU/linux, tablets/phones etc  Download it free/gratis at  (I am pretty sure this is the reader that comes native with the Calibre eBook conversion software.]

Mary Pickford“Daddy Long Legs” is a famous classic, so you can also download it:

  1. as a digital audio book free/gratis from Librevox []
  2. where it is actually stored on Internet Archive  []
  3. or you can listen to the whole Librivox ebook on YouTube
  4. If you prefer movies, you can watch Mary Pickford in the 1919 Public Domain movie on YouTube
  5. which you can also download from Internet Archive

[There are also what I presume to be copyright encumbered film versions, like the Fred Astaire musical version:
and the 1970s animated version:
Either of these would be illegal to copy if they are still in copyright… they may or may not be; but it would take research to find out for sure, so until you know either way,it is always safest to assume the worst.]

If you are looking for digital Public Domain books, the best place to get them is not from the Public Library.  The problem is that even Public Domain books that library patrons acquire through Overdrive come  encumbered with DRM and/or  TOS requirements.

against DRM (cc by Nina Paley)In these days of copyright insanity, we at least ought to be able to access unencumbered Public Domain work.  Why should some faceless corporate entity have the right to tell us what we can or can’t do with works in the Public Domain… because the Public Domain belongs to the public– and that’s you and me.

For future reference, when you’re looking for Public Domain material, always check the free-as-in-freedom & gratis Project Gutenberg, Project Gutenberg and Librivox, because they very often have them.  (And, if you’ve a little extra time on your hands, these wonderful public service organizations are always in the market for volunteers.)

waterloo library