Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Olympics are over

So the Torino Winter Olympics are over and the Canadian (and for that matter all other athletes) are headed home. Now is the time the pundits reflect on how well each of their countries did at the Olympics.

The Canadian Men's Hockey Team has taken some heat for not even meddling during this Olympics despite including players who worth over ninety two million dollars worth in the NHL. General Manager of the Canadian Olympic Hockey Team, Wayne Gretzky, has taken a lot of flack over this team. He is debating whether he should return for the next Olympics or not. I would implore Wayne to make a return on the basis that he is perhaps one of the best unifiers of hockey worldwide. Remember Gretzky was the one the Canadian players rallied around in Canada's push for the Gold Medal in the 2o02 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Gretzky is perhaps one of the only hockey figures that Canadian NHL players are willing to rally around. Why? Perhaps it is because the players know Gretzky has a great personality and knows Gretzky will bring together the best coaching staff in Canadian Hockey. Pat Quinn, Jacques Martin and Ken Hitchcock have more wins in the present NHL. Gretzky may be the only person in Canadian hockey that might be able to unite Canada's best in push for Gold in the future.

Gretzky has learned a lot from these games. He learned that leaving players like Jason Spezza and Sidney Crosby behind might have been a mistake. Jason Spezza is one of Canada's leading scorers and normally plays on the same line with Canadian Olympian Dany Heatley normally for the Ottawa Senators. These two "click" on the same forward line in the NHL and are used to playing with each other, so why not put them on the same line in Torino? Sidney Crosby is the future of Canadian Hockey, so why didn't Crosby get a chance to at least play on the fourth line of the Olympic Team.

As for the rest of the Canadian Olympic Team, I look forward to Vancouver in 2010. Many of the athletes who medalled or came close are still young. The likes of Chandra Crawford, Cindy Klassen, and others are going to be in their prime when Canada hosts the games. There is also a plan for Canadian athletes to do even better than in Torino. Better than Torino? Canada came in third in the metal standings overall. Not bad considering Canada a country of thirty million was only one metal behind the United States who has about thirty million people packed into both New York City and Los Angeles and surrounding areas alone.

The mainly higlights for me during this Olympic games were the smiles of Clara Hughes and Chandra Crawford atop the podiums. Clara Hughes, the Canadian Speed Skater who won gold in the Women's five thousand metre speed skating, collapsed in exhaustion after finishing her race. Myself, and apparently her husband, were worried when she fell in heap on the ice soon after finishing her gold medal race. Hughes had beaten Cindy Klaussen, arguably the best female speed skaters in the world overall now with five Olympic medals in this past games. I was worried Hughes may not be able to enjoy her gold medal win. But luckily she got back on her skates and did climb the podium up next to Cindy Klassen. Hughes had a huge smile on her face in her first Olympic Gold Medal win. Hughes is also another note worthy Canadian, just like Cindy Klassen who has one a total of six olympic Medals in two olympic games in speed skating. Hughes has a total of four olympic medals to her name. Hughes has one speed skating gold medal, one silver speed skating medal (from the Salt Lake City games) and two cycling bronze medals from when Hughes was a cyclist in the summer olympic games. She wasn't my favourite Canadian though in the Olympics.

Chandra Crawford, the cross country gold medalist, was my favourite highlight of this Olympic Games. Crawford had set her goal at placing in the top thirty in the cross country race. Crawford, in her gold medal race, nearly gave her coach heart attack as she fastly sprung out from the starting position. Crawford set a fast pace from the begginning. Her coach thought Crawford would wear herself out at the pace she set from the beginning of the race. But that was not the case considering Crawford was still jumping up and down as she rose with a beaming smile onto the podium to receive her gold medal. The person that nobody thought had a shot at Gold had won! This is the story I will remember from this Olympics.

Other notable accomplishments were Pierre Leuders and Lascelles Oneil Brown taking the two men bobsled silver medal, Jeffrey Buttle taking an unlikely Bronze Medal in men's figure skating (a sport that I don't really watch since the Salt Lake Skating Fiasco), Duff Gibson Gold and Jeff Pain both in Men's Skelton. I have left out some other Canadian medals, but the people above I believe have shown the greatest Olympic spirit in a various capacities. These stories are worth looking up in the future. I may have missed other stories due to working and sleeping (who isn't sleeping at three in the morning on a week day?).

I look forward to Vancouver in 2010 where Canada will hopefully do even better and I will hopefully be able to see more of the games live. I prefer that instead of hearing the results first then seeing the event unfold via tape. As the Vancouver Mayor probably said leaving the closing ceremonies tonight said....


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Cat fight leads to carnage in New York City - Cat fight leads to carnage in New York City

Cat fight leads to carnage in New York City

NEW YORK—Police officers shot and killed a 65-year-old woman after they said she stabbed her neighbour at least eight times in an apparent dispute over the woman's cat, and then refused their orders to drop her knife.
The cat, Dickie, also suffered a serious stab wound to the eye in the attack Thursday at an apartment on Staten Island. Police spokesman Paul Browne said officers responded to a report of an assault in progress at about 8:15 a.m.
When officers arrived, a handyman said he saw Stephanie Lindboe grabbing neighbour Linda Padula by her hair and repeatedly stabbing her in the head, neck and shoulder with a kitchen knife. The officers found Padula, 59, bleeding profusely and pleading for help just inside the door of her apartment. As one of the officers went to her aid, Lindboe flung open the door of the apartment across the hall and brandished the knife over her head.
Police ordered the woman to drop the knife. She refused and came at one of the officers. He fired two shots, one of which hit her in the chest.
Lindboe was pronounced dead in hospital; Padula was in serious condition with eight stab wounds.
Neighbours told police the argument may have been sparked because the cat often defecated in the hallway. The cat was being treated at an animal hospital.


So apparently the world is headed to complete stupidity!

I knew some people (mostly working in the Department of Education in New York City as evidenced here and here) were a little screwed in the head. But these two take the cake. A cat repeatedly defecates on the hallway carpet? So why not have the Superintendent intervene and determine if the occupant of the offending pet owner is at fault. If the cat is such a problem and the owner refuses to help solve the problem, which obviously is the case, than why should the cat owner be allowed to reside in the building?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Secret is out - What's better than dodgeball?

What's better than dodgeball?

There can be only one thing: Late-night dodgeball, each and every Friday night York University has a tradition in the making, reports Shauna Rempel

Feb. 14, 2006.


In the line outside the Underground bar on York University campus, dozens of students are ready and waiting for a Friday night of dancing and drinking.

But Phil Hartman and his buddies have other ideas. Near the campus nightspot, in an indoor rotunda filled with nooks and crannies, dodgeball is afoot.

This not-so-secret society of undergrads meets every Friday at midnight in Vari Hall for a couple hours of a-throwin' and a-dodgin.'

"It takes a particular kind of person to want to spend their Friday nights playing dodgeball," says Hartman, 22.

Some diehard dodgeballers may be attracted by the chance to enjoy a familiar childhood activity, smack dab in the middle of the daunting and unfamiliar terrain of university life.

"It reminds us of our childhood at a time when (it) seems to be slipping away from us," says Hartman, who looks more like David Spade than his Saturday Night Live namesake.
But there's something else; that tiny illicit thrill of doing something not condoned by university.
See, this dodgeclub is not a varsity sport or even an intramural, and Hartman says there's no way they'd be allowed official club status.

The players have long had to er, dodge, security guards worried the students will damage not only property but also unsuspecting students trying to cross Vari Hall. Because of this, midnight dodgeballers like to keep things on the down low. Players don't even use their real names, says Hartman, and prefer nicknames.

Despite, or perhaps because, of all the secrecy, the dodgeclub has flourished just under York administration radar for four years. That, by the way, predates the craze started by the 2004 Vince Vaughn flick.


The above article is excerpted from today's Toronto Star newspaper. The article has probably ruined the fun of a group of university students for good. Why? The Toronto Star is Canada's most read newspaper by far. As well, the Toronto Star distributes, for free, thousands of copies on York University's campus which are quite often picked up by both students and staff a like. Thus, I would bet that when midnight rolls around this coming Friday night at York's Vari Hall a team of York's finest rent-a-cops will be out in force to ruin the fun. No longer will the midnight tradition of dodgeball occur. Sometimes the big bad man (Toronto Star) ruins the fun of the little guy (York's students). Thanks a lot Toronto Star!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Mental Notes

Sometimes I make mental notes of things I want to learn and never repeat in the future. Sometimes it comes from mistakes by myself, sometimes it is based on mistakes done by others. Here is what I learned today (all mistakes by others):

1. Muddy shoes should never be put up on bus seats. The VIVA Purple route usually has buses with quite a few seats that seem to be muddy. Usually these mud patches ont he seats are caused by unmannerly York University students commuting too or from school. Twice this past week I have had to give up a section of my newspaper too someone wishing to sit down but couldn't because there was mud on the seat. Being the gentlemen that I am, I don't mind much giving up the local grocery store advertisement for this purpose. But come on people, these seats are for sitting your tuchus on, not your dirty boots!

2. The two white lines at the intersection might be there for something. You think? Drivers are forever parking over the clearly marked areas where pedestrians walk while the driver waits for the red light to change to green or try and make a right hand turn. Numerous pedestrians are have been hit because of stupidity of drivers. I have complained about this before (somewhere or sometime), but it never seems to end. I guess drivers are too busy with their cell phones, car radios, screaming kids, trying to make that right turn, etc. to pay attention to the rules of the road. If you can't handle this simple rule of the road (i.e. yielding to pedestrians at intersections) than I have one easy rule for you: A YRT or VIVA bus pass only costs $120.00 a month! But while riding see mental note number one above.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Toronto Rock

Toronto Rock

Last night a friend of mine and myself headed off to the Air Canada Centre in Toronto to see the Toronto Rock take on the Rochester Knighthawks in a lacrosse game.

This was my first ever professional lacrosse game that I got to see as a spectator. It was, unbeilievably, the first time I had been inside the Air Canada Centre.

I had a very good time! The lacrosse game was action all the time going on. Even during the breaks in the game (e.g. intermisssions, etc.) there was usually something going on. This included the usual female dancers (the Molson Hotrocks) that seems to become a standard nowadays in professional sports trying to gain fans. Free t-shirts and pizza slices were being given out. Also, kids got involved with the best dances. The usual kiss cam also made an appearance.

The play was fast passed around the nets as shots were made left, right and centre. The only complaint I have was there was way to much scoring. 21 goals were scored combined between the two teams in this game (including one in overtime). This is almost like basketball, it seems way to easy to score despite the smaller net compared to lacrosse's cousin, ice hockey.

Would I go again? you bet! It was fun to see the action.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Talk Talk Talk: Let's Compare the TTC to US Cities

Re: talk talk talk: Let's Compare the TTC to Canadian and American Cities 

This blogger takes a look at the differences in cost between the TTC and other Canadian and American transit systems. Lets take two examples from this posting


Toronto: Fares, per token (cheaper than cash, the same as Metropass if you travel 10 times per week) are $2.00, going up to $2.10. Start stocking up! Revenues from fares are 80% (this is generally known and stated in many places, but according to my calculations from the TTC's 2004 Annual Report, it's 92.8%, unless you factor in their separate operating subsidy, which makes it 69.2% -- can I just say the TTC's annual report is the most amateurish piss-poor document I've seen.) . The city and advertising pays the rest of the TTC's revenues. This year we will receive $132 million in gas tax from the province. That's 13.3% of total expenses, zero percent of capital expenses. Wow!

New York City: This comprehensive transit system, the most equivalent to Toronto's as it's the biggest system in the US and ours is in Canada, gets 57% of operating expenses from fares, 17% from local, 20% from state; 71% and 29% of capital expenses from local and federal respectively.


The blogger goes through percentages that the farebox contributes to the overall operating and capital costs in operating the respective transit system as well as a bunch of other figures. Looking at each transit system in terms of an accountant is all well and good.

However what this blogger fails to note is value for money. A businessman and customer understands the concept of value for money. A good businessman will provide a very good product or service at a highly competitive price. Customers see this everyday when they shop. Duracell is a well known company that provides well made batteries that a customer knows will last a respectable time length for the amount a customer pays for it. The customer could choose another battery, but Duracell has proven to be good value.

In terms of transit lets take a look at the two transit systems noted above.

TTC: Two main subway lines (Bloor-Danforth-Scarborough RT and Yonge-University-Spadina line) and one stub line (Sheppard Subway) that provides local service only. This system is complimented by overcrowded buses and streetcars running within mostly mixed traffic. Cash fare $2.50 Canadian (as of today).

Distance Travelled: Finch Subway to Union Station via Yonge-University-Spadina Line local service 30 minutes.

MTA New York City Transit: Several subway lines with both express and local service during the day. Also at least some local service operates 24 hours a day. This system has more trackage than all other transit systems in North America combined! This service is complimented by many buses that operate in mixed traffic. These buses, depending on their route, can be overcrowded in some areas depending on the time of day. Cash fare is $2.00 U.S. (far less than $2.50).

Distance travelled: Borough Hall (Brooklyn) to Times Square-42nd Street (Manhatten) via 2 Express Train (approx 20 kilometres) in 15 minutes.

As a transit rider that has experienced both Toronto's and New York City's transit systems, I much prefer New York's for a couple of reasons:

1. New York system moves over 10 million people a day and makes it look effortlessly in most cases. This is probably perhaps you can go practically anywhere in the 5 boroughs (Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens & Staten Island) on one single ticket. Toronto, in contrast, requires you too walk for a couple of blocks in order find a bus or streetcar. Most of Toronto's transit system tends to be servicing the downtown core with only a few routes, mainly on arterial roads, operating in the outer areas of the city.

2. New York's train cars and buses are newer than Toronto's. New York's train cars, on some routes, even announce upcoming stops and other transit lines you can transfer too automatically in both audible and visual forms. Toronto's transit cars now has conductors who announce upcoming stops. Toronto's buses date from the late 1980s mostly while the New York buses date from the 1990s and onwards.

The value for money points towards New York's system as being far superior in terms of miles of track (and thus speed to get to and more areas of the city served) in comparison to Toronto's. Yet Toronto's cash fare keeps increasing. New York's fare does too but at least their is value for money being seen by the transit user in New York City in terms of renewal of infrastructure (e.g. track replacement, new train cars, etc.) which is in sharp contrast to Toronto. In Toronto, the TTC on a yearly basis cries out for more money just to maintain services it already has. The TTC is crying for money in order to keep the lumbering streetcars in mixed traffic and older overcrowded buses struggeling to stay on the road. Value for money? Sorry TTC you lose!

Saturday, February 04, 2006


So I made an apointment to look at two apartments in one building this week. The first was on the second floor of a plaza in Aurora. The second was a basement apartment below the stores. I didn't like the basement apartment as it was below ground and was slowly being renovated.

Also, I am it only had a shower without a tub. For some reason not having a tub bothers me. No I don't have regularly have baths. I'm not sure why I worry about not having a tub.

The second floor apartment was perfect. One bedroom apartment fully carpeted with a large closet in the front room. I can't remember if there was a closet in the bedroom, but I am not worried since I can pick up a wardrob from IKEA if need be.

Location? Awesome as awesome gets in Aurora. It is near everything!

Also the superintendent is pretty good considering he is fixing up the place slowly but surely. New windows were already installed on all the apartments and the location looked clean and neat.

I have submitted my application for the second floor apartment Friday and hope I get it!

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