Archive for July, 2008

Cough, Cough, Wheeze

Opened the door to smog city and saw the air. It looked like dust floating, like particles rising from a room under construction or deconstruction. But no construction going on that I could see (probably one of the few places that’s c-free in Toronto). My lungs instantly rebelled. I’d forgotten my asthma meds, and boy was I reminded in a hurry.

I didn’t hear if it was a spare-the-air day, but it really should be a stay-inside day. I dream of a time when all cars emit just water and the Ohio coal plants are shut down, of a time when smog is relegated to the history books instead of blanketing Toronto and the whole of southwestern Ontario. Until then, I ain’t going outside on days like this if I can help it!

Have You Heard the Word… [murmur]

[murmur].  Here you are (Hear you are).  5 years and growing stronger.  If you don’t already know [murmur] is an oral history project that records and retells the stories of specific locations.  [murmur] was first established in Toronto’s Kensington Market in 2003.

You may have seen the trademark signs, a frosty green ear with a phone number and reference number, all around the city. The signs are markers for story locations.  You can call and listen to a personal story about that physical spot or neighbourhood.  In the age of cell phones this can be an interesting experience.  Someone recounts their story of your particular landscape to your mind’s eye while you stand “on location”.  Of course you can “cheat” and hear many [murmur] stories are on the [murmur] website but the real fun is discovering these stories where they happened.

Today there are close 600 stories, 250 signs up in 8 cities in 5 countries around the world. The project is organic of course and still growing.  The community are encouraged to participate and contribute.  If you would like to share a story you simply need to contact [murmur].

[murmur] is 5!  Definitely something to celebrate.

Murmur 5th Anniversary Party
Thursday July 17th
The Canadian Corps Hall
201 Niagara
(just south of King St. West)
FREE (no cover)

Poor Pilgrim on the Island Sunday

It’s sure to be a lazy Sunday afternoon.  A great day for the Poor Pilgrim Island Solstice Show.  There’s plenty music in store.  It all kicks off around 4pm with Aaron Lumley’s set and ends with the Feuermusik Big Band at 10:45pm.  So much to see! Best bring a bike.  Each musical stop along the Poor Pilgrim route will be no more than a 10 minute bike ride.

Note to would be cyclists on the island. On Sundays there are no bikes allowed on Centre Island Ferry. Bikes are allowed on the Ward’s Island and Hanlan’s Ferry at all times.

Food, drink and even a flashlight would be a good idea to pack too.  A great compliment to the feast of music.

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Poor Pilgrim Island Solstice
Toronto Island
Sunday, July 13th
Featuring:Aaron Lumley, Colours…Brothers, Ryan Driver, Stud Bancker, Allison Peacock, Eric Chenaux, Nadj, Laura McCoy,  Yuula Benivolski, Alex Lukashevsky, Maya Postepski Ensemble, All Under Heaven, and the Feuermusik Big Band
Starts at 4pm

Lord of the Lines

Matix Clothing’s Lord of the Lines makes a stop this weekend at “Poyner Park” this Saturday. Lord of the Lines is great idea for a skateboard contest. The elements are simple. One flatbar, ledge and manual pad. Best set of tricks on all three in one line wins. Good luck!

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Lord of the Lines Contest

Saturday, July 12th

Scadding Skateboard Park
707 Dundas St. W, Toronto ON

Starts at 4pm. Best line on flat bar, manny pad & up ledge.

Rogers Seems to Have Caved on iPhone Pricing

The hype of the iPhone has not yet died.  If you didn’t already know Rogers will be the main service provider for your iPhone (if you haven’t hacked one already).  Rogers’ pricing plan has been adjusted as of today and some of their stores will be open early for the drooling masses at 8am on launch day, July 11th.  If you are lucky you might get breakfast and a prize too (check Rogers Plus stores like the one on 112-10 Dundas Street East).

One small victory for consumers. YEAH! Sites like RUINED I PHONE . COM were hot on the backlash trail.  Their “petition” for this product (not officially released yet) has swollen to over 57,000 names and climbing.  Rogers were smart to act.

Not in any rush to grab a new cell phone or mp3 player but at least the plan is “more” in line with those found south of the border.  Apple does have good customer satisfaction. Perhaps their pressure along with consumer outrage turned the tide on Rogers.  I’ll be watching this hype machine from the sidelines for now. Good to see that the “little guy” can better afford their nearly $1,000 phone habit. Will this mean Crackberry’s get tossed? Check your TTC or GO platform in the coming weeks for details.

Free Transit Touted Elsewhere, but Not in Toronto, not for the TTC

A Hamilton City Councillor is pushing for free public transit, a “no-brainer” move some Torontonians would like to see happen here, at the very least on smog days. It’s a no-brainer because as the Councillor points out, free equals more riders, and on smoggy days, when apparently 50% of Toronto’s smog comes from cars, that’s a good thing.

But “while cities like San Francisco and Montreal can offer free rides on
smog days,” Adam Giambrone, Chair of the TTC, says that “the concept doesn’t work with the TTC’s 1.5 million daily riders.” (Nick Kyonka, The Toronto Star, 8 July 2008)

He’s right. Free equals more riders which requires sufficient capacity. I don’t know much about public transit in San Francisco, but I do know that Montréal has more subway lines than Toronto, servicing a much smaller population than we have.* In other words, they can accommodate an influx of riders, the kind of influx that requires large-capacity carrying transit for the kind of riders who won’t tolerate packed, overheated buses and streetcars but will take the subway in lieu of their preferred cars. Toronto cannot.

Not on our buses, not on our streetcars, not on our subways. This is what the Art Eggleton-school-of-apathy established in 1980, the Ontario-Canada-school-of-hate-Toronto, and the learned-helplessness-of-Torontonians have begotten us. The one thing that may save us is the green movement, whereby even the most apathetic and most-Toronto-hating politician may find it beneficial to start building subways again, especially downtown where it would pay for itself. (I don’t know what’s happened to the subway to York U, but it seems to have transferred itself onto the slow track.)

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* How much smaller is Montréal to Toronto: read this tourist post. For a person like me who remembers when the two cities were neck and neck in population, this is very funny. I’m glad she had a good time here! That’s what we like, happy tourists!!! Even if we natives have to put up with an inadequate TTC.

Blogging with ScribeFire

I’m trying to simplify my blogging so I can spend more time writing instead of logging in, surfing around, navigating the blogging site, copying and pasting all over the place, clicking here, there, and everywhere, never mind waiting for blogger to login, which has mysteriously become strangely problematic. In the past, I’d tried ScribeFire umpteen times on my own blog, but it was more of a pain than it was worth. But finally, for me, it works. Not only was I able to attach my own blog easily, but writing a post is a breeze. It’s intuitive — at last! — and being able to add URL links is so much easier and faster.

Having successfully used it with my own blog, I wanted to add Metblogs to it. Ha! Took me a few kicks at the can to figure out I had to manually configure the sucker and follow this format when inputting the posting URL: http://example.com/wordpress/xmlrpc.php. Phew! The login took at last and now I’m posting my first ScribeFire-powered post on Metblogs.

Leslie Roberts Leaves CFRB

Times, they do keep on changing here in the big T.O. There’s another sudden loss on the local airwaves as of yesterday. Leslie Roberts is leaving his hosting duties on CFRB. He used to hold down the 10:00 am to Noon time slot, but no more. Global, his main and first employer in Toronto, is expanding their news division — holy cow! I thought for sure that the CRTC-inspired (as in, you want a license, you gotta…) Global National with Kevin Newman would die into oblivion once the CRTC looked the other way. Instead Global is going against CTV’s current drive and doing  more Canadian. Shocking! And Leslie Roberts, formerly of Montréal and now of Toronto, is going to be a big part of that.

He will continue to anchor the Six O’Clock Global News show, but we will soon see him contributing to a new public affairs show a la 60 Minutes. Well, OK, there’s a little American inspiration instead of Canadian, but since I discovered how cleverly the Fifth Estate colours their stories and since CTV buried W5 in the schedule, I’m not surprised Global would look south of the border. Perhaps this new show is an outflow of Global Currents that Kevin Newman hosts? That would be neat. I hope too that with this change that Global will start to film all their original news productions in HD.

Anyway, congrats to Leslie Roberts on his big promotion and big raise, and now I know too what happened to Troy Reeb: he’s Leslie’s boss.

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Meantime, CFRB Operations Manager Steve Kowch has to find a new host for the 10:00 am to Noon slot. May I suggest a radical departure from the CFRB norm? A sole female host.

I realise a sole female hosting a regular, weekday talk show on CFRB may spark controversy, but I say you’re about a couple of decades behind the times. We’ve listened to capable and entertaining female hosts leave CFRB or be  relegated to weekends at the same time as we’ve heard newbie Ryan Doyle come on the air and assault our eardrums with stereotypical and uninformed spouting. He’s obviously a good producer, but he’s not nearly the same calibre as the female talk show hosts I’ve heard. Furthermore, there must be a lot of women chomping at the bit to have a shot as sole host of a good time slot. It’s about time CFRB provided that.

So Mr. Kowch, you’re not sure what to do with this time slot. Here’s my suggestion: Hire a woman. And for good measure put Doyle back on producing duties only and find another good woman to take over his current slot.

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