Monthly Archives: July, 2011

Taking a break from Toronto politics to post about recent things my kids said…


I’m taking a break from talking about Toronto politics – temporarily – so I can post about my kids.   Ahhh… Kids.  Here are some recent things they said which were worth posting (so I thought).

My 4-year-old looked up in the sky at the clouds and said; “clouds are like mountains in the sky what are (made of) like cotton”.

When describing the park that he wanted to go play in, instead of describing the park to us, he recalled the photo shoot we had there together instead when he said; “I want to go to the park where that girl took pictures of us so you will remember what we look like when we are older”.

My 6-year-old has been super-helpful recently and in doing so he wanted to tell a bedtime story to his brother and baby sister but he needed help getting going, so I helped him along by saying; “Once upon a time…” figuring he would tell them a story about a prince or a princess, or make something up, however, in typical Jewish day school training, he picked up my intro and continued with; “… Jewish people were slaves in Egypt to a bad, bad Pharoah who was very mean…”  Yup.   What every 20 month old needs to know.

Things my 20-month-old Berry are afraid of;

  • Subways
  • Bugs
  • Bath / Shower
  • Bed

All of these raise her blood pressure instantly and make her cry. 

While eating dinner at Safari on Avenue Road, 4-year-old Stewie was told by the waiter that he was a good eater and a good guest to which my son replied; One day I will own this store!”.  The waiter stopped and said, “Pardon Me???” to which Stewie replied – now slightly turning his head back so the waiter could hear him – “One day I’m going to own this store!”… Oh yes he did!

I’m not sure where they get this stuff from since we’ve never mentioned to him that we are going to buy restaurants, stores, or anything like that.

This morning Stewie and I walked to get bagels at about 6:30am, and when we came to an intersection, Stewie squeezed my hand and made me stop for an extra few seconds.  His rationale;

“Daddy, do you know why we had to wait a few extra seconds before we crossed the street here?”

Me: “No, I don’t know why… why?”

Stewie: “Because we are wearing sandals so we have to make sure no cars are coming for if they run over our toes it will hurt SO much. “

Me: “Errr, okay.  Thanks bud!”.

And finally, my wife bought a couple stuffed giant microbes (science teachers tend to love this stuff), one was E. Coli and the other was penicillin.  Well my 6-year-old and I are allergic to penicillin so when she showed it to him he thought it was real and suddenly he started to feel sick and refused to go to his day camp today.  It wasn’t for a good 30 minutes before he fessed up that he thought it was real and that was what made him sick.  Funny that he wasn’t worried about his little sister hugging the E. Coli…

Caution: Pro-Rob Ford rant inside this blog. Do NOT read if closed minded or if you think a response of “Well, he’s fat” is acceptable.


I like to pose this question to the many brilliant people I encounter on a daily basis in person or read online and hear their response. My experience has been that irrespective of one’s lot in life, be it rich, poor or middleclass, the response I get is usually the same.

Question: On what do you want your tax dollars spent?

Granted most people I know would admit – especially if they own or rent a home in a city like Toronto – that our taxes are too high and a reduction would help make ends meet, but take a few minutes and think about it.

You are a home owner in Toronto. You are paying the highest property taxes in Canada, a smidgen under 8% (as per a 2008 study ranking Toronto’s rates as the Canada’s highest), as well as numerous other taxes and user fees. Taxes to register your car, taxes to buy a plastic bag, taxes disguised as fees to take programs, go to the hospital, and the list goes on. Simply, Toronto is one of the most expensive cities to live in in the world.

So as a homeowner with a car and kids – kids I pay double for schooling, I might add (once for the private school they attend and once again for the public school they do not attend) – and who like many work very hard to earn enough to pay my taxes and still have some left over with which to support my family, I am perplexed whenever I hear people complain about Mayor Rob Ford’s efforts to introduce some fiscal responsibility. I can’t help but wonder what these people do for a living that provides them with so much extra cash that they can afford to watch it flushed down the drain by an irresponsible municipal government, as we have seen throughout the last seven years under Mayor Miller’s regime.

Recently a story broke on Facebook of all places stemming from some fringe news publications that Rob Ford voted against HIV grants and that makes him a homophobe. After a quick Google search, I located the originating article on a gay and lesbian magazine and of course, the way it was written, it makes Mayor Ford look like he is senile. Anyone reading this article would have to wonder why the Mayor is being so cruel. If the author’s intent was to pose Ford as hating the gay and lesbian community in Toronto, then it was a huge success. If, on the other hand, the author thought she was producing a piece of credible and responsible journalism, then she failed miserably.

Since the article was clearly slanted, I sought out another source… a less biased source. Unfortunately I was unable to find one. I did find an article in the Toronto Star, but their coverage was also far from unbiased. The Star piece did give me an idea what the problem was.

You see, my friends who love bashing Rob Ford for being overweight (which is discrimination, I might say) and who clearly love paying taxes, there are two sides to every story and the truth lies somewhere in between. It seems Mayor Ford was not specifically voting against providing grant money to HIV programs – six of them – as this article would have you believe, but rather he was debating the “grants programs,” which gives taxpayer money (that would be your money and mine) to a broad variety of community organizations. Yes, some of these organizations work to prevent violence while others focus on improving the lives of seniors, immigrants, the disabled and the poor, but some of these programs also provide recreation services the city doesn’t.

At issue here was that this committee had recommended that the city give 259 groups a total of $7.2 million of your tax money. Before this large sum of money was going to be shipped out to these groups, Ford wanted council to vote on it so he could be seen to be voting against them. This would show the taxpayers of Toronto that he respects the money we earn and the taxes we pay.

I’m sorry if you think it is wrong of me to not want to support these groups, or any of the 252 groups this City gives my tax dollars to. I don’t know them. It’s not personal and I surely don’t have anything against them or the people who use these programs, but as a member of working / owning Toronto, I don’t want my tax money going there when the roads are a mess, the parks falling apart and there being not enough money to get some transit in the city and set up proper bike lanes where cyclists can ride them – far away from cars. I would like to know where these dollars are going, specifically, like on a menu, or at the very least, I would like to know that City Council knows what these organizations do and be able to provide me some confidence that it’s not just money being thrown away.

Organizations that get City funding should be held to a higher standard. Audits, safeguards, the whole 9-yards. I want these organizations to know that the funding that comes from the “City” is actually your hard earned dollars and my hard earned dollars and they should not be fooling around with our cash.

To me this is a no-brainer. I know others will read this and send me comments calling me a defender of the right (thank you!) or a friend of Rob Ford, but I did vote for Ford. I voted for Rob Ford because it was getting expensive to live in Toronto with my three kids, and own a house here and drive to work because my job is outside the city and there are no reasonable transit options for me. I don’t hate downtown Toronto… I just want the residents who cry that it was the “905” that voted in Rob Ford, that really if you take a step back, it’s the homeowners, the families, the middle and upper-middle class in Toronto who have businesses that employ you or your relatives and it’s this “class” that works hard to have disposable income so we can go out for dinner and stimulate the economy. Pretty sure I’m still onboard here from my economics classes in University… Someone has to spend money back into the economy so that money can keep the city moving, keep people employed and provide money to organizations, like these 252 who received grants. On the other hand, someone has to be watching out to make sure there is money left over at the end of the day to keep in the local economy to keep Toronto working. Ford is doing that. Miller did not.

Rob Ford as Mayor doesn’t mean the rich get a free ride. How is that possible in this city? Cyclists didn’t have to pay the $60.00 a year “fee” to register their cars that David Miller put in. How about punishing those who buy a home in Toronto by increasing property taxes every time there is a shortfall. G-d forbid we look at waste and cut back when we have this whole population who we can tax.

I find it’s the same group of people over and over again who complain about Conservatives and their policies… All conservatives do is tax the middle class and give tax breaks to the poor. Uh huh. I’ve heard that a thousand times from everywhere. Well, I’d like to know what tax breaks the rich have in Toronto, because if you mean a $50,000 property tax bill, then let them have the breaks. Oh, I know. It’s those damn corporations that the Conservatives love to support. The corporations that provide jobs for you and me and the corporations owned by shareholders – also you and me – who invest hoping to get a decent rate of return. It’s these damn corporations that socialists detest so much… Once they finish working there.

Maybe one day when the socialists rule again and taxes start popping up, Corporations pack up and move outside Toronto, then and only then will it be clearer that having someone out spending money stimulates the economy, it keeps businesses open, and people employed. People spending money keeps Toronto prosperous and keeps the money in Toronto where it can be spent again and again. It this continued attack on the “rich” whom I am assuming is people who have gone to school (University at a minimum), own a home, a car or two, have a decent job (or two) and still find time to go out for dinner, maybe send their kids to private school and who work hard to give to their families – then these people are not going to want to stay in Toronto. Then what? A welfare state. Is that better? Everyone should be equal, no matter how much someone tries to better themselves compared to someone who has decided to do nothing with their lives. There must be a reason for that person who is not working, or wants to live in the street. It’s not their fault, it’s society’s fault and we should all contribute to help them get on their feet and bring down that stupid, eager rich person or that damn corporation with all their money. How dare they amass such wealth while there are poor… And the beat goes on.

But I guess no matter how well I can articulate my point, or how you like to look at the job Mayor Ford is doing for Toronto, all I can say is this: If he continues to look at every expenditure the city makes and continues to find fat and trim it, he is a shoo-in to get re-elected next election. I feel better knowing that the taxes the city taxes from me – which I could be spending on my family – are being spend in a fiscally responsible manner to make this city a better place for all citizens and not the same Robin Hood policies (tax the rich and give to the poor) that we had for seven years under Mayor Miller.

Let me decided where I want my taxes to go, or if you cannot, at least don’t spend more than you have and then raise my taxes to cover it.

And yes, Rob Ford is fat. So am I. What does that have to do with allocation of fiscal resources?

I’m starting to understand that when you are in a poker game and you have only one card – even if it is only a 2 of diamonds – you have to play it. Even if after all the bluffing you still lose.

Special thanks to Toronto’s own Lazy Photographer Dave for his contributions and fabulous edit job.

You can see his work by clicking on his URL through my blogroll on the right.

GCC Friendly things to do in Toronto with kids


Weekends always pose to be a dilemma for my family. We are all so busy during the week, my wife and I working, and the kids at camp during the summer, that come the weekend we’re tired and feel we all need a break. Then again… The weekend is the perfect time to do things as a family, run errands and spend quality time together.

Also in the mix is the fact that this was a sucky week for me in the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) and I pledged to make that right on the weekend.

So when my wife and I sat down Saturday morning trying to plan the day we thought about getting the family outside and adding some steps along the way.

So we ate breakfast, loaded up on water and some snacks and off we went. Here was Saturday;

Walk to the subway.

Walked to the Art Gallery of Ontario (where we got married just over 10 years ago).
Looked for the Village on the Grange (it’s not there).

Walked over to Chinatown to this crazy cool old school dim sum joint on the top floor of a strip mall.

Walked down to Queen Street.

Had free freezies courtesy Virgin Mobile.

Peeked into Much Music – they were filming something for Degrassi.

Saw the homeless guy with his homeless girlfriend / hooker and their homeless dog. He has a sign that says “Need Money for Weed” . I wanted to hand him a new sign that read, “Stay in School Kids – living examples”.

Hit up the Second Cup for a Chocolate Chiller for my wife and Strawberry Yogurt drink for my kids.

Walked back to the subway.

Headed home.

Once at home, Berry napped while my wife and I dosed and the boys watched TV, half conscious, until 4:30pm when we ran out to

get our new glasses, pick up bagels from the Montreal bagel place on Avenue Road (Chatted with Haley-O’s husband Josh-O of Cheaty Monkey fame).

Went to Toy Town.

Came home.

Picked up dinner at the amazing Indus Tavern on Eglinton (yum x 1000) then some tidying and we were both out cold by 11pm.

Net GCC result: 35,212 steps!!!

 

Sunday:

Up a little later – 7am.

Out of the house by 9am to Whittamore farm for some raspberry picking then over to pick some green pees, yellow beans, beets, green beans, sugar snap peas and new potatoes…

By 11:30am it was pretty hot and we were all pretty sapped of energy – But let me tell you how cute it is seeing the kids pick the berries. Berry, picked some great berries and put them in her basket. It wasn’t until she tried one when she realized some liked them. It was all downhill from there. The field became her buffet.

From there we went to T&T Grocery store in Markham, then over to a Tim Horton’s drive through for my first coffee in 14 days… YUM!!!

Then after some shopping / sampling we all hopped back into the car and flew over to Woodbine and the 407 for lunch at the new King’s buffet restaurant.

From there home for a nap for Berry while the boys try to kill each other.

I put everything away and at 3pm I checked in at 21,000 steps. I am totally not going to get to 30,000 steps but this has been a great weekend with the family and a great walking weekend for the GCC.

We got the kids bathed, garden and lawn watered and cleaned up quite a bit of the house.  Up and down the stairs over and over again sure helped my walking total as once Berry went to sleep, at 8:30pm, I was at 30,000 steps for the day.  More cleaning, more up and down the stairs, some laundry, and a trip to the store later and it’s midnight and I take off my pedometer and it reads this;

Final total, and a personal best, 36, 019!!!

So there were some fun things to do with kids on a hot weekend in Toronto.

Amy Winehouse, dead at 27 years old


I heard this afternoon that singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her Londan, England apartment at the very young age of 27 years old and I have to say that while I was really disappointed, I was not at all surprised.

It was probably a year or 2 ago when I did a blog post about the up and coming female role models who were getting all the press and publicity.  Lindsay Lohan – thief, druggie, alcoholic and party in a package was one OD away from death or being in jail for life.  Nicknamed “fire crotch” for being caught without her panties on one too many times, even Lohan gave Brittney Spears a run for her money.  Spears – mother of 2 young kids, also loved being caught without her panties on.  Spears was one talented singer who melted down in front of the world after shaving her head in a very public way.  Unstable?!?  You could say that.  And then there was Amy Winehouse.  Deep, beautiful voice, but with those crazy tattoos and unable to stay clean from anything.  She looked emaciated, stoned and bombed all the time until forced into rehab way too many times.  The last time we heard from her, she was booed off stage during a comeback tour when she was unable to remember her lines.  Even her band and back-up singers were trying to help her along, to no avail.

So when Winehouse walked off the stage, many people knew it was probably for the last time ever.  She was clearly unable to get over this addiction and it ended up over-taking her and costing her her life.  Ironic that her hit song was called “Rehab” and it that song she sings that she is not going to rehab, “no no no” and it was that philosophy that see’s her dead way before her time.

So can we finally move on to better role models for our young daughters please?  That Taylor Swift looks pretty wholesome… Or Selena Gomez…

Public Service Announcement:  Kiddies… It make be cool to your friends to drink and do drugs, but once you start, sometimes you can’t stop.  Just stay away!

 So who do you think is going to star in the movie based on her life, and which of the “starlets” do you think is next to fall?

Thursday Thirteen – Supernova style!


This Thursday’s list comes to us from Elliott Hurst, the CEO of Supernova, and Elliott put together for your enjoyment, the top 13 movies about music (in no particular order).  These are the best 13 movies ABOUT music (not just have good soundtracks; but making music is essential to these films).

What else would you expect from a music aficionado like Eliott?!?

 

So let’s go!

 

1. Woodstock
2. This is Spinal Tap
3. Blues Brothers
4. Almost Famous
5. Anvil! The Story of Anvil
6. High Fidelity
7. Gimme Shelter
8. Beastie Boys; Awesome I Fuckin’ Shot That!
9. Singles
10. 8 Mile
11. Walk the Line
12. The Commitments
13. Eddie and the Cruisers

 

So what makes your list?

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