Toronto

April Fools Day! Origins and Best Of…


So today is April 1st, or April Fools Day (this is true, not a joke).

April Fools’ Day, also referred to by some as “All Fools’ Day” is an informal holiday celebrated every year on April 1st. The day is not a national holiday in any country, however it is widely recognized as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other, called April fools.

Hoax stories are also often found in the press and media on this day – but not on the Internet, because we all know that everything on the Internet is 100% true, right?!?

Many believe that April Fools Day originated in In Iran, where jokes are played on the 13th day of the Persian new year (Nowruz), which falls on April 1 or April 2. This day, was celebrated as far back as 536 BC, and is referred to in Iran as “Sizdah Bedar”, making it the oldest prank-tradition in the world.

As far as April Fools Day pranks go – and many of us are already expecting there to be something so outrageous that it has to be a prank, but back in 1957, the BBC pulled a prank, known as the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest prank, where they broadcast a fake film of Swiss farmers picking freshly-grown spaghetti. The BBC were later flooded with requests to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing them to declare the film a prank on the news the next day.

While that was a clever prank, some people take April Fools Da a little too far, such as, “An Australian woman called emergency services to tell them her baby had fallen off the bed and stopped breathing. When the ambulances arrived, there was no sick baby. It was her idea of a hilarious April Fool”.

But some fairly common pranks to look out for, and some classic pranks which garnered world-wide attention include these;

On April 1, 1976 famed British astronomer and radio presenter Patrick Moore announced over the BBC that a rare alignment of the planets Pluto and Jupiter would occur at exactly 9:47 a.m. during which the effects of gravity would be nullified and everyone on earth would feel weightless for a brief moment. “At 9:47, Moore declared, ‘Jump now!’”

A minute passed, and then the BBC switchboard lit up with dozens of people calling in to report that the experiment had worked!

But it was all a complete prank.

In more recent years some of the best April Fools jokes have been perpetrated by the advertising industry, specifically in 1996, when Taco Bell ran a full-page ad in the New York Times announcing it had purchased the Liberty Bell and would rename it the “Taco Liberty Bell.”

In 1998, Burger King announced the rollout of its “Left-Handed Whopper”, there has been stories about glasses for dogs, canned pizza, and in 2002 a British supermarket chain called Tesco published an advertisement in the British newspaper “The Sun” announcing the successful development of a genetically modified ‘whistling carrot.’ The ad explained that the carrots had been specially engineered to grow with tapered air holes in their side, which, when fully cooked caused the carrot to whistle.

On the Internet, hoaxes are such standard fare that April Fools’ Day is barely distinguishable from any other, but this one keeps getting brought up year-in-year-out, and makes me laugh – the announcement to that every computer connected to the World Wide Web must be turned off and disconnected for Internet Cleaning Day, a 24-hour period during which useless “flotsam and jetsam” are flushed from the system.

What stories have you seen today?

Did you get fooled?

Did you pull a prank on your kids, or them on you?

We toyed with the idea of moving all the kids into each other’s beds in the middle of the night, but geez, we’re so darn tired, I just told them about it in the morning.

Support the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition: Stop Chow Now!


In case you missed it, I wanted to share with you a startling and shocking bit of news about the size and cost of municipal governments and their workforce. While we are paying more and more taxes, they are getting bigger and bigger and richer and richer. Doesn’t sound right now, does it?

A newly released study put out by Western University professor Timothy Cobban reveals that since 1995’s amalgamation, local government in Ontario has swollen by 39%!

Here are some more sobering facts made available by the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition;

  • In 1995 Ontario had 160,000 municipal employees, today there are 270,000 – an increase of 110,000.
  • Spending on municipal wages and salaries has increased almost fourfold – from less than $200 million in 1981 to $750 million today!
  • Ontario has only 38% of Canada’s population, yet 43% of the country’s municipal workforce.

Clearly, amalgamation, despite all the promises to the contrary has failed to deliver smaller, more efficient government.  Even the mere talk of closing or downsizing locally resulted in attack after attack on Rob Ford for being uneducated and hating libraries, for example.  It can’t be done if no one wants to admit there is duplication and waste, but then again it cannot continue to operate this way in the red…

So what went wrong?

Well for one thing, the merging of collective bargaining units meant compensation was harmonized upwards to the highest salaries and benefits for that position.

In fact, according to a Toronto Taxpayers Coalition analysis, the number of Toronto municipal employees earning $100,000 or more grew by an astounding 30% – from 5481 up to 7123 – in a single year.

Also, the layers of middle management in general administration positions were often duplicated

The bottom line from all this is obvious: local government is too big, too costly and too burdensome.

And brace yourself for some more bad news.

If Olivia Chow and her left wing NDP pals take control of the Toronto government in the next municipal election, things are guaranteed to get worse.

Much worse.

That’s why we need, more than ever, to stand up and promote the idea of smaller government and lower taxes.

We need a strong voice to offset the union bosses, the media and other assorted left wing groups who will be helping to push Chow’s big spending, high tax agenda while taking aim at the Fiscally Conservative candidates.

The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition will be that voice!

Indeed, they are already making a difference in Toronto politics, former Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday recently had this to say about them:

“The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is a great organization, one that we sorely needed here a long time ago. Increases in taxes and an increases in spending by the Toronto council has gone on for so long that it’s a shame a group like this wasn’t in place to try to maybe put a stop to it earlier on.”

But we will to step up it up a notch for the next election and do even more.  You can help make sure the Taxpayers’ Coalition has the resources it will need to be a force in the next municipal election.

How?

Lots of ways. You can host fundraisers for us; you can introduce our group to your friends and business associates; you can volunteer your time, and of course you can contribute to our special municipal election fund.

But whatever you do, you need to help soon. The election is only months away, and the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is already putting together a budget for a special “Stop Chow Now” campaign, to get out the message to voters, to expose and oppose the ruinous policies of Chow and the NDP.

That will be costly. Running an effective media campaign always is.

I’m hoping you will help, because I know you share my belief that Toronto can do better, and that we must do better. I also know that you’re willing to fight for what’s right!

So I’m asking you to donate $10, $25, $100, $500, or more to help “Stop Chow Now.”

Or better yet, sign up to make a monthly contribution automatically – it takes less than a minute to set up.

Whatever you donate, please make it the most generous contribution you can afford.

Together you and I, along with all the other Taxpayer Coalition supporters, can make a difference.

Thanks in advance for your support.

 

P.S. Thanks to forced dues and government funding, bug union bosses and special interest groups have lots of money to help Chow and the NDP. The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition relies on voluntary support. We rely on you and your generosity. Help us Stop Chow in 2014. Donate today.

Olivia Chow + Mayor + Toronto = Terrible Weather + High Taxes + Out of Control Spending


I don’t think there is any coincidence whatsoever that the day MP Olivia Chow announces that she wishes to resign her seat with the Federal Government of Canada, to run for Mayor of Toronto that the beautiful weather here in Toronto went from 11 degrees above 0 to 25 degrees below zero.mayor candidates

Understanding that current Mayor Rob Ford is a bit of a… Where to start… Sideshow, to immediately think that his political views are no longer needed in Toronto would be a huge misrepresentation of the truth.

Considering candidate John Tory (a Liberal by affiliation, and fiscal conservative) said that Ford is correct that there is a lot of wasted spending which needs to be reeled in, it would therefore make reasonable sense that a typical left-wing mandate of spend, tax and spend more, would bankrupt this city.

As much as I like Karen Stintz, she can help the right-wing causes (she’s right of centre fiscally and left of centre socially) by taking aim at Chow right away. We already know how she feels about Ford and she worked on Tory’s campaign in the past.

There is also an 18-year-old running whom I saw on TV, and it’s great that the youth want to be included in the process, but Mayor is not a realistic goal when she appears to think the solution to transit woes, and high taxes and over-priced real estate is to ask – no demand – that the Provincial government and Federal government give Toronto more money.

Umm, that money is tax money and while I’m happy you earned some babysitting, if the other governments are going to give more to Toronto that means either raising taxes, or cutting spending.

My hand is up for cutting spending. Wasteful spending only please.  Please no one mention libraries or books, or Margaret Atwood, or she’ll register to run too…

Someone should also tell her that in fact everyone does pay property taxes, whether owning or renting, as it’s included in rent too.

But with all that being said, the most important thing to take out of this post, is that with this election coming and all the fuss about the Fords, there are elected representatives sitting in Toronto City council who run by their own agenda and are not accountable to you, the voter.

I found, then lost, a pie chart showing the voting patterns of City Councillors since Ford was elected and there are about 5 of them who voted against the Mayor on each and every issue without fail.

If in 3-years these councillors could not find one issue to side with the Mayor on, then who are clearly not serving you, who elected them. Other councillors found common ground, but without fail some councillors just see something brought forward by the Mayor and vote against it without giving it any further thought.

Imagine if they were Mayor, and council was on the right of centre politically and every time they brought forward a motion it was voted against without fail…

They would be crying to every paper possible about council not wanting to work with them, and about a hidden agenda.

Talk to your councillor now. Ask them for their citing record and see if they truly represent your views for the city of Toronto, or if it’s time for them to find another job.

Oh, and day 2 with Chow in the race… Still looking bleak. On all fronts.

TORONTO ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE. March 16th, 2014.


Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day (and the day before)!

On Sunday, March 16, all eyes will be smiling in downtown Toronto for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Enjoy a family friendly celebration of Ireland and St. Patrick with colorful floats, bands, dancers and marching groups. There will be a golden touch at the green celebration with Olympic gold medalist Irish boxer Katie Taylor acting as Grand Marshal.

The procession starts at noon from St. George and Bloor, heading east before turning south along Yonge to Queen where it makes a final turn to finish at Nathan Phillips Square. TTC access and parking are available at several points along the parade route.

For more information, please visit http://www.topatrick.com/.

St. Patrick's Day Parade Route 2014

March Break Activities for Kids with differing interests. Something for the GTA as well.


Google’s creative projects to keep kids busy during March Break

With schools closed during March Break, it’s a challenge to entertain kids on days when the weather doesn’t cooperate. For families with kids with differing interests it can be especially hard to keep everyone engaged throughout the day. Here are a few free tools and projects families can use to keep everyone from the young artist to the budding scientist entertained during their time off.

For the mini movie lover…

Disney’s Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story on the Google Play Store

With thousands of movies & TV shows available on the Google Play Store, there’s something for every little movie buff. Once you’ve found the perfect flick you can enjoy it across devices, which means kids who can’t sit still can start the movie on your laptop while on the couch and finish it on your Android device from the kitchen.

Google and Disney have teamed up on a special original stop-motion movie that’s sure to warm hearts. Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story tells the story of Blank, an unpainted vinyl character, and his quest to find his lost love. Have a look at the trailer here. The Disney Interactive 37-minute stop motion movie will be available exclusively on Google Play.

For the aspiring artist..

Google Art Project

Have an aspiring artist but don’t want to clean up after craft time? Google Art Project lets museums from across the world invite visitors inside their doors and into their galleries with a little help from technology. People across the world who might otherwise never see the real thing, can access masterpieces, antiquities and other artifacts that are part of our cultural heritage.

This digital experience has some of Canada’s – and the world’s – most creative and beautiful art. Some iconic Canadian collections include the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal BC Museum and the National Ballet of Canada.

For the inventor…

Google Science Fair

Does your teen want to change the world? Google is challenging students aged 13-18 to submit their brilliant ideas for the fourth annual Google Science Fair. Last year, Canadian student Ann Makosinski scored top honours in her age group for her battery-free flashlight. Thousands of teens around the world have tackled some of today’s greatest challenges, like an anti-flu medicine and more effective ways to beat cancer. The grand prize winner will receive a $50,000 scholarship along with a number of once in a lifetime prizes.

To inspire young inventors, Google hosts a series of Hangouts on Air with world-renowned scientists showcasing exclusive tours of cutting edge labs.

For the musically minded…

Pancake Manor on YouTube

The puppets from Pancake Manor know how to make kids move. The Victoria, B.C.-based YouTube channel has been making music for kids of all ages since 2011. The upbeat melodies don’t fail to provide entertaining and educational content. The videos can help teach little ones how to count to 10, how to remember the alphabet and, of course, how to make pancakes.

For a GTA excursion (entry fee applies)…

The Doodle 4 Google Exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum

In October, Google challenged Canadian students to submit their creative ideas in the form of a doodle for the first-ever Doodle 4 Google Canada contest. Thousands of kids submitted doodles following the theme, “if I could invent anything, I would invent…”

In February and March, the Royal Ontario Museum will feature a special exhibit with the top 75 doodles from across the country. From time machines to new sports to ways to clean the environment, the doodles will be sure to inspire future inventors and young artists. The winner of the contest will of their doodle featured on the Google Canada homepage for one day.