Posted in Canada, disaster, family, health, Parenting, Recommends, school, Toronto, urbandaddyblog

March Break / COVID-19 / CoronaVirus Self-Isolation To Do List


March Break plans ruined? Travel plans cancelled? Activities for the kids also cancelled? COVID-19 has you in self-isolation? Keeping your “Social Distance”? Tired of hearing the “Corona-Time” song from Tik Tok?

If you, like everyone else, are running out of ideas for things to be because everything is closed until mid-April… What could you possibly do with the kids during an extended March Break?

Here at The Urban Daddy, we have some practical suggestions to not only keep your kids entertained, but keep you engaged, while allowing the kids to get a jump on their return to school without them knowing.

Here are our suggestions:

Reconnect with the great outdoors!

Walks, bike-riding, practicing sports, and helping around the house, digging the garden, planting flowers and raking the lawn. Get to know (Reconnect with) your neighbours. Have BBQ’s, do yoga, pick up some garbage in the community… All with lots of soap, hand sanitizer and without electronics.

Electronics – More than just for games!

While I feel that my kids are already in quarantine – they come home from school, head up to their rooms, hit the electronics and show up only for dinner. While Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Tik Tok, YouTube and Snapchat are fun, there is only such much you can do in a day, week, month, so let’s expand the use of computers beyond entertainment, and use it for educational purposes too. Have your kids learn about SEO, how to make websites, teach them to code, while you learn to code too.

The possibilities are endless.

Computers for Education

While the teacher unions here in Ontario might think that online classes are a REALLY bad idea, thankfully they’re not teaching our children, because with schools closing for anywhere from 3-5 weeks, or for the rest of the school year, we are suddenly seeing school boards heading to online classes to salvage the rest of the school year.

It only makes sense, and from what I’ve seen, some schools just needed a couple of days to move to online classes, while other schools were already ramping up.

I’m a huge fan of online classes and courses – I did my MBA online, and in this day and age, all kids should be familiar with online classes and courses not only in case of a global pandemic, but also in case they wanted to advance themselves and take extra or additional courses.

Get a jump on the eLearning train and sign yourself and your kids up for courses. My 13-year-old is currently in grade 8, but is working on his grade 9 math credit at the same time.

I’m working on some courses towards my Google certification and my Quickbooks certification.

Catch up on Family Time – Movies & Board Games

I strongly recommend family movies – stay away from movies called Outbreak, or that deal with the end of the world. Common Sense Media, is a website that rates most TV shows, movies and video games according to age appropriateness to help parents figure out what their kids should be watching.

Some of the games that we’ve played include; Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Monopoly, Cards Against Humanity (not with the kids!!), Rummicube, Exploding Kittens, Risk, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Carcassonne, Sushi Go, Chess, Boggle, Yatzee, just to name some more recently played.

Read Books

Nothing says getting a start on learning like developing a love of reading. Reading uses our imagination, helps us to learn new words, see proper punctuation, and spend hours doing something alone.

More importantly, in the event public libraries get shut down, there are plenty of resources available in digital format too.  eBooks, eAudioBooks, Movies, Comics, Music, Magazines and Videos. All you need is a library card!

A few years ago I introduced my eldest to the series of Dan Brown books – The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, Origin, The Lost Symbol, Inferno, Digital Fortress (This one you can skip, Sorry Dan), and Deception Point. I read through those books in records time and so has he. We’re looking forward to reading the newest Dan Brown book Wild Symphony.

In addition to those books, any Star Wars book has also been a wildly popular with my readers – not just the books that the movies are based off of, but all the little series and sub-series.

Spring Cleaning

Nothing says time to re-do the bedroom – change over winter clothes to spring clothes, check sizing, and re-do parts of the house than having the time to do so. If there is a pantry that you wanted to tear apart and re-organize alphabetically, this is your chance! How about cleaning up the kids playroom and donating toys they don’t use anymore? Again, now is the time.

We’re in this for the long haul, folks, so make sure you wash your hands often, keep your hands off of your face and stay away from people if you’re under the weather. Protect yourself and that will protect others.

Posted in Canada, Community, Daddy, family, government, Life, money, news, Parenting, politics, school, Toronto

Ontario Teachers Working to Rule and Strikes. Some Facts: Does this make sense to you?


I’m not going to lie, but I’m on the side of the government in this dispute.

Fact: The Conservative government was elected in the province of Ontario.

Fact: The teachers unions were not elected.

Fact: The government of Ontario makes the laws and policies for the province.

Fact: Teachers unions do NOT make laws or policies. Their mandate is to look after the interests of their membership.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look a bit closer at my bias against unions – I don’t hate unions – I just don’t feel that unions have their place in every single field of employment. Considering that unions were created to give workers a collective voice against employers, I’m not sure today’s employees are so hard done by that they need a collective voice. Especially in light of the pattern or wage increase after wage increase.

That being said… Do the teachers unions, and their actions of rotating strikes benefit their members?

Fact: No.

Let me explain.

Many moons ago, I worked for a federal government agency which went on strike 3 times in the 10 plus years that I was there. In each case it was because we did not have a contract. That never concerned me because I had a job, I was being paid, and for the most part, enjoyed my job.

After living through a couple of strikes, I came to realize that striking was more than just walking off the job and forcing the government to give us a raise. I had never walked a picket line, why would I?

That was until the 3rd strike, when I started to do some math.

I realized this:

Our union wanted a 1 1/2 percent wage increase. The government wanted to hold salaries at the same level because times were tough.

We walked off the job for the week. I checked in at the picket line to receive my $50/day “strike pay”. After a week the government and union reached an agreement and we received 1%.

But…

We lost more than 1% while on strike.

So we walked the picket line and lost money.

That doesn’t make sense, now does it…

So let’s look at the Ontario teachers and use some very round figures.

Fact: The average teacher salary in Ontario is $92,000 per year.

Fact: The average teacher makes $1,769.23 per week before taxes.

Fact: The average teacher makes $353.85 per day, before taxes.

Fact: If the union accepted the 1% pay increase, Ontario teachers would have received a raise of $920 per year.

That means if the Ontario teachers are off the job more than 3 times ($353.85 x 3 = $1,061.55), then they will lose money once the new agreement is signed, even if you add in the $50 strike pay per day.

That’s crazy, right?

Unions forcing their teachers to walk the picket line in order to lose money. The Ontario government should thank them.

But beyond the lack of fiscal responsibility, comes the issues of government funding, special needs funding, class sizes and online courses.

Let’s briefly look at those:

  1. Government funding. Fact: The Ontario Conservative party has spent more money on the public education system than the previous Liberal government. Based on the fact that teacher salaries increase every year, the government would have to cut a lot in order to spend less. But they have not. It’s akin to the Democrats in the US telling media sources that they were going to impeach the President of the US before the President had even taken office, the rhetoric began to fly in Ontario before the government even announced how much the education budget was going to be. Interesting bargaining / foreshadowing
  2. The Conservative government has spent more money on special needs education than any party before them. Listen to the unions and special interest groups and you would be led to believe otherwise. When presented with facts, such as total dollars spent, these groups just state that the information is not accurate. That’s a convenient argument.
  3. Class sizes. So this is a tough one because there are no studies which state a specific class size is the perfect class size. It’s up to the Minister of Education to determine and not the unions. Dare I be skeptical here and say that of course class sizes are too big for unions. That means more work. It would be so much better – possibly – if it were a 1-to-1 ratio, because that means more teachers and more teachers means more union dues, which means a more powerful union. It also means more money that unions can spend on ads attacking the government rather than on education which they claim to care so much about.
  4. Online courses. I understand why the unions are all over this one. It means at the outset, less teachers, which means less dues-paying members, which means less power for the union. It doesn’t have to be that way, but with teachers salaries always increasing, it’s not like they’re going to suddenly give themselves pay cuts, right?The fact here is that Ontario was spent into massive debt and deficit amounts thanks to the Liberal government. Everyone who elected the Conservatives did so knowing that they were going to have to tighten their belts. (This over-spending must be a Liberal strategy to ensure that they get re-elected). Apparently the teachers and unions are exempt from this, and forgetting that these are our tax dollars being spent on their wages. I don’t even have children in the public education system anymore, but I’m paying for their salaries.

With all of that being said, spend some time browsing the Internet for countries and cities who have push for more online courses and you will find educated, high-achieving communities taking advantage of technology and moving ahead of the pack.

Heck, I completed my MBA online, and would have benefited from having prior experience taking online courses. Every organization that I volunteer with requires me to take online courses. Why is this good for the rest of the world, but not good enough for Ontario? Because the teacher’s unions tell us it’s a bad thing???

None of that makes sense to me.

What does make sense is the fact that these unions have decided year-over-year to put their interests over those of the students that they claim to support. If they really felt that it was all about the students, then let them run for election under that platform and see how they do. If they win, great, give them a raise. If they lose, then no more putting self-serving interests over top of the students.

Just my two-cents worth.

Posted in cars, Community, Daddy, disaster, family, Life, Parenting, school, The Urban Daddy, Toronto

At What Age Will Parents Finally Get It? Re: School drop off


At what age / grade do parents finally have their “a-ha” moment when it comes to dropping off  their kids at school?

I’d like to know, because I’m shocked at the number of parents who just don’t get it.

I see you – every morning – doing the exact same thing, and I’m cursing you. So are all the other cars waiting in line that you have inconvenienced.

What are these parent not getting?

Common Courtesy!

Consideration for others.

Rules of the road.

Traffic laws.

Just to name a few off the top of my head.

You see, most schools have a very limited drop-off window for children and that window is at it’s busiest 15-30 minutes before school starts, and most often, the location for drop off is limited, thus, for drop-off to work effectively and efficiently, it has to be seamless.

The proper drop-off works like this;

  1. Car pulls up to drop off location – not exceeding the speed limit.
  2. Car stops.
  3. Parent says “get out!” or “goodbye”, or “I’ll pick you up”.
  4. Child opens the car door
  5. Child takes backpack.
  6. Child shuts door.
  7. Parent then looks both ways and slowly pulls away from the drop-off area and heads off to do their thing, or if the routine is really organized, then the car pulls forward and away, closely following the car right in front..

This method is so efficient. and so quick, but it never happens…

What really happens:

  1. Giant SUV driven by a very tiny woman zips up to the parking area and stops vehicle where ever she want. In a spot, diagonal facing the curb, on the curb, on the grass… blocking a driveway, or blocking oncoming traffic… Doesn’t matter.
  2. Driver opens the trunk by pressing a button
  3. Driver slowly exits the car in lululemon / workout clothes
  4. Driver then strolls around to the other side of the car and opens the door for the child.
  5. The driver then goes and gets the child’s backpack from the trunk.
  6. Driver helps child out of car
  7. Driver helps child get backpack on
  8. Driver looks child in the face and begins a seemingly long discussion with the child which likely could have occurred in the car.
  9. Driver kisses and hugs the child
  10. Driver points the child in the direction of the door.
  11. Driver waits for the child to enter the school
  12. Driver slowly walks back to the car hoping other lululemon mummy’s will see her outfit.
  13. Driver enters car
  14. Drive pulls away without looking, signalling or waiting, phone in hand, exceeding the speed limit and seemingly unaware that other children are walking on the road trying to get to school.

This is not a joke, nor meant to be a satire. It’s what happens daily.

Cars get frustrated, children are late, and there is a lot of honking.

 

Why can’t parents drop their kids of quickly and let the kids be responsible for getting out on their own?

These are likely the same parents who carry their kids backpacks and don’t get me started on that!

So please, parents… Teach your kids to be considerate of others around them even though you clearly have no hope.

Hopefully, you’ll get it…

One day…

 

 

Posted in Canada, Community, Daddy, events, family, hockey, Life, Parenting, school, The Urban Daddy, Toronto

Laine + FortNite = Fewer Goals + Late For Work


For those of you familiar with Patrik Laine, the NHL superstar in the making who is playing with the Winnipeg Jets, you will know that his bread-and-butter goal-scoring has gone someone AWOL this season.

The forward who was chosen second overall in the 2016 NHL entry draft behind the Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews, has seen his production drop from 44 goals last season to just 29, so far, this season which is still fantastic, but for a player of his skills, there was expectations that he was going to score close to 60-goals this season.

His play has looked somewhat uninspired, and his plus/minus has taken a beating this season on a very, very good, Jets team.

Through Laine’s struggles media reports circle back to comments he made about FortNite, the uber-popular video game, which the Vancouver Canucks has tried to ban in order to prevent their players from playing too much and not being prepared for games.

Maybe Laine is not playing well because he’s playing too much FortNite…

Or maybe not.

The purpose of bring up the addictive nature of this game is to loop in a personal story about being late for work.

Earlier in the school year, and on more than one occasion, I had sent of my wife and 2/3rds of our children to school, and was going to drop the 3rd one off on my way to office, when suddenly, I noticed that he was no-where to be found.

As the clock continued to click, and time slowly went by, it became quite obvious that he was going to be late for school, I was going to be late for work, and the very real possibility that he was not feeling well started to creep into my head.

After spending a few minutes yelling instructions throughout the house – “I’m leaving!”, “If you want a lift to school, you had better get to the front door right away!” and “Hurry up, you’re going to be late”, I decided the better parenting technique would be to see if he’s really okay (at least that is what I imagined my wife asking me as I relayed this story to her).

I walked upstairs to his bedroom, and it was empty.

Maybe he left on his own, took transit to school, and I’ve been standing in the front hall yelling to myself…

So I called his name, and received a muffled, downtrodden response, “I’m in the bathroom… I don’t feel well.”

Ugh.  Poor thing.

So I started to notify my clients, my network and my wife that this was the case and that I would contact his school to let them know he was sick.

Every couple of minutes I would check on his, asking him through the door how he was doing, if he needed to stay home, and what hurt.

It was his tummy.

He would not need to stay home.

He just needed a few more minutes…

I gave him 20-minutes, and kept checking on him to see if there was anything that I could do to help him feel better.

He re-assured me that he was good to go, and just needed a few more minutes.

Then I heard it…

The noise.

It made me stop in my tracks…

I might even have stopped breathing for a few seconds…

He said; “YES!  Victory Royale!  Okay, Dad… Let’s go to school.”

He was playing FortNite.

Locked in the bathroom.

Feigning illness, making himself late for school, me late for work, and for what?  A Victory Royale?!?

I shook my head, told him he can’t do this, and restricted his morning access to video games (it’s never been an issue before) and on the ride to school I got to hear the details of his win.

Then I started thinking about Laine… the Vancouver Canucks, other parents, that I need to change the password on my iPad, and that someday this FortNite craze will be over.  All the kids will suffer withdrawal symptoms and then life will go back to normal.

That was the expectation until I was informed today by my son that “Apex Legends” already has 50-million players, or about 1/4 of the number of players that FortNite has, but Apex has only been out for one month…

Oh my.

So much for this being the exception and not the norm…

 

 

This is a NJN Blog Post (No Judgement Necessary)

Posted in Canada, Community, Daddy, disaster, government, Life, news, Parenting, politics, school, Toronto, travel, ttc

Can This Eglinton LRT Be Built Any Sooner?!?


Apparently the Eglinton Light Rapid Transit (LRT) aka should have been a subway, can be built faster, but in doing so, it’s found an even newer way to inconvenience the residents who live so close to it.

Forgetting the fact that they started this thing in 1971, okay, it started in summer of 2013, and that residents near the construction have been besieged by dust, noise, a significant increase in street traffic and near death experiences trying to drive, or walk in the community, but the roads themselves are falling apart.  Not only are the roads full of potholes, and one-way streets, speed limits and stop signs all “optional”, but as a resident, trying to get out to Eglinton Avenue or Bathurst Street has become nearly impossible.

Well, now that’s going to get even better!

This morning I received this lovely email letting me know that Bathurst Street north of Eglinton is going to be closed for 7-months!!!

GASP… Or is that GULP.

You see, the Cedervale community and to some extent, the Forest Hill community, have very few options when it comes to getting to Bathurst Street or even Eglinton Avenue.  For the past 5-years, we have given up on getting to Allen Road, because that is a 20 minute endeavor in stress and frustration.

The only street going north which has a traffic light, Glen Cedar Avenue, is backed up all the time and doesn’t allow cars to go straight or left in morning or evening rush hour.  Even if that changed, Eglinton Avenue heading towards Allen Road cannot handle all the cars so Glen Cedar would become a parking lot.

The other street that heads north is Hilltop road, which is steep, narrow, and when the Kings and Queens in the community stop to get their Starbucks and leave their vehicles on the road, it renders that road undriveable.

Not that getting out to Bathurst and waiting in that traffic is a boatload of fun either, but it means all the cars who can’t go north on Bathurst will swoop into Cedarvale and race through this community ignoring all traffic laws and the fact that there are a LOT of children walking to and from school.

This closure could start next week.

SIGH.

I can’t wait until it’s completed, to be so perfectly honest.

I’ve have 7 flat tires, lost 2 rims, and the traffic delays have brought in “people” who stand where the traffic crawls to go car to car seeking handouts.

I just hope at the end of the day it’s worth it, and that traffic on Eglinton doesn’t suffer the way it does on St.Clair Avenue (one major intersection south) which is impossible to drive.

Here is the email:

 Bathurst Street Closure

Beginning in Mid-December 2018, Bathurst Street will be closed for one block between Eglinton Avenue West and Wembley Road to accelerate construction of Forest Hill Station.

By closing Bathurst Street for seven months, the duration of the construction in the roadway is nearly cut in half. The intersection will be back to normal by June 2019.

You’re invited to an upcoming Open House at Forest Hill United Church. Come out to speak with experts about station progress, construction methodology, and ask questions about the upcoming road closure.

When: 

Tuesday December 11, 2018
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Where: 

Forest Hill United Church
2 Wembley Road, Toronto

 

Parking available at Hilltop Road Green P.