The Urban Daddy: Bringing The Modern Dad To the Blogosphere


#TBT Tuesday to being featured in the Canada Writes series on “great Canadian Blogs” by the CBC.

http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadawrites/2014/08/bringing-the-modern-dad-to-the-blogosphere.html

By day, Warren Orlans is a mild-mannered tax consultant, shoehorning in time to be a hands-on dad to his three young children and to helm an impressive backyard vegetable garden. But by night (10 p.m. to 2 a.m., to be exact) he morphs into The Urban Daddy, blogging on everything from why a child whose age is less than your shoe size feels the constant need to correct you to the parenting situation that leads you to eat a nibbled, warm banana.
As part of our Canada Blogs series on great Canadian blogs, we chatted with Warren about handling your private blog going public, falling asleep mid-post and why daddy bloggers may be coming out of the woodwork.

When and why did you start The Urban Daddy?
I started The Urban Daddy in 2004, just before my first son was born. I wanted to keep a diary of my wife’s pregnancy, what it was like being a father for the first time, and other related, or non-related, events that caught my attention at that time. The blog was kept private for four years until a colleague caught wind of it and it became very public.
I also started writing The Urban Daddy to work on my grammar and punctuation, which were not strong points for me in school. I have come a LONG way from my earlier posts, and the few who followed me from post #1 through post #1,000 have commented on the huge difference in my writing.
You’re a very hands-on dad. What kinds of reactions do you get from people about this? Do you find there’s still some bias towards dads being so involved in parenting?
I am as hands on as I can be because I love being a dad, and I want to spend more time with my kids than my father was able to. I know life can be very short—my dad passed away at the age of 62, so he was at our wedding but did not get to see any of my children. I do not want my children to not have had the opportunity to know me, to learn from me and to be taught some of the wonderful traits that were passed on to my from my mother: respect, consequences of actions, and that others are entitled to their own opinions and sometimes it’s best to listen, smile and not say anything.
I also see many other dads hanging around their kids’ classes, at least in my community. I see it more and more. I don’t judge those who can or cannot be there—we all have choices to make—and I do not feel that there are people judging me for being there as often as I am. Or maybe I just convince myself that anyone judging me must be thinking how successful I am that I have the free time to participate in my kids’ lives so much.
There are a lot of “mommy” blogs out there, but not so many “daddy” blogs. Why do you think this is?
I usually do not mention my blogging because I long felt that I was a “fraud” by blogging standards, being a “daddy blogger.” Early on I was at a gathering with a bunch of friends (all new dads as well) and one father said, “I think people who blog are narcissistic and do so only to brag about themselves.” From that point on, I kept it to myself.
Nowadays, especially after being featured in The Globe and Mail and Canadian Living, I don’t hide anything. It’s what I like to do no matter what anyone thinks.
I do have mothers coming up to me and asking me if I blog, and the reaction from them is usually one of surprise and support. I get a lot of positive feedback from mothers and from involved dads, who by choice or necessity are more involved than dads who leave for work before their kids wake up and who return home after the kids are in bed.
You tell a lot of personal stories about your wife and family. Where do you draw the line in what you do and don’t write about?
When my blog was hidden, I had no boundaries, until one day a colleague at the government asked a very personal question that they would have only known to ask through my blog. From that point on, I treat each and every post as if it were very public and I think about how my kids would feel as adults reading it. Would they want me talking about embarrassing things, or just telling stories and highlighting milestones?
How does your family feel about your blog?
My family likes the blogging—some more than others—because I relay stories about my children that I’ve sometimes forgotten to tell them. I also do not air dirty laundry on my blog, so there are very few posts where I am venting about my family.
I think they are amazed at the attention The Urban Daddy has been getting over the past few years more than anything. I have never seen myself as a writer, and I appreciate each and every person who takes the time to read and comment on posts because there are so many other things they could be doing, but they are reading my ramblings, and I appreciate it.
You have another blog, inTAXicating. What’s the story of this blog?
InTAXicating came to me while I was working in the government and learning about how the Internet would help the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) collect money and educate taxpayers. As I progressed through collections, I was a Resource Officer for five years and that role was very technical, requiring me to understand and interpret the Income Tax Act and Excise Tax Act.  In order to get the level of understanding of legislation, I started re-writing the text into “English” and posting that on my blog.
So you have a day job, two blogs, and three kids. How exactly do you find time for all of this?
I don’t. Having my own business has made blogging as The Urban Daddy very difficult, and I have almost 200 posts sitting in my draft folder, in need of a good review. Prior to that I would generally blog from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and I would schedule my posts to come out during the course of the week. When my first son was born, I was doing my MBA online and 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. was my time to work once everyone went to sleep, so I maintained that time as my time to get posts written.
Now I find I have so much work to do for my business that I spend time working on that instead of the blogging. But it changes, and sometimes I get extra time to bang out a post or two.
I’ve started going back to edit old posts, and I’ve found some where I clearly fell asleep in the middle of typing but posted them anyway. It’s a great reminder of my exhaustion back then.
What advice would you give to aspiring bloggers?
Do not get discouraged and do not write for others. Write for yourself first and try not to fret when only one or two readers come by your blog in a day, week or month. It takes time to build up a following. Reply to comments, follow other blogs, read them if you have the time and figure out what you want from your blog.
If you want to win awards, get hundreds of thousands of followers and use it to step up to a more prolific role, then stick to a topic or theme and write about it, and it only.
If you want your blog to be a journal to look at as your kids get older or to record things you might need, then write for the love of writing. If more comes of it, just say thank you and continue doing what you love doing.

 

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Nowhere To Go But Up: ESPN Ranks The Toronto Maple Leafs the worst sports franchise in North America


ESPN The Magazine has released its “Ultimate Standings” for 2014, ranking sports franchises in Major League Baseball (MLB), The National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL) and the National Hockey League (NHL) according to a variety of categories and in a couple of them, the Toronto Maple Leafs ranked dead last at 122, and fared poorly in most of the rest of them.  Great.

To come up with these rankings, ESPN took the following steps:

First: Consulting firm Maddock Douglas surveyed 1,002 North American fans to form 25 criteria for what you want most in return for the emotion, money and time you invest in the 122 MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL teams.

Second: Teaming with NetReflector, an opinion research firm, ESPN.com asked fans to rate their home teams in each area and more than 101,000 did.  They grouped grades into the categories listed below.

Third: In order to determine the “Bank for the Buck” calculation, ESPN.com used calculations developed with Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center to figure how well teams turn fans’ money into wins.  Then they combined each team’s score across all categories into a weighted average.

The Categories, plus the highest ranked team and the lowest ranked team.

Affordability
Price of tickets, parking and concessions
1. Memphis Grizzlies (NBA)
122.  Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)

Coaching:
Strength of on-field leadership
1. San Antonio Spurs (NBA)
122. Florida Panthers (NHL)

Fan Relations
Courtesy by players, coaches and front offices toward fans, and how well a team uses technology to reach them
1. San Antonio Spurs
122. New York Knicks

Ownership
Honesty; loyalty to core players and the community
1. San Antonio Spurs
122. Florida Marlins (MLB)

Players
Effort on the field, likability off it
1. San Antonio Spurs
122. NY Knicks

Stadium experience
Quality of venue; fan-friendliness of environment; frequency of game-day promotions
1. San Francisco Giants (MLB)
122. NY Islanders (NHL)

Bang for the Buck
Wins in the past year, per fan dollars
1. Indiana Pacers (NBA)
122. Toronto Maple Leafs

Title track
Championships won or expected within the lifetime of current fans
1. St. Louis Cardinals (MLB)
122. Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA)

A review of the ESPN website revealed that The Leafs fared poorly in every category. They placed last in both bang for the buck and affordability; second-last in title track; in the bottom 10 in fan relations, players and coaching; and 105th and 109th in ownership and stadium experience, respectively.

Possibly because this was done by ESPN and the majority of the respondents came from the US, all Canadian teams fared poorly in their rankings with the exception of the Montreal Canadians who appeared in the top half of the list. Here are the rest of the seven teams’ rankings at 55 out of 122.

The other Canadian teams ranked as follows;

Toronto Raptors – 74

Toronto Blue Jays – 81

Calgary Flames — 89

Ottawa Senators — 92

Winnipeg Jets — 97

Vancouver Canucks — 112

Edmonton Oilers — 115

 

The last 2 teams were the New York Knicks at 121 and the Toronto Maple Leafs at 122.

At least at last there is nowhere to go but up.  At 121, the Knicks could drop.

Local Event: chickaDEE and the Toronto Zoo, June 21st, 2014.


Suddenly, this Urban Daddy feels very old!

Upon receiving a tip that OWLkids and the Toronto Zoo are partnering to celebrate 35 years of chickaDEE magazine on June 21st, my mind started recalling the release of chickaDEE at the ripe old age of, ahem, 7-years-old.chickaDEE Magazine 35th Anniversary issue

Needless to say, I’m old, but I LOVED OWL as a kid, and loved chickaDEE too. My kids love OWL and chickaDEE as my middle child is the ripe old age of, ahem, 7-years-old.

So as a result, we have cleared our calendar on the 21st to ensure that we can attend this event (we already have the family seasons pass to the zoo).

This event is an excellent addition to The Urban Daddy’s event listings because it is an educational activity that the whole family will enjoy, while seeing a major Toronto attraction in the Toronto Zoo.

EVENT: chickaDEE Magazine Zoo Puzzle Search

DATE: Saturday, June 21, 2014
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

VENUE: Toronto Zoo
361A Old Finch Ave.
Scarborough, ON
M1B 5K7

EVENT DESCRIPTION:

Kid explorers and their families are invited to join Owlkids, publishers of chickaDEE Magazine, for a fun-filled day of discovery at the Toronto Zoo on Saturday, June 21, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Come out to follow the clues and search the Zoo for four puzzle pieces that will reveal a special picture. Collect all four and win a prize!

For more information visit the Toronto Zoo website, here.

 

See you at the zoo!

Provincial Election Primer 2014: St. Paul’s. Undecided? Read this! (updated)


The provincial election is coming up fast – On June 12th, 2014 and Ontarians have a very tough decision on their hands. Stuck with 3 underwhelming candidates for Premier of Ontario, the field would appear to be wide open as to who will win and whether the government will be a majority or a minority.

Expect another coalition government, propped up by the NDP again, but expect this time that PC leader Tim Hudak (if he’s still there and not replaced by Doug Ford) will actually force the Liberal government to add some Conservative goodies into the budget as Premier Kathleen Wynne did for the NDP every time.

But I wanted to take a look at the riding I live in, St. Paul’s, an affluent Toronto riding almost completely residential and includes both the mansions of Forest Hill and the multicultural neighbourhoods that straddle St. Clair Avenue west of Bathurst Street.

Thank you to the CBC for all of this data below;

The population in this riding from the 2006 census is 111,131, down 1.2% since the previous census taken in 2001.  Politically, Liberal Dr. Eric Hoskins has held this seat since beating PC Sue Ann Levy in a by-election in 2009 by 5,330 votes.  The seat had previously been Liberal, held by Michael Bryant since 1999.  Bryant relinquished his seat in May 2009 to lead Invest Toronto.  Bryant quit Invest Toronto after being charged in the death of bicycle courier Darcy Allan Sheppard in downtown Toronto (the courier you may recall grabbed a hold of Bryant’s car and was threatening him when Bryant sped away and Sheppard flew off his bike on the street where he died).

You could say this riding is somewhat of a Liberal strong hold, which is interesting considering this riding contains the second largest amount of wealth in all of Canada, and typically wealth = Conservative, and that south of St. Clair is very left-wing.  For this reason I am constantly amazed that there is no strong Conservative candidate in the area campaigning for the removal of Hoskins.

Take the last provincial election from 2011.  Dr. Hoskins easily won after garnering 25,052 votes, or 58.41% of the vote.  Second was PC Christine McGirr with only 8,971 votes, or 20.92%.  The NDP candidate David Hynes came in right behind McGirr with 7,121 votes, or 16.60% of the vote, and votes were given to the Green Party candidate, Judith Van Veldhuysen (1,172, 2.73%), the Libertarian candidate John Kittredge (332 votes, 0.77%), the Family Party candidate Mike Rita (88 votes, 0.21%) and these two parties;  SPO Keith Pinto (83 votes, 0.19%)
and NOH David Vallance (73 votes,  0.17%).

A Liberal landslide, and having just moved into the riding, I did not see or hear from or of McGirr at any point in the campaign, but did receive tons pricy, glossy flyers from Hoskins.  The same held true this year – more on that later.

Let’s take a closer look at the riding’s demographics, and compare the rate in the riding to the provincial average and the average in Canada.  Of note will be the extremely low unemployment, the above average number of seniors but what should really jump out at you is the average annual household income figure and the percentage of people in this riding with a post-secondary degree.  It’s outstanding and a really good reminder for kids to stay in school!

From 2006 census:

Unemployment Rate:

St. Paul’s 6.2%
Ontario 6.4%
Canada 6.6%

Seniors:

St. Paul’s 15.67%
Ontario 13.56%
Canada 13.71%

Home Owners:

St. Paul’s 20.11%
Ontario 26.61%
Canada 26.92%

Average Family Income:

St. Paul’s $166,814
Ontario $90,526
Canada $82,325

Post-Secondary Degrees:

St. Paul’s 48.41%
Ontario 33.54%
Canada 33.35%

This riding is pre-dominantly Jewish, followed by Philippino, then Caribbean, and Native Canadian.

 

The 2014 Candidates

Conservative Justine Deluce
Liberal Dr. Eric Hoskins
NDP Luke Savage
Green Josh Rachlis
Libertarian John Kittredge
Freedom Party of Ontario Mike Rita

So let’s take a closer look at the candidates:

Deluce, being the newcomer and with very little literature on the street and no buzz, she is the candidate people will vote for if they do not vote for Hoskins, so she is playing the come and find me game.  So I did.

Justine Deluce is bilingual, and is / was, the COO at Chestnut Park Real Estate, so she understands the challenges of running a business in a competitive environment, and she also must be perfectly aware of some key concerns for Ontarians – and the folks in St. Paul’s – of creating and maintaining jobs, and keeping the economy rolling.  If the “bubble” ever bursts, it’s the owners of these $2 million – $10 – million dollar homes who will need to create new businesses, downsize their homes and keep employing quality people and keeping the economy driving, so knowing this, Justine takes aim at pointless red tape which act as barriers to progress. 

Justine believes in fiscal responsibility, transparency and being accountable for the management of taxpayer dollars.  SCORE!
Being in real estate, Justine already has the proven experience of working in an industry where success is synonymous with trust, accountability and knowledge.  SCORE!
Fittingly, Justine served at Queen’s Park as a senior policy advisor for several Ministers in the Health and Long-Term Care and Citizenship, Culture and Recreation portfolios.  If you recall the demographics in the St. Paul’s riding, these were all key concerns among the community.Justine has volunteered and raised funds for a number of not-for-profit organizations in her community including, Project Sunshine, Home Horizon, the Royal Ontario Museum, The Power Plant Gallery and the True Patriot Love Foundation.  She has a particular interest in the issues of mental health, addictions and related research.Justine has a BA in French from the University of Western Ontario and an MBA from the University of Edinburgh. She also earned her Private Pilot’s Licence at an early age. She has lived in Toronto since 1987.
The current MPP is Dr. Eric Hoskins, and honestly, after living in the riding for 4-years and being as politically active as I am, I have yet to see Dr. Hoskins, except come election time.  I find his pamphlets to be self-promoting and rightly, he shy’s away from Kathleen Wynne  as much as possible.  The current, and 4th flyer received at my house is a letter-sized 4-page glossy with a full-size picture of the Doctor.  Without even having to open this, I can tell you what I will see inside;
Dr. Hoskins is a great guy.  He’s helped poor people overseas, he is involved in helping the poor and impoverished and he will have pictures of himself at events representing each and every demographic in our community.  There will be a picture of him at a synagogue, probably with Jewish men wearing kippot (because it’s the best way to distinguish these men from any other male, right?), and with a Philippino female, with a Jamaican man, and with seniors (usually women), children (all smiling of course) and with his family and probably one with Premier Wynne.  It’s his thing.  He’s a candidate for everyone!
But what has he accomplished in this community?  What has the last 3-years brought us, which would entice us to put an “x” by his name again?
I cannot think of anything, but according to his flyer he AND Premier Wynne have added nearly 500,000 net new jobs in Ontario.  Okay, but this riding has an unemployment rate at 2%, meaning this is just a statistic and otherwise unimportant.
Invested $295 million in a Youth Jobs Plan which has created over 11,000 jobs for the 2% unemployed in his riding where almost half of the people have a post-secondary degree and according to Statistics Canada live in a family with an average household income of almost $170,000.
Invested $15 billion in transit including the Eglinton LRT, which is an utter disaster just north of the St. Clair disaster which he watch unfold.  If Dr. Hoskins were to knock on doors and ask the community in HIS riding he would find out that people in HIS riding are fed up with the planning behind, the construction underway and the lack on direction given to the LRT – set to open in 2020, by the way – and are fed up with not being able to use their roads or leave their driveways without having to wait in a line-up of cars for 15 minutes.
Standing up for tenants and protecting their right to affordable rent in a riding where houses start at $1 million dollars, if they want to rent in this riding, they don’t need your “support”.
Standing up for seniors, and low-income residents by raising the minimum wage even though studies have shown that every cent increase in the minimum wage places small businesses in financial distress as already high property taxes, low community support and increasing costs across the board result in streets in his riding like Eglinton and St. Clair to be devoid of businesses which do not have the words “MASSAGE” glowing in neon come nightfall.  I guess it’s easier to buy a vote by offering more money to those in the community with the least.
Dr. Hoskins protects our environment in the riding of St. Paul’s because earlier this year the Liberal party put policies in place to end the use of coal to generate electricity.  So now every $10 million dollar house on the other side of Bathurst Street – the ones with the solar panels installed on them – are going to have to get rid of their coal fireplaces… Damn.  Too bad traffic gridlock on Eglinton an St. Clair have seen car emissions spike.
Dr. Hoskins vision includes this last item, “Responsible and sustainable community development with genuine community engagement”.  I’m not sure what that means, I mean, I do, but in reality, it’s a throwaway line saying very little.  Personally, I’d like to actually see Dr. Hoskins in the community other than at photo opportunities and I would like to see a political flyer tailored to the community – with successes for the community – and not a self-promoting piece of literature about his and Kathleen Wynne.
I think Dr. Hoskins has lost touch with what the job description is for a Member of Provincial Politics in the riding of St. Paul’s.  His policies are not aimed at the riding and none of his personal achievements warrants any votes for him from this riding, let alone the gift of representing our riding again for any length of time.
Sadly, I don’t think people in this riding take the time to see the damage done by the McGuinty / Wynne tandem.  They know the NDP are not right for Ontario (hello Bob Rae) and they compare Tim Hudek to Mike Harris because that is what the Liberals have to do in order to turn the attention away from their complete devastation of the province of Ontario.  Once a “have” province, now a “have not” province.
All things being considered, and with 3 underwhelming choices for Premier, think logically about what Ontarians did after Mike Harris cut, cleaned house and Ontario went on for years as a powerhouse.  They exercised their democratic right and voted in another party.
I think it’s time to exercise our democratic rights and send a very clear message to the Liberal Party in Ontario.
(Apologies to NDP candidate Luke Savage – he lost me when I saw he lives in the Annex – but he will get the left-vote but I have serious concerns that even with a Masters in political science, he cannot understand the complexities of this community and the way to handle the amount of wealth here without wanting to re-distribute it.)
Even bigger apology to Green Party candidate Josh Rachlis who commented below, and included a link to a song he wrote about St. Paul’s.  I strongly suggest you listen to the song and take a look at Josh’s platform.
The Green Party has always intrigued me because of the importance of keeping the planet healthy and keeping our food and water safe for consumption, however, I have always felt their policies were either poorly defined or an after thought.  After having a look at Josh’s platform, I no longer think that.
Aside from being very bright – I can pick that up just listening to Josh speak, I think if the playing field were even among parties, he would be right in the thick of things come election night.
The Green Platform includes:

1. Focus on your job by lowering payroll taxes for small businesses

2. Get you home faster by paying for the transit infrastructure we need

3. Invest in your home to help you save money by saving energy

4. Improve your children’s education by merging the public and separate school boards

5. Make good on our promises to address child poverty

6. Give young adults a chance to contribute to our world

7. Putting your food and water first by protecting farmland and water

8. Getting our fair share by making industry pay a fair price for our shared resources

9. Restore your confidence that our communities & natural heritage will not be damaged by development

I honestly have no idea what the first point entails and I worked at Revenue Canada (Canada Revenue Agency for 11 years, most of them handling payroll, and I believe the only reduction employers can make is to reduce the actual tax component of the payroll source deductions because a reduction in CPP reduces the amount employees have for retirement and a reduction in EI reduces the amount employees pay into the system, thus the amount they are able to take back out should they need to.

Numbers 2 and 3 are great, although a little vague, while number 4 is a brilliant idea to reduce costs and increase service.  Number 9 is also a great initiative.

So while I would like to see a little more detail in their platform, I believe the Green Party needs to take the next big step and either merge with an existing party, or force the issue and start getting candidates into parliament.

 

All-in-all, voting is your democratic right!  So get out there and vote!

Saturday May 10th is National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day! Parents: Let’s clean out our medicine cabinets.


Parents!  Did you know that over 70% of grade 7-12 students have abused prescription drugs which they get from our medicine cabinets or buy from classmates who have?

Let’s stay a step ahead, and on Saturday May 10th, 2014 – National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day, Canadians in communities across Canada can safely dispose of unused pharmaceuticals and to participate in an overall strategy to help combat the problems associated with prescription drug abuse

This initiative is being led by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in conjunction with Public Safety Canada and Health Canada.

In addition to National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day, Partnership for a Drug Free Canada is also launching a campaign with Shoppers Drug Mart, encouraging Canadians to return their unused or unwanted prescription drugs to local pharmacies on a regular basis.

Please do not flush the medication as we want to keep it out of our water stream.

Some Quick Facts
• The 2012 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey (CADUMS) indicates approximately 410,000 Canadians reported abusing psychoactive pharmaceuticals in the past year, more than double the number in 2011. 
• In 2012, about 1 million youth, aged 15 to 24 years, reported having used a psychoactive pharmaceutical in the past 12 months. About 210,000 of these youth also reported having abused them. 
• According to a study published in Canadian Family Physician in 2010, over 70% of grade 7-12 students who abused prescription opioids in Ontario sourced the drugs from home.  

By working together, we can protect Canadians from the misuse of prescription drugs and tackle head on prescription drug abuse and addiction.