Early Spring or 6-More Weeks of Winter? Groundhog Day vs. Spring Training:


Staten Island Chuck

Balzac Billy

Wiarton Willy

Shubenacadie Sam

Punxsutawney Phil

 

So many Groundhogs… So many predictions…

In this day and age of social media, weather mapping, satellite weather patterning, so we really believe that a groundhog looks for his shadow to predict whether or not the region will experience six more weeks of winter or the coming of spring.

My kids wanted to go somewhere… Anywhere… to hang with the crowds who will have gathered to see if groundhogs throughout the area see their shadow to signal another six weeks of winter, or if they call for an early spring.

This year, Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, predicted 6 more weeks of winter, while Staten Island Chuck, Wiarton Willie called for an early spring.

The tradition of Groundhog Day can be traced to a German myth on Candlemas Day.

It was believed that if any animal came out from hibernation on February 2nd and saw their shadow, there would be six more weeks of winter.

The myth was turned into a reality in the early 1880s, when Pennsylvanian settlers searched for a groundhog to see the shadow and local newspapers reported about the hunt.

Since that day, the celebration spread throughout the country, and other areas have hopped on board with rodents of their own.

While many people in the US focus on Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, Canadians like to focus on Ontario’s Wiarton Willie, and Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam, while Western Canadians can turn their focus to Balzac Billy.

Being close to the US, we know that New Yorkers pay attention to Staten Island Chuck – real name Charles G. Hogg – with an 80% accuracy prognostication.

Chuck / Hogg, was the groundhog who bit former Mayor Bloomberg and was dropped by then Mayor de Blasio.

Even in Long Island, they have their own groundhogs, yes, 2 of them, Malverne Mel and Holtsville Hal.

So with so many groundhogs and so many predictions, we can be sure of this… Spring is coming, eventually.  Spring training for baseball has always been my sign that spring is around the corner and with pitchers and catchers reporting in less than 3 weeks, I cna get ready to break out the shorts and sandals, right?

But for the kids… it’s all about the groundhogs! Consensus rules!

 

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Cap-and-trade will cost Ontarians $8B in first years with minimal greenhouse gas reductions: auditor.


TORONTO — Ontario’s cap-and-trade program will cost the province’s consumers and businesses $8 billion dollars in its first years of operation to get minimal greenhouse gas reductions, the auditor general said Wednesday. In her annual report, Bonnie Lysyk said households will pay an average of $156 next year in added costs on gasoline and natural…

via Cap-and-trade will cost Ontarians $8B in first years with minimal greenhouse gas reductions: auditor — National Post – Top Stories

 

I can’t just pick one part of the Auditor General’s report on the way the Ontario Liberal Government has been slowly destroying this province but I think this is the main one we’ll be talking about for years to come…

When will Ontarians wake up to the deceit and lies being fed to us by this government and care enough to not vote them back in power.

I’ll translate the headline further: The Ontario Liberal government will be getting $8 billion dollars from you, and me, from taxpayers, from businesses, from seniors… from everyone in Ontario for nothing.

This $8 billion dollar tax windfall will pay for broken contracts, wasteful spending, overruns on transit projects, union contract negotiation payouts disguised as pizza, and other perks.  It will result in businesses being forced to close, families going hungry and unemployment.

Much like the high hydro rates have resulted in people using less hydro, which then resulted in hydro having to increase rates to make more money.  It just doesn’t pass the smell test.

If it doesn’t look good, and it doesn’t smell good, it isn’t going to taste good and that’s because it’s rotten.

The Auditor General said it…

Ontarians Open Your Wallets… Wide! Liberal Budget 2016.


Nine years, Ontario has elected Liberal governments and for nine years, the taxpayers in this once mighty province are facing a budget whiledeeply in debt.

In fact, when the Ontario Liberals unveil their budget today, it’s going to include some really fancy talking and no mention of increasing taxes, yet it’s the only way they can eliminate the deficit and put a stop to the massive debt.

How massive is the debt?

Ontario has the largest debt of any sub-national government in the world!

The world!

Taxpayers pay an astounding $11-billion dollars a year on interest on the debt. Think about how many unions could be paid off with those funds, gas plants moved or documents shredded…

The Wynne Liberals will likely blame the Ontario Conservatives, or the Federal Conservatives, but they have already started to leak the “tax” increases coming down the pipe for Ontarians, including 4.3 cents to the price of a litre of gas plus an increase of $5/month to our natural gas bill – in order to protect the environment, no less…

Where the rest of the “savings” come from is unknown at this time, however, healthcare and education are likely to take a big hit.

Additionally, while it’s great that grocery stores are able to sell wine, the Liberals are likely to set a new minimum price for that bottle through this budget and add additional taxes on top of it.

Here is a recap of the “highlights” of the budget:

  • Ontario’s net debt will hit $308 billion in 2016-17.
  • Ontario’s debt is the largest of any sub-national jurisdiction in the world
  • Ontario taxpayers are paying $11.8 billion in interest payments per year
  • Interest on Ontario’s debt is going to increase to $13.1 billion by 2018-19
  • University and college tuition will be free for students from families with incomes of $50,000 or less.
  • More than half of students from families with incomes under $83,000 will receive non-repayable grants (which exceed the cost of an average tuition).
  • A carton if cigarettes will increase by $3.00, effective at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
  • Taxes on tobacco rise at the rate of inflation each year over the next five years.
  • The minimum price for a bottle of wine rises to $7.95.
  • The LCBO will be increasing their mark-up on wine to compensate for the fact consumers can purchase them at grocery stores, so in June there will be a 2% hike, followed by 2% hikes in 2017 and 2018 with a 1% hike in 2019.
  • There will also be annual increases of about 10 cents in the tax on wine sold in private retail outlets, increasing from 16.1 cents to 20.1 cents over four years
  • The $30 fee for Drive Clean vehicle emissions tests will be eliminated in 2017-18 – not the test – just the out of pocket cost which taxpayers will be paying to the tune of $60 million/year.
  • Hospitals will get their first funding increase in five years, up $345 million, plus $12 billion over 10 years in capital grants for about three dozen major hospital projects
  • The threshold for seniors to be eligible for cheaper drugs rises from $16,018 to $19,300.
  • The Liberals have committed $333 million over five years to redesign and improve autism services.

 

So as the Liberals promised, the Liberals shall deliver.  Spend, spend, debt, deficit, spend…  To the highest debt in the world.

The Conservatives are going to have a huge headache cleaning this mess up in 3 years!

Parenting News: Head North (Ontario) This Holiday Season


Now is the perfect time to book your holiday getaway up north.

Make this Christmas and New Year’s Eve the most memorable one yet – surrounded by a picturesque country setting with great shows, fine dining, soothing spa treatments, outdoor adventures and spectacular accommodations.

There are many events and family activities to choose from:

  • Enjoy the play Twas The Night Before Christmas presented by the Huntsville Theatre Company until December 19th;

  • Take the kids for a magical ride to visit Santa on an antique stream train;

  • Experience the pride and joy of Muskoka Heritage Place as this historic treasure chugs merrily along through winter wonderland;

  • Travel to Santa’s Village in Bracebridge, Muskoka, during SantaFest Dec. 19-22, with sleigh rides, petting zoo, marshmallow roasts and more;

  • Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area presents its annual Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade from 5pm on December 24th; and

  • Visit Arrowhead Provincial Park’s famed Ice Skating Trail, opening towards the end of December.

Take some time to visit the region’s craft breweries and wineries including Muskoka Lakes Winery, Lake of Bays Brewing, and Highlander Brew, among others; all offering tours and tastings, even during the holidays. Work off the holiday calories with some epic outdoor adventures such as dog sledding, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, and more, or perhaps just stay warm and enjoy the wellness and pampering at one of the relaxing spas in the region.

Dine, dance and delight at all there is to enjoy this New Year’s Eve, including:

  • The hundreds of outstanding dining establishments open year-round, including Inn at the Falls in Bracebridge and Sherwood Inn near Port Carling;

  • Hidden Valley Resort in Huntsville, Muskoka is offering a great package that includes a one-night stay, fabulous buffet plus a DJ party with balloon drop and champagne at the stroke of 2016;

  • For a rocking New Year’s Eve in the style of Creedence Clearwater Revival, get your tickets for Peter’s Players in Gravenhurst, Muskoka for the incredible tribute band; and

  • Attend the Cottage Country Comedy Festival at the Gravenhurst Opera House. Headliners include Jim Nasiopoulos, Mike Rita & Adrian Cronk. After-party with live music by WinnieBrave.

For more information, please visit Explorer’s Edge.

Proud Recipient of a 2015 Ontario Volunteer Service Award


On June 16th, The 2015 Ontario Volunteer Service Awards were handed out in Toronto, which recognizes individual volunteers for continuous years of commitment and dedicated service to an organization. 

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This year both my wife and I received an award for 15-years of volunteering with an organization call Jewish Family and Child Services (JF&CS).

Jewish Family & Child supports the healthy development of individuals, children, families, and communities through prevention, protection, counselling, education and advocacy services, within the context of Jewish values.

Their priority areas are;

1. Increasing Safety and Security

2. Reducing the Effects of Poverty

3. Improving Mental Health and Wellness

My wife and I became volunteers in the Big Brothers / Big Sisters program to assist the JF&CS staff with the planning and coordinating over events for the programs’ participants and volunteers.  Over the past 15 years we have met a lot of incredible volunteers and incredible children who have grown up to be amazing young adults.

None of this would have been possible without the hard work and support of Andrea Pines, the Volunteer Coordinator for Big Brothers / Big Sisters.

We also try to model what it means to be a good person to our children and I recall a picture being published of our oldest boy – at probably 3 months old – strapped to my wife in a child carrier and the 3 of us set off to an event.  We try to include all of our kids in the event planning as well as at the event so they will understand that giving their time might seem like such a small gesture, but to some people it means a lot.

Obviously we do this for the organization, and not for the recognition, and I’m hesitant to publish this except I hope down the road, my kids will be able to read this and realize that volunteering is important and that it’s been a part of their lives since they were born (and their Dad expects them to continue doing it!!)

The awards ceremony is a lovely ceremony where volunteers are presented with stylized trillium pins and personalized certificates.