Friday, December 31, 2004

Google Press Center: Zeitgeist

Google Press Center: Zeitgeist

Just for your entertainment, the top most searched terms on Google over the past year.

Apparently pizza was the most searched popular cuisines. Apparently the ability to order pizza online is catching on. Perhaps I can order a pizza for when I return from work accross town online.

Further, Britney Spears was also at the top of the most searched terms. To think I thought she was losing popularity. Apparently she is still number one in the computer world.

Well, to everyone have a happy new year!

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!

Thought of the day...

"Time is unlimited, days are not." -- my sister's MSN Messenger tag line.

Hmmmm....makes sense *Homer Simpson moment*

I always seem to know how to procrastinate. Take the marking I was going to do this week. I have some of it done but not as much as I originally thought I would. Why is when I come home for a holiday that I never seem to get as much as I thought I would?

Thus "Time is unlimited" would seem to mean I can waste time and procrastinate on the important things. While "Days are not" is the self imposed deadline for most of the marking seems to get closer and closer.

Hmmm...Makes sense.

New Years Resolutions

The only New Year's resolutions I promise to make:

Not to make any more New Year's Resolutions.

I guess I have already broken the New Year's resolution by making a resolution not to make New Years Resolution. And to think it is not even the new year yet! DOH!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Got this funky little e-mail card sent to me (Yup it felt like a Hallmark moment except less expensive!) and thought I would share it with everyone. It is pretty exciting after you pop all the balloons over top of the seemingly poor little bear you expect to fall and go splat. Does he? Pop all the balloons and find out!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Ottawa Sun Online: NEWS - Spend in the clowns...

Ottawa Sun Online: NEWS - Spend in the clowns...

Based on this article can I get a grant to start my own ant farm? So how 'bout it?

Talk about money being wasted. Who would have thought the clowns in Ottawa actually were trying to replace themselves?

INN from the Cold Newmarket Ontario Canada

INN from the Cold Newmarket Ontario Canada

Inn From the cold program in Newmarket is a program that just opened its doors in order to help out the homeless. I have been following this program's development through the local newspaper's website for quite sometime. I just wanted to scream when they were having problems finding a space in Newmarket to hold their homeless programs. First, the programs. The programs are designed to allow the homeless a warm place to sleep and eat when the temperature gets cold outside.

Now they finally have a home in a Newmarket church. However, before the program found a home at the church, every place that offered up a home was rejected either by the region's board of health or the town's fire department over various problems. Why my screaming? Well my church in Aurora (not far from Newmarket) had an Inn from the Cold program a couple of years ago supported by the region and the city of Toronto. Then the city of Toronto pulled the funding because the program was geographically located outside the city of Toronto's borders. This funding was pulled, even though, many of the homeless were were bussed up from Toronto.

So now I was seeing that the program in Newmarket was having problems getting off the ground. So I wanted to just scream that my church had already passed the fire inspections and health reports required before and still probably would pass considering there is a YMCA Nursery school in there as well as many other non-profit organizations use the facility on a constant basis. However, the nights that the homeless program was going to be run would have been fine since the church had no problem holding the programs on a Saturday night. Adding the Friday nights wouldn't have been a problem either. Volunteers from Newmarket could easily make the short trip to Aurora as well as adding more volunteers from the church and other churches in Aurora.

The fact that the program did not have any people to serve the first weekend is perhaps not surprising. According to the newspaper article in the local paper, the last weekend nobody showed up to use the Inn from the Cold's services. Perhaps this there are two issues that needed to be sorted out. The first is that the program had just found a spot to house the homeless before opening and thereby not allowing enough time for the word to get out to the homeless that this service was being offered at a certain time and place. The other problem might have been the group focussed on the homeless of the Newmarket and immediate area. When my church ran their program, they had drivers and bus tickets available at Finch Subway station to bring people up to the Aurora in order to take part in the program. This program had more people show up than there were beds and quite often had to turn people away due to the numbers allowed.

Thus I propose in the interest of spending the money raised wisely and to ensure the volunteers time is also used wisely that the Newmarket program open their shelter up to homeless from all of York Region to start and then to Toronto in order to generate the numbers.

All in all though, it is a good idea to provide support for the homeless of the area. Therefore I wish them the best of luck.

Google Language Tools

Language Tools

Did you know you can get Google's main webpage in Elmer Fudd language? Or how about Klingon?

Seems to me the guys and gals at Google.com have a little too much time on their hands in order to make their website Elmer Fudd and Klingon freindly.

I hope since the release of their stocks the computer programmers at Google have used their time a little more wisely than translating language into Fuddian and Klingoian. But non the less the entertainment value is priceless.

Democrat & Chronicle: Business

Democrat & Chronicle: Business

On demand publishing is a very interesting concept. I could write an entire novel today and instead of trying to get the major publishers to even look at it, I could go to lulu.com and have the entire manuscript uploaded and for sale in less than a day. This article gives an overall great description on how the industry works. Not only that they interview my uncle (part of the reason I read the article but not necessarily the reason for this blog entry).

It seems the digital world, which has already cost the music industry billions of dollars, is now eyeing the publishing industry.

Could Bob Young help create the next J.K. Rowling in the book business? Perhaps.

But this new industry may also increase the number of authors out there as well. Therefore, the amount of money each author is likely to make will probably decrease. Why is that? You increase the number of anything without increasing the market share the less each author is going to get. The non increase in the market share is highly likely to happen since there are so many reading choices now for people to take interest in (e.g. internet articles, newspapers, books of various shapes and sizes, etc.) that the traditional reading purchases may decrease over time.

Anyway, lulu.com and other such websites merely help to expand the reading choices we have out there as well as providing a way for people to publish their material without having to go to the major publicshers or after being rejected by the major publishers.

Rejection yet possible success you say? Just ask J.K. Rowling whose Harry Potter series was rejected time and time again until she found a publisher that was willing to take a chance. Question: Between Rowling and the publishers that rejected her, who is laughing now?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Sockman Calculator

Sockman Calculator

Um...like how many socks have you warn in your lifetime?

Gee whiz I never thought I would ever know. Someone has taken the time to figure out how many socks you have warn in your lifetime. However, variables have not been taken into account like panty hose (I hope women only), sandals, and of course the many sock puppets our hands have warn.

It's amazing what people are counting these days...so hurry up how many socks have you warn?

CANOE -- CNEWS - Tech News: Internet Interested in setting up a blog? Expert tells you how

CANOE -- CNEWS - Tech News: Internet Interested in setting up a blog? Expert tells you how

Surfing the internet aimlessly and came up with this funky story on blogs and how to set up blogs. Seems that everyone suggests blogger.com as a good way to set up your own blog. Then they give a good selection of blogs to visit.

Even blogger gives you a good way now to surf aimlessly blogs on the internet. I just click on the top right hand button saying "next blog". Pretty interesting what people use blogs to do. I have run accross some wackos who should never touch a keyboard, to a day care using a blog to update parents on the latest happenings. If you think about it blogs like the ones on blogger.com provides the user with a good way to set up cheap webpages that can easily be changed without knowing too much html.

Back to the article. It seems that CNEWS (of the Canoe network) has started adding advertisement links in the middle of their article. In this article there are at least two selections ("web developer" and "customer service") that link to an outside website that appear to be links to other articles. It seems that advertisers on the internet just keep getting worse and worse in trying to get you to visit their websites. But that is another story that I have already dealt with in the comment section of my website. I just can't wait until they start advertising on the blogs this way.....wait...forget it no...then I will become aggravated! It makes me aggraveted to even think about it! ARGH!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

TheStar.com - No pucks, but still plenty of bucks

TheStar.com - No pucks, but still plenty of bucks

What is the effect of no Hockey in the Toronto area a.k.a "Leaf Nation". Apparently nothing much except on the local bar seen. But even that is debatable since new provincial no-smoking law is kicking in.

Other hockey teams are now seeing an increase in attendance. Considering these teams are usually hard pressed to draw fans and maintain revenue, this can only be a good "CHA CHING!" for them. This is true considering the Aurora Tigers Major Junior A team barely draws 500 plus fans a game even on a Saturday night. This after a championship run that saw them win the Royal Bank Cup National Championship.

So just remember, go out to the bar and eat some food and swill some beer. Then all will be good again even without the Leafs, Rangers, Senators and the like. That would be truly socking it to the millionaire players and owners considering they will be the ones not making any money and having to maintain the large arenas and the like. Remember it is both the greed of the owners and the players that is keeping the players off the ice.

Until then, enjoy the teams like the Aurora Tigers and the Newmarket Hurricanes.

Take that you millionaires! The fans will go someplace else.

Just remember the heavy decline in attendance following the 1994 baseball strike....

Just something more for the owners and the players to worry about....

Monday, December 27, 2004

bob young's Blog - Lulu.com

bob young's Blog - Lulu.com

Duly noted that my Uncle even has a blog. Now if I could only understand what technical gobldy gook he is talking about I would be farther ahead. How did I find the blog? Easy, just googled Bob Young blog (no quotes around Bob Young). Now if only he had a Hamilton Tigercats owner's blog. That might make for more easier reading....

Perhaps there should be a cut in coming up with an Owner's blog for the Hamilton Tigercats.... so what do you say unkie?

It's cold!...and other musings of the holiday season.

It's cold outside. Left 20 degrees celcius on Thursday December 23rd in New York City to come home to Aurora and currently it is -14 celcius. What was I thinking? Brrrrrrrrrrrrr......shiver!

Right, home for the holidays with the family. Good times were had by all. Except there was conversation that came up with my cousin's girlfriend who noted a bird called a "McPuffin". Here I thought it was a McDonald's meal that came with fries and a coke. But apparently, she claims, that is what Puffins are called in Cape Breton. Who new?

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Michael Suddard's Homepage

Michael Suddard's Homepage

Yup finally updated my website. First time since August 8th 2004 that I have updated. Give me a break already, I haven't had time since I landed in New York City to update the website. Your lucky I get enough time to update this here blog.

Well, back to work, gotta go!

TheStar.com - Slippery thief rubs $15,000 of road salt in city's wound

TheStar.com - Slippery thief rubs $15,000 of road salt in city's wound

Um...like did the thief steal the road salt by hiding it under his shirt or something?

Another question/query: How do you steal 300 tonnes of road salt without anybody noticing? Where would you keep it?

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Funny Road Signs

Funny Road signs on my travels in and around New York City:



Say why can't I make a right hand turn again? CAUSE IT'S A ONE WAY STREET! If you are dumb enough to make a right hand turn onto a one way street going the opposite way you are, YOU SHOULDN'T BE DRIVING!


.

Hollow sidewalk? Then why hasn't the sidewalk fallen in yet? If the sidewalk is dangerous, then why did the city approve it's building? One of those signs that make you go hmmmm...what were they thinking?


.

The good old "standing under the 'No Standing' sign" gag never gets old!

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

Finally got access to where I store my blog pics. So here is the christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in NYC:

Christmas Eve

Yuppers. I swear I'm an idiot!

I was requested to read Isiah 9: 2-7 at the Christmas Eve Service at my church. Everything was going well until I picked up my bible at end of verse 7 and read to verse 9. I feel sooooooo stupid! Ah well...the nobody noticed except the ministers.

The minister came on after I did and said he was just giving you a taste of what there is further on. We joked afterwards that my additional reading will mean people will want to go out and buy more bibles. YA THATS THE TICKET! That was exactly what I wanted to do... so it wasn't me messing up after all!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

TheStar.com - Subway's open-door policy just leads to confusion

TheStar.com - Subway's open-door policy just leads to confusion

Check out the bottom of the page update on the linked page above.

Right, a flaw. Why was the entrance not checked for accessibility issues so that a person would not have to buzz into a brand spanking new station. I can see on the older subway lines in Toronto the possibilty of not having enough physical space or the equipment installed yet to allow full accessibilty. But this is the Sheppard line the station is on. It has been barely open two years! The system should have been installed then tested then fixed to allow better accessibilty without requiring someone to watch a camera or an employee to be there. Its called fiscal responsibilty folks! Make the station accessible to those in wheelchairs without requiring paying a TTC employee to stand there or be buzzed. Yet another great example of brillance at it's best!

Amusing insights into New York City life...

Went out adventuring in Manhatten last night looking for a good place to eat. On the way there the following things happened...

Passed a car pulled off to the side of the road with a NYPD cruiser behind it. Standing behind the car was a lady, I presume the driver of the car, holding her complete bumper. Yup...the whole bumper including the license plate.

Walked past a store with a sign out front saying "Business Sucks Sale Fri, Sat & Sun" Gee thats one way of putting it.

Thats all for tonight... except to say, sidewalk on Joralemon still not fixed and no law suits that I know about yet....

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

TheStar.com - Busted TTC card reader side-swipes the disabled

TheStar.com - Busted TTC card reader side-swipes the disabled: "Somebody at the TTC. Bolton says she'll take the flak from disappointed riders. Her number is 416-393-3741."

It always seems that bureaucrats never know who is to blame for a faulty piece of machinery that should have been replaced a long time ago. Now the media relations departments of the governments are fielding reports so that the manager's voice mail doesn't see the light of day and all the angry customers trying to make sure something happens. It really only seems when the media starts to get involved do issues seem to be taken care of in a snappy way. Shame really, for it should have only taken one phone call to the TTC to have this turnstile taken care of.

Better yet, why isn't there two of the turnstiles in case one goes down? This station is new within the last five years. So didn't somebody think of it since the TTC has been around for over fifty years? Wait a minute, these are the same people who leave a turnstile broken for six months and many phone calls later.

The above bureaucratic bumbling reminds me of a certain broken sidewalk that still exists in New York City since September....(see below)....by the way it is still not fixed. When I get the time I might have to take pictures of its location....wouldn't that be fun to send to the city and a media establishment. That may actually get the city moving...well maybe not...but at least it would be amusing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Toronto Sun: NEWS - Target: Telemarketers

Toronto Sun: NEWS - Target: Telemarketers

About time...

But I doubt whether I would ever add my name to the telemarketers list. I take great pride in asking so many questions of telemarketers and then telling them I do not want their product. Nothing like after ten minutes of conversation saying, "sorry I don't want your stinkin' product, GOODBYE!".

Then again, the Do Not call list might save the telemarketers that call me from harassement....

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Update!

Update on the 311 call I made to the city...

Sidewalk is still not fixed....

stay tuned.....

More updates!

I walked over the broken sidewalk again and noticed right next to the Parking lot entrance a fence off garden with a sign on it stating "Columbus Park". I wonder how Commercial this section of Joralemon street really is?

Let's see how governmental in nature it can get:

Borough Hall (home of the Brooklyn's Borough level government),

a parking lot for New York State's Supreme Court (complete with a Court Officer appointed to make sure the car's don't move and make sure the sidewalk only deteriorates even further as more chunks go missing),

Columbus Park (A city of New York Park's Department specialty),

4 access points to MTA's Borough Hall Subway system (2 on each side of Joralemon Street),

Municipal Hall (yup more offices for bureaucrats to work in and not worry about fixing sidewalks).

A University faculty hall (can't remember which one).

And last but not least, around the corner is 65 Court Street the home of the Department of Education for the City of New York.

About the only noted "commercial activity" on this section of the street is a small shoe repair shack and two newspaper stands.

The fun continues...I wonder if the media would love to get ahold of this one?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Calling 311...this is supposed to be easy?

Walking home from work I realized the "dodge the broken sections of the sidewalk" stretch was a good reason to try out New York City's 311 service.

The 311 service, in case you are unfamiliar with it, is a central clearing house for information from the city. All you have to do is dial "311" on your phone and talk to a person about your problem.

So I described the situation as being "Missing and broken sidewalk blocks on Joralemon outside Brooklyn's Borough Hall right near where the Court House parking lot entrance crosses the sidewalk near the corner of Adams street."

I talked to the first person and told my story to her twice. She then transferred me to Buildings Administration who said that I got transferred to the wrong department. I told her that I was just letting the City know of the problem so that it could be fixed and that she should send the proper paperkwork to whatever city department that does this type of thing in order to have it fixed. She protested and I said deal with it as I am only a concerned citizen.

I hung up and then dialed 311 again. The guy refused to hand me over to a supervisor to look into the situation. So I told the above story again to him. He put me on hold and then looked up some ridiculous law saying the sidewalks in New York city are inspected every five years in commercial areas and that this sidewalk was suposed to be repair the sidewalk. He told me this twice.

I basically wouldn't let him speak again saying that this is a heavily travelled area and that if you were to walk the block around 5 P.M. that you would pass at least two hundred people while walking up Joralemon from Adams to Court Streets. I responded by saying that this section is not commercial it is totally institutional. How much more governmental can you get when the Borough President might walk on this sidewalk right outside his office? Bottom line, I told the guy on the phone, "this isn't rocket science," have someone sent out to assess the situation and have it repaired as soon as possible. Otherwise somebody will trip and fall and sue the city. I also added my taxes don't need to go up because of someone suing the city for a simple repair job. I then said that was it.

The guy asked "is there anything else you need to talk about" in his bureaucratic way. I said, no, just fix the sidewalk, thanks, and hung up on him.

If 311 is supposed to be easier to contact the city and get things answered and fixed, then why the run-around and idiocy. Just take my call, record my complaint on your computer and send it off to the department responsible, no need to transfer me. All you need is the location of the incident (in my case) and send someone out to look at the situation and ways to remedy the situation. But that would be too simple wouldn't it?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Sunday afternoon musings....

Why is it 12 degrees celcius on a December afternoon in New York City? Is this normal? This canucklehead wants to know why the heck it is so warm here!

Why do I find helping out lost tourists so amusing?

Why is the New York City Subway system stations all concrete and girders? It makes the subway stations look like an unfinished building project with signs slapped up.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Rockefeller Center

Last night I headed out to Rockefeller Center to pay homage to the biggest Christmas Tree in New York City.

My goodness it is huge! I just hope it doesn't fall over onto the skating rink and kill thousands of tourists!

I took some picture for my blog, but do you think I can upload them for your viewing pleasure? Nope, ACI back home in Aurora won't let me log in despite having files on their server still active...argh!

Will post them when I figure out what is going on.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The trip home...

The trip home from Thanksgiving in Toronto was horrendous.

My flight with JetsGo from Lester B. Pearson International Airport to Newark's Liberty International Airport was awful. First the plane never arrived from Newark that was supposed to be refueled in Toronto and sent back to Newark. So a plane had to be brought out of a hangar in Toronto and security cleared. We finally boarded the 6:50 P.M. flight around 8:00 P.M.

Next we sat out on the taxiway for fifteen minutes more so that JetsGo could find a window to land in Newark. Then when we finally lift off and get to Newark, at least in the air, we have to circle Newark Airport for another fifteen minutes. But wait didn't JetsGo find a window to land in Newark back in Toronto? What changed.

Considering my flight down to Newark in August was "also a fun adventure", I doubt whether I will be flying JetsGo anymore.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

North Grandstand.com -- the official home of Exhibition Stadium

North Grandstand.com -- the official home of Exhibition Stadium

A thing I haven't done in ages...surf the web aimlessly and find something cool. A pass time I love.

For those of you that went to Exhibition Stadium in Toronto to see a Argos or Jays game... a site you won't want to miss.

Musings on a Saturday evening in New York...

Looking for something to do...yup thats it....in New York City....nothing to do....

Need something cheap because I am a cheap person....

hmmm....free stuff to do....

1. Walk Brooklyn Bridge.... done it too many times!

2. Walk Manhatten Bridge.... done it once and it wasn't that exciting.

3. Visit Grand Central Station.... done it.

4. Heckle tourists in Time Square....done it and still love it...(reminds me of old times in Ottawa at Parliament Hill).

Later!

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Subway observations

After reading Subwayland by a New York Times columnist, I started to think about how weird the New York City subway system is. Here is what I got so far:

--You can buy anything on the subway except a used car. Everything from DVDs to watches, and candy.

--You can haul everything on the subway. Even delivery guys use the subway to move things. I have seen guys halling newspaper bundles to stores on a cart. Heck, even today I lugged home a vacuum cleaner.

--Figure out what the latest popular books are becauseeveryone reads on the subway. Might as well join one of the most literary bunch of people percentage wise. I guess illeterate people don't ride the subway.

--The most hot, humid and stuffy places I know of are New York City subway stations. Visit one and find out!

Friday, October 01, 2004

New York...where is my check?

New York City Department of Education only told me that I wouldn't be on the first pay check until after I arrived in August. Even worse, I now won't be paid until October 15th. Whats up with that? Seems that some bureaucrats can't do their jobs and move that paperwork fast enough. I had to go in and rant and rave to get a file number (which they said I didn't need, and now won't admit to saying it).

Even worse is the emergency check situation. On forms that International Recruitment gave out it says I can get a check for up to 60% of my regular pay check. I had to rant and rave with someone on the phone in order to get a check cut for sixty percent. Seems to me this would have been a no brainer because the sheet that International recruitment handed out was a print out from the Department's own website. I thought all was well until I received a message from my principal that the check couldn't be run for higher than a certain amount. That certain amount was way lower than the 60% of my pay check.

Seems to me that you just get stabbed in the back as a teacher in New York City. Then they just keep on twisting it. And the Department of Education wonders why there is a shortage of veteran teachers.

Go figure....

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Learn how to tie a neck tie, tying knots, tyeing man school dress bow ties,half windsor

Learn how to tie a neck tie, tying knots, tyeing man school dress bow ties,half windsor

A website that saved my life today. I usually tie my tie for school the day or night before (who can concentrate on tying a tie a 6:30 A.M. while eating toast?). A must have website for all Wall Street Gentlemen!

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The Weatherman needs to co-operate

A fine day in New York City. Spend more money I don't have on clothes for school. Anybody got any extra American change lying around?

Anyway, I am enjoying a nice long weekend in New York. You see as a school teacher you get the Thursday, Friday and weekend off for the Jewish Holidays. So I have used the time to straighten up my bedroom and move things around and get some other stuff done (including getting lost in Penn Station...a past time I seem to have learned to enjoy).

Otherwise, teaching in New York has been pretty fun so far!

Sunday, August 29, 2004

New York City...the story continues....

Well, I've been in NYC for about three weeks now. The plane ride over was exciting. It was only to take an hour, but a fuel guage on the plane refuesed to work, had to be replaced and the new one didn't work either. So we were hussled off the plane in order so the wonderful people on the tarmac could manually refuel the plane and let us board again. All in all instead of landing a 5:00ish we landed at 8:00 ish at Newark. Gotta love JetsGo!

Following that, another wonderful thing happenned, apparently somebody cut the budget for the two weeks of orientation and house hunting and put us up in the St. George Hotel. The St. George is a hole in the wall student residence being renovated. The hallways were painted on a daily basis and the rooms we occupied were already done so that the washroom doors wouldn't close properly. I've learned one thing about NYC, the painters here aren't to bright.

Not all was bad though, Frank Valvo, our broker, found us a wonderful apartment in Brooklyn Heights near the Brooklyn Bridge and a stunning view of the Manhatten Skyline.

I also cannot wait to start work next week at my school. The principal called the teachers in because she was supposed to be on vacation this past week (from the 15th) but she was still receiving paperwork and furniture for the new school and everything in her office was stacked in cardboard boxes. She is supposed to be able to give tours of the school this coming week to parents, board officials and the like but the school is no where near ready.

But on the good side, she seems like a fairly down to earth person at a great school overlooking Jamaica Bay on the Rockaway Park portion of Queen's. I can feel the sea breezes now wafting through my new classroom/office (they don't know where my room is yet, but it is there somewhere).

More to come on this story. Watch this blog for more info!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

New York New York!

Got my apartment today and will be moving soon. I can't wait. I'll be in a home looking similar to what the Huxtables lived in on the Cosby show. Looking forward to that and learning the commute to and from my school .

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Post-it Software Notes: Lite Download

Post it notes for your computer desktop. Who woulda thunk it....

Need to remember something? Why not stick a post it note to someplace where your look almost everyday!.

Friday, August 06, 2004

TheStar.com - NHL star declares war on P.E.I. newspaper

TheStar.com - NHL star declares war on P.E.I. newspaper

This article takes the cake for stupidity in journalism. Brad Richards, of the Tampa Bay Lightening, brings the Stanley Cup, Lady Byng and Conn Smythe Tropies to a parade in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. The parade is attended by over 10,000 people. The Summerside Journal-Pioneer runs an editorial that day lambasting Richards and the parade's organizing committee for not allowing Richards to sign autographs. Gee wizz, have you tried signing 1,000 autographs, let alone 10,000 autographs.

Even worse, the editorial itself says you can ride the subway in Toronto for $1.50. Last time I checked the fare was $2.25 if you paid by cash, $1.90 to $2.00 for tokens. So how can you ride for a $1.50 if your not over the age of 65? HELLO!

Shame on the paper.

Yesterday

Yesterday I spent most of the day in downtown Toronto with a friend from Ottawa. She was on her way to visit her mother. We ate at the Wolf & Firken pub for a little lunch. That is one fine dining establishement I am going to miss when I get to New York City. From there we had a little Ben & Jerry's ice cream on Queen Street, checked out the sets of City TV at the corner of Queen & John and walked through Chinatown before getting her back on the bus.

It was nice to have see a friend from my days in Ottawa every now and then.

It will be even better following my move to New York City.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

JibJab

Can I ask what all the fuss is about? Sure Jibjab.com used the song "This land is your land" but get over it, you've made how many dollars from this song every year? Why not chase down the five year-olds who sing the song on the street or the school music programs that teach the song in classrooms.

Finally, at least these two comic geniuses bash both Kerry and Bush within the comedic sketch and not just one side more than the other. At least the comedy pokes fun at both sides. Now if only the owners of the song would leave them alone and be happy they used it for tasteful comedic purposes and get a life.

Monday, August 02, 2004

McDonald's in Aurora.

McDonald's on UrbanspoonShould have mentioned this yesterday, but didn't.

I went to McDonald's yesterday for some lunch. Now I know most of you hate McDonald's, but I had a craving for a Big Mac and some fries.

Now lets back up a bit. Burger King in Aurora and Newmarket have closed because of a lack of business or so rumour has it (Upper Canada Mall location is still open). So about a month after or so, McDonald's in Aurora raised their prices by ten to twenty cents. This means that a Big Mac Meal, as advertised everyday except Tuesday (their McDeal day for the Mac), is now more than six dollars in cost ($6.08). They raised there prices on Friday night (so the manager said). I had only six dollars because I was used to the old price of 5.90ish. So you think that the manager would say, no problem we'll give you a deal for today recognizing the price change has increased and next time, please bring the right cost. No that would be too easy.

Instead she says I can have a Mcwhatever burger because it is their "McDeal" meal for Sundays or I can have the Mac with small Coke and small fries. So I took the latter with a feeling this place has a lack of customer service. Did I fill out a customer card? Nope, because I felt that would only reach management who would only rip it up. So I figured a nice little blog entry would get out better. So there you go, carry more money to McDonald's cause who knows when they are going to jack their prices up.

So, I will not be going to McDonald's anymore in Aurora. Probably might even skip them in New York City due to their lack of customer service in this situation. It could have cost them twenty cents in the first place instead of loosing sales. For now, T.C.'s Fish & Burgers in Aurora and Wendy's will be my choice to get a valuable burger eating purpose.

Finally some musings, anybody else notice the burger patties are gettin smaller at MacDonald's everytime you go there? Also, why is the price going up considering the price of beef Canadian farmers are receiving is going down?

ChickenJoke.com - Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

If you thought the chicken only crossed the road to get to the other side, your sadly mistaken my friend.

This website makes up quotes that real Hollywood stars and other notable wannabies believe happenned when queried about "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

Sunday, August 01, 2004

EarthCam - Penguin Cam

Just when I thought the internet had me impressed, I stumbled accross this website of the penguins at the Central Park Zoo in New York City.

If it wasn't enough to have still pictures updated every ten minutes of these exquisitely dressed animals, the cam updates every two three seconds! For goodness sake, I could watch these guys waddle around all day!

24 Hour Museum

A "kick ass site" that lets you see various historic paintings, photos, and sculptures in England while sitting in your own chair half way round the world. Two thumbs up for this website.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Thank goodness for the heat....



A nice fine night in Aurora, as you can see from the above photo copied from the New VR webcam in downtown Aurora.

If you remember, in one of my previous posts I wondered if there would be warm weather before I left for New York City. Well you get what you ask for sometimes with tonights temprature hitting twenty-five degrees celcius plus the humidex. I hope to get out and about town tommorrow on my set of wheels (aka bicycle) and feel the wind rushing through my hair. One of my favourite pass times has been to see what is going on throughout town while riding my bicycle.

Dangerous Baby

In case you thought you had problems with government, take a look at the reasons this baby's passport photo was rejected by the Canadian Passport Office on Victoria Street in Toronto. The full story will also knock your socks off. Remember this is a person less than a year old looking only to travel with her parents on her first trip abroad.

Wheres the beef?

"In the voice of a drooling Homer Simpson: Mmmmmm, ridiculously large hamburger. ahhhhhhhhhhh....."

TheStar.com - Registration

TheStar.com - Registration: "Registration at thestar.com
We are introducing registration on thestar.com. At first, registration will be voluntary. Later in July we will move to mandatory signups."


Late July? It's the last day of July and still no mandatory registration at the Toronto Star's website. Something wrong with this picture?

Superman and sneezy guy

The fun of taking transit everywhere is possibly the people that you meet along the way, the different foibles that you observe, the weird looks that people give, the different characteristics people have and what pet peeves people have.

The above link provides a good indication of what irritates a lot of riders. These include everything from that person who must hold up the train with a thousand people on it so that they can get through those closing doors, to the people that wear headphones and yet share their music with everyone else cause the tunes are so loud.

Revenge of the Tattooed Nerds

um...I can see this becoming a cult following....right....another entry into the file of "all things wacky" or "What is wrong with this world?".

Friday, July 30, 2004

2004 Democratic National Convention Blog

One reason there is more press at the DNC than delegates is the fact bloggers have gotten press passes to cover the DNC live online. Just think, a bunch of people running around with lap tops trying to get sound bites (or is that keyboarding bites?) from delegates.

Sadly, I don't see any Republicans blogging from the above list. Hmmm...I guess I had better not go to a link provided by the Democratic National Convention organizing committee. No wonder all the bloggers linked from the site above think Kerry is so dreamy and the best thing since sliced bread.

NOTE TO SELF: smarten up!

Republican National Convention

Yup, you guessed it, I starting wondering when, what, where, etc. the Republican National Convention would be held.

Great...50,000 Republicans running amok in the Big Apple at Madison Square Gardens. If it is anything like the Democratic National Convention then half of Manhatten should be closed off to traffic. Should be fun being a newbie in New York trying to figure out how in the heck I am going to get around. One question: WHY NEW YORK? Why not Houston, Texas? Houston, or even Dallas, would be a heck of a lot closer to the Bush home ranch than New York and would make my life so much easier. Please Mr. Bush and company....Please?

Yet more DNC

Queries about the Democratic National Convention....

Such as, did the Democrats have to pay at least six different national networks for last nights hour long Kerry Speech (read: Democratic Party informercial)?

Why was Kerry out campaigning in Virginia and other places when he had yet to win and accept the presidential nomination from the Democrats?

Why was there more press than delegates there when everyone already new the outcome already?

Why was Letterman and Leno pushed back last night by Kerry's speech when all the other American networks, short of ESPN and HBO, were covering it? Couldn't they have said, "HEY EVERYONE ELSE IS COVERING IT! SO IF YOU WANT KERRY GO VISIT PETER JENNINGS ON ABC!" Then gone on with regular news programming and put on Letterman and Leno at their regular 11:35 P.M. EST times? Was the local news of yet another fire in Buffalo really necessary? Everyone knows at least a major house fire occurs just before 7:00 P.M. in Buffalo every night to be presented as news on Buffalo Television news stations at night. So how is that news?

Does Howard Dean know he has lost the Presidential Nomination yet? Could he now go and challenge for the Republican Nomination? Just a Canadian asking here!

Did anyone else find it surprising that Michael Moore was a Democrat after 9/11 ?

Just some questions I would love answered but don't expect to be answered.

More DNC

Anybody else out there that [insert own Democratic Presidential candidate name here whose name was not Kerry] would still win? I know I wanted Howard Dean to win. Talk about anticipation! :)

Coldex website continued.... plus other musings

yup...didn't post yesterday...I know you were all dissapointed...but after staring at html code for hours on end, I started going blind.

The updates to that website haven't gone live yet and won't until they have been approved by the owner.

Today I had breakfast at the Galaxy Diner in Aurora with a good former co-worker from my days at the church. The food was good, and so was catching up on things since I resigned my position.

I also complimented him on the Faith and Arts presentation at last weeks church service. He inquired about why I liked the presentation so much. I guess it must be because this was the first summer in 8-10 years where I haven't been involved in municipal day camp in some way. So if your a former camp counsellor that used to work with me...I miss those times and the fun we had.

Not wanting to end things on a sentimental note, I look forward to the new friends and colleagues I am going to meet when travelling to New York while remembering those I have met in my time in Aurora, Ottawa and wherever else I have been. But I also look forward to thought of living in one of the most biggest cities in North America (including Mexico) as well as taking advantage of the rich cultural museums and open space that New York City has to offer (i.e. beaches and Central Park) as well as simply walking down Broadway and through Times Square to see what is going on. All in all, I look forward to taking a bite out of the Biggest Apple I know....

The big DNC

Anybody else have their fingers crossed that John Kerry would accept the Presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Boston?

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Coldex...

Going back down to Coldex tommorrow. Should be fun, they want me to fix up their website so that it works for some reason. Apparently their CGI bin or whatever the heck is not working (great, some programming that is completely beyond me that I have to bs my way through...sounds fun).

They also want delivery schedule uploaded and completed and whatver the heck else like the competitors. Seems to me they just want to be like the "Joneses."

And to think I left the company on good terms (left for school at York after being a good rep at Ottawa U) with a decent looking websit that was working perfectly and was easy to change and upload (I used MS Publisher to make it simple enough for them!).

Why does this stuff always come up during their busy times and needs to be done pronto? hmmmm...I will never know.

Well, at least I get to see some of my former co-workers again. There's always a plus. Enough ranting and time to get back to work.....

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Summer....where are you?

Anybody know where summer is? So far it has been cold with a lot of rain (just ask Peterborough!).

I hope it warms up in the next two weeks so I can enjoy it before leaving for New York. However, I doubt it.

Well, I hope summer is better in Central Park of New York or at least cruising down Broadway. I can only dream right now.

Can you tell I am excited yet about going to New York and starting to teach there?

I think I got it right now....

You'll notice, if you've been here before, that I have changed things around again.

This is because I felt adventurous and visited a few other blogs out there. I thought mine was kinda boring compared to the others and thought it needed some more colour and other stuff. So I started experimenting and re-doing, scrapping and starting over... until I got this.

Don't know if I am happy with it. We'll see.....

Stay tuned!

Work visa shenaggins......

Finally got the papers to get the work visa at the border today.

A brief sense of panic hit me when I read, in the accompanying package, that I had to take all of this stuff to the U.S. Consulate in Toronto today and wait four weeks. PROBLEM! I leave in less than 2 weeks. So I called twice in an hour and received voice mail. K....Who's bright idea was voice mail anyway?

Finally, on the third call, I talked to the guy and he said all I needed was to present the numbered form he sent me, my passport and my extensive agreement with his company to the border guard. He said he sent me the usual package he sent everyone else, but that Canada was different.

Right, so why didn't the package say that in the first place instead of me placing three long distance phone calls to New York City in the middle of the day?

Right, that would be too easy and wouldn't fit proper bureacratic protocol. And you thought the Canadian government was bad!

Let the fun continue!

Monday, July 26, 2004

Best line of the day...

"Failure is not an option. It comes bundled with the software."

Too true, too true, especially doing a last minute essay for school on a Windows based product.

A very good question.....

A very good question......

from today's Toronto Sun letters to the editor....

We now pay health premiums in the form of a tax. In addition, OHIP has delisted a number of medical procedures. This means that we can now claim the cost of these procedures as medical expenses on our income tax return, resulting in a larger tax refund. Where is the logic in this, Dalton?

Anne Segers

Hamilton

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Toronto Star- TheStar.com - A city newbie's guide to blending in

TheStar.com - A city newbie's guide to blending in

If only everyone would obey these simple rules....

Especially the escalator one on the weekend while trying to get to the subway train. During th week people would be crushed for standin' on the left side. Next time you see one...hand them the article above and tell them to "get to school!"

Toronto Star - the star.com - Slaves to the hot dog

TheStar.com - Slaves to the hot dog

I never really thought about street food before. But after this article I took a second thought about what was available in terms of variety. Think about it, when was the last time you ordered anything else besides a Shopsy's hot dogs (Maple Leaf foods owns Shopsy's if you're wonderin') from one of those hot dog style carts in Toronto? About the only thing I have consumed that was different was ice cream or french fries. What else could these fine eating establishments on wheels sell? Perhaps a little salad for those who are counting their calories. Perhaps a nice peanut butter and jelley sandwich (made right before your eyes of course). Just think of the possibilities.

The whole handwashing issue, that the article mentions as being a requirement, could easily be fixed since these carts don't really move during the day. One could easily set up a tank with water in it that was heated by either generator, gas or even solar panels (why not go green?). A piece of cake to solve. The large trucks that sell fries and ice cream could even have these funky handwashing stations in the back or on the side for people to utilize.

Well, on with the rest of the day,

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Who reads this stuff?

I had my internet explorer freeze up recently (and on Microsoft's own windows update site I might ironically add) and submitted an error report as most windows users typically do. I got to wondering who actually sifts through these errors and figures out the fixes? If nobody reads them, then why create this little error report program in the first place? Customer service perhaps?

The jury is still out on this one....

Friday, July 23, 2004

My sister's present...



My sister got home from work today with the above present for me. Apparently watching the local council meeting gets me some appreciation from the mayor (his sig is above). Well the sillyness at the meetings makes these meetings even more entertaining than some of the sitcoms on the major networks.

TheStar.com - Sleeman sees opportunity in new rivalry

TheStar.com - Sleeman sees opportunity in new rivalry


Um...who thought the beer brewing business would require a program to figure out who is related to who and why one side can't get along with another? Seems worse than the royal family tree and the royals respective relationship squabbles.

Toronto Star - Toronto shuts out private parking tags

Toronto Star - Toronto shuts out private parking tags

Toronto City Council, after four long years of neglicting the issue despite it being brought up by Councillor Howard Moscoe on a number of occasions, has finally made the right move.

Private lots have been issuing tickets in the past that looked a lot like City of Toronto parking tickets. Well, now the city has struck back saying only city owned tickets can be used and not privately issued ones.

However, I do agree that revenue should not just go to the city for the use of the tickets because hospitals, schools and other public facilities have come to rely on parking fines in order to operate their facilities because of lack of government funding. But the ticket issue had to come to ahead at some point as police were receiving about five hundred complaints a year about the private tickets because people thought the city of Toronto had issued them.

Impark, a private lot operator, also has a right to complain because the tickets it issued also serve to ensure that payment for parking is made. But we all know how private operators in Ontario have been doing lately over charging motorists for use of private services. The Highway 407 came to mind recently of a Toronto Sun article on one guy who lives in Thunder Bay and has never been on the 407. Victor Bochko, who lives in Thundar bay, received a bill for as the Sun's Christina Blizzard noted in her February 18th column, "...for a drive on the toll highway on June 14, 2003, when Bochko was in Victoria, B.C., and his car was at home in the garage." In fact, Bochko has never driven in Toronto! To make matters worse, he asked the 407 to check the photo of the plate and the car which turned out to be a Buick. Bochko drives a Suburban. What happenned, according to Blizzard's column, was that the reader mistoke the 'L' for an 'E'.

Yet another report in the Toronto Sun (I am having problems finding the article) says he was billed for $25 for apparently using the 407. But here's the problem, he claims he never used the highway. So he refused to pay the bill. Some YEARS later the interest had gone over a hundred dollars and was removed and interest has started piling up again. A collection agency has even sent notification to his house as well. Yet he still refuses to pay the bill. Why? Because he has repeatedly asked 407 to provide a picture of either his car or his license plate entering the highway. Still nothing from the 407.

Now back to the ticket problem. What is there to stop the private operators from mistakenly issuing ticket to a car that was parked legally because the ticket on the dash was obsured by window tinting or other glass problems? Add to this the possibilty of human error in writing the wrong letter or number down. This last problem could be done because of simple human error, numbers or that have been misconstrued for something else, or the simple fact that in Canada it snows which might obscure the license plate or other identifying numbers. What then? Who does the car owner appeal to if a private ticket is issued? The courts? Several thousand dollars later in legal fees seems a little obnoxious compared to a $37.00 ticket.

Thus, I propose the city provide the tickets and sworn in officers in a bid to keep this problem under control. If the private lot is interested in issuing parking tickets, the sworn in officers would be paid by the private agency to issue the parking tickets on their property or properties alone. The ticket revenue from the issuing on private property would go back to the city and re-distributed back to the private operators based on the tickets issued. However, the private property owner would have to pay for the issuing of blank tickets from the city (like the owner would from a private firm now for their own private parking tickets) in order for the city not to be at a loss. The tickets would be tracked back to the private owner based on the serial numbers on the tickets. In other words, each ticket would have an owners code (like a UPC code) and the individual tickets would also have a number similar to a personal cheque number for tracking purposes. This way, the city of Toronto could track the tickets to both who is responsible for issuing the ticket (i.e. the owner) and provide a concrete way to track individual tickets through a dispute resolution system. Finally, the city of Toronto would have the right revoke the right of private property owners to ticket if they believe their is fraud going on. Currently, there is no recourse for individuals, except through a costly court case, to complain about being ticketed improperly. The city could provide this by providing the investigative services needed as well as manage the records of inquiries based on other infractions and, ultimately, remove the right for the owner to issue tickets and gather revenue from the issuance of tickets. Of course this process would have to be revenue neutral for the city (i.e. the costs of providing the service meet the revenue coming in).

But, again, this would be too simple of a problem for the politicians at the city to grasp and probably will never happen. So really its up to you, or better yet, take the TTC and to heck with parking your car!

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Fulcrum "brews keg of trouble"

The Fulcrum Website

Hmmm....seems the SFUO wants to have a politically correct Frosh week...er....101 week.

Seems to me the politically correct have gone to far this time. Frosh week has been a right of passage for many a first year university student. Everything from dying yourself purple at the University of Toronto to walking sloshed accross the front of Parliament Hill while covered in various raunch condiments (e.g. mustard, ketchup, etc.) and yelling obsenities at the University of Ottawa. Seems to me everyone I saw of those poor engineers were having fun.

But the politically correct SFUO at Ottawa U says, according to the Fulcrum,:

"In previous years, the school’s introductory week has been known as 'Frosh Week'. This name, according to Justin Tudor 101 Week Logistics coordinator, is associated with inappropriate hazing and initiation rituals.

'We don’t want our event associated with those ideas. People have a preconceived idea of the word ‘frosh’ and if we can work away from their notions of that, all the better,” said Tudor."


Right, the word frosh is synonamous with hazing, so we must change that, no running around Parliament Hill while being soaked in various food products. A big exneh on that eh.

This policitically correctness didn't stop there, according to the Fulcrum's editorial:

"The 101 Week coordinator told the Fulcrum there would be “consequences” for underage students caught drinking during Frosh Week."

Hmmmmmmm....seems to me Here’s the reality check:

Lets see, some first year underager gets there hands around a couple beers and passes out with alchohol poisoning. His/her friends know he/she is underage and does not want to tell the frosh...er...101 leaders because it will get the underager in a heap o' doggie do do. What to do? You are new to the city and don't know the first thing about it...you are totally lost, possibly in Quebec surrounded by a bunch of drunken people. What to do? If I was the drunkert's parents and heard about this and also heard the SFUO responsible people refused to help, I would have my Bay Street lawyer in court to sue their asses for all their worth.

Finally, the fun doesn't end there. When the summer edition of the Fulcrum was published and distributed, the SFUO thought of having the issue pulled because,..........OH YOU WILL LOVE THIS!.............................there was a picture of a beer on the front page and because the paper called frosh week "frosh week".

Seems to me these politically correct people need their heads examined. Glad I graduated and left there, because it seems the SFUO is going downhill pretty fast!

Finished a book....

I recently finished Mark Starowicz's book Making History last weekend. Originally when I picked it up at Chapter's I thought it would be a decent read on how to produce and direct a television history series. For those of you completely confused, Starowicz was the main producer for the CBC series Canada: A People's History.

Well, I have put off a review of the book for most of the week and may finally get around to it tomorrow for my website. No promises though.

But in the meantime, if you want to read a book on the tortorous process of making a television documentary series of great length at Canada's public broadcaster, then this book is definately for you. Starowicz endures a divorce, nearly drowning after a boat he was on sank, major illnesses in his documentary production team in key positions, death, CBC staff cuts, strikes and a dysfuntional and untrustworthy CBC bureacrats and board members. Still he manages to produce an award winning documentary series that received rave reviews. Go figure.

Toronto Sun: NEWS - Court OKs 21% judges' pay hike

Toronto Sun: NEWS - Court OKs 21% judges' pay hike

According to the story, linked above, judges will be getting a 21% pay hike as well as 3% in retroactive pay. Hmmm...can I get 21% pay increase next year in my first year of teaching? I doubt it.

Do I agree judges deserve a pay hike? Nope, not one bit considering the provincial government is trying to keep costs under control and probably wants to freeze raises. These judges make, according to the article $170,000 a year. Hmmm....and these same judges give a slap on the wrist to some of the worst offenders in Canada (read: two parents convicted of child abuse for thirteen years and only receive 9 month sentence) and allow a repeat convicted offender out of jail to re-offend in less than a day and then sentence this guy to only 2 years. Am I frustrated with the judicial system? Not really, just trying to figure out the logic behind it all (which may take a while).

A small increase might be more in order, like say a 3% increase that each of the other public sector unions and some politicians are receiving. The optics of a 21% increase in the publics eye don't seem right at all, especially when these judges are making $170,000 a year and are far from poor.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

typoGenerator






A little word artwork? I thought this was cool for new desktop themes and have tried a few different combinations. Just remember to keep it short and snappy otherwise you get a wall of white with a black pencil mark looking dots. Great entertainment for the wife & the kids.

Modern Moist Towelette Collecting -- The Gallery

Modern Moist Towelette Collecting -- The Gallery

Talk about a weird hobby. Collecting moist toweletts packages and then scanning them into your computer. Then uploading them to the web? nuff said.

Michael's Blog Update

Finally got this thing looking decent. I will still be screwing around with the colours and other crap until I am happy (which may take a while. Until then..... watch the rainbow of colours.

Idiot thing from yesterday...

I got this daily calendar last Christmas that has hilarious observations about the world around us. I thought I would share this one from yesterday:

"Not dishwasher safe" - printed on the packaging of a TV remote control.

Who would have thunk it?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Creating a blog ain't easy....

Here I thought creating this blog was so easy. However, I have learned it requires going through endless strings of html code in order to change the colours (which is driving me crazy!).

Anywho, off to bed I go...hopefully some more things will change as I get the hang of it. In the meantime, sorry for the purple links on this page. I haven't figured out how to change them and keep them a perdy blue.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Canadian Sponsorship Scandal: The Donors

On Tuesday, February 10, 2004, Sheila Fraser, the Auditor General of Canada, released her damning report on the federal Sponsorship program. Ms. Fraser, during the press conference at the Old Train Station in Ottawa, called the program “…a blatant misuse of public funds…” (Canadian Press 10 Feb. 2004). No wonder, Ms. Fraser’s report noted that the two hundred fifty million dollars spent for this ‘program’ had very little paperwork to show where the money went and delivered very little in terms of results. Even worse, of the money spent, Fraser wrote that about one hundred million dollars went to commission fees for advertising firms. Many of these advertising firms just happen to be major donors to the Liberal Party, the party currently forming the government.

The Sponsorship program was designed to show the ‘Canada’ word mark at festivals, sporting events and other large gatherings of people. This program was being implemented by the Public Works Ministry following the near defeat of the federalist forces in the 1995 Referendum. However, by 2002 the program started to look a little fishy. The Auditor General, Sheila Fraser, noted in her 2002 Auditor’s report Sponsorship program, that the bureaucrats “broke just about every rule in the book.” Following her 2002 report, which only took a light look at the program, the Auditor General undertook a more thorough investigation which resulted in the report released in February 2004.

So how could the federal sponsorship program start looking so fishy? As Toronto Star columnist Chantel Hebert wrote, Prime Minister Paul Martin admitted “…that only political will at the highest levels of the government could have allowed the sponsorship program to function in defiance of every accounting rule, not to mention a number of laws.” (Hebert A1 & A7). In other words, within the political ranks of the government, someone or a group of politicos thought it would be a good idea -- even though it was broke the law, several financial practices and government policies -- to start funneling some of our hard earned taxpayers dollars to these communication companies associated with the Liberal party. Paul Martin’s admission of a certain ‘political will’ is only backed by evidence found in Fraser’s latest report.

An example of the funny financial dealings was what Ms. Fraser, “more than $100 million was paid to various communications agencies in the form of fees and commissions, Fraser found. In most cases the agencies did little more than hand over the cheques.” (“Auditor General’s Report 2004” CBC News). An example of one of the sponsorship contracts was the creation of a television series about former Montreal Canadians hockey great Maurice Richard which was to be produced by the private firm L’information essentielle. According to CBC News, this is how it happened:

…communication firms, including Lafleur, Media/I.D.A. Vision, Gosselin and Groupaction, received $440,000 in commissions without signing any contracts or doing any work. The program also used Via Rail as a conduit to transfer nearly $1 million to the television series through a "fictitious contract," reimbursing the Crown corporation for all but $160,000 of the money. Lafleur received $112,500 to handle the transfer. In addition, Canada Post paid $1.6 million to sponsor the series without any deal being signed or any documentation whatsoever, breaking the corporation's own rules. (Auditor General’s Report 2004, CBC News).

Basically, the communications firms like Lafleur and Groupaction were used to forward cheques to the Crown Corporations. How come bureaucrats within the Public Work’s Ministry wouldn’t merely send the Crown Corporation’s a cheque instead of funneling the money through a Liberal friendly communications company? This can only be determined by noting what Paul Martin admitted to, that some ‘political will’ was telling the bureaucrats how to dole out the money.

The question now is how to go about digging even deeper in order to lay criminal fraud charges, fire those responsible for scandal and try and recoup the money lost via the program. The Canadian Prime Minister, Paul Martin, right after the report’s release, responded in full attack mode like any seasoned political leader would. Prime Minister Martin quickly fired Alfonso Gagliano from his post as the Ambassador to Denmark within minutes of Sheila Fraser’s report. Gagliano was the Public Works Minister during the time of the Sponsorship program. Furthermore, the Prime Minister called in the RCMP, called a Royal Commission on the Sponsorship Scandal and invited the Public Accounts Committee to look into various aspects of the Sponsorship Program. Paul Martin seems to attempt to try and solve the issue by first figuring out who did what. However, Martin didn’t really read Ms. Fraser’s report to closely because Martin made more than one false move.

The RCMP has now found itself in a conflict of interest. The three communication companies, Lafleur, Media/I.D.A. Vision and Gosselin, received a cheque from the Sponsorship program of three million dollars. In turn, the communication companies forwarded to the RCMP a cheque for $1.3 million for the government of Canada to sponsor the police force’s 125th anniversary. In return the police force would display the ‘Canada’ word mark. Although, the Auditor General, Sheila Fraser, found that the RCMP should have never received the money since the RCMP is required by law to display the ‘Canada’ word mark anyway without compensation. So why sponsor the RCMP’s celebrations in the first place if the police force is already required to display the wordmark? Perhaps this was just the ‘political will’ trying to find an excuse to funnel money to the Liberal friendly ad firms. So it seems to me that RCMP will find themselves investigating themselves and, probably, finding nothing wrong with transactions. What Martin should have done was call in the Quebec Provincial Police force to investigate the Sponsorship in order to avoid the RCMP from appearing in a conflict of interest.

Martin has appointed Judge John Gommery to head the public inquiry into the scandal. But wait! Judge Gommery is currently the head of the Canadian Copyright Board, yet another Liberal party appointee. To make matters even worse, according to CTV News, the government had appointed Deloitte & Touche to perform an audit of the Liberal Party of Canada’s Quebec wing. However, it turns out that the Deloitte & Touche was a major campaign donator to the Liberal Party last year and audits the Liberal Party’s books on a regular basis. So as a way to get to the bottom of the scandal, Martin appoints a Liberal Party supporter to look into it? Seems to me the Deloitte & Touche will say there is nothing wrong as they are Liberal Party supporters. The same with Judge Gommery, he will find that there was not any political involvement at all and that the whole scandal was, as Martin put it, “rogue bureaucrats.” It seems even when the Martin and Liberals want to get to the bottom of the sponsorship scandal, they only make the situation even worse.

What’s worse, is Prime Minister Paul Martin has claimed he new absolutely nothing about the scandal. Martin’s claim is very hard to believe considering that during the sponsorship scandal Martin was a senior Quebec Cabinet Minister, Finance Minister and Vice-Chair of the Treasury Board of the federal government. However, Mr. Martin tried to paint a picture that since relations with then Prime Minister Jean Chretien were so frosty, that Martin was not informed. Martin has since amended the claim of a falling out with the former Prime Minister because a report in the National Post of a leaked letter that was sent to Martin about wrongdoings in the Sponsorship Scandal, to say he heard rumours. These rumours, had Martin bothered to dig deeper as Minister of Finance or Vice-Chair of Treasury Board, would have further evidence on the budget. As Minster of Finance, why did Paul Martin not demand the Finance Ministry investigate these rumours before approving further money for the Public Works Ministry and its Sponsorship program? It seems Paul Martin has some explaining to do. He may be able to dodge and weave the questions from the Opposition parties in Question Period in the House of Commons. However, if Paul Martin is hauled before the Royal Commission and asked what he knew, then Martin will have to come clean. If he does not come clean on the issue and continues to deny any knowledge, he will be politically lambasted for failing to have his bureaucrats to investigate.

Sheila Fraser spent one million dollars and a lot long hours on a report that horrified Canadians from coast to coast to coast. However, sadly to note, this is not the first scandal the federal Liberal party has suffered since taking office in 1993. Since 1993 the HRDC Billion Dollar Boondoggle and the Shawinigate Scandals have erupted. The Liberals keep holding onto power because the Liberals merely just waited for the scandals to blow over. In terms of “Shawinigate”, the government was able to withstand the barrage of questions from the Opposition by having cabinet minister like then Industry Minister Brian Tobin and then Government House Leader Don Boudria run intereference which meant then Prime Minister Jean Chretien did not have the answer the questions. In terms of the HRDC Billion Dollar Boondoggle, the government and the Human Resources Minister, Jane Stewart, only promised to hold a full investigation. However, eventually both of these scandals blew over and Canadians quickly forgot about them before going to the polls in the next election. This time, however, the Sponsorhip Scandal comes just before a possible spring election.

Now it is the voter’s chance to show Paul Martin and the Liberal Party that such fraud and money laundering with our hard earned taxpayers dollars will not be tolerated. According to the latest polls taken by CTV News, the Globe & Mail and Ipsos Reid, the Liberals popularity have dropped at almost ten percent. This poll was taken before the public inquiry and police investigations have even started into the Sponsorship Scandal. Thus, the polling numbers can only get worse as the Liberals head towards the next election as the public inquiry, parliamentary committees and the police investigation get underway. It would seem the Liberal Donors have cost the Liberals another majority government after the next election, but at least these firms will be well financed with over $100 million in their bank accounts.

Works Cited

“Auditor General’s Report 2004.” CBC News. 11 February 2004. Online. Internet. 15 February 2004. Available: http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/auditorgeneral/report2004.html

Canadian Press. “’Shocking’ misuse of public funds: Martin launches public inquiry.” Toronto Star. 10 February 2004 . Online. Internet. 15 February 2004. Available: http://www.thestar.ca/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&call_pageid=971358637177&c=Article&cid=1076411365455

Hebert, Chantel. “PM errs in first major crisis.” Toronto Star. 13 February 2004: A1 & A7.

“MP predicts charges in sponsorship scandal” CBC News. 14 February 2004. Online. Internet. 15 February 2004. Available: http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2004/02/14/public_accounts020414

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