Sunday, September 30, 2007

What's going on at Finch Station?

Finch Station closed due to Police Investigation
On Saturday my girlfriend and I planned head down to High Park for a day out. We hopped on VIVA and headed south to the Finch Subway Station in order to take the Subway the rest of the way. However, once the VIVA Blue bus pulled into Finch Subway and we got off, we saw the scene pictured left (courtesy of CITY News).

I inquired with the grey haired YRT/VIVA Enforcement Officer as to what was going on. He replied there was a police investigation going on and the station was closed. However, there were shuttle buses being provided accross the street.

My girlfriend and I thought it over and thought we would walk down to the Sheppard Subway Station where the trains were ending their trip. We walked by the YRT/VIVA Enforcement officer again and inquired as to why the VIVA Blue bus driver never made an announcement that the subway was shut down. The Enforcement officer replied that perhaps this was the driver's first trip down that day. Now under normal circumstances this would be a satisfactory answer. But with VIVA it wasn't that simple.

VIVA buses have GPS units that also have messaging feature that transit control utilizes on a regular basis. Instead of calling each driver one by one and telling them the same message, VIVA Transit Control can send text messages to the drivers. So if an incident were to occur, like the Finch Subway Station being closed for a police investigation, the message can get out to the drivers in a timely fashion. In this case the driver could then announce to the passengers that the station is closed and that there are shuttle buses available to take passengers down to Sheppard Station or to take the VIVA Purple to connect with the VIVA Orange route in order to connect into the TTC Subway at Downsview Station instead.

I pointed out to the YRT/VIVA Enforcement Officer that the GPS units are utilized all the time to send messages to the drivers. So what prevented this? I also retorted that if YRT/VIVA was going to raise fares again they should improve communications.

My girlfriend and I were a little ticked about spending 45 minutes on the bus just to see our way blocked by yellow police tape. Why wasn't an announcement made? Chaos rained at Finch Station for YRT/VIVA riders because nobody had said anything. Also, two YRT/VIVA enforcement vehicles were in the spots where VIVA buses normally load passengers. Apparently YRT/VIVA Enforcement Officers figured it was more important to have good parking spaces instead of parking their cars a little further away in the unused bus parking area. So the VIVA Blue customers were let off at one platform and then picked-up at a different one instead of unloading and loading at the single platform if there was one bus in the station. YRT/VIVA didn't look to good in this situation.

At least the TTC was a little better. Kudos to them for a great job. While my girlfriend and I were making our decision of whether to head back to Aurora and forget our trip to Toronto, the TTC Enforcement officers let everyone know at the station entrance that the trains would be running soon. They just needed to get the collector and other employees back into the station at their posts first. The Toronto Police took down the yellow tape and within ten minutes everything was back to normal.

But I'm still dissapointed in the actions of YRT/VIVA communications. Why wasn't there an announcement made on the VIVA Blue route headed to Finch Station that the TTC subway wasn't operating north of Sheppard Station? Why weren't arrangements made to extend the VIVA Blue route temporarily down to Sheppard Station in order to provide service to the station and help out the TTC with shuttling? This would have been a great service to the customers of YRT/VIVA in a time of transit disruption. I would love answers to these two questions as well as this one: with such bad service from YRT/VIVA in situation like this why would they have the audicity to attempt to raise the fares to the highest in the GTA?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Should Church Events have Free Admission?

Last year my church put on a good evening of music and entertainment. Church members performed, the audience participated and special guests were brought in to play the pipe organ and play instruments. The reviews were positive from those that attended. A "free will offering" was collected following the show. Basically, offering plates were put out and people could drop off a donation if they so wished. The plates, following the show, overflowed with donations from those that attended.

Coming this October the church is presenting another concert featuring music from several past Broadway musicals. However, this year instead of a "freewill offering" there is a ten dollar admission charge.

To some ten dollars for admission to a show is pretty cheap. Considering that Theatre Aurora, the local volunteer community theatre, is presenting a play with an admission charge of fifteen dollars, ten dollars is not too bad for an evening of entertainment.

However, what about those that are unable to afford the ten dollar admission charge? Should these people be left out of a night of enjoyment? Churches usually runs on support of the community and, in turn, return the support to the community as much as it can. Part of supporting the community in this case is opening the doors of the church to the wider community in order to share the talents and hard work of the church members. That is what happenned at last years show. Audience members were not forced to pay an admission charge in order to see the show. Audience members at last years show were not forced to put anything in the donation plate as they left the show.

In contrast, this years show requires audience members to purchase tickets before even attending the show. Perhaps the admission charge is to ensure the music and special guest performers are properly looked after financially. However, this didn't seem to be a problem following last years show being paid for through "freewill offering" methods. In fact after last years shows expenses were paid there was money left over that was put back into the arts program at the church. So why the admission charge this year?

Will I be attending this years show? At this point I'm not sure. I support the terrific arts program at my church. But, it seems, based on the admission cost, the show is meant for the middle to higher income people who can afford a ten dollar admission charge So I'm thinking of not attending in sympathy of those who could not afford the admission price as well as the belief that churchs shouldn't be charging a set rate that all could not afford. However, I do believe if approached, the organizers do have the hearts of giving tickets to those who could not afford them. But there is the principle of churchs allowing those to bring forth what they can.

The idea of some people not being able to afford the admission charge brings me back to the ideals of the Christmas season. Perhaps the best example is this example from the Christmas Carol of "The Little Drummer Boy":

I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

In other words the Little Drummer Boy didn't have anything to offer what would newborn who would one day become the 'King of Chrstianity.' However, he did bring forth his ability to play his drum.

In the case of the show, perhaps someone would like to see and here the music of Broadway, however they are not able to afford the tickets to this show. Shouldn't the church, out of the spirit of charitable Christanity offer these people the tickets for free or at a rate they could afford? Perhaps this is the case, however, the postering that admission is ten dollars would seem ominous to those who might not be able to afford it and who don't want to go through the prospects of pleading for tickets.

How could this whole situation be solved? Either offer the show for free to community or bring back the idea of freewill offering after the performance. Then perhaps those that could least afford it would feel welcome to attend. Sure they might not drop a nickel in the plate but perhaps they would be able to help pickup the leftover programs and clean up after the Sanctuary after the show. This would match the spirit that the Christmas carol so personifies, those offering what they can for the betterment of the Jesus or in this case the Community. Now isn't that what churchs are all about in first place?

The church should not be charging admission prices but taking up freewill offering afterwards. This would allow everyone in the community to attend the show. Churchs are built on the support of the communities. Thus, I believe churches should give back to the communities whenever possible. This includes opening the church doors to support groups, sales and even entertaining shows whenever possible. However, running a church does cost money and some money needs to be raised. But the raising of funds shouldn't shut out those who can least afford to give as they are part of the community support as well. Hence the placement of a plate for those to freely drop a donation in is great especially for a show. This is because following the show positive reviews usually result in plenty of money coming in from those that enjoyed themselves. Also, if the show this year is anything like last years, the money flow will definately not be an issue and those that cannot afford to pay may also feel part of the both the church and the community. And if churches are able to make a everyone feel part of it and the community, positive reviews are more likely to occur.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Something Weird is going on

Since the beginning of September some weird things have been going on.

On the Friday evening ride home on the bus I felt very tired and my joints were sore. I thought nothing of it as I chalked it all up to long day at work. Saturday morning I thought my sinueses were going to explode. However that was the only thing wrong, sinus pressure. So I took an Asperin, went out and grabbed a Saturday Toronto Star and did some reading.

By Saturday night my sinuses were still bothering me and I was so tired I ended up in bed at 8:00 P.M. I thought going to bed early would solve the problem.

Not so, I woke up Sunday still with my sinuses. So I took two Dristan Sinus Cold pills in the hopes this would do the trick. It did not. By the time I got home from church around lunch time I had gone through the drowsy period that the pills caused and my sinuses still hadn't cleared out. So I visited the walk in clinic that afternoon.

Since I had never visited the walk in clinic the receptionist had me fill out a one page health questionaire. I then was in and out of the doctor's office in less than five minutes. The doctor looked in my ears, nose and throat. He said I had a sinus infection and prescribed me Flonase. As for the sore joints and mussels, I had done a lot of data entry at work that week for one of our major clients. So I had spent long hours at the keyboard causing some carpel tunnel like feelings.

Next, I headed over the pharmacy to get the prescription for the Flonase filled (over forty dollars) and then proceeded back to my apartment. I read over the box and the instructions on the Flonase. At first I couldn't get the thing to work. However, after shooting a stream of Flonase across the room I figured it out! I took the Flonaise by discharging it into my nose. After about fifteen minutes my sinusese cleared out. This lasted for about an hour or two before my sinuses began filling up again.

That night I took another dose of Flonase before heading to bed. Good thing for the holiday Monday as there was only a slight improvement with my health. I took the Flonase again that morning. This time my sinuses cleared out for most of the day. I had some nausea, which is apparently a side effect of the medication in the afternoon. That night I took the Flonase again.

Tuesday, before work I took the Flonase again. I felt great Tuesday at work and haven't had the symptoms re-occur since. Too bad that the Flonase cost over forty dollars! ARGH!

Fast forward to last week. I woke up Monday with a moderate sore throat. Nothing else was wrong with me. No stuffed up nose or aches and pains, nothing. Just one sore throat. I tried the usual increasing the amount of fluids including orange juice, milk and water. This didn't work. It sure cleaned out my digestive system though!

I broke down on Saturday and headed back to the walk-in clinic. I waited about half an hour to see the doctor. She looked at my throat and took a throat swab for testing. The doctor gave me a prescription for penicillin. She said I could use the penicillin now or later. I could use the prescription later after the results of the throat swab came back or use it now to see if it solved the problem. I chose the latter, I wanted rid of this sore throat for good. The penecillian was only just over ten dollars. I took one pill and two hours later I was cured. My sore throat was gone. So apparently I had Strep throat or something like it.

Now for the rest of the week I have to take the pills three times a day. There are restrictions though, I can only take the pill on an empty stomach which means I have to take the pill either one hour before eating or two hours after. This caused trouble Saturday night. My girlfriend and I had dinner and later wanted pie. So two hours after dinner I took the pill, then an hour later we had pie. Not too bad for a Saturday. But during the week there is no evening snacking whatsoever due to the pill timing of two ours after dinner then pill then another hour and snacking. But by the time snacking comes around it would be eleven at night. At that hour I'm usually in bed asleep after a long day at work. ARGH!

How is getting sick twice in three weeks of September abnormal for me? Most would chalk this up to allergies setting in for one last time before winter. However, I never get sick like this normally. Usually when I get sick it is a full fledged stuffed up nose, sore throat and cough or sore stomach. I never seem to get just a sore throat or just sinus pressure by itself. WEIRD! Then to have both a single symptom in three weeks is even weirder for me. Getting ill at least twice in September is very weird for me. Usually I can sail right through to December to February before getting sick with the cold or flu.

Finally, the last weird issue has nothing to do with me. Reid's Dairy in Aurora closed last weekend for good. This is weird considering this store is normally lined up for ice cream, excellently priced milk, bread and other goods. Last weekend, when the Sale signs went up saying the store was closing, I enquired with the people behind the counter. They replied that the rent was being increased, so the store was closing. Again I thought this was weird considering there are a couple of empty stores in other plazas nearby like the Aurora Shopping Centre. My girlfriend and I will miss this store for excellent milk and bread prices that even beat the No Frills grocery store across the street. To top it off, the store put a sign in their window saying the nearest location was in south Richmond Hill which is a half hour drive away! ARGH.

I miss Reid's already...now I have to go to Dairy Queen for overpriced soft serve ice cream. McDonald's you say? McDonald's soft serve isn't true soft serve. McDonald's ice cream is just a weird soft texture that is more mushy than true soft serve like you would find at Dairy Queen or Reid's Dairy. McDonald's and ice cream? That is just plain WEIRD!

I can't wait for September to end in order to make all this weirdness stop.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Sorry for the delay....

Haven't been blogging to much lately.....

Two reasons...

The first is I'm working on big project right now to be posted later.

The second, Labour day weekend I ended up with a sinus infection. Its like having a head cold without the snot (I know...too much information). The sinus infection basically knocked me out of commission for all of Labour Day weekend. It was a great long weekend.

So here, in order to get a post done and keep you guys interested....

Something from the humour file...

Two little boys, ages 8 and 10, were excessively mischievous. They were always getting into trouble and their parents knew all about it. If any mischief occurred in their town, the two boys were probably involved.

The boys' mother heard that a preacher in town had been successful in disciplining children so she asked if he would speak with her boys.

The preacher agreed, but he asked to see them individually. So the mother sent the 8 year old first, in the morning, with the older boy to see the preacher in the afternoon.

The preacher, a huge man with a booming voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly, "Do you know where God is, son?"

The boy's mouth dropped open, but he made no response, sitting there wide-eyed with his mouth hanging open.

So the preacher repeated the question in an even sterner tone, "Where is God?"

Again, the boy made no attempt to answer. The preacher raised his voice even more and shook his finger in the boy's face and bellowed, "Where is God?"

The boy screamed and bolted from the room, ran directly home and dove into his closet, slamming the door behind him.

When his older brother found him in the closet, he asked, "What happened?

The younger brother, gasping for breath, replied, "We are in BIG trouble this time," "God is missing and they think we did it!"

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