Monday, December 28, 2009

Airport Style Security

Recently a plane from Amsterdam bound for Detroit was almost blown up by a male passenger. This lead me to review the security measures I've come accross in the past five years as an airline passenger. The main question is "would the security measures at the airports attended have prevented a situation like the one faced by the passengers on the plane bound for Detroit?" During the past five years I've been through security at four airports in two countries:

1. John F. Kennedy (New York, New York, USA)

2. Buffalo International Airport (Buffalo, New York, USA)

3. Lester B. Pearson Airport (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

4. McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)

5. Liberty Internatioal Airport (Newark, New Jersey, USA)

Out of the five airports only one would have successfully found the explosives.

Buffalo International, which I have been through twice on my way to New York City, has passengers go through an explosives detecting machine. The machine is an archway with doors on one side. Passengers walk up to the footprints, stand there and the machine gives a quick burst (puff) of air. The puff of air is just enough to lift long hair in interesting patterns that can be funny for people waiting in line. The burst of air is then analyzed for any traces of certain materials that go in to explosives. This machine would have easily detected the material and stopped the suspect before he even boarded the airplane.

The only problem at Buffalo International is that only half of those in line go through the explosive detection machine. There is only one line for passengers departing from Buffalo International. However, the line is split into two with one set going off to the traditional metal detectors and the explosive detection machine while the other only goes to the metal detectors. Thus it is easy to avoid the machine by simply ordering yourself so that you go through in the line with the metal detector only. Hopefully in the near future at Buffalo International Airport this issue will be solved with another explosive detection machine being installed.

The other airports, both Canadian and American do not have the explosive detection machine. These airports include two New York area airports (Newark and John. F. Kennedy) who are located within 100 KM of where the World Trade Centre was levelled in September 2001. Thus it is surprising the lack of security measures at these two airports in terms of explosives.

With all of the above in mind, how does a law abiding passenger get through airport style security quickly, thoughtfully (for both yourself and the security agent) and legally? Try these tips:

1. Check any liquid in your checked baggage. Liquids include shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and bottled water. Side note: After going through airport security I find it humourous that one of the first items available for sale from concession stands is bottled water and soda pop.

2. While in line at security, take out all pocket change, your watch and anything else metallic on you. Put these items into your carry on luggage bag. By putting all of these items in your carry on bag you can quickly and easily get through the metal detector and pick up your carry on bag from scanning without fumbling for things in the bottom of the plastic container. Tip: For pocket change and your watch bring a ziploc bag with you to hold all of these items. The ziploc bag can easily be pulled out of your carry on bag and items put back in your pocket. Airport screeners loved my idea of the ziploc bag for making their metal detection sweep of me easy and for scanning purposes on their end.

3. Plan to be in airport security lines for at least two hours before your flight. So check in early and get in line early with a good book (The book should fit in your carry on bag for scanning purposes!).

4. Have your passport and boarding pass ready. Use your boarding pass to bookmark your the page with your photo on it in your passport. This makes identifying yourself to airport security and, eventually, airplane boarding easy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is there room for a donkey?

Apparently in modern day hotels have no room for Mary, Joseph and their SUV...er...donkey as the Toronto Star found out.



Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ontario Certified Teacher



Recently the Ontario College of Teachers has come out with a new professional designation for Teachers. The letters "OCT" will mean that anyone who is an active member of the Ontario College of Teachers will be a certified teacher in Ontario.
Some argue that the designation is nothing more than bureaucratic doublespeak and wasted dollars spent creating work for bureaucrats at the Ontario College of Teachers.


Others, like in the video above filmed by the College of Teachers, argue it provides a recognized designation for teachers in Ontario like those in the fields of Engineering (P.Eng), Nursing (RN) and others.
How do I feel on this issue? I see both sides of the issue that:

A) Teachers are Professionals and, like other professional organizations, should have an designation.

B) That money could have been better spent on getting more resources into the classroom to teach the children teachers care so much about.

Thus I sit on the fence. My only problem with the current designation is unlike other professional designations (i.e. RN) the OCT desigination only refers to Ontario and is not National in nature. In other words a Manitoba Teacher (MCT???) cannot label themselves "OCT" without being accredited by the Ontario College of Teachers. Why can there not be a national designation for teachers like a "CCT" or something equivalent?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Dream

This past Friday saw the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Run come through Aurora. The following in random order are the thoughts I had as the Olympic Torch moved through the area:

1. I thought this was a torch "run" not a torch "drive", so why is it necessary for the Olympic Torch to be driven from the Ontario Science Centre to Bayview Avenue & Wellington Street in Aurora? Is there not some more central road to Toronto and Aurora areas that would have been better? Hmmm...perhaps YONGE STREET would have been perfect from Downtown Toronto north to Aurora and Newmarket? Couldn't this entire route have been run?

2. Why would you have a day celebration of the torch in a suberb like Aurora and Nemarket? Couldn't the Olympic Torch have started in Downtown Toronto, after the city's previous nightime celebration, and run up to Aurora or Newmarket for an evening shared celebration at Fairy Lake or Aurora's Machell Park (Note: Machell Park held Aurora's evening celebration when the Olympic Flame went through Aurora leading up to the Calgary 1988 Olympics).
This would have provided an opportunity for those of us who work (and mostly come from the suburbs) to attend an event that most people only see once in a lifetime.

3. A big thumbs up to the CTV techno geeks for rigging a web cam onto the media vehicle to provide those of us who work for a living (read: Work from 9 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday through Friday) to observe the Torch go through the area after some moron beleived everyone could take a day off of work to visit the torch in the suburbs of Toronto with a 9:53 start from Bayview & Wellington in Aurora. The CTV Olympic Torch website has a Google Map with a the current torch location on it, an amusing Facebook comment feed (Read: Who really cares if you are going to see the Olympic Torch in Arm Pitt, Alberta, Canada) and best of all a web cam of the torch runners or torch convoy as it moves from city to city. Find the page here.

4. Finally, today I clicked on the CTV Olympic Torch page to find feisty 88 year old Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion carrying the torch. She is probably one of the oldest torch bearers if not the oldest then most defeniately the oldest torch bearer still employed!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Casting about at Casey's

Casey's Grill Bar on UrbanspoonMy wife and I headed to Newmarket in search of Italian Food at Mama Mia's Tratoria. But we found that the restaurant wasn't open at 4:30 P.M. but opened at 5:00. So we headed elsewhere to a restauarant that had a kitchen already open and was more than willing to serve us....or so we thought.

We headed to Casey's Bar & Grill at the Upper Canada Mall (17600 Yonge Street, Newmarket)We arrived around 5:00 P.M. and were sat immediately at our table. Our waitress came by and introduced herself and put the coasters down. By 5:05 we had our drinks served to us but instead of using the coasters she had placed, she put them on the table. Thus, I still wonder what the purpose of putting the coasters down were.

We placed our order right after she put the drinks down.

Order: 2 Piece Fish N' Chips, 1 Stacked Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries with water and coke.

The food came in less than 10 minutes.

The Fish of the Fish n' Chips was decently done. The fries were excellent (not too oily but still warm) and looked like they came right out of the fryer not to long ago.

The Stacked sandwhich dissappeared quite quickly it was so well done. The Sweet Potato Fries were another matter. They didn't taste warm that much nor did they have any potato tast to them. In fact they were just short of tasting like cardboard.

Once we finished our meal (around 5:30 P.M.) our waitress cleared our plates and offered the usual tea or coffee. We politely declined and requested the bill.

We watched our waitress first take the drink orders of a new large group (8 or so people) seated near us. Then come back with their drink order and return to take the order. A brief stare from myself as she was taking orders brought an apology that our bill was coming. The waitress dissapeared soon after taking the order.

Just before I was about to get up and speak to the Host about the bill situation another waitress came over and dropped the bill off and dissappeared without a word. No tip was left as the restauarant doesn't appear to want to make up for this situation. So no tip was left for the waitress as obviously she simply doesn't care to even receive one from a table for two.

Just before writing this review, I filled out the Casey's Customer Survey. The survey had the audacity of asking if I wanted someone to contact me about our visit. I replied "no" as if Casey's wanted to resolve the problem, the waitress would have come over and offered us something like a free drink on this visit or the next visit.

So, sadly to say, I highly doubt I will be returning for a long time!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Muppets on the Tube...er...Youtube

Can't forget the tomfoolery of the Muppets. As a kid growing up I can remember both Sesame Street (now in it's fortieth season) and the Muppets.

I currently own the first three seasons of The Muppet Show on DVD. I'm eagerly awaiting the fourth season to come out on DVD. Until then I've seen the odd sketch on Youtube. Then my wife stumbled onto "Bohemian Rhapsody" by the Muppets which my friend Bill also posted.

Today I did some further searching on Youtube and found The Muppets have their own channel!
Of the Muppet video posted perhaps my favourite, other than the Bohemian Rhapsody is Beeker singing "Ode de Joy".



Gotta love The Muppets!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Wait "a Whopper" of a Time at BK for "a Whopper"

Burger King on UrbanspoonToday on my way home from work I stopped of at Burger King (10909 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill) for an old fashioned Whopper Combo (Whopper Sandwich with medium fries and a coke). I arrived at 5:50 P.M. and didn't place my order until 5:56 P.M. There was one person working the cash and serving food forever. Only when my order was ready to be served did the lady from Drive through wander over to assist. I finally got my Whopper Combo and left the counter at 6:02 P.M.

I ventured onto the soft drink fountain and found the Coke fountain drink to be spurting air like it needed to be changed.

I sat down and opened my Whopper. It looked like it had been thrown together like a 10 year old in a hurry to do his homework.

The fries were at least warm. However, I could have sworm the last time I ate a Burger King there were more fries in a medium Whopper Combo.

To make this visit even worse, as I was leaving I notice three people working the instore counter. Where were they when I was in line? Hiding in the back office?

All in all not a great visit to Burger King. It seems when Burger King closed down the two Newmarket locations (Upper Canada Mall and a location on Yonge Street just south of Davis Drive) and one Aurora Location (where the Rogers Plus Store is now) they moved all the brilliance to this Richmond Hill location. It's a pitty really, this BK used to be so good.

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