Indian Country

Students at Humboldt Protest Treatment of Indigenous Population

The Unified Students of Humboldt, a group of Native students and allies at Humboldt State University, has taken over a building on campus to protest treatment of the indigenous...

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Posted on 28 January 2015 | 12:00 am


Vancouver Art Gallery and Google Art Project team up to share Coupland’s art with the world

The Vancouver Art Gallery’s critically acclaimed and enormously popular exhibition Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything is now available for the first time to audiences from around the world online through...

The post Vancouver Art Gallery and Google Art Project team up to share Coupland’s art with the world appeared first on Hello Vancity.

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Posted on 28 January 2015 | 2:24 pm

List Verse

10 Plans That Would Have Radically Altered The World As We Know It

History is filled with close calls and near misses. The modern world was created by crazy plans, ambitions, and victories. Throughout human history, a number of plans were proposed—and many were almost enacted—that would have morphed what the world is today. 10Africa’s Central Lake The insane vision of the future of German engineer Herman Sorgel […]

The post 10 Plans That Would Have Radically Altered The World As We Know It appeared first on Listverse.

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Posted on 29 January 2015 | 3:00 am

The Gate

Giveaway: Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Quarter Cask

Enter The GATE's special Robbie Burns Day giveaway to win a bottle of Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Quarter Cask; the smoky, peaty Islay single malt scotch that is truly unforgettable.

The post Giveaway: Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Quarter Cask appeared first on The GATE.

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Posted on 22 January 2015 | 9:05 am


Peoples, Palestine, and the Crushing of Free Speech: Steven Salaita

Is this show currently playing?
January 29, 2015
Professor Salaita is at the centre of an international protest against academic censorship. He spoke in Vancouver January 14.

Professor Salaita is at the centre of an international protest against academic censorship.  He spoke in Vancouver earlier in January 2015.

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Posted on 28 January 2015 | 11:59 pm

This hungry Kitten

Easy Chicken Shawarma Kebobs

My last post was almost a month ago! Life gets busy sometimes and finding moments to sit and reflect don’t come around often enough. I have been on a journey to better health, and it’s been wonderful! I think we’ve … Continue reading

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Posted on 10 July 2014 | 11:45 am

The cat from Hell

Nellie and Speedy!

Yesterday, mes gots on the cell phone and texted Speedy! Then, after mes packed my bags, mes gotted into my tunnel and headed for Speedy‘s closet – Rabbits use closets and not tunnels. Speedy was there to greets me! And … Continue reading

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Posted on 28 January 2015 | 8:00 pm

The Future Soon

Octopus killing a seagull - THE KRAKEN WAKES

Octopus killing a seagull off Ogden Point breakwater

I love octopuses. Smart, powerful, adaptive, and deadly.

These are the first ever photos of a Giant Pacific Octopus catching and killing a Glaucous-winged seagull.

And they provide two important lessons: One, always carry a camera with you because you may happen upon a scientifically important event. And two, keep an eye out for the unusual.

I loved finding and booking this story for my local CBC morning show, On The Island. 

Take a listen to Ginger Morneau, the woman who took these photos.
Here she is speaking with CBC On The Island host, Gregor Craigie.

And this is where I found this story.

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Posted on 3 May 2012 | 2:21 pm

Urban Toronto

Cladding Installation Continues at Howard Park Residences


We last checked in on the construction of Triumph DevelopmentsHoward Park Residences in December, when the 8-storey condominium development, designed by architects RAW Design, was approaching its final height and having the first of its exterior cladding installed. In the weeks since our last update, the building has officially topped off and cladding installation has made significant progress.

Howard Park Residences, Triumph Developments, RAW Design, TorontoHoward Park Residences now topped off, image by Marcus Mitanis

Howard Park is being clad in a window wall glazing system framed in a dark-toned aluminum. Cladding now rises to the fifth floor of the building, and the distinctive sawtooth pattern of balconies on the podium's south façade are now much more apparent than they were before the installation of cladding. Cladding has yet to begin on the building's signature stepped terrace floors, some sections of which will feature green roofs upon completion.

Howard Park Residences, Triumph Developments, RAW Design, TorontoHoward Park Residences now topped off, image by Marcus Mitanis

Located on Howard Park Avenue at Dundas in the Roncesvalles Village neighbourhood, the 81-unit development will be followed by a second phase called Howard Park 2. Howard Park 2, currently in sales, will add another 96 condominium units to Howard Park Avenue in the near future.

Howard Park Residences, Triumph Developments, RAW Design, TorontoEast side of Howard Park Residences, image by Marcus Mitanis

The completed development will put residents within spitting distance of the King, College and Dundas streetcars, as well as a short walk to the TTC's Line 2 and Bloor GO stations. In addition, residents will be in close proximity to a stop on the new Union Pearson Express, currently scheduled to enter service in the Spring.

Howard Park Residences, Triumph Developments, RAW Design, TorontoCladding rising on Howard Park Residences, image by Marcus Mitanis

For more information about the development including many more renderings, visit our dataBase file, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page. 

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Posted on 29 January 2015 | 2:54 pm

The Hook (B.C. News)

Did Alberta Just Break a Fracking Earthquake World Record? (in News)

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Posted on 29 January 2015 | 3:40 am

The Greater Fool


At least we know more now about Poodlenomics. Why did the Bank of Canada abruptly cut its key rate, risking what BMO economist Doug Porter says could be a miserable outcome? “After four years of scolding Canadians about taking on too much debt,” he moans, “the Bank (of Canada) has pretty much said ‘Oh, never […]

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Posted on 28 January 2015 | 5:30 pm

Hiking With Barry!

Memorial Lakes Trail – Status Report # 1

Original post published on December 3, 2014.  This entry completes the rebuilding of the blog posts lost by the need to restore the website to a previous date. The initiative to pursue improvement of the Memorial Lakes trail in Kananaskis Country has been ongoing … Continue reading

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Posted on 22 January 2015 | 10:50 am

A Subway Musician Is Suing New York City After His Arrest Video Went Viral

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Andrew Kalleen, with the fedora at left, alongside NYC Councilman Stephen Levin after his arrest in October. Photo by Jeff Young via Andrew Kalleen's Facebook page.

Andrew Kalleen asked the cop to read off a cell phone.

"The following nontransit uses are permitted by the [Metropolitan Transportation] Authority, provided they do not impede transit activities and they are conducted in accordance with these rules," the officer boomed in front of an increasingly irate crowd before ticking off a list. When he got to the part permitting artistic performances, those watching the scene on the G train platform in Brooklyn clapped. They thought it was over, that Kalleen had proven his right to busk for money on the Brooklyn subway platform, as hundreds of performers do every day all over New York City.

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They were wrong.

Franco called for backup as Kalleen broke into a rendition of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here." In the middle of the song, his instrument was jabbed at and then forcibly removed. The police arrested the musician to chants of "Fuck the police!" and video of the ordeal made headlines from the New York Daily News to the Guardian last October.

[youtube src='//' width='640' height='480']

This week, the 30-year-old announced plans to file suit against the city and the NYPD. People have sued—and won—over this very issue in the past, and New York will probably be paying out some more settlements this year, according to advocates. It's the latest development in an all-out war against street performing—a practice that's been legal for decades—and one that has only been exacerbated since Bill Bratton became police commissioner again in January.

New York City street performance originated in Five Points—the neighborhood that Martin Scorsese chronicled in his movie Gangs of New York. It was "part of the culture along the docks," according to Jack Tchen, a history professor at NYU. "It came from people getting on and off ships from many parts of the world and having to learn how to coexist and talk to each other."

The clash of Irish and African-American cultures in Five Points birthed new forms of expression, like tap dancing. But the street performers were demonized by temperance-minded Protestants, Tchen says, who eventually moved away from the mass transit areas they considered crime-ridden and dirty.

Busking became a touchstone of life among the downtrodden. It became such a popular way to make money during the Depression that in 1936, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia banned it altogether. People protested for decades—including beat poets like Allen Ginsberg—until the ban was lifted in 1970. But that didn't stop cops from harassing street performers.

In 1990, Bill Bratton became the head of the New York City Transit Police. He was a big proponent of the " broken windows" theory of policing, which suggests that targeting minor crimes like fare-dodging and vandalism deters larger crimes. He's still pushing the same policy now that he's the police commissioner again (he served in the role in the mid 90s)—and last year he oversaw a massive increase in the arrests of panhandlers and buskers.

Kalleen had been busking long before the latest crackdown. He moved to the city from San Francisco six years ago and played duets with his roommate at the Bedford L stop in Williamsburg before he started going there alone. His favorite spot to play was the Metropolitan stop on the G train, because it was close to his home (he lives in Bed-Stuy) and because he had the most time to connect with his audience (the G train is notoriously slow). Commuters who frequent that platform know that it attracts some of the most polished performers in the entire system, and is far less frantic than popular spots like Union Square.

"It just has great acoustics," Kalleen told me. "People are there late at night waiting for 20 minutes, which means you can put on an actual show for them."

He soon became a full-time busker, which meant enduring occasional harassment from cops. He's been ejected from the platform six times before, he told me, but decided to make a stand during the widely publicized incident last fall. Because the officer had no reason to arrest him, he was ultimately charged with a Depression-era penal code violation, according to his lawyer, Paul Hale. After the charges were dropped, Kalleen decided to take the cops to task.

He's not the first. Matthew Christian, who plays violin, won a $30,000 settlement from the city after he was arrested for street performing in 2011 . Now he's the head of an organization called BuskNY that hooks performers up with legal help. He's had his hands full since Bratton took office.

"Historically, New York City has been a leader in public performance, and 2014 was sort of a change in that trajectory," he told me. "[Bratton] pushed Broken Windows and a lot of officers into the subway."

Kalleen found Hale, his attorney, through BuskNY, and now they're putting together a multi-party lawsuit that they intend to file in a matter of days. If they win, Kalleen says, he will pour the settlement into improving Bed-Stuy. He sees the issue as an abuse of power that extends way beyond subway platforms, although he considers what goes on there a vital part of the city.

"There is incredible art happening beneath New York," he says. "It would be so sad if we got to a place where it all stopped. Millions of people per day support it and enjoy it, and it would be an enormous hit to the city's culture."

Follow Allie Conti on Twitter.

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Posted on 29 January 2015 | 6:07 pm

Michael Geist

Is the Digital Taxman Headed to Canada?

While some of these claims stem from the ongoing fear of marketplace disruption from Netflix, the tax fairness argument is a good one. In fact, many other countries or tax jurisdictions have either instituted sales taxes on foreign digital services or are in the process of doing so. For example, the City of Buenos Aires in Argentina last year passed a resolution forcing debit and credit card issuers to withhold three per cent from payments made to streaming service providers. The levy was specifically targeted at Netflix subscribers in the city and was reportedly designed to make local streaming services more competitive.

Interestingly, technically there is tax equivalency since Canadians are supposed to self-report the applicable sales tax in a self-assessment. In reality though, few are aware of the obligation and even fewer do so. Indeed, with an annual HST bill of $12.46 for a 12-month Netflix subscription, the missing dollars seem insignificant on an individual level.

Those individual bills can add up to millions of dollars, however, which may provide enough incentive for the federal government to conveniently forget the fall promise of "no Netflix tax" (which referred to a fee for creating Canadian content, not sales tax) and establish a system to require foreign digital operators to collect and remit sales tax on their Canadian sales.

Should the government embrace extending sales taxes to foreign services, the big question will lie in the implementation.  The issue of creating a global sales tax system that requires foreign provides to register and remit sales taxes is fraught with complexity.

Registration requirements alone create new costs that some businesses may be unwilling to bear. In fact, some may simply decide to avoid or block the Canadian market altogether, leading to even more services that either decline to sell to Canadians or which increase their prices to account for the regulatory cost burden.

In order to avoid burdening small businesses, countries may set a revenue threshold before registration and collection requirements kick in.  For example, Switzerland requires foreign digital service providers to register and collect an 8 per cent tax provided that they earn more than C$140,000 annually in income.

Even with a threshold to limit collection to larger businesses, the complexity associated with digital sales taxes is difficult to avoid.  Will the collection apply solely to consumer purchases or also business-to-business sales? Will all digital sales - including virtual property in games or cloud computing services - be subject to a levy?

Given the ever-changing digital environment, the digital taxman may be on the way, but identifying what is subject to sales tax will be easier said than done.

The post Is the Digital Taxman Headed to Canada? appeared first on Michael Geist.

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Posted on 27 January 2015 | 10:24 am

The Tyee / The Hook

Did Alberta Just Break a Fracking Earthquake World Record? (in News)

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Posted on 29 January 2015 | 3:40 am

Twelve things to do in Metro Vancouver on Thursday, January 29

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Posted on 28 January 2015 | 7:00 pm

A View from the Edge

Merry Christmas!

I just want to take this opportunity to thank all of you
for following my blog. I have been blogging since 2005; 3 years on 
another site and 5 1/2 years on this site. I started the blog mainly as a
diary and for my friends and family to keep track of our doings and 
whereabouts when we decided to hit the road in our RV. We got off the
road in April 2012. I have decided to step away from blogging for awhile, if not
permanently. I have many ideas in my head for books, and, in fact, have started
a few of them! I am hoping to spend more time this new year on writing. I
might check in from time-to-time on your blogs; may not comment, but just to
see how you all are doing. I've made some good friends over the years through
blogging, and I know that we will stay in touch.

Have a WONDERFUL Christmas and a HAPPY and HEALTHY
New Year!

Love, Pat

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Posted on 22 December 2013 | 9:24 am

Cottage Country Reflections

Wednesday's trek; 90 minute-walk & sewing projects

Here is Wednesday's trek. Another lovely 'forest bath.' Some call it bushwacking! The frozen snow hasn't It was hard going, with that cold, crunchy snow. I dress warmly, but end up undoing my scarf and taking off my hat. It is darn good exercise! No more antlers, no more blood splatters on the snow. I'm thinking they took off, a little further away. You see, I spotted more coyote tracks, right

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Posted on 23 January 2015 | 8:03 am

Steve Paikin

Steve Paikin: A survivor's story on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

A difficult but cathartic day for Auschwitz survivor, Mordechai Ronen, seen here with his son, Moshe and granddaughter, Sari
A little more than 70 years ago, 11-year old Mordechai Ronen found himself “crammed like cattle” into a boxcar, and transported from his native Romania to a camp where evil thrived like no other place on earth.
As he arrived in Auschwitz, he saw “The Angel of Death,” Josef Mengele, separate the thousands of Jews who had arrived. A flick of Mengele’s wrist to the left meant extermination in the crematorium. A motion to the right meant surviving the selection for another day.
Not many survived.
Ronen, and perhaps 200 others who survived the horrors of Auschwitz, somehow summoned the strength to return to that concentration camp this week. World leaders and numerous other dignitaries gathered there to observe the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation by Soviet troops on Jan. 27, 1945 (actually, by soldiers of the 60th Army of the First Ukrainian Front).
While the now 82-year-old Ronen survived, his mother and two sisters did not. From the moment he arrived in the Nazis’ most ruthlessly efficient killing machine, he was told by other prisoners, “The only way out of here is through those chimneys,” referring to the crematoria at the nearby Birkenau camp.
Combining a powerful desire to live with a young boy’s cleverness and plain good luck, Ronen somehow survived the selection. Most children did not. In all, historians estimate more than a million people were exterminated in the gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau in southern Poland, about an hour away from Krakow.
"I am not a victim,” Ronen exclaimed beneath the notorious Arbeit Macht Frei sign, an iconic image promising freedom for hard work — a monstrous lie. “I am a victor. I have survived and returned to tell the world these awful things happened, and we must never allow them to happen again.”
Even though the memories are 70 years old, they flood sharply back for Ronen. He’s unable to hold back the tears as he rues the day he was separated from his mother and sisters, never to see them again.
“I never even got to say goodbye,” he says.
Ronen made himself useful, on occasion as an errand boy for German soldiers, other times hiding inside latrines or under dead bodies to escape the selection. After a “death march” to another concentration camp, his father Moshe lost the will to live and died in his son’s arms.
Mordechai returned to Auschwitz this week with his first born son Moshe, named, of course, after his father.
“I have returned with a living monument to my father’s life,” he said, referring to his son, who is a vice-president with World Jewish Congress.
This was Mordechai Ronen’s third trip to Auschwitz since he left more than 70 years ago. Like many Holocaust survivors, he went decades without telling other family members about his tragic past. He didn’t want to burden them with his history and he feared constantly reliving those awful moments.
Twenty-three years ago, he returned to Auschwitz for the first time with his son Moshe, and only then did he begin to discuss his past in detail. Only then did Moshe learn that he had two aunts who died in Auschwitz. Before that, he didn’t even know they had ever existed.
Ronen confirms this will be his last trip here.
“I came here one more time because the world needs to know what happened here,” he said. “Terrible, awful things happened here, and it is my mission in life to make sure people know it, and it never happens again.”
Mission accomplished for the first part. The mission for the second never ends.
Steve Paikin travelled to Auschwitz to mark the 70th anniversary of its liberation, and is writing a book about the life of Mordechai Ronen. He's been documenting his time there on Twitter.

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Posted on 27 January 2015 | 12:52 pm

Weighty Matters

Sobey's #BetterFoodForAll Campaign Promotes Health, Sales and Woo

I really wanted to love this campaign.

Sobey's Better Food for All program positions itself as a campaign designed to increase the love of real food, cooking and health, and so with hope in mind, I headed over to their site to find out.

Parts of it really are great. There are easy to make nutritious recipes courtesy of Jamie Oliver. There are Twitter, Facebook and Instagram campaigns where people can share their real food successes. There's also some helpful posts on the blog including some tips for getting kids into the kitchen more and some ideas for packing a healthy lunch, but much of the content is doing a disservice to readers.

In just the first few entries readers were told that lemon juice improves body alkalinity (what you eat has no bearing on your blood's alkalinity), that the sugar-delivery vehicle known as kids' yogurt was, "the ultimate grab-and-go snack" (might as well be feeding kids melted ice-cream), promoted the magical benefits of "fresh-pressed juice" (there aren't any), and told people that you need to refuel after you work up a sweat (unless you've sweat for a truly heroic amount of time, you almost certainly don't).

Sobey's, while I'm incredibly supportive of your aim of improving cooking skills and getting kids and families back into the kitchen, educating the public about healthful eating should by definition exclude both pitching them crappy products and publishing and disseminating to them non-evidence based woo.

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Posted on 29 January 2015 | 12:55 pm

Margaret Wente

Is automation making us helpless?

Navigation, photography, even medicine – we’re saving on labour, but losing on the mastery that comes only with time and deep engagement

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Posted on 17 January 2015 | 8:00 am

Lauren Out Loud

HIATUS: re-launching January 2015

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Posted on 24 July 2014 | 2:54 pm

Rants n Rascals

Love Nature Wildlife TV: Celebrate The Beauty and Wonder #checkemout #lovenature

Okay I’m going to share a little secret with you all. I secretly love nature shows. Yes, it’s true. I’m glued to the TV during Shark Week, love hearing and learning about wildlife animals, seeing ...

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Posted on 25 January 2015 | 3:31 am

Bow. James Bow

So, We Ordered Boxes...

…they came in boxes, which they shipped in a box. Not that I’m complaining too strenuously, you understand. As we are starting to move house, we’ll put all these boxes to good use. The LCBO has already seen a...

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Posted on 27 January 2015 | 10:28 pm

A Toronto Blog

#Toronto @HondaIndy 2015 tickets go on sale

Outside temperatures say winter, but the sale of tickets to the June 12-14, 2015 Verizon IndyCar race means that summer is just around the corner! 2014 reserved grandstand ticket holders can purchase tickets now, ahead of the February 19 sale to the general public, and take advantage of Renewal Club Member Benefits.

Several race series will join IndyCar on the street course through Toronto's Exhibition Place: the Ultra 94 Porsche GTS Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin, the SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks, the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires. Besides the excitement on the track, you can always enjoy the live entertainment, celebrity appearances, autograph sessions, interactive games, the other festival attractions and craft beer. Oh, and don't forget about the Toronto Sun Grid Girls and the other ladies of the Honda Indy.
"The event, now in its 29th year, promises a diverse motorsports line-up with something for every kind of race fan. The Verizon IndyCar Series will headline the weekend featuring world-class drivers like Canadian James Hinchcliffe, 2014 race winner Sebastien Bourdais and series champion Will Power. Two-day tickets to the Honda Indy Toronto start at $50 for General Admission and $80 for Reserved Seating (tax included). For full pricing information and to buy tickets, visit or call 1-877-725-8849."

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Posted on 27 January 2015 | 9:14 pm

Robyn Urbak on Campus

In the Dawg house at Dalhousie

At the heart of the university's latest controversy: free speech and a popular hotdog vendor called the Dawgfather

The post In the Dawg house at Dalhousie appeared first on

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Posted on 21 January 2015 | 3:33 pm

Postcards From the Mothership

Ottawa’s best winter festival is back!

Looking for winter family fun in Ottawa this weekend? Forget the crowds at Winterlude and head out to Manotick to celebrate Shiverfest! The Shiverfest fun starts on Friday January 30 at the Manotick Arena with an exhibition figure-skating show by the Rideau Skating Club at 6 pm. At 6:30 pm, come warm up by a [...] Related posts (automatically generated):
  1. Weekend winter family fun: Shiverfest 2014
  2. You’re shivering anyway, so come out this weekend for Manotick’s ShiverFest!!
  3. Come shiver in Manotick this weekend!

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Posted on 28 January 2015 | 11:52 am

David Akins on the Hill

Chrétien endorses former NDP MP now running for Wynne’s Liberals in Sudbury

Former prime minister Jean Chrétien and his wife Aline today endorsed Glenn Thibeault, running for the Ontario Liberals in the provincial byelection in Sudbury. Thibeault deserted Thomas Mulcair’s NDP caucus to run for Wynne’s Liberals. Chrétien provided the endorsement even though it was Thibeault who knocked off former Chrétien cabinet minister Diane Marleau in the […]

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Posted on 28 January 2015 | 11:50 am

Dutch Blitz

Not Boring

January is supposed to be a boring month. It’s one of the reasons that I turn my birthday party into an “all of the ladies” party, so that we can escape the blahs of January. The thing is, it feels like I’m still pinwheeling through every day, and so many friends have said the same. […]

© Angella Dykstra 2005-2013 All rights reserved. | Originally published for as Not Boring.

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Posted on 27 January 2015 | 12:37 am

Nik at Night

That Guy on the Phone...

In the Serial podcast, which my husband and I devoured in the last two months of 2014, host Sarah Koenig argues that memories are flawed, and that if something huge happens to a person, they can only be expected to remember what happened immediately after, because it becomes emblazoned on their brains. There are some exceptions, she said, like people with photographic memories or people who actively memorize every moment of those days to archive it. I’m one of those exceptions.

It was January 8, 1990, and I was working on a project for my grade 11 history class on Leonardo da Vinci at my desk in my bedroom. Or, at least, I was supposedto be working on that project. Instead I’d gotten distracted by his drawings, and started working on my own drawing that was sure to become one for the ages. Who wouldn’t want a Nikki Stafford original sketch of The Edge from the back of the Joshua Tree album? OK, it wasn’t actually the album, but one of the singles. One of the cassingles. Oh yes, I had cassingles. (Everyone reading this born after 1995 is like WTF?!)

Anyway, I digress, as I usually do. The phone rang and my dad picked it up. He came to the doorway of my room with a smirk on his face and said, “It’s a boy.” I went into my parents’ room (there was no phone in mine) and picked up the extension. It was a guy I worked with at a grocery store. He worked up front on cash, and I was one of the bakery girls.

I was hoping he’d call.

Let’s rewind. I started working at the grocery store in August of the previous year (yes, we are in the ’80s now). It was a terrible place with a bakery manager woman who might be the single worst human being I’ve ever known. There was a guy who worked up front who didn’t talk to me or make eye contact, but I knew about him because there were other girls in the bakery who talked about him. His name was Robert.

On November 26, I went to a record show with my friend Sue at Centennial Hall in London, Ontario. Way back then, before the internets were places one surfed, there were record shows, where people basically gathered to buy a bunch of illegal and bootlegged stuff. I was there looking at U2 and REM bootleg shows. And then Robert came up to us. He saw my friend Sue and started asking her about Smiths bootlegs, and then he saw me. At this point I was sitting up on the Centennial Hall stage, my legs dangling over the side. “Oh... hello,” he said, sounding surprised. The following Tuesday I was working my usual 4:30-10 shift that I worked every Tuesday, and he came over to talk to me. “What were you there for?” he asked. I said U2 and REM and a few other things. He nodded and smiled and headed back to the cash register. That weekend I was working on Saturday and was on my lunch break when he came into the lunchroom. I don’t ever remember him taking lunch at the same time as me, but there he was. I was reading a book of Oscar Wilde plays because I’d only recently discovered his work, and I was underlining my favourite bits. Rob came over to chat with me, sat down, and began asking about Oscar Wilde. He liked Oscar Wilde, too, but that’s because Morrissey liked him. Was I reading it because of Morrissey? No, I said, I was just reading it because my dad gave me a copy of the book and I loved it. Then I started showing him my favourite lines that I’d underlined. Soon I had to head back down, but I said I’d lend him my copy if he wanted, when I was done with it.

December 16. Company Christmas party. I went to the party with a friend of mine and Robert went to the party with a girl he was dating at the time. Oddly enough, the Christmas party was in the basement of Centennial Hall, where the record show had been. And then he came over to me. He sat down next to me and we started chatting about music. He seemed to be in awe of the fact that I’d played piano quite seriously for years, and said he always wanted to learn how to play guitar. I said he should just start taking lessons. He asked if I wanted to dance. Sure, I said.

I remember dates and places and even what I was wearing, but to this day I couldn’t tell you what song was playing when we danced. I wasn’t focused on that at all.

That night I got home and my dad was waiting up for me. He asked how my date went, and I said it wasn’t a date, we were just friends. He looked a little disappointed, and then asked, “Is there someone else you have your eye on?” he asked. Yes. The cashier at the store. We danced together, I told him. His name is Robert.

Back to January 8. It was Robert on the phone. We talked about our families and school (he was two years older than I was and in grade 13) and he told me he’d broken up with his girlfriend. Suddenly he said, “So... I was wondering if... you know, if you wanted... if... um... if you’d like to go out some time?” “Sure,” I said, trying to sound nonchalant. (Later he told me he nearly dropped the phone when he began fist-pumping the air; at the time I had no idea because he was desperately trying to play it cool.) Turns out, he’d had my eye on me since my first day at work, but just assumed I was dating someone already. When he began asking around and discovered I wasn’t, he made his move.

That Friday we went out for the first time. He took me to his house and I met his parents (friends of ours later laughed at what a daring move that was on a first date) and then he gave me a copy of The Smiths’ Louder Than Bombs. For the next week I listened to it constantly. And at the end of January, like the crazy kids we were, we decided to make it permanent and tell people we were a couple. We spent the next five years driving to Toronto three times a week (a two-hour drive) to see concerts, and discovering new music. We went to university, and began working at the student newspaper (something I never would have done if it hadn’t been for him). In December 1995, we had a huge argument about something, I can’t even remember what it was, and later that day he showed up at my house. With an engagement ring. I was shocked, and I remember joking that it was the most elaborate method he’d come up with yet of making an argument go away. “I hope 20 years from now I don’t remember that you handed this to me to end an argument,” I said. “You won’t,” he laughed. (I do...)

And today, twenty-five years after that initial phone call, we’ve been married for 15 years and have two beautiful kids, and I love him more than ever.

I’ve talked about Rob on here before, rarely using his name, usually referencing his guitars or his golf writing or his love of music. Or I complain about how he wrecks my books or doesn’t understand how a vacuum works or how he’s constantly shaking his head at something weird I said.

You probably couldn’t find two people who are more different. When we met I was quiet and shy (yes, dear ones who’ve known me for the past 10 years only... this is actually true). He was loud and boisterous, and talked constantly. He’s also a journalist, so when he meets people he pumps them with questions and wants to know everything about them.

I’m a Liberal, and a pretty left-leaning one, and he’s the son of two card-carrying capital-C Conservatives. I always thought that was just a phrase; I didn’t know there were actual cards until I saw his dad’s. He’s not as extreme as they are (and one thing I should say to qualify that for any non-Canadians reading this: many Canadian Conservatives are actually left of American Democrats; even our right is pretty far to the left) but our views are definitely different on many topics. He loves calling me a “bleeding heart liberal,” and has strong opinions on just about everything. What is interesting to me is — and this is always clearer on Facebook, where there is never a shortage of opinions — most of my leftie friends have leftie friends and family and spouses; they rarely get the opinion of the other side from someone close to them. But when a major world event happens and I see people ranting all over their social media pages and their loved ones backing them up, I can always see the other sides of the situation because of listening to Rob. And rather than him having the opposite viewpoint, he typically has a balanced one, which is pretty rare in this world. Our “discussions” about world events often get quite heated, but after one of us finally leaves the room, we actually both think about what the other one says. I see his point of view, and he sees mine. Both of our belief systems have been shaped and influenced by the other one.

Now, I should probably qualify that despite calling himself a conservative, he’s one in a fiscal sense only: he believes in lower taxes and fewer handouts; but he also believes in pro-choice and gay marriage. He thinks Jon Stewart and John Oliver are two of the best commentators on television. He doesn’t sit around espousing conservative propaganda, but if he meets someone else who does, he simply listens to them, which is more than most people would do. Before, of course, arguing with them, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum. 

His friends are fiercely loyal to him, and he to them. Where I’m the one who aims to please, he’s the opinionated one who isn’t afraid to say what he thinks, and those opinions are sometimes unwelcome. And he listens, and he remains calm, while people around him go red in the face and apoplectic over such a small issue.

And that’s one thing I particularly love about him: he’s patient. I’ve seen him lose his patience before — if he’s treated badly in a restaurant, the entire place will know; don’t even get me started on what happens if people behind us in a movie theatre begin talking — but not with the ones he loves. I’m an arguer, a very, very, passionate arguer. My voice rises and my hands fly all over the place and I begin quoting things and looking for information to back me up. Rob’s a calm arguer. He simply closes his eyes and shakes his head dismissively, and lets you have your little rant and then calmly says what he considers to be the only right thing in the conversation (but which, when arguing with me, is usually WRONG). But while that calm drives me NUTS, whenever I’m calm I appreciate it. Imagine two passionate firecrackers having an argument? Our marriage would have been over a decade ago. I need someone calm to balance my passion, and that’s him.

My friends and family are smart, educated people. I’m surrounded by academics and managers and professionals and entrepreneurs who talk about pop culture and world events and history and literature. And yet I’ve never met anyone smarter than Robert. Ask him anything, and he probably knows the answer. Name a year, and he’ll tell you what team won the World Series, and the batting averages of everyone on the team. Ask who has pitched perfect games and he’ll rattle off the pitchers’ names, including the year, what their team scored, who they were playing against at the time, and probably list them in chronological order. Name a golf course and he’ll tell you who designed it, in what year, how many times the clubhouses have been rebuilt, what designer ended up doing renovations (and in what year), and then he’ll go hole-by-hole and tell you what the features are, and if he played the course (which he probably did), he’ll tell you how he played each hole. (I should mention he’s a golf writer whose focus is golf architecture.) Ask him about any single by Elvis Presley, and he’ll give you the year it came out, who wrote it, where he recorded it, what number it charted at, and what colour the centre cardboard circle was on the vinyl. Don’t even think about playing against him in Trivial Pursuit — he’s that weirdo who can answer every question about Lebanon in the 1970s that no one else ever gets right. He’s a history major with a minor in just about everything else. I HATE when we go to friends’ houses and they impose that stupid “no playing with spouses” rules for Trivial Pursuit. Because I know I’m about to lose.

And yet despite that steel trap of a mind, he still can’t remember that paper goes in one bin and plastic in the other. Seriously.

He forgives. We live in a world where there are no limits on the number of social media platforms where we can state our opinions... as long as those opinions match the opinions of everyone else. He doesn’t follow that protocol, and as a result I’ve seen people say nasty things about him, and he knows that. And then he just shrugs and forgives. There are people who have done terrible things to him in real life, and I’ve seen him soon after having a conversation with them where he’s lively and cheerful, and never insincere. He just doesn’t waste his energy on being resentful. He has a mother who loves her kids fiercely and would do anything for them, and he’s inherited that from her. He calls his mom three times a week, talks to his younger sister constantly, we live near his brother's family and see them as much as we can, and he talks for hours with his dad about baseball.

He’s incredibly generous, and doesn’t take stock of his generosity by assuming people will owe him favours back. He’s written press releases for musician friends or friends starting their own businesses. When my brother, who’s a lawyer, was first out of law school Rob set up appointments with different lawyer friends of his to talk to my brother about various kinds of entertainment law. When my brother asked to borrow some golf clubs so he could play with a client, Rob put together an amazing set of clubs from the many he has in the basement and told him to keep them. “There’s no better way to connect with clients than through golf,” he said. He’s driven my mom to the hospital on several occasions for appointments. He’s usually the first one out on the street when a neighbour’s car gets stuck in the snow (we live on an uphill street, which can be treacherous in the winter). As such, he’s one of those rare individuals who has no trouble asking others for help if he needs it. I find so many people (I’m one of the worst) refuse to ask for help when they need it, but he comes from a family that says help others and ask others to help you. It’s the one area above all others where I wish I could be more like him.

As a husband, he’s loving, kind, and even after all these years tells me I look nice in the morning (even if I’m unshowered and wearing an old baggy T-shirt and yoga pants). While I often complain loudly that he doesn’t do any housework ever, he works long hours and always has a lot of pressure on him, yet he never takes this out on me. Ever.

I remember 10 years ago when our daughter was born, I got to see a new side of him, and was floored by it. As soon as my daughter came into this world I tentatively held her, so scared I might break or drop her, and looked into her eyes and she looked back at me with that intense stare she has to this very day. And when he knew I was ready to let go, he swooped in, scooped her up in a way that made my heart go into my stomach (oh my god don’t drop her!) and sat down in a chair with her propped up on his legs, talking to her like she was an old friend. Our first day home from the hospital, he was playing with her on the couch and all of a sudden said, “Oops, someone needs a diaper change!!” and then stood up, hesitated, and said, “I don’t know how to change a diaper.” He quickly ran upstairs and got one, and I showed him how to do it for the first time. For the next two weeks, I didn’t change a single diaper — he considered that Daddy’s duty, and he waited on us hand and foot. As my children have grown, he’s been my daughter’s baseball coach, my son’s wrestling companion, and they absolutely adore him. There are times when I joke that I have three kids, when he and my daughter seem to fight like a big brother and little sister (seriously, they’re so much alike it’s frightening), but I know she’d be lost without her daddy.

He was and is my first and only true love. I can’t imagine having spent my life with anyone else. I think back to who he was and who I was twenty-five years ago. He was an eccentric guy who wore a fedora and drove a car with a stick shift and wore leather racing gloves to drive it, and I thought he was cute and bizarre and cool. I was the quiet bakery girl who really didn’t stand out at all. I’ve mellowed him, and he brought me out of my shell. We carved out a life together where we’ve celebrated the many ups, and banded together to weather the downs.

Twenty-five years ago today, I hung up the phone, elated. I floated back to my room and my dad was already waiting in the doorway. “Was that Robert?” he said, with a twinkle in his eye. “Yes,” I replied, and told him that we were getting together on Friday. My dad went back downstairs, and I turned back to the drawing of The Edge. I added a five o’clock shadow on him, shaded in the hat, and sat back to look at my masterpiece. And then I shoved it into the side of my military green cargo bag I used for school, where I carried it around with me for years afterwards to remind me of how I felt in that moment.

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Posted on 8 January 2015 | 10:39 am

Word Grrrls

But With Imagination

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Posted on 23 January 2015 | 9:59 am

Elfshot - sticks and stones


Wholesale jewellery orders were once the biggest part of Elfshot's business, but over the years the one-of-a-kind museum reproductions and workshop instruction have taken on bigger roles.  It's not that there isn't as big a demand for knapped jewellery, it's just that I can only do so much work in a year and I enjoy working with new pieces and new people more that I like the mass production side of making wholesale products.   However, this week I get to turn my brain off and knap a couple dozen necklaces and earrings.  The first step is making four dozen blanks that will be turned into Dorset and Groswater Palaeoeskimo endblades and Recent Indian arrowheads.

Photo Credit: Tim Rast

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Posted on 28 January 2015 | 2:36 pm

Adam Radwanski

Centre-left battle rages on unfamiliar turf in advance of federal election

While the NDP holds much of Quebec, it has been frustrated by Trudeau’s prominence and the Liberals’ resurgence

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Posted on 20 January 2015 | 7:41 pm

How to Survive Life in the Suburbs

Longest Winter Ever? WW

For me, finding a way to bask in the sun, keep your spirits up, and stay warm in the winter is a true challenge.  You have to rely on hats and all manner of winter wear to try and keep from freezing.  In the end, your  imagination  is your most powerful tool as you pretend […]

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Posted on 28 January 2015 | 12:00 pm

A Peek Inside the Fishbowl

Is there such a thing as ‘good’ screen time?

I’ve written a lot about screen time, here on the Fishbowl and over on the MediaSmarts blog. I think I can summarize my feelings thusly: I’m not against TV, video games, iDevices etc. I do however, worry about the effect these things are having on our brains and attention spans and I believe there should be […]

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Posted on 29 January 2015 | 10:37 am

Dawg’s Blawg

Outline For A Film We'll Never Make

After years of research, a theoretical physicist figures out how to send a five-word message back forty years through time to his younger self. Only one message, and only five words. After careful consideration, he composes the message: “Sell Everything,...

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Posted on 28 January 2015 | 9:59 pm

Dammit Janet

Let's talk ... about corporate greed.

The Talking Heads:

Today is the day that one big business has chosen to make itself look good and to brand its corporate image with the glow of a Very Important social / health issue.

Yes, today is Bell _Let's Talk™_ Day.

My co-blogger fern hill wrote about it two years ago.

I agree with her.

Yesterday there was a number of people waiting with me at a Bank Street bus stop, including a mother and her young adult daughter who kept whispering loudly to her mother about the spirits she saw who were telling her *things*.  The older woman was painfully aware that people were looking at them, some in kindness, others not so much as she tried to guide her daughter away from the group.

They travelled briefly on the same bus with me then disembarked to transfer on to a different route. I wondered and worried about them.  My daughter's childhood friend developed schizophrenia in her late adolescence.  Many of her (her partner's, too) peers and contemporaries are beset with a wide range of mental health issues that are aggravated by precarious employment conditions and dwindling mental health resources.


Indeed.  For every tweet, Bell will donate 5¢ per.  The corporation claims that funds they've dedicated to mental health programs are distributed according to funding requests awarded.

You want more numbers crunching? This blogger does an excellent job of breaking down the figures.

[...]in reality one of the things that is actually happening is that for $4.26 per hour Bell are paying you to act as a PR representative for their brand – part of that branding is the image of a “responsible corporate citizen.”

Bell could just pay the same corporate income tax in 2013 that corporations paid in 1960 (or really any point since then) and contribute vastly more to the treatment of mental health in Canada than the money they are contributing as part of a corporate PR campaign. Bell Canada’s 2011 net profits were $2,160,000,000 and its total revenue was 19,500,000,000 – so whatever they end up donating for mental health treatment/awareness could be replaced with stable, annual funding by increasing corporate income tax by less than a sliver of a fraction of a percentage point.

So Bell demands more and more corporate welfare and tax relief from the federal government.  This leads to shortfalls in revenues which governments at the federal, provincial and municipal level must absorb by cutting mental health programs.

At which point Bell swoops in like a white knight in shining armour and can point to where it takes credit for patching up the healthcare infrastructures disintegration that its own corporate greed and gluttony for profits has caused.

Toxic capitalism. 

It also seems a good time to note, as communications flunkeys who toil for the Harper government furiously tweet up a storm on behalf of its CPC Ministers and MPs, that the CRA is directed to investigate charities that do not comply with his government policies, and that millions of dollars in advertising are dedicated to promoting his *Party of One* on the ordinary Canadian taxpayer's dime.

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Posted on 28 January 2015 | 3:32 pm

That Artist Woman

Northern Lights

Occasionally here in Calgary we can see the Northern lights.

This is the second project I'm working on with Kindergarten.

I found this great youtube video for this technique from wecreate art lessons.

I changed it a bit by adding some extra elements in the foreground to complete the composition.


- black construction paper
- chalk pastels
- posterboard or heavy paper for stencil
- kleenex
- watercolour paper, we used 90lb student grade
- blue and purple disk tempera
- plastic wrap
- textured wallpaper
- green and black acrylic paint
- a piece of sponge
- glue
- animal silhoutette cutouts, optional, you can create your own animals


Cut a strip of watercolour paper the same width as your black construction paper.

Paint with purple and blue disk tempera.

While the paint is still wet lay a piece of plastic wrap on top.

You want to smoosh it so that there are wrinkles in it.  This creates the ice like texture.  If yours is not working it might be too dry.  Re wet with the water and try again.

Leave plastic wrap in place while the paper dries.

I want my trees to also have some texture so we used textured wallpaper from the hardware store.  You could also pass some paper thru a crimper or embossing folder (cuttlebug).

Paint with green acrylic or liquid tempera. We are using acrylic as tempera doesn't stick too the wallpaper.

We then sponged on some black paint. I asked the students to not sponge too much so we could see both colours.

Watch the video to get the technique down.
I made quite a few stencils.  If you cut your poster board or heavy paper in wide strips and then cut your wavy lines you get 2 stencils.

Make sure your stencil is as long or longer than your background paper.

Apply your chalk pastel along the stencil, we just followed the line.

I asked the kids to choose bright colours.

Use the kleenex and wipe upwards.

I asked the kids to swap stencils for each new line.

Continue all the way up the black construction paper.

When the watercolour paper is dry remove the plastic wrap.

Cut a curvy line from one side to the other.  This will be the snow and ice in our foreground.

Glue into place.

When your textured paper is dry turn it over and draw some triangles on the back in different sizes.

Cut out.

Glue into place.

For the kinders I pre cut some animal silhouettes from the cricut for them.

If I had more time, (another session) we would have drawn our own animals and added them to our nightscape.

That's it.


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Posted on 25 January 2015 | 7:11 pm

A pretty Life in the Suburbs

Family Friendly Snack Ideas

 Oh snack time.  I am not a fan of it.  I mean, I like to snack but I can’t stand putting together snacks, and I think it’s because I often can’t think of good ideas in the moment.  That, and the fact that I seem to be in my kitchen all day long.  So sometimes the […]

The post Family Friendly Snack Ideas appeared first on A Pretty Life In The Suburbs.

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Posted on 23 January 2015 | 8:00 am

Canada's Adventure couple

Cuteness Alert: Penguins of Antarctica

Warning: Watching the video below will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Penguins of Antarctica When visiting Antarctica there is one thing you are guaranteed to see....penguins. They just may be the cuteness little animal on earth. They are the most curious creatures. Passengers on an Antarctica expedition are required to stay at least 5 meters away from the penguins and to stay off their penguin highways. (Their trails leading to and fro on the ice) However, if [...]

Read the original post Cuteness Alert: Penguins of Antarctica on Adventure Travel blog for Couples | The Planet D.

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Posted on 29 January 2015 | 5:48 am

My New Life in Canada, under the snow!

"Ascensor-ing" in Valparaíso

Whenever I arrived in a new city, I’m thirsty. Not literally (although I can be), but I want to explore, see and absorb as much as I can. Even if it means going up and down steep streets. Much of Valparaíso is built on several hills. There are tricks to get around easily: you can take [...]

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Posted on 28 January 2015 | 6:11 pm

Live From Waterloo

Things I was better off not knowing - #20

(En español más abajo)
(jokingly)Then he called me the C-word, which really hurt my feelings”
(surprised) He called you a coward?” 
(en tono de broma)Entonces me insultó con la palabra que empieza con C, lo que me hirió en mis sentimientos”
(sorprendida) “Te llamó cobarde?” 

(Es difícil de traducir al español, aunque hay un mala palabra con ‘C’ –al menos en Argentinaque es la traducción exacta. Piensen en Barreda…)
More ‘Better off not knowing’ stories here

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Posted on 29 January 2015 | 1:50 am