Monkeys and Mountains

Exploring the Western Coast of Finland #OutdoorsFinland

The original can be found here: Exploring the Western Coast of Finland #OutdoorsFinland. Please read the original.

I'll be exploring the west coast of Finland and can't wait to visit Vaasa, Björköby, Kalajoki and Liminka Bay - now I just have to figure out how to pronounce them!

Monkeys and Mountains - Adventure seeker and explorer by day, luxury seeker by night

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Posted on 26 August 2014 | 3:53 pm

Indian Country

The Week That Was: The Big Stories in Indian Country, August 31, 2014

It's our recap of the stories that mattered most in Indian country:...

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Posted on 31 August 2014 | 12:00 am


GANT – A Fall Inspired By Our History

A Fall Inspired By Our History

The post GANT – A Fall Inspired By Our History appeared first on Hello Vancity.

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Posted on 30 August 2014 | 10:38 pm

List Verse

10 Mistakes That Fed The Rise Of ISIS

A few short months ago, the Islamic State (ISIS) made headlines around the world when they captured Mosul, an Iraqi city roughly the size of Boston. For most of us, it was the first we’d ever heard of the jihadist group. But the ISIS story is more complex than one of simple atrocities and sheer […]

The post 10 Mistakes That Fed The Rise Of ISIS appeared first on Listverse.

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Posted on 31 August 2014 | 3:01 am

The Fur Files

Dangerous Things People Should Probably Avoid

My husband is a smart guy. He knows a lot about a lot of things. I would consider him to be one of those people who is both life smart AND book smart AND good at fixing washing machines. (Ours keeps breaking and breaking and breaking – I’m about to go all “I’m sending a […]

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Posted on 11 April 2014 | 10:13 am

The Gate

Photo: Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell doing their thing with their fans at #FanExpoCan

Posted automatically from Instagram via Instagrate.

The post Photo: Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell doing their thing with their fans at #FanExpoCan appeared first on The GATE.

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Posted on 30 August 2014 | 1:20 pm


Opponents beyond PC ranks start to take aim at Alberta leadership candidate Jim Prentice

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Posted on 31 August 2014 | 2:18 am

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

So Long Dearest Bob!

Bob “Roberta” Kowalik, came into our life 14 years ago. She was a small, wriggly black and white puppy with one blue eye. Since then, she slept with us almost every night-even when she grew and demanded at least half the bed! She was gorgeous ball of fluff and  everyone who met her was smitten. […]

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Posted on 31 August 2014 | 10:16 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

How Tarion Helps Protect New Homebuyers


When people buy a new home, they want to have confidence that it has been built well and according to the standards set by law. Tarion Warranty Corporation is a private corporation that regulates new home builders and protects the rights of new home purchasers through the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. With tens of thousands of houses and condominiums sprouting up across the province every year, especially in Toronto, it is important to be aware of the protection entitled to new homebuyers.

New home enrolments with Tarion from 2009 to 2013. Image courtesy of Tarion.New home enrolments with Tarion from 2009 to 2013. Image courtesy of Tarion.

Builder Licensing

One of the major responsibilities handled by Tarion is the licensing of all new home and condominium builders in Ontario, ensuring builders have the technical experience, customer service capacities and financial stability to perform their job. Consumers are advised to do as much research as possible prior to the purchase of a new home and Tarion has helped make this a little easier through the publicly-accessible Ontario Builder Directory. The Directory provides important information about new home builders including whether they are licensed, how many homes they have built and whether Tarion has had to resolve warranty claims on their behalf. It also shows builders who have had their license refused or revoked.

Warranty Coverage

In addition to licensing builders and maintaining the builder directory, Tarion protects new homebuyers with mandatory warranty coverage. The coverage begins even before homeowners move into their new homes with deposit protection, delayed closing coverage and protection against financial losses for contract homes.

Once you take possession of your new home, there is a one, two and seven year warranty. The one year warranty ensures protection against Ontario Building Code violations as well as defective materials and workmanship. It requires that the new home be habitable and protects against unauthorized substitutions. The two year warranty provides coverage for water penetration, defects in plumbing, heating and electrical work, as well as defects in materials used in exterior cladding, doors, windows and caulking. Ontario Building Code violations regarding health and safety are also covered in the first two years of possession. The seven year warranty covers major structural defects. The warranty also includes coverage for shared areas of a condominium building, known as common elements, such as the recreation area and elevators.

One of Tarion’s recent challenges was rectifying a subdivision of homes that was sinking due to changes in the soil. The homes were jacked and the fill underneath the houses were replaced with lightweight fill, essentially Styrofoam blocks. The blocks absorb the impact of the settlement and are installed wherever there are unstable soil conditions. In total, twenty-three homes were involved and ten required major repairs to make them liveable. The repairs took two years to complete at a cost of just over $5 million to Tarion. Though it was a stressful ordeal, there were many lessons learned that Tarion says they will be able to use to better communicate and manage issues going forward.

Fill underneath a house is replaced with lightweight fill. Image by Tarion.Fill underneath a house is replaced with lightweight fill which absorbs the impact of the settlement. Image courtesy of Tarion.

Online Resources

Tarion also provides online resources to help homeowners and builders manage the warranty process. Through MyHome, Tarion’s online warranty portal, purchasers can submit warranty forms and receive automatic emails informing them about warranty deadlines. With more than 73,000 homeowners using the service in 2013, Tarion’s research has shown that MyHome users are consistently more satisfied with their Tarion experience than those who had not used the service. Builders also have the ability to oversee their warranty status online through BuilderLink, including the option to enrol homes and manage inspections.

Customer Satisfaction Survey

In addition to licensing builders and administering the warranty, Tarion ensures that all homeowners can evaluate their respective builders through the annual Customer Satisfaction Survey. Every new homebuyer in Ontario is mailed a survey within one year of occupancy to grade their builder. Last year's survey (pictured below) received 6,400 responses—enough to provide statistical accuracy. The 2013 Customer Satisfaction Survey asked what matters most to new homeowners and included the grade they gave to their builders on each. The top rated builders from this survey are eligible to receive a Tarion Award of Excellence. 

Customer Satisfaction Survey asked what matters to homeowners. Image by Tarion. 2013 Customer Satisfaction Survey asked what matters most to new homeowners. Image courtesy of Tarion.

Over the years, builder satisfaction has actually been increasing, partly due to Tarion’s emphasis on improving customer service between the builder and the purchaser. The Tarion Awards of Excellence finalists—the top 20 builders in Ontario as rated by homebuyers in terms of customer satisfaction—demonstrate outstanding results, hovering around 90 per cent satisfaction in customer service in each category. All builders are given the results of the survey and their performance is compared to those of the average builder. Tarion helps analyze these results, offers advice and delivers customer service training to low performing builders. Since homeowners’ satisfaction is directly correlated with whether they will recommend the builder, the annual survey is extremely important for builders who want to improve on their performance.

Items assessed and conciliation inspections have declined. Image by Tarion.The number of items assessed and number of conciliation inspections have substantially declined. Image courtesy of Tarion.

Conciliations & Claims

Tarion has also noted that claims activity over the years has been on the decline, one reason being that issues are now more frequently being resolved between the homeowner and the builder directly. This has partly been attributed to Tarion’s efforts in encouraging resolution by educating and communicating with builders, in addition to a conciliation fee structure which favours resolution. It is in the builder’s best interest to resolve items before Tarion steps in to inspect a home at the homeowner’s request. Inspections can lead to chargeable conciliations when an item is covered under the warranty and the builder has not resolved the issue within the applicable repair period.

Chargeable conciliations are placed on a builder’s permanent record, which is accessible through the Ontario Builder Directory. A $1,000 charge is also levied upon the builder if during the inspection there is at least one item found that is covered under the warranty. Chargeable conciliations can also impact a builder's registration renewal, providing further incentive to resolve disputes before a claim is launched. The image below depicts the small number of chargeable conciliations, demonstrating quicker resolution before reaching the claim stage.

Chargeable conciliations represent a small portion of homes. Image by Tarion.Chargeable conciliations only represent a small portion of the homes under warranty. Image courtesy of Tarion.

One important consumer protection initiative that Tarion is focused on is illegal building—builders who are either not licensed by Tarion or who do not enrol homes under the warranty. Tarion has worked with the government to amend legislation making it more difficult for builders to avoid providing a warranty. Builders and vendors in Ontario who fail to register or enrol new homes, as required by law, can face possible fines of up to $100,000 and imprisonment of up to one year. Although municipalities work with Tarion in identifying illegal builders, Tarion hopes the changes to legislations will allow them to be actively involved in the building permit process to help further reduce illegally built homes.

You can access an array of information about Tarion’s mandate and the new home warranty on their website or Like Tarion on Facebook to get ongoing updates.

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Posted on 29 August 2014 | 5:20 pm

The Greater Fool


Last week I picked on Paul Etherington, cartel boss of the nation’s biggest real estate board. It was so much fun, let’s do it again. Easy, too, when he writes drivel like this: “Making regular mortgage payments represents a method of forced savings: as you pay down the principal on your home loan, and your […]

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Posted on 31 August 2014 | 5:49 pm

Hiking With Barry!

Consolation Lakes – Banff National Park – Hiking Alberta

Beginning at world renowned Moraine Lake, near Lake Louise in Banff National Park, the two small and pristine Consolation Lakes are accessed by a short, 2.9 KM (1.8 mile), one-way, easy hike past the Rockpile and along Babel Creek to boulder fields beneath … Continue reading

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Posted on 31 August 2014 | 1:30 pm

Question of the Day: We Asked the Men of London How Often They Fake an Orgasm

(Photo by Stuart Sandford)

According to a survey last month, more than 30 percent of men in New York have faked an orgasm. That seemed, at best, improbable, and, at worst, completely unrealistic. Because of basic human biology, there are certain constraints – as a guy, at least – when it comes to faking it. The main one being the exact thing you're thinking of right now.

To figure out whether London's men are as dishonest as their New York counterparts – and to get a grasp of how doable it is to fake an orgasm as a man – I had a walk around Shoreditch and popped the question.

VICE: Have you ever faked an orgasm?
James: Is it possible for a bloke to fake an orgasm?

Well, apparently a load of you have been at it.
Um, no. I can’t see how that’s possible.

You’ve never considered trying it?
No, because [makes ejaculatory hand gesture] there’s evidence, isn’t there, you know? You either have or you haven't. They’d just know. And what’s the point of having sex if you’re not gonna orgasm?

Fair point.

Has there ever been an occasion where you’ve pretended to come?
Malcolm: I don’t think so.

Are you sure? You don’t sound very sure.
Okay, probably. Yes.

How did it happen?
Do you need me to draw a picture or something? I was tired. The whole thing just petered out, and yeah… it was just this one particular time.

Did she know you’d faked it?
Yes. She wasn’t particularly angry about it. In fact, I think she was quite glad – neither of us were in the mood.

Thanks for your honesty, Malcolm.

Andy (left) and Martin

VICE: Hey guys, have you ever pretended to come? 
Andy: But the woman would know, wouldn’t she? Yeah, she would...
Martin: That’s a good point. There’s…*makes ejaculatory gesture* you know?

I do know.
As long as you know, that’s alright! I don’t see how that would work. Is it a really ugly woman?

I don’t know – I'm asking about your own experiences.
No, that’s never happened to me. I’ve never been like, "Oh, I better fake one."
Andy: I wouldn’t screw someone that meant I had to fake it.
Martin: Yeah, innit! Well, I think those men are lying or sexually deficient. Have you ever known someone to fake it?

I hope not.
Well, now you need to backtrack through your life and work that out.

Daniel (left), Anthony (right) and Fernando (who didn’t want to be pictured)

Ever attempted to fake an orgasm?
No. You just pull out.

So you’ve never faked one whatsoever?
No, can’t say I have. You, boys?
Daniel: You kidding me?
Anthony: Have you?

No. But I have friends who do.
Girls do all the time. Why is that?
Fernando: It’s like that film When Harry Met Sally. You know where she fakes it in a café? If a girl has to fake it, I feel sorry for her.

Have you ever been with a girl that’s faked it?
Anthony: She hasn’t told me, but I hope not.
Fernando: I’m gonna tell you something right now, yeah? Basically, you can tell when she’s faking because the eyes don’t roll back. Every chick I’ve been with, the eyes roll back. That’s cos I hit the spot.

VICE: Have you ever faked an orgasm?
Colin: No.

Do you know any male friends who have?
Done “it”, or faked an orgasm?

Faked an orgasm.
I don’t think so, no. I don’t think I’d ever consider faking. If you wanted to finish it off earlier, you just finish it off earlier. Have I got to the point where I didn’t want to? It’s happened.

What do you do at that point?
Just say, "Thank you, see ya later. Thank you very much and see ya later."

As easy as that?
No, it’s not quite as easy as that. I do let them down a bit easier than that, yes.

Thanks, Colin.


More sexy stuff:

Meet the Man Behind London's Biggest 'Elite' Sex Parties

I Invented a Weird Glove to Help Every Woman Have a Squirting Orgasm

The Autoblow 2 Is a Transformer for Your Dick

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Posted on 1 September 2014 | 9:16 am

Michael Geist

BC Court Rules on Signing Away Your Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

Canadian privacy law has long been reliant on the principle of "reasonable expectation of privacy."  The principle is particularly important with respect to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as the Supreme Court of Canada has held that the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure is grounded in a reasonable expectation of privacy in a free and democratic society.

The reasonable expectation of privacy standard provides a useful starting point for analysis, but the danger is that privacy rights can seemingly be lost with little more than a contractual provision indicating that the user has no privacy. Indeed, if privacy rights can disappear based on a sentence in a contract that few take the time to read (much less assess whether they are comfortable with), those rights stand on very shaky ground.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the limits of the reasonable expectation of privacy standard emerged in a recent British Columbia Court of Appeal case involving the search of a courier package that contained illegal drugs. The court rejected claims of an illegal search, concluding that the defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy despite the fact that he had no commercial relationship with the courier company and had never agreed to, or even viewed, the terms of the contract.

The post BC Court Rules on Signing Away Your Reasonable Expectation of Privacy appeared first on Michael Geist.

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Posted on 27 August 2014 | 10:01 am

Photos: Taiwanfest brings a new look to Granville Street

The festivities continue on Monday (September 1) in the 600 to 800 blocks and on the north lawn of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

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Posted on 31 August 2014 | 10:49 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

Bullfrog weigh-in – a challenge

Now, as a retired teacher, I love doing math problems. When I was tutoring young women in a home for single mothers in the fall, I had to go back over my high school math. Since our medical woes, I haven't had the time nor energy to do so. I quite enjoyed helping them with their schoolwork. I loved teaching math. The discovery math, currently in vogue, has done nothing but harm our students. The

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Posted on 30 August 2014 | 8:29 am

Steve Paikin

Steve Paikin: The Challenge of Writing About Dalton McGuinty

Twice last week, I wrote blogposts about Ontario's 24th premier, Dalton McGuinty, and the changes that have happened in his life since he left politics in January 2013. 

The first was about his new job at Desire2Learn, an education software manufacturer, and the second was about the always difficult transition from first minister, constantly living life at 100 kilometres per hour, to private citizen when the phone stops ringing.

Both posts were written with an eye to focusing on what's new in McGuinty's life: the job and the transition. Yes, references were made to the controversial circumstances under which he left politics (decisions to cancel gas plants, prorogue the legislature, etc.). But clearly the focus was on what was new.

As with all posts I write, the reaction on our website, on Facebook, and on Twitter was decidedly mixed. Some comments were positive, such as this one from Andrew Cameron:

Today's article and yesterday's too, were both excellent. For those fascinated by the subject matter of the exciting political pace while elected, and the stories of comedowns and questioning when the political careers end, read "the Life" and "the Dark Side". Both are by Steve Paikin.

But more were negative, such as this one from David Patrick O'Connor:

The reason TVO may seem soft on McGuinty and the Liberals should be rather obvious. Mr. Paikin's livelihood and TVO's very existence rely on the continued financial support of the Ontario Provincial Government acting on behalf of the taxpayers.

Or this one on our website from someone named Stu, who referenced a quote that McGuinty loved dealing with tough issues:

I wanted every tough issue on my desk. Except Caledonia. I'll pass on that one. Oh and the debt - leave that one for the next Premier to deal with. Oops - sorry, rural Ontario, don't want any of their issues either. He does deserve credit for some things, but the blemishes on his record are tough to ignore....This two-part blog post comes across as though you are his PR rep.

Or these comments from Twitter:

  • "Mr. McGuinty will be known as the Ontario premier who forced Ontario into being bankrupt. $162 Billion in increased debt over 10 years. Disgraceful."
  • "i wonder if he has any clue about how much damage he did?"
  • "just seeing that man's name makes my blood boil. He sacrificed us to grab power."

This kind of feedback raises some good and important issues for people who do what I do. Part of my responsibilities involve keeping an eye, not just on the day-to-day developments at Queen's Park, but also on the larger, thematic stories at play. Having written a few books about premiers, how they make decisions, and how they transition into private life, I am interested in that aspect of Dalton McGuinty's post-political life, and I suspect some of you are too.

So when McGuinty made his first public appearance in a year on Budget Day back in July, I wrote about that in the context of his "exodus" from Harvard being over, and his re-integration into Ontario beginning.

Similarly, when I heard that McGuinty had taken on the "special advisor" role at Desire2Learn, and was going through the emotional transition from powerful politician to ex-politician, I wanted to write about that too for the same reason.

But there's one thing you learn when you try to write new things about old politicians -- you'll make a lot of people angry, because they simply haven't moved on yet. Many are still furious with Ontario's 24th premier over decisions about windmills in rural Ontario, about cancelling gas plants in the GTA, about eHealth, ORNGE, Caledonia, and the list goes on.

It raises an interesting issue. While I have written numerous blogposts in the past that were very critical of the way McGuinty handled those files on his desk (examples here, here and here), at what point does an ex-politician earn the right not to have every bit of malfeasance be the focus of an article going forward? When can we write a story about McGuinty without referring to gas plants or proroguing Parliament in the first paragraph?

I don't know the answer to this question but I do know that for many Ontarians, the answer is: never. Bob Rae hasn't been Premier of Ontario for almost 20 years. And yet you'll still find political adversaries and journalists who can't help but refer to every alleged sin he made while in office every time they mention the man. Same for Mike Harris, who hasn't been premier for more than a decade, and yet can still provoke the blood to boil. He may have left politics in 2002, but that didn't stop Kathleen Wynne from frequently invoking his name in a negative fashion during the last election campaign. Fully eight years after Harris' departure from office, we did a week-long, five-part interview series with him on the subject of leadership. I thought the insights were fascinating from one of the very few people to occupy the premier's chair. And yet, many people excoriated us with comments along the lines of "how dare you put him back on the air."

Bill Davis seems to avoid mostly negative references these days. But he's been out of public life for almost thirty years. Is that how long it'll take before the Twitterverse can refer to McGuinty with a little more calm?

So, as always, I look to you, readers and viewers, for advice. At what point can we refer to what's new in Dalton McGuinty's life without constantly focusing on his past mistakes? Will I be able to write about his further transitioning from public to private life without using the words "gas plants" in the opening paragraph? When does the statue of limitation run out on a politician's bad decisions, thereby allowing us to focus on other things if we want to?

Read all of Steve Paikin's articles about Ontario politics. 

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Posted on 25 August 2014 | 6:37 am

Weighty Matters

Saturday Stories: History, Mammoths, and the Most Important Story on Earth

Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker asks if it helps to know history?

Wait But Why with a great piece on taming your inner mammoth.

And Matti Friedman in Tablet with a fascinating piece that in 3 days has been shared over 50,000x on how and why the media made Israel the most important story on earth.

[And if you don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook, here's my US News and World Report column that aims to answer whether or not you should skip breakfast, here's the Twitter debate I had with Bryce Wylde regarding proof vs. promise and red palm oil benefits, and here's a quick Q&A I did with the Charlotte Observer on nutrition, dieting and public policy.]

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Posted on 30 August 2014 | 5:54 am

Margaret Wente

Who’s afraid of Catholic schooling?

In Ontario, the fight has turned into a crusade, but the public system would be worse off without competition

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Posted on 16 August 2014 | 8:00 am

Lauren Out Loud

#HyundaiDriveSquad: That one time I RODE AN ELEPHANT at African Lion Safari

    Hay kids, hay! Remember that one time I RODE ON A FREAKING ELEPHANT? No? That’s okay. I haven’t even told you about it yet, bwahaha. I’m about to though, so buckle on innnnn (like I did, that one time I rode on an elephant!)     Yeah, that’s an ele-selfie. Okay, so a […]

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Posted on 22 July 2014 | 1:43 am

Rants n Rascals

Summer Smiles, Adventures and Fun #kindermom #kindersmiles

It’s hard to believe we parents here in BC are still playing the wait game. Two days before school is suppose to start and we still don’t have any answers yet. It’s okay by me, just means I get to have my kids a bit longer to enjoy what has been a very relaxing but […]

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Posted on 31 August 2014 | 4:02 pm

Bow. James Bow

To the Boys Who May One Day Date My Daughters...


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Posted on 27 August 2014 | 12:24 pm

A Toronto Blog

Canadian International Airshow 2014

High flying aerial acts like the CF-18 hornet flew over Lake Ontario as part of the closing of the Canadian National Exhibition during the Labour Day long weekend. The final Toronto CIAS performance is September 1, 2014 from 1-4 pm.
Matt Younkin and the Beech Special
The early morning thunder storm made way for partly cloudy skies and plenty of humidity.
Mike Wiskus and his Pitts Special

See more planes after the jump.

The heat and the burning oil used to make smoke trails soon made the sky thick with haze at lower levels
T-33 Acemaker Jet Demo
Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team

MiG-17 Jet Demo
Great War Flying Museum

Also in the show was the C-123 "Thunder Pig!", Red Tail - P-51 Mustang, Lucas Oil Jumpers, Royal Canadian Air Cadets, Vintage Antonov AN-2 Biplane and the CF Snowbirds 9 ship demo team finishes the show.

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Posted on 31 August 2014 | 9:41 pm

Robyn Urbak on Campus

Edmonton teacher fired for giving zeroes wins appeal

Lyden Dorval gave students zeroes if they did not complete their homework or assigned tests

The post Edmonton teacher fired for giving zeroes wins appeal appeared first on

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Posted on 30 August 2014 | 10:48 am

Postcards From the Mothership

Is it painful to get a tattoo? Not nearly so painful as choosing a tattoo font!

As I mentioned yesterday, I finally got my tattoo yesterday. I am so happy with how it turned out and with the whole experience. I am also hugely relieved. I wasn’t worried about the pain. Seriously? I birthed not one, not two but THREE 10 lbs babies, one without medication and two after more than [...] Related posts (automatically generated):
  1. Thinking about inking
  2. Photo of the day: Shine, baby!
  3. A bloggy work in progress

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Posted on 30 August 2014 | 9:02 am

David Akins on the Hill

Liberals held dominant lead at start of New Brunswick campaign

Click here to see more photos of Trudeau’s visit to Gallant’s rally in Fredericton. Brian Gallant’s New Brunswick Liberal Party held a commanding lead over incumbent Progressive Conservative Premier David Alward as the province’s 38th general election opened,  the first public domain poll of the campaign concludes. The poll, done by Toronto-based Forum Research  and […]

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Posted on 30 August 2014 | 9:20 am

Dutch Blitz

Jumpstart Pedal For Kids

Last year, I was contacted by a representative of Canadian Tire to see if I was willing to write about how to be active outdoors in Winter for a feature they had on their website. You guys know that I am an active girl, and that we are an active family, and that we ski/I […]

© Angella Dykstra 2005-2013 All rights reserved. | Originally published for as Jumpstart Pedal For Kids.

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Posted on 30 August 2014 | 2:18 pm

Nik at Night

My Kids Review TV: Doctor Who 8.1 — Deep Breath

This past Saturday was the much-anticipated return of Doctor Who, which, if you watch the show, you know it comes with much more than "what will the new season be like?" This premiere brought with it a new Doctor, new relationships, new personalities, and even a new TARDIS. As the fifth Doctor would have said, "You've changed the desktop theme again!"

That's not the only theme that changed.

Right from the beginning of the episode, we get a new song, and new opening credits. I actually quite liked them, even though if I had to choose my absolute favourite DW opening theme song it would be the 10th Doctor's one, midway through his run, all violins and heavy guitar. It was manic and pulsating and determined. This new opening is more retro, harkening back to earlier Doctors and earlier opening themes from the Classic Series, with more synth (I half-expected the episode to open with Ace) and clocks flying by. But I liked it, and I think it'll grow on me even more with time. It was such a shift, rather than the slight change they usually make. And, best of all, it was created by a fan, and the producers liked it so much they took it, tweaked it slightly, and made it the opening. How amazing is that?

And just as that fan's dream came true, so did Peter Capaldi's. A Doctor Who megafan since he was a kid, now he IS the Doctor, and gets to come in when the show is finally hot in the U.S. in a way it's never been before, and has a renewed and reinvigorated audience. Personally, I thought Capaldi was fantastic, and I know we're heading in a darker direction, but this first episode was hilarious on so many levels, not least of all in the acknowledgement that Capaldi is best known as the always-enraged Malcolm Tucker on In the Thick of It (that show my kids always want me to show them, to which I answer unequivocally: NO). Much was made of Capaldi being an older Doctor, and that is brought up again and again in this premiere episode, more as if the writers are answering the fans than anything else. The companions have always stood in for the fans and our responses, and this episode made Clara one of us in abundance.

The 9th Doctor emerged from a place of war, having just destroyed his home planet and everyone on it. He's broken and sad, but young and smiling and there to have adventures with Rose. The 10th Doctor was also a young man, going through a particularly difficult regeneration, but one where Rose stuck by him, knowing this might not look like her Doctor, but he's in there somewhere. The 11th Doctor regenerated and then crashed his ship, and awoke to a new face and a little girl standing by his side, someone who'd never seen him before but would pledge the rest of her life to him. Of the three, only one of them carried the companion from one body to the next, and that companion accepted him pretty quickly. And none of those men looked like they were older than 35.

But everything is different now. This companion, Clara, is the Impossible Girl, the one who isn't just a companion, but has actively saved the Doctor in every body he's ever been in. If there's one companion who should be OK with seeing a new face on the Doctor, it should be this one, since she's encountered every single one of them firsthand.

Only... she hasn't. It's rather confusing, but she split herself into many selves, each one of them assigned to a different spot on the Doctor's timeline, and the Clara that we see in this season 8 premiere has only ever been with the 11th Doctor.

And here is where we step outside of the show for a second, and look around at all the young faces now watching the show. Many of them began with the 11th Doctor. This is THEIR Doctor, the one they first encountered when their parents said, "Hey, wanna watch Doctor Who with me?" In the case of my then-5-year-old son (now almost 7), it was love at first sight. He carries the 11th Doctor's sonic screwdriver around with him everywhere. He thinks bow ties are cool. And he cried for 45 minutes straight when his Doctor regenerated late last year.

But he's had eight months to get used to Capaldi's face, seeing it everywhere, knowing his Doctor is gone but a new one is on the horizon. He knows it's still Doctor Who, but he still misses his Doctor.

My 10-year-old daughter first joined us when I was going back to the beginning of the New Series with my son during the hiatus, and so her first Doctor is the 9th. She adored him, and loved the 10th, and thinks the 11th is wonderful. She seems pretty amenable to the regenerations and the new faces, so I was interested in what she would think.

So last Saturday, we all gathered in front of our televisions to watch the premiere of season 8 live. It was me, my daughter Sydney, son Liam, and Liam's friend Christian. Christian is 7 and has never seen Doctor Who before, so I was interested to see what he would think of this. Liam tried his best to prep him, with his beloved and tattered copy of the 50th Anniversary book, pointing out each villain and each Doctor and explaining what all of this meant.

I worried that the 10pm end time would mean my kids wouldn't last, but they were on the edges of their seats, wide-eyed and mired in the suspense, right until the end. (Except for Christian; we lost him shortly after 9pm when he just leaned against the arm of the couch and went right to sleep.)

The next day at lunch, I asked each of them for their thoughts:

What did you think of the new theme song? 
Liam: I liked it.
Sydney: I LOVED it.
Liam: And all those clocks swirling around were cool.

What did you think of the new Doctor? 
Liam: I liked him, but I still miss my Doctor.
Sydney: Loved him. But I like darker Doctors.
Liam: But I didn't like when he just left Clara alone in the basement with the robots.
Sydney: Yeah, that wasn't very nice at ALL.
Me: But he had a reason for doing that, right?
Sydney: I still like him.

Did you find the episode easy to understand? 
Liam: Um... yeah. But I never like the clockwork guys, they're creepy.
Sydney: I didn't get the ending, where he said he was in Heaven. What was that about, were we supposed to understand that?
Liam: Yeah, I didn't like the Heaven part.
Me: I think they're setting that up as something we're going to come back to.
Sydney: Why did that woman refer to the Doctor as her boyfriend?
Me: That's a very good question, and one I wondered about, too.
Liam: I thought it was the woman from Time of the Doctor at first, the woman in the church.
Me: Me too!
Sydney: You know what, I think we're going to find out that the woman is actually River Song! That she regenerated, and that's why she's in that place now, and looks different.
Me: Ooh, that's an interesting theory.
Sydney: And THAT is why she called him her boyfriend!
Liam: No, didn't she use up all her regenerations?
Sydney: When?
Liam: In that one episode when she was with the Doctor, the Hitler one? She says she used up all her regenerations!
Sydney: Yeah, well the Doctor said HE used up all of his, too, and then it turns out he has a whole bunch more. So... bam. It's River.
Me: Heeeheeeeee!!!!

Christian, did you like the episode? 
Christian: Yes!
Me: Would you watch it again?
Christian: Yes, I thought it was very funny.

What was your favourite part of the episode? 
Christian: I liked the dinosaur at the beginning a lot.
Liam: Yeah, I liked that, too, but I think they made it too big.
Me: I thought so, too! That was the biggest T-rex ever.
Liam: A T-rex would be a little taller than our house.
Sydney: Haha! Yeah, and this one was as tall as Big Ben!
Me: I think they need some 6-year-old boys on staff as dinosaur consultants.
Liam: My favourite part was when Madame Vastra and Jenny dropped to the floor and then suddenly Strax came flying down behind them!
Sydney: Yeah, that was my favourite part, too. I also like the Strax kept calling Clara a boy.
Christian: Who's Strax?
Liam: The one that looks like a potato!
Christian: Oh, haha! He's funny. I liked when he threw the newspaper at the woman and hit her in the face.
Liam: HAHA! Oh yeah!!

What do you think of Madame Vastra and Jenny? 
Sydney: I like them a lot, but she was mean to Clara.
Me: Yes, I agree; that was a little over-the-top. But Clara got to stick up for herself in a big way and I loved that scene.
Liam: Madame Vastra and Jenny are cool, but how can a lizard and a person be married?
Me: Well, she's like a human, right? And she's still quite beautiful even as a lizard.
Liam: True. I like Strax when he's with them.
Sydney: I liked when they kissed, that was sweet.

Did you find it scary at all? 
Christian: [nods furiously, wide-eyed]
Liam: I thought the part in the basement with the robots was scary.
Sydney: Ooh, when they made Clara hold her breath! Yeah, I didn't like that. But you know what, you haven't asked us if anything made us sad.
Me: I haven't gotten there yet.
Sydney: Can you ask that now?

Did anything make you sad in the episode? 
Sydney: Yes, when the dinosaur died. That was so sad, Mommy, why did they do that?
Me: The Doctor could understand what the dinosaur was thinking and feeling, so he was translating. The dinosaur doesn't know what these things are surrounding her, she's a stranger in a strange land, and she's scared and frightened. She just wants her world to come back and be the way it used to be. They were trying to draw a parallel between the dinosaur and the Doctor, who doesn't know who he is anymore, but also Clara, suddenly surrounded by a new and frightening world. Everything she knew seems to be gone.
Christian: I didn't like when the dinosaur died, either. I didn't like him on fire.
Liam: No, I didn't like that at all.

Did you guys like Clara in this episode? 
Sydney: I LOVE Clara.
Liam: Yeah, I thought she was awesome. But I miss Amy.
Sydney: I miss Rose.

And... what did you think when the 11th Doctor suddenly appeared at the end of the episode? Did you think that was going to happen? I had a feeling we'd have a cameo by him at some point, and so I half-expected that to happen, but it still made me so happy when it did. 
Liam: I did a gasp.
Me: [laughing and laughing]
Syd: [laughing and laughing]
Liam: But it made me miss him more again.
Me: But did you think that we needed him to be there?
Sydney: Clara needed to know that the older man was still her Doctor. And that phone call reminded her of that.
Liam: I do like the new Doctor, but I want mine to come back more. Will we see him again?
Me: Probably not; I think that was him officially passing the torch. Now we're on to the new Doctor.
Sydney: And I think Clara likes him now.
Liam: And next week there are DALEKS!! Christian, you HAVE to watch the Daleks!!
Christian: Are they scary?
Liam: A little, but they're awesome.

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Posted on 26 August 2014 | 12:21 pm

Word Grrrls

Content Designer/ Writer Job Post

Found this posted to Content Designer/Writer Full-Time Our philosophy is and yours should be ‘people using our products come first’. We’re working to create marketing products that people want to use and words play a big part in that. Join…

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Posted on 27 August 2014 | 12:22 pm

Elfshot - sticks and stones

August on Baffin Island

Autumn and winter are fast approaching, but the changing weather is giving us some spectacular vistas around the sites.  This was our view from the total station earlier in the week.
Photo Credit: Tim Rast

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Posted on 29 August 2014 | 4:39 pm

Adam Radwanski

Wynne’s rural outreach efforts could unravel in face of budget challenges

Smaller cities far large urban centres are experiencing population losses, and judging by comments by the province, it’s easy to guess where spending will be frozen

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Posted on 8 August 2014 | 6:32 pm

How to Survive Life in the Suburbs

A Beautiful Summer

This weekend we celebrate the very last weekend of the shortest summer ever?  There’s been too much rain and perhaps not enough sunshine; but we’ve managed to balance it all out with time with friends, some quiet nights, and a few glorious weekend escapes. I’m not ready for summer to be over, but I can’t […]

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Posted on 30 August 2014 | 11:33 am

A Peek Inside the Fishbowl

Weekend reading: August 30 edition

Every Ikea catalog cover since 1951: — Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) August 29, 2014 Toronto’s Anti-Littering Campaign Gorgeously Shames Litterbugs, (Update: the ads have been pulled.) Save the Fav, Twitter’s Digital Body Language, How Lego’s science set for girls is a hit, and a missed opportunity, In our digital world, are young […]

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Posted on 30 August 2014 | 6:00 am

Dawg’s Blawg

America the Beautiful: Deluxe Ferguson Edition

Nothing, repeat, nothing, has been resolved in Ferguson—or in the America for which Ferguson iconically stands. A grand jury, of three Blacks and nine whites, is presently deciding whether the cop who gunned down unarmed teenager Michael Brown should be...

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Posted on 29 August 2014 | 1:18 pm

Dammit Janet

Clarke does for the Canadian National Firearms Association...

what Levant does for Tar Sands extraction corporations.

We suspect both of them do it for money, as mercenaries and paid lobbyists. Perhaps also out of love for the *cause* they promote.

Each one brings to advocacy endeavours a wide range of knowledge, skills and experience.

Ericka, however, is able to harness some persuasive arguments that Ezra cannot.

My co-blogger fern hill wrote a blogpost which features a photograph of Clarke with the Minister of Justice for the Harper government and Kurtis Gaucher, that Press Progress published

When that photograph went viral, Petey MacKay was asked why he donned the shirt, claimed it was a wounded Canadian veteran (Gaucher) who requested it, yadayadayada...

As fern hill pointed out in her screen caps as well as a very revealing one from PatRiotChick, it was all a RUSE engineered by Clarke.  And MacKay was duped. DUPED!!!

*Mind you, Ericka appears to be as dim as Ezra, and she has yet to master the obstreperous bullying techniques that he has perfected as a StunTV host.


But as you can see from the photographs above and this one, and that one; she has different tactics at her command.  No matter that her gallery of photos on her Facebook account (now locked) looked eerily like those posted by Michele McPherson - Bruce Carson's fiancée - when she was a sex worker advertising "the Girl Friend Experience".

Lobbying is a complicated job which requires that supplicants hired by corporate interests or other organizations, meet politicians to secure their collaboration.  Much has been written about the talents female lobbyists must deploy to win the support of powerful men.  While official meetings held in public officials' and government buildings must be recorded as well as any campaign or party contributions, quid pro quo may cover a wide range of mutually beneficial favours.

So, let's assume that Ericka Clarke is employed respectably and honourably in the performance of her duties, and that she is NOT a woman who needs rescuing from a dodgy organization that trafficks her talents to members of the Harper Conservative government.  Let take as a given, just as Kate Heartfield outlined here, that Clarke is NOT “selling her body” or “selling herself” for the purpose of promoting CNFA and its goals. 

No need to involve MP Joy Smith and Cons' prurient concerns and beliefs about the rampant sexual exploitation of women and girls that were spewed during the Justice Committee hearings about C36.  Clarke's interactions with CNFA, its membership and the politicians she meets are seemingly professional, consensual and not coercive.

In fact, her status and working conditions are much better than those imposed upon young women hired by PETA to stage a "protest" aka publicity stunt during the Ottawa Ribfest.  Those employees are the equivalent of female servers in the employment of Hooters.  It is a job requirement that they display their bodies in the uniforms provided by their employer, albeit a less revealing one for restaurant staff.

Sadly though, CNFA does not appear to value Clarke's role as a 'field officer' highly enough to put her name on this very special invitation sent to MacKay and his "fellow" MPs (CPC only?).  Perhaps she'll be present as bullet buffer and spirit-fluffer, unless the association didn't appreciate the frenzied media brouhaha she created.

Ericka Clarke and Ezra Levant.  We may disagree with the goals and ideology of the organizations that pay their salaries.  Both are workers toiling, as many of us choose or are obliged to do, in the bowels of capitalist enterprises.  We may mock their words, expose their lies, deconstruct their odious tactics.  If they attack those who criticize their Over Lords, we will push back - as hard as we can.

This is a blogpost we published shortly after the Moncton shootings, questioning the premise of the NFA and its lobbying efforts in Canada.

*After reviewing the docs that I screencapt'ed in preparation for this blogpost, I realize that I forgot to insert that one as an example of Ericka's skills. So, there it is.

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Posted on 29 August 2014 | 1:05 am

That Artist Woman

Giveaway Winner

The winner of "The Successful Artist's Career Guide" by Margaret Peot is Beth Lowry.

Congratulations Beth.

Thanks everyone for entering and have a great weekend.


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Posted on 20 June 2014 | 1:27 pm

A pretty Life in the Suburbs

35 Easy School Lunchbox Ideas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…oops wrong season.  Or not.  ;)  Actually I have very mixed feelings about back to school…I love having the kids home with me during the summer.  I really do.  I love our lazy mornings and days out enjoying the sun, plus I know that these summers together are […]

The post 35 Easy School Lunchbox Ideas appeared first on A Pretty Life In The Suburbs.

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Posted on 29 August 2014 | 7:00 am

Canada's Adventure couple

Cultural Immersion for our Big Winners on Manitoulin Island

As we watched the passengers enter the building from the runway of the Sudbury Airport, I immediately picked out the four winners of the Best of Outdoor Ontario Contest. Entering the building with big smiled, we ran up to them to give a hug and make introductions. I could already tell it was going to be a great week! Jamie of Northeastern Ontario Tourism and Bonita of the Great Spirit Circle Trail were there to see us off as we [...]

Read the original post Cultural Immersion for our Big Winners on Manitoulin Island on Adventure Travel blog for Couples | The Planet D.

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Posted on 31 August 2014 | 5:00 am

My New Life in Canada, under the snow!

Spam. Sigh. And More Spam.

I have to a draw a line somewhere. Fake subscribers, fake authors, fake readers… what’s the point of blogging, then?

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Posted on 1 September 2014 | 7:08 am

Live From Waterloo


(En español más abajo)
CanadaA couple of days ago I ordered Chinese food at Ming’s, my favourite restaurant in the region. As I mentioned before, I have become so predictable that the lady takes my order even before I say anything. She says she recognizes me because I’m the only one who says ‘please’ and the end of every sentence (What? Aren’t we in Canada?). This time was no exception.
Now I had a surprise when I started to eat: my fortune cookie was empty inside. I read somewhere that this is an sign of bad luck. But if we are literal, it should mean that I have no luck, right?
So… what is it? Am I out of luck or just plain cursed? Meh, like I would believe in these things…
Hace unos días pedí comida china en Ming’s, mi restaurante favorito en la región. Como dije antes, me he vuelto tan predecible que la señora me toma la orden incluso antes de que la pida. Dice que me reconoce porque yo soy el único que dice ‘por favor’ al final de cada pregunta (Pero cómo?, No estamos en Canada?). Esta vez no fue la excepción.
La sorpresa me la llevé cuando comencé a comer: mi galletita de la fortuna estaba vacía por dentro, no tenía papelito. Leí por  ahí que eso trae mala suerte. Pero si somos literales, la aunsencia del papelito debiera significar que no tengo más suerte, no?
Así que… en qué quedamos? Se me acabó la suerte o estoy maldito? Bueno, como si uno creyera en estas cosas…

Source: Keriosity
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Posted on 30 August 2014 | 5:20 am