August 2012 Archives

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RL Solutions Open House

RL Solutions Open HouseI was lucky enough to get an invitation to RL Solutions' open house today. RL Solutions is a Toronto-based company that makes healthcare software, and they recently moved into the 23rd floor at 1 Yonge Street. Tonight was an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink bonafide par-tay.

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I should point out I don't work for RL Solutions, nor am I contemplating a move there, although their new office is awfully impressive. They have their own pub stocked with plenty of booze, a billiards table and shuffleboard.

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In addition to a fully stocked bar, there's one helluva view.

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But my favourite part of this visit to RL Solutions' new office at 1 Yonge Street was checking out the movie poster parodies at every turn.

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If it sounds like a great place to work, you haven't heard the best part yet: unlimited vacation.

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My Ten Favourite TV Shows of All-Time (Updated)

TVAbout six years ago, I listed my ten favourite TV shows of all-time. I thought it was due for an update.

Here is my current top ten:

  1. The Wire
  2. Six Feet Under
  3. The Simpsons
  4. Breaking Bad
  5. Mad Men
  6. The Sopranos
  7. Curb Your Enthusiasm
  8. Seinfeld
  9. Oz
  10. Arrested Development

The Larry Sanders Show and Kids in the Hall were near-misses. Now it's your turn... what are your favourite shows of all-time?

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My Daughter Leaves Me iPod-Request Notes...

fatherhoodMy 8-yr old daughter leaves me notes with songs she wants me to sync to her iPod. Here is the most recent one she left for me:

Michelle's MP3 Request

Spirit of the West's Home For A Rest and the Violent Femmes' Blister in the Sun? I'd say I'm doing something right...

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Seeing Two of My Favourite Artists in Concert

Seeing Two of My Favourite Artists in ConcertI keep seeing Pearl Jam and The Tragically Hip in concert. I keep seeing them because I love both acts so much, and their live performances never cease to amaze me. They might just be my two favourite bands of all time.

There are bands I'd love to see, but can't. First on that list is Nirvana. I missed Nirvana, and I regret it.

But there are acts I've admired for decades, but for whatever reason, have never seen live, despite the fact they're still touring. In 2012, I'll erase two of the primary artists from this list: Public Enemy and Neil Young.

I love Public Enemy. I've loved them since the 80s, and still listen to Public Enemy every time I bike. On Sunday night, I'll finally see Public Enemy live. Better late than never...

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Neil Young is my favourite solo artist and I've been loving his music since discovering it in high school. I'll finally see him in November and I can't wait.

What are some musical acts you've never seen live but wish you had? Feel free to list acts that have retired or passed away, as well as acts that are still active.

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Holly McNarland - Numb

MP3It's Wednesday, and that means it's time for another Weekly MP3.

You have seven days to grab this week's MP3. Please right-click your mouse and select "Save Link As..." or "Save target as..." so you can download it before playing.

play Holly McNarland - Numb
I lost track of Holly McNarland, but in 1997 her cool debut album included this slick hit single.

A few years later, McNarland had another single I dug called "Do You Get High?"

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The Television Spoiler Era

tvWe've entered a new era for spoilers. Twitter is primarily to blame, but others like Facebook and Reddit share fault. Allow me to explain...

In this day and age, it's not uncommon for us to watch a television program after its original airing. Breaking Bad might air 10pm on Sunday night, but I won't get to the episode until some time Monday night. In the meantime, I'm dodging spoilers left, right and centre on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit.

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Spoilage is so bad and annoying that I think I may have to avoid the web between the time the Breaking Bad season finale airs on Sunday and the time I get to it next Monday. Unplugging might be the only option.

How do you avoid spoilers in The Spoiler Era?

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Sergeant John Munch: 10 Different Shows

tvI had a brief Twitter debate last night about which series is better: Homicide: Life on the Street or The Wire. The fact is they're both great shows, and Richard Belzer appeared in both as John Munch.

If you didn't follow Homicide: Life on the Street, you likely know Munch best from his appearances on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Detective / Sargeant John Munch has actually appeared on ten different television programs:

  • 30 Rock
  • Arrested Development
  • The Beat
  • Homicide: Life on the Street
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live!
  • Law & Order
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
  • Law & Order: Trial by Jury
  • The Wire
  • The X-Files

That, my friends, is a record.

HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET

By the way, prior to becoming Munch, Belzer was a damn funny comedian. Here he is in 1978.


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The Camera is Dead. Long Live the Camera.

The Camera is Dead. Long Live the Camera.After years of owning an Olympus digital camera, I picked up a Canon PowerShot camera a few years ago for $199. It was the only digital camera I used, and it did a fine job.

It was also my only option. The camera built into my old Blackberry was pretty bad. At least it wasn't nearly as good as my Canon PowerShot. But then, in October, I switched from Blackberry to a Samsung Galaxy S and all of that changed.

Here's a picture of my Canon PowerShot camera, taken with the camera built into my Samsung Galaxy S Android phone.

Canon

I recently went to Amsterdam and never touched the Canon. Then I went camping, and once again the Canon collected dust. I can no longer justify bringing along a second single-task device when my multi-use device takes better pictures.

The stand-alone POS digital camera is dead.

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Neil Armstrong, Dead at 82

In MemoriumNeil Armstrong was 82. He was the first man to walk on the moon.

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Amazing Week Camping at Pinery (A True Escape)

campingFor as long as I can remember, the only time I can truly unplug is when I camp. Time ceases to matter, emails can wait and ignorance becomes bliss. All week long I've enjoyed camp fires, hikes, visits to the beautiful beach on Lake Huron and great conversations.

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A big thanks for Ford Canada for lending me a 2012 Ford Escape for the road trip. It handled beautifully, was nice and roomy and sounded great when I connected my Samsung Galaxy S via Bluetooth to play our favourite tunes.

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I can't wait for our next trip.

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Back in the City Open Mike

Open MikeI'm back from camping at Pinery Provincial Park. The weather was amazing and a great time was had by all. I think it's my longest period of no Internet access since the mid-90s.

I'm just catching up on the news and learnt Phyllis Diller died. Only the good die young...

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This is your Open Mike. Talk about anything you want and let me know what I missed. If you have a question, I'll drop by throughout the day to answer you. Anything goes....

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We Need a Standard for One-Hit Wonders

We Need a Standard for One-Hit WondersI've been playing a lot of SongPop lately. It's an app where you essentially name that tune from a variety of genres and categories and compete against others. One category is called "One-Hit Wonders" and the songs listed there are often from artists that I believe had multiple hits.

That's the problem with One-Hit Wonders. There really is no standard, so who's to say who's a true One-Hit Wonder? For example, if a song has to crack the Billboard Top 40 to be a hit, Jimi Hendrix is a One-Hit Wonder. Only "All Along the Watchtower" cracked the top 40. "Purple Haze", "The Wind Cries Mary", "Hey Joe" and "Fire" all failed to crack the top 40. But would anyone consider Jimi Hendrix a One-Hit Wonder? Hell no!

Is Tom Cochrane a One-Hit Wonder? He is according to SongPop, likely because only "Life is a Highway" hit the American charts. And this is the problem.... "One Hit Wonder" is far too broad a term. We can't continue to live this way.

I'm open to suggestions as we attempt to standardize this category of music. We need Nena in there, but not Weezer. That's right, Weezer only has one song that cracked the Top 40 Billboard charts. And that one song is "Beverly Hills", believe it or not.

By the way, if you play SongPop, please challenge tormike. See you on the battlefield.

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Test Driving a 2013 Ford Escape

Test Driving a 2013 Ford EscapeThe good people at Ford Motor Company of Canada are putting me in a 2013 Ford Escape for a week. I just picked it up and it's pretty sweet.

Here she is partially loaded up for our camping trip. We depart Monday morning for The Pinery Provincial Park so I can literally unplug for a few days.

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Remember folks, Ford didn't receive a bailout. They survived the crisis on their own, and that says something. If my Mazda Protege ever gives out on me, I could see myself in a Ford... maybe a Ford Fusion Hybrid.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to my week-long escape in the Escape.

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CNE Opening Weekend Open Mike

Open MikeI worked at the CNE for three summers as a teen, so opening day always brings back a tonne of memories.

Share your Ex memories, or not... you can write about anything you want here. Rants are particularly welcome.

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If you have a question, I'll drop by throughout the day to answer you. Anything goes....

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Missed it By *That* Much

carI totally meant to snap a pic of my car rolling over to 250,000 kms, but I missed it by that much.

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Next pic: 500,000 km.

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The New Bottom for Toronto Sports Teams

The New Bottom for Toronto Sports Teams?I think we're about to hit a new bottom... at least a new bottom for Toronto sports teams. With the Euro Cup and Olympic distractions behind us, and summer winding down, I've decided to do a quick State of the Union analysis of Toronto professional sports teams.

Toronto Blue Jays
I'm sad to say I haven't followed this team much the past few weeks. Oh... I see we're dead last in the AL East, 15 games behind the Yankees. And our wild card hopes have evaporated... and half the team is on the DL. Wasn't that new wild card supposed to belong to us? Nah, we'll finish last instead.

Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs haven't made the playoffs since before the last labour stoppage, and now it looks like we're heading into another. We diehards don't even get to enjoy watching our team miss the playoffs again. That might be the only thing worse than the longest non-playoff streak in the league. Sad and pitiful.

Toronto Raptors
We sucked last year, and we'll suck again this season. Every analyst and pundit has assured me of that. And really, even if a miracle of miracles occurred and we slipped into 8th place in the conference, Miami would chew us up and spit us out in 4.

Toronto Argos
Firstly, I fully acknowledge that almost none of you care about the CFL. I just checked the standings and we're 3-3. That almost sounds decent until you see in an 8-team league only one team has a worse record. That shit's cray!

Toronto FC
Lastly, we check in on our professional MLS soccer team. I remember getting off to a horrible start, but I've lost touch with them recently. I wonder how they're doing.... Oh... dead last in the Eastern Conference. That sounds about right.

So there you have it, a quick review of how it currently looks for Toronto sports teams. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we've found a brand new low.

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Born in the USA: So Misunderstood

Born in the USA: So MisunderstoodWhen the USA men's basketball team defeated Spain to win the gold in London, the arena started playing Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA.

Born in the USA is not a patriotic or nationalistic anthem. It deals with the effects of the Vietnam War on Americans. Hearing it played to celebrate an American victory reminded me of 1984 when Ronald Reagan used it during his presidential campaign.

To quote Wikipedia:

Springsteen was lamenting the loss of a true sense of national pride. The working class no longer had a say in the foreign policy or decisions made by the government as a whole. The reverberating chorus of "Born in the U.S.A." was a cry of longing, of sorrow. It was a hollow cry of patriotism that once was, but now ceased to exist.

The more things change...


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Camper Van Beethoven - Take The Skinheads Bowling

MP3It's Wednesday, and that means it's time for another Weekly MP3.

You have seven days to grab this week's MP3. Please right-click your mouse and select "Save Link As..." or "Save target as..." so you can download it before playing.

play Camper Van Beethoven - Take The Skinheads Bowling
I'm planning a camping trip next week, but my collection lacks good camping songs. But it does have this tune from a camper....

This is Camper Van Beethoven's most successful single, 1985's Take The Skinheads Bowling.

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Rick Hodge Returns to Airwaves on 105.7 EZ ROCK

Rick Hodge Returns to Airwaves on 105.7 EZ ROCKMy old Buddy Rick Hodge is back on the air as co-host of Niagara's 105.7 EZ ROCK Morning Show alongside Lori Love.

Following an eternity doing mornings on 104.5 CHUM-FM, Rick Hodge was most recently a part of 97.3 EZ Rock's Toronto morning team. I once sat in on a show and great controversy ensued. I kid you not!

All's well that ends well, and I ended up working with Rick Hodge, attempting to teach him social media and helping him blog. The blog is now dead and I haven't heard from Rick in months.

But I'm very glad to hear Rick Hodge is back on the air where he belongs. Here's an interview I conducted with him in which he reveals the truth about why he left CHUM-FM.

Rick Hodge and I

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Ron Palillo, Dead at 63

In MemoriumRon Palillo was 63. He portrayed class joker Arnold Horshack in the 1970s television series Welcome Back, Kotter.


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Cold Tea Code for Beer?

Cold Tea Code for Beer?I just read a comment on Reddit that suggests if you order "cold tea" after the 2am cut-off for selling alcohol in bars and clubs in Toronto, they'll serve you an unmarked teapot with cold beer in it.

I had never heard this before. Toronto, I must know....

Is this true? Have you ever experienced it first hand?

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Should Toronto Bid For the 2024 Summer Olympics?

Should Toronto Bid For the 2024 Summer Olympics?Toronto bid for the 1996 Summer Olympic games and finished third, behind Atlanta and Athens. I was late to school that morning because I stayed home to watch the IOC unveil the winning bid.

We then bid for the 2008 games and finished second to Beijing. Now, there's talk of Toronto bidding for the 2024 Games.

What do you think about that? Should Toronto bid for the 2024 Olympics?

Discuss "Should Toronto Bid For the 2024 Summer Olympics?" (23 comments so far)


Dutch Intersection Design Has Toronto Cyclists Envious

Dutch Intersection Design Has Toronto Bikers EnviousBicycling is a key part of Dutch culture and the intersection design on Amsterdam streets reflects this progression. As a Torontonian who loves to bike our streets, I'm completely envious.

Here's a pic I snapped of a typical intersection in The Netherlands.

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Instead of trying to explain how it works, I found this fantastic video that explains all much better than I ever could. Watch this:

Makes sense, doesn't it? Is there any chance Toronto would implement something like this? Lest we forget what our mayor once said.

I can't support bike lanes. Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it's their own fault at the end of the day.

Sigh.

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I Hated the CTV Olympics App

ctv olympics appNow that the 2012 Olympics are complete, I have something to get off my chest. I absolutely hated the official CTV Olympics app.

I installed the Android version the day before the Olympics started hoping to use it as my go-to source for event and television schedules and somewhere I could go to see which events featured Canadian medal hopefuls. It was impossible to find the simple information I wanted, and eventually I just stopped trying.

Today I opened the app one last time, to see what time the closing ceremonies were scheduled to start. I thought that was a pretty simple, and common, query. I figured I'd find it easy in the official CTV app, but I was wrong. I eventually gave up looking and went back to http://www.cbc.ca/olympics/ where I learned the closing ceremonies started at 4pm ET. It took me about 10 seconds to find that out on the CBC page.

Oh, and the live streaming wouldn't work in Linux, and required wifi on my mobile phone. If I'm near a wi-fi connection, I'm likely near a television. Wifi-only isn't mobile at all.

Did anyone find the CTV Olympics App useful or even functional?

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Sightseeing in Amsterdam: Mijn Foto's

Sightseeing in AmsterdamI know I've been boring you lately with entries about my stay in Amsterdam, but here's one more for the road. These are photos I've taken this past week but haven't yet posted.

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It's been a fantastic visit, and I can't wait to return next month, but I do miss Toronto.

If you want to see all my Amsterdam pics on Flickr, click here.

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Mark de Jonge Wins Bronze in Kayak

Mark de JongeMark de Jonge has won bronze for Canada in the men's 200-metre kayak event at the London Olympics.

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The Red Light District

The Red Light DistrictTell someone you're going to Amsterdam and they inevitably bring up two things: weed and the Red Light District. I paid a couple of visits to the Red Light District, not to participate but just to see what it was all about.

One of the main streets was under construction, but I think I got the gyst.

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Establishments galore promised "live fucking" and assorted pornographic and prostitution offerings, and when you walk the narrow alleys connecting the main streets, women in windows with red curtains are openly advertising their wares and attempting to make you an offer you can't refuse. I refused, continuing my life-long streak of never having paid for it.

Here are a few pics I took. All in all, the Red Light District is rather underwhelming, but you can't visit Amsterdam without checking it out.

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Vondelpark in Amsterdam

Vondelpark in AmsterdamI've made a few trips to Vondelpark in Amsterdam, a beautiful public park in the west end. As one who has spent a lot of time in Toronto's High Park, I naturally compare the Vondelpark to High Park, and they're quite similar in appearance and vibe.

One thing Vondelpark has that High Park doesn't is totally exposed urinals for men. They're throughout the park, and people use them. That's something you don't see in Toronto.

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The Vondelpark also has better water fountains. These fountains are clean and high enough that people fill their water bottles up with them. I'd love to see these in High Park.

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Another difference between the Vondelpark and High Park is that people openly drink beer and smoke weed in Vondelpark without fear of harassment from police. It's a total 'live and let live' philosophy.

Here are some more shots I took of Vondelpark in Amsterdam on this sunny 22° day. The last two pics were taken earlier in the week.

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Richard Weinberger Wins Bronze in Open Water Marathon

Carol HuynhRichard Weinberger has won bronze for Canada in the men's open water marathon at the London Olympics.

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Amsterdam Special K

Amsterdam Special KThis morning, I decided to have a bowl of Special K. No, that's not a street name for hash here in Amsterdam, that's the cereal from Kellogg's I often enjoy in Toronto.

It seems Amsterdam's Special K isn't the same as the Special K we have in North America Canada.

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For the record, I prefer our Special K.

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Tonya Verbeek Wins Silver in Wrestling

Tonya Verbeek Wins Silver in WrestlingTonya Verbeek has won silver for Canada in women’s 55-kilogram wrestling at the London Olympics.

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Canada Wins Bronze in Women's Soccer

Canada Wins Bronze in Women's SoccerCanada has won bronze for Canada in women’s soccer at the London Olympics. Diana Matheson scored in the 92nd minute to beat France 1-0.

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Amsterdam Canals

Amsterdam CanalsAmsterdam has been called the "Venice of the North" for its more than one hundred kilometres of canals, about 90 islands and 1,500 bridges. I didn't have to count them to come up with those figures because I copied that line from Wikipedia. That's also where I copied this great shot of Amsterdam and her many wonderful canals.

You eventually get used to the bikes, but I don't think I'll ever get used to the canals. They're so different and beautiful.

Update: It was a great, sunny day today (Aug 10) so I took new canal pictures.

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R.E.M. - Radio Free Europe

MP3It's Wednesday, and that means it's time for another Weekly MP3.

You have seven days to grab this week's MP3. Please right-click your mouse and select "Save Link As..." or "Save target as..." so you can download it before playing.

play R.E.M. - Radio Free Europe
Did this tune ever hold up! What is it... 31 years old?

Actually, this is the version R.E.M. re-recorded for Murmur in 1983, not the Hib-Tone from 1981. You can tell because it's a little slower.

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Carol Huynh Wins Bronze in Wrestling

Carol HuynhCarol Huynh has won bronze for Canada in the women’s 48-kilogram division at the London Olympics.

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Hotel Minibar

Hotel MinibarAs a general rule, I avoid the hotel minibar at all costs. In fact, I've only broke this rule once in my life.

I was once very hungry at about 4am and decided I needed a Snickers bar to tide me over until breakfast. That was the best €5 chocolate bar I've ever had.

The minibar in the Amsterdam Hilton I'm staying at this week has a frightening message: it knows when I remove an item. I'm tempted to take out the €22,50 Baby Piper-Heidsieck just to see what happens.

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So when did this become a thing?

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Mark Oldershaw Wins Bronze in Canoe

Mark Oldershaw Wins Bronze in CanoeMark Oldershaw has won bronze for Canada in the men's 1000 metre canoe event at the London Olympics.

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Adam van Koeverden Wins Silver in Kayak

Adam van Koeverden Wins Silver in KayakAdam van Koeverden has won silver for Canada in the men's 1000 metre kayak event at the London Olympics.

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Derek Drouin Wins Bronze in High Jump

bronzeDerek Drouin has won bronze for Canada in the men's high jump event at the London Olympics.

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Amsterdam: Bikes... Bikes Everywhere

Amsterdam: Bikes EverywhereAmsterdam is a very interesting city. I'll be sharing more pics from my visit soon, but this entry is about the bikes that dominate the cityscape.

This summer, I've biked about three times a week throughout Toronto, but we in Toronto can't touch Amsterdam when it comes to biking. Amsterdam has bike lanes everywhere, and it seems almost everyone uses them. There are bikes locked, and unlocked, along every street, at virtually every turn.

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I thought Berlin did a fantastic job of installing bike lanes throughout the city, but Amsterdam has taken it to a whole different level. I love it.

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Ryan Cochrane Wins Silver in 1,500m Freestyle Swimming

Ryan Cochrane Wins Silver in 1,500m Freestyle SwimmingRyan Cochrane has won silver for Canada in the men’s 1,500-metre freestyle swimming event at the London Olympics.

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Canada Wins Bronze in Women's Team Pursuit Cycling

Canada Wins Bronze in Women's Team Pursuit CyclingTara Whitten, Gillian Carleton and Jasmin Glaesser have won bronze for Canada in women's team pursuit cycling at the London Olympics.

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Rosannagh MacLennan Wins Gold in Trampoline

Rosannagh MacLennan goldRosannagh MacLennan has won gold for Canada in women's trampoline at the London Olympics.

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How Ontario Got That United Kingdom-ish Flag

How Ontario Got That United Kingdom-ish FlagIn Toronto, we're getting Simcoe Day off on Monday, but it's not Simcoe Day everywhere in Ontario.

Civic Holiday may also be known by one of a number of local appellations such as Mountie Day in North York, Colonel By Day in Ottawa, George Hamilton Day in Hamilton, Joseph Brant Day in Burlington, Founders' Day in Brantford, McLaughlin Day in Oshawa, Alexander Mackenzie Day in Sarnia, James Cockburn Day in Cobourg, Peter Robinson Day in Peterborough, and John Galt Day in Guelph, as well as numerous other names in smaller municipalities.

Speaking of Ontario, our flag is awfully British. Allow me to demonstrate and then explain how this came to be.

This is the United Kingdom Union Flag they've been using since 1801.

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This is the Canadian Red Ensign flag Canada was using before 1965. You'll notice it has the Union Flag in there as a nod to our motherland.

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But in 1965, PM Pearson lobbied for a flag without the Union Jack, a symbol of our independence. This ticked off Diefenbaker who was rather fond of the Red Ensign. This familiar red maple leaf became Canada's new flag:

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Diefenbaker wasn't the only one upset we lost the Union Jack. Ontario Premier Robarts wanted Ontario to adopt a new flag that restored this history, so Ontario got this flag with the good 'ol Union Jack featured prominently.

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And that's how Ontario's flag came to look so damn British.

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Civic Holiday Long Weekend Open Mike

Open MikeOr do we call is Simcoe Day? I'm pretty sure it's not a Civic holiday as much as it's Simcoe Day around these parts. Either way, most of us get Monday off, and that's a good thing.

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Write here about anything you want, and if you have a question, I'll drop by throughout the day to answer you. Anything goes....

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Toronto Mike'd (City Love) - A Podcast Theme Song From iLLvibe

Toronto Mike'd (City Love) - A Theme Song From iLLvibeI've dropped a few hints about the podcast I'm going to start. It'll be a half hour a week, discussing a few Toronto-centric topics that are also covered on this blog. I'm doing it because I think it will be fun.

Originally I was going to use Lowest of the Low's Rosy and Grey as the theme song, but then I had a better idea. I had local musician and producer extraordinaire iLLvibe produce an original track I could use without having to deal with any licensing issues. Here's the new theme song from iLLvibe.

Toronto Mike'd (City Love)

Download the MP3

Honestly... what do you think?

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Canada's Women's 8 Rowers Win Silver

silverCanada's women's eight rowers have won silver at the London Olympics. Congratulations to Darcy Marquardt, Lesley Thompson-Willie, Andréanne Morin, Ashley Brzozowicz, Krista Guloien, Janine Hanson, Natalie Mastracci, Lauren Wilkinson and Rachelle Viinberg.

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Brent Hayden Wins Bronze in Men's 100m Freestyle Swimming

bronzeBrent Hayden has won bronze for Canada in the men's 100m freestyle swimming event at the London Olympics.

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Cracker - Euro-Trash Girl

MP3It's Wednesday, and that means it's time for another Weekly MP3.

You have seven days to grab this week's MP3. Please right-click your mouse and select "Save Link As..." or "Save target as..." so you can download it before playing.

play Cracker - Euro-Trash Girl
I'll be in Europe next week, so this song seems appropriate. It's one of the best hidden tracks you'll hear. This unlisted track was #69 on Kerosene Hat.

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Canada's Men's 8 Rowers Win Silver

silverCanada's men's eight rowers have won silver at the London Olympics. Congratulations to Brian Price, Will Crothers, Jeremiah Brown, Andrew Byrnes, Malcolm Howard, Conlin McCabe, Robert Gibson, Doug Csima and Gabe Bergen.

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