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2012 Was an Amazing Year

2012 Looked Almost Nothing Like 2011Although I never wrote about it here, almost everything in my life changed dramatically in 2011. There were changes in regards to where I live, where I work, my romantic life and just about everything in between. 2011 was a year of great change, but 2012 was amazing.

In 2012, everything was fantastic. What happened to me in 2012?

I Visited Europe Thrice
In January, I visited Berlin, and in August I visited Amsterdam. I revisited Amsterdam in September while also spending time in Paris and Dublin. It was all amazing.

I Mastered the Art of Working From Home
It took me a few months to master the art of working from home, but once I cracked the code, I became most efficient without sacrificing an ounce of mental or physical health. My new work-life structure agrees with me.

I Won Father of the Year
Whether it was Monster Jam, taking my son to his first Leafs game, Medieval Times, Snow White, Shrek the Musical or the best camping trip ever, I've never had a more fun year with the kids than I did in 2012. They're my pride and joy and I love them to pieces.

I Got In The Best Shape of My Life
I came back from Germany a bloated 85kg and now maintain a lean and mean 67kg. I biked all summer and now swim five days a week. In 2012 I stopped wishing I was in better shape and finally did something about it. I've never felt better.

I Had a Blast
I finally saw Public Enemy live and they were better than I had ever dared dream. I also saw Neil Young after idolizing him for 25 years and I closed out the year with an amazing set by Lowest of the Low at the Horseshoe Tavern. Great music, great trips to Europe, fun times with the kids... I had a blast in 2012.

I Got Engaged to an Amazing Gal
Last, but certainly not least, I got engaged to an amazing woman in 2012. I'm a very lucky guy.

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It's as if I tore everything down in 2011 and rebuilt it all in 2012. I can't wait for 2013.

Happy New Year, everyone.

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10 Celebrity Deaths of Significance in 2012

  1. Adam "MCA" Yauch
  2. Sam Sniderman
  3. Neil Armstrong
  4. Jim Unger
  5. Levon Helm
  6. Mike Wallace
  7. Gary Carter
  8. Etta James
  9. Maurice Sendak
  10. Andy Griffith

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The First 20: Toronto Mike'd Episodes Waiting to be Heard

Toronto Mike'd Podcast EpisodesRosie and I have recorded 20 episodes of our podcast, Toronto Mike'd. We're taking a little break while we change things up on this side of the coin, but we'd love for you to catch up if you've missed any of our first 20.

That first episode, I wasn't manning the sound board or the mixing board or even sure how I was going to drive the content. By episode 20, we were doing it all ourselves and it was as natural as our private conversations.

We hope you like what you've heard so far and will return for the next exciting chapter of Toronto Mike'd. Here are the first 20:

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End of 2012 Open Mike

Open MikeHere's hoping Christmas was good to you and you're closing 2012 on a high. If there's anything you need to get off your chest before the year is up, there's still time.

2013 is just around the corner...

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Fontella Bass, Dead at 72

In MemoriumFontella Bass was 72. She was the St. Louis-born soul singer who hit the top of the R&B charts with "Rescue Me" in 1965.

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The Christmas Day Bargnani Fight

The Christmas Day Bargnani FightMy brothers and I ended up in the same room Tuesday as we met up at my mom's for Christmas dinner. Many topics were passionately discussed, but the one that caused the biggest uproar was Toronto Raptor Andrea Bargnani.

With an embedded photographer in the room, a great deal of this debate was captured. In a nutshell, my brother Ryan is somewhat blinded by the Fantasy Sports value of a player and gets that confused with the real-game value of a player. Apparently, he really likes Andrea Bargnani's numbers and considers him an asset. Meanwhile, Steve and I are ready to ship him out of town for a couple of basketballs and consider him an overrated disappointment.

Here's Ryan emphatically telling me Bargnani should yield a first round pick in a trade.

Xmas 2012

Here's my brother Steve and I trying to decide which course of logic to follow first.

Xmas 2012

As a courtesy, we heard him out, of course.

Xmas 2012

At some point, Ryan compared Andrea Bargnani to Dirk Nowitzki. That's when I needed to sit down.

Xmas 2012

This argument could go all night...

Xmas 2012

To the computer!

Xmas 2012

Conclusion: Bargnani is a nice pickup for your fantasy sports team, but if you have a real NBA team, you'll be better off when he's out of the lineup. Sorry, Ry.

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The First Christmas

The First ChristmasMerry Christmas, all.

Today, I'm going to post a few pictures from the vault, in reverse chronological order. Here's my daughter's first Christmas way back in 2004.

Michelle's First Christmas

Here's my son's first Christmas, back in 2002.

James' First Christmas

And here's my baby brother's first Christmas, all the way back in 1978. I'm the keener in the Canada sweater.

Long Ago...

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Jack Klugman, Dead at 90

In MemoriumJack Klugman was 90. He was the prolific, craggy-faced character actor and regular guy who was loved by millions as the messy one in TV's The Odd Couple and the crime-fighting coroner in Quincy, M.E..

He was also Juror #5 in Sidney Lumet's 12 Angry Men.


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Google Santa Tracker

Mike's Link of the DayGoogle Santa Tracker 2012 - Santa’s dashboard - featuring the latest and greatest in Google Maps technology and sleigh engineering - will allow you to follow his progress around the world, and also learn a little about some of his stops along the way.

He's currently visiting Bangkok and has already travelled 82,296 km.

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The Christmas Raccoons

The Christmas RaccoonsIn the mid-80s, CBC aired a cartoon called "The Raccoons". Bert Raccoon was the hero and Cyril Sneer was the bad guy. I loved the fact Bert and Cyril had these faucet-like noses.

Here's the Christmas Raccoons, the television special that started it all. Enjoy your return to Evergreen Forest.

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Happy Festivus One and All

Snow FlakeI want to wish each and every one of you a very happy Festivus. For those who don't know what Festivus is, there are three easy to follow steps:

  1. "Get the pole out of the crawl space". Or go out and buy one. Remember, it should be aluminium, due to the "very high strength-to-weight ratio". Remember, "it requires no decoration". Tinsel is "distracting".
  2. "The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances... At the Festivus dinner, you gather your family around, and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year."
  3. After dinner, it is time for the "Feats of Strength". Remember, Festivus is not over until someone is pinned.

The origin of Festivus was explained nicely by Frank Costanza in the Seinfeld episode "The Strike". Here's his exchange with Cosmo Kramer.

Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?
Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born . . . a Festivus for the rest of us!
Cosmo Kramer: That must've been some kind of doll.
Frank Costanza: She was.

Here's everything you need to know. Happy Festivus everyone!


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Anthony Bourdain - The Layover: Toronto

Anthony Bourdain - The Layover: TorontoShared without comment, this is The Layover with Anthony Bourdain visiting Toronto.

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R. A. Dickey Knuckleball

R. A. Dickey Knuckleball

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Almost Christmas Open Mike

Open MikeMonday is Christmas Eve, in case you were unaware. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you have some time off to enjoy with friends and family.

You know what to do with this Almost Christmas Open Mike.

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No More Stuff, Please

moneyOur mega-consumer society has hit my last nerve. The stuff we accumulate, particularly at this time of year, is enough to make me physically ill.

For a few years now, I've had a "no-buy, no-receive" policy that I adhere to. My friends and loved ones know not to buy me any stuff as I won't be buying them any stuff. Instead of exchanging goods neither of us want or need, we spread good cheer. It's about breaking bread together, having good conversation and enjoying each other's company.

You still take care of the kids, Santa still comes, but nothing for me, thanks. If you want to get me something, you can donate a little coin to my Terry Fox run next fall, or help my good friends at Second Harvest. If you really want to do something nice, I do enjoy chocolate chip cookies and you're welcome to buy me tickets to see a band I like.

We've all got enough stuff, don't we?

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Jason's Mom and his Ultra-Marathon

Jason's Mom and his Ultra-MarathonToronto Mike reader Jason wrote this guest blog entry.

Greetings all Toronto Mike Readers!

On August 22nd 2011 my mother’s 7 year battle with ovarian cancer came to an end. She fought a very long and hard battle through those 7 years.

In honour of the hard battle my mother had to endure, my brother is putting together Cape Breton’s first ever Ultra-Marathon. This is a 52KM run along the Inverness County.

The proceeds of this race are going towards The National Ovarian Cancer Association (http://www.ovariancanada.org/).

If anyone is interested feel free to like our Facebook page, follow us on twitter and visit the website. The more likes and traffic the better.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheLOU52
Twitter: @LOU52ULTRA
Website: http://thelou52.wix.com/lou52

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Hockey Is Ours

Hockey Is Ours Nike AdI'm watching the world junior hockey exhibition game between Canada and Finland and they just aired a Nike ad on TSN.

Live sports is the only time I see ads because it's the only time I watch live TV. This "Hockey Is Ours" ad from Nike, however, nails it.

Hockey in this country cannot be locked out. My favourite weekly ritual is heading to the rink on Saturday morning to watch my son play. I love hockey, with or without the NHL, and it will thrive, without or without 'em.

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Lowest of the Low at the Horseshoe Tavern

Lowest of the Low at the Horseshoe TavernI just got home after seeing Lowest of the Low perform at the Horseshoe Tavern. The Horseshoe is turning 65 years and Lowest of the Low rocked the house as part of the celebration.

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We got just about all the amazing tunes from Shakespeare My Butt and more during two hours of high-energy rock in a very hot and sweaty Horseshoe. I'm told ambulances had to be called three times for folks who overdid it. It was not a particularly young crowd.

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The brilliant closer was Rosy and Grey, a song now best known as the Toronto Mike'd outro music, but two songs earlier Lowest of the Low had us all singing along to Henry Needs a New Pair of Shoes. Here's a taste:


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Concert Double Header

Concert Double HeaderI attended my daughter's Primary Holiday Concert this afternoon and enjoyed her performances of:

  • La neige sous mes pas
  • Jolly Old Saint Nicholas
  • Hanukkah Lights
  • Count On Me
  • Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
  • Donne-moi la main

My youngest child's final Primary Holiday Concert is now complete.

Xmas concert

Great job, Michelle! The Lowest of the Low tonight at the Horseshoe Tavern have a very tough act to follow.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 20: Let Me Sleep

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 20Here's the 20th episode of my podcast, Toronto Mike'd. In this episode, Rosie and I are joined by my two kids and we chat about the Distillery District, my trip to Ottawa, the Newtown tragedy, Bill Carroll, R.A. Dickey and our favourite cereals. This episode is exactly 1:05:11.

You can listen to this episode in a variety of ways:

Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd at http://www.torontomike.com/podcast/.

Toronto Mike'd Podcast

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Why I Never Liked Instagram

Why I Never Liked InstagramInstagram users are a little ticked off after learning they're changing their terms and conditions so they can now use and sell your photos without your permission or paying you. Eek.

I take lots of pictures. As a natural born archivist, I always feel like capturing the moment with a shot. I never take video, it's always a digital picture, and I upload almost all my pictures to my Flickr account as I have since my first upload in December 2004.

Michelle's Feet

When Instagram came on the scene, I hated how people were intentionally and artificially processing their pictures to make them look old or Polaroided. In my opinion, the aged look of a photograph only has value when it's earned. In other words, a picture looking old is wonderful when it's an old picture, and the Polaroid-zation of a pic makes perfect sense when it was taken with a Polaroid camera, but forcing these effects is phony and ruins an otherwise nice picture. I never created an Instagram account.

When I started on Flickr, it was a small Canadian company with the best interface I'd ever seen. Now it's part of the Yahoo! family, but it remains the only online service I pay for each year. And I still use it each and every week.

Instagram isn't the only big web thing I've had no interest in. I never had a MySpace account, I've never been tempted by Tumblr or Pinterest, but I've fully embraced Twitter, deem Facebook a necessary evil and tried my best to make Google+ work.

Do you use Instagram? Will you continue to use it after this change to the terms and conditions?

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A Real Hero

bereavementDaniel Inouye passed away today at the age of 88. Daniel Inouye, a long-time United States senator, was a real hero. The following is from his Wikipedia page.

Inouye was at the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 as a medical volunteer.

In 1943, when the U.S. Army dropped its ban on Japanese-Americans, Inouye curtailed his premedical studies at the University of Hawaii and enlisted in the Army. He volunteered to be part of the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This army unit was mostly made up of second-generation Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the mainland.

Inouye was promoted to the rank of sergeant within his first year, and he was given the role of platoon leader. He served in Italy in 1944 during the Rome-Arno Campaign before his regiment was transferred to the Vosges Mountains region of France, where he spent two weeks in the battle to relieve the Lost Battalion, a battalion of the 141st Infantry Regiment that was surrounded by German forces. He was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant for his actions there. At one point while he was leading an attack, a shot struck him in the chest directly above his heart, but the bullet was stopped by the two silver dollars he happened to have stacked in his shirt pocket. He continued to carry the coins throughout the war in his shirt pocket as good luck charms until he lost them shortly before the battle in which he lost his arm.

On April 21, 1945, Inouye was grievously wounded while leading an assault on a heavily-defended ridge near San Terenzo in Tuscany, Italy called Colle Musatello. The ridge served as a strongpoint along the strip of German fortifications known as the Gothic Line, which represented the last and most dogged line of German defensive works in Italy. As he led his platoon in a flanking maneuver, three German machine guns opened fire from covered positions just 40 yards away, pinning his men to the ground. Inouye stood up to attack and was shot in the stomach; ignoring his wound, he proceeded to attack and destroy the first machine gun nest with hand grenades and fire from his Thompson submachine gun. After being informed of the severity of his wound by his platoon sergeant, he refused treatment and rallied his men for an attack on the second machine gun position, which he also successfully destroyed before collapsing from blood loss.

As his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, eventually drawing within 10 yards. As he raised himself up and cocked his arm to throw his last grenade into the fighting position, a German inside fired a rifle grenade that struck him on the right elbow, severing most of his arm and leaving his own primed grenade reflexively "clenched in a fist that suddenly didn't belong to me anymore". Inouye's horrified soldiers moved to his aid, but he shouted for them to keep back out of fear his severed fist would involuntarily relax and drop the grenade. As the German inside the bunker reloaded his rifle, Inouye pried the live grenade from his useless right hand and transferred it to his left. As the German aimed his rifle to finish him off, Inouye tossed the grenade off-hand into the bunker and destroyed it. He stumbled to his feet and continued forward, silencing the last German resistance with a one-handed burst from his Thompson before being wounded in the leg and tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge. When he awoke to see the concerned men of his platoon hovering over him, his only comment before being carried away was to gruffly order them to return to their positions, since, as he pointed out, "nobody called off the war!"

The remainder of Inouye's mutilated right arm was later amputated at a field hospital without proper anesthesia, as he had been given too much morphine at an aid station and it was feared any more would lower his blood pressure enough to kill him.

Although Inouye had lost his right arm, he remained in the military until 1947 and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain. At the time of his leaving of the Army, he was a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. Inouye was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery in this action, with the award later being upgraded to the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton (alongside 19 other Nisei servicemen who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and were believed to have been denied proper recognition of their bravery due to their race). His story, along with interviews with him about the war as a whole, were featured prominently in the 2007 Ken Burns documentary The War.

While recovering from war wounds and the amputation of his right forearm from the grenade wound (mentioned above) at Percy Jones Army Hospital, Inouye met future Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, then a fellow patient. While at the same hospital, Inouye also met future fellow Democrat and Senator Philip Hart, who had been injured during D-Day. Dole mentioned to Inouye that after the war he planned to go to Congress; Inouye beat him there by a few years. The two remained lifelong friends. In 2003, the hospital was renamed the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in honor of the three WWII veterans.

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R.A. Dickey a Blue Jay

R.A. Dickey a Blue JayI've already used the title "Blue Jays Going For Broke" when they signed Melky, but I could have used it again here. The Blue Jays are clearly going for it in 2013 and that's all good with me.

The Blue Jays and New York Mets have agreed on a seven-player deal that sends R. A. Dickey to Toronto in exchange for Travis d'Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, John Buck and a minor leaguer. We'd also get catcher Josh Thole and a minor leaguer.

Knuckleballer Dickey just won the National League Cy Young Award. He will join a starting rotation that already features Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero. We haven't had a rotation like that in quite some time.

Yes, we're giving up a couple of elite prospects, and I was as excited as anyone about seeing Travis d'Arnaud next year, but I'd rather see the young and solid J. P. Arencibia behind the plate and put last year's Cy Young winner on the mound every fifth day.

With the big trade with Miami, the signing of Melky and this, we're in prime position to play playoff baseball for the first time since Joe touched 'em all. When you're in that position, you have to go for it.

Other awesome Blue Jays audio from Toronto Mike:

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Guns

GunsThe Newtown tragedy of Friday breaks my heart. We've become somewhat desensitized to such killing sprees, but the idea of a young man spraying bullets into a frightened huddle of six and seven years olds feels different. Every time I see a picture of one of the young victims I see my son or daughter.

Sharing the world's largest undefended border with the United States gives us Canadians a unique perspective. We see how much Americans love guns. In a strange coincidence, I held my first gun the day before the Sandy Hook shooting. I was at at Fairmont Kenauk shooting clay with a 12-gauge shotgun. I got off 12 shots and only hit the flying disc twice.

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Even though it was clay shooting, I knew after 12 shots it wasn't my game. When others embarked on their 9-station shooting course, I opted to join a hike of the beautiful Canadian wilderness. I knew it was both my first and last experience with handling a gun.

Seeing the American obsession with guns, and knowing how readily available they are in the USA, it's easy to blame gun control for what happened to the 20 youngsters and six adults killed on Friday. After all, such incidents are clearly an American thing. The statistics prove mass shootings are far more likely to happen in the USA than any other country in the world. It must be the guns!

But this weekend, I started thinking about the shooter, and wondered if better gun control could really have prevented this. Then I asked myself a simple question: If I had a plethora of automatic weapons in my bedroom closet, would I be any more likely to commit such an act than I am now? Of course not. You could gift me a fully-loaded automatic weapon and I'd never pull the trigger.

The most effective way to combat this issue in America isn't to make it all about gun control, it's to focus on mental health. This is primarily a mental health issue. Take a moment to read "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother" which includes this sobering fact:

But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise -- in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.

With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill -- Rikers Island, the LA County Jail and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011.

I don't have all the answers, but I now believe my initial instinct to blame the proliferation of guns was misdirected. More readily available and better treatment of mental illnesses now feels like the best course of action.

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Bill Carroll to Return to Toronto Radio on AM640

Bill Carroll to Return to Toronto Radio on AM640I wasn't even going to write about this, because I've never listened to Bill Carroll on AM radio. I faintly remember him appearing on Test Pattern with Dan Gallagher and I heard him host Barometer on Q107 back in the day, but I completely missed his body of work with the old TALK 640 and more recently on 1010 CFRB.

Since I'm neither a Bill Carroll fan, nor an AM640 listener, I figured a tweet was sufficient to share the "too hot to just be a rumour" news that Bill Carroll will return to Toronto airwaves with an afternoon spot on AM640. Multiple sources tell me this is happening.

Bill Carroll currently hosts The Bill Carroll Show on KFI in Los Angeles, so will Bill Carroll be hosting the AM640 show from LA or is he moving back to Toronto?

His wife's Facebook page gives us a clue. Please note, I'm sharing this screen cap b/c it's publicly available.

fb

It sounds like a move to Toronto might be in the works for April 2013, if you read between the lines. It's subtle, but it's there.

Is Bill Carroll going to host afternoons on AM640? Will he be moving to Toronto to do so in April? Does anyone care?

Update: Bill Carroll will be doing the AM640 Toronto show out of LA.

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Dear Aunt Agnes Christmas Special: Christmas At Loon Lake

Dear Aunt Agnes Christmas Special: Christmas At Loon LakeDo you remember Deat Aunt Agnes?

I used to watch Dear Aunt Agnes on TVOntario in the mid-80s but had never seen the series finale in 1989, a Christmas special entitled Christmast At Loon Lake.

Thanks to Retrontario, I finally have closure. Enjoy.

Christmas At Loon Lake Part One

Christmas At Loon Lake Part Two


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2013 Chevrolet Trax Test Drive Review

Test Driving a 2013 Chevrolet TraxI was invited to participate in the Chevrolet Trax Canadian Winter: Urban to Rural program. I'll write in more detail about what this amazing event entailed later. This entry is about the 2013 Chevrolet Trax we drove from Ottawa to Montebello and Kenauk and back.

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Size, I suppose, is relative. As a guy who prefers smaller cars, the Chevy Trax felt pretty big. It was super roomy and felt solid on snowy Quebec roads but I'm told it's not big enough for the American market. The Trax was designed for countries where smaller vehicles are more popular, and that's primarily Europe, Asia and here in Canada where it will be available soon.

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I don't yet know what this compact SUV will cost, but I'm told it might start at a very reasonable 18k (I've since learned the actual MSRP is $18,495). That's a sweet price for the car I drove effortlessly through windy, dark, snowy roads this week. It felt safe, handled beautifully and the USB port let me play songs off my Samsung Galaxy phone when I wasn't listening to XM.

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If you're looking for an economically priced SUV that won't cost you an arm and a leg for gas, the Chevrolet Trax has to be on your test drive list. It was a sweet ride.

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11-Days Until Christmas Open Mike

Open MikeThat's right, there are only 11 days until Christmas. Step up to the Open Mike and tell it like it is.

Options include, but are not limited to: ranting, raving, asking a question, sharing an story, posting an observation, bitching about n and crying over spilt or spilled milk. Both are acceptable here.

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Britannia Woods Community House in Ottawa

Britannia Woods Community House in OttawaOn Wednesday, I had the great pleasure of meeting the passionate people who work at the Britannia Woods Community House in Ottawa.

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I was helping the good people at Chevrolet and the United Way deliver much needed food and other supplies to the Britannia Woods Community House, which in turns gets it to the Ritchie St. housing complex needy.

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In 2011, 7007 members of the community received food from the Emergency Food Pantry. That's 63,063 meals from a pantry staffed by 43 volunteers who each log an average of 350 hours of service per month. This was the state of the non-perishable food in the Emergency Food Pantry the day I visited.

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It was truly eye-opening to see how the community relied on these services, including an under-funded computer room where students research and write essays they can then print for school. I'm told funding for this service has already been cut and they're not sure it will be operational at the end of this month.

Despite the constant struggle for money and food donations, I witnessed great hope. The passion from the staff and volunteers was abundant and the children's programs seemed to be thriving.

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I'd like to thank Britannia Woods Community House for opening their doors to us and letting us lend a helping hand. And I'd especially like to thank Chevrolet for buying the supplies and setting this up with the United Way. It was great shot of perspective and I needed that.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 19: Smile

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 19Here's the 19th episode of my podcast, Toronto Mike'd. In this episode, Rosie and I chat about coffee, Bookie, the Ikea monkey, the Aussie prank callers, Tom Cheek and I play my Christmas gift to all listeners (that makes Rosie weep). This episode is exactly 1:07:59.

You can listen to this episode in a variety of ways:

Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd at http://www.torontomike.com/podcast/.

Toronto Mike'd Podcast

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Ravi Shankar, Dead at 92

In MemoriumRavi Shankar was 92. He was India’s most famous interpreter and innovator of Indian classical music in general and sitar music in particular.


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Honky The Christmas Goose - Johnny Bower and Little John and the Rinky Dinks

MP3My appetite for Maple Leafs news is minimal these days, but Johnny "The China Wall" Bower is the great exception to that rule.

play Johnny Bower - Honky the Christmas Goose
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Johnny Bower's "Honky the Christmas Goose" was released in 1965 and enjoyed a significant amount of airplay, making it to number 29 on our Canadian music charts.

bowerxmas

Enjoy.

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Is There Still Shame in Getting Fired?

Is There Still Shame in Getting Fired?In 2012, good employees are fired every day. I'm not talking about getting fired for cause, like incompetence or stealing or something untoward like that, I'm talking about good, reliable employees being let go for a variety of reasons ranging from:

  • corporate restructuring
  • the fact they can replace you for half the price
  • outsourcing
  • downsizing
  • political bullshit

There was a time when getting fired from your job was akin to wearing a scarlet letter. There was shame, so you hid the fact you were fired from family and friends. But that day is long gone. Today, it's okay to be fired. In fact, it's par for the course.

I've personally known of several people who were shown the door only to receive the email and spin that they left for other opportunities. This is sometimes an option the employer will present to the person being fired. They'll offer to soften the blow by spinning it as "moving on" as opposed to "getting canned".

Corporations like spinning a departure as a good employee moving on after many years to another opportunity because it doesn't alarm the workforce that good people are getting mowed down. It doesn't incite panic from pencil pushers and, if the person is in the public eye, doesn't upset customers.

My question to you all is this: Is there still shame in getting fired?

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Meet Rosie: The Co-Host of Toronto Mike'd

Rosie: The Co-Host of Toronto Mike'dIt was July when I decided I'd try hosting a podcast of my own. With access to the Humble and Fred studio and a thorough knowledge of the back-end of XML and iTunes, I just needed a theme song and an awesome co-host.

The theme song, "Toronto Mike'd (City Love)", came courtesy of iLLvibe and I still dig it. But who would be my co-host? I'd need someone dependable, smart, comfortable on a microphone and, most importantly, someone I had excellent chemistry with. Such people do not grow on trees!

I immediately thought of Rosie. I've known Rosie since grade 10 and was once so reliant on her I literally had her pick all of my classes one year at U of T. Hell, she gave me the bed I slept on as a teenager, and my 10-year old sleeps on that bed to this day. Rosie gets me, has lots of broadcasting experience, and is completely reliable. And there's no way she's say no to this non-paying gig! Rosie would never say no to me.

rose

And she didn't. Every Tuesday at 5pm I know Rosie will meet me at the studio to record an episode or two of Toronto Mike'd. We don't always agree on things, but I know the discussions and debates will be lively and organic and we'll have fun.

rose2

So thanks, Rosie. I'm looking forward to recording episode #19 with you tonight.

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Fairytale of New York: 25 Things You Didn't Know

Fairytale of New York: 25 Things You Didn't KnowI was tipped off to this list by Alan Cross. It's from NME.com and it's 25 Things You Didn't Know About Fairytale of New York.

1

Despite the wintery subject matter, the song was actually recorded in July, in sweltering heat.

2

The song started life as a bet. Pogues producer Elvis Costello bet Shane MacGowan and co-writer Jem Finer, the band’s banjoist, that they couldn’t come up with a Christmas record that wasn’t slushy.

3

The song was originally planned as a duet between Shane MacGowan and Pogues bassist Cait O'Riordan. However, O'Riordan married Costello and left the band in 1986, before the song was recorded.

4

Costello was replaced as producer by Steve Lillywhite, who asked his wife, Kirsty MacColl, to record test vocals to help the band hear how the duet could work. They were so astounded by her performance they had to keep it.

5

Before hearing MacColl, MacGowan had suggested Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde as a possible partner for the duet.

6

The song was recorded not in New York, but at RAK Studios near Regents Park in London.

7

Due to illness, guitarist Philip Chevron had to drop out of the American tour that coincided with the video shoot for ‘Fairytale Of New York’. He was replaced by Joe Strummer, and the band added ‘London Calling’ and ‘I Fought The Law’ to their encores.

8

Although Shane MacGowan appears to play the piano in the video, the instrument was actually played by James Fearnley. Much to his chagrin, Fearnley had to wear Shane’s rings for the close-up shots of his hands.

9

When the band arrived back from their American tour they went straight onto Top Of The Pops to perform the song with MacColl. It features some spectacularly bad miming:

10

The lyrics mention: "The boys of the NYPD choir still singing ‘Galway Bay’.” The NYPD doesn’t actually have a choir, but it does have an Irish pipe band who are featured in the music video. They didn’t know ‘Galway Bay’, so they played
the ‘Mickey Mouse Club March’ instead, and the video was later slowed down to fit the beat.

11

Shane and Kirsty returned to Top Of The Pops as a pair in January 1992 following the song’s re-release for Christmas 1991.

12

The title, which is lifted from Irish American author J. P. Donleavy's novel ‘A Fairy Tale of New York’, was chosen after the song had been written and recorded. The book’s main character, Cornelius Christian, refers to New York as “the city that is too rich to laugh at and too lonely and too ruthless to love and where happiness is a big
cat with a mouse on a square mile of linoleum.”

13

The song’s story begins with an Irish immigrant being tossed into a drunk tank to sleep off a Christmas Eve binge. It’s only when he hears an old man sing Irish ballad ‘The Rare Old Mountain Dew’ that he begins to dream about his memories of the song's female character. ‘The Rare Old Mountain Dew’ dates from 1882 and is, unsurprisingly, about getting hammered on the wildly alcoholic potato spirit Poitín.

14

The “Sinatra was swinging” lyrics could place the song in the ‘50s, although his 1980 recording of ‘Theme from New York, New York’, was still in regular rotation when the song was released.

15

The video featured Matt Dillon as the NYPD patrolman who arrests the intoxicated MacGowan.

16

Shane MacGowan was born on Christmas Day.

17

Ella Finer, daughter of co-writer Jem Finer, now often sings Kirsty’s parts at live concerts.

18

In 2005 The Pogues performed the song on a Jonathan Ross Christmas special on BBC One, with Katie Melua singing the female part. It was the first time the full band had performed it for TV since 1988.

19

The song features string arrangements by Fiachra Trench. Trench also arranged the strings on The Boomtown Rats’ ‘I Don't Like Mondays’, composed music for films including Pearl Harbor, The Tailor of Panama and The Ring and taught Linda McCartney to play the piano.

20

In 2007, Radio 1 banned the words "faggot" and "slut" from being broadcast as part of the song, a move they said was to "avoid offence". The words were dubbed out. MacColl's mother Jean referred to the ban as "too ridiculous", while the Pogues said they found it "amusing".

21

The song went to number two in the UK charts when it was first released in 1987. It was kept off the top spot by the Pet Shop Boys’ ‘Always on my Mind’.

22

MacGowan reaction to be being pipped to the post was: "We were beaten by two queens and a drum machine"

23

It was re-released in 1991 and then again in 2005. All proceeds from the ‘05 release were donated towards a mixture of homeless charities and ‘Justice for Kirsty’, a campaign to find out the truth behind MacColl's death in a powerboat accident in 2000.

24

The song has made an appearance in the top 20 every year since 2005.

25

Bookmakers Paddy Power are offering odds of 20/1 on the song being Christmas No. 1 this year.

It's my favourite Christmas song of all-time.

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Monkey Songs or Songs With Monkey in the Title

Monkey SongsI'm listening to a Monkey playlist consisting of these ten Monkey songs in honour of Toronto's Ikea monkey.

  • Brass Monkey - Beastie Boys
  • Monkey Gone to Heaven - Pixies
  • Shock the Monkey - Peter Gabriel
  • Monkey Wrench - Foo Fighters
  • Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey - The Beatles
  • Half Ass Monkey Boy - Mother Love Bone
  • Monkey Man - The Specials Toots & The Maytals
  • The Lord is a Monkey - Butthole Surfers
  • Monkey to Man - Elvis Costello
  • Tweeter and the Monkey Man - The Headstones The Traveling Wilburys

Screen shot 2012-12-09 at 11.45.35 PM

If I missed a solid monkey song, please let me know in the comments.

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Dave "Bookie" Bookman Fired from Edge 102

radioDave Bookman, better known as Bookie on the radio, has been fired from CFNY / Edge 102. He had been on the air there since 1991.

Dave Bookman was the last on-air holdover from the 90s. When Alan Cross was fired in the summer of 2011 we feared Bookie would be next. He was older and probably making a decent salary, but he was passionate and knowledgeable about the music. I always enjoyed listening to Bookie talk about the music.

Here's Bookie's bio from edge.ca where you'll still find it. I suspect it won't stay there much longer.

bookie

Related Entries:

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The Last Inning Tom Cheek Ever Called

The Last Home Run Tom Cheek Ever CalledOn April 4, 2005, I wrote about Tom Cheek calling the fourth inning of the Jays opener in Tampa Bay. I wrote about it because it was surreal... almost as if it was out of a movie. I had no idea at the time that it would be the last inning of Blue Jays baseball Tom Cheek would ever call.

Here's what I wrote that day, followed by actual audio of his call of Orlando Hudson's home run. There's a reason I titled this entry "Emotional Rescue".

RadioIt was like a scene out of a movie, only it was very, very real. I was listening to the radio call of the Blue Jays opener against the Devil Rays when the Rays came to bat in the third. Joining Jerry Howarth and the rookie in the booth was a very familiar voice. It was Tom Cheek.

His voice was a little off and he was slightly shaky, but that tone was there. That baseball sensibility and love of the game was evident in every syllable uttered, every sentence strung together. In the top of the fourth, with the Blue Jays at bat, the emotional storybook moment occurred.

Against all odds, Tom Cheek took over the booth and began calling the game. The Jays had gone nine up and nine down up to this point, but with Cheek in control less than two weeks after very serious brain surgery, you knew something magically was going to happen. Right on queue, Frank Catalanotto hit a double for the Jays first base runner. Then, with Cheek still at the helm, Orlando Hudson went deep. "How about that!" was Cheek's reaction as Vernon Wells came to the plate. What did Wells do? He clobbered a homer deep to left. The Jays were in the lead for good.

The last voice I expected to hear on the radio today was that of Tom Cheek. His body is weakened but his love of baseball is strong. His role behind the microphone was minimal but for that half inning in the fourth he was back and the Jays were in charge.

It was damn sweet.

Here's Tom Cheek calling Orlando Hudson's home run that April 2005 day in Tampa.

If you missed it, Tom Cheek has posthumously won the Ford C. Frick award for broadcasting excellence. It was well deserved.

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Open Mike

Open MikeAnything goes in this Open Mike except NHL lockout talk. I don't want to hear it.

But surely you have other topics you'd like to discuss, questions you'd like to add or observations you'd like to share. Do it up!

Print

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French Press For Me, Thanks

coffeeI start every day with a steaming hot cup of coffee. I usually start boiling the water at 9am and by 9:15 I'm enjoying my first sip.

Lots of people are espousing the virtues of Tassimo, Keurig, Nespresso and other convenient one-cup coffee systems but I'm not the least bit interested. Same goes for percolators. I'm loyal to my coffee preparation methodology.

I'm a French press guy. There might be easier methods and there might be faster methods, but there's no method that produces finer tasting coffee.

P2026881

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Sunday Night Funnies 1986 Christmas Episode

Sunday Night Funnies 1986 Christmas EpisodeA few years ago, I interviewed Rick Hodge and the first question I asked him was about the Sunday Night Funnies. The Sunday Night Funnies was an hour-long comedy show that aired on 104.5 CHUM-FM each Sunday night and I loved it.

This week, I received an email from Jay who found me after Googling 'Sunday Night Funnies'. Jay also loved the Sunday Night Funnies, particularly the annual Christmas episode. He recorded the 1986 Christmas episode to cassette on his old boombox and recently converted it to MP3. Here's the entire 1986 Christmas episode of the Sunday Night Funnies:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven

Part Eight

Part Nine

Part Ten

Thanks for sharing this with us, Jay. When Jay isn't listening to old episodes of the Sunday Night Funnies, he's busy in his workshop remaking furniture. Learn more about that at www.modredux.ca.

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My Minimalistic Business Card

Minimalistic Business CardSomeone shared their minimalistic business card on Reddit today and it inspired me to give it a whirl myself.

Really, this is all I'd need. All the pertinent information, including my name, is right here in black and white.

businesscard

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Dave Brubeck, Dead at 91

In MemoriumDave Brubeck was 91. He was a jazz musician who attained pop-star acclaim with recordings such as "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo a la Turk."

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Tom Cheek Wins 2012 Ford C. Frick Award

Ford C. FrickTom Cheek has won the 2012 Ford C. Frick Award. The Ford C. Frick Award is the highest honour for baseball broadcasters.

I've been rallying fans to vote Cheek in for eight years so I'm incredibly pleased he's finally won. Tom Cheek called Blue Jays games since day one, calling 4,306 of them in a row. During that time Toronto won two World Series championships and a few additional division pennants. He was the voice of my summers.

Sadly, we lost Tom far too early. If you remember Tom Cheek, you'll be happy to learn I've archived all of Tom Cheek's Greatest Hits. Click over and remember the glory days of Blue Jays baseball. And if you don't remember Tom Cheek, click on over and see what you missed.

Congrats to Shirley Cheek and the Cheek family. Every summer, I miss Tom Cheek more and more.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 18: Tremor Christ

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 18Here's the 18th episode of my podcast, Toronto Mike'd. In this episode, Rosie and I chat about plastic bags, my Christmas policy, working from home, Rosie's first contest, Dr. Who, swimming lessons and the perils of discussing politics and religion. This episode is exactly 1:07:37.

You can listen to this episode in a variety of ways:

Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd at http://www.torontomike.com/podcast/.

Toronto Mike'd Podcast

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Google+ Has Failed

Google+ Has FailedIn July 2011, I urged you all to try Google+. It's a great interface, it's intuitive and your privacy issues are eliminated.

Almost a year and a half later, I can see you didn't listen. Google+ is practically a ghost town. There's so few people there, there's no reason to visit. Google+ was launched to kill Facebook and has clearly failed.

Are any of you using Google+ for anything?

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Who Wants a Free Basket of Three Works Apple Ch!ps?

Three Works Apple Ch!psThreeWorks is a new local company that makes healthy snacks. They sent me some samples of their Apple Chips that my girlfriend loves. She's hunting for more as I type.

She should leave a comment below, because one lucky commenter will be sent a free basket of Apple Chips.... err, I mean Apple Ch!ps. The basket includes six flavours (Original, Cinnamon, Caramel, Mixed Berry, Lemon, Vanilla) plus some other fun stuff.

applechips

If you want this free basket, be sure to leave a comment below by December 5 at midnight. Just make sure you put your email address in the email field so I can contact you for shipping details.

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Slow News Day?

cbcMy go-to source for news is the CBC. Sometimes it's CBC Radio One, sometimes it's their Andoid app for news and other times it starts at http://www.cbc.ca/news/.

Just now, after looking at the clock in the top right corner of the screen and seeing it's almost 5pm, I popped over to http://www.cbc.ca/news/ to see what's going on in the world. Here's what I saw:

lifeisgood

Either it's a slow news day or CBC has their priorities messed up. Personally, I'm happy for William and Kate and wish them well as they start their family, but I'm not sure Kate's pregnancy is so news worthy that it has to dominate the front page. Good on 'em, but I don't really care.

And this is Canada where winters can actually be cold and snowy. Learning Environment Canada thinks we'll have a typical winter isn't at all news worthy. In fact, it's pretty much the opposite of news. Everything is typical here... no abnormalities to speak off. Carry on!

Life is certainly good when the top news items are that a healthy 30-year old newlywed is preggers and the usual Canadian winter may return. Enjoy this while it lasts.

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Of Dentistry, Insurance and OHIP

Of Dentistry, Insurance and OHIPI've just returned from the dentist. I had a dental exam, two x-rays, polishing and scaling. It cost me $157 + tax.

Luckily, I have dental insurance through work, and my insurance plan will cover $156 of the $157. That's right, my dentist charges $31 for x-rays that my insurance company only covers $30 for. Can't we align that?

Although the whole visit was only costing me a buck out of my own pocket, I was just thinking of all the people in this country that don't have dental insurance. I'm thinking about part-timers, free-lancers, self-employed people, retired folks and the unemployed. I'll bet these people avoid the dentist.

In Ontario, almost all medical expenses are covered by OHIP. Why isn't dentistry covered? If you need a cavity filled or a root canal, why doesn't OHIP cover it like they cover broken legs and heart surgery?

It's as if dentistry was completely dissed when OHIP was introduced and it's now too late to add it because we're in de-list mode and can't afford to cover anything new. I'll bet this is what dentists talk about at dental clinic holiday parties.

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Skittles Wants You to Create the Rainbow

Skittles Wants You to Create the RainbowThe following entry is a paid commercial message from the good people at Skittles.

What happens when Skittles puts their new 2012 Holiday commercial into the hands (and imaginations) of their fans? Well you get a lot of seriously entertaining ads featuring an elf, a Santa and a slightly past due date gingerbread man.

Check out our new “Create the Rainbow” site and make your own Skittles Holiday commercial.

www.createtherainbow.com

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O Holy Night - Tipitina's Foundation

MP3A lot of music you hear at this time of year is pretty awful. I'm referring to the schmaltzy pop holiday standards you'll hear on CHFI or at your local mall. But not all Christmas music is bad, so throughout this month I'll be sharing MP3s of my favourite Christmas songs.

play Tipitina's Foundation - O Holy Night
I'm sharing this one first because it's pretty obscure and it's amazing. Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" is long gone, but there's one gift this show gave us that keeps on giving. Their Christmas show featured an awesome jazz rendition of "O Holy Night" by musicians from New Orleans. You've really got to hear this version which has become a holiday staple for me.

Enjoy.

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Snow White at The Elgin Theatre

Snow White at The Elgin TheatreWe attended SNOW WHITE, the Deliciously Dopey Family Musical at the Elgin Theatre on Thursday. It was my first Ross Petty production and I wasn't sure what to expect.

It was great fun with kids and adults laughing out loud. My kids loved it, especially when they'd parody current hit pop songs, from Katy Perry to One Direction. Graham Abbey and Ross Petty were both hilarious and Melissa O'Neil made a great Snow White.

snowwhite

It was my first visit to Elgin Theatre since seeing Conan O'Brien record his show there in 2004. It was a great venue then, and it's a great venue now.

If you'd like to buy tickets to SNOW WHITE, the Deliciously Dopey Family Musical, go here.

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