August 2013 Archives

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Alberta Bound Open Mike

Open MikeI'm Alberta bound to check out Banff and attend a wedding in Edmonton.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

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Why I Track My Workouts

Tracking WorkoutsWhen it comes to working out in the traditional sense, I've never been able to stick to a routine. I'm talking about lifting weights or aerobic fitness routines you might do in a gym or at home. I might try a routine, I might even do it for an entire week, but I always bail for one reason: it's not enjoyable.

Since I got serious about keeping fit, I've learned to stick to scheduled workouts I actually enjoy. In addition to sports like baseball, hockey and volleyball, these activities are:

  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Walking

For a solid 10 months I swam a kilometre a day every weekday. Recently, I've swapped the pool for the bike. I track all of it, every ride, every swim and every long walk, using MapMyRun. Here's what August 2013 looks like.

Screen shot 2013-08-29 at 12.45.12 PM

Why do I track each workout? I do it for two reasons:

  1. It's fun
  2. I like to compete against myself

When I tackle a defined route, I'll compare my split times to the last time I rode it. I aim to kick my own ass.

Do you track your workouts?

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Thanks and Pleas: Terry Fox 2013

Thanks and Pleas: Terry Fox 2013I'll be at High Park the morning of September 15 for the 2013 Terry Fox Run. Many of you have already pledged, and I sincerely thank you.

The rest of you stragglers still have time. Donate to my run and they'll email you a tax receipt in PDF. It's easy, secure, for a good cause and I'll owe ya a favour.

Terry Fox

A massive thanks to:

  • Il Duce
  • Rick C in Oakville
  • Elvis
  • Matt W.
  • Marie C.
  • Lorne
  • Jenny from White Birches Cottages
  • Corey
  • Cheryl
  • Liz
  • Blind Dave
  • Speysidephil
  • Pete K.
  • Nigel Trousershrapnel
  • Al The Royal Pain
  • Glen
  • Douglas
  • My Mom

The rest of you can whip out those credit cards and click on over!

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From Every Mountainside, Let Freedom Ring

Mic50 years ago today, on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

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Hating Your Favourite Team: 2013 Blue Jays Edition

Fool's Gold: Early Thoughts on the 2013 Blue JaysI knew back in April we were sold fool's gold. The Jays looked awful coming out the gate, and there was no inkling that they would reverse course and actually compete for a playoff spot. By the end of April, it was going to take a minor miracle for my brother to win our $50 bet. On paper, he saw a playoff team. On the field, I saw a team that would be lucky to win 75 games.

Before I proceed, let me just say that it's perfectly okay to hate your favourite team. I'm a Jays fan and have been since '83, and I'll die a Jays fan, but that doesn't mean I need to wear blinders and love what I see. There have been Leafs teams in the past that I've hated, and I happen to hate the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays. That doesn't make me a traitor or a bad fan or a bandwagon jumper. That just makes me a realist.

The 2013 Toronto Blue Jays are limping to the finish line, buried in dead last in the AL East with a dismal .444 winning percentage. They threw in an extra wild card spot and we're still 16 games back. I find it very, very difficult to watch this team that seems to lack discipline, fundamentals and major league pitching. I'd rather stroll down to the local park and watch Little League.

When you hate your favourite team, you're left with one thing: hope. Having mortgaged the future for this crop of overpriced underachievers, there's little hope for 2014. In fact, it looks like the same team, complete with the same overrated underachieving manager. What's going to be different in 2014?

radio-raheem-do-the-right-thing

It's okay to hate your favourite team, so long as you don't adopt a new one. I'd never do that... it's not in my DNA. I'll be back next April, tuning in and grasping onto whatever hope I can salvage from this pitiful wreck.

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Tuesday Open Mike

Open MikeMark Twain once famously said "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." What did he know?

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind. I dare you.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 49

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 49In this 49th episode, Mike and Rosie celebrate one year of podcasting with a stroll down Toronto Mike'd memory lane. This episode is exactly 35:04.

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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Daily Photo: Raptors Roam Yonge Street

picturesNo, not basketball players, but dinosaurs were roaming Yonge Street during Buskerfest. They walked the street complete with Jurassic Park sound effects and it was a pretty cool sight to see.

Untitled

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A Short Guide to the Middle East

A Short Guide to the Middle EastFrom a letter to the editor at the Financial Times. Welcome to the Middle East and have a nice day!

middleeast

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Selena Gomez at the ACC: Michelle's First Concert

Selena Gomez at the ACC: Michelle's First ConcertLast night, I took my daughter to her first concert. We saw Selena Gomez at the Air Canada Centre.

It was a beautiful Saturday in Toronto, so we went to Buskerfest on Yonge first before grabbing dinner and heading to the show for the opening act.

Downtown for Buskerfest and Selena Gomez with @popcornmich

The first performer was Christina Grimmie. She played for about 30-minute and was pretty good. It turns out I just enjoy live music, whether I'm a fan of the artist or not. I was sincerely digging it, especially the title track of her new album, "With Love", which you can hear here.

Then, the young female screaming began. Emblem3 hit the stage and it sounded like the Beatles had landed at JFK. A sign of the times, Christine Grimmie was discovered on YouTube and Emblem3 were discovered on The X Factor. The 20,000 girls in the crowd really, really, really like Emblem3 and weren't afraid to show it.

Then, right on schedule, it was time for Selena Gomez to play for her adoring faithful. She's not my cup of tea, but I got right into it. When in Rome...

Fantastic night with Selena Gomez and my girl @popcornmich

Michelle had a blast, standing proud and belting out every song with Selena. Highlights included "Who Says", "Love You Like a Love Song" and her encore crowd favourite, "Come & Get It".

It was amazing fun and I'm so glad I got to be Michelle's date for her very first concert.

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Last Week of August Open Mike

Open MikeTime flies, doesn't it? August is in the home stretch...

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

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The Air Canada Centre Parent Lounge

The Air Canada Centre Parent LoungeI'm taking my daughter to see Selena Gomez Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre. It will be her first concert and I'm actually pretty excited about sitting beside her for the show, even though I don't care at all for the headliner.

Although I would have bought a ticket for myself regardless, I just learned that the Air Canada Centre will have a Parent Lounge open throughout Saturday night's show. Any parent or guardian over 18 who accompanies “fans with valid tickets to the show and who would like to be in the venue while the event is going on” are welcome.

Personally, if I was taking my kid to a concert but not attending, I can think of a million better places to hang during the show, but this does sound like a good idea for these acts that attract the pre-teens and younger.

Apparently, the Parent Lounge was open during the recent One Direction and Justin Bieber shows. Did anyone go? How was it?

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Aldous Huxley Quote

Aldous Huxley Quote of the Week"Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards."
      - Aldous Huxley

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Canadian Business: The Innovators of BYOD Programs

Canadian Business: The Innovators of BYOD Programs Mandi has written this guest blog entry she calls "Canadian Business: The Innovators of BYOD Programs". The following words belong to her.

When the Bring Your Own Device policy was first introduced, it was met with a lot of criticism. Employees using their own phones was considered to be a waste of time and resources, and furthermore, what about the data? It took a while to catch on, but now, roughly half of the world's companies have implemented a BYOD policy. But why? How could a policy once regarded with suspicion become the biggest recent corporate trend?

First Thing First: How Companies Address Security Concerns

Padlock

Image via Flickr by Steven Taschuk

Initially seen as a security risk, the byod program is extremely secure thanks to multiple applications.

With Mobile Device Management, you have the ability to manage all of the devices owned by your employees, but only to a certain extent. You'll be able to sync everything up and keep everyone on the same page. 

With Mobile Application Management, you have much more control over the devices on your network. You'll be able to force the download of applications, track their data usage, require passwords for some applications, monitor who's using the most data, and more. If the device is lost or the employee is no longer with the company, the device can be remotely wiped.

These two management tools can be run together, and even combined with a Virtual Private Network. With a Virtual Private Network, you'll control exactly who is on the network.

If you use a combination of all three, your data will be protected under multiple blankets.

Before implementing a Bring Your Own Device policy, though, it's important to lay out some rules on what the employees can and cannot do on the network. The policies need to be clearly outlined. Some companies must meet certain requirements laid out by various organizations in terms of what data can and cannot be accessed. Even if the device is owned by the employee, the employee must follow the guidelines set forth by the organization.

Greater Flexibility: The Benefits for Employees

One of the biggest benefits of a BYOD policy is that it allows employees to use their own devices. These are devices that the employees likely picked out for a specific reason and have put a lot of time into knowing inside and out. Because of this reason, your company will save hundreds of hours in training sessions.

Not only that, but think about the cost to the company. Before BYOD, companies would have to buy a huge amount of phones, activate them, and get data plans for them. With a BYOD policy, all of that is in the past. The employee will be responsible for the bills. Since the phone is also their personal phone, they'll likely protect it with their life.

Increased Collaboration: The Benefits for Companies

Another huge benefit of a Bring Your Own Device policy is that it has eliminated the need for a central office. Since everything can be synced across multiple devices, your employees can work from any location in the world. This is extremely advantageous, especially if you have an employee that loves to travel, or one that recently relocated that you don't want to get rid of. By using a cloud service, combined with Mobile Device Management, you can have all of your employees working on the same file from different locations around the world. The file could then be stored safely and securely on a cloud server.

This also encourages your employees to work together on certain files. Some cloud services, such as Google Drive, allow you to actually work on spreadsheets, word documents and presentations while they're stored in the cloud. These files can be worked on by multiple users, and every user will see the updates as they happen. You can allow people to access the file but not make any edits, or you can allow everyone access to modify the file. 

In a bonus that will surely please your IT, all technical questions will now rest with the employee. Your IT department will be able to focus on more important things, such as improving the company's network.

Studies have shown that employees that are able to use their own devices at work are happy and more productive. More productivity equals a better running workplace.

With all of the benefits and advancements in security, it's no wonder that almost half of the world's companies have switched to a Bring Your Own Device policy. Canada leads the world's adoption rate with over 75 percent of companies in Canada having a Bring Your Own Device policy. Does your company have a Bring Your Own Device policy?

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I Got The Woody Allen Movie

I Got The Woody Allen MovieMany actors got an early break in a Woody Allen movie; it’s a rite of passage for a young actor, and everyone from Sylvester Stallone to Julia Louis-Dreyfus to Larry David to Henry Cavill turned up in Allen films early in their careers.

Here are some of the best appearances by actors in Woody movies, before they were famous:

[via Flavorwire]

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Bike Hand Signals: The Lost Art

Biking Signals: The Lost ArtWhen I first started writing 5 Toronto Biking Tips, it was titled "10 Toronto Biking Tips and Observations", but I decided to cap it at five in an effort to make it more digestable. That meant leaving a few key tips on the cutting room floor. It's time to remedy that. We'll consider this #6.

While biking this afternoon, I started thinking about my old friend Ed. Ed and I met at St. Pius X primary school and became good friends by the time we went off to different high schools.

When I first started biking all over the city, it was because of Ed. I was about 14 and we both had new mountain bikes. Although Ed was only six weeks older than me, he grew up without a father and seemed far more savvy and independent. He's the reason I applied for a job at the CNE. He also helped me with bike repairs, mapped out new routes to explore and, in his Air Cadets way, made sure we followed the rules of the road.

One of the first things Ed taught me about biking was to always signal. I've been doing so ever since. It's become a subconscious action. I not only signal when I'm turning right or left, but when I'm slowing down or stopping. This seems to be a lost art.

Here's a quick reminder with images scanned from the 1977 owners manual for a Sears bicycle.

Turning Left

Extend left arm straight out in the direction of the turn, horizontally.

left

Turning Right

Extend your left upper-arm out to the left, horizontally and angle your forearm vertically upward.

right

Stopping / Braking

Extend your left upper arm out to the left, horizontally and angle your forearm vertically downward.

stop

Signal always! And Ed, if you're out there, thanks!

If you get hit by a car you may want to hire this bicycle accident lawyer.

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Elmore Leonard, Dead at 87

In MemoriumElmore Leonard was 87. He was the author of 45 novels including classic thrillers such as Get Shorty, Rum Punch, Maximum Bob and Out of Sight.

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Monica's Birthday Open Mike

Open MikeIt's my wife's birthday today. Happy birthday, babe!

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

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5 Toronto Biking Tips

5 Toronto Biking TipsWhen I was a kid, I'd watch Benny Hill on WUTV. I think it aired weeknights at 6pm and it was just crude and rude enough to make this ten year old laugh out loud.

I remember one skit where Benny Hill played a German professor who taught us never to "assume" because it makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me". It's on Youtube if you want to see it for yourself. I took this particular lesson to heart, but when I bike, I flip it 180°. I assume everything will happen, always.

1. Don't Get Doored

Assume every driver's side door of every car parked on the right side of a street will fly open at any time. If you don't see anyone in the driver's seat, assume they're really short. Every door you bike by is waiting for the perfect moment to door you so give yourself adequate space, always.

2. Cars Turning Right

This one is the most dangerous threat when biking Toronto's streets. Assume every driver turning right is going to start turning before looking to see if you're biking on their right side. Lately I've been using the Eglinton bike path between West Deane and Royal York and if I'm biking West drivers turning right on Eglinton almost never look to see me approaching. I have to assume they're going to run me down which forces me to lose all of my 30km/h momentum. Note to drivers: look out for bicyclists, even when you're as far away from downtown as Islington and Eglinton.

3. Avoid Streets

The absolute safest way to bike Toronto is to avoid biking on Toronto's busy streets. Often this is impossible, particularly when biking downtown, but mapping your route with Google Maps does have an awesome bike path option. There are more bike paths off streets than you'd guess.

4. Hybrid Paths

Often, getting off the streets means biking on hybrid paths. These paths are shared by both bicyclists and walking pedestrians. On weekends during the summer, they can be overwhelmed with walkers, so just assume they're all going to be walking side-by-side in the middle of the path. And if they're lined up nicely on the right side, assume that's a very temporary arrangement. Hammer your bell, let them know you're coming, and then be prepared to jump off the path to save a child's life.

5. The Lane is Yours

This might be the best tip of all, and one I've made ultra clear to my kids. As a bicyclist in this city, you're entitled to take the whole lane as if you're an automobile. If you feel that's safest, don't hesitate to do so. You don't have to stick to a 10 inch sliver of shitty road on the right side of a busy street just so you're not slowing down traffic. If you need the whole lane, take it. It's your right.

There's five quick tips from someone who has biked Toronto since the 80s. If I was your dad I'd add that you should always wear a helmet, follow the rules of the road and never bike drunk or stoned.

Biking saves money, is great for Mother Earth, keeps you fit and is a lot of fun. Those are four amazing reasons to get out there. See you on the road!

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Hotelscan: Comparing Prices for Hotels and Accommodations

Kieran asked me to review hotelscan.com, and since I'm planning a trip to Europe in August, this seemed like the ideal time to give it a whirl.

Hotelscan lauds itself as "an independent price comparison website for hotels and accommodations all over the world".

Whether a brand-name hotel for a business stay, a bespoke-experience bed&breakfast for a honeymoon or a frugal hostel for a backpacking trip, Hotelscan lets people compare hotels and prices across dozens of websites in ~50,000 cities of the world. With unique algorithms tailored to unearth the best deals of the moment, ability to search for hotels next to any address or landmark in the world and a pleasant, expertly crafted user experience, Hotelscan is the easiest way to compare hotel prices and travel more for less.

It's pretty sweet and easy to use. If you're planning a vacation, it's worth a click on over to ensure you're getting the best deal.

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I'd Like to Hear Audio Tags Appended to All Songs on Indie88

RadioI've been listening to a lot of Indie88 during this glorious ad-free introductory month, primarily while biking and driving. When biking and driving I can't visit http://indie.streamon.fm/ or read the display on my TuneIn Android App to learn the name of the artist and song currently playing. This frustrates me.

A 3-second long voice-over at the very beginning of every song naming the artist and song would totally enhance the listening experience. I notice they do this with select new songs, but I'd like to hear it for every song. Imagine Alan Cross's voice saying "Jake Bugg... Lightning Song" and then the song.

I never heard back from Indie88 after I tweeted this request, but maybe this entry will get their attention. Audio tags for every song, please.

Thanks.

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Heisenberg Spotting in Toronto

Heisenberg SpottingWhile we sipped coffee on the Second Cup patio we spotted Heisenberg inside.

heisenberg

Needless to say, we proceeded to tread lightly.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 48

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 48In this 48th episode, Mike and guest co-host Mike Muzzin discuss Muzzin's heroic decision to give his father a kidney, their mutual love of The Great One and how close Muzzin was to being invited to Mike's wedding. This episode is exactly 31:32.

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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August 16 Open Mike

Open MikeThis is your Open Mike for August 16, 2013. Be good to it, and it will be good to you.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

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Canadian National Exhibition Memories

CNEThe CNE opens tomorrow, and it always brings back a ton of memories.

I worked at the CNE for three summers as a game booth attendant, from 1989-1991. That gave me a unique perspective. If you want to revisit my many Canadian National Exhibition memories, visit my CNE page where I've shared several stories from these years working the midway.

Here are some of the highlights:

You'll never look at a carnie the same way again.

Pop-A-Ball

If you have a Canadian National Exhibition memory you'd like to share, I'd love to read it below.

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10 Years Ago Today (Blackout Toronto)

Blackout!Ten Years ago today, we endured the worst black out in North American history. This is what I wrote when the lights came back on.

24 hours and 12 minutes. That's how long the power was off at my humble abode.

Of course, the worst black out in North American history had to strike just when our food supply was at its lowest. Already due for a trip to the grocery store, it was quite the challenge putting together enough sustenance to satisfy a growing 18 month old and his two hungry parents. Barbecued fish sticks anyone? The bright side is we had very little to throw away when the power finally returned at 4:23 this afternoon.

I did learn a valuable lessen throughout this ordeal. I learned that we're entirely too dependent on electricity for our day to day lives. Heck, my phone wouldn't even work because it's a cordless. No air conditioning, no stove, no microwave, no street lights, no gas station, no lights, no refrigerator, no tv and no computer. How did we survive over 24 hours? Gotta jet...The Simpsons is starting.

What do you remember from the Northeast Blackout of 2003?

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Mr. Go 3D

Mr. Go 3DThere's only one thing that will turn the Jays around in 2014.

His name is Mr. Go...


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World Famous Open Mike

Open MikeThis is your world famious Open Mike, which may or may not actually be world famous.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

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Muskoka Cottage Rental Done Right

Muskoka Cottage Rental Done RightI just spent the last few days at White Birches Cottage Resort right on Oxtongue Lake and only minutes from Algonquin Park. It was heaven.

Jenny at White Birches Cottage Resort took care of everything... we just had to bring food, clothes and towels. The cottage rental includes a BBQ, firepit, wifi and access to kayaks, canoes, paddleboats and other fun water toys.

I spent hours kayaking on beautiful Oxtongue Lake.

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This was our breakfast on Sunday morning. Like I said, it was heaven.

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This was our cottage. It was right on the lake.

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The kitchen was equipped with everything you'd need...

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... including a microwave.

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If you'd like to rent a little slice of heaven in Muskoka, visit White Birches Cottage Resort online or call 1-800-263-4794.

The whole family had a blast.

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Algonquin Highlands Open Mike

Open MikeWe're headed to a cottage in the Algonquin Highlands for the weekend. It's been awhile since I've cottaged.

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Herb Morrison's Report of the Hindenburg Disaster

Herb Morrison's Report of the Hindenburg DisasterHerbert Morrison and engineer Charlie Nehlsen were assigned by WLS in Chicago to cover the arrival of the Hindenburg zeppelin in New Jersey on May 6, 1937. Morrison's live account of the Hindenburg disaster is absolutely chilling.

It's starting to rain again; it's—the rain has slacked up a little bit. The back motors of the ship are just holding it just, just enough to keep it from — It burst into flames! Get this, Charlie! Get this, Charlie! It's fire—and it's crashing! It's crashing terrible! Oh, my, get out of the way, please! It's burning and bursting into flames, and the—and it's falling on the mooring-mast and all the folks agree that this is terrible, this is one of the worst catastrophes in the world. [Indecipherable word(s)] It's–it's–it's the flames, [indecipherable, possibly the word "climbing"] oh, four- or five-hundred feet into the sky and it ... it's a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. It's smoke, and it's flames now ... and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring-mast. Oh, the humanity and all the passengers screaming around here. I told you, I can't even talk to people whose friends are on there. Ah! It's–it's–it's–it's ... o–ohhh! I–I can't talk, ladies and gentlemen. Honest, it's just laying there, a mass of smoking wreckage. Ah! And everybody can hardly breathe and talk, and the screaming. Lady, I–I'm sorry. Honest: I–I can hardly breathe. I–I'm going to step inside where I cannot see it. Charlie, that's terrible. Ah, ah—I can't. I, listen, folks, I–I'm gonna have to stop for a minute because I've lost my voice. This is the worst thing I've ever witnessed.

"Oh, the humanity" has become an idiom seeping into pop culture, including Seinfeld and WKRP's "turkey drop" episode.


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The Weekly Homer Simpson Quote Idea

The Weekly Homer Simpson Quote IdeaExactly ten years ago today, I had an idea. I was going to share a quote from Homer Simpson every week. I started collecting the quotes at http://www.torontomike.com/homer.html, starting with this one on August 8, 2003.

Well, crying isn't gonna bring him back... unless your tears smell like dog food. So you can either sit there crying and eating can after can of dog food until your tears smell enough like dog food to make your dog come back or you can go out there and find your dog.

I kept it up for years, posting my final Homer Simpson quote on February 2, 2008. I was so used to posting a Homer quote first thing Saturday morning that it took a while to shake the habit. It's a slippery slope my friends.

One Big Happy Family

So if you're looking for a good Homer Simpson quotation, http://www.torontomike.com/homer.html remains preserved for all eternity.

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Maximum Handsomeness Achieved

Maximum Handsomeness AchievedThis pic was snapped on June 15, just prior to my wedding.

It was the first and likely last time I ever donned a tuxedo. With maximum handsomeness achieved, it's all downhill from here.

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Dalhousie University's Puppy Room

Dalhousie University's Puppy RoomDalhousie University in Nova Scotia has installed a puppy room for stressed-out students. The National Post reports that for three days during finals week, students at Dalhousie University can spend some time with therapeutic dogs, which are being brought in by Therapeutic Paws of Canada.

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Now I just miss my late great pup!

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Please Donate to My 2013 Terry Fox Run

Terry foxI'm running for Terry on Sunday, September 15 at High Park. I'm aiming to raise $500 for The Terry Fox Foundation. I'm going to need your help.

Donate to my run. They'll email you a tax receipt in PDF. It's easy, secure and for a good cause.

Thanks, as always...

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 47

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 47In this 47th episode, Mike and Rosie discuss Indie88, Todd Shapiro, Orange is the New Black, meeting James Hinchcliffe and Rosie talks about being violated while getting a pedi. This episode is exactly 32:31.

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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The Best Open Mike Yet?

Open MikeI have a feeling this will be the best Open Mike yet. Such feelings of mine are only wrong about 50% of the time.

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Shawn Burr, Dead at 47

In MemoriumShawn Burr was 47. He played the bulk of his 16-year NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings scoring 181 goals and 440 points in 878 regular-season games.

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Dogs

DogsThese pics were snapped on June 15, an homage to the iconic slow-motion walk from Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. Cue the George Baker Selection...

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Snowbirds Over Niagara Falls

Amazing pic of the Snowbirds flying over Niagara Falls.

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[via @Cmdr_Hadfield]

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The Mighty Fall of A-Rod

mlbPrecisely six years ago today, I wrote this entry about Alex Rodriquez.

Barry Bonds hasn't even caught Hank Aaron yet but baseball fans are already wondering if Alex Rodriquez will be the next home run king. A-Rod just hit his 500th earlier today and he just turned 32. That means he needs 255 to reach Aaron's mark and who knows how many to reach Bonds, assuming Bonds eventually sets a new mark.

Thanks to the bestest baseball stat blog on the planet I can tell you that only seven guys have ever hit 255 or more homers from age 32 onward. Even though A-Rod has come this far in record time, he still needs to accomplish a feat only accomplished 7 times in order to become the new career leader in dingers. Here are the 7 who have hit 255 or more homers after the age of 32.

  1. Barry Bonds - 420
  2. Babe Ruth - 358
  3. Hank Aaron - 357
  4. Rafael Palmeiro - 336
  5. Mark McGwire - 306
  6. Willie Mays - 292
  7. Andres Galarraga - 283

A-Rod is still pretty young, and in his prime. If he stays healthy, Bonds' reign will be very, very short.

My how the mighty have fallen. Tomorrow, A-Rod is expected to be one of 13 major leaguers suspended for performance-enhancing drugs with Rodriquez's suspension likely through the end of the 2014 season.

So no, A-Rod won't catch Bonds, whose own career HR record is heavily tainted. It's time we restore Hank Aaron's integrity-drenched 755.

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Orange is the New Black: My Thoughts

Orange is the New Black: My ThoughtsYou've likely caught the buzz lately about Orange is the New Black, a new series on Netflix from the creator of Weeds.

My wife heard the host of an NPR podcast she listens to rave about the show, so we decided to give it a go. So little television manages to retain my attention (excluding live sports) so I'm always looking for something new to sink my teeth into. Completely spoiler-free, here's what I thought...

Orange is the New Black is weak. It doesn't suck, it's just weak. I almost bailed after four episodes but decided to finish the season. After all, so many have told me it's awesome, I must have been missing something....

There are plotlines in Orange is the New Black that feel like Glee. I wanted to cut out every scene with Dayanara and the prison guard like the cancer it was. They even played the shitty soap opera score over their cheesy chats.

And speaking of Glee, literally half of the season finale could have been an episode of Glee had Glee taken place in jail instead of high school. If you're looking for Glee in prison, this is definitely the show for you.

Again, it didn't suck, some of the characters were interesting and the "how they got there" flashback scenes a'la Lost sometimes worked, but don't believe the hype. This is not a great show.

Just my two cents... I'll be taking a pass on season two.

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A Dying Relic of Playgrounds Past

A Dying Relic of Playgrounds PastWhen I was a kid, the dome jungle gym was the heartbeat of most playgrounds. You always had a slide (that got awfully hot under the sun), swings, a see-saw and the dome jungle gym.

As the old playgrounds are destroyed and replaced with modern, safer ones, the dome jungle gym is disappearing. Too many injuries, I'd guess...

I still see one in West Deane Park, and I snapped this pic of one in New Toronto. One day soon, there will be none left.

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Simcoe Day Long Weekend Open Mike

Open MikeIt's a long weekend with many, many different names. In Toronto, Monday is Simcoe Day.

Feel free to use this space to vent, rant, share a story and/or ask a question of the hivemind.

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