January 2015 Archives

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True Detective Toronto

Yesterday, I made a creepy discovery on a hidden Toronto beach on Lake Ontario. Describing it doesn't really do it justice, so allow me to show you.

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Yes, it appears to be a large, dead fish tied to a tree. Today, I returned to the scene to see if there was any other evidence of satanic sacrifice. I channeled my inner Rust Cohle and plowed through the snowy trails. That's when I found this:

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I don't know if you can tell from that picture, but it's sticks sewed together to make a cross. It looks like something straight out of True Detective. This shot shows how close the dead fish tied to the tree is to the cross.

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Here's a pic from the other side. All footsteps you see in the snow belong to me.

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Such disturbing imagery juxtaposed by such a beautiful and serene spot.

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Friday Open Mike

Welcome to this week's Friday Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

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

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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Creepy Discovery on Lake Ontario Beach

During my bike ride today, while the snow was falling, I decided to leave the beaten path for a photo op. When I see something I want to photograph, I now force myself to get off the bike and take the picture. I used to be more concerned with stupid stuff like split-times. Did I think I was training for the Olympics?

But back to my story. I stopped and rolled down to a remote part of the beach because I wanted to take a shot like this:

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And this:

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And this:

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But I found this, and it will forever haunt my dreams.

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WTF?

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Martin Brodeur

Martin Brodeur is retiring. The 42-year-old is joining the St. Louis Blues front office. It's bizarre he retired a St. Louis Blue. He played seven games with the Blues after 24 seasons with the New Jersey Devils.

I enjoyed Brodeur's entire career, and it was awesome. Unfortunately for him, he'll always be compared to Patrick Roy and when you're hanging with your buddy in a bar and he/she asks "If you could have any goalie play for your team in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals", the answer will never be Brodeur and will always be Roy.

A tip of the hat to Martin Brodeur and his amazing career. Here's his final tally:

  • 691 victories (NHL record)
  • 125 shutouts (NHL record)
  • 3 Stanley Cups
  • 2 Olympic gold medals

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Do You Want to Work at The Fan 590?

On the heels of hiring Dean Blundell as their new morning man, The Fan 590 is looking for a few more good men or women

Well, at least two. There are at least two job openings at The Fan 590 for on-air positions.

MORNING SPORTSCASTER

Job posting

Sportsnet 590 The FAN has a very rare full time opening and is seeking a Sportscaster for their Morning Show program. Reporting into the Program Director, the talented individual will play a strong role as part of a three-person sports talk show, plus deliver time-sensitive, entertaining sportscasts 3 times per hour.  If you Live, Eat and Breath everything sports, we want to meet you.

Dean Blundell & Co. already includes current morning show co-host Andrew Walker, but Rogers is looking for a third person to work with Blundell and Walker. If that's you, you should apply.

AFTERNOON CO-HOST

Job posting

Sportsnet 590 The FAN has a very rare and exciting full time opening and is seeking a Co-Host for their 1-4p afternoon show. Reporting into the Program Director, the talented individual will offer strong opinions on the world of sports and be an entertaining on-air and social media presence.  If you Live, Eat and Breath everything sports, we want to meet you.

Greg Brady has been moved from mornings to afternoons, and now they're looking for someone to co-host with him. I actually hope Andrew Walker applies for this job.

Discuss "Do You Want to Work at The Fan 590?" (31 comments so far)


Winter Ride in Toronto #biketo

I strapped on my GoPro for yesterday's bike ride. I wanted to show people how safe my route is, even when the trails are covered in snow.

I'll ride every day unless one of the following is true:

  1. It's colder than -20°C with the windchill
  2. Snow has been falling for a while and plows haven't got out yet

This winter, there have only been two or three days where one of the above was true. it's been a fantastic winter in Toronto for cycling.

When there is snow on the trails, I do precisely two things to reduce the chances of my ass hitting the pavement. I will:

  1. Reduce my speed to ~22km/h
  2. Widen all turns - a sharp turn on ice or snow is a sure-fire way to fall

Some think it must be awfully chilly out there. The fact is, when I layer up appropriately, only two parts of my body will get even a little cold:

  1. My toes
  2. My fingers

Here's yesterday's 20km ride along the Waterfront Trail in southwest Toronto and Mississauga.

Discuss "Winter Ride in Toronto #biketo" (11 comments so far)


Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 108: Raina from Indie88

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 107: Elliotte FriedmanIn this 108th episode, Mike chats with Indie88 personality Raina about her years at 102.1 The Edge and CBC Radio and everything you wanted to know about Indie88 but were afraid to ask. This episode is exactly 1:10:47.

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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Tuesday Open Mike

Welcome to this week's Tuesday Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

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

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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Do You Snore?

Several years ago, when my firstborn was a Beaver, we went on a father-son camping trip. We were sleeping in bunk beds in a rustic old cabin and the father in the bunk next to ours was snoring.

It was horrible. It was like trying to sleep next to someone operating a chainsaw all night. It might be the worst sleep of my life. I remember literally counting down the hours until I could escape the torture.

I've been assured by the two women I've shared a bed with the past twenty years that I'm a silent sleeper. I don't snore, but I know guys who do snore. So I'm curious....

Do you snore? How does your significant other cope with this? Have you tried anything to reduce the noise?

Discuss "Do You Snore?" (15 comments so far)


Toller Cranston, Dead at 65

Toller CranstonToller Cranston was 65. He was the Canadian senior men’s figure skating champion from 1971 to 1976 winning the free-skate segment of the world championship four times and the bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria.

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Best Songs for the Days of the Week

There are many great songs about Sunday. Think about it. In fact, there are many great songs entitled "Sunday Morning".

Vocativ studied 57 years of Billboard charts to see which days of the week get the most love from songwriters. As you'd likely guess, Sunday, Saturday, Monday and Friday are the big winners. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday get very little love.

Here are my favourite songs for each day of the week. We'll start with Sunday and work our way to Saturday.

Sunday

Sunday Morning - Velvet Underground

Monday

I Don’t Like Mondays - The Boomtown Rats

Tuesday

Ruby Tuesday - The Rolling Stones

Wednesday

Waiting for Wednesday - Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories

Thursday

Thursday's Child - David Bowie

Friday

Friday I’m in Love - The Cure

Saturday

Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting - Elton John

With apologies to No Doubt, U2, The Mamas & the Papas and New Order.

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Ernie Banks, Dead at 83

Ernie BanksErnie Banks was 83. He was the shortstop known simply as "Mr. Cub" after hitting 512 home runs over a 19-year career spent entirely in Chicago.

Playing double headers with my slo-pitch team, I'd often remark "let's play two" in honour of Ernie.

Banks

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Too Easy, Not Funny

My Twitter feed lit up like a Christmas tree yesterday during Tom Brady's press conference. They were asking him about allegations the Patriots cheated by intentionally deflating the footballs used during their conference final win against Indianapolis.

Tom Brady had to answer questions about balls, and most couldn't resist cracking a joke about it. This reminded me of something Strombo said during episode 102.1 of my podcast. He was quoting former Our Lady Peace drummer Jeremy Taggart when he said "too easy, not funny".

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This is a fantastic example of when something is just too easy, and therefore, not funny.

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Friday Open Mike

Welcome to this week's Friday Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

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

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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L'Oréal Kids Typo

Even though my oldest two kids haven't used kids shampoo in some time, a half-empty bottle of L'Oréal Kids shampoo remains in the shower. I'd chuck it, but at some point my youngest will graduate from Johnson's baby shampoo, so I figure he'll finish up the bottle.

But having it there, in the shampoo holder that's at eye-level, is really starting to irk me. You see, there's a pretty disappointing typo on the label. Here it is if you want to find it on your own.

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Did you spot it? Leave a comment with the typo!

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Best Music Videos Featuring Toronto

Spoons - Romantic Traffic


Barenaked Ladies - Lovers In A Dangerous Time


Rush - Subdivisions


Parachute Club - Rise Up


Pursuit of Happiness - I'm An Adult Now (original version)

Vote for your favourite Toronto video in the comments!

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When I Grow Up, I Want To Be James

Happy 13th birthday to my sweet baby James

Happy 13th birthday to my sweet baby James

Happy 13th birthday to my sweet baby James. I'm the luckiest SOB on the planet.

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Dean Blundell New Fan 590 Morning Man

A tip of the hat to TSM for some solid sleuth work today. It seems Dean Blundell is returning to mornings on Toronto radio, becoming the new morning man at The Fan 590.

Greg Brady (hear him on episode 76 of my podcast) will move to 1-4pm as Tim and Sid leave radio for a television-only show.

It seems Andrew Walker (hear him on episode 87 of my podcast) will remain on the morning show, but it won't be called Blundell and Walker. Make no mistake about it, this is Dean Blundell's morning show. It will be called "Dean Blundell & Co."

Blundell's longtime morning show on Edge 102 ended a little over a year ago. It was well covered here. Check out these links for a recap:

Based on TSM's tip, I touched base from some people in the know, and it seems like this is happening. I expect it to be confirmed this afternoon.

What do you think of these changes? Will you listen to Dean Blundell on The Fan 590?

Update: All of the above has been confirmed.

Discuss "Dean Blundell New Fan 590 Morning Man" (62 comments so far)


Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 107: Elliotte Friedman

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 107: Elliotte FriedmanIn this 107th episode, Mike chats with Elliotte Friedman about his years at The Fan, Headline Sports / The Score, CBC's Hockey Night in Canada and Rogers Hockey. We talk Howard Berger, Damian Goddard, Bobcat, Corsi, Glenn Healy and more. This episode is exactly 1:10:26.

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

Discuss "Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 107: Elliotte Friedman" (9 comments so far)


Tuesday Open Mike

Welcome to this week's Tuesday Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

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

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

Discuss "Tuesday Open Mike" (75 comments so far)


The Ebb and Flow of Toronto Sports

What a difference a single month can make in Toronto sports. Here's what I wrote way back on December 16, 2014.

I catch every Leafs and Raptors game I can, and lately, it's been pure joy. The Leafs are 9-1-1 since getting hammered by Nashville. The Raptors have been hot all season, now 19-6, good for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Since then, the Leafs have gone in the toilet. They're junk. We've lost seven of our last eight games, and have scored one single goal over the last four games. That's incredible ineptitude.

Meanwhile, the Raptors are on a slide, having lost six of eight. They'll likely bounce back, as they're actually a good team. The Leafs, a bad team, are toast.

I've lived in this city all my life. I'm used to this.

One King West is just one of the many hotels near the acc.

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Smells Like Teen Spirit

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Friday Open Mike

Welcome to this week's Friday Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

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

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

Discuss "Friday Open Mike" (95 comments so far)


Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 106: David Marsden

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 106: David MarsdenIn this 106th episode, Mike chats with broadcasting legend David Marsden about his years as David Mickie, his time at CHUM FM, the Spirit of Radio days at CFNY, his years at Iceberg and The Rock and his latest venture, NYthespirit.com. Tears are shed. This episode is exactly 1:45:39.

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

Discuss "Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 106: David Marsden" (22 comments so far)


Target Closing All 133 Canadian Stores - Here's What Went Wrong

Target has given up trying to save its Canadian operation. Billions were lost, and now 17,600 jobs will be lost when the 133 Canadian stores are closed for good.

When I heard the news, I immediately thought back to this entry from last May. The comments were incredibly revealing, especially the series from Anonymous who claimed to have inside knowledge of what exactly went wrong.

Here's his/her first comment on that entry:

This is a juicy one. I'm not going to use my name here because I'm the account manager for Target with my company so I just don't want to have to worry about Target searching and finding out just in case. I am however a regular contributor here.

Target was a company that had so much potential in coming up here great brand recognition, more premium clothing and an alternative to Walmart. All the reasons why target does well in the US. Vendors were jumping for joy at the thought of having someone compete head to head with Walmart and steal their share while also taking away some of their bargaining power.

That perhaps was the big problem they thought they could just cookie cutter what they do in the US and do it here. I read the gawker story from a Canadian employee and that about sums it up.

Last year when they grand opened the three stores it was an absolute debachal. Vendors shipped in massive amounts of product into the Target DC's to ensure the store would have stock for the open. What did we find when we entered the stores that opening day? Half our crap wasn't on the shelves. It really didn't matter the category, the results were all the same.

For the vendor community the out of stocks were an absolute horror. Especially as these out of stocks continued for 7 months after. What compounded this was that none of the US brass that was brought in to launch here cared. My buyer flat out told me that none of the Americans that were there trying to guide the ship cared. Every vendor was crying about in stocks and executions of plannograms and nobody there cared. or at least nobody that had power cared. All they kept talking about was the fact their Facebook page was the most liked Retailer page in Canada and that they were opening 124 stores which had never been done before. What made things even worse was that when you had an ad spot on an item, you'd go do a store visit the day the ad broke only to find that they had very little or no product on shelf to cover the ad. can you imagine consumers going to their stores only to find that the item(s) that were on sale had no stock? this only further pissed off the consumer. Sorry let me correct that to Target, all consumers are referred to as guests. You need to remember that because Target themselves will call you out in a meeting if you don't use the term Guest. Ultimately the GUEST was finding out first hand how bad the experience was.

Get past the in stocks you hit all the other road bumps. Firstly they shouldn't have tried to open 124 stores in 7 months. The good news is their original plans called for 150 stores in 7 months so at least they scaled that back. But like anything when it comes to buildings there are delays and things don't quite work out. Despite that the American leaders said we keep on keeping on. Also keep in mind that Target in the US is notorious for setting lofty goals and ending up falling short. This in and of itself should have been foreshadowing to everyone in Canada.

Add to this the extra headaches Target caused vendors. Magically out of nowhere they said they would price match Walmart on like items when Walmart goes on rollback. What this means is Walmart does a 30 day price reduction they call it a rollback. Well Targets audit team will go out see it on Rollback and then lower the price at Target. Which is great in theory, but then they expect vendors to keep their margin whole. All the while not communicating the price drop at shelf.

So while we are on the topic of pricing, this was another funny thing Target did. They just didn't communicate it to consumers well. They tried to be all cloak and daggers when it came to what retails would look like. So it left the people in our population with a lower intelligence to believe prices would be the same. This of course was ridiculous, because Walmarts prices here aren't the same as in the US. It's difficult to be and we all know the reasons why. If Target had of just said we will be competitive with Walmart they'd have done better.

When I say competitive with Walmart I don't mean on everything just like items and especially consumables like Tide, dish detergent, pet food and shampoo. The fact of the matter is Target is slightly higher priced in the US on clothing and general merch, because they don't pull a Walmart and have baby tee's on for $2.00. Target sources well known designers and many in the US clamor over each other to get the exclusive lines that Target realeases. Again none of this was communicated. It could have been and at least the public would have been warned. There still would have been the morons saying things like"where are the prices like in the US?".

Next people talk about assortment. Target for the most part carries nearly all the items Walmart does. I know in my category they are missing 20-30 sku's for a department with thousands of sku's. Problem is they don't have nearly the assortment US targets have. The reason being is Target took over leases on old zellers stores. These old Zellers stores had much much much smaller foot prints than Target was used to in the US, this compounded with the fact that Zellers stores are almost all different in size. Which means they have to literally have 124 different floor plans for stores. Where as Walmart now has the luxury of having cookie cutter shape stores. Again this was poorly thought out by Target, so this automatically lead to a decreased sku count on fashions and general merch that people are used to at Target.

Further to all of this was the difference between Walmart in Canada and Walmart in the US. Many Walmarts in the US are dumps, they might as well be a dingy flea market. The people you see there are even worse than the lowliest people you see in one in Canada. Target is the better looking next level up from a Walmart in the US. Better stores, clean floor policy and most importantly no McDonald's in them. Walmart in Canada while not being a great experience is still vastly superior to that in the US. When Target did arrive, they didn't seem like a gleaming alternative to Walmart, only slightly better. Also their clean store policy which means no displays in Aisle also adds to the cleanliness appearance.

Lastly came Target's ego. They brought in a bunch of Americans here who all drank the Target kool aid. They talked Target, walked Target and really all they knew Target. If you go to the US the Target head office used to be lively. Lots of young people mulling around making Target exciting. Especially because of the sheer size and the overall establishment of the brand. they didn't do that here, what they did do was act like Canadians didn't know. They touted their brand shot down vendor ideas, wasted vendors time and money all the while beating their chests. To the point where 6 months in nobody in the vendor community could take them seriously, but still they thought they were kind. Then the best and worst thing started to happen. The US team went back to the place from which they came. In droves and at this time a mass exodus of Canadian employees started. Especially at the head office. Sales weren't there, vendors were constantly calling, buyers weren't hitting their sales numbers and general feeling for Target had diminished. What this did do was force those left and everyone new to learn the business as it existed today not to where the US does. Since that time, I can honestly say Target has improved in stocks. Vandors at least aren't complaining the same way anymore. Venture into any store today and you can see the turn around happening. The problem is they have tarnished their reputation horribly. Their Canadian president should have been fired 6 months ago. So it was only matter of time before that happened. The bad news is many loblaws folk are transitioning over to Target. If anyone has had any dealing with Loblaws then you know why that might be a problem.

I could go on, but I think many of the touch points have already been hit right on the head. I need to emphasize two things. firstly Target didn't buy Zellers. They bought the leases to all the Zellers stores. Nobody was shopping at Zellers and from the vendor side of things, that's where products went to die. So to all those saying another American retailer killed a Canadian business I say shut up. HBC was bought out a long time ago by an american, so it isn't truly Canadian anymore.

Second Target won't disappear. Too much money has been invested for them to do so. If they did it would hurt their plans for further global growth. the US is saturated and much like Walmart they are having to seek out business in other markets. Any rumors they are leaving is just playing the sky is falling card and trying to sell some news.

The only good thing you can say is this. If you do go into a store now, they are pretty much empty of "GUESTS". With in stocks improving it means you can go in there and get out quickly without having to deal with some of the human scum gracing the presence of Walmarts. Oh and most of them have a starbucks in them so at least you can grab that on your way in or out. Their prices aren't higher than Walmart, in fact because they price match rollbacks all the time and sometimes forget to take the price up they are at times cheaper. Compare a same basket if you want to see. Also Target ad matches any other retailer out there on like items, so if you see it cheaper somewhere else just bring in the ad and they'll match it.

Hopefully that gives some further perspective. Phew sorry for writing so much.

But wait, there's more:

Some further points to elaborate on and perhaps it will be in better English with proper grammar and all.

When Target bought all the leases for nearly 300 stores they didn't plan on keeping all of them. For the 124 stores they opened up last year then spent anywhere from 10-15 million a store on to renovate. When I say renovate they might as well have blown up the old stores and started new. They had to take each zeller back to the studs and start all over again. They hadn't anticipated this and in some cases it would have been near on impossible to know.

They sold nearly 50 locations to Walmart. I know it sounds weird but they made a good penny on the deal there. Walmart decided we don't need to renovate right away. So they just took down the Zellers signs and put up Walmart ones. Similar to what they did when they first bought Woolco all those years ago. The intent is a slow renovation to new stores or super stores in the coming years.

What you will see now from Target is new stores being built from the ground up. Their very first store from the ground up opened recently in Toronto at the stockyards. It's a nice store and really what a Target should look like. I think the most impressive will be the expansive store they have planned in downtown Toronto for 2016.

The spaces that used to have Zellers that have nothing in them, doesn't mean they will remain that way. Some are slated to open in the next couple of years while others may never open again. This is really the result of how they've had to cut back on expansion plans.

For those that still have sympathy for Zellers there are many horror stories in the vendor world. The last 3 years they were here before they had sold leases to Target were scary. Many times they couldn't pay their bills for months and months at a time. There were vendors that had to cut Zellers off altogether because they couldn't extend anymore credit to them. They had infestation problems abound in the store. I have a friend who works for coke and when they did there direct to store shipping they used to throw out cases and cases and cases of expired pop. That's how little traffic Zellers had. Their stock rooms were a mess, and their inventory system was abysmal, but enough about Zellers. I understand the Canadian icon and what it meant at one point in time, but at the end it was in it's death throws.

One thing to point out or ponder is whoever thought that Zellers bought more Canadian than Target. Target has gone out of it's way to partner with roots, they had a contest for a Quebec designer for clothing lines. They have sought out unique Canadian vendors for boutique items. Zellers may have had more Canadian items on the shelves, but only because those items had been there for 30 years and still hadn't sold.

Something most of the public doesn't know and what lead to so much stress is that Target Canada runs it's operating system on SAP. Whereas in the US they have their own proprietary software. Anyone who has worked at a company that has gone through an SAP implementation knows it's full of issues and that bugs create havoc for almost a year. Can you imagine having a US team saying this is how we do things and then not knowing how to actually do it here because the systems were completely different.

I had to create over 200 items on an excel spreadsheet all the UPC info, dimensions, cost, cot retail, weight everything a regular retailer needs. Unfortunately the excel spreadsheets were designed in a vacuum, and no one checked to see if they would link up into SAP. After spending hours upon hours creating every item it was devastating to find that after they opened nothing was designed right. UPC's for the scannable item were mismatched, dimensions were wrong so it caused shipping problem. Then again hours upon hours fixing the issues so that they could even place more orders.

Second to this system implementation was the problem of having French as a second language and needing to have everything created in multi-language format. The US doesn't have to deal with that, and that took everyone by surprise from the US. There was one meeting in where I had to do everything in my power to not let my jaw drop. This of course created more problems in their system.

Target's investment here was nothing short of massive. Outside of the stores they had to rebuild inside, they built three state of the art distribution centres. For anyone that has been in one they are quite the sight. They have the capacity to handle 300 stores and then some. I believe they were built so that they could roll out their P-Fresh concept. This is a store type they have in the US that is essentially a Walmart superstore but slightly smaller. Meaning they would have a full grocery store inside to help drive grocery essential traffic. So in turn their warehouses would need to be able to handle fresh, frozen and refrigerated product.

Targets main problem here is one they suffer from in the US. They are great at selling fashion and many times consider themselves a fashion retailer first and a general merch second. They win tonnes of awards for their marketing. The problem is people don't buy clothes weekly, bi-weekly or in most cases even monthly. So when you have that issue in the US and you come here and have no stock you are DOA.

One more big problem is that they didn't warehouse their grocery items they signed a deal with Sobeys to distribute and warehouse their grocery items. This was the one thing Sobeys at least had humility in by realizing they didn't have the capacity to handle that as well in the first year. Problem that arose here is that Sobeys short shipped them, weren't on time with delivery's and a plethora of other problems that forced Target to be even worse on that precious grocery traffic. I know this deal wasn't meant to last forever and their three DC's were built to handle full grocery. So once they get that under control it will be better.

Lastly is ordering efficiency. I remember calls from my warehouse with someone screaming had I seen the latest PO. Target was sending out trucks and submitting orders with only one case on it. This of course was incredibly inefficient for Target to spend that much sending a truck out, but also results in something called case pick. When a retailer orders lots of small amounts of things it increases case pick. Meaning someone has to manually load the pallet and make sure it stacks well. When they order a lot of one item it means a full pallet can be made with one item. This can be done by a palletizing machine. It's easy to put together and easy to ship. Target had and continues to have massive case pick, yet another issue of low traffic and improperly trained personnel and no care from the top brass.

I think that covers nearly everything.

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MSM Writes About Radio! (Or How to Save Q107 and The Edge)

Have you noticed how little attention radio gets from the mainstream media? Newspapers seem to all but ignore the format now. I never understand this, because from my vantage point, Torontonians still listen to an awful lot of terrestrial radio.

The lack of MSM interest in radio is why I noticed this article in the Toronto Star about Corus's Q107 and 102.1 The Edge. Corus, apparently, is experiencing a decline in advertising revenue, and longtime president and CEO John Cassaday had some 'splaining to do.

Here are a few of the excuses provided:

  1. The Dean Blundell Show was cancelled
  2. Both stations caught in widespread "rock downturn"
  3. Lack of awareness that Q107 now plays some current rock music

The fix, as Cassaday sees it, is to get the right music, develop the right talent and market the shit out of it. Expect to be pummeled with Q107 ads.

He's right, of course. The right music with the right talent and better awareness of both is exactly what will improve these stations. I'm less sure, however, that these stations currently have the right music with the right talent.

What do you guys think?

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 105: Maie Pauts

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 105In this 105th episode, Mike chats with CFNY 102.1, CHUM FM and Boom 97.3 host Maie Pauts about her career in radio. This episode is exactly 56:50.

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 Worst of You Can't Do That On Television

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Tuesday Open Mike

Welcome to this week's Tuesday Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

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

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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Battle of the Planets

Fables of the Green Forest was one of my very first favourite television shows. I watched it on TVOntario in the late 70s. I wrote about it here, and on Saturday morning, I awoke to a new comment on that entry informing me of a new Fables of the Green Forest YouTube channel.

Moments later, I was introducing my kids to Fables of the Green Forest, which contained maximum nostalgic value to me, but didn't really hold up. This led to clips of another show I loved at the time: Battle of the Planets.

I loved G-Force, 7-Zark-7 and 1-Rover-1. What I didn't realize at the time, however, was that Battle of the Planets was a terrible American adaptation of the Japanese anime series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. For an excellent example of how they dumbed it down, check out this comparison of the two series.

Battle of the Planets! G-Force! Princess! Tiny! Keyop! Mark! Jason! And watching over them from Center Neptune, their computerized coordinator, 7-Zark-7! Watching, warning against surprise attacks by alien galaxies beyond space. G-Force! Fearless young orphans, protecting Earth's entire galaxy. Always five, acting as one. Dedicated! Inseparable! Invincible!

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My 10 Favourite Episodes of Toronto Mike'd in 2014

You've seen the 10 most downloaded episodes of Toronto Mike'd in 2014, but here are my favourites. This was tough, as I thoroughly enjoyed recording far more than 10 episodes, and I excluded all episodes with my buddy Elvis, but here's my 10 favourite episodes of Toronto Mike'd in 2014, in no particular order.

Jonathan Torrens

Hear it here: http://www.torontomike.com/2014/01/toronto_miked_podcast_episode_65.html

Why it's a personal favourite: In early 2014, I wasn't certain what I wanted my podcast to become. Then, out of the blue, I received an email from Jonathan Torrens.

Jonathan was interested in renting my podcast studio to record the first episode of his podcast with Jeremy Taggart, but I was more interested in him coming on my podcast and answering my many questions about Street Cents, Jonovision, Trailer Park Boys and the Degrassi movie.

Jonathan took a very expensive cab ride to and from my place during a very short visit to Toronto and when he left I knew exactly what I wanted my podcast to be.

Ed the Sock

Hear it here: http://www.torontomike.com/2014/10/toronto_miked_podcast_episode_94.html

Why it's a personal favourite: I was a big fan of Ed the Sock growing up, and it was a thrill to not only chat with Ed's creator but also Ed himself. Yes, Ed is a sock, but he still succinctly and hilariously says what I'm thinking.

Jeff Marek

Hear it here: http://www.torontomike.com/2014/04/toronto_miked_podcast_episode_74.html

Why it's a personal favourite: To this day, no podcast has run as long as this one. The report was natural, the conversation fun and interesting and by the end of the first hour I forgot we were recording. I loved chatting with Jeffy.

Maddog

Hear it here: http://www.torontomike.com/2014/10/toronto_miked_podcast_episode_92.html

Why it's a personal favourite: Maddog was a listener of the podcast, and if he was going to guest he wasn't going to hold back. The brutal and refreshing honesty from him made for compelling audio. With every episode I record now, I aim to recapture that rawness I heard from Maddog.

Mike Wilner

Hear it here: http://www.torontomike.com/2014/11/toronto_miked_podcast_episode_96.html

Why it's a personal favourite: Mike is a divisive personality amongst Jays fans. An ongoing joke in my circle when someone comes off arrogant or condescending is to call him or her "Wilner".

Mike came over intending to be as honest as possible and I believe he was. Afterwards, as people heard his hour with me, I kept hearing the same thing. I had humanized the beast. Those who disliked him immensely were willing to admit they simply misunderstood the man.

Strombo

Hear it here: http://www.torontomike.com/2014/12/toronto_miked_podcast_episode_103.html

Why it's a personal favourite: I could record another 1000 episodes and not recreate this perfect storm. George was generous with both his time and his honesty, and we truly hit it off. We were two pals having a deep and interesting convo and to this day I can't quite remember what was said during the recording and what was said afterwards. It was pure magic.

Mark Hebscher

Hear it here: http://www.torontomike.com/2014/08/toronto_miked_podcast_episode_89.html

Why it's a personal favourite: Much like with Ed the Sock, I grew up a big Hebsy fan. Sportsline was my show and Mark was the star. The conversation was so awesome, I've asked him to come back on to share more stories in late February.

Erin Davis

Hear it here: http://www.torontomike.com/2014/07/toronto_miked_podcast_episode_84.html

Why it's a personal favourite: I had never met Erin Davis and wasn't sure what to expect. I suppose I thought she might play it ultra safe because of her prominent role on such a G-rated show.

Instead, she was completely down to earth and honest and completely engaging. Today, we exchange emails and Twitter DMs regularly and just last week I made my debut on CHFI during Erin's show.

Ashley Buchholz from USS

Hear it here: http://www.torontomike.com/2014/11/toronto_miked_podcast_episode_95.html

Why it's a personal favourite: Ashley is like nobody else I've interviewed. He just seemed to see things differently, and think in this creative manner that made it crazy fun to have a conversation with him.

It helped immensely that I was a legit fan of his band, making this a special thrill.

Tribute to Martin Streek

Hear it here: http://www.torontomike.com/2014/07/toronto_miked_podcast_episode_82.html

Why it's a personal favourite: No episode took longer to produce, and as episodes go, this one was definitely the greatest risk. Based on the positive response, it worked. I was extremely pleased.

Although some of the guests were clips from previous episodes (Alan Cross, Todd Shapiro, Fred Patterson, Bingo Bob, etc.) I made fresh calls to some very interesting people, including Brother Bill and David Marsden. I like to think Martin's memory was fairly and justly honoured.

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Daily Photo: Lake Ontario Ice Water

Like an idiot, I decided to leave the primary trail this afternoon for a quiet scenic trail. It was idiotic because this unused part of the trail was essentially a sheet of ice, but I didn't realize it until it was too late.

As I slid helplessly on my side along the ice, I saw the prettiest sight. The sun reflecting on Lake Ontario through ice covered branches. Even before I picked myself off the ground, I took out my phone and snapped a picture. Here it is.

20150109_124103

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Friday Open Mike

Welcome to this week's Friday Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

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

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 104

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 104In this 104th episode, Mike chats with an Australian who recently moved to Toronto about what he really thinks of our city. This episode is exactly 1:03:21.

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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Diesel vs. Gas

I recently spent some time touring the GM plant in Oshawa. The GM people were talking about a diesel-powered 2015 Chevrolet Cruze and I took a mental note because my buddy Elvis said this was the vehicle he wanted to buy.

I've only ever owned gas-powered cars, and didn't know much about the benefits of diesel. But I was intrigued and did a little research.

Today, you’d be hard-pressed to differentiate a diesel from a gas-powered vehicle. There’s no smell, with just a soft tick-tick-tick from the engine – you don't even have to warm the glow plugs. In fact, they have more torque than comparable gas engines and are often quieter and smoother running, partly because they operate at a lower rpm than a comparable gas version. That’s on top of getting 30-35 per cent better real-world-driving fuel economy. Any diesels sold in North America must meet emission standards of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the most stringent in the world.

However, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who knows this. Diesels make up about half of all car sales in Europe, but the engine has only a 3 per cent share of the North American market. It still can't shake the perception of being agricultural, and that’s something auto makers are trying to change.

Without a doubt, diesel offers superior fuel economy, but you do pay a premium for the privilege. Depending on how you do the math, you're paying at least $1,500 to $3,900 to move from the gas-powered Cruze to the diesel powered Cruze. The reason for the math discrepancy is the fact GM won't sell you a diesel-powered Cruze without upscale features like heated leather seats. Pity, that. As a guy who still has manual windows in his car, I'm not particularly interested in heated leather seats.

But I am interested in your experience with diesel-powered cars. Have you ever owned one? How were the fuel savings? Was it worth the extra cost for the vehicle?

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I Was Wrong

When the Leafs game went to shit tonight, I started watching ¡Three Amigos! on YouTube. I had no idea it was stylized that way until tonight. I hadn't seen ¡Three Amigos! since the '80s.

As I recall, there was a free preview weekend of First Choice / Superchannel and we recorded some of the movies shown onto VHS. One of the movies we recorded was ¡Three Amigos! so it because a movie we'd watch over and over and over again. I'm pretty sure I thought it was funny back then.

I was very, very wrong. Watching it again tonight as an adult, I don't think I laughed once. Ok, maybe a little chuckle when the turtle spoke, but that was it. It's awful.

Now I'm wondering what other movies I enjoyed as a kid would seem awful to me today. What else was I wrong about?

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The Only True Power is Violence

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Randy Carlyle Fired

Randy Carlyle has been fired as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hired by the Maple Leafs on March 2, 2012, Carlyle compiled a record of 91 wins, 78 losses, and 19 overtime/shootout losses in 188 games behind the Maple Leafs’ bench.

I'm actually surprised Brendan Shanahan chose to use one of his bullets now. I figured he'd let Carlyle finish the season before bringing in his coach. Now, should the not-yet-announced interim coach finish the season strong, it will be difficult for Shanahan to make another coaching move.

Does Shanahan have an available coach in mind (Paul MacLean, anyone?) or will that move happen during the summer?

Or is this simply so he can evaluate what he has without Carlyle at the helm before deciding what to keep and what to toss over the side of a sinking ship?

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Tuesday Open Mike

Welcome to this week's Tuesday Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

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

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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White Knuckled Elation: Seeing Gold for Canada

Other than high school, my son's hockey and baseball house league and my own slo-pitch and hockey championships, I've never seen a sports final live in person.

I wasn't at the dome when Joe Carter touched them all in '93, I've never been alive for a Maple Leaf Stanley Cup game, and the Raptors have never made it out of the second round. I've never attended a Grey Cup, a Vanier Cup, a Memorial Cup or whatever the lacrosse league calls their championship. The most prominent trophy I had ever seen decided in person was the Prentice Cup, which I saw won by Michael Power's high school baseball team in '93.

But tonight that all changed. I was at an electric and jam-packed ACC for Canada vs. Russia and watched my team win gold. What was once a 5-1 laugher quickly morphed into an intense, white-knuckled nail-biter as we barely held on for a 5-4 win. But we did win, and it was amazing.

I didn't know the ACC could get so loud and have such energy. Every seat was filled at the start of the first period with a jersey-wearing hockey fan. It was absolutely amazing.

I must give a monster thanks to Telus who not only gave me the ticket so I could see this amazing game, but also gave me the jersey I'm wearing in the pic below. Thank you for a most excellent night I'll never forget.

Canada vs.  Russia

Here are a few other pics I took, of the final face-off late in the third, the gold medal celebration and the singing of O Canada.

Canada vs.  Russia

Canada vs.  Russia

Canada vs.  Russia

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Rogers Hockey: What Do We Think?

A few months into a 12-year contract, I thought I'd take the pulse of this nation's hockey viewers and learn what you think Rogers Hockey telecasts thus far.

rogers

What's working? What's not? What would you change?

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Bill Burr on Letting Go of That Rock

Bill Burr recorded a show for Netflix entitled "I'm Sorry You Feel That Way" and I watched it the other day. I didn't know much about Bill Burr, but I was told by people I trust that he's funny. They were right.

In this special, he speaks about how and why he let the religion he was raised with go. It's excellent and bang-on. Here's that clip.

If you were told the story of your religion for the first time when you were an adult, you wouldn't believe a word of it. It's okay to just let it go...

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Guardians of the Galaxy vs. Mary and Max

With over a week off, I had some time to watch a bunch of movies with the kids. I finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy, a summer blockbuster I heard was pretty good.

Guardians of the Galaxy was alright, but I was disappointed. The story was awfully shallow, and the action scenes bored me. Thank goodness for Groot and Rocket, who provided most of the entertainment.

Later that same night, my wife recommended a little film she read about called Mary and Max. I had never heard of it. Mary and Max is a 2009 claymation tale of friendship between two unlikely pen pals. It was excellent.

maryandmax

These two films are about as different as two movies can be. One is a big budget, heavily marketed juggernaut and the other is a quaint Australian animation you likely never knew existed. And I have no doubt if you watched both you'd prefer Mary and Max.

Seek it out if you can. It's currently on US Netflix. You won't regret it.

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Friday Open Mike

Welcome to this week's Friday Open Mike. I'm Mike and I'll be your master of ceremonies for the day.

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

Open Mike on Toronto Mike

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Cycling: December 2014 vs. December 2013

Recording all my bike rides allows me to get a little geeky and compare this year's me to last year's me. Every month I aim to ride further than I did the previous year. Here is how my cycling in December 2014 compared to December 2013.

December 2014: 511.13 km

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 7.30.44 PM

December 2013: 245.93 km

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 7.31.29 PM

I was helped by the fact we didn't get hit with an ice storm this year. That cost me a solid week last December.

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