October 2015 Archives

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The Gender Reveal Cake

On Friday, my wife and I learned the gender of our unborn baby. We kept that detail to ourselves for one day so we could inform the kids in the best way possible: via cake.

My wife made a vanilla cake with food colouring. My daughter would cut the cake, and if the inside was blue, she was getting a third brother, and if the inside was pink, she was getting the little sister she's been wanting.

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To her delight, the cake was pink. We're having a girl!

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Everyone is happy, and I'll admit, I quite like the symmetry. Boy, girl, boy, girl... perfect.

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I can't wait to meet her.

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Ode to the Video Store Guy

My kids will never know a world without the internet. As far as they're concerned, it's always been there, a pervasive connection to a massive database of facts and myths. Periodically, I'll remind them that I didn't surf the web until university.

When I was 13, my buddies and I rented lots and lots of movies on VHS. We frequented a few different shops, including one that somehow remains open to this day, and we almost never knew what we were going to rent until we got there.

There was no IMDB.com or Rotten Tomatoes, so we relied on the video store guy. Each store had a very knowledgeable video store guy who watched everything and would recommend films depending on our tastes. I still remember the day he recommended we rent The Toxic Avenger.

It was the perfect movie for a bunch of 13-year old guys. It was horrible, but in a good way, with a little T and A sprinkled throughout. It was a Troma film, and led to a long period of Troma rentals. Class of Nuke 'Em High, Surf Nazis Must Die, if it was from Troma, we rented it.

I recently re-watched The Toxic Avenger, and it's as bad as I remember it. It's also as enjoyable as I remember it. If you're in the mood for an hour and twenty minutes of "so bad it's good" fun, you can watch The Toxic Avenger right here.

Thanks, video store guy.

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Not So Good, Al

I can't tell you how many times I dropped the phrase "not so good, Al" these past two decades. I can tell you I say it often as a way to express disappointment.

The Al in that phrase was Al Delvecchio, owner of Arnold's malt shop on Happy Days. Al Delvecchio was played by Al Molinaro, who passed away yesterday at the age of 96.

Not so good, Al.

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Daily Photo: Humber Bay Shores Park

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Open Mike

Welcome to this week's 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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Alex Anthopoulos Leaves Blue Jays

Following 22 years in the wilderness, the Blue Jays built up a lot of goodwill this season. I was personally obsessed with this team after the trade deadline, perhaps the greatest trade deadline of all-time. You can thank Alex Anthopoulos for that.

Mark Shapiro, hired on the last day of a fantastic August for the Blue Jays, becomes president and CEO on Monday. From what I gather, Shapiro wanted final say on all baseball transactions, as did Anthopoulos. As power struggles go, this was no contest, so Anthopoulos walked away.

As a fan, this is a real head shaker. A brilliant trade deadline was followed by some of the greatest baseball this city has ever seen. When Bautista flipped that bat, this city was electrified. I had never seen as many Jays hats and jerseys than I did this season. Shapiro really only had one job to do... extend Anthopoulos and give him the keys. Shapiro, had other ideas.

I wish Anthopoulos nothing but the best of luck, and thank him for what he gave us Jays fans in 2015. It was awesome.

As for Rogers and Shapiro, that's a lot of goodwill to piss away awfully quickly. I honestly don't know what to say...

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 139: Christina Walkinshaw

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 139In this 139th episode, Mike chats with comedian Christina Walkinshaw about making how tough it is for comics in Canada, her Comedy Now special, the "show me your tits" heckling incident and her popular Tinder blog. This episode is exactly 1:08:41.

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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Your 2015-16 Toronto Raptors

I watched most of the Leafs vs. Coyotes on Monday night. The sensation was very similar to how I felt after watching The Wire for the first time. It seems the end of the Jays season has me rather bored by mediocre hockey.

I'm hopeful the Raptors will give me something to get jazzed about. I loved their regular season last year, and this year's team is the same core with some good defensive upgrades. I'm willing to bet this year's team can even win a playoff game or two.

The Raps tip off tonight against the Pacers. Here are your 2015 Toronto Raptors:

  • Anthony Bennett - PF
  • Bismack Biyombo - PF/C
  • DeMarre Carroll - SF
  • Bruno Caboclo - PF
  • DeMar DeRozan - SG/SF
  • James Johnson - PF
  • Cory Joseph - PG/SG
  • Kyle Lowry - PG
  • Patrick Patterson - PF
  • Norman Powell - SG
  • Lucas Nogueira - C
  • Terrence Ross - SG/SF
  • Luis Scola - PF/C
  • Jonas Valanciunas - C
  • Delon Wright - G

If you want some more insight into the 2015 Raptors, and a peak behind the Canadian basketball media curtain, listen to my recent chat with Eric Smith.

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The Processed Meat Cancer Panic

You've likely heard by now that the WHO announced that eating processed meats leads to cancer. The media is having a field day with this confirmation, pointing out that eating bacon is now in the same classification bucket as smoking. Scary!

The fact is, the WHO classifies carcinogens by how sure they are that it causes cancer. They're certain about processed meat, hence the link to cigarettes. The media keeps forgetting to mention this detail.

Usually at the very end of the "hot dogs cause cancer" report, the media will mention that eating hot dogs isn't akin to smoking. If you dive into the IARC's report, you'll realize that panic isn't really necessary.

Taken crudely, the IARC’s report suggests that eating 50g of bacon every day would raise your risk from 64 in 100,000 to 72 in 100,000, or from 0.064% to 0.072%. Over a lifetime, your risk is about 5%, according to the NHS; eating 50g of processed meat a day will raise that to about 6%.

For comparison, research on smoking and cancer found that men who smoked 25 cigarettes a day were 24 times higher risk of developing lung cancer, or a 2,400% increase.

There are actually few things in this world that do not lead to cancer. So relax, and remember moderation is the key.

hotdog

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Knowing the Gender of your Unborn Child

With my first three kids, I knew their gender as soon as possible. That's typically at the 20-week ultrasound. All of my children were named while they were in the womb.

This Friday, I'll learn the gender of baby #4. My daughter really wants a baby sister, so for her sake I'm rooting for that, but I'll be equally happy either way. I'm just excited to find out.

Once we know the gender, the plan is to bake a cake with either pink or blue food colouring and revealing it to family in that sweet way. The gender reveal cake will be cut Saturday, before the kids head out trick-or-treating.

That's my story, now I'm curious about yours. Did you find out the gender of your unborn child or did you prefer to keep it a surprise?

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Final Thoughts on the 2015 Blue Jays

I'm a Toronto sports fan. That means I've experienced far more failures than successes over my four decades of life. In fact, my three favourite teams have won a combined two championships in my lifetime.

That was back in '92 and '93 when my Jays won back-to-back World Series titles. That was awesome, but that was 22-years ago. I really wanted to add a third title this season, and honestly believed it would happen.

It didn't happen. This was my final tweet last night. You know the rest of the story.

I went to bed feeling numb. I invested hundreds of hours in the 2015 Blue Jays and truly loved them the way you can only love a sports team. I wanted that game, but when it came time to execute, we didn't.

This morning, as I awoke to the sounds of my 18-month old stirring in the next room, I wasn't mad or even sad. I was glad it all happened. August was bananas, September was amazing, and most of October was incredible. We'll always have Donaldson's season for the ages, Pillar's Superman catches, Stroman's legendary return, Osuna's heaters, Price's dominant regular season, Encarnacion's sweet swings, Goins and Tulo's incredible defence, Colabello's against-all-odds contributions, Estrada's unexpected excellence, and, most of all, Bautista's clutch homers, including the bat flip of the millennium. And there was more. Much, much more.

There will be no World Series championship in 2015, but an unbelievably entertaining and likeable team returned to the postseason for the first time in 22 years and gave us a ride we'll never forget.

I'm satisfied. I'm smiling now as I write this, remembering the past three months. We've got some work to do, signing key starters and improving the bullpen, but I have no doubt we'll be contending again next season.

And next season, I'll bet we win it all.

Blue Jays

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Maureen O'Hara, Dead at 95

Maureen O'HaraMaureen O'Hara was 95. She was the actress who appeared in classics ranging from the grim How Green Was My Valley to the holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street.

More recently, she appeared as John Candy's feisty mother in Only the Lonely.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 138: Adam Ricard

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 138In this 138th episode, Mike chats with 102.1 the Edge host Adam Ricard about his decade at the Edge, his feud with Alexisonfire, the Blue Jays, the Casby Awards, job security in radio and lots more. This episode is exactly 58:59.

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

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

Toronto Mike'd Podcast

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Summer Programs to Kick Start a Child's Career Path

Remember when you asked your child what they wanted to be when they grow up when they were younger? Any answer was endearing—maybe they said they wanted to be a doctor or a superhero.  That question is asked more often and seriously once kids become teenagers in high school. It’s not just you who’s asking your child what they want to do for a living; their friends, family members and teachers are asking the same thing. Cute answers like “princess” and “superman” unfortunately don’t cut it anymore. Talk about being under pressure.

For teens, deciding on a career path is difficult enough. It can also be confusing (and terrifying) when they have to choose and apply for a program in college or university. Thankfully, there are some ways to help your teen decide on what type of career or post-secondary education to pursue.

Encourage Your Teen to Work as a Camp Counsellor at Summer Camps
When kids spend the summer working at a part-time or seasonal job, they’re bulking up their resume and gaining real world experience. At work, your teen will always be exposed to new people, responsibilities and situations. Without a doubt, your child will learn new skills and be more aware of their strengths and what they can improve on.

Keep in mind that securing a summer job could be tricky since many kids apply for these positions. Remind your teen to update their resume and search for jobs a few months before the summer hits.

One of the most popular and rewarding summer jobs for teens is working as a camp counsellor at kids summer camps. This job involves multiple responsibilities. Not only will they be very busy, your teen will gain a sense of what type of future or career they might like. They will learn and use valuable skills such as:

  1. Organizing and leading activities, trips and events
  2. Supervising and monitoring kids to ensure their safety
  3. Maintaining positive relationships with parents of children
  4. Maintaining control of children
  5. Clear communication with staff, children and parents of children

These duties and skills that your teen performs can be applied to various careers such as teaching or early childhood education. Maintaining these responsibilities and working closely with younger children gives your teen a clear picture if they’re comfortable in this type of environment. By working as a summer camp counsellor, your teen will gain valuable job experience and what their professional strengths are.

Picking a University Major isn’t an Easy Decision
The reality is that many teenagers feel anxious when picking a major to study in university or college. This is especially true when they’re in their last year of high school. It’s nerve wracking because some kids really don’t know which path they want to take. Some kids feel the pressure to pick a program that would satisfy their parents. Others just major in something they feel half-hearted about. Unfortunately, sometimes the end result is that students end up changing their majors or they drop out of their program altogether.

Enrol Your Child in a Summer Course at a University Campus
If you want to help your child decide on what to study in university, there’s nothing better than getting hands-on experience. Mention the idea of taking a summer program at a university campus to your child. These programs involve classes that are modelled after post-secondary courses. Summer programs give high school students a real taste of university life and education. Your teen will feel much more academically prepared and discover what subjects really interest them. They’ll also be able to participate in extracurricular activities and events. They’ll basically get a rich introduction to university life and expectations in the span of a few weeks.

Attending a summer program can cut a huge deal of anxiety for your child for when they actually enter university. That’s because they’ll already have an idea of what to expect when they start their post-secondary education. Besides, since when was being prepared for something a bad thing?

If your teen has trouble with choosing what to study or what career path to take, let them know that they shouldn’t feel rushed to make a decision. Encourage them to work a part-time or seasonal job. Help them get their feet wet in a summer program at university campuses. This way, they’ll gain real experience that might help them decide on what they want to do in the future.

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Open Mike

Welcome to this week's 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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I Love the Bandwagon Jumpers

The Blue Jays hype train departed the station in late July, and hasn't really let up. With a big win yesterday, we're headed back to Kansas City for game six of the ALCS. These are indeed exciting times.

For Jays fans, this has been a long time coming. If you're in your late 30s or older, you can say you've been waiting 22 years. If you're younger, you've been waiting your entire life. This is like a cold glass of water after a long walk on a hot day.

Some Jays fans seem to resent the many bandwagon jumpers who have happily hopped on the hype train and are enjoying this thrilling ride. They never paid their dues. They never suffered through two decades of mediocrity. Yet here they are, donning Jays apparel and cheering our many dingers.

I love the bandwagon jumpers. In my mind, there's a core set of Jays fans who will support the team through thick and thin, but it's the bandwagoners who support talented teams like this that prove there's money to be made in winning. Essentially, Rogers can point to tangible evidence that good teams result in more tickets and memorabilia sold, more eyeballs on Rogers stations and digital properties and more ears tuning in 590. Winning is profitable.

The more Jays fans supporting this winning team, the more likely Rogers will spend the money required to sustain talent like this. Everybody wins. So when you're asked ridiculous questions from those new to the game, don't roll your eyes, just answer as best as you can.

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The Wham Bam Blue Jay Gang - Homer Bunt

I've been sharing retro Blue Jays songs on this blog for over a decade. I loved those old cheesy Jays songs from the late 80s and early 90s.

The Jays got back into their series with the Royals yesterday and hope to tie things up this afternoon. While things are still cookin', I thought I'd share the last unshared track I have from 1990's The Blue Jays Album "New And Improved".

If you know who Homer Bunt is, please let me know in the comments.

Other Blue Jays audio from Toronto Mike:

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

The Liberal Party of Canada has won the 2015 federal election. They will form a majority government.

Here's how the seats break down:

  1. Liberals - 184
  2. Conservatives - 99
  3. NDP - 44
  4. Bloc - 10
  5. Green - 1

Here's how Toronto voted. Every riding in the city elected a Liberal MP. That blue at the top belongs to Thornhill.

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justintrudeau

Good riddance, Harper.

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Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens Poster Question

I just saw the official poster for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, and it's left me with one big question.

Here's the poster if you haven't seen it yet, then I'll ask my question...

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Where the hell is Luke Skywalker?

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Open Mike

Welcome to this week's 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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Blue Jays Advance to ALCS

Holy shit.

What a game.

Win it for Joey Bats. Best. Bat. Flip. Ever.

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Damn that felt good.

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8,026 Days in the Wilderness #GoJaysGo

Joe Carter took Mitch Williams deep in the ninth inning of game six of the 1993 World Series. It was October 23, 1993.

Today is October 14, 2015, 8,026 days later. It's been 8,026 days since the Jays have won a playoff series. 8,026 days, but today we host the Texas Rangers in a decisive game five with the winner moving on to the ALCS and the loser going home.

Win or lose, this has been a very fun ride. But I'm feeling it today... I think we'll win.

See you on the flip-side.

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The Price Is Wrong, Bitch

What the hell is John Gibbons doing with David Price?

I'm ecstatic we've forced a game five tomorrow night at the dome, and I'm glad Marcus Stroman is getting the start, but for the life of me I don't understand why Gibbons is misusing our ace.

Up 7-1 in the fourth inning, R. A. Dickey was cruising along. With a runner on first base and two outs, he was pulled for Price. I wouldn't have made that move.

But that's not the worst part. For some reason, Price was left in the game for 50 pitches, which led Gibbons to declare he wouldn't be available Wednesday. This is what perturbs me.

With Brett Cecil out for the season, Price would be mighty useful coming out of the pen on Wednesday. Burning him yesterday in a 7-1 game is asinine. I wouldn't have done it, you wouldn't have done it, but John Gibbons had no problem doing it.

Again, I'm not upset Price isn't starting tomorrow, I'm upset he's not available when we need a lefty out of the pen. Instead, we're down to Aaron Loup.

Hopefully Stroman goes seven strong before giving way to Sanchez and Osuna. Let's do this.

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Daily Photo: Colonel Samuel Smith Park

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Open Mike

Welcome to this week's 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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Win It For

Win it for Roy Halladay, the greatest starting pitcher in Blue Jays history. He won 148 games, a Cy Young Award and was all class during a dozen seasons in Toronto. To pitch in the postseason, he had to leave for Philadelphia.

Win it for Carlos Delgado, the all-time leader for home runs, doubles, runs scored, walks and RBIs as a Toronto Blue Jay. He wasn't just deadly at the plate, he was also drenched in integrity. 12 seasons as a Jay, zero at-bats in the playoffs.

Win it for Vernon Wells, another 12-year Blue Jay who deserved a far better fate. Classy guy who just hit and hit but never got a sniff of the postseason.

Win it for Edwin Encarnacion, a man who speaks softly but carries a big stick. 1353 games without a postseason at-bat is finally coming to a deserved end.

Most of all, win it for Jose Bautista. This one's for him. Joey Bats had little success in Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Kansas City or Pittsburgh before coming to Toronto and reinventing himself as the greatest slugger this franchise has ever seen. In darker days, we had Bautista and his bombs, 54 in 2010 and 43 during an unbelievable 2011. Today, he plays his 1404th career game, his very first in the postseason. Win it for him.

Me in my Blue Jays shirt

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 137: Kelly Cutrara

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 137In this 137th episode, Mike chats with radio host Kelly Cutrara about her years at 102.1 the Edge, Mix 99.9, CFRB, CBC Radio 2, Fresh FM and what she's up to now. This episode is exactly 1:14:41.

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

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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: St. Lawrence Park

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The Maple Leafs Forever...

Typically, I'm all over the Leafs in the preseason. This year, it's a different story.

This year, I've been so consumed by the Blue Jays I haven't had the time or desire to watch the Leafs. I saw ten minutes of a preseason game against the Red Wings, was reminded of how awful we'll be, and decided to watch an episode of Shameless with my wife instead.

Tonight, however, I'll be watching my Leafs. It's opening night vs. the Habs and the Jays don't start up again until tomorrow. Here's another brilliant montage by Tim Thompson set to the sweet sounds of Lowest of the Low lead singer Ron Hawkins. If this doesn't get you in the mood, nothing will.

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What's the Big Deal With Wearing a Niqab?

This election has gone on far too long. Shame on Harper. It's so long, a usually informed and engaged chap like me has yet to truly plug-in.

I was at a wedding Saturday and chatted with a buddy who noticed I haven't written about our federal election. The fact is, I did write one entry, but that's it. I just haven't dove in yet.

But I do read the news, listen to the news, and follow the zeitgeist via Twitter, and there's an awful lot of noise about women wearing a niqab during citizenship ceremonies. People seemed outraged that this could one day be permitted. In fact, actual issues of importance have been drowned out by this debate. It's sad.

What am I missing here? Is this plain and simple Islamophobia? Why does it matter if a woman wears a niqab during a citizenship ceremony?

I'm not a fan of any religion. I think it's a big honkin' slice of bullshit designed to oppress and suppress, and I believe we'd all be far better off without any of it, but I respect one's right to follow a religion, even Islam.

I think some people confuse issues, and think women will not be identifying themselves before reciting the oath. The fact is, would-be Canadians are required to provide multiple proofs of identity and those who wear face coverings must remove them before the ceremony in private before a citizenship official. The citizenship ceremony comes after these key steps.

Harper might not be a very good Prime Minister, but he's a very clever campaigner. He's managed to tap into Canadians' racism to win a minority government.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope Canada is better than that.

3kWEDtW

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Cottage on Oxtongue Lake Next Summer

I intended to write this entry a month ago, but the Jays have me all flustered. I can barely get my fingers to write about anything else.

The last few summers, I've rented a cottage on Oxtongue Lake near Algonquin Park. I'll never be able to afford a cottage of my own, so for a week each summer, I pretend I own waterfront property and enjoy the mess out of the several kayaks, canoes, and other boats available 24/7.

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It really is heaven. The lake is warm, the scenery stunning, and the facilities are amazing, but the purpose of this entry is to tell you about the Jenny factor.

cottage

Jenny owns and operates the White Birches Cottage Resort with her son. Jenny isn't just super sweet and fun to chat with, but she goes above and beyond to make sure everyone enjoys their stay at one of her cottages. I can't say enough kind things about this woman!

So, if you're thinking of escaping for a week or two next summer to enjoy the beauty that is Oxtongue Lake, do yourself a favour and call Jenny at 1-800-263-4794. Trust me.

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The Ron Oliver Show

At some point in the very early 90s (or was it the very late 80s?), I stumbled upon a YTV show called "The Ron Oliver Show". I was hooked.

For some reason, this show tickled my funny bone. It was great fun while it lasted, which wasn't very long. I've been trying to find evidence of this show online but it's surprisingly difficult.

Ron Oliver's IMDB page doesn't even list the show in his credits. A search of YouTube for "Ron Oliver Show" comes up empty. Did I dream this show up?

Thanks to Retrontario, there's now evidence I'm not completely delusional. Oliver's Twist was a YTV clip show that used the best bits of YTV Hits and the Ron Oliver Show and he's posted five minutes to his YouTube channel.

Does anyone else remember The Ron Oliver Show on YTV?

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 136: Mike Wilner

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 136In this 136th episode, Mike chats with Blue Jays Radio play-by-play broadcaster and host of BlueJaysTalk Mike Wilner about the playoff-bound Toronto Blue Jays, whether they care about winning the AL regular season crown, how things have changed in this city and the fun to come. They also spin some retro Blue Jays songs and Tom Cheek calls. This episode is exactly 1:13:40.

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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Open Mike

Welcome to this week's 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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Daily Photo: Marie Curtis Park

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Cycling: September 2015 vs. September 2014

My goal for 2015 was to bike 5000 KM. I had never biked that much in a single calendar year, and it seemed like an attainable goal if I stayed healthy.

It turns out I hit that goal in early September, and just kept going. September was an amazing month for cycling this city with plenty of sunny warm days.

Here's how my September 2015 stacked up against September 2014.

September 2015: 920.26 KM

sept-2015

September 2014: 529.3 KM

sept-2014

I'm now at 5437.79 KM for the calendar year. We'll see where I end up.

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