December 2015 Archives

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The Path to Cycling 7551.79 KM in 2015

In 2014, I biked 4693.42 KM. It was the most I had ever cycled in a calendar year. I wondered if I could reach 5000 KM in 2015 and set that as my goal.

Earlier today, I went for a brisk 30.28 KM ride along the lake and called it a year. That brought my total for 2015 to a satisfying 7551.79 KM. That's right, I demolished my goal and made 2015 the most cycled year of my life.

monthly

July was my best month for cycling, and not surprisingly, February was my worst. Don't get me started about February...

My goal for 2016 is far less precise. I aim to cycle when I can, and enjoy every minute of it.

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10 Most Downloaded Episodes of Toronto Mike'd in 2015

Number of unique downloaders, in descending order, here are the ten most downloaded episodes of Toronto Mike'd in 2015. A download here is either a literal download or a stream via the site, iTunes or other podcast aggregator.

  1. David Marsden
  2. Elliotte Friedman
  3. George Stroumboulopoulos
  4. Jason Barr
  5. Damien Cox
  6. Maie Pauts
  7. Josie Dye
  8. Steve Anthony
  9. Jonah from Toronto Sports Media
  10. Billie Holiday

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The Force Awakens (100% Spoiler Free)

I saw the new Star Wars film this afternoon. I'm not going to say a word about the film itself, just the experience, as it was a number of firsts for me.

This was the first time I purchased movie tickets in advance. I bought four regular tickets for today's noon showing about a week ago, and paid via Paypal. Because it's a Tuesday, the tickets were only $7.99 each.

This was also the earliest I had ever arrived at a film. The showing was at noon, but we all got to the theatre at about ten minutes to eleven. Only three people were in the theatre, so we put our jackets on four amazing seats and grabbed some grub at Tim Hortons. By 11:30, the theatre was jammed.

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I had been dodging online spoilers for weeks, and I'm pleased to report I went into this movie knowing nothing more than you'd know from the trailer and poster.

Sweet nostalgia FTW!

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Lemmy Kilmister, Dead at 70

Lemmy KilmisterLemmy Kilmister was 70. He was the lead singer and bassist for Motörhead, best known for the albums Ace of Spades, Orgasmatron, and Rock N’ Roll.

About 11 years ago, Lemmy recorded a song with Dave Grohl's Probot. It was called "Shake the Blood" and it was awesome.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 152: Pete Fowler

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 152In this 152nd episode, Mike chats with former 102.1 the Edge announcer Pete Fowler about his years at the station, his relationship with Martin Streek, why he left radio to become a cop and his new show, The Lost Indie City. This episode is exactly 1:21:20.

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

Become a Patron

Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd and subscribe here.

Toronto Mike'd Podcast

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The World At War and Making a Murderer

I'm toggling between two stellar documentary series during my free time this holiday break. One is quite old, and the other is quite new.

The World at War is a British documentary series about World War II that aired in 1973-74. I only recently discovered this 26-episode series existed, and was delighted to find it all on YouTube. It's absolutely riveting, even if you know the outcome.

Making a Murderer is a Netflix documentary series that's unbelievable, and unbelievably good. Buy, borrow or steal yourself a Netflix login and watch this one. It's like Serial on television, only better.

SA

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How I Experienced the City 25 Years Ago

I went through an old bin of stuff I've saved for decades, throwing some stuff out and keeping a few priceless gems.

In this bin of memories I found a couple of guides I received 25 years ago. One is entitled "Cycling Skills" and taught me the rules of the road as a young cyclist in this city. I found this little booklet invaluable as a teen navigating the downtown core at all hours of the night.

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The other was the 1990 TTC Ride Guide. If I wasn't biking, I was jumping on the subway. I loved the subway and mapped my routes with this handy guide.

Ride Guide

Sadly, the TTC Ride Guide isn't much different today as it was in 1990.

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Love this Tournament!

I absolutely adore the world junior hockey championship. Every year, I look forward to watching Team Canada and catching as many games as I can.

I've been watching every year, but this is the first year my son is as excited as I am. I asked him why he's suddenly on board, and he tells me it's because of William Nylander and Mitch Marner. My son is following their AHL and OHL seasons closely, getting excited about his Leafs' future. He'll be beside me at 1pm today when Canada faces USA in the opening game.

The Leafs are actually sending five prospects to this year's world juniors.

  • Mitch Marner
  • William Nylander
  • Travis Dermott
  • Dmytro Timashov
  • Kasperi Kapanen

Let's hope for a repeat of this.

Canada vs.  Russia

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Christmas 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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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 151: Merry Christmas!

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 151In this 151st episode, Mike chats with Elvis about many festive things. This episode is exactly 1:13:10.

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

Become a Patron

Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd and subscribe here.

Toronto Mike'd Podcast

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One Warm Christmas Eve in Toronto

I distinctly remember last Christmas Eve we had unseasonably warm weather, but it was nothing like this. The temperature in Toronto right now is 17°C.

weather

Since we're on the topic, my preferred source for our weather is the Government of Canada where I get all of the fact without editorialized hyperbole. I find their 24 Hour Forecast is pretty accurate.

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It Requires No Decoration

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

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

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

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

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

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Yesterday's Bike Fall

Yesterday, at about noon, I crashed. Literally. Let me tell you about it...

Much like today, it was warm out, but rainy. Ice certainly wasn't a concern, as we were nowhere near the freezing mark. It was just another rainy ride.

There's a little loop near the Port Credit Yacht Club I decided to ride. Part of it is pavement, where coincidentally I fell last January before snapping this picture. Then, the pavement ends and a wooden boardwalk completes the loop. Here's a photo of this spot, taken earlier today.

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Less than a half second after the rubber of my front tire hit the wood, I was down. It was far more slippery than any ice I can remember. There was no traction at all, it was pure slick, and I crashed down on my left side before I knew what was happening.

Yes, my head slammed into the wood. Yes, I was wearing a helmet, because I won't ride without one. I was bruised, but otherwise fine, so I got up and continued my ride.

What makes this part of the Waterfront Trail so slippery? Again, there's no chance of ice, as it was an unseasonably warm day. It was just wet wood, but it's so dangerous to ride or walk on, I'm surprised there's no signage or that this surface even exists.

Not only do I now have a helmet to replace but it was my first crash on my new bike. It seems fine, but nothing messes up a finely tuned bike faster than a crash.

Here's the part of the Waterfront Trail you should avoid in wet conditions. I'm thinking of putting up a sign myself.

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3 Hours of CFNY From 1983

My buddy Andrew passed these audio treats along, so I thought I'd share them with the masses.

This is how CFNY 102.1 sounded in 1983.




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Toronto Mike Acquisition Channels in 2015

According to Google Analytics, here are the channels by which people visited this web site in 2015.

Note, I'm only using the Default Channel Grouping for the Acquisition reports.

  1. Organic Search - 62.22%
  2. Direct - 22.28%
  3. Social - 11.20%
  4. Referral - 2.91%
  5. Email - 0.12%

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Top 10 Countries People Visit Toronto Mike From in 2015

According to Google Analytics, here are the countries from which the most visits to Toronto Mike originated in 2015.

  1. Canada - 75.73%
  2. United States - 15.37%
  3. United Kingdom - 2.58%
  4. Netherlands - 0.96%
  5. Australia - 0.70%
  6. Germany - 0.52%
  7. India - 0.39%
  8. Russia - 0.26%
  9. Philippines - 0.18%
  10. France - 0.17%

And if you're visiting from Australia, you already know the best online casino sites come from the land down under.

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Top Browsers in 2015

If you thought the Desktop vs. Mobile vs. Tablet entry was cool, you'll love this one.

Here are the browsers used by visitors to this site in 2015:

  1. Chrome - 39.29%
  2. Safari - 29.33%
  3. Internet Explorer - 12.60%
  4. Firefox - 9.19%
  5. Android Browser - 2.40%
  6. Blackberry - 2.14%
  7. Edge - 0.41%
  8. Opera - 0.22%
  9. Opera Mini - 0.14%
  10. Amazon Silk - 0.11%

There was a time when Internet Explorer absolutely dominated these rankings...

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Desktop vs. Mobile vs. Tablet in 2015

I'm in Google Analytics checking out stats for this site in 2015, so I thought I'd share a few details.

This site is 13-years-old, so there was a time when 100% of visitors came from a desktop / laptop. Today, that's definitely not the case.

Here are the stats for desktop, mobile and tablet visitors to this site in 2015:

  1. Desktop - 52.58%
  2. Mobile - 35.55%
  3. Tablet - 11.87%

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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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The Best Sports Betting and Gambling In Canada

Do you live in Canada? Do you love gambling and sports betting? To be honest, Canadians have it easy when it comes to finding a place to gamble on the internet, they are welcomed by a large majority of international gambling sites. In fact, the only things you really have to worry about is deciding the site that you're going to use and whether it's trustworthy and reliable.


What to Look For
If you are interested in playing real money games on the internet, it's important that you do your homework. Picture depositing your money in an online casino, winning the jackpot, only to get the run-around from management when you try to withdraw your winnings.

Believe it or not, this happens more than you think. There are some online casinos that make it hard for you to gain access to the funds. But they're not what we would consider to be legitimate, rather their focus is on getting as much money as they can without giving it back. Thankfully, this isn't the case with reputable online casinos, who mimic real brick and mortar businesses and pride themselves on fair business practices.

To avoid these disreputable sites, you must only choose internet casino with proven reputations for being honest, fast payouts, and great customer service. These tend to have gambling safeguards in place like innovative encryption to keep your personal information and bank data safe, as well as triple-redundant service for a guaranteed connection, a feature that you need when you are in the midst hitting a jackpot.

Top Reputable Sports Betting and Gambling Sites in Canada

One thing's for sure, Canadians love sports – especially hockey and horse racing. But, plenty of Canadians have soft spots for both types of football, baseball, and basketball as well.

If you would like to take part in all of the action, here are the best sports betting and gambling sites for Canadian Gamers:

** Sports Interaction

This site has been in business for almost twenty years. It has an easy to follow layout and to place a bet all you have to do is add the selection to your bet slip and choose the type of bet you want to make, with a choice for Each-Way bets, accumulators, and outright wins.

This site allows gamers to bet on a variety of different sports, not just the popular ones. They include:

** Golf
** Mixed Marital Arts
** Football
** Boxing
** Politics
** TV Events
** Award Shows
** Live Dealer Games

Furthermore, Sports Interactions lets gamers place prop bets and other special bets as well.

Raps vs. Celtics

** Bet365

When it comes to sports betting, Bet365 is one of the juggernauts of the industry. They've been in business for over forty years and are one of the largest sportsbooks in the world. In that, they operate in well over 100 countries and cater to over 1 million customers all over the word.
They offer an astounding variety of sports and live events for gamers to wager on. They include:

** Badminton
** American Football
**Snooker
** Tennis
** Baseball
** UFC
** Table Tennis

The selection above is a mere fraction of the selection available for gamers. In addition, Bet345 also broadcasts over 40,000 live events every year, giving players the chance to watch the action on their computer or mobile device.

** BetOnline
This site has been around for a little more more than ten years and has gained an excellent reputation for overall quality and service. One of the features that makes BetOnline stand out from the crowd is the big new member deposit bonus, it gives first time plays a huge cash bonus to explore the site and really stretch their betting dollars. Regular players are also rewarded with a variety of promotions that make gameplay more exciting and profitable.

Untitled

BetOnline also has a section devoted to skill games where players can try their hand at anything from Dominoes to Yahtzee. Or if you prefer something more jackpot orientated, there are also games of craps, roulette, blackjack available as well.

** Bodog.eu Sportsbook
My favorite spot of them all is Bodog, As you can probably tell, one of the things that this company has going for it is name recognition. Who's going to forget a name like Bodog? Tthe company capitalized on this by spending a significant amount of money for TV and radio spots, web ads, and more.
Bodog has been in business since 1994, and except for some legal mess involving an executive in 2002, they have built a solid reputation for reliability and service. By the way the executive, Calvin Ayre, is no longer involved with the company in any shape, way, or form.

The company is always upgrading their software to improve the functionality of their site, which is excellent for those who love live betting. But, there's something to offer for everyone, in fact, this site has a selection that rivals the best in the industry, giving bettors the chance to place wagers on anything from darts to Aussie football to tennis and more. It's safe to say, if there's a competition taking place, most likely Bodog has a line on it.

NBA Playoffs
The NBA Playoffs semi-final round has got us on the edge of our seats. Imagine, only eight basketball teams are remaining in hopes to get the championship, while four of them—Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz—were fighting toe-to-toe last Thursday as Warriors and Wizards proved their might and came out on top. Should you plan to bet on NBA playoffs soon, this betting guide will prove to be helpful in making your decisions.

News that matter
Tony Parker out for post-season
The Houston Rocket was surprised on Wednesday when the San Antonio Spurs were able to upset them in the series after an embarrassing game 1. The Spurs managed to beat them after a 121-96 win. However, the story has changed the same day, but on their disadvantaged, when their star player Tony Parker reported suffering from an injury in the leg during the game. According to a reputable ESPN report, the leg injury turned out as a rupture in his quadriceps tendon.
Tony Parker will be undergoing surgery and will be missing the rest of the post-season. San Antonio Spurs, on the other hand, will be forced to come up with a different game strategy moving forward without Parker. There are rumors that we would be seeing more of Dejounte Murray in point guard and of Patty Mills.

Wizards’ Magic
After winning their first two games in the series, Boston Celtics thought they could easily snitch their way past Washington Wizards and straight into the Eastern Conference Finals. But, unlucky for them, the Washington Wizards used their magic to upset Celtics in a tense fight with a 116-89 beat down. Washington Wizards had made its latest win look super easy only by being able to win the second team battle. One would be inclined to think that Washington Wizards would be able to dominate Boston Celtics all throughout this series due to the hell of a performance they displayed.

Their win on Thursday was important because it boosted their morale and they made it look like Boston Celtics did not deserve the top spot. With another game happening on Sunday, Washington will be able to even the playing field, if they play well.
Raptors facing extinction

While Washington Wizards were doing great on Thursday giving themselves the much needed boost, the Toronto Raptors will soon be facing extinction if they do not pull through against the powerhouse Cleveland Cavaliers.

Toronto Raptors has already fallen behind, and not to mention in really ugly fashion, 0-2. The Cleveland Cavaliers managed to defeat Toronto Raptors with so much finesse and ease in a 125-103 score. Many times during the said games, the Toronto Raptors could be seen without teamwork and one would be inclined to think that they were not playing professionally. But historically speaking, Toronto Raptors had been in the same tight spot last year but still managed to come out on top winning games three and four at home with combined points of 31. Toronto Raptors are obviously looking to repeat history and are praying for a much needed miracle.
Image by Unsplash under Public Domains CC0

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Support Toronto Mike'd on Patreon

I planned to launch a crowdfunding campaign for my podcast the day after Labour Day, but talked myself out of it. Who am I seek support for my podcast? I created the Patreon account, but never actually promoted it.

The other day I recorded my 150th episode of Toronto Mike'd, and with only eight days remaining until Christmas, I decided to go for it. I'm asking you to support my podcast in the hopes that it can continue to grow.

My initial goal is very modest. I spent a lot of money on top quality equipment, and I'd like to make a little of that back. I'll also be buying a couple of swivel mount studio microphone boom arms so it's more comfortable for guests to stay on the microphones. So goal one is to cover overhead costs.

Goal two is quite a bit more ambitious. I'd love to be able to afford to spend more time on the project, recording more and pursuing great guests. I think this could be much more than a mere passion project.

All I ask is that you visit my Patreon page and consider becoming a Toronto Mike'd Patron. All supporters will be thanked on a future episode of Toronto Mike'd.

Support Toronto Mike'd on Patreon

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 150: David Shoalts and Mark Hebscher

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 150In this 150th episode, Mike chats with Globe and Mail writer David Shoalts about Canada's sports media, particularly Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown, Dean Blundell vs. Mike Richards, perceived bias and Rogers Hockey. Mark Hebscher crashes the party to tell the inside story of what happened at CHCH last Friday. This episode is exactly 1:40:58.

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

Become a Patron

Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd and subscribe here.

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast

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Daily Photo: Is This Mid-December in Toronto?

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Taken at noon on December 14, 2015 in 13° weather. This is ideal December cycling weather.

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Memo to MLSE: Don't Mess with the Maple Leafs Logo

According to Chris Creamer of SportsLogos.net, the Maple Leafs are expected to unveil both a new logo and entirely new uniforms in time for the 2016-17 season, which will be their 100th as a franchise in the National Hockey League.

It’s all just part of the Leafs’ plans to go all out in celebrating their centennial season; a series of throwback jerseys is also in the cards which would, at the very least, include a re-appearance by the green Toronto St. Patricks uniform from the 1920s.

After evolving their logo steadily throughout the 43 years following their adoption of the “Maple Leafs” name in 1927, the team has made only very minor changes to their logo in the 45 years since. Introduced in 1970, the current Leafs logo sharpened its corners and plumped up a bit in 1982, then darkened its blue for 1987.

leafs

If MLSE is considering a logo that doesn't look exactly like one of the ones shown above, I only have one thing to say to them:

Don't.

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CHCH TV

CHCH TV has cancelled tonight's newscast. "The fear is the station is shutting down or being dramatically reduced."

This is awful news for CHCH employees, which includes two-time Toronto Mike'd guest Mark Hebscher, but it's also sad news for those of us who grew up tuning in channel 11.

I have great memories of watching The Hilarious House of Frightenstein on CHCH. Billy Van was awesome on that show. Steve Smith alone gave us Me & Max, Smith & Smith and The Red Green Show.

Then, there was Maple Leaf Wrestling. I'll never forget Billy Red Lyons saying "don't cha dare miss it". I still use that line periodically.

chch

CHCH is a Hamilton station, but in the days when I'd fiddle with a television antenna to bring in a very few stations, it was always there. Sadly, it's losing money, and the future is very uncertain.

Update: The CEO of Channel Zero, Roman Podzyhun, just came on CHCH TV to announce the news will return Monday. He says they're "making significant change" to schedule with "less local programming".

The Globe and Mail is reporting that "roughly half the staff will be laid off". Channel 11 L.P. has filed for bankruptcy, so those being fired won't receive severance. That really sucks.

I'm going to start a list of people who were let go today. 80-100 people 129 full-time employees and close to 30 part-timers got a pink slip without severance.

  • Mark Hebscher
  • Donna Skelly
  • Melissa Raftis
  • Cindy Csordas
  • Elise Copps
  • Matt Hayes
  • Scott Urquhart
  • Lori De Angelis
  • Natalie Marconi
  • Ken Welch
  • Lauran Sabourin
  • Jaclyn Colville

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 149: Jeff Sammut

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 149In this 149th episode, Mike chats with Fan 590 host Jeff Sammut about his years at the station, Vito from Woodbridge, those he's worked closely with and what he thinks about The Fan's ratings. This episode is exactly 1:04:40.

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

Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd and subscribe here.

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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Ranking the Popularity of Toronto's Pro Sports Teams

During the Grey Cup, I wondered aloud on Twitter how many Torontonians under the age of 40 were tuned in. There was a Raptors game on, which I was watching, and if my Twitter feed was any indication, the only tweets about the Grey Cup were from those paid to cover it.

A woman with the handle @cfllady wrote me suggesting the Argos are more popular than the Raptors in Toronto. When pressed for evidence, she could only point to television ratings.

Soon thereafter, my pal Freddie P chimed in to suggest the same. Again, his evidence is television ratings. Without a doubt, the national CFL ratings are higher than Raptor ratings.

I asked Arash Madani about his during our recent chat. After all, he covers the CFL for a living, and if anyone can gauge the popularity of the Argos in Toronto, it's him. Arash agreed with me that there's very little interest in the Argos in Toronto. He laughed when I told him some have suggested the Argos are more popular than the Raptors.

As I see it, the Leafs are far and away the most popular team in this city. If you had asked me a year ago, I'd put the Raptors at #2. The 2015 Blue Jays were so popular in this city, they might be the new #2. If that's the case, the Raptors are a very strong #3. After that, I think TFC is #4, the Argos are #5, the Marlies are #6 and the Rock are #7. I recently charted this here.

  1. Maple Leafs
  2. Blue Jays
  3. Raptors
  4. Toronto FC
  5. Argonauts
  6. Marlies
  7. Rock

Still, Fred persists. I don't understand how he can think it's even close. Remember, we're talking about the GTA, where most people wouldn't recognize a Toronto Argonaut if he was standing two feet away.

How would you rank Toronto's top 7 professional sports teams in the GTA?

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Searching for the Old Signage at George Bell

I've spent a lot of time at George Bell Arena this past decade. My oldest son plays there, and even I've played there for a stretch. I call it the old barn and enjoy walking around looking for relics of the past.

Recently, all the signage was updated. The new signage is from the City of the Toronto and very functional, but it sure lacks the character of the old signage. There are still a few examples of the old signage, if you look hard enough.

If you leave the beaten path, you'll reach this door. I dared not enter.

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Here's a room no George Bell House League parent knows exists. Apparently you can swap out used equipment here. It might be the best kept secret in the place.

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I'm surprised this sign hasn't been replaced by the new official City of Toronto signs. You'd think a lawyer would insist upon it.

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Here are a couple of hybrids. The old signage remains, but the new official City of Toronto signage has been added.

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This is the upstairs snack bar above the ice. I have never, ever seen it open, but I'm glad the sign remains.

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And finally, here's a comparison of the old signage and new signage. We'll start with the new and end with the old. And remember kids, don't smoke!

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Lake Shore Cycle Track Close to Fruition

In the spring of 2014, I wrote about the stretch of the Waterfront Trail between Norris Crescent and First Street. This is really the only part of the trail that's not off-road, not on quiet side streets and doesn't have a designated bike lane.

I followed that entry up with an update in July of 2014. I contacted my counsellor about it, and he told me they were looking at it. in fact, there was a study done, and they were actually looking at it.

Now, we're very close. There's an open house tonight, but I can't be there as it conflicts with my boy's hockey game. Here's what's coming, and a pic of what it will look like.

The City of Toronto is planning a 1.4km cycle track along Lake Shore Boulevard West from Norris Crescent to First Street, west of Mimico Waterfront Park in Etobicoke, Ward 6. The new cycle track will provide a safe connection for cyclists, and will close a gap in the Waterfront Trail. 

Lakeshore Cycle Track at Royal York Draft July 2

It's even better than I had hoped. I can't wait to ride it.

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Toronto Bingo

If you're on Instagram, I recommend you follow https://www.instagram.com/torontobingo/.

The comics are typically spot on and always good for a smile.

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Teddy Bear Toss

I attended today's Toronto Marlies game with my family at the ACC, and it was Teddy Bear Toss night. After the first Marlies goal, people threw stuffed animals on the ice to be collected and donated to Yonge Street Mission.

About 10 minutes into the first, Andrew Campbell scored for the Marlies and the fun began. It was my first Teddy Bear Toss experience, and it was pretty damn awesome. As you could imagine, the kids loved it.

Here are a few pictures of the plushy mayhem. The Marlies won 9-0 as Bernier recorded his second consecutive AHL shutout. Good times...

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Things I Dig

This is not a definitive list, but here's some things I dig.

And they're in absolutely no particular order.

  • french press coffee
  • Stride Spark Kinetic Mint gum
  • Public Enemy
  • biking
  • Neil Young
  • dunking chocolate chip cookies in milk
  • The Wire
  • fatherhood
  • pizza
  • the Olympics
  • playing catch
  • The Tragically Hip
  • my Roots sweat pants
  • The Howard Stern Show
  • my smart phone
  • playoff hockey
  • camping
  • Tarantino movies
  • skating outdoors
  • Arrested Development
  • apples
  • rooting for the home team
  • Dave Chappelle
  • kayaking
  • The World Junior Hockey Championship
  • The Simpsons
  • tee shirts
  • chocolate
  • Toronto tap water
  • The legend of Bill Barilko
  • live music
  • the smell of freshly cut wood

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The Hillbilly Float at the Lake Shore Santa Claus Parade

The Lake Shore Santa Claus Parade never fails to amuse me. It's literally the same floats every year, but it's so damn convenient I can't miss it.

My favourite float every year is the Hillbilly float. I took a few photos to show you what you're missing.

Lake Shore Santa Claus Parade 2015

Lake Shore Santa Claus Parade 2015

Lake Shore Santa Claus Parade 2015

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SEO Tips for Toronto Small Business Owners Coming 2016

Google is shifting to a more semantic-heavy strategy in 2016, thus small businesses in Toronto need to focus on local SEO in order to drive both targeted web traffic and foot traffic. Here are a few tips and tricks small business owners in Toronto should spend time perfecting in order to drive targeted quality visitors to their websites.

1. Pay Attention to Google’s Newest Algorithm, “Pigeon”.
Google’s newest algorithm “Pigeon” drastically changed the way some local results are displayed by modifying how they handle and interpret location cues. The “Pigeon” update creates closer ties between core and local algorithms for increased efficiency and consistency.

2. Do an SEO Audit
Implementing everything you read is like taking a very basic approach to an extremely specific and individualized issue. No two businesses are the same, so you have to take an individualized approach on the SEO tips, tricks, and strategies by performing a thorough SEO audit. You can either do self-audit using helpful internet resources and guides or you can seek help from an independent agency. If you opt for a self-audit, you will save money and learn some new things about your website and SEO in general, which would enable you to face issues head-on. But with an independent audit, you gain access to fresh new ideas of experienced experts who can spot the issues quickly and work with you to fix them. The following 2015 local SEO tips will help your small business drive more traffic and sales.

SEO Toronto Tips for 2015

Mobile-friendly
Back in April of 2015 Google implemented the mobile-friendliness ranking signal for mobile search results worldwide. Toppled with the fact that smartphones and tablets make up 35 percent of organic search traffic, it means optimizing your website to be mobile friendly should be a top priority for your website and pages. Investing in a responsive design is the best long term solution to make your website mobile friendly.

Create Detailed And Strategic Location Web Pages
Create very detailed and strategic location pages with relevant content and descriptive keywords. Include both your target city and state in the title tags, H1 headings, and URLs for optimal results.

Fix Google My Business Issues
Google My Business is finally taking off, so you’ll want to ensure your page is optimized and accurate for it. Key things to consider include ensuring your location is correctly placed on the map and check the accuracy of your contact information, payment types, hours of operation etc. And ensure your official business website is on your local Google+ page. By encouraging reviews from clients and customers, you will give your website a social media boost it really needs.

Get Listed On Business Directories
Verifying the authenticity of your Google My Business page is not enough; include your business information on other reputable online directories as well. There are hundreds available of different types, including industry specific ones applicable to your business. Some top listing directories include White Pages, Foursquare, CitySearch and Yelp…

Don’t Forget Meta Descriptions
Some people may question the relevancy of Meta descriptions in search ranking results, but Meta descriptions are very important as there’s an obvious relationship between the quality of Meta descriptions and click through rates (CTR).

Target Local Blogs and Websites
Targeting local blogs and websites is one of the best ways to increase organic relevancy. Search for such blogs using terms like “[target city] blogs” or “[target industry] blogs”. By building relationships with these site owners or bloggers, you increase your chances of getting mentioned or gaining access to guest blogging opportunities.

Making Use of Social Media
You can’t ignore the social media in 2016 if you want to optimize your website for local results. Use some geo-location tools to help you track, capitalize, and listen to local traffic and conversations.

Target Geo-specific Long Tail Keywords
Creating strategic location pages is not enough; you need to also target geo-specific long tail keywords through content optimization and blogging. In most cases the intent behind long tail traffic is to buy or enquire about a service.

Google has brought in new changes which you must comply to if you want to have SEO success in 2016, and beyond. For some businesses, the changes may seem big but in fact all a business will need to do is to slightly change their focus and realign their goals. The bottom line is, it is all about a better user experience for searchers and more precise and reliable results.
Source: SEO Royals

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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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Scott Weiland, Dead at 48

Scott WeilandScott Weiland was 48. He was the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, two bands I've seen live and thoroughly enjoy.

In 1993, I was heavily into Pearl Jam, then I heard "Plush" on the radio. My gut reaction was that it was a Pearl Jam cover band, but after hearing it a few more times, I found myself singing it aloud at the top of my lungs. "Plush" led me to buying Core, an album i just loved.

By 1994, I was spending most Monday nights at The Phoenix for Strange Paradise. That's where I first heard "Vasoline" from their follow-up, Purple. Purple was far more polished than Core, which meant more epic radio singles. "Interstate Love Song" and "Big Empty" are two songs you're going to hear a lot this weekend, but they're pretty damn great.

In 2000, I caught the Stone Temple Pilots and Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Molson Amp. I was quick on the draw and scored sweet seats, just behind Blue Jays pitcher David Wells. STP were fantastic that night.

I caught Velvet Revolver at that same amphitheatre in 2007 and Scott was still on. It was a triple threat: STP hits, Velvet Revolver hits and Guns N' Roses hits. In 2008, I saw Stone Temple Pilots for the last time at Edgefest in Downsview Park. STP was scheduled to go on before Linkin Park and there was no doubt Scott wasn't happy about it. When he still hadn't taken the stage an hour after his scheduled time, I actually checked my phone to ensure he hadn't passed away.

And that was the deal with Scott. We knew he wasn't long for this world. He was an addict who struggled with heroin abuse, and when I saw Scott Weiland I thought of Layne Staley, who died of a heroin overdose in 2002 at the young age of 36. Here's an entry I wrote about the trouble with Scott Weiland in 2004.

I've always been a big fan of STP. I saw them a few years back and Weiland was electric on stage. I was sorry to hear the band broke up this year and I included their farewell single in my top five of 2003. Unfortunately, the man is seriously addicted to smack and I'm afraid he's not long for this world so long as he keeps falling off the wagon. I've believed this to be the case for a while, even picking him in the Dead Pool my brothers and I drafted back in 2000.

So many musicians I dig have died as a result of a heroin overdose. Brad Nowell, lead singer of Sublime, died of a heroine overdose in '96. Their self-titled third and final release remains one of my favourite discs of all time. Andrew Wood, lead singer of Seattle's Mother Love Bone, died of a heroin overdose just prior to the release of their major label debut in '90. Members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Hole and Sex Pistols have all succumbed to a heroin overdose. Layne Staley, lead singer for another of my favourite bands of all-time, Alice in Chains, died two years ago of a heroin overdose. Lest we forget Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana. His death certificate may claim he died of a self-inflicted gun shot wound, but there is no doubt as to the role heroin played in his untimely demise. This was the hardest pill to swallow.

Here's hoping Scott Weiland doesn't join the others in this tragic club. I fear it's already too late. It's just a matter of time before he succeeds.

We don't yet know what killed Scott, he's claimed he's clean now, but I'm betting decades of self abuse played a role. Trippin' on a hole in a paper heart.

Update: Police found cocaine on his tour bus.

STP

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 148: Arash Madani

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 148In this 148th episode, Mike chats with Sportsnet reporter Arash Madani about the many sporting events he's covered, including the Olympics, Superbowl, World Series, Masters, US Open tennis, Stanley Cup, NBA finals, Grey Cup and one frightening day in Honduras. We also talk about the waning popularity of the CFL in Toronto, perceived bias by Rogers reporters covering the Blue Jays, Stephen Brunt and the future of Bobcat. This episode is exactly 1:21:06.

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

Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd and subscribe here.

Toronto Mike'd Podcast

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Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 147: An Elvis Chat

Toronto Mike'd Podcast Episode 147In this 147th episode, Mike chats with his buddy Elvis about Sparks, Price, the Sam Smith concert jinx, comic books and Mike's power move with the microphones. This episode is exactly 1:01:04.

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

Catch up on all episodes of Toronto Mike'd and subscribe here.

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Cycling: November 2015 vs. November 2014

That was the best November I've ever cycled. Sure, there were a couple of toe-numbing days, but only a couple. The rest were ideal for biking.

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

November 2015: 659.44 KM

november-2015

November 2014: 434.26 KM

november-2014

I'm now at 6859.76 KM for 2015.

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Garret Sparks

With a 3-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers last night, Garret Sparks become only the 23rd goalie in NHL history to record a shutout in his first game. He's the first to do it as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Sparks

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