My 2 Cents

McDonald's Makes Nutty Choice

I have four children and so far there's no evidence any of them have a tree nut allergy. Two are quite young, so there's still time for such an allergy to manifest itself, but I'm hopeful we've avoided it.

I do have a nephew, however, who is allergic to peanuts. It means when we host a party we have to buy the ice cream that is completely nut free, and when we bake cookies or a cake, all labels must be read! A McDonald's Happy Meal, you'd figure, would be a safe choice.

McDonald's Canada has added a Skor McFlurry to its menu, and that means they can no longer be sure their other products have not "come in contact with peanuts, tree nuts or other allergens".

In my mind, this is a poor trade. McDonald's adds one more flavour of McFlurry to its menu and the cost is telling every family with a child with a nut allergy that their restaurant is no longer safe. Based strictly on my unscientific sniff test, it hardly seems worth it.

In fact, I think it's nuts.

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My Thoughts on Shootouts that Decide Hockey Championships

I have a serious issue with hockey championships being decided by a shootout. Last night, most of us watched a thrilling gold medal game decided by a shootout. Yes, we lost to the USA in that shootout and ended up with the silver medal. Here's why that sucks.

When you lose in a shootout, it doesn't feel as bad. Had the US scored in OT, it would have felt like we lost the hockey game. This just feels like we lost a skills competition.

But, when you win in a shootout, it doesn't feel as good. It just doesn't. You want it to feel like it felt when Crosby scored against the US in 2010. Winning in a shootout means you won, but not in the fair way you wanted to win. It takes a lot of the shine off.

So if this method of deciding a championship dulls the edges, making the lows feel less low and the highs feel less high, it's taken the best part of sports out of the mix. As a lifelong fan of sports, that sucks.

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The Problem with Chief Wahoo

Cleveland swept the BoSox and will face our Jays in the ALCS. It all starts Friday night.

I've been intentionally referring to their team as "Cleveland" and not by the nickname "Indians" because I'm not comfortable with it. I know the story of Louis Sockalexis and understand it's meant as a tribute, I personally just choose not to use it.

The bigger issue is Chief Wahoo. I grew up with Cleveland in our AL East division and watching Major League, and Chief Wahoo always seemed wrong, but in my adult years he seems outright offensive. Chief Wahoo is a racial caricature.

Cleveland_Indians_logo.svg

Even if Cleveland doesn't change their nickname, the time to retire Chief Wahoo as their logo has long passed.

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In Defense of Homerism in Pro Sports

On May 16, I sat down with Marty York for a lengthy conversation. You can hear our entire chat in episode 174. He had some rather strong opinions about homerism in sports.

When it comes to our local sports media, I believe he has a valid concern. Just look at the current ownership landscape:

  • Blue Jays - owned by Rogers, which owns Sportsnet
  • Argonauts - owned by Bell which owns TSN
  • Maple Leafs - owned by Rogers and Bell
  • Raptors - owned by Rogers and Bell
  • TFC - owned by Rogers and Bell
  • Marlies - owned by Rogers and Bell

It would be prudent to be aware of these inherent biases when absorbing content from these sources. That's just sensible behaviour. We've been on high alert since Mike Wilner's suspension, and you can kick that up a notch following Bob McCown's admission Bob Elliott was banned from Prime Time Sports for something he wrote about the Blue Jays.

Where Marty York lost me was when he attacked the fans for homerism. He pities the suckers who collect at Jurassic Park to take in a Raptors playoff game, or the thousands sporting Jays caps and believing they can repeat as AL East champions.

Sports has one purpose, and that's to entertain. Although it sometimes doesn't feel like it, it's supposed to be fun. Rooting with your city for the home team is a huge part of the experience. I've always been a homer, passionately rooting for Toronto's teams and passing on that same love to my children. I'm a homer, but I'm a realist.

That means I'll tune out when the Leafs are just awful with no redeeming qualities, and tune back in at the beginning of the next season. If prices are too high, I stop buying tickets, and watch on television instead. My collection of paraphernalia is minimal. But make no mistake about it, I want the Jays, Leafs, Raptors, TFC, Argos and Marlies to win.

I think it's fantastic when fans collect to watch playoff games. I love the fact the Jays and Raptors were both two wins away from the finals. I can't wait to see Auston Matthews in a Maple Leafs uniform next year. I'm even excited to see the Argos play their opener at BMO Field later this month.

Call me a homer. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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The Amber Alert TV Alarm: Hearing What You Want to Hear

Apparently, if you criticize last night's Amber Alert in any way, you aren't thinking of the children. There's no middle ground. The cool thing to do this morning is to attack anyone who doesn't universally praise the Amber Alert communication process. You're either behind the method in which the Amber Alert spread last night, or you're an asshole.

Nonsense. Here's my little story and how it was grossly misinterpreted because some people only hear what they want to hear.

I watched 60 Minutes profile our Prime Minister. They misidentified Kim Cattrall as Maggie Trudeau, which was fun. Kim even replied to my tweet about it, which was pretty cool.

Then I watched the Raptors blow it at home against the Rockets. That was frustrating. Our sweet home court winning streak came to an end in a game we once led by 18.

Then, because my wife was knitting a blanket for our unborn child and I wasn't ready to turn in yet, I tuned in the Democrat Debate on CNN. That's what I was watching when the Amber Alert came on.

It was a scroll that crawled vertically at a snail's pace, and it was accompanied by the loudest sound to ever emanate from my television. It was far, far louder than the volume set on my TV, comparable to the smoke alarm. The tone was a piercing, frightening alarm that scared the shit out of me. Because the scroll was so slow, I actually went to Twitter to find out what was happening.

And yes, I tweeted about it. Because the alarm didn't just happen once, it happened again a few minutes later, and that's when I shut off the television for the night because my nerves couldn't handle another round. Here's my tweet on the subject.

Some told me I was being selfish, after all, a child was in potential danger. Someone asked me if I'd feel the same way if it was my child. Others accused me of complaining my precious shows were being interrupted. Another just replied with "that's a brutal tweet you should be ashamed. Unfollow".

That's right, because I don't think you need a tone that harsh and ridiculously loud to share an Amber Alert, I should be ashamed of myself. I'm not against the Amber Alert, I think interrupting shows for a time sensitive message of importance is a great idea, I just don't think my cable provider should blast such a jarring sound at that volume into my home. I believe there's a better, more sensible way.

After all, nothing would get my attention like a brick through the living room window, but I don't think that's a good idea, either. Sometimes, we need to use common sense, even when we're thinking of the children.

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The Bullshitiest of the TD Canada Trust Fee Increases

I have a bank account with TD Canada Trust, so I've just been informed of a number of fee increases they're introducing March 1, 2016. I received a similar letter from Rogers a few weeks ago, but this is about the bullshitiest of the TD Canada Trust fee increases.

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If you cancel an Interac e-Transfer, you'll be charged $5. Interac e-Transfers are a digital means of emailing money, and TD Canada Trust charges $1.50 for the convenience. I'm unaware of any costs associated with cancelling one... this $5 charge smells like bullshit to me.

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The Coin Flip Debate and How it Reminds me of Frozen

I didn't watch a minute of NFL football during the regular season, but when a playoff game is close in the fourth quarter, I like to tune in. Last night, Green Bay forced overtime with an Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary pass to Jeff Janis. If you missed it, watch it here.

In NFL OT, it's vital you win the coin toss. Winning the coin toss gives you first crack at scoring a touchdown and ending the game. It's sudden death, if you reach the endzone...

The ref showed the coin showing heads, so Rodgers called tails. Apparently, Rodgers has a coin flip strategy to choose the opposite of what it's showing before the flip. But when the ref flipped the coin, the coin did not flip. Check it out below.

View post on imgur.com

The ref decided to flip it again, this time showing tails. But he didn't let Rodgers call it again. He went with his original call, when the coin was showing heads. As a result, Arizona won the toss, and subsequently the game.

Rodgers feels he should have been able to re-call heads or tails when the ref decided to do a second flip. This is one of those great debates that will feed sports radio across the continent. Ponder it for a second... it's a great one.

And it reminds me of a 5-second scene in Frozen after Elsa froze everything. Two guys are stacking firewood and arguing about whether the wood should be stacked with the bark down or up. This is based on an actual debate in Norway that gripped the nation. Read this article in the New York Times for a little background. Norway seems split on proper firewood stacking technique.

If the ref feels a second coin flip is fair, shouldn't the person calling heads or tails have a chance to call it again? Or, as many are arguing, should the original call stand?

In my humble opinion, Rodgers should have been allowed to call it again. And firewood should be stacked bark down.

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The Blue Pill or Red Pill?

You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

~ Morpheus in The Matrix

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My friend, had he lived, would have turned 35 today. I was reminded of this fact when Facebook encouraged me to "Help him have a great day!". Throughout today, many of his friends are leaving messages on his Facebook wall, confident that he's enjoying the day in heaven and looking down upon us, watching his Raptors and protecting his little girl.

I'm sometimes envious of this view of the world. It must be wonderful to believe that he's in a better place. It must be comforting to know he's still reading his Facebook wall and aware of our lives here on earth. Its sounds blissful.

I don't believe any of that. When my friend died in April 2014, I believe he ceased to exist, lost all awareness of anything and everything, dissipating back into the cosmos. I'm left with memories of our friendship and inspiration to be a better person.

Death is as natural a part of life as birth, but with a biting finality that results in a longingness that cannot be satisfied. It's no wonder so many choose the blue pill. I often wish I had made that choice.

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Thoughts on the Galleria Mall Redevelopment From Someone Who Worked There

The Galleria Mall at Dufferin and Dupont is where I worked for five long years of my life. I was a grocery clerk at the Food City there, and helped Oshawa Foods convert it to a Price Chopper.

Five years is a long time to work anywhere, let alone the Galleria Mall. When I started there, Boots was the drugstore across the hall from Food City and Zellers anchored the west end. P.M. Toronto Sports Bar was where degenerate gamblers hung out and I remember an LCBO and pet store amidst smaller ma and pa outlets. I knew the Galleria Mall like I knew the back of my own hand, having wandered around killing time during many a break.

News broke earlier this week that Freed Developments has purchased the Galleria Mall, and surely changes are coming. After all, if any piece of real estate in Toronto needs an overhaul, it's the Galleria Mall. The Honeydale Mall in Etobicoke would be a close second.

The Galleria Mall was always sad. It screamed of despair, so dark and dingy. Although the Food City and Price Chopper was always busy, inside the mall there was little foot traffic. It was so lifeless in the early 90s, I can't imagine what it's like today.

Blow it up and start again. It's long overdue.


Photo by blogto.com

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The Curious Case of Howard Berger

Local hockey fans likely know the name Howard Berger. He covered the Leafs on The Fan 590 for over twenty years until being let go in 2011. Love him or hate him, you knew his voice.

Upon being fired, Howard Berger started blogging, first at blogspot.com and then at bergerbytes.ca. He did not stop following the Leafs on the road, however. He essentially kept that going so he could blog about it.

I know this because it's all here in Berger v. The Queen. You see, since Howard Berger incurred about $60,000 in expenses over two years, he wrote that off as a business expense. His trips to New York to see the Rangers take on the Leafs were so he could better blog about the game and post-game conferences. This would make the blog better which would cause traffic to increase which would have sponsors knocking on his door.

On the one hand, I'm sitting here shaking my head at Howard Berger. I've been blogging for 13 years, and even though I didn't appear on a Toronto radio station for twenty years prior, I know a little bit about monetizing a blog. I can tell you Berger's blog was never going to support $30 in expenses every year, much less leave him with an actual income. It's as if he never did any homework or even any basic math.

And he didn't. Howard Berger never had a business case for his blog. Section 31 says it best:

Mr. Berger fails in this regard to have provided me with any projections, comparisons, readership numbers, anything at all frankly to allow me to accurately assess the venture’s capability to make a profit. It is all conjecture. No solid data, just a suggestion his readership numbers were trending upwards. This factor works against Mr. Berger’s position that this was not a hobby but a business. Businesses are out to make money and generally have an idea of how much and how feasible the money-making venture is. Mr. Berger does not seem to have a handle on this. It leaves me to guess whether a steady readership in the few thousands is sufficient to attract sponsors to cover expenses of $30,000‑$40,000 a year.

But, I actually feel sorry for him. After over two decades following his favourite team for a living, he was fired and reacted as if in complete denial. He kept doing what he had always done, and that meant joining the team on the road and blogging about what he observed. He didn't actively seek sponsorship or consider how he was going to monetize the venture and support this expensive activity, he just plowed ahead as if nothing had changed. It's incredibly sad.

As it stands, Howard Berger is still blogging, but without income. He's still welcome on my podcast anytime as I'd love to talk with him about all of this. This case, as curious as it is, will be great fodder for legal classes to debate. When is a hobby a business and vice versa?

What do you think? Was this a legitimate business that justifies $30,000 in yearly expenses? Was Howard Berger personally benefiting from trips to New York to see his favourite team play in the Big Apple? Can you call a blog a business if there is no business plan?

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