Toronto Police Mounted Unit trading cards

Spencer's trading card

Did you know that horses in the Toronto Police Mounted Unit have trading cards? One of the mounted officers at the East York Canada Day celebration had a giant wad of cards for Spencer, one of the horses attending the party, and was going through them quickly as dozens of kids (and Risa) mobbed him. The front, above, has a formal portrait taken at the top of Riverdale Park. The reverse has short bios for both human and horse officers:

Reverse of Spencer's trading card


And here’s Spencer (on the right), his colleague, and their riders shortly before they were surrounded by horse lovers and card traders on Canada Day:

Spencer (on the right) and partner at the East York Canada Day party.

Spencer (on the right) and partner at the East York Canada Day party.

Doug Holyday and the role of council

So the big story is Doug Holyday’s belief that downtown is no place to raise children. Others have already shredded his nonsense, none more succinctly than when Josh Matlow voiced the exasperation on everyone’s minds: “Are you serious?” Surely this is how Buzz Aldrin feels when asked about moon landing hoax theories; when confronted with such ludicrous statements, how can you begin to formulate a reasonable response? Why even try?

But I think the media is missing the real story expressed in Holyday’s statements. Quoth the Star:

Holyday responded: “Well, I certainly think it’s really not the ideal place that people might want to raise their families. But on the other hand, if they do, I’m willing to leave the choice up to them, councillor. I’m not going to dictate to a developer that they must provide 10 per cent of their units in the three-bedroom form when there may or may not be a market for it.” [Emphasis mine.]

The important part isn’t the first or second sentence, it’s the third. Doug Holyday, city councillor, deputy mayor, and former mayor of Etobicoke, doesn’t think it’s his (and by extension, city council’s) role to tell developers what they can or can’t build. So I’d ask him, if developers know what’s best for the city and you’re not willing to “dictate” anything to them, why do you stand for election and why should we elect you when your place on council could just as easily be taken by an ink pad and rubber stamp?

You see councillor, city council’s entire raison d’etre is to dictate things to people and organizations that don’t necessarily want to do those things. If everyone was completely willing and able to do everything required to make Toronto a great city, we wouldn’t need taxes, by-laws, and regulations, would we? But in the real world, any reasonable person would have to admit that there is necessarily a big difference between a developer’s bottom line and the public interest. That’s why we have things like building codes and zoning regulations. If you don’t force developers to build three-bedroom units, how exactly do you expect people to choose whether to live in them? If they don’t exist, there’s no choice to be made.

Besides, you’re not forcing anyone to build anything. Last I checked, each developer chooses whether, where, and what to build; we simply set the rules that they must follow in order to do so. And if you don’t think that’s your job, then what exactly is your job?

The family that recycles together…

This is a recycling community sign

A happy family carries their blue box out to the curb together in this rather idyllic representation of recycling.

As the person who has set the household recycling out for collection since the inception of the blue box program, I can assure the makers of this sign that it’s a solitary, thankless task, frequently undertaken in darkness of night or rainness of morning while cleaning up the mess made by raccoons attracted by the fragrant jars and cans. Never once has anyone held my hand and merrily skipped to the curb with me. I’ve yet to experience the communal joy of recycling with my family as we carry the bin like the Ark of the Covenant to the curb, where Belloq will ritually examine its contents. I’ve never seen mother and daughter in floor-length dresses solemnly accompanying the bin to its final resting place beside the road.

Indeed, when I look up and down the street every Wednesday morning, I see mostly solitary men and women in pymaja pants or nightgowns, flip-flops or boots (depending on the season), and all as bleary-eyed and bored as me, dragging their bins out from under the veranda at some hour so wee it barely qualifies as a time.

But I still think that this is a great sign.

(Seen in Cobourg, which would have you believe that it’s a family-oriented recycling community.)

Pedestrian crossing

Pedestrian crossing in a field

Surely my eyes deceive me, but is that a signed and signalled pedestrian crossing in the middle of an overgrown farmer’s field? I’ve got to check this out.


Pedestrian crossing in a field

Maybe I’m not so blind after all. That really does seem to be a pedestrian signal. I must get closer.


Pedestrian crossing in a field

Yep, that’s definitely one of Mr. Stickman’s genteel cousins showing me the way across. But across what? What the hell is he doing out standing in this field in the middle of nowhere?

Pedestrian crossing in a field

Sheesh. I know I often complain about bad pedestrian infrastructure, but this is ridiculous.

Still, I’d love to see simple signals like this across tracks in Toronto instead of huge pedestrian overpasses that turn a 10-second crossing into a 3-minute climb.



Meet Cliff

Meet Cliff. Licence plate ANFA 097

This is Cliff. He doesn't like me.

Hi everyone. I’d like you to meet Cliff. He was a passenger in this Mazda 5, licence plate ANFA 097. I don’t know if people ever Google their own licence plates, but I sure hope Cliff does. I also don’t know if Cliff is his real name, but that’s what I’m calling him. He looks kind of like a Cliff, doesn’t he? Much moreso than, say, a Norm, Sam, or Carla. He gave me a name too: “Asshole.” He calls me an asshole because he and his wife/daughter/mistress/something needed to park in the Cosburn bike lane on Wednesday evening for “just a second.” I’m an asshole because I straddled my bike behind their car, waiting for them to leave. I’m an asshole because I “could have just gone around.” I’m an asshole because it’s Cliff’s inalienable right to park for “just a second” in a bike lane directly in front of a No Stopping sign and maybe 6 feet away from an apartment driveway that had several empty visitor parking spots. Coincidentally, the No Stopping roadsign and adjacent off-street parking flank Cliff’s head in the picture above. Of course, I’m an even bigger asshole for pointing that out.

Cliff says I’m an asshole because his mother/secretary/masseuse/whathaveyou has her flashers on, and all that flashing lets you do anything you want. Cliff says I’m an asshole because his caregiver/trustee/court-mandated escort/whatever is breaking the law which, he assures me, doesn’t apply if you are stopping for “just a second.” Apparently, 4-way flashers temporarily suspend all nearby laws. Except the law of gravity, which cannot be repealed by mere light bulbs, no matter how many of them are flashing in unison. But even time itself is warped inside the event horizon of flashers: I was waiting behind them and dinging my bell for a full two minutes, while Cliff insisted repeatedly that they were parked in the bike lane for “just a second.” I’m lucky my atoms weren’t torn apart by the tidal forces, being, as I was, both so close and such a sizeable asshole.

Cliff says I should “just fuck off.” I’ve got some nerve, trying to ride my bike in the bike lane when it is clearly intended to be used for cars to park in. I mean, why else would they put it at the side of the road like that? I really ought to be ashamed, dinging my bell and so flustering Cliff that he was reduced to spewing a virtually incoherent string of obscenities at me. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s normally a fairly lucid fellow, though I have no direct evidence of it. I do have direct evidence of that pulsing vein in his forehead. He really ought to have that looked at. Perhaps I should pity the poor persecuted motorist, unable to park in the bike lane for “just a second” without some uppity cyclist coming along and ruining his day by pointing out that he’s endangering others. But it’s really hard to pity someone who screams at you when you gently call him out on his anti-social behaviour. Hey Cliff, you think I’m the asshole? I’ve got news for you, buddy.

Anyway Cliff, I accept your apology for parking in the bike lane and endangering cyclists for no reason beyond your own perceived entitlement. I didn’t quite hear the actual words through all of your bluster and spittle, but I think I got the gist of it.

A Canada Day parade in Toronto?

People call me all the time and tell me that they want parades with Shriners. Shriners, Shriners, Shriners. It's all about Shriners. They don't want those damn Rotarians clogging up the street.

So according to the Star, Mayors Ford said on their radio show yesterday that they’d like to have a Canada Day parade in Toronto. I think that’s a great idea. In fact, it’s such a great idea that not only has someone else already thought of it, but they’ve been running the parade every year for more than fifty years. And sure enough, the East York Canada Day parade will be winding its way through the streets once again on Sunday. Not only does the event already exist, but Ford should know about it: he was there two years ago, despite his claim to have spent every Canada Day since 1867 at the cottage.

But just for laughs, I’d love to see a parade organized by Ford’s office. I imagine that the procession would be made up of developers, high school football players, and police in riot gear. All floats would be subway cars. Organization would consist of slapping up a crappy website and putting up a sign at Deco Labels inviting everyone to the celebration. The parade would be held in a park because streets are for cars. Giorgio Mammoliti would take video of all attendees to ensure that no one is misbehaving and/or naked. Of course, the parade wouldn’t cost taxpayers a penny because private sector partners are lining up around the block to pay for it. Ford couldn’t tell us who, but trust him, there are dozens of sponsors all frothing at the mouth to spend the money. After hearing that community groups were planning to show up and celebrate, Ford would take to Facebook and his radio show to beg Ford Nation to show up and drown out all the pinko fascist commies. And, of course, Ford himself would miss the entire spectacle: he’d be at the cottage.

Christmas in June

Here’s something you don’t expect to see on the curb beside Rosedale Valley Road in June:

Nativity pyramid abandoned on Rosedale Valley Road

A three-tier nativity pyramid? It was in pretty rough shape and there are no homes around here where it might have come from. It could be another case of a freecycler using someone else’s curb instead of his own. I’m not sure that June on Rosedale Valley Road is the best time or place to recycle something like this, but it was gone by the time I came back the next day.

I don’t have a lot of exposure to items like this, so I had to rely on some creative Googling which not only let me decipher the scene depicted here (baby JHC in the manger looked more like a loaf of bread to my untrained eyes, and the magi appeared to be early 20th-century women clutching their purses while shopping), but also uncovered someone selling this exact model in better condition on eBay. For a surprise bonus, I am happy to present to you the most memorable movie scene ever to involve one of these things:

The Star changes its mind again

Back in January, I wrote about a story appearing on the Star‘s website that was silently updated after it was originally posted so that the new article said exactly the opposite of the original article. The Star‘s public editor responded to my complaint in her column, stating that allowing such silent story changes is “not the view of reputable news organizations that understand the vital importance of credibility.”

I’ve since noticed a number of similar silent changes on the Star‘s website, but none as egregious as yesterday afternoon’s story about Jason Kenney apologizing (or not) for calling a provincial minister an “asshole” in an email. Here was the headline as posted in the afternoon:

The original story said that Kenney had no intention of apologizing and included a quote from a Kenney spokesperson who dismissed the insult, saying that it wasn’t important to comment on every email that Kenney sends (presumably because apologizing to everyone Kenney calls an asshole would be a full-time job).

Shortly afterward, the story and headline were both updated while still posted under the original link:

The new story indicated that Kenney had indeed apologized and the dismissive quote from the spokesperson was nowhere to be seen. This isn’t a mere revision, it’s revisionism.

So here’s my problem: if a story changes after you post it to your website, you should either clearly state in the article that the story has progressed from what was earlier published, or (better) post a separate article with a note in the first article pointing to the new one. Sure, go ahead and fix minor spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in-line. But simply updating a story to this extent without acknowledging it is, well, not the sign of a “reputable news organization.” Another complaint to the public editor is on the way.

Keep your own damn garbage!

Sign on a chair left at the curb

Sign #1: FREE! Sign #2: If you left this here, please remove! Leave it in front of your own property, not other people's!

My regular readers know that I love a good sign, especially when there’s some well-deserved snark involved. And this snark is wholly deserved. Oh sure, leaving a chair at the curb for a garbage picker is the best kind of recycling, but I’ve got to agree with this homeowner who wrote this sign: keep your freecycling at your own curb, people. Now if I could just find someone to nail a turd bag to this chair and someone else to pronounce it fit for dog pee, you’d have the best of my neighbourhood signs in a single location.