Saturday, April 19, 2008

Maria Sharapova is 21 Today!

Worse headline in the history of ever

One of the worst headline I've seen in a while was in the Toronto Sun today. Toronto went 28 days without a homicide until a man was stabbed to death yesterday. Except that the Sun headline was "Stabbing ends T.O. murder drought". Yeah we were all missing those news lead items about a nothing shooting death.

Toronto House for Sale for $1

It's just a gimmick but a home owner in East York has put their home up on the market for $1.00.

The home is located near Dundas and Carlaw, an area where similar homes routinely sell for $375K +. It has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and was recently renovated by a professional home flipper.

Perhaps this is a sign that spring fever has hit the Toronto Real Estate Market. Although sales are down from last years record pace, the fair weather of late seems to be bringing back some of that Toronto real estate insanity. More likely though this is a sign that savvy sellers are realizing that in order to stand out in a changing market you have to stand out from the crowd. Pricing your house for a dollar will do the trick as evidenced by this story being on just about every Toronto-based 6 o'clock news program today.

For the pragmatically curious reader, no, the seller is not obligated to accept an offer on their house if that offer is for $1. By law, they are free to accept or reject any offer they receive. This extreme example illustrates the arbitrary nature of asking prices in real estate and one reason why bidding wars are so common in Toronto.

I do not approve of this

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cabbage Patch Dolls

Hard to believe but the Cabbage Patch Doll craze occurred 25 years ago.

In 1978, artist Xavier Roberts created needle-molded fabric sculptures called Little People. To build the first mass-market children's brand, the name was changed to Cabbage Patch Kids— designing the ubiquitous graphics and logo. The plastic version of the Robert' dolls became the toy phenomenon of the '80s — with people rioting in stores to purchase the hot, new dolls — and everything else branded Cabbage Patch Kids. The "Originals" are still hand-stitched and are available exclusively from Babyland and its website. Adoption Agents administer a special Oath of Adoption ceremony for adoptive parents. Adoption fees for Originals range from $170 to $375 plus tax.

In December of 1983 a Cabbage Patch Doll was on the cover of Newsweek. That was about the time the demand for the dolls went nuclear.

Allison Stokke is not so hot anymore

These are the latest pictures out of Berkeley of pole vaulting attraction Allison Stokke. Sorry guys but it seems she has put on some weight.

Photo from last year:

Passover Causing Jews to Pass Out

Passover, which begins tomorrow night, never passes by without a surge in emergency room traffic, according to one area physician. Dr. Tucker Woods, chairman at Long Island College Hospital’s emergency department, tells the Post he sees “an uptick in total patient volume during Passover.”

It seems the heavy cleaning leading up to Passover – intended to rid the home of chametz – is taking its toll: “We see a little bit of everything. Dizziness from fumes, slips from highly buffed floors or wet bathroom tiles.

Then there are the cooking injuries. Plastic surgeon Gary Kimmel says he’s come to expect Passover injuries like “knife wounds from cutting food, burns from stovetops, and even fingers chopped up in blenders.” Dr. Woods also sees an influx in food-allergy cases reported on the night of the Seder

Vladimir Putin Ditched His Wife for This

A newspaper report claims that Russian president Vladimir Putin has secretly divorced his wife so that he can marry former Olympic champion rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva. Putin is 56. Kabaeva turns 25 next month.

Happy Passover

...and easy on the matzah!

Roll up the rim and never win

I've lost track of the number of coffees I've bought from Tim Horton's in the last month and not one single winner. “Please Play Again/Réessayez s.v.p” is all I ever get.

And I'm not alone. I just wonder whether this successful marketing campaign is beginning to lose its shine. According to Tim Horton's you have a 1 in 9 chance of winning.

There's a spat brewing at Tim Hortons in Atlantic Canada where customers have been complaining that their Roll Up the Rim to Win cups have been tampered with.

A guy in Nova Scotia is complaining that his rim was blank!

Hope she can find a blind boyfriend

Bills Play the Dolphins in Toronto

After all the hype over the Buffalo Bills coming to Toronto to play five regular-season games in the next five years, the first one will be against the NFL's worst team on December 7. Miami was 1-15 last season.

Rogers Communications, who are co-organizers of the Dec. 7 game, described the rivalry between the teams as "legendary." I doubt too many local football fans are that excited. No one is saying what the tickets will cost (likely from $75 to $300 per game). I guess they don't want to add insult to injury.

Meanwhile Bills fans aren't taking the news well, according to a poll on The Buffalo website reports that 68 per cent of fans are disappointed the Fish won't be coming to the Ralph in December. And Bill fans, don't expect any tailgate party. There is no parking near the Rogers Centre.

Anyone — from Toronto, Buffalo or anywhere else — still has until next Thursday to sign up for the ticket lottery on the Web site . That will be a crowded lottery. The Web site already has received requests for about 125,000 tickets for the Toronto game. The Rogers Centre is expected to hold somewhere around 54,000 seats for the Bills games. It has been widely reported that people buying tickets will have to commit for all eight games: one regular-season game from 2008 through 2012, plus preseason games in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

I think I've lost my enthusiasm for going to see a Bills game.

Man Tossed Off Plane for Praying

An unidentified man was forcibly removed from a United Airlines at JFK before it took off last night because he wouldn’t sit down and stop praying. A San Francisco author named Ori Brafman, who was on the flight, told WNBC the Orthodox Jewish man ignored instructions from flight attendants to remain in his seat. During the minutes before take off, he walked to the back of the plane to pray, and when he continued to defy attendants' orders, they summoned airport security.

Brafman described the scene: "He doesn't respond to them, but his friends explain that once you start praying you can't stop." (This is why people should ‘Just Say No’ to prayer.) Once the man stopped praying a few minutes later, he explained that he “couldn't interrupt his religious ritual and wasn't trying to be rude.” But he got the boot anyway, and the flight proceeded to San Francisco. A spokesman for United Airlines confirmed that he was removed and put on another flight this morning.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gaza Jimmy

A North Carolina Republican member of Congress is calling for the State Department to revoke the passport of former President Jimmy Carter, who’s been meeting, against the wishes of the U.S. Government, with representatives of the Palestinian terror group Hamas.

Congresswoman Sue Myrick of Charlotte, speaking on the Jeff Katz Show on WBT Radio, says Carter’s actions have made a lot of people in the House extremely angry.

Carter is an embarrassment. Bad enough he was a weak and ineffective president, but now he nows he is opposing the president of the U.S. and the Israeli government who asked him not to meet with Hamas, a terrorist organization. This isn't out of character for this miserable excuse for a human being - he has consistently agitated against Israel - and Carter finds no moral qualms whatsoever about dishonoring the presidency and what this country stands for by hugging the Hamas leader, a butcher with so much blood on his hands.

While awaiting a TTC strike

....I fell upon a video of Japanese commuters. In Japan, commuting by train is not for the weak or frail.

Blue Jays Lose a Marathon Game in 14

The Blue Jays pitching has been great so far this spring. So you would expect that a game going into the 14th inning would play into the Jays' strength. Well the pitching staff has indeed been great and sports the 3rd best ERA in the AL. But two pitchers have not had great starts - Jeremy Accardo and AJ Burnett.

After starter Jesse Litsch was pulled in the 6th inning, the relievers did a great job and only gave up a single run in the 9th (Accardo) and 2 runs in the 14th (Burnett). So Accardo now carries an ugly ERA of 8.53 and Burnett's ERA is 6.27. So what was Burnett doing in the bullpen? Well he was the 9th pitcher in the game for the Jays who had run out of relievers. Shame because they wasted a great effort by rookie Jesse Carlson, who pitched three innings of one-hit ball, innings 11-13.

TTC Union Sets Strike Date

The posturing shifted into high gear today in the TTC labour dispute, as union president Bob Kinnear announced that if the union doesn't get satisfaction this weekend, 1.5 million Torontonians are going to be looking for another way to get around as of 4 a.m. on Monday.

The initial TTC offer of a 2% annual increase over a 3 year contract was rejected by the unions, and that a key sticking point has been the TTC's refusal to bend on providing full pay to employees kept off the job due to illness or injury. However, who has to move in what direction and how far are anybody's guess. The union boss also pointed his finger up the political chain, noting correctly that the TTC is wildly underfunded by all levels of government compared to other transit systems.

We can expect lots of journalistic cliches as "talks go down to the wire" in the "11th hour" with negotiators taking "a hard line" on whatever it is they're talking about in there. Meanwhile commuters will have to scramble on the weekends to plan for a strike on Monday. We can expect Mayor David Miller to dash back from China on the weekend to close out an agreement and take the credit. The city will fold but commuters will be so grateful that a strike will be averted that no one will whine about fares going up.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cost Of Gas Rises Again

I'm tiring of reporting that the cost of crude hit another record. Reached an eye popping $115 U.S. a barrel on world markets Wednesday. This morning pumps were reading $1.17 for a litre of regular. It's obvious that it isn't peaking yet.

B.C. transit cops' Taser Turnstile Jumpers

Canada's only armed transit police service is defending the use of Tasers against passengers on Vancouver's transit system, some of whom were trying to skip out on fares.

The force has come under fire after documents were released that indicate Tasers have been used 10 times in the past 18 months, including five times against riders who allegedly were trying to evade paying fares.

It's only ready been shown over and over again that these things can be lethal. So this cement head transit police are going to risk killing someone over a skipped fare?

UDPATE: The TTC is launching a $100,000 study to determine whether TTC Special Constables should also be armed with tasers.

Just Prior to the Pope's Visit to the White House preparation for Passover, the rabbi's sell their chametz to the President.

Clock on Image to Enlarge

Springsteen Also Endorses Obama

"Like most of you, I’ve been following the campaign and I have now seen and heard enough to know where I stand. Senator Obama, in my view, is head and shoulders above the rest.

He has the depth, the reflectiveness, and the resilience to be our next President. He speaks to the America I’ve envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems, a country that’s interested in its collective destiny and in the potential of its gathered spirit. A place where “...nobody crowds you, and nobody goes it alone."

Guys, This is a Public Service Commercial

Monday, April 14, 2008

Happy Monday


Yeah, Just One of the Boys

Pennsylvania Also Has Out-Dated Liquor Laws

Although the sale of alcohol has come a long way in Ontario, booze is expensive and the choice limited because government is responsible for sale. Pennsylvania has a similar set up but residents make regular trips to Delaware and New Jersey to buy cheap liquor from huge box store like Total Wine. I've made the trip myself. The parking lot is full of cars with out of state plates.

It seems that it is illegal to bring booze over but there is no enforcement. An interesting article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer on this topic.

Did you catch me at the Phillies Game?

Murder Moratorium

The Toronto Sun reports that Toronto has now gone 26 consecutive days without a murder, a streak unseen since the summer of 2006.

It's not that Toronto streets are safer. There are multiple shooting every day. Just seems the medical care is too good. Shooting victims are getting excellent care at the scene from paramedics as well as from trauma centres at Sunnybrook, St. Mike's and other hospitals.

Best (Legal) Hockey Bodycheck of the Year

Now it's Pigs on the Highway

Last month it was cows on the highway and today it was pigs.

The eastbound and westbound lanes of Highway 401, east of Winston Churchill, were closed Monday, after a tractor-trailer hauling a load of pigs overturned and caught on fire.

The livestock truck burned, with several of the injured animals trapped inside. Some of the pigs wandered along the eastbound lanes of the highway.

Animal control and Mississauga firefighters teamed up to gather about 50 pigs that were on the loose.

They OPP said that when officials first arrived on the scene two pigs were so severely injured and suffering that they were shot by officers.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

BJ Ryan Returns Just in Time

One year after losing him to an elbow tear, the Blue Jays have $47 million (U.S.) closer B.J. Ryan back in the fold. And it was just in time as Ryan came in to today's game in the 10th inning against Texas to earn his first save in a year. Jeremy Accardo who had done a great job replacing him last season had a rough week with a blown save and two losses. He went into today's game with an ERA of 10.38.

The win completes the Jays' second sweep of the season in just their first 4 series. Vernon Wells appears to have recovered from last season's shoulder problems. Going into today's game Wells was first in the AL in runs scored and second in RBIs.

SNL Spoofs Clinton Again

Just a month ago, people wondered if Saturday Night Live was playing favorites with the Democratic presidential candidates, with seemingly more pro-Hillary Clinton material, not to mention the terrific Amy Poehler playing the Senator from New York to the hilt. However, last week, the show poked fun at the Clinton's tax returns and, last night, well, see how Clinton is spoofed in a hearing with General Petraeus (video above).

Stephanie Tanner had a baby

Stephanie Tanner is a mom! Jodie Sweetin gave birth to a baby girl yesterday reports People. Jodie and her husband, Cody Herpin, have named the 8 lbs. 7 oz baby, Zoie. For all the Full House Fans out my daughter, here is Dancing Stephanie.

Commuter Dirty Harry

The Long Island Rail Road’s etiquette bully has walked — again. John Clifford, notorious for loudly and aggressively harassing fellow riders to make them behave better, was acquitted on Tuesday of assault, disorderly conduct and other charges stemming from an ugly encounter on the Long Beach line last year. Judge Larry Stephen of Manhattan Criminal Court said most of the witnesses had “an ax to grind,” and threw the case out.

And so Mr. Clifford — despite years of complaints, arrests and summonses, none of which have stuck — is free to keep doing what he does: abusing fellow commuters in the name of peace, quiet and civility.

“Do I admit to being domineering?” he said in court. “Yeah.” Actually, he admits a lot worse: pouring coffee on people, cursing and berating them, slapping them for talking too loudly on cellphones and other sins.

He is a large (6-foot-4) former police officer, so it is easy to see why someone might be frightened when he comes after them, especially when he says — as he did to Donna DeCurtis — that he knows their names and where they live, and that “I can make your life hell.”

Clifford knows for certain when other passengers are being too loud because he brings a noise meter with him on the train. He says the MTA is supposed to restrict any noise above 70 decibels, but “when you’re talking across the car it goes to 80 decibels.”


Sasha Cohen has a new look

People are noticing something different about figure skater Sasha Cohen. She appears to have gotten a boob job.



According to her website, Sasha credits a special bra for the fuller look. Celebrities seldom admit to cosmetic surgery. It sort of makes sense. Amateur judges aren't going to be swayed by big boobs. In fact, big boobs slow down your rotation when executing jumps and spins (done through centrifugal force). But since she is skating professionally and not doing the more difficult jumps, it sort of makes sense.

Parents of the Year Candidates

Parents normally fight to keep their children out of gangs, but not this one: the mother is a Crip, and the father is a Westside Baller. And they got into a fight over which gang their 4-year-old toddler should join!

On Saturday, Joseph Manzanares stormed into the Hollywood Video store where his girlfriend worked, threatened to kill her and knocked over several video displays and even a computer, Commerce City police Sgt. Joe Sandoval said. […]

His girlfriend told police that they had been arguing about the upbringing of their son and which gang he should belong to. The teen mother, who is black, is a member of the Crips. Manzanares is Hispanic and belongs to the Westside Ballers gang, the woman said.

"They have different ideas on how the baby should be raised. Basically, she said they cannot agree on which gang the baby would ‘claim,’"Sandoval said.

Heidiwood for Red Light District

One of the trends coming out of Hollywood is for celebrities to come out with their own line of clothes, cosmetics, colognes, vodka coolers, whatever. The deals are most attractive to the D list of celebrities. So I come across talent-challenged Heidi Montag who has launched a clothing line called Heidiwood for Anchor Blue.

I'm no expert but wouldn't this outfit normally be part of the wardrobe of a hooker?

Help is on the way


Honk if You Think I’m Naive

An Italian woman artist who was hitch-hiking to the Middle East dressed as a bride to promote world peace has been found murdered in Turkey.

The naked body of Giuseppina Pasqualino di Marineo, 33, known as Pippa Bacca, was found in bushes near the northern city of Gebze on Friday.

She had said she wanted to show that she could put her trust in the kindness of local people.

Turkish police say they have detained a man in connection with the killing.

Ms di Marineo was hitch-hiking from Milan to Israel and the Palestinian Territories with a fellow artist on their "Brides on Tour" project. They had separated in Istanbul, planning to reunite in Beirut.

Sort of Nostalgic


Dick Cheney Mystery Solved

For the last few days a photo of Vice President Dick Cheney by David Bohrer of the White House during a recent trip to the Snake River in Idaho has been making the rounds on the Internet.

Everyone was so sure the reflection in the VP’s sunglasses was a naked woman. Turns out the picture shows a hand casting a rod. Silly us.