Saturday, October 10, 2009

First it was teacup dogs, now it's teacup pigs

"Teacup" pigs have became the latest trendy pet in England.

The little piggies weigh just over half a pound at birth and only grow to 12 to 16 inches high, topping out at about 65 pounds - about the size of a small spaniel but rather svelte in the pig world. These are serious pets, not quite like a teacup poodle.

The animals are a cross between potbellied pigs that were popular a few years ago - George Clooney kept one as a pet - with the Tamworth, Kune Kune and Gloucester Old Spot breeds. However, the potbellied pigs were too large to be house pets for most people. Now that they have pigs down to this size, their popularity is expected to take off.

They cost about $1,100. Paris Hilton just dropped $4,500 for one. The smaller the pig, the bigger the price.

Pigs are much more intelligent than dogs so they get bored easily so they can't be left alone in home all day. Since they have hair rather than fur, people with allergies won't have a reaction.

Happy Thanksgiving so get out and enjoy the fall colours

It's Redneck Transportation Week

One gay man, two lesbians, a three-legged cat and a poisoned curry plot

We are going to have to call in Interpol on this one. A gay man tried to poison his lesbian neighbours by putting slug pellets into their curry after he was accused of kidnapping their three-legged cat.

Gary Stewart, 37, had been at loggerheads with Marie Walton and Beverley Sales for months.

But things looked brighter when he made a peace offering of some curry, claiming he had ordered too much from the Indian takeaway.

When the women started to eat, they found the curry studded with slug pellets.

They called the police and Stewart was arrested.

Miss Walton, a full-time mother, and Miss Sales, a goods vehicle driver, had been the victims of an apparent hate campaign by Stewart.

Stewart is even alleged to have kidnapped the family's three-legged cat, Amber, and dumped her in a village miles away.


Mug Shot of the Week

Public transit is the "Better Way"

Obama-mania hits the Nobel Committee

I was surprised this morning to see that President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. There has been some very strong reaction from both sides of the political spectrum. Everyone is talking about it.

Frankly I like Obama but for the life of me I don't know what he did to earn the award. The Beer Summit? His accomplishments during his nine months in office would make for a pretty short list. He is a great orator but does that earn you a Nobel Prize?

The Nobel Committee said something about how the mere fact of Obama being president has changed the international political mood and calmed things down. But is that alone really worth the Nobel? Maybe it's just that there was no one really more worthy?

Friday, October 09, 2009

It's Redneck Transportation Week

Best of Toronto Google Street View

A certain former health minister leaving Queen's Park.

Yup, that's whole lot of garbage that piled up during the Muncipal workers' strike.

This has been removed. The little tyke had to take a wiz.

No doubt he was saluting the Google car as it passed by.

Everyone has likely seen this van fire. Probably out by now.

I just hope she planned on scooping.

Used to be the Master Baiters now just the Master Netters

A West Coast netball team competing in an Australian tournament at the weekend have been forced to change their name as organizers raised concerns over a possible double meaning. The Greymouth side, formerly known as the Master Baiters, are headed for the Sydney World Masters Games under the title new Master Netters - a less risque reference to whitebaiting.

The reference to whitebaiting, or fishing for whitebait, was just too much for the 2009 Sydney World Masters. Plus, officials feared Master Baiters "might have a bit of a double meaning if it was pronounced wrong."

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Yes, Sigourney Weaver is 60

Why the Maple Leafs have had a slow start

It seems many Leaf fans have been shocked by what they’ve seen from the Leafs over the first 3 games of the season. My Leaf poll on the side bar reflects much of that optimism. High expectations were created by team’s preseason record, the free agent signings, and management’s declaration that this was a playoff bound team. Truculence has been an overused description over the summer in Toronto so it must come as a surprise that the Leafs have been out hit in each of their first three games of the regular season. Against Ottawa it wasn’t even close – 45 hits for the Senators and only 26 hits for the Leafs.

Now you can’t read too much into three games. You would rather want to see a strong start as opposed to a bad start. Still, there are some realities that fans need to keep in mind:

· This was a soft team last season. However, most of the toughness added this season is coming from marginal players like Exelby, Rosehill and Orr. If they only average 5 minutes per game, then last year’s soft players are eating up the other 55 minutes. It’s not like Burke added a forward like Milan Lucic who is getting close to 20 minutes of ice time per game.

· During the preseason, many regulars did not see much ice time. Their contract situation more or less guaranteed them a spot (at least in the short term). Management used those games to evaluate younger players – Stulberg, Bozak, Kadri, Hanson, Rosehill, Gunnarsson, Tlusty, Deveaux. Reimer and Macdonald were in net for many of those games. Now most of these players are with the Marlies and we are seeing a lineup that is more similar to last season’s – which wasn’t very good.

· The defense has 3 new players who are not familiar with their partners and the team’s defensive approach (assuming they have one). They are going to get better but it’s going to take time.

· Goaltending is about the same as last year – bad! I thought at the end of the preseason Joey Macdonald would be the starter by Christmas and nothing has made me change my mind. Toskala has about month to straighten out his game. In mid-November Phil Kessel comes off the injury list which will create a cap problem for Burke. He could dump some underachieving forwards to create cap space or just waive Toskala. The way he is playing, he won’t be missed.

· Every GM has to announce to their fans that their objective is to make the playoffs. Doesn’t mean they actually believe it.

It's Redneck Transportation Week

Why are Ontario insurance rates so high?

In Ontario, drivers pay more for auto insurance than the rest of Canada but do not necessarily get more for their money. Insurers do not always treat their customers fairly. You hear stories all the time but insurers aren’t the only villains when it comes to Ontario’s dysfunctional auto insurance system. Based on the recent articles in the Toronto Star, some lawyers and health care providers are getting rich off of clients with very minor injuries by billing insurers for totally unnecessary services. The accident victims are mostly just pawns in the system and get very little out of it.

Let’s just consider what happens when you suffer a soft tissue injury playing sports. Not too long ago I injured a hamstring. I went to a sport medicine doctor who prescribed some physiotherapy and massage. The initial physiotherapy session cost $80 and included a treatment session. There were 5 additional sessions at $50 each. I had two massage treatments at $80 each. There were no lengthy claim forms to fill out because this was not an auto accident injury so the total cost of treatment was $490. If the injury had been more serious I would have received a few more sessions to resolve the problem. I didn’t miss any work because the pain in my leg didn’t prevent me from sitting at my desk although I did have some discomfort.

Going back to the auto insurance files examined by the Star reporter, 4 files did not involve a lawyer and occurred outside the GTA with costs ranging from $1,674 to $9,427. Now these people had a number of problems though they were still mostly soft tissue injuries that were more serious than my hamstring. Assessments required for these claims were under $1,000. These expenses were all quite reasonable.

The other 6 files (5 in the GTA and 1 outside) examined by the reporter had a lawyer on the claim hired by the accident victim. These claims ranged in cost from $23,499 to $51,808. In addition to excessive treatment for essentially neck, back and shoulder strains, ridiculous amounts were spent on assessments. The chart below shows the cost of assessments requested by the claimants’ health care providers, the amount eventually paid by the insurer and the cost of assessments paid by the insurer to challenge excessive benefit requests submitted in these claims.

Assessments Requested

Assessments Approved

Insurer Assessments

Claim #1




Claim #2




Claim #3




Claim #4




Claim #5




Claim #6





The files show that assessments are out of control. Health care providers on both sides of the claim (working for the claimant’s lawyer and the insurer) are making a killing. Claim #6 is slightly different as there weren’t excessive assessment requests from the claimant. However the insurer conducted a number of them to challenge income replacement payments. So what’s in it for lawyers? Well trial lawyers are trained to build a case in the event it goes to trial. There is no trial here but the concept still exists. You build the claim and negotiate a cash settlement with the insurer. A chunk of that settlement goes to the lawyer for all his hard work.

So the next time you get your auto insurance renewal in the mail and wondering where the money goes it not only goes towards nice profits for insurance companies but also into the pockets of health care providers and lawyers. For some reason the auto insurance systems in other provinces do not operate in this manner – it doesn’t matter whether those systems are government-run or have private insurance companies.

Who is Alex Anthopoulos?

I find the appointment of Alex Anthopoulos as Blue Jay GM to be intriguing. At first blush you ask yourself how could this 32 year old Montreal native with no playing experience be qualified for the job? But like hockey, the trend in baseball is moving away from hiring former players into management. Teams are looking for people with business savvy with strengths in marketing, contracts, accounting – as well as traditional areas of scouting and player development. Currently, only 3 American League GM have played major league baseball. Anthopoulos also becomes the sixth American League GM under the age of 40. Gord Ash worked started in the Blue Jay’s ticket department and worked his way up to GM.

Anthopolous graduated from McMaster University with an economics degree. His passion was baseball and decided to take the opportunity to try to break into the business. If he failed he would find a job in the financial services sector. After several months of hounding Montreal Expo officials, including GM Jim Beattie, he landed an unpaid job coordinating fan mail sent to players. He used the time to learn about scouting and evaluating players. That initial position lead to an internship in media relations and then scouting. He paid his own way through MLB’s Scouting School. He eventually was appointed Scouting Coordinator by the Expos’ Scouting Director. Anticipating that the Expos would not be staying in Montreal for much longer he was able to nab a similar position with the Blue Jays in 2003. He was promoted to assistant GM following the 2005 season, adding the title of vice-president, baseball operations in January 2006.

Judging by comments posted by fans on websites there appears to be a lot of skepticism. Most fans see this as another example of ownership’s continued neglect of the team. However, his quick rise from volunteer to GM in just nine years suggest that this guy has some pretty good skills. People see something in him that we just aren’t privy to viewing from the sidelines. He may fail but I wouldn’t write Anthopoulos off quite yet.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Racing car fans limited to one case of beer per day

Race fans in Australia headed towards the Bathurst 1000 – a three-day race featuring touring cars with V8 engines and set to begin this week — are going to find their plans for wild drunken rowdiness slightly hindered. That’s because, based on bad recent experiences, the police are trying to crack down on binge drinking.

Assistant Police Commissioner Alan Clarke explained that ”Police respect people’s rights to enjoy the race weekend, but will promptly act when the law is broken. Every year thousands of race fans attend and enjoy the event and police will not allow their safety to be compromised by a drunken few. As such we will once again be focusing on alcohol-related behavior.”

If you’re attending the race the police will be insisting that you stick to no more than one case of beer a day. Wine drinkers are also expected to exercise restraint, limiting themselves to a mere 4 liters a day. There are ways around this crackdown though, for instance, if you opt for lower-alcohol beer you can bring in 36 cans instead! SWEET! Take THAT rules!

Obviously, now the fans are upset, feeling their rights are being under attack. After all, how can you possibly enjoy car racing if you aren’t shit-faced hammer-drunk? And when I say drunk, I don’t mean that weak-assed pussy way of getting drunk on JUST 24 cans of beer, I’m talking 60+ beers per person per day. I mean, these are AUSTRALIANS, 24 cans of beer is necessary just to get the saliva going in the morning.

Google Street View is live in Toronto

Since back in April, the Google Street View camera cars were seen in and around the GTA, and speculation that the new visual feature would be implemented "soon" remained alive and well.

I was able to find a terrific shot of my house. I could pretty much pinpoint the timing of the shot by the shape of my landscaping. It was likely the first or second week of May.

It's Redneck Transportation Week

Stephen Harper thinks he's Bill Clinton

During the 1992 Presidential Campaign, Bill Clinton made a surprise appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show -- wearing dark sunglasses, he played "Heartbreak Hotel" on his saxophone. At the time, he was trailing in the polls, and some critics have suggested that this appearance captured the imagination of the American people and turned the race around. I just wonder if that was in the back of Stpehen Harper's mind when he decided to play a Beatles classic at the National Arts Centre Gala.

Hump Day Hottie

Shania Twain

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mug Shot of the Week

40,000-year-old frozen baby woolly mammoth found

A baby woolly mammoth that died after being sucked into a muddy river bed 40,000 years ago has revealed more prehistoric secrets of how the species survived in its icy habitat.

The mammoth, known as Lyuba, was about a month old when she died in the Siberian tundra, where she remained until she was discovered by reindeer herders three years ago. Her body was so well preserved in the permafrost that her stomach retained traces of her mother’s milk, and scientists identified sediment in her mouth, trunk and throat — suggesting that she suffocated while struggling to free herself from the mud.

The mammoth has taught researchers much about the species that they had been unable to glean from fossils and other less well-preserved finds, including how brown fat cells on the humped back of the head helped to maintain body temperature. The calf, found in the Arctic Yamal peninsula of Russia, weighed about 110lb, and was about the size of a large dog.

It's Redneck Transportation Week

Mother of the Year candidate

A woman is in the city jail here for having her 13-year-old daughter ride in a cardboard box atop her van.

Jackie Denise Knott, 37, of Albertville, Albama was charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Smith said the child was turned over to a relative.

Police received a call Sunday morning of a minivan traveling on U.S. 431 with a large cardboard box on top with a child inside. Officers stopped the van on U.S. 431 and asked Knott why the child was riding atop her vehicle.

"The box was too big to go inside the van, and she would be able to hold it down if she was inside the box," the woman told police.

When asked about the child's safety, Knott told the officers that she had the box secured to the van with a clothes hanger.

Elisabeth Shue is now 46

Rated the top beauty with a brain.

Fashion Statement

Monday, October 05, 2009

Woman killed by pet bear

A Pennsylvania woman who keeps exotic animals as pets was killed recently after she was attacked by her pet black bear, an official with the Pennsylvania Game Commission said. Kelly Ann Walz, 37, was found with fatal injuries she received in the attack. Walz went inside the bear’s 15-by-15-foot steel and concrete cage to clean it and feed the bear. While she was inside, the 350-pound bear turned on Walz and killed her. The bear had been kept as a pet since 2000 when the owners applied for a license. Also kept at the house are a Bengal tiger and an African lion.

Can you imagine being eaten by your pet. But then most people don't live with lions, tigers and bears. That's why I stick to goldfish.

It's Redneck Transportation Week

What happened to Lindsay Lohan?

Lindsay at 23 but looking like she's 53.

Lindsay at 17.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Ontario auto insurance is a boondogle for legal reps and healthcare providers

The Toronto Star article this weekend on the state of the auto insurance system in Ontario should evoke anger and despair for drivers. Accident victims with soft tissue injuries as minor as neck and shoulder pain are running up huge bills. The claims examined by the Star reporter indicate that costs ranged from $23,499 to $51,808. Drivers should be outraged.

So who is to blame? Most accident victims are sucked in by legal representatives and healthcare providers who are making a killing off of auto accidents. Who do you think gets the bulk of these payments made by insurers? Not the accident victim. Lawyers love to run up multiple and expensive assessments that are totally useless.

Want to know what it costs to treat these injuries in Saskatchewan or Manitoba? About $1,000 or so. Not only do accident victims not reap the benefits of these outrageous payments but their treating practitioners make them worse. Too much treatment makes people focus on their pain and discourages them from returning to normal activities. Just check out The Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders.

So what's the solution? Government-run auto insurance like they have in Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In those provinces they get better coverage and lower rates. Often the free market is preferred over a public monopoly. But auto insurance is one of those exceptions. It's just not working here.

The very gorgeous Alicia Silverstone is 33 today

It's Redneck Transportation Week

Battle of the Blades - Tie Domi

Tonight's highlight in CBC's Battle of the Blades had to be Tie Domi doing a figure skating routine with Christine Hough to the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction. He was grinning like a kid all alone in a candy store through the entire program. One thing Domi has always enjoyed is being in the spotlight. Surprisingly he was willing to share it with Hough. But then as a hockey player Domi once in a while was willing to share centre stage with Mats Sundin.

You really had to feel sorry for Bob Probert. Talk about a fish out of water. Poor Kristina Lenko tried her best to make it look like they a program going but it mostly looked like she was skating next to big bag of cement.

Bank robber foiled by bad handwriting

A 30-year-old woman tried to rob a bank Wednesday by handing a teller a threatening note, but the teller couldn't read her handwriting, police said.

Hillsboro police said Stephanie Martin walked into a Wells Fargo bank in Hillsboro and handed the teller a note that read, "Need $300 or I'll kill you. I'm serious."

The teller told Martin she couldn't read the handwriting, police said. Martin then walked to a counter and re-wrote the note on a bank slip, according to Lt. Mike Rouches, of the Hillsboro Police Department.

The teller then hit the silent alarm and the bank's manager asked how he could help Martin, Rouches said.

Statue of the Week