Archive for July, 2011

July 31, 2011

Sunday Roundup – July 31

It’s the middle of summer vacation! What went on last week?

Surveys and Blogs  – I finally put together a super quick and super easy survey for my readers and asked you to fill it out. You’ve responded admirably in great numbers and I really do appreciate it. I’m going to take it down tomorrow night so it’s last call for your opinions – off you go! I’ll be analyzing and talking about the results next week, and making some additions and changes to this site – because you asked for it. I also answered a question about what blogs I follow with a short list, and there will be more of those to come.

All Aboard!  – I took a side trip to get some paperwork done in another locale, and posted a list of random art around the city.

Bits of Art and Politics – My mini-vaycay did not seem to have decent internet so a short and sweet post about art, politics and outrage.

Today’s the Day! – 300 people signed up to speak at City Hall. It was a marathon session. I am so pleased with and proud of some of our citizens.

Yesterday was a Long Day – 23 hours of deputations later, I don’t know what the end result will be, but citizen’s voices were heard. Highlights included the woman who cut a cheque on the spot for the cost of a property tax increase, a puppet show, Adam Vaughan wondering if Margaret Atwood was indeed in the house, and this remarkable young lady. Props also to some other great councillors – Krysten Wong-Tam, Janet Davis, Joe Mihevc. Yes my lefty pinko bias is showing – but no more so that usual.

There’s a great big festival happening right now within blocks of my house. What do I love about it? Costumes on the streetcar in the morning – it’s rare to see feathers and glitter and sparkle and sequins at 9 am on the Dufferin Bus. Happy Caribana! And happy Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival!

And finally – a bit of summer romance, courtesy of the New Yorker…

July 29, 2011

yesterday was a long day

apparently 23 hours long. And apparently, we’d like to keep our services. Someone pointed out that all the city was trying to do was find ways to cut – not find ways to increase revenue. Frustrating indeed. A huge shoutout to all those who registered, gave deputations, and stayed up all night.

here’s some fun from the Star – Can you balance the budget? Arts and culture folks – we’re using to balancing budgets on a knife’s edge – let’s give this one a shot. I’m reminded of the movie Dave, in which Kevin Kline hires his buddy the accountant to balance the federal budget – and he does. I’m also reminded a bit of children’s colouring contests where you send yours in to win a prize. Remember those? What would the prize be? Funding, I guess.

The survey continues to yield thoughtful comments and suggestions on what you’d like to see. I will be taking them all into consideration and hopefully coming up with equally thoughtful additions and changes, based on your input. Thanks to all those who have filled it out – the rest of you – there’s still time. Off you go.

It’s the long weekend. Is anyone taking off early to do something fun for the long weekend? I hope so – I bet you deserve it. Don’t forget it’s the Scotiabank Carribean Carnival this weekend!

Oh heck – here you go.  Enjoy!




July 28, 2011

today’s the big day!

Hundreds of Toronto taxpayers are set to show up at City Hall, part of a marathon meeting on budget cuts that is expected to stretch into the wee hours of the morning and run for at least an extra day.

Apparently there are nearly 300 people registered for their five minutes. Good. As I said before, speak well, get to your (important) point, know your facts, be polite and have your say. Excellent article to peruse pre-deputation courtesy Torontoist.

Another excellent article in the Star featuring Jeff Melanson and Jacoba Knappen for those deputing on arts and culture. Facts.

Good luck everyone. You’ll be awesome I’m sure.

Speaking of having your say – the survey! Only a few days left to voice your opinion – I’ve already got some great suggestions and new ideas to implement. Let me know what you think.

July 27, 2011

bits of art and politics

don’t even ask whose computer I’m writing this on, suffice to say it’s ancient and slow as the days of dial-up – am wondering if I don’t have an @aol address in use. And I don’t have my bookmarks.

So quick and dirty:

Bit of art: excellent article from BlogTO about the Cameron’s new facade. And a great link to a flickr slideshare of the murals!

Bit of stupidity: Oh, Doug. Remember when Mel went on CNN during SARS and said he didn’t know who WHO was? Yeah Doug – you’re gaining on him.

Bit of outrage: ““If he closes the library, I want back my vote.”

BIt of politics: I sincerely hope as many folks as possible are going to City Hall tomorrow. Our Mayor wants to hear from you. Let it happen. Be civilized, be intelligent, be engaged. Know your facts. Show them that everyone is a citizen.

Bit of a survey!  It’s going well, folks are filling it out! You should be one of them!

July 26, 2011

All Aboard!

Hopping the train today, got an excellent 60% off seat sale on VIA so am gonna go visit folks for super cheap. (No I did not go business class. It’s not much different except they refuse to leave you alone. I like some whims left un-catered to. Except when they bring along the little chocolates on the nice tray.)

The survey! Folks are filling it out rapidly and I do appreciate that, especially the comments on what sort of posts you’d like to see more of. All responses are being kept and by next week I should have a clearer idea of which way this blog is going. I’ve already got some ideas percolating. If you haven’t filled it out yet (it takes less than five minutes) I strongly suggest you do, as I’m taking it and your opinions quite seriously. Here’s the link.

Quick article in the Star on random works of art in our city. I’d like to see it turned into a scavenger hunt for some of our City Councillors – maybe on their next staff retreat. How many have you seen on the list, and how many have you seen that didn’t make it? There’s got to be more than this.


July 25, 2011

the Oft-Mentioned Survey and What Blogs Do You Follow?

That thunderclap this morning was the sound of heat breaking. Niiiice.

The survey is now live – super simple, super quick, less than 10 questions,  click here to take it as I do want your (anonymous) opinion. I’ll put the link in each blog post this week and it’s on the main page of the site and we’ll see what we get in a few days time. Results and best suggestions will be published.

Was asked the other day at coffee which blogs I follow, thought it was a good question so here are some that I do indeed check in with regularly. Some – not all. You have a life.

Seth’s Blog – Seth Godin has written thirteen books that have been translated into more than thirty languages. Every one has been a bestseller. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything.

Stepcase Lifehack –  a daily digest on productivity and life improvement

BlogTO, Spacing and Torontoist.

Freakonomics –  Steven D. Levitt is an economist. Stephen J. Dubner is a writer. They co-authored Freakonomics, a book about cheating teachers, bizarre baby names, self-dealing Realtors, and crack-selling mama’s boys. They figured it would sell about 80 copies. Instead, it has sold 4 million, in 35 languages.

Mooney on Theatre, The Mad Craft Shoppe, The Spadina Monologues, Folks Gotta Eat,

TED talks – seriously. Take a TED talk once a day. It is like a multivitamin for your mind and soul. Some of my  favourites are here, here and here.

So there you go – some summer reading and a survey. Off you go!

July 24, 2011

ETA: Saturday/Sunday Roundup July 23/24

I forgot to mention this yesterday:

Click  for the rest of the weekend roundup), published July 23rd.


July 23, 2011

Saturday/Sunday Roundup – July 23/24

It has been a busy and not busy week full of finalized meetings and phone calls and admin stuff (you know, the glamour of show biz) and I feel I’ve neglected you disgracefully. But it’s been too darn hot here in TO (with apologies to Vancouver)  and I’m sure you’ll agree. So this week’s roundup serves a double, with the usual what was posted, along with things that didn’t get posted but were of importance

So without further ado…

The Toronto Fringe Festival ended with a bang, our fundraiser had more folks attending that we budgeted for so hooray! Even more importantly, a wonderful festival, full of art and mirth. 57,282 tickets sold, $410,000 returned to artists and most importantly, a 50% increase in bar sales!

On that note, a repost: Fringe Numbers, from last week’s round up, and a couple of Fringe Wrap Ups from NOW and torontoist – you folks did a great job and I thank you for it..

The nationwide Summerworks fundraiser happened on July 15 in 12 cities, with 70 companies all for one cause. Lovely article here from NOW.

And I’m still toying with a survey but my brain was not functioning in the heat. Seriously, the other day was like standing under a dryer vent without that lovely Bounce smell…

A lot of chatter this week about impending cuts to our libraries, and so I wrote about it . Also found this paragraph in an article in the Star:

Our libraries are an engine of civilization, places that offer hope to people even if they don’t have a lot of money. It’s a concept that the playwright Alan Bennett word-painted beautifully in the latest London Review of Books. Go to its website,, and read his reaction to Prime Minister David Cameron’s cutbacks that will take an axe to Britain’s public libraries.

But according to the Mayor’s brother, (although I’m not sure who asked him), there are more libraries than Tim Horton’s in his riding. So once again, someone had to confirm this, and confirm it well – thank you Blog TO.  And while you’re at it, here’s the link to the petition to sign, if you have already signed it, please forward to someone who possibly has not. On that note GO, Peggy!

It’s not just libraries: click for a link to the full report on the City of Toronto’s Core Services Review. It looks grim. Have no fear though – the Mayor wants to hear from you! Except that I seem to recall I DID tell him what I thought was important. TWICE.  So maybe he doesn’t want opinions from folks like me.

I don’t even know anymore. I do know I’d like a button of this image. Just sayin’.

July 22, 2011

sorry guys

it has been too darn hot to post. Mercury hit FIFTY yesterday and I was pretty sure we were all just going to burst into flames and then what was the point of a post, as I’d have no stats to look at or comments to reply to.

I’ll cover all this week’s happenings this weekend, including stuff I thought about but couldn’t input due to my keyboard possibly melting. Stay cool, stay hydrated and keep an eye out for each other. In the meantime by Scott Beale and Quirky Cookery:

July 20, 2011

Once Upon a TIme…

Sometimes you forget that not everyone is like you, or values the same things as you do. So sometimes you have to write an “I can’t believe I’m writing this” post. I’ve done it with numbers a few times. Let’s talk about books.

As many of you know, it is entirely possible that our public libraries may come under cost-cutting attack. There is a petition here for you to sign if you already haven’t – I suspect many of the folks who read this blog already have.

This post is not about bricks and mortar, or necessarily about books themselves. It is rather about what they represent.

I’ll start by saying I learned to read when I was three, and have had a library card since I was six. (Only child – what else was I supposed to do?) I remember learning to read, I remember reading out loud when I was four, I remember the sound of my voice – I remember reading the sentence that said, “oh wear pants it’s going to be a pinch,” and learning what the word “picnic” looked like. “Oh wear pants it’s going to be a picnic.” Gotcha. I remember that over 30 years later.

Now then.

Whenever I take a book out of the library it’s usually something I had on hold. I live in Parkdale, and that is my branch. This book came from Don Mills, which might as well be Ireland, because I’ve never been there either.  I was the one hundred and thirty seventh person to want to read it.

When I open a library book it is like a small glimpse into the lives of those who have read it before me.

This book has dog-ears: I do that too, I confess. It means someone else does that.

This book has a cracked spine: Either someone else leaves them open facedown, or they were sitting somewhere wanting to read with one hand. I read with one hand all the time.

This bookpage is marked with an Eglinton Subway transfer: someone else reads on the subway.

This book has a quote from Cicero underlined: someone has used this book for research.

This book has a love quote from the hero underlined: Someone has definitely used this book for research.

I don’t mind dog ears and underlines. It tells me where someone before me had to stop, what they thought was important (and sometimes why. Although I don’t know what a response of “NO!” to a quote from Cicero means.)

I got a copy of The Thornbirds out a few weeks ago. Summer reading, right? Easy peasy. And as I read it something struck me. There were a lot of underlines (No, not just the dirty parts, get your mind out of the gutter). Words. Basic ones like “thresher” and “voile” and “enraptured”. And the definitions were written very lightly, in small letters, in pencil in the margins.

I’m pretty sure someone had used my “easy summer read” to learn English.

It’s not just the book that expands your mind, your sense of self, your sense of adventure. The book is just a symbol of it. It’s a symbol of who you were then (Little House series) who you are right now (Bossypants), and who you might become (30 Days to fluent Italian!) A book holds the world.

Final story. Library a while back. Little girl in front of me getting out a dozen books. I had to smile because I get that.  Off she went with her bag of books. And then there was a little boy at the desk. He’d lost his Dad in the stacks. And the librarian asked very gently, “Are you lost?” And the little chest heaved and the giant tears spilled over and we all instinctively moved closer to comfort him. And the security guard went to look for his Dad and little lost boy stayed with us, eyes full and big as saucers and Dad was found and all was well again. But that ten minutes – that ten minutes of community – we didn’t know each other. But we all had a library card.

How do you privatize that kind of community?

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