Opening Statement

Monday 24 November 2014

A Whirlwind Trip To New York City!

More pictures still coming ....

At the Freedom Tower

Whew! That was quite a whirlwind trip to New York! Janet and I arrived from Toronto at 9 am Friday. I was rather bleary eyed and cranky but still feeling up for it. We were pretty much just go go go from then til we got back last night. It was bitterly cold, except for yesterday when we could finally walk around. Otherwise we had to take cabs. Too bad! I like walking about just exploring. No matter, we still had a fine time!

We dropped our bags off at the Roosevelt Hotel at 45 + 5th Streets about 10 am. It's a reno from the mid 1920's. Quite grand in a period piece fashion. Our 16th floor room was typically New York sized; small but quite adequate, and the price was right: 2 nights for about $800 [Cdn] each, including round trip air flight. We enjoyed the better part of 3 days in NYC, so it worked out well.

The Empire State Building

Our first stop was the Empire State Building. It was built shorty after the hotel. Janet has always wanted to go up to the top but there's been a huge crowd, with maybe even a two or three hour wait. I can't stand that. It would give me a big anxiety attack. This time since it was very, very cold and windy we walked in and went straight up.

It was a crisp sunny day. Peer over the rail at the top and you will see it is quite a long way down. There's a forest of sky scrappers on every side. The river. The boroughs. All stretching out to the horizon for as far as one can see. Yup. This is New York all right. It should be renamed Skyscraper National Park. I think so.

Empire State Building view of Manhattan

Next we took a cab over the Williamsburg bridge to the first music store on my list; Rough Trade NYC. It just opened here recently. I've been to both London England locations. Rough Trade usually has a pretty esoteric collection. I found a whack of reggae and dub cds I've been looking for. Shopping in New York was not exactly cheap, even discounting the drop in the Canadian dollar compared to the last visit in Summer 2011. It's too bad that the Rough Trade Cafe wasn't open. However, they have free in store internet so Janet surfed the net while I did my music thing.

We caught another a cab to Deadly Dragon Sound. It's in Chinatown back on Manhattan island. The shop is really just a hole in the wall, with lots of vintage 45's, mostly reggae, soul and funk. The owner was friendly and helpful in between busily working on the computer listing his inventory onto the store website. It might do well to visit the store online. Otherwise there's just dusty boxes of records stacked everywhere, and a couple of racks of music books to see. I bought a very hard to find used copy of "Dub: Soundscapes + Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae" by Michael E Veal [like in the sandwich!], an Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at Yale. Nice score!

From the Empire State Building looking towards the 9/11 site

It was dark by now as we cabbed over to the World Trade Centre 9/11 Memorial Site. The new brightly lit Freedom Tower loomed far overhead in the dark, quite the site to behold. It's open for business during working hours, but sightseers won't be allowed in until next June or July. I ate a huge pretzel I bought from a street vendor. Munched on it while I yapped with a conspiracy theorist who had his placards spread out on the ground, was eager to explain all. Quite intriguing. Pleasant. Logically consistent whether one believes his theory or not. I left with some of his pamphlets to look over later. Tossed the pretzel in a garbage can. Way too much salt!

We took another cab back to the Roosevelt hotel, then walked over to Grand Central Station looking for the Record Mart, the next music store on my list. Regretfully, it was inside the subway station, so one needs to pay to go in. If I lived in NYC I'd probably drop by from time to time as I was travelling about on the subway. It's fairly small, but stacked with used dvd's, cds and records all along, up and down the crowded walls. Quite busy. Kind of grimy. I'd suspect that's no fault of the shop owner. Let's just say the store had a subway sort of ambiance about it. It mostly stocked Latin music, salsa, and some reggae. 

Janet and I had planned to go out and do some fine dining. However, we usually just ate on the run. There are lots of good pubs and neighbourhood diners close to the hotel. Our regular haunt blasted rock music way too loud. I do enjoy my rock, so that was okay, all things considered. Janet was just too tuckered out to say much I'd guess. Knows my idiosyncrasies only too well. There was football on the big t.v. screens. The food was strictly pub fare with a touch of greasy spoon but good and hearty. We both liked the club sandwiches, steak burgers and fish n' chips. 

Officer! Please arrest the mad man in that car .... that one too!

That night the heat was cranked up high in our hotel room. There was little we could do about it. I sweat it out on top of the sheets. Quite ironic. There wasn't much time for sleep anyway because Saturday morning we were up and at it early again. Janet wanted to go to Macy's. It's billed as the world's biggest department store. 

This is Black Friday Week, as it's now called. There's supposed to be all sorts of bargoons at Macy's though we didn't see many. Everything was pretty much just expensive but there are all sorts of discounts if you sign up for a Macy's card. They wanted photo i.d and to ask all sorts of personal questions. We don't walk around the streets of New York with our passports. No way. However, I had my Ontario driver's licence. It took a long time to verify. Then they wanted to know how much I earn at work. By now I was getting pretty p.o'd and wrote down "0" which did not go over well even though It's true. I'm retired. I don't work anymore. I was definitely getting into a snit.

We only qualified for a 10% discount as Canucks, not 20% like a registered visitor with a Macy's card and so on. I left Janet to do the shopping while I went down the street to chill out at Starbucks. Surfed the internet over another wake up coffee or two. To make a long story short, Janet found a very nice pair of Rayban sunglasses for the beach. Okay price, but nothing to dance in the street about. Suffice to say neither of us was overly impressed with Macey's. 

Mid afternoon we went back to the hotel to rest up a bit. Grab dinner at the pub again. Then we headed to Times Square for the evening. It's extremely glitzy and commercial. The lights very overpowering. No doubt there's a certain hypnotic "wow" factor to it all. The very heart of the modern day American Babylon.

Times Square was jam packed with folks walking up and down the strip, just hanging out, even in the bitter cold. Most of the trashy souvenir stores are gone. It's now jam packed tight with big box stores, open to all hours in the city that never sleeps. The hustlers were trying to sell show tickets. Who knows if they are real? Other then that they were posing in goofy costumes to try to get our attention. And of course if you should want to take a picture you pay. Very overdone by a factor of at least 10. Rather dull and irritating.
Time for a new act!

There was a lot of construction. For reasons unknown they are digging up the centre of both the street and square, packing everyone very tightly onto the crowded sidewalks. Meanwhile the cars where trying to drive through and getting absolutely nowhere. Backed up for god knows how long. Honking like crazy. Lots of hotheads and street rage. It all seemed totally pointless if not fascinating. They weren't going to be going anywhere anytime soon. The end result is total gridlock. It reminded me of downtown Toronto. Or vice versa. Very much so.

Time Square

Our highlight Sunday was a visit by cab to the 9/11 site again. We tried to use the subway maps, token machines, Iphone apps etc. etc. etc. Found it too overwhelming. We've used the New York subway during the summer and it was okay. But not when we are all bundled up in the freezing cold. No. No way. It's not for us. 

The World Trade Centre 9/11 Memorial site is quite peaceful and pleasant. I am quite fond of it. Many of the surrounding buildings have been torn down and rebuilt in a late post modern style, I'd think. Lots of reflective glass and different shaped buildings. The nearly finished Freedom Tower resembles a sheet of mirrored glass stretching up, pointing to the sky. I saw a fairly low flying jet arc overhead, leaving behind a ghostly smoke plume silhouetted against the tower in it's wake. It's odd when things like that just happen eh? It took on a whole other significance that made me wince. Anyway, the new tower is a few stories short of the old Twin Towers, but the rooftop antennae cone makes it taller. It's now the tallest building in New York. 

I really like how the Twin Tower foundations remain as just 2 gaping holes, surrounded by sidewalks and open green space. There are waterfalls pouring down all four sides. The outer edges have the names of the dead stretching the whole length of the walls. One just mentioned a mother's name and "her unborn child". Thinking about it still chokes me up.The names are carved deep into the metal ledges and people stick little flowers in them. I saw a small Canadian flag flapping over one in the stiff breeze. 

Janet wanted to go shopping at Century 21. Like a souped up Macey's it is pricey and vastly overrated. She didn't buy much. There is a record bar downstairs. It's called J+R Express. The old J+R was a really excellent block long discount electronic, camera, dvd and music store, not far away. A sales clerk told me Century 21 bought them out and this is all that remains. Too bad. Like in most of the music stores, the record albums are now quite decidedly pushing the CD's aside and taking over. I bought a stack of classic rock titles. Not exactly cheap nor unique, but there are lots all in one place. I think I do better in Toronto to be quite frank. Especially down in the new record ghetto down by Queen St West, Bathurst and Spadina. Still I did okay.

On our way back to the Roosevelt we asked the taxi driver if he knew anybody who had died on 9/11. He said he'd had a contract to drive business folk back and forth from the Twin Towers. Lots of them, every day for many years. Then he never saw any of them again. Wow. 

Janet wanted to take pictures of an architecturally unique skyscraper, the former 1904 Breslin Hotel which is being incorporating into the design of a building in Toronto. She wanted to see what it looks like with people using it and so on. I walked around inside a bit too then went across the street to a retail/ wholesaler at the corner of Broadway and West 29th who specializes in E-vapourizers and other groovy related medical paraphernalia to cool the nerves or whatever ails you. Nice stuff. The prices are about the same in Toronto although there was more variety than in most stores. 

Roosevelt Hotel Lobby

We relaxed in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel just enjoying the splendour for a bit. Watching folk come and go. Then we took a cab back early to LaGuardia, just in case it was busy, so as to try avoid the rush. We were quite pooped from our whirlwind adventure and ready to go home. There weren't any crowds in Terminal D. We sat and used the free internet.

I was surprised at how relatively good the airport food was at the take out counters. Seriously, I don't expect much if anything at an airport when it comes to food. I had a nice fried chicken dinner; a meaty leg with two sides; potatoes and corn. Nothing fancy but well prepared and quite cheap. Our airplane arrived on time, but was then late getting out onto the runway where we got stuck in a long queue of jets. I watched as they took off, one after another outside my window. Saw the lights of New York stretched out as far as I could see as we took off up into the night sky. 

The flight between New York and Toronto is only an hour or so. I slept. We were still home in time for Walking Dead, quite tuckered out but happy with our trip. I'm always quite glad to be back home in our old familiar setting and routine. Now I can relax, space out, just listen to my new records and read my dub book for the next few days. Our trip was lots and lots of fun, though we don't plan to return during winter again. Still, I'd definitely give our New York City adventure a big two thumbs up!

There's no place like home!

PS: I didn't include any addresses. If interested you can easily Google them. Everyone's got a website these days it seems. 


Some thoughts @ Remembering 9/11

A review of our 2011 NYC trip @ Canuck's Guide

Sunday 23 November 2014

Backgrounder: OSSTF Queen's Park Notes on the Auditors Report!

My Teacher Union Blogsite Acronym Guide is @ Here!

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk has presented her report!

I am including OSSFT Queen’s Park Notes on the Auditors report here as a backgrounder for your reading convenience and possible discussion purposes. The notes are publicly available on the OSSTF website. The paragraph indentation, a spell check and highlights in bold are only added to make it easier to read on my site. More report links follow below. Here's OSSTF's Queen's Park Notes:

In response to a request by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, on a motion put forth by PC MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton), Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released an audit entitled “Education Sector Collective Agreements: September 1, 2012–August 31, 2014.” The committee requested the audit to verify the cost of the Premier Wynne’s decision to re-open the imposed education union contracts implemented by former premier Dalton McGuinty’s Bill 115 in 2012.
The Liberal government had originally projected the cuts to save $2.4 billion, but dropped the figure to $2.1 billion after Wynne reopened the contracts. In her news release, Lysyk said, overall, the Ministry of Education’s original and revised projected cost reductions were reasonable. She also added that provisions in the Memorandums of Understanding could result in $200 million in additional savings if they are carried forward into future agreements.
In her audit, Lysyk found costs associated with revisions to education unions’ Memorandums of Understanding totalled $468 million. The changes included $355 million for the number of professional development days, sick days and a one-time payout for the loss of the retirement gratuity. The rest of the $113 million was the cost for bringing elementary teachers’ salaries on par with secondary teachers. Lysyk also said that changes were also made to the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan which reduced the liability of the plan by $2.25 billion, saving the Ontario government half that amount. Finally, Lysyk noted the Charter challenge by education unions is still before the Supreme Court which could result in other financial Implications.

At the news conference and in subsequent media reports, members of the Queen’s Park gallery characterized the changes in the Memorandums of Understanding as the Liberals making concessions to the education unions. Despite the media’s attempts to goad Lisa MacLeod into confirming their view, her constant refrain was that Ontario voters deserved to know this information prior to this past June’s election. And in the next day’s Question Period, MacLeod and her PC colleagues did not pursue this issue, rather, their questions focused on the revelation that the Liberals were planning to cut $500 million in education thereby forcing school closings.
As for the New Democrats, Education Critic Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth) repeated that the Liberals had taken an unconstitutional step in imposing education union contracts through Bill 115.

The Auditors Report is @ Link! 

More info is at November News + Views blog @ Link!


Monday 17 November 2014

A Blog Overhaul + Some Snow Notes!

Hello Readers!

We've had snow flurries here in Toronto over the past 24 hours. The snow is covering the ground for the first time this year. Always a milestone. The snow seems a little early this fall, but it happens from time to time. 

Retirement is great! Be seeing as I don't have to go outside, I haven't. I'm content to stay indoors and look out the window. Mostly I just listen to my record albums on the stereo in my man cave. I'm still on a reggae binge, since my trip to Jamaica in the summer. Lotsa Bob Marley + the Wailers, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear, UB40, and lots of dub; Lee "Scratch Perry" and King Tubby. I'm still working on my Bob Marley album reviews, mostly listening to them on vinyl. Really, I think music can sound a lot better on vinyl. No digital sheen. A more richer sound field. There's beauty in vinyl's simplicity and the nice big graphics on the album covers. I think so.

I will write more about records when I get my new "Pages" feature started. You can see the empty links at the top of my site under the header now. I am planning on adding "My Writing" as a new, separate page. A lot of it is based on my travels and life in the places I've visited. There's "On To Habana", a love story. "Christmas in Cuba", is a "Cold War" thriller of sorts. There are two or three novellas, quite a few short stories, and a lot of poetry [blank beat verse]. I previously posted these elsewhere across the internet. Might as well bring them all home to nest in one place.

You will note, I have also moved my "Blog Acronym Guide" forward, so it's easier to find. I am also going to overhaul it. So if you see any corrections, and changes needed, or I have missed an important one, please let me know. It now follows immediately below this blog. 

Below that is your "November News + Views", which I will update in the next day or two. It's been pretty slow. There seems to be little news on the teacher contract negotiations with the provincial government. Nobody is saying much. We saw what happened when it got like that in 2012-13. Scary! Scary! Thanks to those of you who have been forwarding updates in the "Comments" section below my "Teacher Free Speech Contract Guide" blog. If you have any you can add for our erudition, please do!

I'm doing a site overhaul; maintenance basically. Nick my techie is amazing and does most if not all of the layout changes. I bow to his expertise. He designed the site for me, and I am eternally grateful. He says 500,000 blog visits is excellent. I'm using Google+ now, to look over a careful breakdown of my readership statistics. I will tailor the site accordingly, when suitable and am looking at ways of expanding my readership base through the social media. Anyway, it's an ongoing process.

When I'm not doing that, I've got quite a stack of books on the go, and finally enough time to read them all. There's presently 3 on Bob Marley, one on Christopher Columbus, another about a JFK assassination plot, a classic rock reference book and a Wailer's discogaphy this dude wrote with Bunny Wailer ..... and so on!

I've booked my winter holiday in Cuba, at the Brisas Sierra Mar again. Roughly translates to "breezes, mountains and the sea". The coral reef is great for snorkeling. I also plan to have my Cuban School Project there probably on the weekends, because of course the teachers will otherwise be in school. Teacher readers will know the routine. A visit to the resort will be nice break

Janet and I are also planning to go Christmas shopping in New York this year. I should go out later to the bank and get some US cash. Fortunately I bought when the Canadian dollar was on par, so I don't take a hit when it dips lower. 

Since gas prices are plunging, you'd think the airlines would give us a price break. Jet fuel will also cost a lot less. Most if not all of the airlines added a separate baggage charge when the fuel prices were so expensive.They aren't now. Has the price of a flight gone down? No, of course not. What a scam! 

Fortunately there's some good deals for New York if you can book during the off times. Same goes for the resorts! Works for me!

Well, it's Monday, a whole new week. Winter is definitely in the air, even though the solstice is still a month away. I always like the snow at first. Everything is covered under a gentle white blanket in the world outside, below our windows. It's nice for Christmas, fa, la, la, la, la, but afterwards, as far as I'm concerned it sucks. Nope. I don't like it. But so it goes and on and on and on .....

Stay tuned for my new "Pages" feature and thanks for visiting my site. This is really cool. Yup. Y'bet!


David C.

Outside our windows: snow, snow and more snow!

PS: My Blog Acronym Guide + your Teacher November News + Views blog is directly below....

My Teacher Union Blog Acronym List

Updated June 1st, 2015

You will find a list of the acronyms + so on used on my blog here. It's better than having to explain them in full all the time. Some of my readers know them already. Others don't know them at all.  Please keep checking for updates. If [when?] I miss any important ones please advise me in the Comment bar below.

AGM: Annual General Meeting
BC: British Columbia
BTAIM: Be that as it may
BTW: By the way.
CA: the Collective Agreement contract between the teachers union and a school  board
Canuck: a Canadian, my people
CAW: Canadian Automobile Workers
CB: the Collective Bargaining process or team which negotiates the contract
CBC: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television channel +  news
CCPA: Canadian Council of Policy Alternatives
CFL: Canadian Federation of Labour
CLC: Canadian Labour Congress
COPE: Canadian Office + Professional Employee Union [Porter workers]
CPC ML: Canadian Communist Party Marxist Leninist
CPIC: Canadian Police Information Centre
CSAC: Catholic School Advisory Council
CTF: Canadian Teachers Federation
CURC: Congress of Retired Unionists of Canada
CTV: Columbia Television channel  + news
CUPW: Canadian Union of Public Workers
CP24: City Pulse Channel 24 news Toronto
CRTC: Canadian Radio + Television Commission regulatory body
Duh: Dumbfounded expression made famous by Baby Huey the duck.
Dunno: short for "I don't know"
Dippers: NDP members
DIY: Do It Yourself
EC's: Extracurricular activities [school trips, events + after school sports, clubs etc]
EGALE: Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere
EQAO: MOE Education Quality + Accountability Office for standardized testing
ERC: Educations Relations Committee
ETFO: Elementary Teacher Federation of Ontario [President Sam Hammond]
ETFO ETT: ETFO Elementary Teacher's of Toronto
Faaa...: Nice way to say "WTF", # a's/ + ...'s suggests degree of frustration or wonder
FDK: Full Day Kindergarten
GSA: Gay Straight Alliance [high school equity clubs]
GTA: Greater Toronto Area. The large populous urban regions just outside Toronto.
Hmmmm: means "I need to think about that." The more "m's" the longer time needed to think..
ICJ: International Court of Justice
IMHO: In my humble opinion
ISIS: Islamic States of Iraq + Syria [also known as ISIL L=Levant]
ISS: International Space Station
J25-26: 2013 teacher protests outside the OLP Leadership Convention
KW: Southern Ontario "Twin cities": Kitchener Waterloo
LCBA: Local Collective Bargaining Agreement
LCBT: Local Collective Bargaining Team
LGBTQ: refers to the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgendered + Queer community
MLG: Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto [hockey/convention centre etc.]
MOE: Ministry of Education [Education Minister Liz Sandals]
MOU: Memo of Understanding
MIA: Missing In Action
MP: Federal Member of Parliament
MPP: Member Provincial Parliament
NASA: National Aeronautics + Space Agency [US Space Program]
NDP: New Democratic Party [Party Leader Andrea Horwath]
NIMBY: Not in my back yard
NSFL: Nova Scotia Federation of Labour
ONABSE: Ontario Alliance of Black School Educators
OACPE: Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education
OCAP: Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
OCSTA: Ontario Catholic School Trustee Association
OCT: Ontario Teachers College, responsible for professional licensing
OECTA: Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association [President James Ryan]
OECTA COP: Council of Presidents from each local unit across the province
OECTASA: Secetariat Association [General Secretariat Marshall Jarvis]
OECTA TSU: Toronto Secondary Unit representing local Toronto high school teachers
OECTA TECT: Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers
OFL: Ontario Federation of Labour
OLP: Ontario Liberal Party [Premier Kathleen Wynne]
OLRB: Ontario Labour Relations Board of appeal
OLRA: Ontario Labour Relations Act
OMG: Oh my God! Expresses shock.
ON: short for Ontario
OPSBA: Ontario Public School Board Association
OPSEU: Ontario Public Service Employee Union
OSCOJ: Ontario Superior Court of Justice
OSSTF: Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation [President Paul Elliot]
OSSTF D12: District 12 Toronto unit of OSSTF
PA Day: Professional Activity Day [for teachers]
PC: Provincial Conservatives [Party Leader was Tim Hudak]
PDT: Provincial Discussion Table [Provincial CB forum]
PE: Provincial Executive of any affiliate [OECTA OSSTF ETFO CUPE]
PET: former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau
PM: Prime Minister of Canada [currently Steven Harper]
QP: Queen's Park Legislature, the Ontario provincial seat of government in Toronto
Red Koolaid: Intoxicating drink allegedly favourited by blindly partisan OLP followers.
Royally p.o.'ed: Royally pissed off or angry
RTW: Right to Work [for Less]
SMH: Shake my head, as in wonderment + disbelief
Snoozefest: indicates "very boring", you will be falling asleep [also see Zzzzzz]
TCDSB: Toronto Catholic District School Board
TDSB: Toronto District School Board
TIFF: Toronto International Film Festival
Tory: Traditional nickname for an Ontario Conservative
TTC: Toronto Transit Commission. Runs the buses, subways + street cars
TVO: Television Ontario. A provincially government owned arms length t.v. station.
TYLRC: Toronto York Labour Relations Council
UN: United Nations
UAGM: Unit Annual General Meeting
USW: United Steel Workers
WMD: Weapons of Mass Destruction [sic]
WSIB: Workmen's Compensation
WTF: What the F#%k! Expresses anger or dismay.
WTR: Work to Rule
WTR 4 Less: Anti WTR reference. Less pay, benefits, job security etc.
Zzzzzzzz: indicates somebody or something is putting you to sleep.
#%$@*&: [or some variation] Expresses any number of profanities. Take your pick.

Monday 10 November 2014

Teacher November News + Views!

More links being added....

Here we go again. You know the routine. The links are organized as per the categories below, with updates later included in larger type. My Blogsite Acronym Guide is @ Here! 

Mexico Protests: 43 student teachers kidnapped + killed!


The news reports are ablaze with claims that the auditor general has reported that the Liberal government spent $468 million to reopen teacher contracts before the spring 2013 provincial election. Here is the actual press release @ Audit

Here is the actual auditor's report @ Link

OLP Minister of Education Liz Sandals states that they will still save $2.1 from the MOU cuts. They had intended to save $2.5. 

NDP MPP Peter Tabuns claims that the government was taking money that they shouldn't have taken anyways, in violating the teachers' collective agreements. 

The Audit? NDP's Peter Tabuns emphasizes the Bill 115 Charter Challenge!

The auditor has warned that the savings could still even be less if the teachers court challenge is successful. I assume that's referring to Bill 115. 

PC Lisa Macleod claims that the difference in savings should've gone into the "hands of moms and dads" and was intended for the "kids in the classroom". She accuses Premier Wynne of trying to be popular and to buy labour peace. 

Well, it's quite the numbers game. This CP article is written by somebody who at least knows what everyone is talking about. Be aware: Others don't. A decent one's @ Auditor's Report!

NDP Party Leader Andrea Horwath blames Liberal's for having "played with the lives of people so inappropriately" @ CHCH TV

The focus is on the numbers in the next link. It will be interesting to cross check the Toronto Star's account of events in Spring 2013 with the news links from back then. Check out my teacher news link "Archive" in the top left column of my site. I am also Tweeting the links out, if relevant, over the next little bit. You can subscribe to my Twitter account #davidchiarelli. The Star article is @ Toronto Star

OK ladies: Think spin control!

The Globe + Mail takes the PC party line and even embellishes it by taking some liberties in how they are interpret what the auditor said @ Globe

Ditto the National Post with it's taxpayers angle. Both neglect to mention the Bill 115 court challenge comments by the auditor general @ National Post

OSSTF reports @ Queen's Park Notes

Now the history writing about spring 2013 begins! CTV newscast reports @ Nightly News

Without doubt, there's a lot more to follow ....... might I suggest in the meantime that you play let's connect the dots with the earlier news stories below?

Ontario's Wynne government is planning to cut $500 million from the Ministry of Education budget. Declining enrollment will mean up to 600 school closings. The government argues that they need to balance the budget and have increased the education budget 56.5% since being first elected in 2003. Catholic school funding won't get the axe. More @ Education Cuts!

More on this story @ Here!

CTV reports @ Video

OSSTF welcomes the release of the Ontario Regulation 274 Final Report on the new hiring procedures for the province's occasional teachers. Reg 274 was included as a part of the OECTA MOU to combat rampant nepotism at the Catholic school board level, but didn't prove popular with the public teacher union counterparts @ 274

Here's a copy of the Regulation 274 Report @ Link

News about student kidnappings in Mexico and Nigeria should be a solidarity concern for teachers everywhere. A strong government or international response in both cases seems sadly lacking. Talk about a leadership vacuum! Think how difficult it must be as a teacher, let alone a student! In Nigeria over 200 female students have been kidnapped, converted and married off to Muslim militants who opposed their education @ Nigeria. 

In Mexico, municipal authorities, the police force and a drug gang are apparently linked with the kidnapping and execution of 43 missing teacher college students @ Mexico 

Further trouble in Nigeria: suicide bomber disguised in school uniform kills 47 students at boys school @ 47!!!

Much chest beating and war cries as ISIS beheads a US aid worker. Ok it's very awful but what about the 47 murdered student teachers in Mexico? The 200 kidnapped Nigerian students? Don't hear much about that, do we? More @ Big Out Cry!

Koch Bros.

The billionaire Koch brothers are busy "buying influence" to they can "set curriculum" within the US schools. Scary scary! They are not known for being especially sensitive or caring corporate citizens, to say the least. Notice how wherever you go, it's OK when the neo cons try to influence curriculum. However it's very bad for teachers to also try to do so, even though we actually know quite a bit more about education!!! What BS! Read all about it @ Koch

Quebec unions finding solidarity is allusive in the face of aggressive provincial government austerity measures + cuts. No Common Front @

Meanwhile back to Ontario: Yes, the teacher provincial bargaining talks are dragging on. One must wonder if no news is good news? Watch for updates on our Ontario teacher contract negotiations @ Here!

As contract talks drag on, ETFO teachers will be holding an online strike vote from November 24-29th. Why don't the other affiliates make better use of the internet? Are they afraid of that darn grass roots democracy thingy?! More info @ ETFO Votes

Outgoing TDSB trustee charged with assaulting public school board director Donna Quan Toronto Sun

MOE Sandals to meet with TDSB Chair about allegations "culture of intimidation" @ Public Shamings

London Catholic board projects whopping $4.2 million deficit @ $$$?!

London Catholic board not big on pay equity issues. Equity?!? What's that mean??? Duh @ Snowball Effect!

When is a $292,000 surplus actually a 9,000,000 deficit? When you are the TCDSB @ "human error"

Ontario Catholic School full funding 1984 - ?!

Former OLP heavy weight Greg Sorbara comes out against public finding for the province's Catholic Boards in his new memoir @ Secular 

Amalgamated Transit [ATU] President Bob Kinnear takes a constructive pro-active union approach with the ATU's non partisan "TorontoTransit Future" report. It has 68 costed recommendations for solving Toronto public transit gridlock crisis. It's directed at Toronto's incoming mayor elect John Tory, and the new city council, as well as all three Federal political parties in next year's upcoming Federal election. Kinnear explains that "When we work together in a democracy it works". Members are also urged to ask the politicos what they can do to help solve the crisis in what he labels the 2015 Federal "Transit Election". 

The report is a positive, engaging effort to provide a broad framework for discussing how to solve the issue with labour input. It will be interesting to see John Tory's response. Indeed the report neither approves nor disapproves of his "Smart City" transit plan. However, I also wonder whether it is it too Toronto-centric for the rest of the country? Remember: We are the city the rest of Canada loves to hate! BTAIM, top marks go to the AUT for extending an olive branch to all concerned. The Federal government contribution is an issue that both the union, the city and the province will need to make any plan work @ ATU

Learning two or more languages can be good for your brain. A new study suggests it will improve your thinking skills in old age @ Use your noodle!

Here's an interesting perspective on special education integration in the regular classroom setting. Some very good points! My only concern is that everybody else has the right to be safe too, which sadly, is often overlooked and ignored in my experience @ Teacher 2 Parents

Also see my notes on questions that need to be asked when severely autistic students are being integrated into a regular school setting @ Duh!

Tip! Watch for a motion to defend Catholic teachers from being fired because of their sexual orientation [read LGBTQ] at this spring's OECTA AGM. They are the only workers who can be legally discriminated against in the province of Ontario, based upon the school board's denominational rights ....

There's just no nice way to put this: Even US principals are speaking out against the wave of dumb ass education "reforms" happening stateside. Lucky we nixed Tim Hudak here in Ontario, Canada eh?! More @ Washington Post

Dept. of Different but the Same: A secret US teacher letter exposes how teachers are being coerced to return to work when they are sick, and what of course happens next @ Sick Daze?


OLP privitization of surgical clinics and ORNGE air ambulance proves to be a bad way to deliver public services. But it seems business as usual for the Wynne government @ Privatization

Former PC Premier Bill Davis endorses Christine Elliot in the PC Party Leadership race, with the convention and an electronic vote scheduled for this May. Perhaps Ontario's leading conservative voices can discourage Doug Ford from running and turning our provincial government at Queens Park into a complete clown show? We'll see. Memories of 4 years of Ford Bros' lunacy in Toronto city politics die hard. Story @ Brampton Bill and @ Toronto Sun

Ford Bros: Exit stage right? Left?!?

It's official Doug Ford won't be running for PC Party Leader. Doug explains, well kind of sort of @ Goon But Not Forgotten!

CTV reports @ News Report Huffington @ Here

National Post warns that the PC's better have a "containment plan" in place for him now @ All the PC's loves Doug?

This is interesting too. Ford had warned that the PC's are "too far right" in a move reminiscent of NDP Party Leader Andrea Horwath's unsuccessful spring election "populist pocketbook play" @ National Post

Premier Wynne: Will the PCs shoot themselves in the foot again?!

My blog on Doug Ford's possible PC party leader candidacy is @  Here!

Apparently there is a weighted "leadership vote" to prevent Doug from winning the PC leadership race by signing up a majority of his Ford Nation supporters from Toronto. Plus, the PC's are in one helluva mess. Attendance isn't his forte. Is he up to the job, or would he even really want it if he wins? More @ More Ford Follies

Last spring, Ontario had a game changer of an election that brought back a landslide Ontario Liberal government. The NDP's Andrea Horwath now faces a leadership review at this month's party convention. Dissent runs deep @ Here 

The NDP's socialist caucus is not impressed @ Here!

Ms. Horwath admits some mistakes were made @ Mea Culpa?

She is reportedly trying to re chart the parties political direction back to the left @ Sinking Feeling?

Speculation builds as Andrea Horwath faces a leadership vote this Saturday November 15th @ NDP Convention

Andrea: Heh heh heh ...... er ..... er ....

Andrea survives as NDP party leader with a 76.4% party approval vote. Listen that's not what one might consider great. Especially if the party conference was as tightly scripted and controlled as an OECTA or OSSTF AGM. You can bet Andrea wasn't taking any risks! Anyway, if the NDP is going to shoot itself in the foot again, then so be it. It's hard for progressives to expect much from them anymore. The Ontario union movement would've been very predisposed and willing to support the NDP in the spring election, before she turned her back on us. What timing! Sorry Toots! I'm sure the OLP + PC's must be having a good belly laugh. Irony of ironies: Premier Wynne is now somewhere to the far left of Andrea!!! Oh, but that's right, Andrea's "seen the light". It was all her big bad advisors' fault .... Listen, if you believe that maybe I can sell you some private property in Cuba?! What?!? You can't buy private property in Cuba??? Go figure. More @ Horwath

Is Andrea Horwath a "good fit" for the NDP leadership? Problem: nobody else wants the job. She got a lukewarm reception at last weekends party convention. There is also a first hand account in the "Comments" section below. The news story is @ Globe + Mail

How Andrea lost the NDP's balance of power in the QP legislature during the spring provincial election @ Kaput!

NDP MPP Rob Ford look alike: "$@#*! this!"

Rookie NDP MPP Cimino resigns 6 months into the job citing vague personal family reasons he doesn't want to discuss. OLP candidate Andrew Olivier, a parapalegic is biting at the bit for a second run at the job in the riding of Sudbury. Odd side note: Cimino had also had the bad luck of being a dead ringer for Rob Ford in the appearance department. Story @ Bye!

A review of the Ontario spring election is Results


Burden of poverty: all is not well in our home + native land!!!!

Here's an interesting "snapshot" of what we are doing, or rather not doing across Canada to lift the burden of poverty. A 14.9% poverty rate is not exactly good @ BOP

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming?!? Maybe the Ukrainians??? No, it's just an Antonov AN Myri, the world's largest aircraft! One landed at Toronto's Pearson Airport for the first time. Amazing! Check out the tail fins and wheels! Video @ Youtube

Whoa! This is on the net but no info @ Very Disturbing

Dept of Deep Thoughts: Canada Politics verses the US? Different sh*t, same smell! 

Hmmm. Then there's this: A former CIA director talks about the US living in a gap between strategic epochs. Apparently there is still some cleaning up that needs to be done. This is quite fascinating @ TVO Agenda

Meanwhile it's the 25th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The future looked bright then. There were even bizarre claims that history was now over. The end of the Cold War seems a lifetime ago now, as the world marches on in folly. Where? In any number of political and military hot spots you might care to mention. No shortage of these. Gee, sometimes I even get nostalgic. I miss the Cold War, boo hoo hooo ...... Um, well IMHO we were a lot safer with a tri-polar balance of power. Here's a look back @  History 

Prime Minister Steven Harper's Federal Conservatives hold on to 2 seats in by elections today [November 17th] but the riding of Whitby - Oshawa was very close. In both races, the NDP basically tanked. Not good! Now we know why party leader Mulcair disappeared lickety-split while Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau stuck around mugging it up for the cameras. More @ Results? and @ Here!

Angry Canadian veterans are launching an "Anybody But Conservative" campaign due to the Harper governments shoddy treatment of the Veteran Affairs portfolio @ Veterans

PM Harper prepares his case against legalizing marijuana!

Federal Tory anti marijuana ads denounced as scare tactic @ Up In Smoke 

Canadian physicians decline to join endorse the Tory ads, which they consider "political messaging". Political?!?Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau will be running with a legalize it platform in next year's Federal election. The doctors speak out @ No thanks!

Pete McKay: Heee ha! Harper's caucus agrees!

Harper gets to talk bad like the big boys to Russian President Putin at the G-20 summit. Now I know a lot of folk are upset about the Ukraine, it's very understandable. Still Canada's aged fleet of CF-18 jet fighters in Iraq must be finally paying off, in Harper's mind, if his little side show with Putin turns your crank. Let me guess: he always wanted to be US President but he couldn't because he's a Canuck? Boo hoo hoo! Wait! Before everybody gets all choked up and starts to sing "O Canada" or "God Bless America" know this: if we are in fact on the verge of a new Cold War with the Russians again, well that really sucks. Been there. Done that. Not good for all concerned. Story @ Big Boy Stuff!

Besides, with the Putin kerfuffle he didn't have to deal with the climate change issue! More Sneaky! Sneaky!

Comet landscape

NASA lands an unmanned Rosetta European Space Agency spacecraft on a comet! It can help us better understand the history of our solar system and the universe @ NASA

Look what the cat dragged in! 10 of the strangest creatures you are ever likely/ unlikely to see A Blob Fish, A Woodlouse + More!

More news stories to follow .....


Meanwhile in Quebec the world's first poutine training centre is opening ..... Very Canuck/ Quebecois eh? Heart attack city! That said Costco sells pretty excellent fries with poutine + gravy at their restaurant counter. More @ Poutine anyone?

Vinyl: You don't need to dance but if you do, that's nice too!

Here's a list of the 5 best record stores in Toronto. I will be doing more on this when my Music Reviews Page is up and running. Also on important issues like vinyl records verses CDs: which is best? A lot of folks are starting to choose vinyl record albums again @ Record Stores

What are the Top 10 all time best selling albums? Alas! Lots and lots of dreck. Maybe with record albums making a comeback of sorts a new underground will spring up? Let's face it, the really commercial big sellers still only come out on CD or even more likely downloads nowadays. Record buyers tend to have a lot more esoteric tastes. Go, check out the titles in a record store to see. If you are a baby boomer, you might be quite surprised! More @ The List

Here's a handy dandy white peoples introduction to reggae music ;-) 10 CC @ Dreadlock Holiday!

Play that reggae music white boy .... Dread Zeppelin show how it's done Youtube!

More Dread @ Stairway to Heaven! and @ More Youtube!

If you are enjoying my Bob Marley + the Wailer album reviews and/ or love reggae you can fast forward to now, with the latest reggae news, videos + tunes @ Irie!

Stay tuned for my upcoming blog: "A White Persons Guide To Reggae!" Coming soon [but not too soon] .....

Warning: Christmas music can make you violent! Fa la la .......

America's Parent Television Council [?!] in the US protests a 3 minute "sex montage" on the popular TV series "Sons of Anarchy", in which "bare bottoms" can be seen. Gimme a break! Don't get me wrong, it's one of my favourite TV shows. However, isn't it odd that there isn't a boo over all the very graphic violence but just don't dare show a bare bum @ Bummer!

Sons Of Anarchy: ummm ..... violence is ok but no bare bottoms boys!!!


Communist Girls ARE More Fun!

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!
See below ...

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?
A careful analytical study!

Help! I Have No Arms!

Help! I Have No Arms!
Please scratch my back.

I can't find my underwear!.

I can't find my underwear!.
Have you seen them!

Weee! I can fly!

Weee! I can fly!
Look! I can crawl thru walls!

I have a headache!

I have a headache!
And a broken nose.

I have a square hole in my bum!

I have a square hole in my bum!

Here try this, it's very good!

Here try this, it's very good!
No. You have a bird face.

I have an ugly baby!

I have an ugly baby!
No I'm not!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!
OK but I need a new hand too!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

You don't look well.

You don't look well.
No. My head hurts +I have a sore chest.

Would you like a bun?

Would you like a bun?

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!
The Temple of Kukulkan!

Gotta love it!

Gotta love it!
Truly amazing!

Under Reconstruction!

Under Reconstruction!

Temples + Snakes!

Temples + Snakes!

The Snake!

The Snake!
It runs the length of the ball field!