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Podcast title Surprise Surprise: The Phil Blog
Website URL http://thephilblog.blogspot.co...
Description An insight in the interesting life and world of B. Phillip Hong.
Updated Sun, 15 Apr 2012 19:19:11 PDT
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Category Audio Blogs
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Link to this podcast Surprise Surprise: The Phil Blog

Episodes

1. The Library, The Public Library
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Description: The Toronto Public Library recently announced that branch closures were not part of their budget cuts, which comes as a relief for some residents. This could've been a heartbreaking decision as a member of the library board had proposed that as many as 38 branches should close.

As a reader, I'm thankful these cuts weren't approved, because for many residents, the library has been their centre of learning.

Let me take you back to this month, 1997. A nine year old in the city of Brampton received his first library card and proceeded to take out books related to the computer industry.

As time went on, these books became guides to the internet, and the same library branch took this boy's knowledge further by providing computer time.

The books he read became computer scripts, and these scripts became pages on the internet. They then had photos, audio, video...

Which brings me here today, 14 years later, the product of what I read. Thanks to a library book, my dreams were realized.

To shut down a library branch is to shut down the brain of a community. And cost cutting should never be the reason to end the dreams of our community's readers. There's a hidden cost in cost cutting.

2. A little bit about fares...
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Description: It's the quarter of a billion dollar technology that was supposed to simplify how we pay for the bus. But after years of delays, the contact-less Presto fare card is still not being rolled out in a wide manner, and people are still milling for change, with change.

Every single city, town, or region has its own prices for their systems, and GO Transit charges commuters by distance. If I suddenly walked off the Airport Express bus from Pearson in Richmond Hill and headed north to Beaverton by York Region Transit and another GO bus, I'm still paying three different fares!

The province needs to step up with its Metrolinx division by finding a much more simpler fare system that would put riders on the fastest mode for the least fuss, from any node. Hong Kong, London, and Brisbane, Australia are excellent examples where transportation authorities have a simple system applying to all public operators who charge on distance. In other words, people don't pay for the different buses or transit they take, but where and how far they go.

Presto will not change a thing no matter how much money we're pouring in, if we don't find a quicker, smarter way to use it.

3. A Loveless Marriage
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Description: Veolia Transportation and the Amalgamated Transit Union local 113 will be meeting for one last time before York Region Transit employees serving the region's southwest will officially be in legal strike position. The YRT says in an e-mail to me that the dispute was between the two above parties, and it was simply out of their hands.

What does this say about trying to make public transit a viable option for all stakeholders? What about the tens of thousands of York Region commuters who make the smart choice by not hogging the roads in tonne-heavy cars, who will now have to take costly alternatives to get to where they're going?

The regional government should never have let anyone who would provoke a strike take a contract. Part of a harmonious (and conflict-free) workplace involves keeping everyone happy and if the quality of transit has to suffer under crippling strikes (remember Viva a couple years back), it's not worth the savings that the lowest bidder for the contractor provides.

Veolia has only operated local service in Southwest York Region for only a few months now. What does this say about an employer who can't keep their employees happy enough not to get a settlement in a quick, timely and painless manner?

And then the ATU. They sent a press release claiming that it was Veolia that has forced them to strike. What truly intrigues me is the fact that this union can speak of things like sick days when the patrons who take service operated by their stakeholders usually have none of these liberties. Students lose marks if they don't show up to learn, and many employees (union or otherwise) could even lose their jobs because they can't get to work as efficiently if at all.

Not listening to employees: Not cool. Not seeing outside of union demands: Not cool. Washing hands in regional government when a contract goes awry: You guessed it.

For I, a college student, have prepared for a prolonged egotistical mania - saved by my hometown of Brampton (with their buses running through Woodbridge) and ironically... the TTC, which has union staff.


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4. Eco "Tax"?
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Description: This is clearly a lesson in the quest to ensure that the facts are accurate, because some in the media have put a weary political spin into what was supposed to be a levy that manufacturers pay to make sure that their products are disposed properly.

With Canadian Tire receipt in hand the Toronto Star made light of the issue, correctly saying that it was manufacturing that pays the fees, and that consumers are paying the new fee because these companies aren't absorbing the cost.

CP24, the local almost-news channel, had spun the eco fee out of its original set up, scaring at least one citizen through their live eye into thinking that the province sneaked the extra cost onto him. Not the greatest thing to do in such a fragile economy and state of mind.

Let's make this clear: some companies are passing on the eco fee to consumers, while others might not.

A minister says that not a penny of this fee will land in government coffers at the end of the day. How could this be a tax then?

5. Sweatbox, T.O.
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Description: Global warming seems to be looming like the Angel of Death as a heat wave struck Toronto, making even the evening feel like an unbearable sweatbox atypical of the usual weather that is encountered this time of year. Some residents have begged for this sort of heating up for quite some time after an unusually tepid July and August last year, but this seems just a bit selfish considering the consequences of this extreme.

Let's start thinking about the elderly and the vulnerable - why should we? With weaker immune systems, this important part of society is much more susceptible to the ailments of temperature fluctuations. There's a reason why local governments suggest that we check on family and friends; heatstroke is just as dangerous as frostbite.

It's not just heat that's the culprit: Humidity and the power of the sun has made us feel much warmer than what is forecasted. An official from Environment Canada told a major daily newspaper recently that it may feel as hot as 50°C thanks to the above two factors. We're essentially in a desert and a tropical rainforest at the same time, which is definitely not very pleasant for some people.

The City of Vaughan has opened "cooling centres" which proves the severity of the situation. It might just be a few droplets of sweat for you, or Niagara Falls for others, but this is the time to make sure that everyone is alright.

So visit your Nana, or Popo, et cetera...

6. The True Choice
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Description: The conventional television viewer, whether it'd be the giddy tween who is looking forward to another horrible bit of American teen drama, or the butch man who focuses on hockey games, is becoming quite a very rare breed indeed. According to a recent Ipsos Reid poll, Canadians spend an average of an hour and six minutes more on their personal computer than on the black box, panel et al.

It's the result of a gradual transition as the information superhighway becomes a haven for the bored and lovelorn, while conventional broadcasters try to ignore the news with the sort of content that drove their audiences online in the first place.

Just like when television forced radio into a source of elevator and commuting music, this decades old technology is finally not the dominant medium of this dear land.

Let's face it: We have more choice over what we see online, and the repetitive nature of programming (especially those reality shows) are the main reason why the traditional airwaves are losing their control.

Meanwhile, the CRTC thinks that the courts will figure out whether or not broadcasters can spend more, or if cable and satellite companies will want to jack up their rates.

Face it, Corporate Canada. Stay tuned for a good old activity called "adapting to the current market environment". You haven't done so until now.

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7. The Province of Toronto?
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Description: Who knew: A Progressive Conservative MPP, of the same stock who had transformed what used to be Metropolitan Toronto into the City of Toronto, wants it separated to form its own province? The same party also came up with the idea of uniting various municipalities in York Region into pasteurized pockets with names like "York North" and "York South", and is trying to win the rural electorate by some sort of separation.

First of all, this is the first ever instance of separation, proposed by someone else, rather than as an act of self-determination.

Mel Lastman, the first mayor of the megacity, had played with the idea before, but it would seem that people will be a bit more serious to the idea this time around - there are newspaper rumours where London could usurp Toronto as Ontario's provincial capital.

Would I be a happy camper as a citizen who is no longer Ontarian? Absolutely not.

Said MPP was worried about how urban issues have been dealt with in more often a manner than rural issues such as agriculture. He may be correct in saying that people need a more representative voice that includes the farmer et al, but isn't that the point of a county-level government?

This proposal would exclude the rest of the GTA from separating - what kind of a twisted divide is that?

No one should separate because of such solvable problems like this, and said MPP should be reprimanded for trying to force the Ontario out of Ontarians.

8. A Matter of Moisture
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Description: Environment Canada says that we've had the driest winter since records were first kept, a long, long time ago, but it is a very strong clue as to whether or not the climate is changing (or has changed) - I presume it has.

I am not trying to approve or debunk any theories in regards to the state of the environment, but the oddity of not having enough snow to cover my shoes is not a very positive sign at all; and my feet lack proper arches, which means that we really were lucky this year.

Before you start flaunting the fact that it was a warm and comfortable welcome to the low temperatures and the snow aplenty of old, we have to really focus on the consequences of having so little moisture when the banks are supposed to pile up, which is similar to how another type of bank rolls in the profits.

The Spring melt, along with the Ides of March, means that much of what is supposed to pile up, ends up in our rivers and lakes. What can we expect to have in our lakes without a steady supply of runoff like in previous years?

Many of us depend on lakes and streams for our supply of drinking water, and most of what we see as "white terror" is now sitting, or rather melting, near Washington, D.C.

Obama should do the right thing and return that snow! It belongs to us!

9. Retail Shock Therapy
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Description: For the mountains of people who are living in the Town of Georgina right now, hoping for Walmart to set up shop up there, you must face the music and deal with the fact that there won't be one under today's unique conditions.

I know that a lot of you love the low prices or the convenient shopping and such, and I'm not trying to promote or criticize this American retail chain, but to be a tactless dork who has heard of a handful, I can tell you that you won't get one if you keep shopping there.

Why? First of all, Northern York Region is within driving or commuting distance of Newmarket and East Gwillimbury, which means that Walmart will be hesitant to add unneeded costs involving the transport of merchandise to their targeted crowd. You encouraged this inaction since they don't see a problem with supply and demand.

Second, you do not live in a large enough community to support a Walmart within such close proximinity with other locations. Any retail chain won't cannibalize their business if there are "so many places to serve you", according to one corny advertisement. Southern York Region has plenty of locations, because three times as many people live here, and that sadly doesn't carry any favour for you at all.

Please, do yourself a favour and stop trying to search for possible miracles regarding this issue using search engines.

10. The Romantic Bus Ride to Newmarket?
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Description: Farewell, Newmarket "B".

It's ironic, but some of my happiest memories living in York Region were actually aboard a bus, and these keepsakes of mental substance are still packed in my head, nearly six years after they happened. It's also not a very normal occurrence to hear about a transit route, any transit route, being cancelled in a growing community like this.

It was during my high school years when I discovered what commuting was all about, and I did fall in love with the picturesque landscapes that laid ahead on Yonge Street. I commuted north in the morning, so the GO Newmarket "B" was a speedy, efficient way to get to school. I carried large instruments from the school band to a roll-away backpack when the books started piling up, onto this unassuming mostly quiet little coach.

According to York Region Transit, GO Transit will be ending this route soon, and for me it will be sad to see it go, since it played an interesting role in my increasingly free young adult life.

Viva simply doesn't have the hurried drivers, or the comfortable seats. The silence is superseded by eliminating duplicate routes and et cetera.

I also remember bringing a girl on board... but that's another story.

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11. "Dost" what?
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Description: "Thou dost in us command"?

I remember nearly a decade ago when our national anthem, "O Canada", was last over-analysed and poked at - for the sake of political correctness. Somehow, the word "God" seemed to be just as offensive since everyone didn't worship to a higher being.

In my honest opinion, I understand the fact that this patriotic sonata was not inclusive at the time of its release, and "O Canada" is supposed to represent the country behind the song, sons, daughters and otherwise.

But is it really that necessary to modify a few words to reflect this situation? I'm not against the possible changes, but does "thou dost in us command" scream of gender equality?

I think that the only way to prove that we are inclusive is to prove that we are equal as Canadians - by paying the same salaries to women as men, and by extending parental leave for new fathers as well as mothers. After all, what's a musical promise without substance?

The federal government needs to stop pestering us with such an aesthetic issue.

As well, for those people who accuse us of being sexist by using the word "sons" exclusively: Aren't you sexist by exclusively defining "sons" as males?

12. Go West!
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Description: For those of you who are living under a very large rock, it is likely that you will be surprised over the fact that I grew up in Brampton, and I still call the place my hometown. Over the eleven years that I have spent living away from there, I have wondered what life has become out west.

I remember a visit that I took about four years ago, as we were passing through the city on our way back from Mississauga, and Mike was rather miffed at the idea of living in this growing suburb. He stressed that this wasn't exactly a riveting place to be in, and a teenage mother agreed with his overtures, cussing away in order to counter my romantic nuances on a Brampton Transit bus.

I recently had to go back there in a series of vain visits to my cellular service provider's retail location, as they still can't provide the proper service I wanted. This was also a mixed experience as it seems that my memories have no connection or relation to what my hometown is now.

Over a decade after moving from the place where I was bred, I wondered whether if change really was a good thing in this aspect.

13. "Pie" equals 3.1415...
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Description: As a Canadian of Chinese ethnic descent, I continue to believe that tofu deserves to be served as a pure dinner item, savoury but rich in iron. But a supporter of PETA has heaved a concoction that she calls a "tofu cream pie" onto Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, creating a temporary sugar coated mess. Bleh.

Said American protestor could have used key lime or chocolate, but she has destroyed the purest ingredient in many Asian cuisines, on a Conservative out of all people. And said Yankee headed to Halton Region to do the trick, which makes her "terrorist" act rather pathetic and fearless.

She wanted to expose the cruel government's support of the seal hunt, but it has actually made me laugh, and said message is not getting through.

A "terrorist attack" in Burlington?!?

Well, it's too bad Emily McCoy is from New York City, since any local would realise how silly and futile such an act may be. If memory serves me right, former Prime Minister Jean Chretien got the tasty message nine years ago, while Ralph Klein (the former Premier of Alberta) was a more recent victim.

McCoy, you are an enemy of Chinese cuisine!

14. "Positioning" for Danger
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Description: Let's make this clear and simple: You should not be on the road if you don't know where you're going.

The recent advancements that have brought us choice in what we watch and listen to, have also resulted in a device called a "Global Positioning System", or GPS. If used correctly, this is the sort of machinery that can be put into very good use.

But drivers are buying these gadgets in increasing numbers, believing that it is appropriate to map out your journey while you are driving. And this is where everything becomes less of a pleasure, and more of a danger.

Ontario recently passed a law banning cellular phone use while the car is in motion, knowing that drivers are easily distracted on the road while using these devices. A GPS is no different in this regard, because anything that takes away the attention of the driver is a danger to himself, the public and safety in general, even if this is a way to make life easier.

What is the best way to drive? With both hands on the steering wheel, along with a sense of direction that is "configured" in advance.

Nothing beats the precision of a proper map, if you figure out your journey beforehand.

15. The Prorogue Rogue
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Description: The Right Honourable Prime Minister, VIP, MVP, and ultra modern GG-fan.

At least that's what I think after visiting the residence of Canada's head of state - and yes, we do have one.

Blaming the most important event ever to happen in the federal government's history - yes, the Winter Olympics in Vancouver - Mister Harper has announced that parliament will not reconvene until March. If you remember recent Canadian politics, he has played this card before, preventing an unholy coalition of opposition parties to defeat the Conservatives and try to run the government instead.

First of all, that coalition was not illegal, no matter how the Conservatives spun that development. Under the constitution, Michaelle Jean has the power to dismiss and appoint the federal government. That's her job for those of you who don't know.

This time around, I am rather stunned at how arrogant the Prime Minister is in suspending the workings of our parliament. He has now done this twice.

There is absolutely no emergency going on and since I live thousands of kilometres away from Vancouver, and the capital is within a similar distance, what kind of ridiculous childish and self-serving excuse is that?

Rideau Hall should take a stand and do it's job as the highest office in Canada.

16. Small world, big telcos
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Description: So what if Canada's cellular phone companies aren't fully and completely Canadian owned? That is the excuse that the incumbent companies have used to prevent the establishment of new competition in their industry.

In making that argument Rogers, Bell and Telus have become a bunch of school bullies who seem to be distracting curious citizens from questioning their own "commitment to Canada". Apparently, this will be the end of our cultural identity in the telecommunications sector if the new companies weren't entirely locally owned, but what does that have to do with the poor consumer?

Australians, for example, have been debating about foreign ownership for years, yet the second largest telecom company is owned by Singaporeans for quite a few years.

If "citizenship" had to do with Canadian values, then we are living in a third world country. For years, the "size of our map" was an excuse for charging outrageous rates, and these same companies can be accused of outsourcing to other countries.

Considering that cellular technology is now mostly manufactured in South Korea or China, I highly doubt that operators who are "fully Canadian" could stick to such a flimsy campaign to thwart off one company.

Aren't we in a small world after all?

17. WINDs of Change
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Description: For the first time in a very long time, a new cell phone company is being launched in this country, and it has ruffled feathers even before service has actually commenced. This development could be great news for the average consumer, or the end of an era in "homegrown telecommunications ownership".

Critics, which obviously include the organizations' competitors, have cried foul over the ownership structure with their new nemesis; they say that an Egyptian is the financial backer, and they should be banned from providing service in Canada as a result of that fact. It seems that they're more worried about the impact on their own revenues.

Who cares if this corporation is "fully Canadian" if we have been gouged for years? The patriotism of Bell, Telus and Rogers can be questioned from their outsourcing and treatment of the average consumer, so this is not a matter of citizenship.

Consumers are joyful because there is a competitor that wants to be entirely different, and although I won't name this company directly, I bid them good luck in their continuing battle.

18. A letter to the CRTC
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Description: Dear Secretary General:

As a cable subscriber, I have seen the prices of my services go up. Through the years, I have actually rolled back on the channels that I watch because of the increased cost.

The major television networks are essentially asking me to support their "local television", but they're loaded with programming that isn't close to Canadian, let alone local. You made the rules. You made this happen.

I beg of you to stop listening to the television networks because, even if they promised the world to you, they are fundamentally bent on providing the most popular programming to Canadians, and at this moment in time, it is no where close to local.

In fact, the only local television that I would label "local" is the community television channel, and even if it's loaded with self-serving ads, they're the only channel that's truly focused on where I live, here in York Region.

Don't tell me that networks should be given more money because I barely watch anything on my set as is. The increasing costs are stifling my choices and only the internet is keeping me sane in a way. Oh, and as an amateur videographer myself, I'm trying to be as local as you want it to be, but I am not getting a penny of this money.

True local television does not come from Los Angeles. I beg of you to consider that.

Sincerely,

Phillip Hong
Woodbridge, Ontario

19. The Impending Election
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Description: Prime Minister Stephen Harper: The Ultimate Peacemaker; the head of Compromise Central; the only gentleman today that is destined to end all hostility and disunity in the federal government.

At least that’s what we have been thinking at the most optimistic of times. As citizens, we were supposed to expect a lot more from the Prime Minister, more than the blame games and name calling with the opposition parties. Minority government is supposed to be a way to unite the House of Commons on a common goal of bettering the country – at least until the next election. For the past five years, whether it’s a Liberal or Conservative government, the voice of the people has reflected the ongoing apathy with political parties in general.

Now Mr. Harper wants to play nice. For the past year, since the last election, the federal government has risked complete collapse due to their hostility towards everyone else on Parliament Hill. I am not saying that the opposition has been clean and clear with their own attacks and whatnot, but there is a lack of good will that continues to plague this country, and voters are unhappy about threats from politicians of any political stripe.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is “revoking probation”; NDP Leader Jack Layton speaks of Harper’s choice of “an election or making parliament work”. The Bloc Quebecois has already started an election-style advertising campaign, presuming the worst. The threat of an election is imminent.

So when does the Conservative Party talk about “making parliament work”? If you’re monitoring the news lately, they’ve been talking about how Canadians don’t want an election, citing a recent poll. Is Stephen Harper only cooperative if parliament is facing collapse? That’s a conciliatory gesture that has come way too late.

I don’t like Stephen Harper. The current Prime Minister has angered me for months by releasing advertising that demeans and dehumanizes the people who he is supposed to work with, in the first place. These partisan tactics are not the answer when people are weary of partisanship in general.

In constrast to the United States, we are not in a situation where politics has been polarized; most of us are united under one specific apathetic banner. Party loyalists are a true minority in this country whether or not they like hearing about this. The problem with elections is that we are electing people whose conduct and attitude are driving future voters away! Important values such as getting along and giving peace a chance are falling on completely deaf ears whether it’s within the halls of the Prime Minister’s Office or in the House of Commons.

The upcoming election speaks of two things: Are we ready to elect a government that will work for us instead of to their political advantage, and are they ready to put aside their differences and provide a government that citizens are actually proud to elect?

Five years of minority government. That’s either unstable government, or the people are putting partisan politics on the backburner.

20. The Streetcar Factor
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Description: I am not amused by John Baird. The perennial loud-smith has done it again, calling Toronto's streetcar project "inappropriate" for federal infrastructure funding and telling the largest city in Canada to "f-word off". The Transport Minister and former provincial cabinet minister was quick to point out that streetcars will not be built in Toronto itself, and short-term jobs will not be created anyway.

Frankly, I would not be surprised if Baird was never a regular streetcar rider; and the commuters of public transit in Toronto will be quick to reciprocate the swearing, care of Ottawa, in the next election. It is simply pig-headed to talk in such defiance, knowing that Thunder Bay will benefit from the streetcar contract, and then saying it would not help anyone right now.

If our dreams were timed to their original commitments, and politics weren't as dirty, then the subway extension to York University and Vaughan would have been open right now. And those "new streetcars" would have been delivered in 2010. Next year.

Instead, our representatives in Queen's Park and Ottawa are quick to play games, elections and "liar, liar, pants on fire". The lack of forward-thinking in government means that the Bombardier plant in Thunder Bay won't be churning out any new streetcars until Minister Baird decides not to continue his big-ego attitude towards this issue.

Excuse after excuse. "Not enough Canadian content", "this funding is allocated to roads and bridges", "the City of Toronto should bump up future construction and find the savings to fund the contract". Anything to avoid saying "fat chance", since the electorate would not be happy hearing that.

Toronto has enough roads and bridges to choke itself from smog. Public transit is an investment that covers more than just Toronto. There is an increasing need and want for fast, efficient service.

And all Baird wants to imply is "streetcars are not infrastructure".

Semantics? You've got 'em.

21. Periwinkle Mood Swings
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Description: I admire the individuality of my walkman cell phone. It's a device that lets me choose the tone of my day and gives me the choice of listening to conventional radio. It doesn't treat me like a confused sheep or an ice cream product posted "Made in Canada" but with significant content from New Zealand. My attitude towards life can be as blissful as a Celine Dion tune or as torturous and melancholy as... a Celine Dion tune.

I gave the conventional radio station a try the other day and was enjoying the influx of new tune to supplement the outrageously drowsy elevator music that I, and around ten percent of the radio audience in Toronto are used to, according to last industry survey.

Considering we're into a new year, and another minority term of federal government over in Ottawa, I was startled to hear an ad from our gorgeous friends, the Conservatives.

"Let's make government work," screamed this ad's overall tone and bit, "we need to reach a consensus bladdy-blah..."

Is this because Stephen Harper was denied a majority?

Was this because our Queen of Canada... ahem... Governor-General gave Stevie a Christmas break slash pick me up from certain political death slash let the public forget my latest boondoggle?

Frankly any political advertising, especially from the governing Conservatives, about a consensus "anything" is patronising and insults a regular voter like myself to believe that they were always this conciliatory to political opinion and opponent contrary to their own. Do the Conservatives really think that I forgot their pathetic ways to "crush" what they see as representatives of the dominion undeserving of their seats even though we voted for them? I'm still reeling from the fact that Conservatives even run partisan ads in a post-election non-election period.

The mongrels we have in parliament, regardless of political stripe, are pathetically laden with archaic semantics only acceptable in the Victorian era. I am certainly not fond of public advertising calling opposition moves as "Un-Canadian" or compared to a coup of any sort.

No, that's called democracy in the Canadian dominion. And any political party should be sued for calling what is legal, "illegal". It's an arrogance that drives me further away from ever voting periwinkle.

Maybe I should just use my next ballot paper in the bathroom instead. That's what our current Prime Minister suggests with his current ad campaign and put-downs.

22. Voting: So (A)-pathetic
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Description: Why is it so hard to vote?

Even with minority governments, the time in which we can exercise such a fundamental right is so easily wasted and ignored by an uninterested public.

I turned eighteen years old the day before municipal elections were held back in 2006. All I had to do, even without my name on the official voters' roll at the time, was to bring appropriate identification. It was easy, quick, painless and I got to say it was a calming feeling.

Earlier that day, a female friend and I were trolling (which is probably a lousy way to describe it) on Yonge Street in Toronto, entering an adult-themed shop just because I could as a person over the age of majority. It wasn't as painless or calming as voting, but for some voters they would rather enter an adult shop than vote at all.

For the record, I glanced and gave a disgusted look considering my naivete and baby face to boot, dragging my suddenly amused female friend out of the store.

People are definitely not liking the government as we see it in general. I'm certainly not thrilled with partisanship, or corporate donations, or moustaches for that matter. But voting was a right that we as a country fought for in war and with the British.

I'm sure that this history lesson has already bored most apathetic voters I'm trying to convince.

Election laws stipulate that you have the time to vote. You can be excused from work or probably school just to slip that ballot into the ballot box.

But why such low turnouts these days? Sure, we're not satisfied with politics.

But without voting, even with a spoilt or blank ballot, you as a non-voter has given all permission to let the current system continue its apathetic voter-making ways.

So take your damn Voter Information Card, and say what you need to say on that small piece of paper. Why is it so hard to vote?

23. Let Girls Be Girls
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Description: For you parents who have growing teenagers in your family; watch out. A life of bad habits may be developing from here.

It's probably most important to shield your kids to most harms in life; this can be learned from school in the right instruction at least. Some may not have received important talks, but judging by judgment, those not told would know better.

Like refraining from excessive alcohol.

I don't know if a couple of close friends of mine are crazy, but I was sitting in an overpriced hotel room wondering where in heavens they were. They were at least, in my watch, drinking alcohol willfully and left soon after.

What am I to say to myself? I had a drink myself but this is simply not right. I should've stopped them. But I couldn't as they're legally adults. But they say they're responsible.

It's impossible for me to figure this out: should I put my moral foot down like the father figure they prescribed me, or should I just sit and chill as advertised?

Time to figure that out. And you'll have to too.

24. Security Check
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Description: "You need to complete this form," the flight attendant told me and fellow passengers on a plane from Tokyo, Japan. She was distributing and holding arrival cards for the inevitable descent and entrance into the United States.

I had no intention to enter the country. I was just coming back from a week-long vacation that was long needed and I wanted to go home. But I had to complete an arrival card anyways.

That's the cost of flying these days. Many passengers who plan on going to faraway countries are sometimes restricted by requiring a connection through the US. Thanks to airline alliances and the hub and spoke system, the economy of flying in recent times meant the most interesting trips through American security.

I have no beef or any kind of protein towards the theory; if it means I can fly with whomever I want under a reasonable fare, sign me up. But sometimes the checkpoints of airports in the United States can be stunningly tactless.

I recall my first trip to Tokyo, coming home with a delicate present made of glass for a close friend of mine. As I approached the security checpoint at Chicago O'Hare, my bag was gregariously emptied, its contents making a big thump. The oversensitive red-haired officer squealed that I couldn't touch my backpack whilst I was trying to help.

But sometimes, one will find a bit of heart inbetween the metal detectors and security equipment.

This time around, I was guarding against any future damaged souvenirs. I am probably worried enough about what I carry after the security check, to the extreme point of making sure I didn't splurge in the airport shops on anything delicate or breakable.

As the backpack went through the machine, a security officer yelled "bag check". I cringed at the fear of another uncomfortable experience.

The second officer passed on the bag to me, unemptied. "Am I alright?" I asked.

"You're good. You have a nice day, sir."

Maybe this "third country" idea isn't as bad.

25. Get it Yourself!
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Description: So, I was working hard one day at my desk when I had a sudden urge to consume something that was quick, fast, and damaging to my overall health. Remembering the days as a child where fast food was such a delight, I quickly scrambled to find a telephone number of some fixed protein conglomerate that could deliver.

I reached the cordless phone and in about three or four rings later, to my delight, an operator picked up and asked for my street address.

It's not hard to find me: I'm down the road from a pizza establishment.

"Is it (your address) in Bolton," the female voice sensually asked. Bolton? That's several miles away from where I was.

I then gave my postal code to her when she gave me some advice that made my liver ever happier: They can't deliver.

"You can't deliver?!?" I exclaimed. She then explained that I was quite a ways away from any delivery area they serve.

I then hung up, frustratingly in silence. The smell of a "deep fried something" permeated my mind and I was desperate for saturated fat.

Another phone number was pulled from my Yellow Pages directory, this time for a pizzeria. They're known for fat topped and tossed in fat, stuffed with fat in the sensually fatty crust.

The operator from this restaurant sent me to a local franchisee, who then proclaimed that "he didn't deliver" and proceeded to send me to a franchisee who did deliver. From that crosstown location, the third operator sent me back to the main line, where another operator told me that no one delivers to my area!

I then realized that these calls led me absolutely nowhere. Who orders delivery nowadays? In fact, the two chains I called are owned by the same company.

I gave up. I walked to the grocery store next door and fed my gastronomical mandarins with home cooked food. My liver has never been so thankful.