The Benefits of Transit City

Posted January 7, 2011 by Jenn
Categories: Bluster

For anyone who thinks Mayor Ford’s transit “plan” is the best solution, have a look at this.

Ford’s plan is more expensive, and serves fewer riders.  Now who is riding a gravy train, Mr. Ford?

Sign up at to help save Transit City.

2010 – Year in Review

Posted January 1, 2011 by Jenn
Categories: Babble, Babies, Bluster, Books, Bright Lights

So.  I was not a particularly active blogger in 2010.  Perhaps a slight recap of the year is in order.

Best new thing

That would have to be my first niece, baby H., being born in July, and subsequent time spent with the little bug.  She is awesome, and her parents are amazing.

This Christmas was definitely most special because she was there.  I can’t wait to get to know her as she grows up.

Best Movie

I’ve seen quite a few new movies this year.  While I loved Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part IThe Social Network, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Maos Last Dancer, and Nowhere Boy, and have yet to see some others I’m sure to enjoy, such as Toy Story 3, I do have a clear current favourite.  For me, this year’s best movie is The King’s Speech.  One might argue that this is simply because I’ve been in love with Colin

Firth for half my life, and let’s face it, half in love with Helena Bonham Carter too (which overly romantic teenager wouldn’t idolize Ophelia, Helen Schlegel, or Lucy Honeychurch?).  However, this movie is so much more than that.  It tells the story of King GeorgeVI, or rather, of Prince Albert leading up to his crowning.  As a Monarch in the time of emerging radio, he must be able to speak to his people.  There is huge pressure to do so.  Yet, he suffers from a devastating speech impediment.  After seeing every reputable speech therapist in the country to no avail, he finally begins to work with Lionel Logue, a failed actor turned elocution teacher with highly unorthodox methods.  The story doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but the interactions of the characters, and the huge personal struggle make it completely engrossing.  I’ve seen it in theatre once, and all I need to convince me to go again is someone looking for a date to the movies.  It is brilliant.

Best Books

Since I haven’t done a good job of reviewing new Canadian YA this year, here are a couple of my favourites:

Folly, by Marthe Jocelyn

Mary Finn is a poor girl from the country, sent away from caring for her younger siblings when her father remarries. In 1876, she finds herself in service in a home in London.  In 1884, six year-old James Nelligan’s world is shattered when he is taken from his loving foster home to live in a Foundling Hospital.  Each of these characters tells their own story, and the narrative shifts back and forth between time and place, as their stories unfold.  This is beautifully told, and completely out of the ordinary.  One of the year’s best for sure.

Plain Kate, by Erin Bow

Kate, called Plain Kate, is a carver.  She is accepted in town while her father lives, but when plague strikes, and her father is gone, the people start to blame her.  Kate finds herself making a deal for her life with a witch who could be using her to cause even greater trouble.  She must flee the town, but in fleeing, she also finds herself caught up in a greater adventure, and a greater danger.  The narrative has the feel of a classic folk tale with a great poetry to the telling.  The characters are unique and intricate.  I’m looking forward to reading this again and again in years to come.

Worst political moment

The election of Rob Ford as Mayor of Toronto.  This is going to be a rocky four years, and I’m not looking forward to it.  Here’s to hoping that Council and the Province will stand up to him on some of his more drastically wrong choices.

I’m not sure why so many Torontonians thought it would be a good idea to elect a guy as Mayor who, when a member of Council was known to not show up for debates, and who, when he did, would arrive late, make ill-informed and boorish arguments, out of context with the discussion taking place, and then leave early.  I’m not sure why people think that being a Councillor whose sole claim to praise is that he returned phone calls from constituents would prepare a person for the role of Mayor in a city this size.  I’m not sure why anyone thought his platform of cuts, and saying NO to things, without any concrete plans for forward movement was in any way plausible.  Yet, here we are, and here we’ll be for the next few years.  Joy.

A few other tidbits

  • My grandfather (93) moved into a seniors facility, and the family home was beautifully renovated and then sold by a dynamic cousin and his wife duo of real estate agent and designer.
  • I actually stayed in the same job title and same work location for the entire calendar year, which is a first for me.
  • I learned how to play the guitar (kind of, and very badly indeed).  I’ll be working on improving on this in the coming year.
  • I paid of my car. Early.
  • In September I ran my first 5km race.

I’m sure many other fantastic things happened, but that’s all I’ve got for now.  Happy New Year.

On being a suburban Torontonian who did not vote for Ford

Posted October 28, 2010 by Jenn
Categories: Bluster

The City of Toronto released official election results for this week’s Mayoral and Council elections today.  Ever since their release, news stories and blogs have been popping up with colourful maps showing the breakdown of the Mayoral vote.  It is pretty impressive.  Pretty scary looking.  I’m happy to admit that.

Here is the thing, though.  Ever since these maps started popping up, there are facebook statuses, tweets, comments on news stories, commentary in blogs, you name it, making really snide comments about how downtown Toronto would have been much better off without amalgamation.  The Toronto Star ran the story with the subtitle “It’s a tale of two cities — within a city.”  People on Twitter, BlogTo, and other places are saying things like this (and I’m quoting the ones that don’t use crass language): “I knew it. All the smart people live downtown.”  and “This is why megacity was a mistake”.

That’s fine.  People are upset.  They have a right to be upset.  The prospect of Rob Ford as the mayor of anything, let alone the 5th largest city in North America and the 3rd largest economy in Canada, is truly terrifying.

However, as a resident of Etobicoke, who most certainly did not vote for Ford, I feel the need to point out that Mr. Ford did not get 100% of the vote in the suburbs.  In fact, in my riding, Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre, 58.8% of the population voted, and of those, 32% of us voted for someone else, of which 22% of votes were for Smitherman.  Yes, 68% of the population did vote for Ford, but it wasn’t unanimous.  Looking at that 68%, it might also be interesting to look at some of the downtown wards.  For instance, in Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth, Mr. Smitherman was the winner, but he was the winner with only 53% of the vote.  Of those who voted for someone else, 25% of the people voted for Mr. Ford.  In Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina, Mr. Smitherman won by 55% of the vote, but Mr. Ford got 23% of the vote.  Looking at that, almost a quarter of the population in each of those two downtown ridings voted for Mr. Ford, while in my Etobicoke riding, almost a third of us did not.   Another very interesting place for those trying to play up this dichotomy to look is Ward 42, Scarborough-Rouge River.  Ward 42 is as far north, and as far east as Toronto gets.  It is the extreme outer edge of the City of Toronto suburbs.  In Ward 42, Mr. Ford won by only 49.2% of the vote.  Mr. Smitherman received a full 33% of the vote.  That is a full third of the people in this outer suburban ward who voted for the man who won in the downtown ridings, and more importantly, a full 50.8% of the voters – more than half – who did not vote for the supposed favourite of the suburbs.

Yes, this map of a city divided is stark and exciting, but it lacks nuance and subtlety.  There are Ford supporters everywhere in Toronto, and all of them helped to get him elected.  Those of us who do not like his politics may wish that they hadn’t, but we have no right to say that they did so because they were stupid, or because they live in a particular part of the city.  For those of us who live in Etobicoke, but also believe in public transit, bike lanes, running and cultural events that shut down city streets for a few hours, a vibrant arts community that receives public support, public services that will likely be cut under this Mayor, and all those other things that make a metropolitan city great, this is just as devastating an outcome to the election as it ever could be for those who live downtown.

Rather than settling into our geographic camps, beating our war drums, and talking about how the people further down the road are ruining life for the rest of us, let’s perhaps think about why 383,501 Torontonians voted for this guy, and about how those of us who disagree with his platform will work to ensure that the things we care about are protected for the next four years.


Did You Know 4.0

Posted October 26, 2010 by Jenn
Categories: Balderdash

I saw this cool video at a training session today. Kind of makes me want to go off the grid…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Did You Know 4.0, posted with vodpod


Second Cousins: Love at First Sight

Posted October 11, 2010 by Jenn
Categories: Babies

Baby H. meets her second cousin, a big girl, who tells us that she is very much no longer a baby, and the love fest ensues.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Summer Break, and I’m Back.

Posted October 3, 2010 by Jenn
Categories: Babble, Babies

Dear Blog,

Again I have forsaken you.   Maybe this time it is a little bit my fault.  Okay, really it is all my fault.  You aren’t to blame.  Yes, you do demand a certain amount of time and effort.  Yes, you require thought, and a commitment to quality posting that I have not really felt up to this summer.  Yes, there were times that I thought of you, and thought about how something would make a delightful post, or that I’d really like to have you know what I was thinking.  There comes a time though, dear old blog, when you’ve been separated for so long that it becomes awkward to simply jump back in where you left off.  One feels that perhaps a grand gesture is called for.  A demonstration of love on the scale of holding a ghetto-blaster over one’s head in the driveway of your home.  You know how it is.  You get my point.

Alas, I have no such grand post to share with you today blog.  Though, that said, I do have some very cute news for you.  Yes, blog.  I have become an aunt this sumer.  Some pictures?  Why yes, I have taken a few.  A very few.   Baby H. is a very photogenic little girl.

Now that it is officially Autumn out there – I know because there is heat pumping out of my radiators right now – it feels like it is about time to get back to blogging.  I have a lot of reviews owing.  There have been a lot of great new books written this year.  Look for those soon.  I also have a lot of opinions about this crazy, almost unbelievable, some might say horroresque, Mayoral race we’ve got going on in Toronto.  So.  Blog.  If you’re willing, let’s get back to it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Trailer!

Posted June 28, 2010 by Jenn
Categories: Bright Lights

Sooooo exciting.  I can’t believe we still have to wait until November, but this is a tasty little appetizer.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

New ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ trai…, posted with vodpod