Disbelief is what I felt when I first saw two pedestrian texters walk straight into each other, head to head. So engrossed with their lives that they could not spend the time to watch where they are going? As a technologist I am always interested in the social effects of technology on society. Distracted walking shows that the vast majority of people cannot do two things at the same time, that multi-tasking is really not feasible for most people, and that this behaviour can be potentially dangerous to the person and those around them.
Anyone who lives here in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, a suburb of Toronto, can tell you that incomes have markedly dropped. We see it in our schools and neighbourhood. A Toronto Star article on the widening income gaps here in Toronto brought me to a couple interesting maps by Dr. J. David Hulchanski. His paper “Report: The 3 Cities within Toronto, Income Polarization, 2007” gives much food for thought.
Dr. Hulchanski’s paper includes a couple of maps of Toronto by change in income from 1970 to 2000. It is a very sobering map for those of us who live in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto. It is not that we are special, because other suburbs of Toronto have also experienced similar income drops.
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Decimation of the Middle Class in Scarborough/Toronto, Canada
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My entries have been missing these past weeks because life has interrupted my normal routine, shifting me in unplanned directions. I suppose this is how life unfolds. I needed to remove my attic insulation, upgrade a ceiling pot light and vapour barrier, fix the attic vapour barrier, vent my bathroom fans to the outside, redo soffit venting, and then get everything back to normal. I get lemons and then make lemonade.
Reshingling of part of my roof went well. I did not fall off. Dirty yes, but it had to be done.
My local grocery store Chung Hing at Kennedy Road and Finch Avenue in Scarborough/Toronto, Canada was held up by gunpoint yesterday, Saturday February 20, 2011 at around 16:10 in the afternoon. Five black guys, faces hidden behind bandanas and guns drawn, marched into the store and demanded cash. The cash registers were locked. While these thieves would rather steal for a living, they also risk the lives of those that shop and work at this store. For me, my wife and two kids had just checked out. They were petrified. A single police car with one officer arrived just as my wife left the store. An hour later a neighbour reported that there were 12 police cars at the store, now long closed for the day.
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Chung Hing Chinese Grocery store Held up At Gunpoint
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Scarborough LRT vs Subway station map, Toronto, Canada
Confusing is the watchword for the Scarborough LRT. Metrolinx, the provincial organization with the mandate for regional transit has put in a plan called “Transit City”, and has allocated funding for a Light Rapid Transit, or LRT on Sheppard Avenue East. Environmental assessments, financial funding, purchase of rolling stock has been completed and construction work on the line has already started. In comes Rob Ford, the new Toronto mayor, who wants to put a subway on Sheppard instead. All the Transit City plans, decades in the making, are put on hold. Major Ford’s vision is to have the Sheppard line funded by the private sector, based on increased densities, namely condominium development, along the Sheppard line. Today I have no clarity on what will or should happen. There is a vacuum of information on the current plans for the Scarborough LRT.
Sometimes you identify programs that are working well and help so many people. One of these is the summer sports day camps in Scarborough. This camp provides summer jobs for youth in addition to providing a fun day camp for about 250 elementary school kids. This year they even provide lunch. The kids remain active all summer, learn skills and are happy. The youth gain valuable experience in mentoring and coaching. The parents are happy because their kids are doing something other than sit on a computer for the summer. In all, it’s a win-win situation for all concerned. Sponsors include the Boys 2 Men Institute, the Cabbagetown Youth Centre and the Toronto District School Board.
Honey Bee on Shasta daisy 1, Toronto, Canada
Honey Bee feeding on Shasta daisy 2, Toronto, Canada
Honey Bee on Shasta daisy 3, Toronto, Canada
Honey Bee on Shasta daisy 4, Toronto, Canada
Canada Day, July 01, 2010, Honey Bee feeds on a Shasta daisy in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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I used to joke that after living in China and Japan for a couple of years, returning to my home city of Toronto was a non event. It was literally a non event because nothing really changes in Toronto. Sleepy and a tad boring, Toronto seemed to always be the same stable environment. I have come to change my viewpoint now because of the startling and sudden infringement of human rights and the rule of law that has occurred due to the G20 summits that are now being held in Toronto. With law enforcement ballooning to 14,000, imported from all police departments throughout Canada, police decked out in full riot gear, secretly enacted laws of search and arrest (Ontario’s Public Works Protection Act, specifics for the G20), without public debate nor following the proper procedures of the courts, Toronto has degraded from a sleepy democracy to a communist country or a police state. Startling is how fast my city degraded to a police state, catching all of us by surprise. I expect this while living in China but I did not realize that democracy can be so easily overturned by so few.
Make no mistake that riding a motorcycle here in Toronto is dangerous. Intentionally or not cages (cars) do dangerous things, endangering the life of the motorcyclist. Talking on the phone is especially hazardous to riders. When anyone makes a mistake and there is contact, the motorcyclist will take a trip to the hospital. An interesting motorcycle strategy that is new to me is called aggressive but cautious. Central to this strategy is to ride 20-30kph over the speed limit.