Holidays Are Just About A Wrap................

Well, Christmas has come and gone for yet another year, and I actually had a pretty decent one, all things considered.  I had to celebrate it a couple of days early, due to the fact that I was working on the actual day of, but that’s fine with me.  Since I first started working, back when I was 14, or 15, I’ve worked Christmas day whenever the opportunity presented itself.  My justification has always been, if I work it someone else can have the day off, which in its own is a nice present for a sometimes complete stranger.  Too bad whomever that individual is that reaps the reward of my insatiable thirst for holiday pay can never be found when I need the weekend off for Beer Fest in August, but such is the way of giving, very often it is somewhat one sided.   I’m just playing around, I really don’t mind one bit.  I rather enjoy driving the bus on Christmas day for two reasons, one, the empty Toronto streets are so surreal, right out of a movie of sorts.  And two, the people of Toronto are uncharacteristically very pleasant, even though they are out for whatever reason they are out on Christmas day.  So that’s where I was, on the 24th, 25th, 26th, and where I will be on the 31st, and January the 1st.  Out of all them, New Years’ Eve is the only one that’s moderately tedious, the rest are just light drives, coffee, crosswords, coffee, sodukos, and a bit more coffee.

Now, for my Festivous like festivities, that was another story.  I had a rather busy couple of days on my pseudo Xmas.  A buddy that I used to work with flew in from overseas this month, so he, my roommate and I, went to the restaurant we used to work at back in the day.  We killed that place too.  I had a steak the size of your head, and ended dinner with a slab of carrot cake that made the steak look small.  And the amount of one liners, jokes, and intricate metaphors that were dropped that evening at dinner were enough to fill three comedy books.  It was a good entertaining meal, and must be done again, hopefully quicker than the 6 years we waited to do this one. The next day, I made the hour and three quarter trek to visit my mom.  We hung out, swapped some gifts up, and then buzzed across town to visit Grandma and Grandpa, with a special cameo appearance from my father, (I know, right?).  Grandma cooked, and oh did she ever.  Prime Rib was the feature item, because everyone knows I don’t do turkey (unless YOU are really going to deep fry me one, because I have to try that, I’m waiting BTW, and a call or text doesn’t hurt either……just saying) After that, I headed back home, and on the way popped into my other Grandmas for a late night visit, and stayed for a bit.  I kicked it with her, and my Aunt, just telling old ones, playing with dogs, and eating some more cake.  I’m one of the fortunate enough ones to actually have two Grandmothers still and this I know to be true, there is no one out there that hugs you like your Grandma does, she just means that shit, and it’s unparalleled.  Mom hooked up the presents as well, like she always does.   I’m a simple man really, all I ask for is toiletries, and she, as she always does, delivered.  I won’t have to step into a Wal Mart for deodorant, razors, soap, socks or underwear until probably mid-summer, as of right now that is, because my birthday is in the spring, and she will go ahead and do it all over again then.  Copped me a new set of sheets as well, light green, 600 thread count.  My ass can’t wait to get these on, literally.  She also knows I’m a movie buff, and usually litters me with Blu-Rays.  I told her I wanted the newly released Star Wars box set, and in only child fashion, I got it.  Now if I only I could catch the flu, I’d have the time to lie in bed and watch all 9 discs.  She also, for some strange reason got me Gremlins.  She said I used to love that movie when I was a kid and watched it over and over again, although I don’t really remember seeing it more than once.  However, I have made mention to a lady friend or three that I got that movie, and they all replied the same way, “Gizmo is so god damn cute, I love him.  Can I come over and watch it with you?”  Mom may be onto something here, I’ll keep you posted. All in all I’m satisfied with my take, I don’t ask for much, because I don’t really need much, but Mom more or less spoils me every year like she always has since I was a kid.  And who am I to say anything about it, it’s what she likes to do, let her do it, right?
Now, before I move onto New Years, there’s something I want to touch on real quick.  I wanted to say something a few weeks back, but thought it should wait until after the 25th, for appropriateness.  There was a lot of grumbling this year, as there is every year, and seemingly growing grumbling on an annual basis about the term Merry Christmas, or lack thereof.  The term is slowly being phased out, and changed yearly, bit by bit too “happy holidays”, a more generic correct version.  And this undoubtedly has people worked up in frenzy.  I see more and more posts about “I have a Christmas tree this” and “I give Christmas presents that”, and that’s fine, I understand.  But what I think you don’t understand is that, it’s not the minorities, or differing religions that are causing this nonsense.  It’s the right wing media and the ever always wanting to be politically correct organizations that are both promoting and forcing corporations to change their holiday slogans.  And by getting involved in all this hoopla of promoting Christmas versus whatever variation of seasonal greetings, you’re really just adding fuel to a non-existent fire.  Truth be told, ever since Santa Claus was created, the direct affiliation of any religious beliefs pertaining to this holiday began to subside.  And anyone in the know will tell you, the 25th historically isn’t even Christ’s birthday, it was used primarily because it was exactly one week prior to the mark of the New Year.  And all your ranting and raving about this situation means you’re no better than the people who cause this nonsense, because you, just as they do, prove your naivety in forgetting what Christmas has evolved into, the celebration of the golden rule if you will.  An opportunity to both do unto others as you would have done unto you, and to, if financially available, offer charitably in the form of gifts to loved ones all in the name of thanks.   Thanks for another year of friendship, thanks for being there, and thanks for being you.  Running to the top of the mountain and screaming as loud as you can “it’s a Christmas tree damnit” does nothing but leave you cold, and hoarse.  Call it whatever you want to call it.  Let shopper’s drug mart call it whatever they want to call it.  And let the guy handing out his pamphlets outside the subway call it whatever he wants to call it.  Who cares?  But celebrate it how you feel it should be celebrated, and don’t buy into media propaganda, it’s terribly unbecoming of you to be honest, and I expect better.

Now, onto New Years.  As stated earlier, I will be working.  Late too.  But it’s cool, because I’ve put together an evening with the team, set for Thursday, and it will be our “New Year’s Eve” if you will.  The team I have in place was strategically picked for what they bring to the table, because the plan for that evening is quite simple, it’s simple but genius.  We are all meeting up somewhere, and crawling until we find where we will spend our evening.  We may end up staying at the first spot we hit, we may end up staying at the 12 spot we hit.  One round and call it then, that’s the M.O.  Which is what makes the selection of soldiers important.  I assure you, even if we don’t find a good spot, absolute hilarity will ensue.  It will inevitably turn into an expensive night, and I have no idea how this is going to turn out, but the guys have bought into it, so we are doing it.  We could end up on the other side of the city.  We could end up at the casino.  We could end up at the airport, who knows.  But it will be ridiculously entertaining none the less.  If you are interested and want to come along, let me know, and if I think your someone we should have joining us, I’ll tell you the starting point, because at this point, that’s all that’s really known.
As far as resolutions go, I’ve never been one to buy into the New Year’s resolution game.  I’m of the will and mentality that if something needs to be fixed or changed, I’ll do it on March 13th or August 27th, just as easily as I could on January 1st.  But I do understand how the flip of a calendar and the beginning of a new trip around the Sun can help you with yours on a subconscious level, and I won’t mock that.  But stick to whatever you decide to do please, you put a lot of effort into making whatever decision you’re making, see it through.  If you need help, call me, I’ll motivate you.  If I were to make a resolution, what would it be?  Okay, well, let’s see.  The first thing I’m going to start working on is a little trimming of the social fat I seemed to have taken on.  The phone seems to beep an awful lot with not much being said, and frankly I’m over it.  I’ve allowed myself to be sponged into some very serious small talk relationships, and believe me when I tell you this, those days are numbered.  So, if I disappear from your BBM, or suddenly stop returning your messages, now you know why, in 2012 I’m not playing any more games with a lot of people.  The New Year will also usher in the return of an important rule of mine that I haven’t exactly been enforcing as of late.  If I message you, and you don’t reply, for a total of three times, consider that your good bye.  I honestly don’t think there is anything out there ruder than reading and not replying to a message, of any kind, without some sort of recognition.  Picture this, if I bump into you in the mall, and we walk up to each other, and I say, “Hey, how’s it going?  What’s up?” and you say nothing at all, how long do you think I will allow that to go on for, before I grab you by the throat and ask you not so politely what the hell your problem is?  So why is BBM any different?  How long does it take to type “busy, can we talk soon?”, or “fuck off stalker, I hate you”? Clearly not long at all, so have some text etiquette will you.  Three messages total, over any period of time, and your cut, end of story.  Resolutions as far as the blog is concerned, well, we have some big plans for the blog, and they will be revealed as time goes on, but I’ll say this much, as long as there is someone out there, be it in California, be it in Toronto, be it in Latvia, so much as I have one reader, I’ll post something for them.  Now, I don’t know if I can keep up the torrid pace of one post per every seven days that I’ve been maintaining now for over 4 months but I’ll try.  At minimum I’ll promise three per month, and we will go from there.  What about the gym?   Oh boy, that’s a game plan that has to get totally chopped and screwed.  I plateaued about 6 weeks ago, and haven’t been able to shake it, no matter what I do, so I’m going to have to figure something out there.  As soon as my New Years with the guys is recovered from, I’ll start studying and work those bugs out.  Might have to switch the Marky Mark thing up though, I’m seriously starting to doubt I can get that light, which for the record, as my mom said to me, the last time I was under 200 pounds I was a teenager.  We might switch it up, and go for bulk now, I have a body more conducive to that.   

Anyway, that’s enough for now, I’m gonna go take these new sheets for a spin, and enjoy this Neo Citron buzz I got going on, make sure you have a happy New Year, I most likely will, but you have a couple of drinks for me, dance, and be safe.  I’ll be out there New Year’s Eve, if anyone needs a ride home, just message me, but remember, if I message you, you should probably message back, or that’s one…..    Finish up the holiday season strong, and I’ll see everyone back here in 2012!!


This Is Our Mayor ?!?!?!

“Services will not be cut, guaranteed."       
“There will be no major service cuts to the TTC.”
“There will be no major service cuts to the TTC in 2012.”

That’s three different direct quotes by one person, the Mayor of our great city, Mr. Rob Ford.  Slightly contradicting?  If you know him or have followed him, you’ve learned to accept that he does shit like this, like it or not.  And the reason is simple really.  He was elected based solely on one platform.  He is an average everyday guy, wanting only to run the city for average everyday people.  It’s a campaign that in all honesty was noble, but it brings to light a very important focus point.  You see, you can hate on politicians as much as you want.  I mean sure they are conniving, they have hidden agendas, maybe they don’t always say or do what they said they were going to say or do, but one things for sure, you want a seasoned vet of the political game in charge at the end of the day.  One with a track record of accomplishments, and one who, for the most part possesses some assemblage of how to do things, preferably in the right way.   Since his election approximately a year ago, the people of Toronto have learned a very important lesson, and it’s something I said when he was running, it’s something I’ve always said and it’s something I will continue to say until my last breathe has been taken.  You don’t want average everyday people running shit, because point blank, average everyday people don’t know how to run shit, hence why they are average everyday normal people.  Look at it like this, I’m about as average as they come.  Normal, everyday guy, who goes to work, comes home, eats and repeats.  I have my views, some of which are rational, some of which are extreme, and I have ideas on how things should be done.  Now ask yourself this, knowing me as well as you do, do you really want me to run this city?  Probably not, because in the grand scheme of things, although I keep a mean blog, drive a bus much smoother than the next guy, and always have a story or joke to tell, I don’t bring a whole lot more to the table.  And I certainly don’t know anything about balancing a Metropolis sized budget, being in front of a camera where everything I say and do is open to grand speculation and criticism, or having every decision I make result in the spending of millions of dollars’ worth of someone else’s money. But this isn’t about me, this is about Bubba, and so on the eve of a decision that will no doubt result in a fare increase AND major service reduction to the TTC, which he promised wouldn’t happen on his watch, let’s look at a few things he’s done in and around the city, to make it oh such a lovely place to live. To be fair, I won’t get into his hot headed temper tantrums with 911 operators or people who take his picture while he’s using his phone and driving.  Nor will I dwell on his personal feuds with particular media outlets or the fact that he can’t remember the last time he could do up the bottom two buttons on his shirt, I’ll just look at hard issues, numbers and facts.
Removing the Vehicle Registration Tax

This was just ridiculous, and downright redundant.  Although, I suppose it had to be done, since it was one of the promises he made on his campaign towards election.  One of the few I might add, that he has actually kept, if not the only one he kept?  Truthfully speaking, the VRT wasn’t that bad.  Anyone who lives in the city, and annually registers their car had to pay an additional $60 tax, which translated, equates to sacrificing slightly more than a case of beer a year, for the betterment of the city.  You may disagree, and that’s okay, but you’re short sighted.  That tax generated $200 million for Toronto, which could have gone a long way and done a lot of positive things, it wouldn’t have cleared us from the red by any stretch, but it sure would have dented the shortfalls.  And from Ford’s perspective, the tax was implemented by a previous administration anyway who already suffered the political back lash from it, so he should have just left it alone.  

 Closing of Public Swimming Pools and Arena’s
Besides the fact that public swimming pools and arena’s, or community centers in general, offer employment to numerous high school and university students trying to support themselves and their education, these places do something that is invaluable to our society.  They offer a refuge to our youth, an inexpensive place where they can go and have fun, exercise and be supervised by at least somewhat positive role models in our community.  Its two fold really, battling negative influence and obesity at the same time.  And I don’t give a shit how much it costs to operate places like this, because the reality of it all is, without venues of such, there’s only one place cheaper to spend your days.  Out in the streets, where there are no lifeguards, no counselors or no rec committee employees.  But there are guys named “Dagger” and “Stretch”, who become authority figures in our futures lives, and it doesn’t take a physicist to figure out where these kids are going to be in a few years.  It costs a lot more to, ahem, rehab these youths in the future, than it does to keep them busy and safe in the present.  That’s basic matrix math, current cost vs. production vs. future cost.  It’s pretty simple shit Ford, just add it up.

Closing of Public Libraries
This one really baffles me, because if there is one thing our kids, and some of our adults need, it’s a lot more knowledge.  Seriously, has anyone noticed that the youth of our generation couldn’t throw together a proper sentence if their lives depended on it?  Never mind the fact that they have a street fight with any word bigger than three syllables.  And who the fuck closes a library anyway?  I know, I know, the defense is, everything’s available online, and right at your fingertips, right?  And libraries cost a lot of money to ascertain.  But we all know what happens when you’re doing research online.  One minute you’re reading a great article about the strange existence of anti-matter and its radical imbalance as a cosmic constituent, next minute you’re watching three someway, somehow, very sexy, Vietnamese Shemales having at it, and 15 minutes later you’re taking a nap.  Ok, 4 minutes later, but that’s not the point.  Pump a little money in promoting libraries, offer rewards on spare time essays, or book reports, be pro-active, it’s our damn future your impeding here, because if you don’t, you’re really saying you just want to raise a generation of bus drivers, and we already got plenty of those.

The Police Department
If you’ve ever been out in our streets, particularly at night, you know and will testify that if there is one thing we need more of, it’s a police presence.  We aren’t exactly at a West Baltimore level out there yet, but there are more than enough Marlow’s and Barksdale’s in our environment to make you think twice about when and where you go, and about when and where you go there. So demanding that the Police Department makes any kind of cut back is just plain farcical. One of the tactics suggested was cutting back on partnered patrols?  WTF?  Two cops per car aren’t enough if you ask me, because when shit hits the fan out there, it’s rarely ever one on one.  It’s usually more like 6 on 8 or 12 on 3.  So the first car to arrive walks into this situation alone?  I’m not even suggesting that a partner evens things out, but an extra set of eyes, and an extra clip of bullets would never hurt your odds.  These guys out here don’t play, and don’t care, and they have guns, bigger and stronger guns than cops do, that’s for sure.  Up the police budget, and spend what you have to.  Is there really a number associated with public safety?  And if there is, what’s the price tag Mr. Ford, because I would love to know the dollar value on an innocent bystander’s life, or mine for that matter.

The Fire Department
In the last 15 years Toronto’s, well, the GTA’s population has boomed by approximately 20%.  That’s unfathomably huge.  Yet the GTA’s fire department hasn’t grown at nearly the same rate, although sadly, I can’t find the exact numbers, I do recall hearing 5-6 percent somewhere, and is now facing serious cutbacks themselves.  Some three hundred firefighters and twenty plus trucks are to be removed from service in the next year?  The standard response time for an emergency is 6 minutes and 20 seconds from the sounding of the bell, with the whole crew arriving at about the 8 minute mark, yet the department is coming in around 7 minutes and 30 seconds for the first truck to arrive on scene. It’s not their fault because of resources available, but too far below the standard none the less.  Here’s something for you to think about, you can’t rationalize with fire, there’s no talking things out with it.  It’s not a drunk at the bar, or a girlfriend and boyfriend arguing, where you can slow the escalation process until help arrives.  It’s fire, and quite frankly, it does what the fuck it wants to do.  And my thinking is, if your one of the men or woman crazy enough to want to run into a burning building and right the situation, I want to make sure that you have whatever you need to get there and do it as quickly and properly as possible.  For a city of this size, we should be coming in better than what the standards call for, and being proud to do so.  These are the people brave enough to save our grandmothers and children, those who aren’t quick enough or strong enough to get out of horrible situations themselves.  Why would you even think about sending these people home?  That’s just plain stupid.

As far as the TTC is concerned, let’s be realistic here, there’s no way I can address this situation with any level of bias, and clearly, bias opinion is something I strive for (???).  Besides, there’s nothing I can tell you that you haven’t already heard, and there’s nothing I can write here that you haven’t already read about.  But for everyone who rides public transit on a regular basis you need to know something. Thanks to Mr. Ford, it’s going to get about as bad as you can imagine it getting in the very near future.  He did no favors to either of us by deeming us an essential service and taking away our right to strike, because now we have no real way of defending ourselves, which although you don’t realize it, defends you as well.  We don’t want what the future brings as much as you don’t want what the future brings, but it is inevitable, even if he does at the last second alter the service reductions list like we think he may do.  He doesn’t like us, and we don’t like him.  But the difference is we go about our days and jobs like usual, while he pokes and prods and pushes and pulls. But remember this Rob Ford; you need to be very careful when you fuck with the backbone to society.  You need to be very, very careful.  We are the blue collar individuals who put our health and safety on the line every day.  We sacrifice our social lives and miss our families and friends, all in the name of getting our citizens back and forth across the city.  We lunch box it and hard hat it 365 days a year 24 hours a day, and when you insult us, well you infuriate us.  The people of Toronto will tell you first hand, you can win fights with us here and there, you may even come out on top in big battles more often than not, but when it’s all said and done, WE win the wars.  Just accept it, it’s been going on for around 100 years now, it’s just the way it is.  And watch out too, because if the people that rely on our transit system as well as the people who operate our transit system ever one hundred percent see eye to eye on this matter, and on you in general, we may finally decide that enough is enough ………………………………. just be very careful Rob Ford, be very very careful.

Sometimes You Just Miss The Bus.........................

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been learning some valuable lessons in life.  Sometimes you don’t always get all the toys you want for Christmas, but what you get, should always be enough.  Not everyone gets to fuck the Prom Queen, I myself was 0-3. And sometimes, just sometimes, you down and out miss the bus.  It happens, handle it.  Meaning, get over it, and get over yourself.  For the record, both my contractual agreement and my ethical obligation begins and ends with those who are diligent enough to be waiting patiently for me to arrive at the bus stop, those who are there when they are supposed to be, regardless of whether I’m three minutes early, or nine minutes late, and those who made damn sure to value not only my time, but the time of everyone else who shared that same level of respect to keep things moving expeditiously.  Buses don’t wait for people, people wait for buses.  It couldn’t be any easier to explain.  And who the hell are these people anyway?  The only word that comes to mind is audacity.  The sense of self entitlement is through the roof.  Let’s hold up the entire city, because you HAD to catch the end of Desperate Housewife’s, and now you HAVE to catch THIS bus, not the NEXT one.  Here’s something for you to think about; I would like to have two fully functional and healthy Achilles tendons, I would like to be six foot four, and I would love a much greater endowment.  Do you see me standing on the other side of the street, jumping up and down yelling about it?  Do you see me running from a block and a half away waving my arms in the air making a big spectacle of myself? Or calling some phone number to cry about it to someone who gets paid to answer phones, but clearly doesn’t care?  No, you don’t.  You see me, limping down the street, in my five foot ten frame, with all my average-ness tucked neatly in my pants.  Just trucking along, dancing with what I brought to the ball.  This is what you should be doing too.  Utter to yourself a quick “that sucks”, which, believe me, I do on a regular basis, and get over it, you conceited prick.  Your late, not my fault, yours.  Not the guy working at Tim Horton’s’ fault, yours.  Not whoever called, and you had to answer before you left the house, yours!  Deal with it.  Now I know what you’re going to say.  Because you missed the bus, now you’re going to be late for work, and probably receive some level of disciplinary action resulting from it.  My friend that is basic having a job 101.  Ensure that you have plenty of time to get to work, so as to allow you to be able to overcome circumstances that are out of your control.  Especially if you rely on someone else to get you there.  I drive myself to work.  On an average day, it takes me 30 minutes, door to door.  Does that mean that every day I leave the house exactly 30 minutes before I’m supposed to start?  No.  Because I understand that there are elements out there more powerful than I am, as hard as that is too believe.  I know that the highway can turn into a parking lot on a whim.  Or when I stop for coffee there could be a line up out the door.  Or the weather will somehow become the unseen vehicle on the road and cause me a world of problems, which will slow me down.  I take all these things into consideration every day, and adjust my time accordingly, AND I DRIVE MYSELF!!!    You depend on someone else to get you too work and you don’t allow for considerations?  I’m sorry your highness, tell your boss it was all my fault, I bet he cares.  Real quickly, let’s do a little simple math together.  Let us assume, for the ease of calculation that an average light is one minute long.  And let us assume that the next bus is 10 minutes behind me.  Both numbers are probably off, but for the sake of simplicity we will use them as our factors.  I’m at the stop, loading, off-loading, what have you, and there are 43 people already on my bus, so I’m not quite full but close.  Again, not real numbers, just basic addition, you’ll understand in a moment.  Here you are, in all your mighty-ness, on the other side of the street, and you’re in a hurry, for whatever reason that may be.  You expect me to wait the one minute for the light to change, so you can cross, board my bus, and thus avoiding a 10 minute wait for the next bus, because where ever you need to be, you need to be there rapidly, and that 10 minutes is just too damn long of a wait.  But what about the one minute that the 43 people on the bus now have to wait, in addition to myself, who, in all honesty, has more people waiting on me than you could possibly ever imagine.  That’s 44 minutes of total lost time for us collectively, all so you don’t have wait 10 minutes.  That’s a swing of minus 34 minutes, because you’re a slow moving douchebag.  That seem reasonable to you?  That doesn’t even factor in the traffic that we are holding up, or the however many people up the street or at the subway station that all need to wait that additional minute all on the strength of your self importunateness.     So I ask the question again, who the hell is this guy, that the whole city should stand still for, all for the sake of his time?   Obviously he’s terribly important, and his lost time as a fraction of our lost time is way more substantial.  Guess I’ll wait.  Guess we will all wait. Yeah right, let me know how that works out for you late boy. Oh, and do me a favour, don’t bother calling in to complain either, that’s just pathetically sad.  The truth of the matter is you’re calling someone to say that you screwed up, and didn’t make it on time, regardless of the spin you put on it too make it my fault.  And I assure you, the lady at the customer service desk cares even less than the 43 people on my bus plus I do.  She’s going to tell you what you want to hear, stroke you a little and hang up, and when she does hang up, she’s going to think to herself, damn, that guy must have always got every toy he wanted for Christmas, he most assuredly fucked the Prom Queen,   but in the end, he just down and out missed the bus, and then she will laugh……….Uncontrollably........................