Category : Reader Friendly

Use your Sleeve! You Pig.

Derelict Citizens: Use your sleeve!

The City of Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission jointly released an ad campaign on Nov 9th throughout TTC stations reminding commuters to use their freshly washed garments as stopgaps for bacteria which literally already live in every cubic meter of air we breath. Including inside subway cars, by the way.

Thanks TTC! Who knew aside a shrinking ridership, disappearing budget and a fleet aging faster than six week old banana bread you are now teaching us things our parents taught us when we were six years old. I mean, we are talking about everyday common sense for God’s sake.
It is a necessity, people forget! It a public service!’ Would the naysayers scream? ”Where were you during the Avian Flu scare?’ Would the hypochondriacs retort? Alright, all valid points which I will promptly discard down my trusty memory garbage chute. Good bye and good riddance.

You see, for the longest time I have been telling people that common sense is paradoxically not that common. People aught not be reminded about something that in this day and age should be considered common — and sure I dare say it?– basic sense. Sure the road to hell is not paved with posters of a woman coughing into her sleeve but I do see it as a misappropriation of limited funds. Practicing common and basic hygiene: Like washing your hands or making sure you do not sneeze into other people’s nostrils is not TTC’s responsibility.

How ironic would it be for a commuter to be thankfully reminded of using his sleeve as a rogue cough conspired to sneak past him only to be rundown by a flying back-wheel from a faulty and aging bus only minutes later as he waited for his usual rush hour trip. Yes, highly unlikely but it would hurt a lot more than a rendezvous with the flu.

Which leads me to my main point: In this era of budget cutting, where city services need to constantly prove their funds are achieving a set of concrete goals or fear having them cut off their next fiscal year. Then why, oh why is a Megacity’s transit system spending from already lean coffers on anything then transportation improvements? Cardboard ads do not make my trip faster, comfortable and bring a rainbow to my day.

I cannot not recall NYC Metro ever reporting pandemics running rampant on their subway system. And trust me, if there was ever a system which would definitely benefit from being entirely douched in hundreds of gallons of Mr. Clean, they are it.

Add to it the recent revelation that the TTC will be running on a $1 billion deficit over the next five years! [Toronto Sun reports: here]

On a more insightful –or market motivated note — if you are going to tell people to seed their own garments with viruses why not go the extra mile and get models using designer handkerchiefs?

Designers: Be the first to inundate the Holiday season with eye catching and colourful handkerchiefs with extra absorbent and out-of-this-world germ genocidal properties! Be the first to stop germs in style. True mavericks would soon create left and right sleeve sneeze patches. Better yet: Introduce the first ever Le Homme and Femme Manchons Collection! Have a model sneeze on a high tread-count fashionista statements and just kickback and wait for the money to start coughing in! The Quebecois nation would love them!

Just Picture the panache revolution this is bound to turn into! Imagine the innovation and statements it would create! I can already imagine the tag line: “Maybe Sick, Yet Always Chic.[*]

Alas, the TTC lacks such foresight, and why? Because they aught to be using their limited funds to improve their infrastructure first, not half cooked attempts at educating people basic hygiene.

Look at the Montreal Metro for example: Realizing people do not want to just travel to and fro. They built a streamlined system with a high reverence for design and art. In fact, some stations are considered tourist attractions all by themselves. So now tourist actually pay a fare to see architecture that had to be there in the first place. Now, how modern and avant garde is that? It surely beats our Stalin-era inspired subway stations. Want to see what we are missing? Click here and scroll down the pictures on the left hand side for a taste.

In my humble opinion, they aught to focus on the positive aspects of their service and innovate rather than to remind –and some would say: scare– an already declining ridership of the rare possibility of catching the same virus I could as easily get while shopping at Holt Renfrew.

Even if the ads border on public warnings, the gains on such enterprise are minimal at best. As the question that ultimately gets begged is: ‘Why even try?’ Leave the educating of health issues and practices to the Ministry of Health. I pay my taxes TTC, now let them do their job!
It is bad news for consumers when the commission tries to expand too far from their core business and into more trivial –yes, you heard me– trivial exercises. Since the most expected side effect of this is the degradation of its core services.

Ultimately, does the TTC brass really think day-to-day passengers are unable to remind fellow travelers to be more health conscious? Sure we Canadians, we are re-known for our polite nature but no one ever said we are like meek sheep to the slaughter or that we lack a good chunk of spine. We are not pushovers. Come one TTC, gives us your clients some credit, we’ll tell that pig to cover his mouth and save you some ad money while we are at it.

[*] — My ‘slogan,’ if you would like to use it, remember to send me royalties.

My Apartment: Recognized As A Nation

Hell, if Quebec can do it why not ME? If Canada recognizes Quebec as a nation (If you do not know what I am talking about, click here to read) So uh-hum. Without any further ado…


Little did I know all had to do is act pissed and pout for you to listen. For I am sick an tired of you not counting, asking, babying or validating my feelings!

You don’t speak for me! Even though I help vote your government in. Do I really have to bitch for 169 years before you to listen? Well, no more!

I want to be able to speak to other nations at international meetings –as I have a few good ideas I would like to run by the Chinese ambassador — as I do not feel you are looking after the interests of My Apartment or the many wonders therein. Such as my stove, fridge, my two pet rats and my potted plant. Which looks very healthy by the window on sunny days, thank you for asking. You didn’t even know I had a potted plant, now did you?!

I have real reasons to be upset as you fail to treat me in any special manner and I like to be treated like I am especial, I mean, I speak Spanish as my first language for God’s sake! That aught to count for something!

Your behaviour towards me and more importantly towards my living expanse –I do pay for a corner unit you know– is inexcusable. For I am not as understanding as Quebec because even though they like to think themselves as French or even European, at heart they have never forgotten it was King Louis XIV of France who disposed of them like a cheap bottle of table wine to the British at the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Choosing instead to keep the Guadeloupe Archipelago, a set of six islands hardly ten times the size of Washington D.C. instead. Everybody knows they are almost impossible to find in a world map without the help of a magnifying glass. That is what I call: ‘Le slap in the face — with vigour.’ Yet they stand gracious and proud.

Unfortunately I am not French. But then again neither are the people from Quebec. Since if I were to follow that logic, then I would have to announce that I am Spanish. But I am not, since I was born in El Salvador and speaking the language does not make from Spain. Oh Quebec, you have it all figured out.

I promise that once Parliament Hill concedes to my demands I will try[*] not to push for further powers or cause any problems. After all, you conceded this to Quebec and if anything you can trust the Bloc Quebecois on the same.

After all even the Bloc Quebecois has to agree that British Canada has been trying to suck up to them since the Quebec Act in 1774 when they re-establish civil tradition for private French law which had been revoked back in 1763. Whoops… true, true, their bad but they tried to make up for it. It was this very act that allowed the citizens of Quebec to become part of the Colonial government and eventually lead to Quebec’s first charter of rights. Cheerio and well played Canada.

But what have you done for me lately? Not even a bloody ‘Happy Columbus Day’ card. Like come on, you brought this upon yourself. Where is my own charter of rights? Is it in the mail?

As such I have come to the conclusion that Canada and the country of My Apartment can exist within one nation. Particularly when it comes to sharing universal health care, security, excursions into Canadian soil and its natives plus other social services. Including sharing our military when a snow storm blocks my driveway. However not within a united Canada when it comes to other more pressing and morally diverse issues like me paying income tax. That is where I have to stand up and draw the line. No more!

Remember Canada, My Apartment is its own Nation!
I will remember!

[*] – However I can’t make any promises.

My Rat Memoir: The End Of A Legacy

Oh Cordelia, who knew when you first came to me, you rodent you, with your scaly tail and wildly flaring nostrils would so easily find a welcome place in my home? After all, who among us does not have chilling Black Death et al flashbacks when thinking of rats?

Sure, they may have ‘helped’ spread the virus that might have killed up 75 million people in Europe alone, but what is a bit of attempted genocide in between friends? It is not like they meant it.

Since we cannot even pretend to be equally guiltless throughout our own history. Why should we abhor animals with the IQ of 6?
At least we knew what we were doing, regardless of the BS we told ourselves to justify it.

So, back to Cordy. I took her originally as a favour to a my best friend’s sister Karin, you see this cutie –the rat– came from a lab. She had been part in a number of experiments and she was getting close to her, uh, ‘layoff’ date if you catch my drift. Which meant she would be put to sleep along with all her fellow rats and sisters: She had two of them.

The lab tech –whose name shall go nameless– felt sorry for the little one and decided to spare her. However, she could not keep Cordy herself as her boyfriend at the time was highly allergic to rats and so she ended staying “temporarily” with me.

As you can imagine, my first mistake was to inquire the exact meaning of the word ‘temporary.’
After all, England had temporary control over Hong Kong for over one hundred years at the end of the Second Opium war and ditto for the 85 years the United States maintained and babysat the Panama Canal.

Surely, my tenure with Cordy would be nothing of that sort as I expected the little critter out of my apartment in a matter of weeks.

So, two years and a second rat later. Who knew rats were communal creatures and can easily spin into depression unless you get them a room mate? Yes, depression, if kept alone. Obviously not what I had originally signed for.

As you can clearly see, Cordy is the pillow and Lenore — known as the “lowly number two” or “pleb-rat” is ironically commanding shotgun and clearly enjoying the bean-bag that is her sister. Now, I don’t know about you but these do not look like stressed out animals. Genocidal? Uh, no. Lazy maybe, opportunistic would be a better bet. Narcissistic? There you go, that would fill the bill even better as they obviously enjoying a symbiotic warming system. However strung out would be a hard call, I mean, this pics were taking at night and rats are supposed to be nocturnal. Damn furry freeloaders. And that they were, since I normally used to feed them anything I ate, for example chicken, cow, salmon, shrimp, pasta, mussels and sushi. Heck they even had shark, swordfish and turkey. Obviously they tasted things that would otherwise be impossible in the wild. They loved it, but I mean, a rat stalking and killing a shark? Darwin is probably rolling in his grave!

Then, only a week before her anniversary, Cordy fell ill. I never knew what was wrong as it happened suddenly. Sure she was older and she had been slowing down but from one day to the next?

She was almost motionless. Just lying there…
Later I would be told she probably suffered a stroke. I tried to cheer her up, gave her some antibiotics in the hopes that she had some virus.
But it was all to no avail. Nothing helped.

I took part of the afternoon off to spend sometime to rat-sit. It was heartbreaking to see her willfully trying to saunter as half her body refused to comply. She drag herself to my lap and it was then when the choice was made to put her down.

Later that night, Karin came by with a syringe that would do the deed in the most humane possible way. Trust me it was, I was there. We said good-bye Cordy and soon thereafter the needle went into her heart. Karin then handed her to me and I held her on a towel petting her as her breathing started slowing down.

I spoke kindly to her, knowing fully well this rodent had no possible way of understanding what I was saying. But I have read somewhere that many animals, although not as intelligent as humans, can distinguish responses and basic behaviour. Cordy passed away fifteen minutes later.

Later that night, I went to the back of the building and buried her. Throwing her down the shute didn’t seem quite right. Along with her went her favourite toys and her blanket.

Had anyone ever told me that I would have been distraught at the death of a rat I would have thought it silly. However it is amazing how a little critter can become a part of your life like that.
Heck, I still know tons of my friend who would be disgusted at the idea of a having a rat as a pet and that is their choice.

However Cordy you had such a wicked personality for an rodent that I can’t help but to be sorry at the loss, and if anything she won’t be forgotten. How could I? She was my first pet rat.

Yup Cordy, you lived.

Now Available: XP Power Toys!

Alright, this is not the average post and I am a bit of a computer geek, which is no surprise since I work in IT. Now, this post will probably not mean much to you unless you work on computers everyday. By ‘working with computers everyday,’ I do not mean creating just word files and spreadsheets. Not to say this post would not benefit those individuals.

Anyway, even if you know a bit about the Windows Power Toys line up you know is not something that you can use to impress the opposite sex with, however it can save time by making those little things you do with your computer everyday either easier or a less bit annoying.

For example:

Alt-Tab Replacement
With this PowerToy, in addition to seeing the icon of the application window you are switching to, you will also see a preview of the page. This helps particularly when multiple sessions of an application are open.


With new sources of files coming from every direction (such as digital cameras, e-mail, cell phones, portable media players, camcorders, PDAs, and laptops), SyncToy can help you copy, move, and synchronize different directories.

Now they are all free downloads, although some of them may ask you to prove that you have not have a pirat–, I mean ‘borrowed’ version of Ms-Windos. So without any further ado, you can check the complete list of power toys by clicking here.