Archive for September, 2008
Tuesday, September 30th, 2008
The 2 indoor swimming pools at the Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre, located at 870 Queen Street East, have been converted to solar heating. It is estimated that the savings derived from heating the 2 pools with a solar hot water system will be over $12,000 annually.
The Jimmie Simpson pool is now Canada’s largest solar-heated pool. In order to heat the pools with solar power 2 solar heating systems are used. The 2 systems combined use a total of 91 unglazed collector panels on the flat roof of the pool area. A temperature sensor measures the solar temperature and the wind temperature to determine whether solar heating is available. The system is controlled by the building’s computerized control system.
According to Natural Resources Canada , “Glazed or unglazed solar collectors can cost-effectively supply a portion of the heating requirement for indoor swimming pools. For year-round pool use, a backup heating system will be required but solar heaters can be sufficient for a seasonally used swimming pool”. The Jimmie Simpson is used year-round, yet in the press release there was no mention of a back-up system or how heat is to be supplied if no solar heating is available.
I appreciate that a solar heating system uses renewable energy, saves money, and protects the environment, but in the city’s zeal to promote the Solar Neighbourhoods Program, a joint project of the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, Toronto Energy Efficiency Office, Toronto Environment Office, and Toronto Hydro, I don’t think that we have been given an unbiased account of how a solar heating system works in our climate. I would like to see exactly what a solar heating system in a home costs, including annual maintenance, repairs, etc., factoring in the cash rebates and incentives, and an estimate of how many years it would take to pay for itself. I think that it’s wonderful to help the environment, but in touch economic times, people will need to make decisions that are best for them financially and put the environment second.
Monday, September 29th, 2008
The Royal Ontario Museum will be bringing the Dead Sea scrolls to Toronto next summer. This is an enormous coup as the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered to be the greatest manuscript find of the 20th century. Together they represent a library dating from the 3rd century B.C.E. to 68 C.E. and represent a great deal of importance to Jews and Christians alike, not to mention the historical implications to everyone. According to ROM chief executive William Thorsell, “They are foundation documents in the Jewish tradition, in the Christian tradition and they are seen as divinely inspired in the Islamic tradition”.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 11 caves along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea between the years 1947 and 1956. They had been hidden in the caves for over 2,000 years. Although they are most commonly made of animal skins, there have been discoveries of scrolls on papyrus, as well as one made of copper. They were written in three different languages - Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek - with a carbon-based ink, from right to left, using almost no punctuation.
The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit will be on at the ROM from June 27, 2009 – January 3, 2010. Eight of the original scrolls, written on papyrus and parchment, will be on display for three months at a time. In addition on display will be the jars that they were stored in, the stone portals of a temple that the Romans disassembled in 70 AD, and other artifacts from ancient Judea. The Dead Sea Scrolls are an incredibly important learning tool in understanding the evolutionary link between Judaism and Christianity. The ROM will be offering 6 months of lectures, special programs, and events to support and enhance the exhibit.
Monday, September 29th, 2008
I was talking to a friend the other day when I mentioned that I had just purchased sea bass to cook for dinner. She told me that sea bass was endangered and that I shouldn’t be buying it. I purchased the fish in a large supermarket chain, not off the back of a truck, so I didn’t see how that could be true. It never occurred to me that we would be allowed to purchase fish that were endangered. But, we are. This is what I have since found out.
• commercial fisheries have drastically reduced fish populations and as a result altered the world’s marine ecosystems
• most fisheries are poorly managed
• fish stocks have been fully exploited (52%), over-exploited (16%), or depleted (7%)
What this all means is that we are taking more out of the ocean than what the ocean can provide, while sustaining itself. If we continue along this course the ocean will no long be a viable sustainable food source and we will destroy the marine ecosystems. In order to stop this progression we will have to change our approach to seafood. Of course this will require a concerted, cooperative effort involving governments, retailers, and individuals. However, the only control that we really have is our own behavior. We need to start making conscious choices when we shop for fish and seafood. Before we make changes we need to have the tools to make those changes.
Here is a list of endangered fish.
Instead of buying an endangered fish switch to these environmentally fish
If we all do our part we can preserve the ocean’s ecological balance and enjoy eating sustainable fish or shellfish instead of endangered species.
Monday, September 22nd, 2008
I was leafing through the circulars that arrive every week when I came across an item that really caught my attention. The Wal-Mart flyer had a section of Halloween costumes, which in itself is not unusual at this time of year. However these Halloween costumes were for dogs! I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck and I am aware that pet accessories are all the rage. I’ve seen all manner of clothing, shoes, boots, designer collars and leashes, even Victorian brass bed replicas with duvets, but Halloween costumes! Have we gone completely mad?
Wal-Mart is selling 3 styles - Tinkerbell, Peter Pan, or Jack Sparrow - in sizes from XS - XL for $14.93. Have a look for yourself.
Wal-Mart is a clever retailer and clearly knows what they are doing. They report that in 2007 their sales of Halloween costumes for dogs were 10 times higher than a year earlier. I checked the pet stores and low and behold they are all selling dog Halloween costumes. PetSmart has a Dog Halloween shop and a Cat Halloween shop.
I’d love to see someone get a Halloween costume on a cat.
There are thousands of sites online and offline dedicated to the sale of pet Halloween costumes. There is even a pet costume outlet called Muttropolis and a store just outside New York City that caters to an uber-upscale market. E&E Hallstrom Haute Couture sells high-end Halloween costumes for dogs ranging in price from $200 US to $240 US. Clearly there are lots of people around with way too much money and not much to do.
It all boggles my mind! When did dogs and cats stop being beloved pets and become dress-up dolls instead? Why would anyone want to put a Halloween costume on their pet? It can serve no purpose but to irritate your dog or cat. If you are planning to dress up your pet this Halloween, please tell me why.
Monday, September 22nd, 2008
Bargain hunters in Toronto will love Ikea’s Wacky Wednesdays. Every Wednesday one item in an Ikea store will be an absolutely incredible deal. The challenge is that every store has its own special deal and you have no choice but to go to the store with the deal in person to make your purchase. Of course these deals are restricted to stock on-hand, while supplies last. There are no rain checks and you can’t claim back savings on a previous purchase so don’t waste your time going back with a bill from last week for the same item. The Wacky Wednesday deals are only valid at the specific Ikea store offering the special and the special purchase price is only valid for that one Wednesday.
So that you can see the kind of specials that Ikea is offering, the Wacky Wednesday specials in Toronto last week, on Wednesday September 17th were:
- The Etobicoke Store offered the VIKEN mirror cabinet in white only. The size is 55 x 22 x 58 cms. The Wacky Wednesday price is $69.00. The regular price is $159.00.
- The North York Store offered the DUKTIG children’s cookware set at the Wacky Wednesday price of $4.99. The regular price is $14.99. DUKTIG children’s dinnerware set and the DUKTIG children’s coffee service set are available at the same Wacky Wednesday prices.
- The Vaughan Store offered the BIGUM rug in red, blue, or light yellow. The size is 70 x 130 cms. The Wacky Wednesday price is $2.99. The regular price is $16.99.
Check out the deals every Wednesday at the 3 Toronto Ikea stores -
The Etobicoke Store
The North York Store
The Vaughan Store
You never know when you can find exactly what you are looking for at an amazing price. All discount shopping is a crap shoot. Most of the time there is nothing that you want, but every now and then there’s a real score.
Monday, September 22nd, 2008
Osteoarthritis commonly begins after the age of 40 and slowly but surely breaks down the cartilage, causing the bones to rub together and as a result is now the leading cause of disability in North America. Arthroscopic surgery, used commonly to treat osteoarthritis, smoothes out the damaged cartilage and removes the bone chips.
Brian Feagan of the University of Western Ontario believes that arthroscopic knee surgery as a treatment for osteoarthritis doesn’t reduce joint symptoms or improve joint function when compared with the results attained by employing a combination of medication and physical therapy. The study based on the findings of the research team composed of orthopedic surgeons, rheumatologists, and physiotherapists has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In all 178 patients - men and women with an average age of 60 and moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee - participated in the University of Western Ontario study. All participants had physical therapy, over-the-counter painkillers, glucosamine supplements, and injections to lubricate the joint. Of the 178 participants 86 also had arthroscopic surgery. For the next 2 years all of the participants were tested every 6 months. Both groups - the one with only physical therapy and medication, and the other with physical therapy, medication, and arthroscopic surgery - improved. However, both groups improved equally with respect to joint pain, stiffness, and function, with no additional improvement in the group that had the arthroscopic surgery.
In conclusion Dr. Feagan now believes that although arthroscopic surgery should be used for conditions such as a torn ligament or cartilage, it has proven itself ineffective as a treatment for arthritis.
Tuesday, September 16th, 2008
Toronto’s headline news is beginning to sound like a teaser for the latest episode of Law & Order. At approximately 2:25 PM on Tuesday, September 9th Dayne Rose was shot multiple times including in the neck and torso, in a car traveling in the collector lanes of Highway 401, just west of Keele Street. His body was then dumped, or was pushed, or fell out of a car onto the eastbound collector lanes of Highway 401. The body came to rest between the middle and inside lanes. Witnesses reported that Mr. Rose tried to jump from a champagne coloured Lexus as the women driving the car opened fire with a silver pistol. A champagne coloured Lexus driven by a woman was seen fleeing the scene of the crime.
Miraculously Mr. Rose was not run over by the multitude of vehicles traveling on the 401 - a small mercy after being riddled with bullets. A tractor-trailer stopped behind Mr. Rose’s body and the other vehicles in the vicinity managed to avoid him. Toronto Police and the Ontario Provincial Police arrived at the scene to begin their investigation. Members of the Toronto Gun and Gang Task Force joined the investigation although it is not yet known if this crime was gang related. Although efforts were made to revive Mr. Rose, he was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was later moved to the Centre of Forensic Sciences for an autopsy.
Witnesses reported that the champagne coloured Lexus exited at Keele Street, traveled south to Falstaff Road, and then went west. Approximately 1 hour later the car was located in the Albion and Weston Roads area in Armel Court. The engine had been set on fire but Toronto firefighters put out the fire quickly. The vehicle, registered to a Richmond Hill business, is undergoing a forensic examination. A Mississauga woman, known to drive the champagne coloured Lexus, was located. Peel Police took 2 people into custody at approximately 6:30 PM, but they were later released.
If you have any information about this crime, please contact Detective Peter Code at 416-808-7393, Detective Mike Barsky at 416-808-7422, or Crime Stoppers anonymously by phone 416-222-TIPS (8477) or online at www.222tips.com.
Photo courtesy Flickr
Tuesday, September 16th, 2008
What great news for insulin dependant diabetics! Dr. Daniel Drucker, from Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital was the lead author of a study recently published by the journal The Lancet demonstrating that a once-a-week injectable diabetes drug appears to lower blood sugar somewhat better than the same drug injected twice daily. This is fabulous news for those trying to manage Type 2 diabetes. The results of the study have just been released at a scientific meeting in Rome.
The drug, exenatide, was developed as a joint venture between Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Eli Lilly and Company. It works by increasing the secretion of insulin, the hormone which breaks down sugar, following a meal and it suppresses the release of glucagon, the hormone that helps to stop the liver from overproducing sugar when it is not needed.
In addition to the obvious advantage of taking 1 shot a week instead of 14, exenatide also triggered an average weight loss of 3.5 kilograms. Since most diabetes medications cause weight gain, this is significant. The one disadvantage of a once-a-week shot is that the needle to deliver the medication is large-gauge. This may not be an attractive prospect to everyone. Another potential problem with a once-a-week shot is the propensity to forget to take the medication.
Exenatide has not yet been licensed in Canada. However, the research has produced promising results. The unknown element is the long-term effect of the drug and if exenatide will translate into fewer diabetic complications such as vision loss, kidney problems, nerve damage that can lead to limb amputation, and heart disease.
Tuesday, September 16th, 2008
The Toronto arts community will open its doors from sunset to sunrise on Saturday, October 4th for Nuit Blanche. This is a marvelous event for sleepless Torontonians in need of a concentrated dose of culture. Fashioned after the uber-trendy event in Paris, Nuit Blanche was originally conceived as an attempt to bring contemporary art to the people in public spaces. More than 1 million people take to the streets in Paris annually for this sleepless night of artistic experiences. Nuit Blanche has become international with Toronto, Montreal, New York, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Leeds, Brussels, Rome, Madrid, La Valette, Bucharest, Riga, and Tokyo now with their own Nuit Blanche event.
Nuit Blanche is truly an event for the people and it is totally FREE. For 12 continuous hours museums and galleries will open their doors and offer free access. City spaces all over Toronto will become venues for temporary exhibitions. The city will be divided into 3 Zones - Downtown North, Downtown South, and South/West - each featuring Exhibition Projects and Independent Projects with a total of 155 destinations to visit. There will be 45 Exhibition Projects by local, national, and international artists that have been commissioned within four outdoor exhibitions under the direction of 4 curators. The Independent Projects will be presented by Toronto’s museums, galleries and other cultural and educations facilities featuring the works of new and established artists. Here is a detailed list of what you can find in each zone.
There are Information Centres conveniently located in each Zone.
• Zone A Information Centre will be located at Yonge-Dundas Square at south-east corner of Yonge Street and Dundas Street East.
• Zone B Information Centre will be located at the Scotia Plaza at 40 King Street West. Use the entrance at Adelaide Street and King Street.
• Zone C Information Centre will be located at the Lamport Stadium South parking lot at 1151 King Street West. Use the entrance on Liberty Street.
Please leave your car at home and use the TTC. If you must drive, park near an all night subway station. Here is all of the info on the best way to get around Nuit Blanche.
Monday, September 15th, 2008
Advertising makes the world go round. Your mobile phone is now the target for hungry advertisers looking for a new medium to invade. A Toronto-based company called My Screen is offering incentives to mobile phone users so that they will agree to watch an ad on their phone. Each time you watch an ad you will accumulate reward points that you can then redeem from your mobile operator for things like free airtime minutes, ringtones, mobile games, and gift cards. Your mobile operator will decide whether your rewards can be redeemed for cash, merchandise, or gift cards outside of your network.
The ads will only be displayed at the end of a call so that they will not interfere or disrupt your phone calls. The ads are targeted, rich, full screen, contextual ads. This is not spamming. No one can complain about receiving these cell phone ads because this is an opt-in service. Registration is free. However, you may incur data charges to watch the ads, so it’s best to check with your mobile operator before signing up. Currently this service works only on BlackBerrys, Nokias and Motorolas. There is an iPhone version in development.
Advertisers are hoping that mobile phone advertising will reel in the 18 - 35 male demographic. ABI Research reports that the consumer response to the cell phone ads has shown that 37% of those surveyed would be open to incentive-based marketing programs. Considering that the target market is 18 - 35 year old males, I would like to know how many of the respondents fit into that category. I wouldn’t watch a cell phone ad to accumulate reward points, would you?
Photo courtesy Flickr