Mr. Ford please don’t take over my TTC subways

Toronto Transit subway

Now that the reduce-the-Toronto-wards-number fiasco has been struck down in court, Premier Doug Ford can perhaps look elsewhere to do some damage. And yes, I know he plans to use the little-used not-withstanding clause. But Mr. Ford also wants to take over part of the TTC, er, his PC government does. That would be the subways. But Toronto can keep  the bus, LRT and other streetcar service. See story here.

Mr. Ford might do well to look at the history of the TTC –  when it was a jumble of privately run companies and when the Toronto Transit Commission began taking it all over. Mr. Ford can start by going here for a little history lesson. Even better read the Mike Filey  book mentioned in the article  – The TTC Story: The First Seventy-five Years (Dundurn Press, 1996). Can’t find it online or in a bricks and mortars store? Toronto Public library has copies. And if Mr. Ford doesn’t have a library card, he can get one easily – and it’s free. That should suit him.

I am a life-long TTC rider and even though I complain loudly about the crowding, the stoppages for various reasons, dividing it up with the PCs taking over the subways and the TTC keeping the rest will create chaos. Remember the old saying about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?

When I was a child (back in the grey ages) my mom, dad and I travelled by TTC to everywhere. We had no car and my parents couldn’t drive anyway. I enjoyed the subway rides on Yonge St. to downtown to shop at department store no longer around (but that’s fodder for another post) – this latter mainly with Mom. But Mom, Dad and I used to take the subway to Eglinton and then on buses afterwards to visit family and friends. When I started work ,the first phase of Line 2 along Bloor and Danforth had started running. And yes, it was crowded then too (albeit not as bad as today). When the Yonge line was first extended to York Mills I was living in North York and commuting to work at Bloor and Yonge from Sheppard and Don Mills. This  required an extra bus to York Mills. So I was glad when the subway line got extended to Finch. And since then, there have been more extensions and something called an LRT now being built along Eglinton.

Mr. Ford is saying that the TTC will still operate the subway system and can keep all revenues generated. How generous. If  Mr. Ford wants to get his hands into the TTC, maybe he should concentrate on the province giving more funds to the TTC so it doesn’t need to use so much of the fare revenue to cover costs for maintaining and building new subway lines, etc.

Emphasis on the word “public”. I am part of this public. I pay for my TTC pass (soon to be a Presto card) and pay my municipal taxes – some of which go to pay some of the TTC expenses no doubt, as one of my Facebook pals pointed out. But we (the public) have our rights.

And for the record I did not vote for the PCs in the election this year. And the NDP I voted for in my riding got in.

Many people speculate that Mr. Ford is doing all this to Toronto in retaliation for Toronto voting mostly NDP in the election. Whether that is true or not, the fact that Toronto voted NDP says something about our wishes.

But hey, democracy seems to be turning into a bad word. Just look at south of the border.

Comments, please. And here’s the link to my Facebook page. Scroll down a bit to see some comments on this TTC ruckus.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Toronto public transit, TTC Subways

Summer holidays going going and…

Peaking towards the back of my garden

Three more weeks. Just three more weeks. Then the kids will be back in school. Then people will be back from cottage country. Then people will be back from their summer travels. Then…

Hey, wait a minute. Even by the calendar, summer doesn’t end with Labour Day. Isn’t the actual calendar switch to fall September 21?  But the summer weather can last into October,  at least until our Canadian Thanksgiving the second Monday in October. If we are really lucky the warm, even hot weather can continue to the end of October. Occasionally the warm/hot weath shows up in November.

So why am I obsessing with all this weather. Hey, at least I’m not complaining about the torrential rains, etc. Not this post, anyway.

This is the  time of summer when I wish it was July 1 again, Canada Day – well, maybe not this past Canada Day as it was hot humid into the 40’s  or on the  old scale over 100. But when you get right down to it, I prefer hot and sunny to winter’s cold, snow, ice, etc. etc. And at three more weeks, it is also a good time to get in the frame of mind of how am I going to enjoy the rest of the summer. And I do plan to despite all the problems I’ve had to deal with and am still dealing with this summer. Not going there now except to say, I am not pleased that a lot of what I would like to have done I didn’t do because of having to spend too much time on problems.

So, for the next three weeks I have the following to look forward to (and in no particular order)

Spending a day with some of my cousins from southwestern Ontario when they come to Toronto.

My son and is girlfriend coming here for dinner and the three of us sitting out on the patio in the garden and catching up.

Making my annual visit to the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) and not for the rides. I don’t do rides. And I don’t do all the games of chance. I like the exhibits, the free concerts, and the fudge. Plus just walking around and looking.

Seeing my friends at events or to eat out, etc. including the next one below.

East  York Garden Club Tea and Flower Show.

Another visit to the Music Garden at Toronto’s Harbourfront and this time be there when there is an actual classical music concert.

And spending time sitting under the tree in my garden. And reading a good mystery book. And sitting at the patio table eating meals (and no doubt chasing away those nasty wasps. I’m allergic to wasp stings. Much prefer bees although not getting stung, of course.)

How are you spending your summer?

Do you wish it was longer?

What are  your plans for the rest of summer?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

My reading oasis under the tree

 

Music Garden Toronto Harbourfront overlooking Lake Ontario

 

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Filed under Garden, Summmertime in the city

Danforth massacre turns Toronto around

Only Child and Mom

When I was a child, my mom and I used to head for Danforth Avenue or The Danforth as it is called in Toronto to shop. Usually on a Saturday. This was back in the late 1950s and early 1960s -before the subway ran under the Danforth. We would take the Broadview bus from around the corner where we lived and transfer to another bus a few stops afterwards. This bus took us to one short block north of the Danforth. Mom and I stopped at the butcher’s, several green grocers and the now defunct Kresge’s, Woolworth’s and The Met. Sometimes we even bellied up to the lunch counter in The Met for a hot dog. Every Easter season we were in and out of hat shops trying on hats until we each  found our perfect hat for Easter Sunday. And when my feet grew a little more we visited a particular shoe store where I stood on a machine and stuck my feet underneath the “camera” part to get  my feet measured for new shoes.

Then, the only scary thing, the only blood was at the butcher’s – mainly on his white apron from splashes when he cut the meat. The floor was covered in sawdust, not blood.

Fast forward to this century and now I am back living in Toronto – back almost 20 years. Mom passed away years ago, but I still shopped on the Danforth – at green grocers and now health food stores. I often would stop to rest at the small parkette at Logan and Danforth Avenues. Sometimes I ate at local restaurant with family and friends. I always felt safe – even in the crowds for the annual Taste of the Danforth in August.

That all changed with the massacre on Danforth from Logan westward a few blocks. When the area was turned into a massacre site. When a young man named Faisal Hussain became a murderer,  firing his gun at people. When our world in Toronto just nose-dived to a low in safety. This is a peaceful family area – not late-open nightclubs, not a gang war area But all that changed at 10 p.m., Sunday, July 22, 2018. So far the murder count is two, with the injured at 13, and the killer dead from a gunshot wound. My son referred to it as something unimaginable, akin to a US style gun attack.

I’m not going to post graphic photos of the massacre. I wasn’t there to take them, although I was there a few hours before it happened to shop. But I am providing a few links to stories about this massacre which you can view or not as you wish.

News update to now

More news

A community restaurant owner speaks

Teen killed in  mass shooting identified

Yesterday I posted the following on my Facebook page.

Horrific what happened on the Danforth last night. It is a place where I shop regularly and also eat out there sometimes. Was there near Logan (Carlaw and Danforth) earlier last evening at Healthy Planet. I feel for those who were killed, injured and anyone there and their families. As for the murderer, he got what he deserved.

That last line sums up how I feel about the murderer. So what if he had mental issues. His parents posted that he had mental health problems and all the drugs that didn’t work. What about therapy? Maybe a good therapist would have spotted this possibility. Maybe… Well, that’s after the fact and too late for his victims, for their families, and for all of us in Toronto. I still stand by my beliefs –  except for police officers in the line of duty where necessary and anyone who kills in self-defence and in wars, killing someone else is wrong and the guilty should get the death penalty or at the very least, a life sentence with no parole, no day passes – ever. Canada hasn’t had the death penalty for years but a life sentence isn’t life. And never mind the “not guilty by reason of insanity” – it should be “guilty by reason of insanity”.

Don’t get me going on that.

One thing is for sure. I will not stay away from the Danforth – or anywhere else in Toronto I choose to go because someone might start shooting in the area when I am there. That would be losing my city. That would be giving up. That would be giving in to violence.

Now, I hope the city’s mayor, police chief and the provincial and federal leaders do something about all this. Toronto’s mayor had just started to do something. We need to get guns off the streets and out of the hands of people like  Faisal Hussain. How this can be done I don’t know. If anyone has any ideas, please comment.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s

Is Retail Customer Service a Myth?

Only Child contemplating bad customer service

I’m beginning to wonder if some retail outlets are now operating under a hidden slogan. Something along the lines of  “The customer is never right; but we are” or “We do as we wish and the hell with customer service.”

My recent experiences in two big retail chain stores are making me wonde.

 

Is this the new wave of customer service?

First off – Shoppers Drug Mart. Double Whammy here.

Shoppers has the penchant for suddenly stopping carrying certain products, which is their prerogative.  But when it isn’t across the board with all stores and when it gets even pickier, i.e., one selection of a particular product at one Shoppers’ store, you begin to wonder what’s the idea behind it.

I was in my local Shoppers last week to buy a specific product on sale that week – PC tinned pink salmon. I had bought it last month and before that at this particular Shoppers, but it wasn’t there last week. PC tinned sockeye salmon and one other PC tinned salmon were available, but not on sale. There was no space and no price sign (sale or otherwise) for the pink salmon. So I talked to the manager – he checked and that branch is no longer carrying the pink salmon but he gave me a rain cheque and clarified that I could buy the salmon at another Shoppers Drug Mart. I said it was too hot to walk to Woodbine (the next nearest Shoppers) and I wasn’t friendly about it.

The second whammy. Another customer and I were looking for help with products and there were no clerks around in the store (except in makeup and checkout). So, the other customer boldly opened the “Employees only” door and called out – twice she had to do it. And I stuck my head in and said “me too.” The other customer claimed she had been waiting an hour  for someone to bring her some Sprite pops cans. I think she was exaggerating – but I do remember someone asking for some pop earlier as I went about collecting what I wanted to buy. The store manager finally came out and told her they were out of Sprite. You can imagine her reply…and I don’t blame her.

Over the weekend in  my local No Frills grocery store, they were not only down to about a dozen bananas of dubious quality, when I took my four purchases to the express checkout I ran into grief. Two of  the purchases – two containers of I Can’t Believe it’s not butter were on sale at another grocery store, so I had that store’s flyer to do a price match – something No Frills does. Imagine my dismay when the young clerk said they don’t do price matching anymore at the express checkout. I said, “I didn’t see any sign for that.” He pointed to a tiny sign posted  up on the side of the debit machine.

Huh? By then you are way in the checkout counter with one person behind you, putting her groceries down. I pointed this out to the clerk and that I had only four items. And I finished with “It might help if you put the sign up right at the front so people can see it before they put down their groceries.”

He didn’t make me go to another cashier and honoured my price match. But he got his just desserts, thanks to the lady right after me in the checkout. Never have I seen what goes around comes around happen so fast;  because if this price match is now a no-no at Express to save time, well the lady after me just foiled any quick move through the cash with a price check – a dispute in the price of strawberries.

Mentally  I was cheering her on.

And you may know, both No frills and Shoppers Drug Mart are part of the big Loblaw chain owned by Galen Weston Jr  since 2006, and who in 2017 t00k over as CEO of the  big parent company  George Weston Ltd. from his father. Galen Weston Sr. Junior is worth 9.3 billion according to a Wikipedia article on him.

Is this the new way he is doing business? Make it difficult for the customer?

I’ll have him know that the competitions, the Rexall drug store chains are making waves in Ontario. And there is another grocery chain, Metro,  that owns Food Basics as well.

Better watch out Mr.  Big Business. Your competition has some better customer service tactics. No Frills doesn’t offer rain cheques, but Food Basics does.

What are some of the “no” or “bad cust0mer service issues you’ve run into lately?

Let’s start  posting comments here.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Customer Service, George Weston Limited, Loblaw chain, Shoppers Drug Mart and No Frills

Only Child says Sleep Sleep perchance to…just sleep

Pondering sleep and sleep deprivation

When I was a child, when I was a teenager, I slept at nights. Lots of sleep. When I was in my late 40s I would kill to get my sleep – anyone and anything that got in my way risked my wrath. Now in my senior years, I ask “What sleep?” If I am lucky I get  6 hours sleep and that’s counting the half hour or so when I fall asleep during the 11 p.m news on TV. I’m not sleeping in though; I keep to about the same time to get up each day – 7.45 a.m. even on weekends, but with it being gardening season and the light of day coming very early, I would like to get up and into the garden much earlier than I do.

And that might be my cue as to something is off. I’m trying to do too much – evenings, yes I sometime watch some TV, besides the aforementioned news. But not until I do some more gardening, weather permitting and I’m not out somewhere. No matter what, I have way too much to do and often some of that comes to mind after the news and so off I go, despite trying hard to get to bed somewhat earlier than 1.30 a.m. or 2 a.m.

Carrying around in  my mind all the guilt of stuff not done, particularly phone calls to friends I didn’t have time to make, doesn’t help. I don’t have time to call them until the gardening is done, so right now that could be 9.30 p.m. as that’s when it gets dark. If I’m out at an event, forget it. One friend has said to call her but she doesn’t do late evening phone calls as she goes to bed. That was a message on my voice mail when she tried to call me and I was out at an event. Not sure what late means – after 10 p.m.? After 9 p.m.? Unless it is an emergency I don’t call friends or family after 9.45 p.m. Fortunately two of my friends are night owls like me.

Is this another health bane of being a senior? Hey, I’m running out of fingers to count all the medical crap I have to deal with as a senior.

So, I decided to put on the hat of my former profession – journalist – and do some research about sleep deprivation online. Here is some of iowhat I found:

If you go here you will find an interesting article covering many aspects of sleep deprivation, including summarizing some studies, how much sleep is necessary, and the effects of sleep deprivation. I have some of the latter, most notably: irritability (well, more than usual), immune system dysfunction (not good for someone who already has a compromised immune system), forgetfullness (mainly if I did something – although I don’t forget what I have to still do, but often forget where something got put. My mind hits a blank here). Yes, it affects my cognitive abilities and I seem to he slower doing things than my usual  modus operandi. The worse things were sleep depreviation could cause cancer and death.  I know we all got to die sometime but not yet please, and do I really want to drag cancer into it?

And look at my language “drag”.

So, I am now going to  make a bigger effort to get body and mind into bed earlier. Yes, I’ll still watch the news and weather report. But the TV goes off, right after that half hour. And before the 11 p.m. news, maybe even before 10 p.m. all the housework shit I have to do for the evening (gardening is never under that category) has to be done. And any phone calls – if I have time to make them.

I am also purging my “to do” lists of stuff and people who steal my time – some will be just on the back burner until next month; some permanently out the door. I am also learning (slowly) to pace myself with what I do – although I still get upset if something takes way too much longer than expected – no matter what the cause.

Do you have trouble getting enough sleep? Why or Why not?

 

Time to get more sleep

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Health Seniors, Life Balance, Life demands, Sleep and Health, Sleep and Seniors, Sleep deprivation

Only Child on weather and your mood

It’s raining again and I’m feeling grumpy and even a little depressed. God help anyone who crosses me – that is if I have the energy to react. I feel like I have the world on my shoulders and will never get through all the stuff I have to do this day. And my longtime medical condition (a digestive disorder that has weird symptoms and side effects and is worse in the morning), seems even more acute and I feel like screaming.

Flip to the next day and I’m getting up in sunshine and raring to go. Even the digestive disorder can’t stop me.

Does weather affect your mood?

Most of us have heard about  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which some people get in the winter when the sun seems to do like the bears and hibernate. We not only have a lot of cloudy days but when the sun does make an appearance, it doesn’t stick around for long because of the short days.

No, I’m talking about in late spring and summer when we usually get  more sunny days and days are much longer. Depending on where you live, the sun could wake up around 5 a.m. and not go to bed until 9 p.m. That’s a long day – great when the sun shines, not so great when it rains. How many of you have noticed this 180 degree mood reaction with the weather changes?

You are not alone. It is not your imagination. And science backs you up. Many studies beyond the SAD ones, cover this. I’ll just touch on a few briefly.

This study published online  does a summary of weather and moods and references other studies. Although some studies show that hot humid summer weather with sunshine can have a negative affect on people because of the heat and humidity, for the most part sun brings on positive happy moods and rainy cloudy days negative sad moods. The part I’m quoting from this summarized study refers to serotonin and its affect on mood.

Positive and negative moods are also known to be influenced by atmospheric factors. Kämpfer and Mutz (2013) found an influence of sunshine on life satisfaction and argued that this effect is mediated by mood (defined as frequencies of experienced positive vs. negative emotions). They reasoned that sunshine activates positive emotions due to an increase of serotonin in the brain. (Richard E. Lewis and Nicole M. Lawless: “Does Life Seem Better on a Sunny Day? Examining the Association between Daily Weather Conditions and Life Satisfaction Judgments”, Journal of Personal and Social Psychology, May 2013).

What is this Serotonin. SEROTONIN is a powerful chemical and transmitter that affects many things that go on in your body including moods and low serotonin amounts cause depression. I first heard about serotonin in the early 1980s when I suffered from horrible migraines. Then I learned that a depletion in serotonin can cause migraines. Not long after that I learned that serotonin can help you sleep. At that time Serotonin was not available over the counter in Canada. It is now but I have also found out that you can’t just swallow some serotonin to get your nightly zzzz’s without considering the negatives of too much serotonin in your body. And not all of that comes from serotonin supplements as described here.

FOR MORE INFO  ON TRAVEL AND WEATHER MOOD read this 

I have another theory, a personal one, that might help explain part of why I turn dour when it rains. When I was a child my mother was fixated on me wearing rain gear when it rained. A simple umbrella would not do. I had to go the whole route, including rain boots – not the high rubber ones of today, which are popular because of all the floods worldwide, but these plastic flat-healled smokey coloured rain boots, more like shapeless overshoes which you wore over your shoes, closed them with a loop that clipped on a button. I hated them – old lady boots and I doubt any old lady around today wears them.

And yes, I do cart an umbrella and raincoat when raincoat is forecast in summer. But I stick to wearing shoes that are waterproofed.

Anyway if it is heavy rain I would rather stay inside. At least my bad mood will stay in.

Just don’t phone me or knock on my door when I’m writing.

I can still scream.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Serotonin, Weather, Weather and Moods

Only Child’s thoughts after the big hurricane May 4 in Southern Ontario

Calm few days after the storm

The day after the big wind storm – hurricane wind levels in Toronto – I was on my knees clearing out my garden. Not debris from the wind, but part of the annual clean-the-garden-in-the-spring ritual. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the man walk by. Although I didn’t know him I said, “good afternoon.”

I’m glad I did. Turns out he was a friend of Marie one of the seniors across the street. Marie had some damage to her roof from the winds and “she was freaking out he said. Do you know of anyone who could help fix it?”

I sprang into action. For the life of me I could not recall the name of the company who put up my roof in fall 2009 but I did know some neighbours who would know somebody. I directed him to my next door neighbour who works in construction and another one across the street who just retired from working in construction. Next door wasn’t in but Larry across the street was. After the man clarified the name of the fellow across the street and went to bang on his door, I went into high help mode.

I had to find the name of the company that did my roof. I knew it began with “E” and wasn’t a person’s first and/or last name. Dived into a few files. Nothing. Finally found a few old (like a couple of years) small brochures of home repairs/improvements companies and voila – and my roofers were listed in one brochure. It didn’t appear that they did roof repairs but if Marie ended up needing a new roof, I could recommend them. So I copied over their number on one of those memo pads real estate agents drop off – you know the ones with your name printed on the top – their play to get more business, I suppose. And with the brochure and the memo sheet and my house keys, I locked the doors and ran across the street to Marie’s.

The friend’s truck was still in the driveway, the front inside door was open and an array of shoes were discarded in the front hall. I knocked and knocked but no answer, so ran around to the backyard. No one. Came back to the front and knocked again because I could hear voices. No one came, so I returned to the driveway and could voices from a window, so called  out “It’s Sharon from across the street.” The  man who had talked to me said he would meet me at the front door. I met him there, and Marie, and the man’s wife and their two kids and the wife’s sister and her husband. They were the family of Marie’s late boyfriend.

Marie told  me that Larry had been there and said he would call his sons and see if they could come the next day (The did. I saw them there). Marie also complained about the roof she had – newer than mine – she’s had the roofer back three times to fix shingles. That’s not a very professional job done. So I wrote down the name and info of my roofer with the caveat – the owner, who do the estimate don’t go on the roof and because of that they missed the correct number of layers of old shingles on my roof – and I got charged more. But the actual workers did an excellent job, including their foreman who found the third layer when he inspected it just before they began doing the work and told me – he should be doing estimates.

“Make sure they go on the roof to check,” I told Marie.

I also gave her the name and phone number of the handyman who does plumbing, painting, electrical and other repairs and Marie and I exchanged phone numbers. The latter we should have done within a year after I moved into my house. I’ve been here nearly 20 years.

My wake-up call. Especially after reading online yesterday and watching the 11 p.m. news and finding that 500 homes in pockets of Toronto still didn’t have their power restored. Didn’t Toronto Hydro learn anything from the big ice storm in December 2013. True, there were downed trees and power lines from Friday’s hurricane but no ice. More likely not enough people doing the work. Again, didn’t Toronto Hydro learn anything from the ice storm of December 2013?

With this in mind and the below story in mind, where governments of all level in the US and Canada, forget about seniors during various hurricanes, floods, and other disasters, I decided it is really up to us who can do so to help. This story was published in Zoomer magazine last month and I’m linking to the online story. The photo (scroll down a bit) of the seniors sitting in water up to their waists in a nursing home because the authorities forgot about them breaks my heart. It took the son-in-law of the nursing home owner to Tweet about it to get any action. Then the National Guard came to the rescue.

Ageism is still around, unfortunately.

Here’s the link.

http://www.everythingzoomer.com/health/2018/04/19/seniors-natural-disaster-relief/

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

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Filed under Extreme Weather, Floods, Help and Support, Helping Others, Hydro power outage, Only child, Power Outages, Seniors, Toronto Hydro