Tag Archives: Toronto

Mayor Ford: It’s time to go.

Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, greeting a nun at ...

Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, greeting a nun at the Mayor’s 2011 Levee at City Hall. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the past eighteen months I have written a couple of articles about Toronto Mayor (and News Talk 1010 radio host) Rob Ford.  In the first one (Leave Mayor Ford Alone!) I came to his defense when people took a video of him leaving a fast food restaurant and made fun of him (he was trying to diet).  The next one I wrote on June 3rd of this year expressing my opinion that it was time for him to either leave or be relieved of his duties as a member of the media – I did not feel that he had any business as a talk show host (You can read the article here).

For those of you who do not know the story: Earlier this year two media outlets – www.gawker.com and the Toronto Star – reported that they had both been offered a video of Mayor Ford smoking crack cocaine, and making a bunch of stupid remarks.  Unfortunately neither of these media outlets purchased the video so while there was a whole lot of speculation, there was never any proof.

Over the past few days (from what I have been able to glean from various reports on the Internet, as I am overseas) the following has been determined:

  1. Toronto Police are now in possession of a video that Chief Bill Blair confirms is exactly what Gawker and the Toronto Sun reported: Mayor Ford smoking crack cocaine.
  2. Close associates of Mayor Ford have been arrested and charged with several Class A Felonies.
  3. Mayor Ford used his Sunday afternoon radio show to make a brief statement, saying that he is not perfect, and that he has made mistakes, but he cannot change the past.

Now here’s the problem that I have: Mayor Ford made several mistakes that caused the video to be made – and the mayor smoking crack is certainly in that category.  I am ready to accept that he made some terrible mistakes, and could even forgive them.  What happened after the video allegations were made are completely inexcusable, and are not mistakes: they are absolutely lies, and there are allegations that there is criminal activity in the attempt to cover up the video.

  1. He told reporters that he never smoked crack. lies.
  2. His brother, Councillor  Doug Ford, acting in several situations as the Mayor’s unofficial spokesman, confirmed that Mayor Ford never smoked crack. lies.
  3. Mayor Ford, after several weeks, told the media that the ‘alleged video’ did not exist. lies.
  4. One of Mayor Ford’s close associates (who is currently under arrest) is alleged by Toronto Police Services to have acted in the interest of the Mayor to the end of ensuring that the video be completely destroyed. criminal.

While the list likely goes on, I don’t need to kick a man when he is down.  The Mayor says in his apology that ‘…I love the work I do, and I am going to continue doing it.  I want to keep working for the people of this city’ Well Mr. Mayor, from what I have read there may be no legal obligation for you to do so, but there is certainly an overwhelming moral obligation for you to resign as mayor.

He keeps talking about ‘the right thing to do.’ He asks Chief Bill Blair to release the video to the public, because it is the right thing to do, and that people deserver to see it…’  If that is the case Mr. Mayor, then why have you been lying about it for six months?  That was the absolute wrong thing to do.

‘All I can do right now is apologize for my mistakes.’

No Mr. Mayor, you are wrong.  You can resign.  That is the right thing to do,  You claim that you can and will learn from the past.

If the lesson you plan to learn is that it is a bad idea to hang out with drug dealers smoking crack, I am curious to know how you did not learn that lesson in high school.  You and I are close to the same age, and Just Say No was as much a part of your upbringing as it was mine.

If the lesson you plan to learn is that it is wrong to lie to the media and to the citizens of the city that you represent, then that ship has sailed.  Your credibility is shot, and anyone who believes you will change, or will continue to support you, must have head trauma.  You have made Toronto the laughing stock of every major city in the world.  Yes Mayor Ford, Tokyo is laughing at you.

If the lesson you plan to learn is to learn how to lie better, then when you have learned that lesson you can run for office again.  I assure you that the voters are just stupid enough to consider voting for you again, be it municipal or provincial.  Not me – you have lost any chance of my ever voting for you for anything as important as assistant head dog catcher – but others will still vote for you.

I do not have a vote in Toronto.  I live in Oakville and have voted for Mayor Rob Burton and will do so again.  However if he were to be embroiled in a scandal where he lied about something this important for six months until video proof was released, then no… he would lose my vote.  Fortunately I know Mayor Burton, and expect there is less a chance of that happening that there would be of my getting elected to replace Mayor Ford.

By the way Mayor Ford, there is one more thing that you can do: In the last six months several of your staff have either resigned or been fired.  You owe each one of them an apology, and not as a group – in front of the entire media pool that you continuously chase off your driveway you should name each one and give a detailed account of how you screwed them.

Goodbye Mayor Ford… You may not be stepping down, but until you do, I am tuning out.  I will not listen to another word that you have to say, because I do not listen to lying, insulting, crack addicts.  Step down, go to rehab, I’ll consider giving you another chance.

Thank you readers and Happy Halloween!!

The calendar has turned in Tokyo.  Although there are a few hours left in North America, here it is now Friday, and more importantly it is November.  I got in late from a Halloween party in Shibuya… the whole city was a crazy place tonight, and I have the pictures to prove it (they come later in the post).

In the meantime, despite there being several hours left on the East Coast, October (2013) has been guaranteed the top month ever for The World According to Mitch.  I hope it is a combination of on-point technical articles, and my life experience (currently in Japan) that has drawn so many of you here, and so many of you keep coming back.  Thank you!image

As always I want to hear from you… tell me what you want to see more of, what you like and don’t like.  I read all of your comments, and try to adjust as I can.  In the meantime I promised some of you more wild Tokyo Halloween costumes, so here they are!

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I thought these were some of the wildest costumes I’d seen… as were most people they were only too happy to pose with me,  However the costumes get even more interesting when you look close… I am not a pervert, and would never take and post dirty pictures, but this next photo of one of the girls sitting down underscored the detail put into the costume… namely, their skivvies are also lighting up and flashing!  The people I was with couldn’t help but wonder how well insulated the costumes were, because moisture and electrical charges are a bad mix… Talk about fiery sex!  (Also when they turned their costumes off you could see that their undergarments had been coordinated as well as the rest of their costumes…)

DSCN4403 I thought this next costume was quite clever, and proves that I am not only taking pictures of sexy girls in scantily clad costumes.  I also got to take a picture of two gentlemen wearing naked women’s bodies ;)

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This gentleman was at the bar where I spent the evening, but by coincidence is also from Toronto!  He’s spending some time in Japan just like I am, but wasn’t careful because with all of the zombies out it looks like one of them tried to eat his brains!

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Wow….

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I am not sure what these girls are dressed as, but don’t they look so cute?  (Notice the McDonald’s Golden Arches in the background…)

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I told you they coordinate their costumes, right>

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I wonder if he can predict going home alone tonight?

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It is good to see religion and Disney come together at last…

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Anyone care for some of these guys grilled up with some balsamic vinegar?

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…and finally some truly Japanese costumes… worn by some NOT SO JAPANESE guys…

DSCN4438 All in all it was a crazy night.  You wouldn’t think that dressed as I was (golf shirt and my leather jacket) that I would win a costume contest, would you?  Alas, I did… until it was proven that I cheated.  When I entered I told them that my name was Mariko, and that i was a 22 year old short Japanese girl in full makeup.  When I was announced as the winner the girls in the Red Army/Stewardess costumes (see the photo in front of Cafe Miyama) Attacked me and stripped me naked trying to prove I wasn’t who I said I was.  The trophy was taken away from me, but I think I still came out ahead!

Happy Halloween, Happy November, and thanks again for reading!

Altitude Dashboard

Okay I admit it… it seems I have not been paying attention, because I just found a personalized dashboard on Air Canada’s Aeroplan page that seems really helpful.  I wish I would have known about it sooner, because it really does appear quite useful! In fact, I have used it today to prove that fact!

https://altitude.aircanada.com/mystatus/dashboard

imageI woke up in the middle of the night tonight because the drugs I am taking to fight my cold/chest infection are screwing with my wake/sleep schedule.  After doing everything else I had to do, I started chatting with my friend Jessica who is points-obsessed.  That is to say, she and her husband have found every way imaginable to get Aeroplan points from contests, challenges, and even flying.  I started wondering what status I would have for next year, seeing as I do travel quite a bit.

I went to the Aeroplan page (which I am quite familiar with) and saw where I was… and then started doing math in my head… I was trying to figure out how many more miles I would be flying this year… and although I know that I am a shoe-in for Altitude 75K, I started to wonder if I had a chance of hitting the elusive Altitude 100K…

…and then I saw a button that said ‘check your dashboard.’  I don’t remember having seen it before,so I clicked on it.  Behold, the page that opened has some really helpful information on it – not just on what you have, but on what you need in order to achieve the next level, including threshold gifts.

image I started doing the math… I am flying home from Tokyo next month – my dashboard clearly showed (I had to scroll down) that my flight from Toronto to Tokyo (via Vancouver) was 6,742 miles… but because I flew Executive First Class I got a 50% bonus of Status Miles… rounding it off to 10,115.  Logically my flight back in November will give me the same number of miles, seeing as I am taking the same flights in reverse.  That is another 10,115 miles.

Of course, the following week I am turning around and flying right back to Japan.  Assuming the same flight path, and a return flight at the end of December, that is another 20,230 miles.  Assuming my math is right, that brings me to 79,559 Altitude Qualifying Miles (AQM) for the year.  Right there, I am at Altitude 75K… the next level up.

But wait… I have one more trip in December… flying from Tokyo to Sydney, Australia for ten days.  Flying direct is 4,757 miles… which means 9,514 miles, plus another 4,757 bonus for flying First Class.  However if I fly either through Wellington, NZ or through Singapore then it bumps to 7,100 miles (plus or minus) each way, which means 10,650 miles each way, which would give me a little over 100,800 miles for the year, and the Altitude 100K (formerly Super Elite) status that I am hoping for.

(I have to admit it, one of the main reasons I would rather fly through Singapore is that I would get to fly on the Airbus A380, which I have not been on yet!)

(For those of you wondering what the benefits are, check out the site.)

Don’t get me wrong.  I have told many people before that they should not be jealous of the status of frequent fliers because it means that we have to be away from home as often as we are.  I stand by that.  However if you are going to be away from home that often, it is nice to get the benefits that go alone with it… and yes, among frequent fliers there are certain bragging rights that go with it.

One of my favorite benefits, by the way, is being able to bypass the long lines for checking in, security, and boarding.  A friend of mine on Facebook (whose name I will not mention, but if he is reading this is welcome to chime in) once told me that this is elitist, and I should not be so proud that I skip the lines.  It is not a question of elitist (although I think I replied at the time that his thinking was not a little socialist), but the truth is those lines may be an hour long.  For an occasional traveler that is an annoyance, even an inconvenience.  If I had to wait in each of those lines for an hour every time I flied this year it would not be an inconvenience, it would be well in excess of a work week.  So call me elitist if you will, I do appreciate bypassing the lines.

I did notice by the by that one of the benefits of Altitude 100K is that you can award Altitude 50K (the status I currently hold) for a friend.  That might be huge, and if you are interested I am absolutely willing to consider bribes :)

I know the slogan came from another brand, but membership has its privileges.  I have held Elite Status with Aeroplan (Air Canada) since 2007, and it has made my life as a road warrior an easier and more comfortable one.  The Dashboard is probably available to anyone, but it will come in much handier for people who fly a lot.

…and sorry Jessica, most of those benefits rely on AQM, not simply miles accumulated :)

The Microsoft Store for Business… Ask Caden!

The Microsoft Store in Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall is the hottest address for technology in the Greater Toronto Area.  People have been coming from all over to see what’s new, ranging from Windows 8 laptops, all-in-ones, Windows Phone 8 devices, and especially the new Microsoft Surface tablet, the hottest device on the market today.

Of course the store is a retail outlet, and as such is designed around the consumer.  To get a machine with the Microsoft Signature experience there is no other place to go.

So where do you go if you are a business owner, a consultant, a reseller who wants to buy these exclusive optimized devices for your company or customers?  Simple… ask for Caden!

Caden Forbes is the Business Development Specialist for the Microsoft Store in Toronto, and as such it is his job to connect with and sell into businesses.  He is, in essence, the B2B rep for the store.  That means that if you want to buy Surfaces, Windows Phones, or anything else for your business Caden is the man to see… and you can tell in the first seconds of your conversation that he loves his job, is great at it, and is easy to do business with.

It is often hard to find a man who knows his stuff, can communicate his message effectively, and is easy to deal with.  He almost always has a smile on his face and in his heart.  He has years of experience as a consultant that make him singularly suited as the best man for the job.

The entire staff at the Microsoft Store is second to none… they have been chosen well, trained thoroughly, and without a doubt work better as a team than any retail group I have ever met.  Like every great team they all serve their role; Caden may look like a linebacker but when you speak to him you will soon realize that he Is the business-to-business running back; when a member of the team realizes that a customer is asking business-related questions they will hand off to Caden, and Caden runs with it.  I expect him to win whatever the retail equivalent of the Heisman Trophy this year because he is absolutely one of the most effective players on the field.

If you haven’t been there already you should go down to the store and speak to one of the Product Advisors and, if you are a business owner, make sure they hand you off to Caden.

It’s Coming… Can we now compare Hyper-V with vSphere as both new products prepare for launch?

On July 5th I published an article titled A Response to VMware’s ‘Get the Facts’ page comparing vSphere to Hyper-V & System Center. In the seven weeks since it went live it has become the 4th most read article I have ever published (in seven years as a blogger), as well as being by far the most commented on, discussed, and shared article I have ever written.

André Andriolli, a former VMware field engineer and now a Systems Engineer Manager with VMware in Brazil, responded very well.  One of the first points he made was:

we should start by comparing what’s in the market TODAY with what’s in the market today: I mean vSphere 5 versus Hyper-V 2, or vSphere 5.1 with Hyper-V 3. Since vSphere 5.1 news are not in the street yet, we should go with the first. Comparing a future MSFT release with what VMware customers are running for over 1 year now is simply not fair, to me at least.

While I did not entirely agree with this at the time, I accept that it is a valid point.  I am looking forward to hearing comments in the next few weeks though… as Windows Server 2012 (with Hyper-V 3.0) becomes generally available on September 4th, and vSphere 5.1 becomes available on September 11th.

My opinion is simple… VMware still makes a great product, but so does Microsoft; the benefits of the former, in my opinion (and that of many VMware customers I have spoken with), simply are not worth the the difference in cost over the latter.  While it will be a relief that VMware is abandoning their Virtual Memory Entitlements (commonly referred to as the Memory Tax), I think the last year will have left a sour note with a lot of their customers, and given them an opportunity to see for themselves just how good Hyper-V really is.

I do like the fact that both platforms are being released at the same time though; I once made a comment that I regretted right away that of course one would always be ahead of the other because one would come out with a new feature, and the other would take that feature and include it in their next release, along with whatever else they were planning, and that would continue on.  For the next year the two will be compared as equals.

Now, this is one place where VMware has a slight advantage… insofar as they have a one-year product cycle, and Windows Server has a 3-year product cycle.  This was adjusted last year when they took the rare step of adding new (and major) functionality into Service Pack 1 of Windows Server 2008 R2.  For now, frankly I am not sure that pound for pound Hyper-V (with System Center) is not already the better product.  I guess we will find out what the market says though…

If you are in Toronto, we would love for you to join us for the Windows Server 2012 Launch Event on September 5th, or if you are in another city across Canada, later in the month.  Check out Ruth Morton’s blog to see the dates, and to click to register.  We hope to see you there!

Wanna be an MCT? Read on!

I cannot count how many people have come to me and asked how they could become a Microsoft Certified Trainer(MCT).  I have said many times that I consider it among my most valuable credentials, and well worth the yearly fee.  If you are one of those who would like to become one, then read on… especially if you are in the Greater Toronto Area!

Of course in order to become an MCT you need to be proficient in the technologies you are going to teach… so you have to have the senior certifications that align with the technology (MCITP/MCSA, etc…)

Unfortunately there are a lot of people who hold those certifications who cannot teach, and that is not a surprise… one of the greatest fears in people is the fear of public speaking, and training is just that.  Getting up in front of an audience is not easy.  Add to that you have to be able to clearly and concisely make your point – you have to know not only the subject matter, you also have to know the courseware, and the flow.  And don’t forget the importance of knowing how to use and project your voice.

So how does Microsoft distinguish between those who can and those who can’t (and sometimes there are those who shouldn’t)?  It is difficult, but one of the ways they determine eligibility is to check that people have taken and passed a CTT+ ‘Train the Trainer’ class.  The class is only taught by a very select few companies in Canada, and at that not very often.  So now is your chance… Trab Training, a CTT+ certified vendor on Microsoft’s pre-approved list, is offering the class in Toronto next month (June 26/27).  You can sign up at http://www.trab.com/form-reg.html, or contact them at http://www.trab.com/contact.html for more information.

While I did not take this class I have heard from several of Bart’s students that he is an excellent trainer, and they each have their MCT to prove it.  Please mention to them that you heard about this class from me, and when it is done please let me know any feedback you have!

Remember… if you want to be an MCT, you almost certainly need this class!

Sixteen Days Out – a summary

Yesterday was a dichoto-day.  If I made that word up, it is what it sounds like – a day that was a mix of good and bad.  I want to clarify at the outset that this had nothing to do with work, which was fine (I am teaching a class at TekSource Corporate Learning this week, and have a good group of students).  It is strictly with regard to diet and training.

I ate (during the day at work) like crap – too much of bad foods (I blame Audrey, but she didn’t actually force-feed me the muffin or the pizza, she just made them readily available (as well as the only things).  She also put out all sorts of cookies for the afternoon snack, and my willpower faltered – I had three lady fingers.  To compensate – although I did not set out with this goal – I skipped dinner.  I got off the train from Toronto and drove straight to Taekwondo, where everything got back on track.

I had been really disheartened Monday and Tuesday about my prospects for testing for actually being ready for my test on June 2nd, and I decided that yesterday (Wednesday) was the day that I would make my final decision.  While I know all of my patterns (poomsaes) I had not learned the knife-defense ‘one-step-sparring’ that I need as a requirement.  That is, nine separate (and numbered, in order) methods of repelling a knife-wielding attacker.  While that is something I am pretty good at, I would usually revert to Krav Maga, so learning the Taekwondo (actually Hapkido) methods were a challenge.

vector version of Black belt 2st dan.png

vector version of Black belt 2st dan.png (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Miss Kelly (one of the senior instructors, who is testing for her 5th Dan Black Belt the day that I test for my 2nd Dan) and I had arranged to spend time on Wednesday going over the methods, and she agreed to allow me to record our session so that I could study the moves while on the road next week.  She is an excellent teacher whom I have always liked and respected (she was Aaron’s favorite instructor when he was in TKD), and really knows her stuff.

One of the reasons I prefer working one-on-one with instructors, rather than working in a large class, is not simply the individual attention.  I find that in most modern martial arts classes the focus is on teaching moves rather than teaching why we do the moves and analyzing them.  As a Colour Belt suppose I had to cope, because as GrandMaster H.C. Kim once wrote ‘The study of martial arts really begins once you have achieved Black Belt Excellence.’  Until you have a strong knowledge of the basics it is impossible to start analyzing the advanced.  However as a Black Belt I appreciate that when I learn a move in a one-on-one setting I can analyze, discuss, and really understand what it is that I am doing, as well as how likely I might successfully execute a particular move in either sparring or real-life situations.  I find that by breaking down a move in this way it is easier for me to learn and absorb patterns and self-defense.

Working with Miss Kelly last night was such an opportunity, and while I came into the lesson with a slight knowledge of two or three of the moves, by the end of the evening I was much more confident that I knew what I was doing… even if I might not use most of those moves in real-life knife attacks.  While I was able to execute all of the moves by the end of the evening, I am glad that I recorded them so that I can review them today and every day until I will never forget them.  I will be watching them often, breaking them down in my head, and I  predict that on my flight to Victoria next week I will be doing them over and over again in my head.

With regard to the diet, I decided this morning that I would start a two-day cleanse… which essentially means I am fasting, save for vitamin supplements.  My weight has been fluctuating only slightly over the past few weeks, but it is still about 5lbs up from my low-point.  I have lost (since January) 43lbs, and I have really been stuck there since mid-April.  Every time I have done a two-day cleanse I have lost at least 5lbs, so it is entirely possible that I could test fifteen pounds lighter than I am today.  That is a good goal, but I will settle for 10lbs.  I say this knowing that Saturday evening I am taking the family to a Brazilian steakhouse – not a very good place to diet – but that is essentially the last hoorah before my final two-week push.  Despite my travels (which, between now and the test will take me to Buffalo, Victoria, Vancouver, and Montreal) I am going to succeed, and do my absolute best on June 2nd.

More later.

Preconceived Notions

This week finds me in three areas that I have heard people disparage: Salt Lake City, where I met some of the nicest people in the world and, more importantly, where I did not meet anyone who wasn’t as nice as could be! Even when spending my free afternoon at Temple Square, nobody tried to push their beliefs on me. I had a very interesting theologican discussion with two LDS sisters (from Australia and the US) who were as interested in my beliefs as I was in theirs. I then flew home to Toronto, where I was warmly received by a group of IT folks from a large international law firm. Today I am in Greenville, South Carolina and have the pleasure of working with a group of extremely intelligent and welcoming folks at our partner here. I always love the South, and wish people would stop generalizing when speaking of it.

What will next week hold? We’ll see! -M