Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Horror... the horror...

The Toronto Star reported on May 31st that the TTC currently has 319 "TTC drivers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder", presumably on medical disability.

This severe form of stress is typically found among survivors of combat, natural disasters and rape. But bus drivers?

Sure, they have to drive in Toronto's traffic clogged streets made worse by the city's inept roads planning. And people aren't thrilled by the TTC at the best of times, not just when they are threatening strikes in order to get an extra slice of cake on their birthdays and pet medical insurance. Plus so much money goes into their payroll there isn't much left over to maintain vehicles and clean stations.

So passengers get cranky with them. A few whackos even take a poke at them, which no one deserves. But most TTC drivers and ticket takers I've encountered lately haven't exactly been graduates of charm school. It takes a small nuclear device to get them off those stools they sit on by the cash box or inside the booths, and human communication is limited to grunts and sign language Koko the gorilla would find primative.

But over 300 of them currently suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder? I wonder how that compares to Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan?

Oh, and the TTC announced in December that it had hired the same company NASA hired after the Challenger shuttle exploded to review safety procedures. Not that the TTC is overly dramatic when it comes to the tough life its brave employees face.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Something Good For A Change

Just in case you're thinking all I do is whine, just to skew the average slightly the other way, let me tell you about something really nice.

About two weeks ago I noticed on my daily drive up the DVP that someone had planted a long strip of daffodils in the middle of the grass median just south of the Eglinton cutoff. There must be 100 feet of them, about 4 feet wide.

So congratulations to someone, whether city or province or masked midnight gardener, for this random act of beauty in a city that otherwise has no sense or budget for making things look nice.

By the way, I also notice that whoever cuts the DVP grass managed to trim a foot off the edge of the daffodil field. Nice work chucklehead.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nothing to do with Toronto

Okay, it has nothing to do with Toronto, but I saw something in the paper and couldn't resist -

Apparently a security guard found an 18 month old boy wandering between the security clearance area and the departure gate early Monday morning at the Vancouver airport. His parents forgot to board with him on their flight to the Philippines, and left him behind to be found by Vancouver airport security.

All I could think on reading the story is the child, who speaks no English, is damn lucky he wasn't tasered.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Grainy Sasquach Photos

Not really, but it is a rare sighting of the TTC's now defunct "Worth A Million" campaign. Trust TTC laziness to not actually pull the ads from inside the subway cars.

Considering how many of the inside ads on TTC subway cars and buses are self-promotion, I guess there isn't a lot of replacement cash to be made from real advertisers, so there's no incentive to rush to pull the ads down. Plus it would make their backs hurt.

Anyway, here are a couple of grainy phone snaps I took last week just to be sure I wasn't dreaming the whole thing up. Notice the defunct website is still shown, as well as a contest for free monthly metropasses daily until April 30th - except the website was down by then.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Worth A Million

Anyone notice the lame and insulting "Worth a Million" PR campaign brought to you by the TTC union has disappeared without a trace?

Don't believe me? Click on its dedicated website link:

Unveiled just before the "we have a deal / we have a strike" PR fiasco, ATU Local 113, which represents most TTC workers, put big bucks into the campaign, with posters, commercials and a fancy website.

But I guess people looked at the poster of ten TTC employees they had in subway stations and decided at $100,000 a year each in pay, they were indeed worth a million.

I suppose whoever was behind this campaign never heard of focus groups - that basic idea in the ad biz that you show the campaign to some ordinary joes and ask them what they think. If they had, this Rosemary's baby of a campaign would never have seen the light of day. What it really shows you is how disconnected the TTC union is from reality.

If I was a union member, I'd be asking how much of my pension fund was spent to bring this short-lived monster into this world. Of course, starting the campaign in advance of contract negotiations was probably seen by some union rep in a suit from Moores as a good way to soften up the public for the next round of extortionate pay demands - show the public why they should love and respect the TTC workers and we'll pony up. Proof they've been spending too much time in the unventilated subway tunnels.

Thanks to the wonder of the Internet, you can still read cached pieces of the pages from the site to remind us how wonderful our TTC employees are:

[Photo missing] ATU Local 113 President Bob Kinnear (centre, blue shirt) with the stars of the union’s Worth a Million television and transit advertising campaign. They come from many different areas of TTC operations, including Maintenance and Wheel-Trans. Some are here because they did something special and noteworthy while on the job. The rest are here because just in doing their daily jobs, like all their fellow ATU 113 members, they make Toronto a cleaner, safer, and more prosperous city. Read more about them here.

The Special Report by leading environmentalist and former Ontario Cabinet Minister Marilyn Churley [still available on YouTube - a must see - ed.] calculates that the economic, environmental, health and other benefits of the TTC to Toronto total at least 12 billion dollars. And that’s a conservative estimate. Many benefits of the TTC are literally incalculable, but real.

Since about 11,000 people work for the TTC, that means each contributes, on average, more than a million dollars in benefits every year. Most TTC workers are represented by ATU Local 113, the sponsor of this site. We’re proud of the work our members do, work that deserves public recognition. Each one is literally Worth a Million.

Well, at least a tenth of million.

TTC Gets Its Money's Worth for Information Technology

If anyone doubts the TTC is getting its money's worth out of its Information Technology budget, just have a look at their slick website:

It's amazing what the TTC can do with IT expenditures of $170.4 million.

Our Mayor in the Dark

Okay - it's old news now. In politics it's positively ancient history. But still, it bears repeating often and deserves to live on in the infinite pass-along world of Internet searches.

The date was March 29, 2008. Specifically it was 8 pm.

Earth Hour - a cult-like ceremony of national hypocrisy when we feel better about our year-round Kultur of incredible excess and wastefulness by turning off our lights. We were led in this exercise by the city's high priest of hypocrisy, the Mayor.

The Mayor even posted an Earth Hour video on YouTube, where he sits by a flickering gas fireplace, wearing an earth-friendly brown suit and tie, and says:

“On March 29, at 8 p.m. for one hour, I encourage you to switch off all non-essential lighting, and watch as other cities around the globe power down as well. Just one hour of your time to help people around the world realize the difference each of us can make and what we can accomplish when we work together. Switch off for Earth Hour and see the world in a whole new light. The issue is real. Your actions will count. So join me in the dark.”

At 8 p.m. he stood on the stage in front of City Hall with Jagoda Pike, publisher of the Toronto Star, and pulled a ceremonial switch to plunge City Hall into actual and not just intellectual darkness.

“I want to ask you all to do one thing tonight,” His Worship told the crowd. “Be a leader.”

Curiously, "Leader" is defined in the dictionary as both: "a person or thing that leads" but also "a duct for conveying warm air from a hot-air furnace to a register or stack".

What happened next was reported the next day by a journalist who dared follow the Mayor off the stage. As NP writer Peter Kuitenbrouwer reported:

"At 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, Mayor David Miller got in a car and drove from City Hall to a Shoppers Drug Mart on Eglinton Avenue West. He bought a card for the bar mitzvah of a family friend. Then he got back in the car, driven by his press secretary, Don Wanagas, and went to the bar mitzvah."

Questions about this amazing display of hypocrisy where rejected by press secretary, Don Wanagas as "petty", who said there was nothing wrong with the Mayor's actions, which are after all, just "symbolic".

One question then - why haven't we been able to find the YouTube video posted by the Mayor's office? It hasn't been pulled by them, has it? Like a gun used in a hold-up thrown in the river?

If anyone can find it, let me know, and I'll post a link.

So sleepy...

There are so many metaphors I could use... The poetic and heroic one is King Arthur being awoken on Avalon where he sleeps until such time as he is needed by a nation in trouble. More appropriately, I'm probably more like a bear awaking in the spring wondering what the heck has been going on during hibernation.

Okay - so its just a pretty way of saying I've neglected my blog and now I'm back, and the last thing you need is one more Blogiste opining on how hard it is to keep at one these things. After all, 12 year olds can keep a blog going, and in the words of Zap Branagan, "they seem pretty sharp".

Plus I lost my password for a while.

So what has escaped my facile interpretation and glibly snide comment in the past few months? You name it. The TTC, pool closings, yapping city councillors - the list goes on. It helps that it is the same list from before.

Read on, and all will be revealed.